Posts Tagged ‘David Anthony Kraft’s Comics Interview’

CO2 Comics Doubles Its Catalog of Creator Owned Graphic Albums

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

CO2 Comics knows how to celebrate the Fourth of July as an Independent comics publisher. We release creator owned graphic albums! For the second year in a row, CO2 Comics has launched three graphic albums to accompany the first two volumes of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection in our ever growing and respectable catalog.

Redefining Independence Day as Independent Comics Day, Bill Cucinotta and I celebrate our fourth year anniversary of the web comic collective and our heritage as long-time independent comics publishers having been two of the founding partners of Comico, an influential independent comics publisher of the ’80s and ’90s.

Last year’s release of three books, in print, Heaven and the Dead City by Raine Szramski, The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese! by Don Lomax and Ménage à Bughouse by Steve Lafler set a precedent for quality that was well received by critics and reminiscent of CO2 Comic’s publishing legacy.

This year’s offerings continue the tradition of excellence and stand as a testimony to the relationship between creators rights and independent publishing as all three new titles, though previously published, are exclusively owned by the respective creators. They are evidence that intellectual property can be a continued source of potential revenue for the original creators and that rights do not need to be lost to unscrupulous work for hire contracts.

Once more CO2 Comics taps the wellspring of talent that populates our website with serialized features that update weekly by migrating the digital content into beautifully packaged printed books. All books are available immediately, sold directly through the following links and shipped directly from the press to your door.

Check the following brief descriptions and imagine how great a complete collection of CO2 Comics creator owned graphic albums will look on the shelves of any esteemed comic library!

DOGGIE STYLE The Complete DOG BOY by Steve Lafler.

488 pages 8.5 x 11″  black and white  interior, full-color cover, available in paperback and hardback editions.

Imagine an enthusiastic, ambitious young artist of the 1980s who happens to have an enormous golden retriever head on a human body. Given to flights of fancy and the odd meditation on the truly mundane, this Dog Boy searches for meaning, all too often via a six pack of Rainer Ale pounders!

Steve Lafler sat down from 1882 to 1988 and drew nearly 500 pages of Dog Boy. Most of the time, he drew with no script, and in fact looked to emptying his mind before putting pencil to bristol board.

The entire results are collected in this 488 page omnibus.  Now you can pay witness to the genius that flowed from Steve’s streaming consciousness as he created one of the most truly independent comic works of all time!

NOTE: Content intended for MATURE readers.

NON by Chris Kalnick.

52 pages 9×7″ Landscape black and white  interior, full-color cover, available only in paperback editions.

This collection of the comic strip NON, The Transcendental Extraterrestrial by Chris Kalnick will tickle your soul. NON’s unique perspective of our humanity is a window through which we gain profound insight through the sheer simplicity of his observations. This little alien is a teacher and his thoughts are inspiring. NON’s epilog, A Sensory Neuron’s Quandary, will redefine life’s purpose for those seeking a pointed answer.

52 pages of powerfully, humorous, light-hearted introspection that is beautifully drawn by Kalnick will satisfy your need to be one with the universe but will have you begging for more NON adventures.

The Adventures Of ROMA by John Workman.

98 pages 8.5 x 11″  black and white  interior, full-color cover, available in paperback and hardback editions.

This 98 page graphic novel is created by John Workman, whose extensive experience in the comic book field is evident in every panel. Workman introduces us to ROMA, a woman of mystery…even to herself… as she finds life, death, love, and perhaps mankind’s final redemption in this fantasy/scince fiction graphic novel. ROMA is the story of a girl who is so much more than merely super-human!

Beautiful art, compelling story and haunting questions make ROMA irresistible and prove why John Workman has managed to work for nearly every publisher that has ever made comics in the last forty years.  John continues to make his mark on the history of the medium  by helping CO2 Comics establish its noteworthy catalog.

