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QRD #70 - comic creators & guitarists
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Feature Interview:
Electric Bird Noise

Guitarist Interviews:
Fred Frith
Phil Dole
Chris Jeely

Comic Creator Interviews:
Jules Rivera
Derek Adnams & Brandon Bullock
Graham & Caroline Johnson
Martin Malin
Mike Rickaby
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Comic Creator Interview with Derek Adnams & Brandon Bullock
January 2015
Derek Adnams
Name: Derek Adnams & Brandon Bullock
City: Fishkill, NY & West Deptford, NJ
Comics: Indie Comics Magazine; GrayHaven Mosaic   
Websites: facebook.com/DevastatingRouletteStudios, twitter.com/dadnams, facebook.com/derek.adnams, dadnams.tumblr.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?

Derek – I was 10 when I started following creators & found a great comic book store in Red Bank, New Jersey called Fantasy Zone.  That’s what turned me into a collector & made me realize that if people actually made these things, then I could too.  I fell out of comics in the mid-90s & came back in a big way in 2011 after I read Supergods by Grant Morrison.

Brandon – Since I was 6. They just opened up a whole different world of imagination for me. But like Derek, I fell out of them toward the end of the 90s.  I got back into them again in the early 2000s. So I guess I only took a few years off before rekindling the fire.

QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?

Derek – Amazing Spider-Man #188 in 1979.

Brandon – Peter Parker, Spectacular Spider Man #40. I was six & I couldn’t read but I remember seeing this brightly colored guy turning into a reptile of some kind & thought, “This is cool.”  I begged my mom to buy it for me off one of those spinner racks they used to have in drug stores. I still have that issue.

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

Derek – We had some short work in our high school literary magazine when we were 16 or 17, but I was 37 when the first real writing I had ever done saw print.

Brandon – Yes, in high school was our first but it wasn’t until 2005 when I self-published my first book.  I believe I was 30.

QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?

Derek – There’s some pretty amazing stuff coming out now, but if I had to choose I’d say the 1980s.  You had the writer/artists like John Byrne & Walt Simonson killing it on Fantastic Four & Thor, Watchmen came out, Frank Miller could do no wrong on Daredevil & Batman Year One & The Dark Knight Returns.  There were a ton of indie books like Grendel by Matt Wagner & Dave Sim’s Cerebus making huge waves in the industry, & later in the decade Vertigo started ruling the market with Sandman & early Grant Morrison stuff.

Brandon – The 80s.

QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?

Derek – I’m lazy.

Brandon – I like to tell stories with my art.

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

Derek – Now I can see a career path where a writer puts out a book, gets discovered by Marvel or DC, builds a fan base, then goes back to the creator owned space to write the stories they’re passionate about.

Brandon – Sometimes it can lead to the mainstream if it creates enough buzz & the big corporations want to make money off of you, sure.  But mostly I believe Independents are their own entity.

QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?

Derek – $2.99 seems like a reasonable amount.

Brandon – I agree, but with printing costs now a days… that leaves a very small profit margin. Damn you inflation!

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

Brandon – Depends on the length & how much time you have to focus on them. We both have families & other responsibilities.

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

Brandon – Both. There’s an audience for them all.

QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?

Brandon – Depends. See previous question.

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

Derek – Just telling the story.  I use a lot less panels & I have a good sense for page turns & reveals.

Brandon – Lettering. Most people won’t believe how much goes into the art form. As everything else in comics, there are rules.

QRD – Do you do thumbnails?

Brandon – Yes

QRD – At what size do you draw?

Brandon – Usually on the standard 11x17 blue line comic boards but sometimes I draw in a sketchbook.  If I like a particular panel I’m sketching, I’ll ink it in & scan it & cut & paste it onto the comic page via computer.

QRD – What kind of pens do you use?

Derek – Ones I steal from hotels.

Brandon – Pigma Microns

QRD – What does your workstation look like?

Derek – A laptop surrounded by totems & artifacts of power, music & coffee.

Brandon – I’ve got a standard drafting table for all my hand drawn projects & around the corner is my computer station. I have an L shaped desk which includes dual monitors, a Wacom Tablet, a relatively new desktop computer (2014) with CS3, an office copier/scanner with an 11x17 scanning bed.

