The conventions of Flash Gordon and other space cowboy comics turn inside out in James Turner’s Warlord of Io. The star of the graphic novel is a reluctant villain more interested in playing video games and becoming a rock star than intergalactic domination. Tiff Preney, internet sales-guru for the Silver Snail Comics, spoke with James Turner, in a wide ranging conversation.
What is your educational background?
My background?  I went to OCAD, (it was only OCA back then), it wasn’t a university, and then I got my BA at the University of Guelph.  They had a deal where you can get your degree if you go there for 1.5 years.  So I took a lot of courses along the line of sociology, psychology and political science, and stuff like that.  It was a lot of fun.
How long have you been living in Toronto?
Well, I grew up in Mississauga and I’ve been living downtown for the last 12 years I guess.
Do you think Toronto contributes to your creativity/story ideas at all?
I’d say yes. One fellow I was reading on Freakonomics, was hypothesizing that cities are creative hubs, and the people you meet in an urban centre, all the different walks of life, all the different paths you can pursue in media.
Any specific places do you find influences your art?
Well, the gallery scene is something to visit, and the Beguiling and the Silver Snail, and TCAF.

Emperor Zing, the Reluctant Warlord of IO Would Rather be in a Rock Band
Quoting Dave Sim, “why have you chosen to do all your comics using computer graphics?”
I’ve been working on the computer for oh, over 15 years now, and when I started I found it very difficult.  When I was at Guelph, I discovered printmaking and got really into it.  And I guess, moving a little bit away from things like water colour and paint, where you’re directly in contact with it, and you’re moving to printmaking which is you do the board and then you’re printing it too, so then you have direct contact with it, the actual sheet …… so I guess I’m steadily moving away from direct contact with the paper, the artwork.
And after I was using the computer for awhile, initially I would have a drawing table beside my computer and I would paint stuff and scan it in.  And now I am completely digital and I tried going back to drawing and painting and I can’t do it anymore.  I want an “undo” button.

That sort of leads in to my next question,
do you do any sketches before hand
and then develop it on the computer?

Yeah, I do. My sketchbooks are filled with doodles.  But everything is really, like a draw now to scan it into the computer, so when I’m doing a drawing, they’re not really finely tuned or erased and stuff, I just draw multiple lines until I get the line I want.  Then when I scan it in, I go over the line that I want.  So when other people look at them (sketches) it’s not as refined as it would be in their final medium.
Do you use mostly Illustrator for your artwork?
Mostly all Illustrator. Now I’m importing it over to Photoshop, to add in some texture and stuff, and play around with it.
What’s interesting is that I know you do have drawing ability, was your decision to do all your artwork as computer graphics due to the flexible nature of computers?
I think there’s more flexibility.  I’m just extremely used to it now, and everything has good points and bad points and when you are on the computer, you can do straight lines and everything like that, very easily, and I think if I went back into drawing, I’d find it very annoying having to do the French curves again.
Have there been any comic book artists/writers that have influenced your comic style?
Oh yeah, definitely, I think Jack Kirby will be a big one.
Is this more of a childhood influence, that made you want to get into comic books or is he someone that has influenced what you’re doing in the present day?
He’s an influence that is persistent.  Directly on Rex Libris, when I was looking to do something on superheroes, or a larger-than-life hero like Rex is, and action-packed, the first person I thought of was Jack Kirby, with his explosive action sequences.  He really brought energy into it.  I thought that would be what I was looking for.
Okay, Jack Kirby. Is there anyone else that has influenced your style?
I’d say Hergé, the creator of Tintin, but how much of that really comes through in the look, I don’t know.

Well what’s awfully interesting with your comic books is that since the artwork is made through a computer, that makes your art style truly unique, and there’s no artist out there that I can think of that you can see any artistic similarities with.
Yes, I’m off on my own.  But there are some good points and bad points to that.  A good point is that I’m unique.  A bad point is there’s no one else doing art like me and I wonder, why is that? Nobody likes it?

Well, maybe it’s because not everyone (in the comic book community) is as familiar and comfortable with making art on the computer as you are.