CO2 Comics may be the best kept secret in the comics industry, now having published nearly 2,600 pages of comics and comic related material in their first eight books.  Jump on the bandwagon now and lead the parade celebrating Independent Comics Day with CO2 Comics. Support the creators and buy their books!  Show your stamp of approval of Independent comics.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

The Comic Company: Comics Interview #5

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

In an effort to promote CO2 Comics‘ ongoing, monumental project, David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection, we have established a COMICS INTERVIEW Facebook page. Please, if you have not done so already, stop by and “LIKE” the page and share it. It is becoming quite a trip down Memory Lane.

Random posts of quotes and photos of comic creators who were interviewed in the magazine have evolved into a photo feature that we like to call the Quote of the Day. The positive buzz generated by this feature encouraged us to generate more content and so began a staggered release of cover images from the issues that have been reprinted in the first two volumes of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection.

COMICS INTERVIEW #5 surfaced quickly and brought back a tidal wave of memories. That was the issue where Bill Cucinotta and I, as part of the fledgeling Comico crew that also included our former partner Phil LaSorda and SKROG inker, Bill Anderson, were interviewed by David Anthony Kraft, himself,  in a New York coffee shop.

The event is so much like a dream that we often have to remind ourselves just how it came to be. We were all young guys full of hopes and ambition living the best times of our lives. Those were the days that, as comic creators, Bill and I  look upon with the greatest fondness. We were taking chances, creating our own material and attempting to do what others said we couldn’t; build a comic company from scratch.

Primer #1

We had published our first black and white comic, Primer #1 in October of 1982 and a few months later, in February 1983,  David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW #1 hit the stands.  We knew right away that this was a magazine that we wanted to be associated with and Bill, who was always focused on ways to promote our comics in the Direct Market, was quick to contact David Anthony Kraft to set up advertising arrangements.

It was very easy for all of us to be star-struck. Dave was one of our heroes, having written and edited for Marvel for years. We had all cut our teeth reading his work and suddenly we were dealing with him on a regular basis. It was not long before we were referring to him as DAK.

Dave was much more than a business associate. To us, he was a mentor, filling our heads with knowledge about the comics industry including inside stories and tons of “of the record” anecdotes. More than that, he was a friend. Dave understood that we were possibly biting off more than we could chew but he was always willing to nurture our enthusiasm and offer respected criticism.

This support started with that first conversation he had with Bill regarding advertising which resulted in a trade deal where we ran Interview ads in our comic books and Dave ran Comico ads in his magazine. This allowed us to build a respected presence in the market with no cash expense and to have more reasons to call Dave on a regular basis.

The first Comico ad ran in Comics Interview #3 and our ads became a staple in the magazine for years to come. Lucky for us, we really hit it off with Dave and suddenly we were on a train to New York to be interviewed in issue #5.

Dave must have really been amused by us.  We were a bunch of goofy kids with big dreams that only seemed possible because we didn’t  know better. Our naiveté was our biggest strength; that and an unbridled enthusiasm to create comics.

Gerry Giovinco, Bill_Cucinotta & Phil_LaSorda

We dove into our interview with such a flurry that a half hour into it Dave realized his recorder had not recorded a word we said and we would have to start over. It was typical of  our hit-and-miss approach to making comics. If we didn’t get it right the first time, learn from the mistake and make it better next time.

It is embarrassing, now, to read our ramblings, recognizing in hindsight how amazing it was that we would be able to steer Comico to become a powerhouse in the industry and  establish standards and milestones that would influence the creation and success of future companies like Dark Horse and Image.

Dave, in all his wisdom, was able to see in our comics  what he referred to as “a contagious enthusiasm that transcended their shortcomings.”

Of the entire interview the most significant words were written by Dave in the introduction where he recognized Comico for the pioneers that we were as publishers.

“Comico, the comic company, is among the newest and most ambitious of the independent publishers springing up in the field. Comico’s five titles – AZ, SKROG, SLAUGHTERMAN, GRENDEL and PRIMER – are distributed through the direct-sales system and are available exclusively in comics shops or by subscription.

What is, perhaps, most surprising about such an enterprising endeavor is that all of the comics creators are ( at least, for now) essentially unproven and unknown. Starting from scratch, on such a scale, is virtually unprecedented under the circumstances.”

