Saint James Comics Interview
Monday, May 17, 2010 - 08:19
Interview With Saint James Comics
Jesse Young and Robert James Russell
Cosmic Book News caught up with Jesse Young, Publisher, and Robert Russell, Editor-In-Chief, of Saint James Comics. The two share information from their popular and growing Ex Occultus universe, their experiences on the publishing side of the comic business, their upcoming projects and news on Indego Blue.
Cosmic Book News: I thought the second issue of Ex Occultus was very good. You have also been putting up the Ex Occultus short story related web comic, “Wakefield‘s Journal” on your site. What did you take from your experience with EO #1 and the “Journal” entries when publishing Ex Occultus #2?
Jesse Young: That was our very first comic ever and some things that were clear to us weren’t as clear to the reader. We knew these characters and their histories but for someone reading it for the first time, they wouldn’t know those things. With Issue #2 and the "Wakefield Journa"l stories, we wanted to make sure we introduced the characters to the reader so if you’ve never read an issue of Ex Occultus before, you can read them and understand what’s going on.
Robert Russell: The idea of the characters spawned originally from a novel I wrote, so I had been working with their backgrounds for some time, not realizing that some of this information might be useful to the reader. Personally, I’m not about spoon-feeding the reader—I think they should work for their stories in most cases—but with issue #2 I made it a bit more approachable, so everyone could get onboard. And, for the "Wakefield’s Journal" stories, like Jesse said, the idea is to fill in the gaps between full issues, detailing their smaller adventures and giving you more info about them as actual three-dimensional characters.
Cosmic Book News: Regarding “Wakefield’s Journal” I see you use that to test out artists and such? Can you describe “Wakefield’s Journal” for us and the process you go about discovering artists? Care to plug how an artist would get in touch to have a “try out?”
JY: Ex Occultus is a very expansive universe and there are a lot of great stories to tell. The journals were a great way to tell some of these stories each month while we were working on the next full issue. It’s also been a great way to find new artists. If you can’t commit and get 8 pages done in a timely matter, you probably can’t handle a full issue. So we put up ads on craigslist, looked through Deviant Art, etc. People are always welcome to send us samples via the submissions page on our site. One artist, Jon Lyons who did the third Journal, was such a pleasure to work with and we loved his art so much that we extended him an offer to work on the third Ex Occultus issue, due out later this year.
RR: Since the Ex Occultus universe is new to us as well, as far as what we’ve got down on paper at this point, it’s fun to get people’s different takes on the characters. It’s just as much a learning experience for us as it is for the reader, in a lot of ways yes, we know the characters’ histories, but these mini-adventures are a great way to further flesh out their personalities while discovering new talent—and since each story is canon, we can reference them in the full issues as little Easter Eggs or something, which is always fun.
Cosmic Book News: Speaking of the publishing side of comics, can you tell us anything that you have learned compared to when you first started? Any tips for fellow creators who may want to publish their own works?
JY: Be prepared for a lot of work and to spend a lot of money. Everything costs money and for a little while there isn’t anything coming in and even when it starts coming in, it most likely won’t be much. The other thing I can say is don’t rush anything. Spend the time on everything you do to make sure it is perfect. If you aren’t 100% behind your product, why are people going to want to buy it.
RR: People told us when we started that the comic book industry isn’t necessarily a lucrative field – we believed them, but, having done this for a bit now, we can absolutely say they are 100% correct. But, we got into this because we love comics, we love telling stories – if we can make money doing that, then awesome, but people need to know that fame and fortune will not happen overnight. If they think that, they will be sorely disappointed.
JY:It’s really important for a small publisher like us. Because we aren’t a huge corporate company like Marvel or DC we can really interact with our fans and that is important to building a solid fan base. Not to mention the more avenues we can use to reach more people the better.
RR: Yeah, any way we can get in touch with the end-use (the reader) about our products, about what they like and don’t like, is a win for us. It’s important to us to stay connected to fans, and, no matter how big we get, this will always be a priority for us.