One thing I was trying to do was tie-in to this sort of Japanese cute factor.
I looked at Scott McCloud’s Making Comics and Understanding Comics, and I think they are really good books.  Well, what I like about it, is that he doesn’t try to shoehorn you into one way of doing things, and the only other book I remember as a kid was How to Draw the Marvel Way, but it was very strictly superhero-orientated, where as McCloud is everything, and I wished I had something like that when I was a kid to look at.
When I was younger, my two influences where Tintin and Asterix, and I would get them from the library.  That was always wonderful; you can get a lot of really cool stuff from the library.  And then on the other side, it was Kirby that influenced me on the superhero side.  And in university, I discovered Little Nemo by Winsor McKay, and I loved Little Nemo.  You can find in Nil references to Little Nemo that he is always saying “oh” and that’s very much a little Nemoism.  Little Nemo is always falling out of bed and saying “oh”.  The artwork is beautifully rendered, one of the most beautiful comics I’ve ever read.  A little bit of that influenced my work but again, how much of that you can really tell… a bit of the textural elements.

What’s your relationship like with your publisher, Slave Labor Graphics which is now known as SLG? How’s SLG as a publisher?
They’ve been great to work with.  I don’t have really a frame of reference for it since they’re my only publisher.

Would you ever consider going to a different publisher?
I think they’ve been very good to me. That’s a tough question.
Well I noticed that some artist/writers like having there stuff published by as many publishers as they can.  Kind of like adding to their portfolio in a way.
I’m open to working with other publishers.  To be fair, SLG is a fairly small operation.  I just give them my artwork, we have discussions about length, like Warlord of Io was supposed to be 150 pages, and I went 206 pages.

So they would only give you length restrictions, but do they ever give you content restrictions?
I don’t think so. Nothing that I can remember at any rate, which is one of the great things about them.  I’m not sure how much that would be the case if I went with another publisher.
What kinds of things do you do when you’re not working as an illustrator, hobby-wise?

I work full-time now. I work as a creative director for a multi-media company, kind of communications company.  So that takes up most of my days, so now my illustrations are becoming my hobby.  You can say that graphic novels are now more my hobby definitely.  They’re very time consumptive to do and I’m not doing freelance during the day anymore, so I’m doing freelancing at night, that means the amount of time for the graphic novels has greatly diminished. So yeah, graphic novels is the hobby now.
What sort of job would you have if you gave up on illustration/arts? Like if you had to take a job that wasn’t in the arts, what would it be?  Is there anything else that you would have interest in?

That’s a good question.  I don’t know. Art has been my direction since I was four.  There are some ideas that aren’t really realistic. Like I remember wanting to be an archeologist…
Like Indiana Jones?

Yeah, but it’s little too dangerous for my taste with being chased by ghosts and stuff.

Well, it’s like anthropology, and you did say how you had an interest in sociology and the likes in university.

Yeah, I did find that stuff really interesting, but there’s not any real job openings for that kind of thing right now.
Let’s talk about your latest graphic novel, Warlord of Io.  Can you give us a synopsis of it?
It’s about a spoiled rich kid who just wants to play video games and rock music, and his dad retires, and suddenly he’s left in charge of the planet and responsible for the lives of billions of beings and that’s exactly what he doesn’t want.

A storyline like that can really be placed anywhere, and yet you decided to place it on Io, which is a moon of Jupiter.  This gives it a real sci-fi edge.  Why did you choose this location? Did you do this purposely so it will give you the opportunity to try out a sci-fi storyline?

I always liked sci-fi, especially when I was a kid and I remember watching things like Flash Gordon on Magic Shadows, I remember Elwy Yost used to have the serials.  I remember Star Wars and I really enjoyed that.  I tend to like the sci-fantasy of Star Wars and Star Trek more than things like Lord of the Rings and more fantasy stuff.  And I wanted to do something of my own in that vein.
Moxy Comet is a Archaeologist Specializing in the History of the Tiki Pirates

Comics by Moebius I suppose.  There really didn’t seem to be a lot of sci-fi kind of comic books.
Was it more sci-fi movies and tv shows that you enjoyed?
Well there’s Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, which were comic books way back in the day, and I read Philip Francis Nowlan’s Armageddon 2419 A.D. That’s the original Buck Rogers’ book. And I’d say the other source for inspiration was Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Warlord of Mars, Princess of Mars, that whole series…
Oh, is that where the title comes from?
Exactly, it comes from Warlord of Mars.  There’s a number of references to Barsoom and to John Carter.
I noticed some people saying there’s a Nickelodeon feel to Warlord of Io. Did you have any influences with any of their cartoon shows?

I don’t have cable and I hardly ever watch tv now. I don’t watch Nickelodeon and I don’t have any idea what shows they even have on there.  You can say the visual references were coming out of both Flash Gordon and Things to Come, H.G. Wells.

