SPX Talks: Homeless Comics / by Spandexless

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As we said in our review of Healed, we made fast friends with George and Griffin of Homeless Comics, and it probably has a lot to do with this awesome interview. We talked about the collaborative process, high-quality printing, Griffin's way with the ladies, beefcakes... oh dear... we might have gotten slightly off-track. It's all in the name of art though, we swear! Read on!

Alex: Yeah. So. We're recording now and such. I'm sorry, what did you want to do? Shiva Blast?

Griffin: I wasn't ready!

A: So. Why don't you tell us your names so that we can make sure we know who we're recording.

G: Griffin.

George O'Connor: George O'Connor.

A: Okay. Just Griffin? Like Cher?

G: Yeah, sure!

A: So you guys do a comic called Healed. I'm going to turn to the writer here. Why don't you give be a brief rundown of what it's about.

GO: Sure. Basically everybody wakes up one day. And there are no more life-threatening diseases or illnesses. So anybody who had cancer the night before wakes up and it's gone. And so the idea we play around with, is this causes a hell of a lot of chaos very soon after it happens. And what we do is we set up the big event but then we dive in and tell more personal stories about how different people or families or corporations are dealing with that.

A: And unlike most of the people at SPX, this is actually a two-person team. A lot of the people, I've notice, it's one writer and one artist. I'm going to turn to the artist here... what do you feel that the benefits and challenges of those are? What are the good and bad points?

G: Of working with a writer? As opposed to solo? Well, I have actually two projects that I've been trying to get off the ground solo, and I've found that because I'm both doing the writing and the artwork, I have too much freedom to change whatever I want whenever I want. I keep redoing the same four or five starting panels, and it's been an endless loop of drama and chaos in my own brain. Working with George gives me just enough boundaries and discipline where I know I can't disappoint him or change his story, but I can add things to the visuals of it to enhance it. And that's where I get to have my fun. So it gives me boundaries while still letting me play as much as I want to.

A: Awesome. And... he's [George] off playing. I wanted to ask, what's the name of your production?

G: Oh! Homeless Comics. That originally an inside joke because I didn't have a home at the time that we started. And we were still looking to be picked up by a larger publisher at the time, so it was kind of a joking title, but not it has turned into our official moniker and we're going with the idea that all of our comics want to live in comics in your house.

A: Nice! That's clever! I like that. Are you still open to the idea or looking to be picked up by let's say someone like Image or Top Cow?

G: I don't know what George's thoughts on this are. I know that as far as the trades go, once we get to that point, I know I'm all about getting picked up by another company. As far as putting out these floppies, I totally enjoy doing it ourselves. It's a little bit stress, but he has more in the way of the actual production side of that, so he might have a different opinion.

A: And he's [George] back, so that's where I'm going to go! One other really really interesting change is that unlike some of the smaller, indie-r comics, these are fully-fleshed out, full-sized books that look like they should belong on a comic shelf. One, what was the thought process behind producing such high quality books, and also... like... how? How do you do it so it's not just monumentally expensive.

GO: Well first, thank you. Because that's what we strive to do. Professionalism isn't about getting paid. It's about the attitude and it's about the presentation. That stuff we can control. We can control how the book looks. We can control how well the book is written and illustrated. Whether or not people like it, THAT'S out of our hand. But what we CAN control, I want to make as good a possible. And it's really just because I want it to be as good as possible. It's my desire to do that, so it might be a little more expensive to do 24 pages at full comics size versus smaller pieces, but, you know it's just a little selfish. That's what I want to hold in my hand at the end of the day. And I think it kind of helps it stand out a little bit in maybe a convention where you're going to see all sorts of sizes and color and shapes and illustrated styles. But we've got something that does look like it could be on a shelf somewhere. I'd like to think it influences, but I think honestly, when you look around here, people are just looking for good stories. So it just kind of comes down to that's what we wanted to do with our book. That's how we wanted our book to look. So we did the research. Right now we go thorough KaBlam! which seems to be very reasonably priced. And I've got to give props to their customer service. They've been very good with us. So we'll keep plugging away that way. And to answer the question you asked Griffin, we're four issues into what's going to be a five issue run. So I think for the floppy issues there's a bit of a control. And plus, cost, we can do floppies. When we get to the trade where it's going to be close to 80 or so pages, I wouldn't mind to find a company who would be willing to pay for that, but also who can navigate the whole Diamond situation and help us get into comic book shops. Right now we've got some very nice stores that have been incredibly supportive of us and you can find our stuff in there. But when it comes to the trade I'd love to see if we can't get a higher penetration. And you need help. To get through Diamond, you need help.

A: Speaking of higher penetration... Griffin. We were speaking previously about some of the women who come to these shows and give you their number. Do you have anything to say to our female readers?

*riotous laughing ensues from all parties*

GO: I LOOOOOVE YOUUUUUU!

G: Um.... Llllllllladies? No....

*more riotous laughing*

A: With the LONGEST L you could possibly.... Lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllladies.

Beth: When I get around to posting this, I'm going to make that an audio clip I swear.

A: It will be the official ringtone of Spandexless. Lllllladies. Llllladies. Excuse me, I have a call.

*we all finally stop laughing*

G: I've actually gone through great efforts to cater to the female audience. And also the gay audience. Because my prints... I don't typically like doing prints. I don't like just having one image that I'm reproducing and selling over and over. I always keep some because at most conventions--it's not very popular here at SPX--but at most conventions, people like that kind of thing. They can identify a character that they like and know. And I'm used to seeing all the female characters very sexy and all the male characters just very action-y or violent, so what I've been doing lately is a lot of male beefcake pinups. So just superheroes, popular characters from TV shows, or Dr. Horrible, a few of the Doctor Whos, the entire cast of Serenity, I'm going to have all the men from that in a group shot.

B: Oh, dear. Can I have that one? I didn't get any sleep the other night because I discovered Serenity was on SyFy at like two in the morning.

G: Ha! Nice. I'm going for sexy poses, no clothes, but tastefully covered up in some way shape or form. Like, the way this started, was I had the idea for something called "Stark, Naked," which is Tony Stark lounging in a recliner, martini in his hand, nothing on, and just the helmet for Iron Man on his crotch, and just that big smirk on his face. And from that it's just jumped. And they're always the first prints to go, because there's just no one else catering to that audience. And... then that leads to other interactions and I do a lot of custom sketches, which helps me connect with people, and then eventually phone numbers get exchanged... and conversations happen...

GO: AND BABIES ARE MADE!

*more laughing*

A: Okay! Well. Just one more question for each of you. Is there any individual work, any website of your own personally? Like a write portfolio or a writing blog?

G: I have ShadedAreas.com and that houses all of my artwork, prints, it links to my Red Bubble account, which has t-shirts and stuff that I don't keep available at conventions, and I can be contacted through there for commissions of projects, and I'm kind of a whore, so if you have something you want drawn, I'll totally do it!

A: Well alright! Specific penetration, somewhat of a whore... And the writer, now. Not the whore?

GO: And I'm supposed to follow that now? Fantastic. To learn more about Healed, you can go to homelesscomics.com. Also there's a writing group that I'm a part of called Elevator Pitch Press, and we come together and do our own projects, but also anthologies, and you can check that out as well.