Our presence in COMICS INTERVIEW #5  marked a coming of age for us.  We shared the issue with industry legends, Stan Lee, Dick Giordano, Wendy and Richard Pini! To be included with this iconic group, for us, was a dream come true. It was time that we were taken seriously by the industry, fans and, most importantly, ourselves.

Future issues of COMICS INTERVIEW would chronicle our achievements as our line grew. Features about The Elementals in issue #17 and ROBOTECH in issue #23 were evidence that we were a company on the move, adapting to survive and prosper. More would follow and Comico, as a company,  managed to maintain a lifespan as long as COMICS INTERVIEW itself.

Comico, unfortunately has gone the way of every other independent publisher of that era. Bill an I however are still plugging away, as enthusiastic as ever but with quite a few battle scars to show for it.  We still look to Dave as a mentor and friend and knew that when we started publishing as CO2 Comics we had to re-establish our relationship with COMICS INTERVIEW.

We are now on a long journey to package the entire 150 issue run of that memorable magazine in an eleven volume set. Two volumes are complete and the third is in production.

As Dave says, “It is a labor of love.” And what’s not to love? For us, everyday is a trip back to the “good old days” and a reminder of the enthusiasm that keeps Bill and I making comics just because we want to.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Warning: Comics May Cause Amnesia

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Warning: Comics May Cause Amnesia

There seems to be plenty of evidence that comics may cause amnesia.

Apparently anyone who reads, collects, buys, sells, or creates comics is prone to complete memory loss especially regarding the subject of creator rights. people associated with comics in any way shape or form are in desperate need of an old-fashioned FLASHBACK!

How can this be? It has long been assumed that comic enthusiasts excel at the ability to retain the most trivial detail regarding their favorite characters, story arcs and comic creators. They are able to recognize fine nuances in artwork that identify pencilers and inkers, idiosyncrasies in writing that denote authors, and can distinguish the differences between lettering and coloring styles and techniques.

The true comic fan can recite, verbatim, from their favorite comics, panel by panel page by page issue by issue. Yet, regarding the long fought battle over  of creators rights,  the brains of most people associated with comics today are a clean slate.

This explains why artists continue to work for page rates that are the same as or less than they were thirty years ago. This explains why creators are willing to continue to be exploited by work-for-hire contracts with little or no expectation of royalties.
This explains why contracts for digital content are as archaic as those that sucked the souls from creators and robbed them blind since the dawn of the comics industry.

Comics are like rufies, you know, the date rape drug. They must be because they make comic creators forget how they have been screwed, over and over again by the corporate publishers that demand complete control over all Intellectual Property and are unwilling to share all but the tiniest crumbs left by the billions of dollars of profit that is generated by the hard labor of those that create it.

Some are immune to this peculiar neurological allergen. They stand out as rebels and spin their craft in the far reaches of the marketplace: small press, self publishing, web comics and commission work. They carry the torch for a war still fought but rarely noticed; a fight for principle and fairness. They remember the victims of the scrupulous publishers. They remember those that fought: the few that won and the many that lost.

This rag-tag band of comic rebels have their supporters: enlightened fans that sing their praise and defend their stance but in total they are a rare breed that struggles to perpetually rekindle the flame of an apparently, easily forgettable fight.

Thank goodness for history books. If not for them many a war would be left forgotten. Fortunately, the chronicles of this battle for creators rights was recorded directly from the mouths of those that first led the charge. Their words were captured for perpetuity in the pages of a magazine in the form of interviews.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW was the voice of comics industry from 1983 to 1995. It was the forum where everyone and anyone associated with comics was able to speak their mind. The matter of creators rights was at the forefront of many of those discussions as a heated affront to the unjust norms of the industry was erupting in the form of the first wave of independent publishers who, along with the formation of the Direct Market, created an alternative venue for comic creators to reach their audience and own their work.

Steve Gerber

Page after page of COMICS INTERVIEW emboldened the movement, inspiring, and engaging the ranks of comic creators and fans alike who were able to empathize with each other. Readers were able to experience and appreciate the perspective of creator rights pioneers like Steve Gerber who threw his mantle down in the first issue, establishing a code of honor that would endure for the full 150 issue run of the magazine.