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

Brandon – For me, it’s after I ink the page in. I scan the page & then do any touch ups or corrections that need to be made. I also fill in the large areas digitally… with the technology we have today, I can’t see myself hand-inking a giant black area. It’s so much quicker doing it digitally. Also, I do all my lettering digitally… No more hand lettering for me. Thank you technology!

QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?

Derek – They are great ways for creators to get their work out into the universe.

Brandon – I’m not a fan. My love for the Printed book will never die!

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

Brandon – I like to work in B/W, but I totally love to see my work colored. It really brings it to another dimension.

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

Brandon – Depends. There is no “required” amount for producing a comic. If you can do it all yourself, then do it! If you feel more comfortable just penciling, then find yourself an inker. There is no right amount of people. Just make comics.

QRD – How do you find collaborators?

Derek – Indentured servitude.

Brandon – Word of mouth, social media.

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

Derek – As tight as it needs to be to convey the vision, but with enough breathing room so the artist can interpret that vision in their own way & with their own voice.

Brandon – It’s up to the relationship of the writer & artist. If the writer wants a particular thing drawn a certain way, then make it tight. If the writer wants the artist to just “go with it“ then make it loose. I’ve worked with scripts that have been both.

QRD – Do you think it’s important to have a full story arc completely written before starting to draw?

Brandon – No. Just as long as the first couple pages are done & set in stone… then feel free to tinker with the rest of the story until you get it right. It takes considerably longer for an artist to produce pages than the writer. So as long as the writer can stay ahead of the artist, there is no need to have the story arc completed before illustrating begins.

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

Derek – Batman.

Brandon – Matt Wagner.

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

Brandon – They love ‘em & can’t believe I’m still doing them after 20 something years…  lol

QRD – What do you think of superheroes?

Derek – I love ‘em!

Brandon – Ditto.

QRD – Marvel or DC?

Derek – That’s tough because I read titles from both.  Batman’s my favorite character ever, so if I had to choose one to read forever it’d have to be DC.

Brandon – I’ve always been an indy guy… Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, Eclipse, & many others back in the day but if I had to choose just between those two… DC. I always dug JLI. Booster & Beetle will always be a classic.

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

Derek – Batman, of course.  Superman because he’s the first at DC & the Fantastic Four because they were the first at Marvel & I love the family dynamic.  Doom Patrol, but nothing like Grant’s run because I don’t have that ability or intellect.  Grendel & Cerebus if Matt & Dave ever wanted to do an anthology collection or re-launch those properties under “new management”.

Brandon – Of course it would be Mage. Matt if you are reading this, I’m up for anything for “Mage, The Hero Destroyed”. Inking, lettering… hit me up! lol

QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?

Derek – I'd like to pitch a project to a publishing or distribution partner or crowdfund through Kickstarter.

Brandon – I’ve done it before back in 2006.

QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?

Derek – New York Comic Con.  It’s pretty local & I get to see my friends.

Brandon – Philly Comic Con, New York Comic Con.  & like Derek, it’s a chance to see our friends in the comic industry.

QRD – How do you feel about doing work for anthologies?

Derek – At this point in my career the majority of what’s been published is anthology work.  I’ve really mastered the “work-for-free” market in the US & now I’m expanding to the “no-pay” European space!

Brandon – Don’t mind it at all. Anything to get your name out there.

QRD – What do you do to promote your books?

Brandon – Word of mouth, social media, comic conventions.

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

Brandon – I think they are suited for anywhere. Comic shops, books stores, online web stores, everywhere.

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

Brandon – Film & animation.

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

Derek – Now I’m a reader.  I buy the majority of my books digitally.

Brandon – As a kid & until my early 20s I was a collector… now I am a reader & get all my comics in trade paperbacks.

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

Derek – Print comics will always be the gold standard, but I see digital distribution really taking off.  Just the ease of buying your books every Wednesday from your bedroom is awesome.  Digital is also a great “gateway drug” for new readership.

Brandon – I hate to say it, but digital media. I’m an old school guy & will always have a love for the “printed” book.

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

Brandon – PSAs.  lol

QRD – Anything else?

Derek – Keep making art!

Brandon – Keep telling the stories!