I think they were probably referring to how your two heroes Moxy and Zing were looking Nickelodean-esque.
One thing I was trying to do was tie-in to this sort of Japanese cute factor.  I wanted to see if I could do that, if I could do something that was really cute, because I have people say that, “oh your work isn’t cute enough.”
So I wanted to play in that kind of playground; design things that were just super cute.  And one of the other things I wanted to do was create a sort of mini-verse in a way.
So all the characters are very cute and are very limited in ability. There’s a lot more incompetence going on, not that there’s not a lot of incompetence in the real world, but it’s sorta like a mini-verse where you can explore ideas and explore politics and explore issues, and it’s all done in this smaller easier to understand milieu.
And I just want to go over your previous graphic novels. Ex Libris, can you give a synopsis?
He’s the ass-kicking librarian, fighting to defend knowledge from the forces of darkness.
And any influences on your idea behind it or…
It was an outgrowth from Nil, my previous book.
Yeah, I’m going backwards! Ha ha! We’ll get into Nil.
No worries. It’s the Nihilists vs. the Nihilists vs. the Optimists.
Yeah I love it.
It was very dark.
And satirical.
And satirical. And what I wanted to do was something that was an antidote to that. I felt that knowledge and learning and the wonder of our world, which is endless, would be something to do next, and so I set it in a library.
I love libraries because you can find all the knowledge of human civilization really at your fingertips, especially in a big library system like Metro Toronto.
And so you took that in the literal sense. I love the whole Biblio…
Biblioteca. You did a lot of background information on it. You can see it on your website. All the different characters and the ordered society of Biblioteca: I love that. Was that information extra or study notes to help you with the story line?
Well, I’d say that one of the reasons why I did that was because of all the conspiracy theory stuff that’s out there. I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail many years ago, which is the source material for The Davinci Code. They sued him, and all that sorta thing. Anyways, this conspiracy stuff where you link together a bunch of facts and weave something through it through all these coincidences, I thought, “anybody can do it.” So I decided I’d do it and I’d do it with something fun.
You have such a great universe created around…do you ever think of going back to Rex Libris or you want to move on…?
I’d love to, but the market really dictates a lot of what you do, even for somebody like George Lucas. I was reading about his development of the movies and he originally planned for the movie to come out and then he was going to have the trilogy finished through a couple of books written by Alan Dean Foster. He had already commissioned him to write the adaptation of Star Wars, and he wrote Splinter in the Mind’s Eye which was the sequel, and some of the stipulations on it were it had to be something they could do very cheaply, because they had no idea if the movie would succeed or fail. He was hedging his bets, and then when it was a huge hit all of a sudden they had a much broader horizon of what they could do in the sequel. That’s why The Empire Strikes Back came out the way it did and Splinter in the Minds’ Eye kinda got shuffled off the deck.
So you wind up having to take in to account what things are doing in the market.
Right. So that’s why you ended it and..?
Yes. I was going to end on issue ten, but I talked to SLG and they let me continue it for another three issues to wrap up some story lines, and I didn’t wrap everything up, but I tried to wrap up as much as I could in the time available. At some point I might do a direct-to-graphic novel with Rex, but not really sure when that would be.
And another thing that people would mention about Rex is that it was very text heavy.
And so…that was more for your own enjoyment?
A couple of things: when I started doing Rex I was just doing it for fun.

Happiness is Just a Purchase Away.

And I had no publisher and I was just thinking well, I’ll do this and maybe I’ll self-publish it, so I had to put everything in the first issue, because [my thinking was] there’ll never be a second issue. If I was self-publishing I didn’t expect it to sell terribly well, so I thought I’d get as much in as I could and I wasn’t researching what was succeeding I only noticed…
Okay. So you did it mostly for your own enjoyment.
I like that.
And then it actually got published.
When I went to the store Silver Snail and looked at modern comics, pamphlet form, they had so little material in them, it was like reading a storyboard and I could go through an entire comic in two to five minutes depending on the comic.
It’s also depending on whether it’s a mainstream comic or [independent?] because all they’re trying to do is to keep you strung along.
Stringing you along with a little dribble of something.
Where indies tend to give more information.
Yeah. So I found that very frustrating, and I thought I’d do kinda the antithesis of it.
Oh okay. To follow with as much information…
To put in more text and give people their money’s worth. As Rex went on it did get a lot less text heavy. If you look at the second volume it’s nowhere near as text heavy. It has become legendary as being text heavy, so…
But a lot of people appreciated it, the people who were following it.
Some people appreciated it a lot, and some people didn’t.
Didn’t and unfortunately you can’t make everybody happy all the time.
So now let’s go into Nil, your first comic. Again, was it something that you did on your own…oh yeah, that’s what Dave Sim was saying, that you already had most of your [comics done] and Rex Libris, and you were going around with them before they were published.

