Here at the CFG we have a great appreciation for independent comics, we’ve been lucky to get to review some lovely books and speak to some awesome people who are involved in the indie comics scene.
Quite a while back I stumbled across an absolute gem of a book that was in production. It was called The Nobodies, written by Baleriano Gaona Jr, and fully self funded, this book really piqued my interest. I’ve been lucky enough to catch up with the author and he shared some of his insights below:
1 – From the very first moment I heard of The Nobodies I’ve been hooked. Where did the idea for the book come from?
I’ve been of the mindset that if I can attract a single reader then I’ve done my job as a creator, lol. So thank you sir! To be honest, the idea came from the massive success of twilight. Unfortunately text sometimes can’t covey heavy sarcasm and resentment, so, I’ll let you know that they were both heavily used in the last statement. It was one of those times where I, like most people at certain times, felt like what I am watching is not doing the genre justice. I mean, sparkly Vampires? I am a fan of horror. I grew up in the eighties so there was nothing but violent, bloodthirsty, and downright awesome vampires. I felt like I could write a better story than twilight. Whether or not I succeeded, I had to help restore Vampires to their former glory. But the idea itself really stemmed from me wanting to explain how vampires came to be. The movie “Dracula 2000” I felt had a really good vampire origins story. So I had to think of something else, something cleverer. The story originally really focused on the first vampire, the “villain.” But in doing so it sort of glorified him, so I needed to add the “heroes.” Really the story wrote itself after a while. It wasn’t until early last year that the finished product came to be. In fact edits and rewrites were needed while the pages were being pencilled. The mind of a writer; never satisfied .lol.
• Could you give the CFG the lowdown on The Nobodies? The Nobodies is a blend or Horror, mystery, super hero, and anime. Hopefully as you read it you will notice these influences and nods. I think the Nobodies may come off as a pretty straightforward crisis-for-all-involved story. It really doesn’t focus on one character, especially since it is a team based comic. Even the villains have their time in the sun, so to speak. Everyone is searching for something in this book; a purpose, a connection, absolute power.
2 – Indie Comics are a labour of love, they are not easy things to create. How different is the reality of bringing your vision to life compared to how you thought of the process before you got into the production?
Oh it is very different. I remember watching the Kevin Smith film “Chasing Amy.” Ben Affleck and Jason Lee portray indie comic book creators. The movie shows them in some loft or office space and they are sitting there across from each other and, well, they are making comics! Just those two in a quiet space making comics. Then they’re at conventions selling comics, meeting people, signing books and prints. In my young mind at the time, I thought that’s how it was done. I understand now that’s rarely the case these days. In fact, it is sometimes hard to achieve a collaboration and even harder to maintain that collaboration. Money, unfortunately, is the biggest factor these days. I understand though; everybody wants to get paid. This is a business where there is a very high uncertainty you will profit. It is not for everybody. Before making this comic, I read many how-to books and idiot guide types of books. In “The everything guide to writing graphic novels” a section titled “Fame and Glory” stated “If your primary motivation for the project is the thought of celebrity and riches, this is the time to rethink your approach. But if your primary motivation is the simple burning need to tell your story, you stand a much better chance of weathering the storms that inevitably will arise.” I was well prepared. The reality for me is that this book has been in production for longer than it probably should have been solely because it has been funded out of my pocket. I work a regular job, have rent, bills, etc. On top of that I am trying to pay my creative team to produce these pages for me. But you nailed it on the head by saying indie comics are a labour of love. You have to want to do it for the right reasons to have it be a success. You need to have a clear definition of what you would count as success. You need to research what it will take to make a comic book.
3 – What are the plans for The Nobodies? Will you be appearing at any conventions with it?
There are definitely plans for con appearances for The Nobodies. I have one lined up in Salem, Oregon (U.S) at the Northwest Comic Fest. There were a couple larger cons that I would have liked to have booked but the comic simply wasn’t done in time. I suppose I will use this con experience to get a reading on how the Nobodies may do. Ideally I would like to plan a trip to some of the bigger cons around the country, and I may still perhaps next year but for now I’d like to try and put my all in to this upcoming convention.
4 – Now that The Nobodies is ready to meet the world, what’s next for you?
Directly next is a change in genre. Once the convention is over, we will go into production on a zombie story set in the near future. Can’t give too many details though but I will say it will be about the “survivors” that are very rarely mentioned or thought about in most other zombie movies/shows/stories. In the printed copy of the Nobodies will be a beautifully drawn and coloured promotional piece for this new story. I’m excited for it and excited to work with another talented artist. There are two other titles that I would like to get off the ground as well but all in due time.
5 – What do you think of the explosion of crowdfunding campaigns, particularly in relation to indie comics?
I think it’s great. A lot of really great talented creators are emerging because of crowdfunding. I admire and applaud anyone or any team that can pull off a successful campaign and achieve their goals. I know it takes a lot of time and effort to run a successful campaign. Their success stories can really inspire someone else who may just need some inspiration to go for whatever their goal is. But crowdfunding may or may not work for everyone. I simply didn’t have the right connections or a circle of friends with whom I could start a crowdfunding campaign, so it didn’t and would not work for me unfortunately. It really comes down to “who you know.” Well, depending on your goals. I assume we are talking about creating comics, so let’s use that as reference to these answers. On the flip side though, the uncertainty of the goal being reached is high as well. You run the risk of your project being delayed by some amount of time, and I didn’t want to take that chance. But in general I think that crowdfunding is great on many levels. I haven’t done much research into the specifics on it but it seems like it is a win-win for both parties.
6 – How did you get into comics, have they always been a goal for you or is it something that has developed over time?
I’ve always had a love for writing. I love everything about it; the control, the ability to let your mind really wander, the ability to put on paper what’s in your mind and then allowing the reader to see what you see. Initially this story was written as a prose novel 5 or 6 years ago. I think I made it to page 40 or so before I read it, re read it, and kept re reading it before it became apparent that this needs to be “seen”. I think had it not been for my love of comic books this may still have been a prose novel. But, I didn’t have the first clue where to even start to make a comic book. In fact all my life I never really thought it was possible for just anyone to make comics. All I saw growing up was the big two in the shops. I never heard of locals making comics. Never thought it was possible. I got in touch with my comic book mentor and guide Benjamin Kreger via my local comic book shop. I contacted him and picked his brain, asked a thousand questions. He pointed me in the right direction; how to learn to write script, how to understand the art of making comics, to study comics. On top of that I joined many facebook comic nerd groups. I really learned a lot from the many crazy conversations that were held. Really it’s been an on-the-job-training type of situation. When I realized that making comics is indeed a goal that I can achieve, then that’s when it became a goal.