Fortunately, COMICS INTERVIEW is not destined to be a faded memory, lost to the world in the forgotten long boxes of aging comic enthusiasts of a bygone era. It is being digitally restored and collected in its entirety by CO2 Comics who are packaging the massive collection in an eleven volume set. Each volume contains over 600 pages of riveting history of the comic book industry. Currently the first two volumes are available featuring the first 28 issues of the magazine. Volume three is currently in production.

Many of the subjects whose interviews grace the pages had careers that dated back to the dawn of the industry itself, while others continue to work in the industry today. This portal to a window in time at the center of the history of comic books makes David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection an invaluable historical treasure. It is in fact the greatest collection of interviews in the history of comic books.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is the perfect cure for any amnesia regarding creators rights in the comic industry. It is a history book that uniquely depicts a war as it was happening and directly told by the participants and witnesses themselves.

It is a history book that belongs in the library of anyone with any interest in understanding the comic industry today as it is as relevant now as as it ever has been.

It is a history book that belongs in every school or public library for its intimate perspective of an industry that has had a dynamic impact on the popular culture of the world as we know it today.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is the ultimate FLASHBACK to remind us that the war over creators rights is not, and can never be, over.

Never forget. Never give up.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Where Have all the Women in Comics Come From?

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

women in Comics Interview vol 2

It is amazing to see the number of women that attend comic conventions these days. Maybe their inclusion is more pronounced to those of us that were attending comic cons thirty years ago when seeing a woman at a comic con was akin to spotting a Yeti on the beach.

Women abound at cons these days and though those that participate in cosplay seem to get all of the media attention because of their skimpy costumes and exhibitionistm portrayals of sexy characters, it is more than comforting to see the growing numbers of women that are comic creators, readers, bloggers, and collectors.

At the Asbury Park Comic Convention, two of the many highlights for me involved the presence of women at the show.

Meeting the extraordinarily talented illustrator, Stephanie Buscema was a thrill. She carries on the tremendous legacy of her grandfather, John Buscema, and great uncle, Sal Buscema, both gentlemen legends in the comic book industry. Though she bears the mantle of comic book royalty, she does so while maintaining her own individuality with her unique and refreshing retro style.

Lining up to meet Ms. Buscema was the other surprise of the show, a parade of female fans of all ages. They were not there just for her but her beautiful art was a magnet that attracted the ladies like a moth to a flame. Those same women soaked up everything at the show with the same enthusiasm that was once only expected from the old “boys club.” Mothers with children in tow, Grandmothers wearing Batman swag, teenagers, tweens and toddlers of the female persuasion were all there genuinely showing an interest in comics and not because they were dragged there by a dad, husband or boyfriend.

I don’t know why I am always surprised to see waves of women at conventions. I guess I fall prey to the stereotyping as easily as anyone because I do remember quite vividly those early days of comic conventions that were attended so sparsely by women. I am well aware, however, that women have played a significant role in comics for decades and it is about time that they share the limelight with the men.


Our newly released second volume of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is a testimonial to the efforts of some of the women that played pioneering roles in the history of comics featuring a long list of interviews that were originally published in 1984 and 1985.

Harking back to the earliest days of the Silver Age,  Marvel Comics’ very own Gal Friday, Flo Steinberg gives us an intimate look at what life was like in the fabled Bullpen and talks about her own attempt at independent publishing with the anthology Big Apple Comix.

Maggie Thompson, one of the earliest pioneers of comic fandom along with her husband Don, describes the dawn of fandom through her experience evolving fanzines into trade periodicals as she chronicles the early history of the recently retired Comics Buyers Guide.

Marvel Sales Director, Carol Kalish, discusses Marvel’s role in the structuring of the young Direct Market and revolutionary marketing programs that she was responsible for implementing that impact the industry to this day.

A young Colleen Doran talks about the development her comic creation A Distant Soil that is still in publication twenty-eight years later!

Influential editors Karen Berger, Jo Duffy and Cat Yronwode give their take on their responsibilities guiding creators at DC, Marvel and Eclipse respectively.

