with Indie Comic Creator Jack Knifely
City: Columbus, IN
Comics: Haunted, Break The Line
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. I’ve been an addict ever since.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Jack – I’m pretty sure it was an Archie
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. If it wasn’t that, it was a Superman
Jack – 26. I think. I’m pretty sure. Christ,
am I that old?
Jack – The 90s, hands down. People will think I’m crazy for that answer, but it’s true. I’ll 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, there’s even less in just drawing.
Jack – Both. It all depends on what your
end goal is. All I currently want to do is tell the story in Haunted. I’d
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
Jack – Apparently, too many. Honestly,
about 100 to 200.
Jack – Three dollars for a 24 page black & white Indy book is good. It’s the absolute maximum for a standard mainstream book. In color. I’ll go $4 for an Indy book in color. Anything over that is insane. I know how much these things cost to produce & they’re 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 I’d like to do 6-8. Is that snickering I hear in the background?
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
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 can’t 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 it’s 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. I’m almost proud of the last few I’ve done.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Jack – I don’t really get to the computer until the lettering. I use it to resize panels up until then, but I’m 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 it’s 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 wouldn’t
even attempt to color a whole book.
Jack – There should be as few fingers in the pie as possible. I’d apply that statement to anything. I’m a big fan of the multi-disciplinarian.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Jack – Conventions. If I didn’t have a table near you at a convention, I probably won’t work with you. If I had a table near you & you’re cool, I’ll do anything.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Jack – It’s my understanding that there are two ways to write a script: The Marvel way, & God’s way. I write & draw my own stuff & I still produce a full script. I’m crazy, not stupid. Just handing most artists a plot is insane. There are people that can pull it off, but they’re the exception to the rule.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Jack – Tough call. For writing, I’d say Warren Ellis or Mark Millar. Artistically, it’s 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 don’t read the stuff I do. I think the greatest compliment I’ve 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 wouldn’t collapse if you eliminated romance or spy novels, but take superheroes out of comics & they’d virtually disappear. It’s sad.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Jack – Currently, that’s like asking if
I’d rather be shot or hung. 15-20 years ago, I’d have said DC, hands down.
Marvel killed the best thing they had going a few years ago with that whole
Jack – There was a time when I’d have done unspeakable acts to be involved in any way, shape, or form with DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes. There’s 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. I’d also do any kind of Tomb Raider project just to say I’d done it.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Jack – Is there any other way? Seriously, it’s the only option I have. I’m too hard to work with.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Jack – I’m 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 & it’d 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 haven’t the time to do much more than that, but I know I should make the time to do more. I’m 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. I’ve 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. I’d 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. I’d also like to see
more creator-owned work & less flooding of the market with DC &
Jack – Buy Haunted. It’s awesome.