1. Hello there and welcome to the Mind Meld Travis! Now for those who may not know of you or of Creator's Edge Press, what can you tell us about yourself and the publisher?
Well, I've been an independent comic artist and creator for the last 20 years and I formed Creator's Edge Press with a group of colleagues in 2010. Our aim was not only to publish our own works, but help other like us get their books finished, printed and in the hands of more readers. Kind of a "learn from our mistakes in this business" kind of thing.
2. That certainly sounds like its a very challenging way to go about things. Has it led to any issues in the years since 2010?
Oh most certainly... but probably nothing more than any young company gets hit with. It's a struggle for sure, but one that we enjoy. A good friend of mine (who is also in the publishing world) called it "a strange hustle we do". That about sums it up!
3. As someone who has become pretty familiar with CEP since around 2012, I've noticed that all titles seemingly tend to get the GN treatment very quickly. Is this a more preferred way then going from single issue to single issue?
We dropped the idea of doing single issues for 2 main reasons: cost and commitment. In order to keep publishing physical single issues, you need to basically sell out of the previous one immediately. This isn't really an option for folks like us who are making most of our bread and butter at cons and shows. Distributors like Diamond are tough to get into bed with (without a ton of capital), so the old idea of an issue by issue series doesn't work for a group like ours. Also, when you aren't top tier, you tend to have a lot of people send you books with the best of intentions... but artists and writers are flakey and might drag their feet on a deadline or stop doing the book altogether. Leaving us holding the bag. There is nothing worse than having a fan pick up a copy of a #1 and never get to see that #2. That's a person you've lost now. More than likely for life. They lose faith in your company even if it wasn't our fault. But with graphic novels, you get an entire story arc and it costs less in the long run to produce.
4. You guys have shown you are willing to push boundaries and cross lines in certain books, is there any lines or boundaries you won't mess with?
Boundaries are a weird thing. It's all up to interpretation. Frankly, I think anyone should be able to tell whatever story they want to, as long as it's a GOOD story. As the submissions director, I see all sorts of insane nonsense cross my screen. And a lot of them are making books for sheer shock value alone. Now that in an of itself is not enough to make a good book. There has to be an interesting narrative, characters you care about and art that draws in the reader. I'm a pretty liberal guy and I've seen just about everything. Nothing really makes me think a book is automatically invalid. But, from a publisher standpoint, I'd have to look at perception as a factor. How are potential readers going to judge your company as a whole based on what you produce? for this reason, I typically shy away from stuff that's racist, homophobic, promotes gratuitous violence to women or children, and anything with a message of overall hate. The internet is full of places for folks to work out their demons... our con tables don't have to be one of them. But, as long as there is redeeming quality in a story and the art is good, I'm always willing to give it a shot!
5. Out of everything CEP has released, what for you personally has been an all time favorite to see be published and put in the hands of readers?
I guess the easy answer would be my own book "Billy Love Nibbles" because it's a personal project and something very close to my heart. But from a company standpoint, I'd have to say "Critical Mass" and "Prince of Pieces." Critical Mass was a book that I had initially rejected and I told the artist/writer (James Lacroix) that the art needed to be updated, tweaked, etc. A year or so later, he sent me the book COMPLETELY redone and it looked amazing. He's a very talented guy and I respect that he's doing everything himself. He and I are cut from the same cloth in that regard, so it's exciting for me to have someone like that involved with us. And as for Prince of Pieces, this was the book that I NEVER thought CEP would ever get in a million years. The story is awesome, and funny and shocking in all the right ways. And the art is... well, it's the best looking book we've ever produced. Hands down. It's the full package.
I remember being on a podcast the day I got the submission from Sam Miserendino (the writer of the book) and how I was exclaiming that I loved it so much and I was crossing all of my fingers and toes that we'd get it... all the while thinking we never would. It's too good for a little outfit like ours. But Sam took a chance on us and it's our best seller to date. It slays people at cons and draws them in from a distance when I put up that banner of a zombified Jesus with blood oozing from his wounds. I have no qualms about that level of shock value... because there's an amazing story to go with it. Those 2 books (plus my own) are the biggest jewels in the CEP crown. But don't get me wrong... I love and support all the creators and books we've produced. I wouldn't have backed them if I didn't. This company is a labor of love, and if I don't love something, I'm sure as hell not gonna labor over it. lol!
Face meets wall!
6. I'd have to agree about what you said for Prince of Pieces as I've read and reviewed that one myself. One needs an open mind when reading that title, although I think its a perfect fit with CEP myself. And speaking of Prince of Pieces, will there be a follow up? Or is that all Sam Miserendino planned to do regarding the story?