Round it out with creative insight from T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents writer, Mary Bierbaum and American Flagg colorist Leslie Zahler and there is clear evidence to the significant roles that women played in comics for a long time.

Of course these special women are just a percentage of more than seventy subjects who’s interviews are packed into this one volume but they stand out dramatically among the scads of men that are generally associated with comics.

So next time the question is asked, “Where have all the women in comics come from?” Remember that their numbers have risen from a strong foundation of pioneers that have been in the trenches for a long, long time.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and CO Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

The Holiday Season has begun and for many it also kicks off a shopping frenzy marked by two of the busiest shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday, of course is the day after Thanksgiving when shoppers, enjoying the day off during a long weekend, line up in front of retail stores at ungodly hours so they can savagely storm the store for “doorbuster” deals. This has become a holiday tradition for many and usually results in flaring tempers, small riots and of course a lot of bargains for the not so faint of heart.

Cyber Monday is for civilized folks who have discovered that shopping online is the way to go. Perched in front of their computer, tablet or with cell phone in hand, they can shop for anything they want on the World Wide Web and have it shipped to their doorstep. Online retailers have taken note and offer their own deep discounts that Monday after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not the only days with creative monikers. Religion has supplied some of the most notable like Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Professional Football has given us Super Sunday, the busiest television day of the year where the world parties and gather’s around the tube to watch the Superbowl.

Let’s not forget Small Business Saturday, in this tough economic environment where small, local vendors are struggling to survive, Small Business Saturday is a wonderful reminder that they are out there and desperately need your business throughout the year. Small businesses, whether they are local or on the internet,  generally will offer you personalized customer service and genuine appreciation of your patronage. Remember that this group includes all those small press independent comic publishers and creators, your favorite web comics and your local comic shop!

Tuesday, however, has been earning its own nickname on the comic scene now for the last three years. Here at CO2 Comics, Tuesday is a big day!  We like to call it “C-O Tuesday!” It is the day that our weekly blog comes out pontificating on all aspects of the comics medium including history, technique, news and opinion. It is also a day when we take time to promote creators and projects that appear here on the CO2 Comics site.

Fans have discovered that CO2 Comics is a place they want bookmarked in their browser and to follow on facebook and twitter @co2comics. Updates are posted throughout the week as reminders for comics that are continually serialized on a weekly basis here but CO Tuesday has become our weekly kick-off and a chance to get into the heads of Bill Cucinotta and I as we direct the publishing duties of CO2 Comics.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, of course, are all about retailers getting their hands on your money. Hey, we’d like your money too, but at CO2 Comics you can read tons of great comics for FREE! In fact, we hope that you will enjoy what we offer so much that you would love to own some of it in beautifully bound books available in paperback and hardback editions. Each book is delivered directly to you hot off the press in immaculate condition!

Right now you have four great titles to choose from:

The huge first volume of an eleven volume set of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection, an incredible 680 page collection of the greatest interviews in comic book history. Volume two is in it’s final production stages and will be released shortly.


Heaven and the Dead City by Raine Szramski – This gothic fantasy is a tale of two cities, one beautiful and flourishing… the other, not quite as dead as it would seem. Raine Szramski lavishly hand-paints each panel in her unique style that brings both cities to life with a Victorianesque, Deco quality that will absorb readers into this world of magic, mystery, and adventure! 64 pages.

The Heavy Adventures of CAPTAIN OBESE Cover

The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese! by Don Lomax - Finally collected in one handsome volume the adventures of Don Lomax’s favorite fat boy, originally published by WARP Graphics in the 1980′s, chronicles the amazing story of the world’s fattest super hero. Don Lomax is a long time veteran of adult comics, celebrated creator of Vietnam Journal and author of Marvel Comics’ The Nam. 108 pages.

Ménage à BUGHOUSE cover

Ménage à Bughouse by Steve Lafler – The highly acclaimed Bughouse trilogy of graphic novels, formerly published by Top Shelf Productions, comes together in one giant package! Bughouse, Baja, and Scalawag combine to paint a full picture of life as an improvisational jazz musician set in an obviously fictional world where all of the characters are insects living in early fifties era Manhattan. On their road to success, the members of the band are tempted by the music, sex, money and the ever addictive “bug juice.” Ménage à Bughouse is an authentic look at the lifestyle of musicians and the challenges they face in an effort to satisfy their desire to create incredible music. 408 pages.

