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QRD #48 - Indie/Mini Comic Creator Interview Series
about this issue
Indie/Mini Comic Creators:
Jeremy Johnson - Marked
PB Kain - Mumblypeg
Joe Badon - Behind Yesterday
Andrew White - Sexbuzz
R. J. Paré - Buddha Monkey
Shawn Harbin - The Dungeon
Colin Upton - Big Thing
Kevin LaPorte - Clown Town
Sara Lindo - Carl Finds Love
Joseph Morris - TORC Press
Stephen Hines - Crackerstacker
Steve Seck - Life is Good
Derek R Croston - Method Comix
M. L. Walker - Hero Corp.
Daniel Gracey - G2 Comics
Matthew D. Smith - Liberty City
Brian John Mitchell - Just A Man
Brandon Graham - King City
Gordon McAlpin - Multiplex
Ross Campbell - Hack/Slash
Alex Robinson - BoxOfficePoison
Nik Havert - Pickle Press
Kurt Dinse - One Year in Indiana
Nick Marino - Super Haters
Bob Corby - Oh, Comics! & Vugz
Eric Shonborne - Razorbaby
Melissa Spence Gardner - XO
Dave Sim - Cerebus
Mason Johnson - Zoir
Jason Young - VeggieDog Saturn
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Indie/Mini Comic Creator Interview with Ross Campbell
February 2011
Name: Ross Campbell
City: Rochester, NY
Comics: Wet Moon, Shadoweyes, The Abandoned, Water Baby, Mountain Girl, Hack/Slash, Fraggle Rock, House of Mystery
Websites: www.greenoblivion.com, mooncalfe.deviantart.com, www.shadoweyes.net

QRD How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?

Ross I think I was around 8, I remember reading Calvin & Hobbes & old Ninja Turtles comics. I was into a lot of the early 90s Image stuff & then I got into Japanese comics, but I think I was into reading comics to varying degrees pretty much since elementary school.

QRD What was the first comic book you ever bought?

Ross I thought I knew this answer, but I recently discovered I was wrong. I thought it was #8 of the Archie Ninja Turtles series & I cant remember exactly but recently I found out that the publication date of that issue was after the first live-action movie had been released which was in 1990, I was in 4th grade then & I was definitely reading the old Mirage TMNT at that point in the form of I had the colorized First Graphic Novel editions. Maybe my first book was Archie TMNT #8 somehow & Im just getting the dates screwed up, but Im not sure what my first comic book was.

QRD How old were you when you put out your first comic?

Ross About 22 or 23, I think.

QRD What decade do you think produced the best comics?

Ross Best is so relative & Im totally biased on this because I grew up with the 90s, so Im really attached to a lot of that stuff, good or bad. I guess Id say comics are better than ever right now, but I have much, much less fun reading them now than I did in the 90s. Even 90s books I didnt read as a kid & have no nostalgia for, Ill read that stuff now as an adult & it still seems awesome to me regardless of its quality level.

QRD Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?

Ross I actually wanted to be a novelist, I even wrote a 300+ page incoherent sci-fi fantasy novel in high school, & through most of college I was still writing prose. I used to do comic strips as a kid but abandoned it & I didnt really get into doing comics seriously, despite majoring in Sequential Art, until junior or senior year of college. I think something happened where I realized that I could achieve great subtlety with comics & that comics editing & framing is a lot like film editing & shot composition & I could do the things I wanted to do with comics that prose was unable to do. Obviously there are trade-offs & advantages & disadvantages to every medium, but so far comics has really worked for me.

QRD Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?

Ross Depends on the individual person & what their personal goals are. Indie comics CAN be a path to mainstream books, they can get a person noticed by Marvel or DC; but they can also be a path unto themselves. People usually seem to define path as money, so I guess in that sense indie comics are a pretty good path to mainstream money. But creatively-speaking, no. There are also plenty of people who do both, I dont think there has to be any division.

QRD How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?

Ross Depends on the book in question & depends on the publisher. Ive done really small print runs on my indie books, but then had much bigger ones for my DC & Tokyopop books. I actually dont know the exact numbers of any of them, I try to stay out of that because it can be either discouraging or create too much pressure.

QRD How much do you think comics should cost?

Ross Depends on the book & the publisher. Pamphlet comics should obviously be priced differently than a book-form comic & they are. & I think it matters who the publisher is, too, & what their bottom line is & their level of production costs & all that, or whether the comic is self-published.

QRD How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?

Ross I do at least 1 a year, but its more like 1.5, Ill do a whole book & then scripting & thumbnailing on another. In my best years Ive done 2 whole 150+ page books in one year, in addition ancillary stuff like commissions & conventions. Id love to do be able to do more; but Im probably peaking at 2, I cant imagine being able to do more than that!

QRD Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?

Ross Depends on the book. Some stories work great in increments like that, like a TV show, but other stories are best in book format & would be made worse & warped by the rigidity of floppies. But I think at the end of the day a story justifies its own format.

QRD How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?