So let’s get a synopsis of that one, and what brought it about.
It’s about a fellow living in a nihilistic society where the only crime is to believe, and he gets falsely framed for murder and goes on the run, and adventure ensues.
It’s a highly satirical commentary on our own society. I love it. I guess I’m a big fan of satire, but unfortunately an awful lot of people aren’t, because they don’t get it.
Some of the comments I was hearing at the time were very nihilistic comments expressed by people I knew who talked about how human beings were a plague on the planet, and we deserved to be exterminated, and so on and so forth, and I don’t agree with that, so I thought I’d do a book satirizing that point of view.
Look at that fellow recently, he went into the discovery channel and got shot and killed. He took them hostage, he wanted them to do shows espousing sterility and not having children and…euthanasia…
It was very weird, anyways he had a very dark outlook on humanity.
I guess that’s what I can relate to. Ha ha! I guess that’s why it’s one of my favourites. I’m very nihilistic. Not in his sense, but you also see it in a lot of other people and yet they…yeah I would write down a lot of the quotes from this. You would say yourself you’re totally opposite to this?
I think it’s an easy thing to fall into, and we all have our nihilistic tendencies and our frustrations with people, we’re living in a very large city, and there’s always conflict.
“Happiness is just a purchase away.” I use that quote to end out my emails when I write out for Silver Snail.  Usually I have to go buy something though. Ha ha. But it’s more in the humourous sense, and I guess that’s why people get me wrong is that I don’t take it too seriously. The problem is that some people do.
I think the problem is taking seriously the idea that happiness is just a purchase away.
Yeah, but people don’t notice it until to you mention it. You’re thinking well why do you buy things, is it just because it’s there…you’ve got to wonder about that. And I love the stark black and white, maybe to go along with the theme of nihilism. Were you considering that while you were doing the art style?
Everything that I’ve done, I’ve tried to fit the style of it to the story and that kinda limits what I can do with artwork and story. I’m not really well suited to try and do something like a mainstream superhero story – I wouldn’t enjoy drawing it. Even if I could draw it, it would take me forever and I wouldn’t enjoy it so…
I don’t know if catalyst is the right word, but was there anything that triggered you wanting to do graphic novel, or the idea had just always been in your head to do?
I’d been doing illustration for a number of years at that point, and one of the things with illustration is it’s all one-offs. You can’t really get into a lot of depth with that. There’s no evolution. It’s just start-stop, start-stop…
It’s very static.
So I wanted to do ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ something a little bit more in depth where I could play and explore and work with the art and do something longer and evolve something so that was the real impetus for that. I’ve always liked writing stories too.
Cool. What is the process of creation for you? Does it start with a dream?
I do doodle constantly and draw a lot. I think that Nil started from information coming to me from the media, over the news, around me…
You saw a common thing and wanted to comment on it?
Rex arose from Nil, and wanting to do something positive in our world…and just the wonder of knowledge. It’s amazing all the information and the things you can learn biology and evolution and politics and chemistry and science. My brain…it just can’t handle all of this. I like learning about things and I find that I’m generally the happiest when I’m learning about new things.
I’m finding that more nowadays. I don’t like the structure of school I find because…
They suck the fun out of it.
I’m sorta self-educating myself now.
Good for you.
Maybe I should have done that a long time ago but…
Aww, you’re still young.
That’s true…to a point. Ha ha! So how about Warlord of Io? What influenced that idea?
Oddly enough that came out when I was working on Rex and it was originally going to be a supplement in the back of the book. I was trying to do little bits in the back of the occasional pamphlet issue, little side stories, a little of this, a little of that and I had the idea of doing Flash Gordon.
A Flash Gordonesque story.
Flash Gordon always has the Earth hero vs. the evil alien warlord, and I thought,  “what if I do it from the evil alien warlord’s point of view…or his kid’s point of view?”
He’s stuck in charge of this evil alien empire, and now he’s gotta fight John Jett or something like that. That was going to be the original story, this kid stuck in charge of this empire, and he has to go and fight the hero of Earth, the Earth’s ranger or something. When I actually went to do it as a graphic novel, one of the reasons it didn’t get into the back of Rex is I couldn’t work out a style for it.
I was trying to do something retro, I was trying to something that harked back to Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, Alex Raymond was one of the original artists on that and his work was just so gorgeous I didn’t want to try and [attempt to] do anything like that. So it took a while to evolve a look and a feel for it and when I arrived at something that was cute it just seemed to really click and that’s when I decided to do a graphic novel and it changed.
It was also a necessity. That whole change at Diamond was the reason you made it a graphic novel.
It was going to come out as single issues, and then it would eventually be a graphic novel. So when it was coming out as single issues I’d already decided on that.