Monkey and Bird… a Love Story by Joe Williams and Tina Garceau is another feature from the CO2 Comics site that has ventured into print as a mini comic, self published by the creators themselves! This tiny gem is lavishly colored, beautifully drawn, and  written with intelligent humor worthy of any inter-species relationship. It’s a small comic, 32 pages including cover and only 4″ x 5.5,” making it the perfect opportunity to support the “little guy.”

If you are already proud owners of these books ad still feel compelled to to support CO2 Comics with your hard earned cash you can purchase some of the slick Marvel and DC parody Death Fatigue T-shirts designed by Bill Cucinotta or a variety CO2 Swag available at our online store.

There are also handy little donation buttons on each comic page where you can choose to support the creators individually or toss a little coin the way of CO2 Comics in general. Here is an easy access donation button if you have the urge to contribute right now!

Enjoy the rest of the Holiday Season! Please be safe and responsible because we look forward to your visits and we want everyone to enter the new year happy and healthy.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Recreational Cartooning

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

This weekend past Bill Cucinotta and I manned our booth at the second annual Asbury Park  Comic Con which for this year and last was held at an unusual venue, a bowling alley. Asbury  Lanes wears its retro heritage on its sleeve and and glorifies its half-century existence in vintage style throughout. A quick spin through their website shows that it is a teeming hotspot for the gathering of subculture enthusiasts. Punk Rockers, Hot Rodders, Burlesque Beauties, and Pin-up wanna-bees all make pilgrimages to the historic bowling alley that more accurately operates a a Rock club. Housing its own  bar and lounge, Asbury Lanes makes for a fun, casual, and quirky environment for those who enjoy life outside of the box.

Comic fans that climbed out of the longbox on Saturday were treated to a relaxing, one day event that featured a respectable list of indie creators and G.I. Joe legend, Larry Hama.  For us, the big surprise was a visit to our booth by John Workman who has done everything imaginable, production wise, in the field of comics. A tremendously talented craftsman and all around nice guy, John thrilled us with stories from his days at Marvel, DC and Star* Reach. Bill and I are big fans of comic history, our main reason for publishing David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection, and we were tickled to point out that Volume One of the collection did contain a wonderful interview featuring Mr. Workman.

John Workman in COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Vol 1

Having had a chance to work my way around the convention, talking with creators, publishers and fans alike while savoring the atmosphere of the classic lanes I began to formulate a  new perspective regarding the creation of comics. Something I like to refer to as “Recreational Cartooning” became evident to me.

In what we consider the comics industry, there seems to be a prevailing sentiment that there is an overabundance of material competing for a limited audience which is creating a frustration for creators who are struggling to support themselves by making comics. A discouraged creator at the convention muttered the phrase, “Everyone and their mother is making comics.” as he rationalized poor comic sales.

The is no doubt that there are more people creating comics now than ever before in history. This is an extraordinary time for a medium who’s industry leaders, in the late 1970′s,  were so concerned that that there would be no successors to an aging creator pool that they instituted apprentice programs to cultivate new talent. Comic artists, at that time, were trained to create comics in a very specific way to satisfy the editorial needs of a very limited number of publishers.

Today, thanks to the internet, a wide array of independent publishers and an unimaginable number of people creating comics, there is more creative freedom and the output of comics could not come in a greater variety of styles, formats, and modes of distribution. More importantly, people are creating comics for different reasons.

Throughout the first half of the history of the industry I think it is safe to say that creating comics was specifically an end to a means. Creators made comics to make money. They cranked them out for a page rate and were not even concerned about residual income. Their original art was considered disposable once the films were made and there was no aftermarket for their art. The creators that made lifelong careers out of comics were the few that had a true affinity for the medium. Most others used the comics industry as much as it used them. To them it was a mere stepping stone to a career in creative media.