Cosmic Book News: Regarding the fans, how was C2E2? Did you go as “fans,” or as a publisher? Can you tell us a bit about the convention for those that missed it?
JY: Jeff and I went as “fans." We took some personal projects that we’ve each been working on and talked with some publishers about putting them out. Also since this was the first year, I think we were all really curious what it would be like. I really enjoyed seeing all the big publishers there. I thought the location was great and the layout of the space was nice, too. Surprisingly though, I didn’t do as much shopping as I thought I would. I think the only books I bought were from the Archaia booth.
Last we spoke, you were getting ready to publish your first issue of Ex Occultus and Indego Blue. Since then, issue two of Ex Occultus has come out and now I see you have added a few more titles. Care to tell us a little about the newer titles?
JY: The latest one shot in the Ex Occultus universe called “Seal of Solomon” just came out a few weeks ago and the reviews have been great so far [Read the Cosmic Book News review right here!]. We’ve got seven "Wakefield’s Journal" stories finished in Volume 1 and we are working on the next batch for Volume 2 to start this summer. Indego Blue #1 also released last year and we have been hard at work on #2.
RR: We’ve also just finished the first, full-color issues of our time-traveling comic MinuteMen (drawn by Savannah Ervin), and the over-the-hill-hunted-by the-government-ex soldiers epic Youth is Sweet (a limited series drawn by John Vestevich). We’re in the process of getting these finalized and should be releasing them before too long. For now, though, fans can get lengthy (and free) previews of both on our website.
Cosmic Book News: Ex Occultus: Tomb of Achilles, the third book in the Ex Occultus Universe, can you share a few details about that? When is it coming out?
JY: We are really excited about this one; it is actually going to be our first multi-issue story. Jon Lyons who I mentioned did one of the "Journal" stories for us is drawing it. It’s going to be a 2 issue story dealing with Greek mythology and this one introduces a really cool bad guy.
RR: Again, a lot of the Ex universe has been mapped out in my head for a while, so it’s awesome to finally introduce characters in these initial stories that will play a larger part later on. Like Jesse mentioned, in Tomb of Achilles, our first multi-issue arc, we are introduced to the nefarious Henry Salt, a rival occultist and sociopath who promises to be a lot of fun for fans of the series. We also have harpies in this one, clock-work robots, and some awesome Ancient Greek weaponry possibly once owned/used by the Greek Gods themselves. The issues are being worked on now, and should release sometime this year.
Are there any upcoming projects you can share with us?
JY: For the time being Ex Occultus, Indego Blue, MinuteMen and Youth is Sweet is our focus. One bit of exciting news in regards to Indego Blue, that I guess would be exclusive news, is that it will now be a full color book. Howard Russell is going back and coloring the first issue and soon we will start putting those pages up online for everyone to check out. We loved Indego in black and white, Howard has such nice, clean lines, but this book looks really amazing in full color. And once that is done there won’t be any delay to issue two. The other thing I want to mention is we have a newsletter that people can sign up for through our website. It goes out twice a month and gives you info on what is going on with all things Saint James. The best part is every newsletter has a new page from our exclusive web-comic called “The Strange.”
RR: Indego Blue is a great comic, but we made some executive decisions and decided to start over with it—first and foremost, reintroducing it in full-color. I can honestly say, the pages are gorgeous, and people are going to love them. Like Jesse said, we’re well under way with issue 2, so we’ll start putting the new color pages up from issue 1, and release issue 2 before too long. Anyone who purchased a previously b&w copy…I guess you now have a collector’s item. :)
Jesse also mentioned The Strange—the comic, drawn by J.R. Fleming (who also is doing our Ex Occultus covers going forward) takes place in a post-Rapture, post-Apocalyptic world where demons and humans run rampant. It’s got this post-Apocalyptic/Western vibe to it that no one’s ever seen before. Lots of fun, and people can check out all previous issues on our site for free.
Cosmic Book News: Thanks for your time, guys! Looking forward to more from Saint James Comics!
For further information on Saint James Comics, to sign up for their newsletter and read free comics head on over to http://whoissaintjames.com/.