Comic Creator Interview
with Suzanne Baumann
Name: Suzanne Baumann
City: Hamtramck, Michigan
Comics: Turtleneck Boy, As Eavesdropped
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Suzanne – As a kid, I always liked writing & drawing; watching cartoons & reading newspaper comics. I didn’t seriously think about making comics until I was in college. For me I think it was a matter of being a teenager at a time when cartoons were starting to receive more attention for their potential as entertainment for adults, late 1980s/early 90s. Independent publishers, graphic novels, alt-weeklies with several pages of comics, The Simpsons... all that stuff hit my radar in the span of a few short years & made me seriously think about how I could use my self-indulgent love of writing & drawing to entertain others. I’ve tried to make time to make my own comics ever since.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Suzanne – Maus by Art Spiegelman.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Suzanne – Twenty-one.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Suzanne – There are brilliant minds & absolute crap in every decade. I don’t think I can judge.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Suzanne – I want to do both. It just feels right to combine the two.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Suzanne – They can be both, obviously, but I personally treat minis as their own thing. I like to treat the design, production, printing, & distribution of the comic as part of the creative process & individualize it to fit the specific art & story. Mini-comics allow a creator to do just that.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Suzanne – Usually fifty. I print them off at home, so if that’s not enough, I can always make more.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Suzanne – I come from a zine/mini-comic background, where we traded with other creators or charged just enough to cover printing & postage. In an ideal world, I think art should be free & created & shared by everybody ? if you find yourself among people who also think like that, do it! At stores & conventions, though, price them at the going market rate (but budget so that you can afford to give away at least some for free).
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Suzanne – Currently I average about one mini-comic a year. That’s definitely not enough to keep up with all the ideas I have, but it gives me enough time to do a good job on my one comic & do other things with my life, too.
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Suzanne – As a reader, I prefer the big books. But it can be exciting to follow a well-executed serial & watch it unfold.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Suzanne – I prefer good comic strips & books over bad comic strips & books. “Good” & “bad” depends greatly upon how well the creator utilizes either format.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Suzanne – It varies wildly. As much as I try to stick to a schedule with these things, life always intrudes.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Suzanne – Damn near everything.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Suzanne – Book layout, mostly. I don’t do color comics often, but I do color digitally sometimes. I can see myself inking on a computer some day, but I’m in no rush to buy the equipment to do so.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Suzanne – I think it’s great that the art form can adapt along with technological advances. People who love comics read them because they’re comics, not because they’re printed on dead trees.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Suzanne – When I started doing mini-comics, black & white was the only cost-effective option, so I got pretty good at using it over the years. I haven’t done a lot of big comics projects in color (even though I like working with it) mostly I still automatically think B&W when I plan out the look of my comics. Color still feels like one extra step to me, & it takes me long enough to put out comics as it is.
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
Suzanne – There’s no “should.” Just do what works with the talents of the people you have.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Suzanne – I don’t. They find me.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Suzanne – It depends on the story & the creators involved. There should be clear communication so the writer & artist each know what the other is doing. A writer who does a tight script should work with an artist who’s good at sticking to the script. An artist who likes adding their own touches to the story should be paired with a writer who is content to leave such things open to interpretation.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Suzanne – I love to hear the comparisons my readers come up with, because they’re all wildly different & usually quite flattering. I don’t aspire to have my work compared to any specific person’s, though. Why should I? My work is mine.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Suzanne – The friends I’ve made through years of making comics all seem to like them, or at least respect what I do. There are plenty of other folks in my life who don’t get it, but they see it makes me happy, so whatever.
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Suzanne – Not really my thing, but I can sorta see why other people like them.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Suzanne – I don’t read enough of either to give an intelligent answer. Or even an emotional answer.
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Suzanne – I never really gave that much thought. I’m too busy thinking about my own characters.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Suzanne – Self-publishing works for what I do, but I can definitely see the advantages to being published by someone else. Sometimes it’s best to just focus on making a good comic & let professionals handle the rest.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Suzanne – I usually do well at conventions that emphasize small press & creator-owned work (like SPX in Bethesda MD, SPACE in Columbus, OH, & MOCCA Fest in New York City… & there are lots more out there!).
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Suzanne – Not much. I’ve been at it for a long time so word of mouth travels around. I should probably do more promotion. I’m doing this interview, that counts, right?
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Suzanne – A few shops carry my comics, but most comic shops aren’t set up to sell mini-comics & most patrons aren’t there to buy them. (Many comic shops involve mini-comics people in a lot of other great things, though ? signings, gallery shows, comic jams, figure drawing sessions, etc.) My comics do sell pretty well at conventions.
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Suzanne – I have a morbid fascination with fan fiction.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Suzanne – A reader. I’m a bit of a comics accumulator, but I do try to clean house now & then.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Suzanne – We’ll probably see more webcomics & printed graphic novels & collections will continue to be popular, I imagine. Beyond that, who knows?
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Suzanne – More people doing the kind of comics they want to do, the kind they want to read.