Oh, okay.
But when Rex ended I felt it’d be unwise to do anything that was an ongoing series. The only thing you can really do now is…
A complete story.
Yeah. You don’t know if you’ll ever get the chance to do the sequel. You don’t know if you’ll ever get to wrap things up, and I always find it annoying when an author starts a big arc, and then he goes and dies on you and doesn’t finish it.
I’ve seen so much of that.
I like Fables, but it keeps going on and on forever. And I want something I know is going to end. When I see a new series coming out I’m waiting until it becomes a graphic novel or else see that there’s a definite end to it – that’s when I’ll pick up the story because I don’t want to be strong along forever.
This is the difference between graphic novels and comics. People say that there’s no difference between them, but there is. One of them is television, and the other is film.
Film has an ending.
Television just strings you along forever.
I can’t get into that.
They want to peel the onion infinitely. You go from one layer to another to another…
And it becomes convoluted and it loses its strength because it can’t…awful! I could go on about that, but let’s…
Did you watch the X-files?
Yes. I’m actually trying to finish watching the entirety of it.
Because one of the things I find about something like the X-files is that they have this alien conspiracy, but every time the reveal something they have to add a new something to it. Another layer, or it ends. And they don’t want it to end because it’s an episodic series.
I don’t like watching any of the episodes about the alien conspiracy, because you don’t get a definite ending. I like the monster ones where it’s all wrapped up in a single episode. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​I’ve finished Series 8, and I need to know how it ends…
It doesn’t.
Well supposedly…
It really doesn’t.
I don’t know yet.
Battlestar Gallactica is another episodic show and I thought the ending on that one was terrible. Let’s just say that I like stories that have an end worked out in the beginning. Look at any screenwriting book or any book on story telling, you start with the ending and you work back to the beginning. What episodic television does is start with the beginning and has no ending. They don’t have any kind of idea what the conclusion will be, so you’re very unsatisfied when it does arrive.
Only when sales wane. And it will be a crap ending.
One bit of trivia is that ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​the second volume of Rex, like the first volume was meant to be a volume, and I put on it “volume one”. After the first one finished, I didn’t put “volume” on it I thought, “oh, I’ll do a thing like the old Fantastic Four which is an ongoing endless series that would never end and have short term arcs and then one episode arcs, y’know that kind of thing. So anyway…I’ve abandoned that.
I did like the Book of Monsters.
Did you? Thank you.
Yeah that was pretty cool. I love monsters.
I love monsters too.
I recognize some of them like the Jabberwock. Others are more satirical like the flesh eating babies. Are they all from stories you’ve read or your own sense of making fun of it like the Nazi Zombies
The smoking Zombie Nazis.
The smoking Zombie Nazis?
Yeah, they all smoke. That’s why you know they’re evil, because they’re all smoking cigarettes.
Even the ones in the background, cuz’ I noticed Jabberwock is in the background, but you never make reference to it. Do all the ones in the background all come from something or…
A lot of them do. Some of them I just made up. Some are my own creations, but there are things like the Jabberwocky, the martians from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. A proper martian with the squid-like look to it not a y’know, cheap Steven Spielberg one. I’m just trying to remember some of the other ones…Dracula,
H.P. Lovecraft…
H.P. Lovecraft…​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Shoggoth I think is in there. The clown from It is in there. There are so many references in there I can’t even remember them all now.
You did the same thing with Warlord of Io. You were saying that there were a lot of Doctor Who things in it. Unfortunately I never read Doctor Who, and that made me think that you did the same thing with the Book of Monsters where you took a lot of sci fi references and put them as background characters to fill it up with as much detail as possible.
I did the same with references to Star Wars, sci fi that I enjoyed when I was a kid, like even Bionic Man, I made reference to in Warlord of Io.
There’s just so much of that I can’t catch everything. I guess that’s why it’s good for rereading.
One of the other inspirations I can say was Mad Magazine. It was a big inspiration for the way I worked on Nil, Rex and Warlord of Io in that you never read an entire issue of Mad through from beginning to end.
I always would read bits here and there. This is before the internet, so I’d go back and read a Mad Magazine a dozen times because you’d have Al Jaffe, the pictures in the gutter that you never noticed before. “Oh, I didn’t see that!”
You look at the ad copy, they’d do a fake ad, and then they’d write in hillarious jokes in the fine print. You could always discover something new and read it a dozen times.  That’s what I wanted to bring into my books, because nobody else does that any more. It’s so superficial.
Almost every background character has a story behind them, or came from another book. I love that. It does have a lot of re-readability.
Micromegas the God of Saturn, or the Titans he’s from a Jonathan Swift story, he’s supposed to be enormous.