Ross Comic strips seem to be comics that arent in book form, that are usually broken up into little increments whether in a newspaper or webcomic, while comic books are a longer uninterrupted story. I dont have a preference, it all depends on the material, like Calvin & Hobbes works perfectly as a strip comic; its exactly what it needs to be, but then something book format would probably suffer if broken up into strip form. Its all a matter of what the material is conceived as.

QRD How long is it from when you start a comic until its printed?

Ross Depends on the book & the publisher. How long a book takes me to do really depends on how Im drawing it, what the style is & what the media is, whether its traditional or digital & obviously how many pages it is. I guess on average an entire book takes me maybe 4-5 months to do, not including post-production/waiting for it to be printed & shipped. Then the publisher has to be taken into account, too, some smaller publishers have a super short post-production turnaround, Ive had books released on the shelves anywhere from month after Ive turned in the pages, to 2 years. Theres a lot of waiting in some cases. In terms of self-published stuff, Ive had print times be a week at Kinkos, to about a month at the usual printer I use.

QRD What do you better with your comics now than when you first started?

Ross Everything! :D

QRD At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?

Ross Depends on the book, Ive done entirely traditionally-drawn/toned stuff where the only digital step is scanning them into the computer, to artwork drawn completely digitally, to artwork that is about half & half.

QRD What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?

Ross Depends on the comic, I like some & some I dont like. I think theyre just as valid as a traditionally-drawn printed comic & in the case of webcomics maybe even more important at this point in the industry.

QRD Do you prefer working in color or black & white?

Ross Definitely black & white. Ive been doing more color stuff in the past few years but I still love doing monochromatic stuff & greyscale tones.

QRD How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?

Ross It totally depends on the book & what the book is & what it needs to be. Some books, like mine, are one-person operations, I do pretty much everything myself until I hand it over to my publishers who get it ready for the printers; while others are collaborations between an artist & writer which is also good, Ive done some of that. Sometimes I think mainstream comics get a little crazy with how many people work on one issue of a comic, like theyll have 12 inkers or something, but I guess whatever it takes to get the job done.

QRD How do you find collaborators?

Ross The writers Ive worked with were through my publisher, & Ive recently gotten hooked up with a writer through a friend/colleague. Ive tried to get a few books going where I write for other artists & I found them through the internet & being mutual fans.

QRD How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?

Ross Depends on the script & how the writer likes to write & who the artist is. Some artists probably need tighter scripts than others & vice versa & some writers write super-tight/detailed scripts naturally, while others like to let the artists have more free rein. I dont know, it varies, everybodys different.

QRD What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?

Ross Man, I dont know... Ive heard people say my book Shadoweyes reminds them of old Eastman & Laird Ninja Turtles comics which I guess is about as flattered as it gets for me. Even though Id be flattered with any kind of lofty comparison, Id rather not be compared to anyone.

QRD What do your friends & family think of your comics?

Ross My friends all seem to love them, but Im not sure anyone in my family actually reads them, ha-ha.

QRD What do you think of superheroes?

Ross I like some, some I dont. I think theyre as versatile & valid as any other genre/subgenre.

QRD Marvel or DC?

Ross Ive always been way more into Marvel, mostly because of X-Men & my favorite superhero Sleepwalker.

QRD What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?

Ross Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which almost happened twice, but both times cruelly slipped through my fingers), Sleepwalker, Marrow, Angel Salvadore, or X-23. Silver Surfer would also be super fun, but I suck at drawing chrome, & Id love to write my own She-Hulk book & make her hugely muscular like the male Hulk.

QRD Ideally would you self-publish?

Ross Ive self-published small things before & its a lot of fun, I love having no editors or pressure looming over me! I think ideally Id self-publish everything if I had the money, yeah.

QRD What conventions do you try to attend & why?

Ross I usually go to San Diego because thats the big one, but recently Ive been doing New York Comic Con & started going to Fan Expo in Toronto. Ive been to a few others off & on over the years. I usually like to stick to ones closer to home & ones that I think Ill make some money at, but especially ones where I can see my friends & maybe make some professional contacts.

QRD What do you do to promote your books?

Ross I use websites like deviantart & my blog, Twitter, stuff like that. Its tough because its on me to do most of the promotion, the publishers I usually work with are small operations so they only are able to do anywhere from limited promotion to zero.

QRD Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?

Ross I think they tend to do better in bookstores & on websites like Amazon. It probably also depends on how a particular comic shop is run, too; some shops are really focused on Big Two comics almost to the exclusion of all else & are frequented by people really entrenched in that stuff, while other shops are really open & set up more like bookstores with a big range of books & obviously my stuff would do much better at the latter type of store.

QRD What other medium would you like to see some of your  comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?

Ross All of the above! Ha-ha.

QRD Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?

Ross A comic reader for sure. I dont keep things in bags or anything & most of the floppies I read I get rid of afterward unless its something I really like. & then book format comics are the same for me as novels, theyre there to read & if I dont plan on re-reading them, I dont keep them.

QRD What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?

Ross Hmm, I dont know, I dont think Im anywhere near qualified to make that kind of prediction. Id guess digital will get more & more important & more practical, but Im not sure how thatll be done.

QRD What would you like to see more people doing with comics?

Ross Reading them, haha.

QRD Anything else?

Ross Read my comics!!!