People who create comics now have a different connection to the work. I believe most of these comic creators make comics because of a strong personal attraction to the medium. They make comics, first, because they love to and secondly, hope to find financial rewards from their work. It is this paradigm shift that has many creators struggling to make sense of their place in the industry because the equation making comics = making money is no longer always true.

Dean Haspiel, Seth Kushner, George O'Conner

I had this discussion with Dean Haspiel. That creators, in order to maintain an income from creating comics, must be prepared to continually hustle to find ways to generate revenue with their work. Dean said, “the trick is to have your comics make money for you while you sleep.” This is done through royalties or what is known as residual income, something that was unheard of in the comics industry for decades but is the staple for success in other creative media and fortunately part of the current economic state of some of the current comic industry.

This is where my term Recreational Cartooning comes in.

Maybe it was because we were sitting in a bowling alley but I began to compare comic creators to bowlers.

I imagined casual bowlers who pop into the lanes occasionally to enjoy playing with their friends or bowling just because they liked to and found it relaxing.

Then there are bowlers who join leagues and play on a weekly schedule, some of them even own a ball or bowling shoes but they play more for the fun and social aspect of the sport.

Some bowlers join leagues that are highly competitive. They play to win, they take the sport seriously, but at the end of the day they go home to wake up to  a real job to support their bowling interest.

Finally there are bowlers who turn pro. They dedicate every waking moment to the sport. The search for sponsors, travel and compete against the best bowlers in the world for cash prizes that will support them as professionals. They must stay on top of their game at all times or risk losing it all.

Pro bowlers are rarely intimidated by recreational bowlers. They will encourage them and inspire them even train them. They appreciate that recreational bowlers represent the large portion of the pro bowler’s fan base and are necessary for the economic survival of the sport. They also appreciate that only a rare few will rise to the pro level with the talent and commitment to the sport that is required.

The pro knows and endures the struggles to maintain a career and may often find themselves creatively using their skills or accomplishments to generate income through appearances, lectures, teaching or merchandising. They understand that success can be fleeting.

With the recreational bowler in mind, Recreational Cartooning can apply to  anyone making comics because they love to but are not interested or able to support  themselves making comics. Like bowling, it should be OK to enjoy making comics just because you want to.

As an industry, comics should  support the recreational cartoonist as part of the complete landscape rather than be intimidated by them and their efforts. Their product may or may not not be distributed by Diamond but it is influencing trends that will impact the whole industry. Already they are driving forces behind many of  the small conventions springing up across he country and they are proving to be a niche market in and of themselves. The recreational cartoonist is necessary for the survival of the industry and the medium.

I will always make a point to encourage anyone interested in making comics to jump in ad give it a try. There are so many options to be able to create and publish comics. Budding comic artists don’t ever have to be the next greatest master of comic art but if creating a comic gives them a feeling of joy or accomplishment then I applaud them for trying. Who knows, they may someday be the next genius of the industry and I sure don’t want to be known as the guy who said they were wasting their time.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Fear and Loathing on the Road: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Comic Artist’s Dream

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Steve Laflers sketch is the first to christen Locust Moons walls

If you have read any of Steve Lafler’s works over the last thirty plus years that he has been “feverishly making comics” you can easily imagine that in his mind the idyllic road trip would reflect the wild escapades captured in Hunter S. Thompson’s novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.

Last week Steve embarked on his modest world tour to promote his new CO2 Comics graphic album, Ménage à Bughouse, a 408 page compilation of his Bughouse trilogy. The following is a stark itinerary of his destinations as he travels east to west on his journey back to his home in the beautiful city of  Oaxaca, Mexico.

July 11, Ada Books, Providence, RI

July 13, Bergen Street Comics, Brooklyn, NY

July 14, Locust Moon Comics, Philadelphia, PA

July 17, Boxcar Books, Bloomington IN

July 18, Daydream Comics, Iowa City, IA

July 20, Time Warp Comics, Boulder, CO

July 25, Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, CA

July 28, Cosmic Monkey Comics, Portland, OR

Steve Lafler at Ada Books

Steve opened his tour at Ada Books in Providence, RI where he connected with Scott Krane who interviewed Steve and wrote an insightful blog for JazzTimes discussing the jazz themes that Steve uses as inspiration throughout Ménage à Bughouse focusing on the inspiration derived from the biography of jazz legend, Miles Davis who is the subject of a  current United States postage stamp.

