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QRD #51 - Indie Comics Interview Series
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Indie Comic Creators Interviews:
Kimberlee Traub
Liz Suburbia
Michael Anthony Carroll
Mike Kitchen
Sloane Leong
Troy Little
Wayne Wise
Blair Kitchen
David Lawrence
Dawn Best
Gary Scott Beatty
Jack Knifley
Jason Strutz
William Schaff
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Interview with Indie Comic Creator Jack Knifely
June 2011
Name: Jack Knifley
City: Columbus, IN
Comics: Haunted, Break The Line
Websites: www.breakthelinecomics.com

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

Jack I inherited a box of old comics from my dad when I was 8 or 9 & read them over & over. I think after a few years I graduated to buying my own comics. Ive been an addict ever since.

QRD What was the first comic book you ever bought?

Jack Im pretty sure it was an Archie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. If it wasnt that, it was a Superman book.
QRD How old were you when you put out your first comic?

Jack 26. I think. Im pretty sure. Christ, am I that old?
QRD What decade do you think produced the best comics?

Jack The 90s, hands down. People will think Im crazy for that answer, but its true. Ill argue that with anybody.

QRD Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?

Jack Probably because writing a full-on prose novel is A) long & B) boring. On the art side, while there is no money in comics, theres even less in just drawing.
QRD Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?

Jack Both. It all depends on what your end goal is. All I currently want to do is tell the story in Haunted. Id also like to do the handful of stories that logically stem from it. If your goal is to work on Spider-Man or Sonic Disruptors, then work towards that.
QRD How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?

Jack Apparently, too many. Honestly, about 100 to 200.
QRD How much do you think comics should cost?

Jack Three dollars for a 24 page black & white Indy book is good. Its the absolute maximum for a standard mainstream book. In color.  Ill go $4 for an Indy book in color. Anything over that is insane. I know how much these things cost to produce & theyre not fooling anybody here.

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

Jack I think my current record is 2, but Id like to do 6-8. Is that snickering I hear in the background?
QRD Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?

Jack Ideally, they would be complete works, but sometimes serialization is a necessary evil. I would love to put Haunted out as a complete work, but it just makes more sense to serialize it right now. People should feel free to dump money in my lap to change my mind.
QRD How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?

Jack Strips are basically a gag-a-day medium anymore. Years ago, you could pull off an extended story. (Terry & The Pirates, Rip Kirby, Modesty Blasé, etc.) You cant really do that anymore. Comic books leave the creator(s) with a lot more options. An extended story can be done in strip form as a webcomic.

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

Jack Too long. I can write an issue of Haunted virtually overnight, but I work at a glacial pace when it comes to the artwork.

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

Jack Coloring. I really only color the covers, but there is a noticeable improvement on them from when I started. Im almost proud of the last few Ive done.

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

Jack I dont really get to the computer until the lettering. I use it to resize panels up until then, but Im a pencil/pen & paper guy at heart. I do the coloring on a computer, of course.

QRD What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?

Jack They absolutely have their place. Webcomics in particular. I think its a great medium for people to get their work out & in front of an audience.

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

Jack You can work in color? I wouldnt even attempt to color a whole book.
QRD How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?

Jack There should be as few fingers in the pie as possible. Id apply that statement to anything. Im a big fan of the multi-disciplinarian.

QRD How do you find collaborators?

Jack Conventions. If I didnt have a table near you at a convention, I probably wont work with you. If I had a table near you & youre cool, Ill do anything.

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

Jack Its my understanding that there are two ways to write a script: The Marvel way, & Gods way. I write & draw my own stuff & I still produce a full script. Im crazy, not stupid. Just handing most artists a plot is insane. There are people that can pull it off, but theyre the exception to the rule.

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

Jack Tough call. For writing, Id say Warren Ellis or Mark Millar. Artistically, its Bryan Hitch, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, or Jason Alexander. I wish I could just throw stuff on the page like Jason Alexander does.

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

Jack Most of them dont read the stuff I do. I think the greatest compliment Ive ever received was when my dad described the people I draw as ugly. He nailed what I was going for on the head before I even realized it.

QRD What do you think of superheroes?

Jack They have their place, but the idea that the market is dominated by them is absurd. The prose book market wouldnt collapse if you eliminated romance or spy novels, but take superheroes out of comics & theyd virtually disappear. Its sad.

QRD Marvel or DC?

Jack Currently, thats like asking if Id rather be shot or hung. 15-20 years ago, Id have said DC, hands down. Marvel killed the best thing they had going a few years ago with that whole Ultimatum debacle.
QRD What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?

Jack There was a time when Id have done unspeakable acts to be involved in any way, shape, or form with DCs Legion of Super-Heroes. Theres not enough money in the world to get me to touch that book now. I would do a Generation X one-shot for Marvel as long as it was written by Scott Lobdell. Id also do any kind of Tomb Raider project just to say Id done it.

QRD Ideally would you self-publish?

Jack Is there any other way? Seriously, its the only option I have. Im too hard to work with.

QRD What conventions do you try to attend & why?

Jack Im a big fan of S.P.A.C.E. & the Gem City Comic Con. The attendees at S.P.A.C.E. are there looking for small press stuff. Gem City is just a nice little show. Put that in a larger venue & itd be the greatest show on earth. Then Wizard would buy it & bring the whole thing down behind them.

QRD What do you do to promote your books?

Jack Not enough. I basically just do conventions & my website. (www.breakthelinecomics.com). I havent the time to do much more than that, but I know I should make the time to do more. Im open to suggestions.

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

Jack I think Haunted would sell better outside of most comic shops. They really trade in the superhero genre. Plus, I can barely spell Variant Cover, let alone produce one.

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

Jack Television is really the only medium that Haunted could be translated into. I have some other ideas that would work as movies. A Tyler & Lina animated series would be awesome if done like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I could supply years worth of plotlines for that.

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

Jack Both. I have certain characters & creators that I collect, but then I have those books that I read. Ive been working for the last several years on reading my entire comic collection from A to Z.

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

Jack In a decade, digital & direct sales (not the direct market) will probably be the ways to go. For everybody. Id like to see putting a complete story out all at once instead of serialization become the norm.

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

Jack Reading them. Id also like to see more creator-owned work & less flooding of the market with DC & Marvel characters.
QRD Anything else?

Jack Buy Haunted. Its awesome.