Saturday, January 1, 2011

Q&A with Fubar's Jeff McComsey, part 1

How many times have I promoted the WWII/zombie anthology FUBAR (now on sale!) on this blog?  The answer: NOT ENOUGH!  Not only does this collection contain a certain short story by myself and Leonardo Pietro, but it's masterminded by the inimitable Jeff McComsey.  After meeting Jeff at April's Pittsburgh Comicon, it was easy to see that he was a strong voice in the independent comics scene.  It was there that I picked up a copy of his American Terror graphic novel, and I've been impressed by everything he's done since.

Jeff was kind enough to type out some answers to the many questions I recently asked him.  Normally I designate who is speaking during these Q&A sessions with their initials; that's a problem this time around.  I guess I'll write out last names.  That would work.  Whatever.

McClelland: In my opinion, the comics field has changed a great deal in the last 20 years, in that there appears to be greater diversity but a dwindling base of readers.  Maybe I think that because I'm more aware of different books than I was at, oh, age nine, but it seems there's more choice if someone wants to read something different.

How do you react to that as an independent creator?   Do you have more opportunity in today's market with the gradual acceptance of graphic novels in mainstream culture?  Do you still have to worry about reaching potential readers with comic readership declining since the days of the Death of Superman storyline?

McComsey: I do feel like sometimes that I missed the black and white boom that TMNT brought out in the mid 1980s to the early 1990s.  As a guy who does almost exclusively black and white, that would have been nice. It’s still tough to get a book distributed through comic shops with Diamond’s benchmark and the fickleness of most shop owners, though. What I have found is that it seems like conventions are getting better traffic than they used to.

FUBAR, for example, was able to finance its various print runs by selling books at conventions. While the numbers buying from shops are shrinking it seems more folks are willing to shell out for a book they like at a con or to attend them in the first place. It’s similar to what musicians have encountered since downloading/piracy has taken a huge bite out of album sales. If the band wants to make money they have to tour.  

As an indie creator, the con circuit is crucial for turning any profit at all or promoting a project. They’re also a bunch of fun and great opportunities to meet other cool creators like yourself.

McClelland:  What is it about horror comics that appeal to so many readers?  Ten years ago, I don't know if there were more than a half dozen dedicated horror-themed books on the shelves, and now they seem to be all over.

McComsey: Horror comics in particular is a genre that comes and goes.  It, along with stuff like war and romance comics, was there at the birth of the medium and never vanishes for very long.

As a creator, horror/zombie books are extremely fun to draw and write, and I think most creators given the opportunity jump at the chance of testing their mettle in a genre that has had stellar work done by those who came before us.

McClelland: What was the switch that all of sudden turned 'on'?

McComsey: I think one of the reasons for the sudden resurgence of horror books is the fact that most horror tropes are well known amongst readers. You can pick up a stray zombie/horror comic and already know more or less what you need to know to enjoy it, unlike most mainstream comics where there is a built in continuity that either you’re familiar with or you’re not.

McClelland: FUBAR includes over a dozen creators on its various stories.  How difficult is it to coordinate all of the different creators in an effort to form a cohesive project?

McComsey: I think the trick is to take it one step at a time.  Find writers to write stories, then find some artists to draw them.  About a million emails later and you’ve got a book. With the story side of these operations I had help in the form of Jorge Vega.  Jorge is a writer friend who I’ve worked with a bunch and I trust his objective assessment of material.  Along with his organizational skills, Jorge was a huge help in the first stage of FUBAR.

McClelland: What challenges do you face from an editorial standpoint?

McComsey: When it comes to collecting/editing the art, I am very used to that process and understand what it’s like to contribute to a book like FUBAR when there’s no pay and even the book being published can’t be guaranteed.  It was important for me not to “bug” contributors, but to keep people excited for the book and help everybody knock out stellar work that they’ll be proud to show off.

While having so many contributors made it tricky to initially put the book together, it was the biggest help when it came time to promote FUBAR.  That also means over a dozen guys and girls posting to Facebook and their respective blogs spreading the word.

I'll stop there and pick up in a few days.  Check out more of Jeff's work here: and here:  You can buy a copy of FUBAR: Volume 1 at any comic shop or through

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