Sam is definitely working something up in his mind for a sequel. There's far too much Catholic angst there NOT to do a sequel lol! But unfortunately the artist has passed. So we'll have to find someone to do that amazing style or something close to it.
7. Speaking of follow ups, I've noticed that with quite a few CEP titles that a majority of them have yet to receive a follow up story. Of course something like the Mushroom Murders GN, a follow up story would be hard to pull off. Is there any plans for any sequels or is newer stories currently a focus for the time being?
ACTUALLY we just sent the sequel to Children's Vampire Hunting Brigade to the printer. It's a fantastic follow up with amazing art and adds much more meat (as it were) to the story.
8. Speaking of newer stories, what's next to come from CEP?
We don't have any finished books on the immediate horizon. We're always working with a few creators while they get their books finished up, so right now we are going to focus on Lucky, Billy Love Nibbles and the second CVHB. But there are a few titles I hope get finished sooner rather than later (such as one about a man seeking vengeance on a monster alligator in a Bayou city).
9. When you and the others started CEP, did you yourself ever think things would have gotten as far as they have today?
Actually, there was a fairly large contingent that thought we'd have instant success on a Dark horse or Image level. The more level headed (and of course, remaining) members hoped for it, but knew it was a level of work and dedication that we just didn't have. Honestly, I'm just surprised at every Emerald City Comic Con that we do exponentially better and there are new and returning fans at every show. It's a big boost for our collective ego.
This isn't the Jesus you're looking for!
10. Due to pretty much putting out GN's only (which with the explanation behind that being highly understandable), has this made it easier to be distributed through Diamond? Or due to costs are you guys still going through other means?
"Easy" is never the word I'd use to describe Diamond. With the boom in comic movies, they're hedging their bets with the bigger names and all but ignoring small outfits like us. We are currently exploring a variety of options, but just staying afloat is the main goal. I mean, our books are just as good if not better than some of the stuff in Previews... but we can't afford ad space in the ways they want and we don't have a franchise deal (like Evil Dead or Gem) so we are trying to shout over a sea of reboots and other un-original crap to get people's attention. It's a rough road, but hopefully if we keep at it, someone out there with influence will notice that our comics are amazing and help us shout it to the world.
11. Where do you hope to see not only yourself, but the company as well in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, I'd like to see us at more cons and bigger cons (Denver, Phoenix, and maybe New York). I want our past debts to be 100% paid off from the previous founders' poor business practices and to have some dispensable cash that we can roll into printing a title outright without asking the creator to come up with the cash. Something we can believe in and promote accordingly. Right now, we're still repairing the boat... hopefully it will really sail in the next 2-3 years.
12. For those looking to get into the industry, or are just starting out, what advice would you give to them?
Advice: don't get into this with anyone you don't know. Personally know. Know their true character and only get into bed with folks who say what they do and do what they say. And if you're one of those lofty folks who thinks it's all 'gonna just work out" please stay home. We need driven and committed people to bring new and interesting ideas to the forefront. Now, more than ever, is there opposition and obstacles to something new getting exposure. There's so much derivative junk out there... it's tough. But what you can do right off the bat is the following:
1. Finish your book. Not kinda, not sorta. Finished. And not just issue #1. Finish a story arc. something people can get behind and know that you're gonna do this no matter what.
2. Print it and hit the cons. There are SO may online print-on-demand places that its stupid not to. And also put your work online. ComiXology, Drivethru, Comicsfix or just your own website and advertise it via every social media outlet. You need a fan base and groundswell and you only get that by putting yourself out there... digitally AND physically.
3. Smile! You make comics, dammit! It's fun as hell... it's a lot of work for little pay off, but what pay off there is... is glorious. lol!
13. And as for my last question, when it comes to print vs. digital. What's your views on it?
(Actual): Both are viable. As tablets and access to the web become more engrained into our day to day lives all forms of media will have to conform to stay at all relevant. Comics are no different. It's a narrative in a visual medium. And they will adapt and evolve. But there will always be a place for print. While one day it may not be the standard it will always be an option... Especially for comics. Because comics are art. Pure and simple. And people will always want to make that physical connection to art. If it's looking at a painting in a gallery rather than online or turning pages in a comic rather than swiping sideways on a tablet. It will always be there... And I can tell you from experience that there's one thing digital will never replicate: new comic smell. Now THAT is reason enough to be in this industry!
Editor's Note: Many, many thanks to Travis for taking part in this! To stay up to date on all future CEP happenings, head over to their Facebook page and hit the like button!