Yeah, I thought I caught a Jonathan Swift reference in there…
There’s all kinds of stuff ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​in there. Not a lot of people seem to be noticing it but…
That’s the problem that they’re not used to it.
It took me a while to notice certain things. I’d be like, “wait, that looks familiar.” And I’ll have to go through it again to catch more. Stuff like that. That’s another great thing about your graphic novels that I enjoy.

Any other thoughts about the future of comic books?
Hmm, l think things are moving more online.

Would you be thinking of doing your stuff more online too?
What I love also is you have separate websites for each graphic novel with loads of information. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ I think you’re pretty good at adapting, knowing that there is the web world and acknowledging it and putting a presence there.
I think what works well in the web format though is one page comedy. You go into work, you get your coffee, you sit down you look at a three panel gag strip or one page gag strip and then you start your day, right?
Yeah, I have a hard time putting a full story line on there.
I’m not sure really, that my work works well in that format. Gag page, gag page, gag page…
A lot of people are still doing their longer page format, but putting one page on the web at a time just to garner fans and to see if the market’s interested in…
I find that “reading by strobe light”. It’s like reading an animated film a frame at a time. It’s just too much of a drip, drip, drip and I find with those ones I’ll come back a month later and look at it, but by then I’ve forgotten so the ones that are every day there’s a joke. Because you have to keep people coming back day after day after day or they forget about it.
It seems like it’s becoming more of a necessity to use the internet and unfortunately you’re right. It’s hard for me to keep following it. I know it’s a longer work of art but if you miss a day you’re lost. I notice that a lot of artists think it’s a necessity because of how the market’s going. They have to put it up.

I know that some of my co-workers who are doing a comic, feel forced to do it on the web when they wanted to publish it as a pamphlet.

They find the only way they can put it out nowadays is page by page. It doesn’t seem to work, but it’s become a necessity.
Doing your own graphic novel they tend to be very expensive, especially if you get a 200 page thing or something. I looked at self-publishing Nil and that was just going to be too expensive to do the whole thing, so I was thinking of publishing it as pamphlets.
I guess that’s also where the single issues came in, the necessity of trying to put it out fitting the fan base for it.
I was lucky in that I started out in the tail end of the pamphlet comics viability. I don’t think SLG does any more.
They were doing Ubu Bubu.
Maybe that one’s the only one. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Not very many.
Not the creator owned ones. And I don’t know how many Disney they’re doing now.

Fantagraphics, I don’t think they’re doing any. My perception of the market is that the big two, and the near alternative liked IDW and Image will continue for a while to do the individual issues, the pamphlets, because they want to keep their IP’s [investment properties] alive, they want to keep people invested in them, and they can afford to absorb any losses from that because they’re so big, and just remake it doing the graphic novels. But the smaller companies, I don’t think that they can really afford to do that. So I think they’re moving away from that.
In the future, it’s great for the consumer because anybody can go on and look at the work for free. Anybody can put it up. There’s no real barrier, but you have to garner the eyeballs, you have to get people to come and look at your work and only the people who get enough of an audience will wind up in print.
I was talking to a younger cartoonist and her point of view was interesting. “Why are you being printed when you haven’t done it on the Internet yet?” Younger people seem to have the idea that you have to prove yourself first on the Internet in order to get printed whereas I came at it from the point of view that I just wanted to get printed.
Well, that’s the different generations. They had different expectations and they are more used to what’s online now. To them, that seems to be the first step.
It never occurred to me to do that.
It’s harder for the older guys to do it that way, but now the younger generation expects it.
We live in an age of accelerated change.


James Turner’s website.

Tiff Preney is
of the Legendary Preney Printing family.
She works at the Silver Snail in Toronto.