with Indie Comic Creator Blair Kitchen
City: Carlisle, Ontario, Canada
Comics: The Possum
QRD – How old were you when you first got
into comics & did you always stick with
Blair – As long as I can remember, there was always a box of comics at my grandparents’ cottage that my brothers & I were given free reign over. I read comics pretty consistently until college, where I had a few years where I didn’t buy any & my focus shifted to animation. My brother Mike got me back into them a few years after college.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Blair – I remember my mother buying us a pack of comics (one of those 3 in 1 packs from the department store) & the comic that stood out in the pack was The Amazing Spider-man 233 (with Mr. Hyde & The Cobra by John Romita Jr.) It’s still one of my favourite Spider-Man comics.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Blair – I was 29 years old when I self-published my first Possum comic.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Blair – Every decade has some good ones (& lots of bad ones), but I like the 70s.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Blair – I really like animation as an artform, but with comics you can tell a complete story all by yourself at a minimum cost & I love having something tangible to hold in your hands afterwards that doesn’t require a computer or TV to view it on. Comics are timeless.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie
comics as paths to mainstream comics or as
Blair – Depends on what your goals are. I like self-publishing & indie comics, so for me those are the end goals.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Blair – I’ve been printing 6000 copies of each issue (5000 of issue #1). With offset printing, the price goes down significantly after the first 2000 copies, so I always print extras to sell at conventions & use as promotional material.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Blair – The cheaper the better. Unfortunately, with smaller print runs the price is going to go up. I wish they could be 12 cents again.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Blair – I’m currently averaging one issue a year. The goal is to someday publish monthly.
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Blair – I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way, but for me I like them serialized. It really depends on the artist & the type of story though.
QRD – How are comic strips different than
comic books & which medium do you
Blair – Comic strips focus on the single gag. Comic books tend to have a bit more room for experimentation & can focus on a more complex story. I like them both.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Blair – Just over a year when you factor in the day job.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Blair – I try to focus on bettering a new weakness with each comic that I do. Right now I’m focussing on my inking a bit more, so I’d have to say that’s an area that’s a lot better now than issue #1.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Blair – I ink everything on illustration board & scan my pages into the computer after that for laying down grey tones or colouring (in the case of the covers).
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Blair – There’s nothing like reading & holding an actual comic book in your hands. (Especially when you can smell the old newsprint!) I think digital comics & webcomics are great for reaching as many people as possible, but when it comes to reading them for myself, I like the real thing.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Blair – Black & white.
QRD – How many different people should
work on a comic & what should their jobs
Blair – I don’t think there’s a right way or a wrong way as long as everyone is happy doing what they are doing. Obviously, the more people involved, the smaller each piece of the pie should be & the harder it is to keep everyone happy.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Blair – So far, I’ve only drawn comics alone.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should
be as far as telling the artist
Blair – The writer should right to the artist’s preference. In my case, I’m the writer & the artist, so I tend to keep the script very loose & then complain about the lazy writer when I’m drawing.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Blair – Sergio Aragones & Dave Sim are my two biggest influences.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Blair – They tell me they like them to my face…….
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Blair – When done well, they’re great.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Blair – Neither at the moment.
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Blair – Cerebus, Groo, & Spy Guy.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Blair – Yup.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Blair – I live close to Toronto, Canada; so the Toronto ones are always on my list; but I try to get to a couple out of town conventions each year. San Diego, Wondercon, & The Toronto Fan Expo have been some of the more successful ones for me, but S.P.A.C.E. & SPX had a really nice vibe to them.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Blair – Comic conventions & message boards, but I’m starting to try & focus on more local advertising. Without proper distribution, I think it’s important to start local & then work your way outwards at a natural pace.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well
suited to comic shops or would sell
Blair – Every comic shop that has carried The Possum, that I’m aware of, has had success with it. The problem with comics geared towards kids is that a lot of kids don’t even know what a comic shop is unless their parents take them there (& comic shops are the last thing on most parents’ radars). It’s a shame there isn’t a way to get comics back into variety stores & grocery stores, but for a self-publisher that’s a tricky one.
QRD – What other medium would you like
to see some of your comics made into
Blair – I’d love to have a crack at animating The Possum, but I wouldn’t want to do it by sacrificing the comic & I wouldn’t want to give up creative control to do it. I’m all for merchandising as long as it’s quality merchandise & I’m still in charge.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Blair – I’m a collector & a reader, but if I had to pick one it would be a reader. What’s the point of having comics if you don’t read them?
QRD – What do you see as the most viable
mediums for comics distribution 10
Blair – Hmmmm….. It would be nice to see some smaller distributors having success again, but it seems like quite a daunting task to break Diamond’s stranglehold. You’d think that with the internet that micro distribution would become more viable. Maybe a group of creators getting together to distribute each other’s comics via their online stores. Digital comics are appealing for the simple fact that there’s no postage & handling charges as well.
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Blair – How about wearing them? In all seriousness, I’d like to see more artists moving away from the work for hire model of publishing & start taking their creativity into their own hands by publishing their own work & focusing on good storytelling.
QRD – Anything else?
Blair – Maybe some fries?