Bill Cucinotta and I caught up with Steve, meeting him at Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn, NY. The folks at Bergen Street Comics were gracious  enough to to accommodate Steve at short notice when a scheduled appearance at MoCCA was suddenly canceled. The hospitality of store manager Tom Adams and his staff were greatly appreciated and the quaint, gallery-like atmosphere of the store which is decidedly friendly to independent publishers and authors is a must stop for anyone who loves comics.

Steve Lafler at Bergen Street Comics

Steve be-bopped his way down to Philly where he once again connected with CO2 Comics co-publisher Bill Cucinotta for the grand re-opening of Locust Moon Comics located in the University City section of the City of Brotherly Love that is the home of CO2 Comics.

Locust Moon officially opened for business at 7 pm, after having been closed for about a year. Steve was thrilled to be there there for opening day as the featured act, creating a great atmosphere while talking comics and entertaining the welcoming crowd with several songs on his accoustic guitar in the gallery room.

Steve Lafler playing at Locust Moon

So, OK, there is not a lot of fear and loathing going on as Steve continues west, just a lot of love for great comics and great music, but Steve is living an American comic artist’s dream having had the opportunity to create his own personal brand of comics throughout his career.

We too are living our dream to by being able to publish great comic works like Steve Lafler’s Ménage à Bughouse, Raine Szramski’s Heaven and the Dead City, and Don Lomax’s The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese. These books together with our collection of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW are establishing a line of product that will represent the foundation of CO2 Comics as we build toward the future.  Let the escapades begin!

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco

The Power of Three: 3 Decades, 3 years, 3 New Books In Print!

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Some say that the Power of Three has a mystical quality. We just need to look at the great pyramids and it is clear that even the ancient Egyptians knew that there is something powerful about the number three. It is used very productively in writing, design and architecture. Now the Power of Three has embraced us here at CO2 Comics. Believe it or not, something special is happening!

Coincidence or not, good things (and bad) always seem to happen in threes. I’ve always been a little preoccupied with the metaphysical so when I began to see the Power of Three manifest itself in relation to CO2 Comics I got excited and felt the need to share my observations.

Three Decades!

Can you believe it? It has been thirty years since Bill Cucinotta and I first teamed up as co-partners in a little publishing venture called Comico The Comic Company. One of our priorities when we began publishing as CO2 Comics was to remind people of our accomplishments as co-publishers of Comico.

Comico is too often forgotten about when discussion is focused on independent publishers. Maybe it is because Comico appeared most successful when it was pioneering major licensing agreements as an alternative publisher. But Comico was, at its core, a creator owned company. We began Comico with the intent to self-publish our own comics, some of which are present right here on CO2 Comics. We have always believed that creators should own the rights to their creations, be involved in the decision making process regarding their properties and be generously rewarded by the successes of their creations. We firmly believe, uphold, and defend the proclamations set forth in the Comic Creator’s Bill of Rights.

Three Years!

That’s right! It has been three years since CO2 Comics was initially launched, intentionally coinciding with Independence Day, reflecting our support of independent publishers everywhere and our commitment to the entrepreneurial spirit that drives them. We fully appreciate the competition in the comics industry and are well aware of the two elephants in the room. We believe that the future success of the comics industry lies in the hands of the independent publishers who are the true innovators in the field. Annually we celebrate our own independence as comics publishers on the 4th of July referring to it as “Independents Day!”

Three New Books in Print!

And now for the BIG news! CO2 Comics has been primarily a publisher of web comics for the last three years with our only print publication so far being the huge first volume of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection, an incredible 680 page collection of the greatest interviews in comic book history.

We have been bursting at the seems waiting to produce our first print collections derived from the dozens of comics that populate the CO2 Comics web site. Somehow one graphic tome just wasn’t enough so we put together (what else) THREE! These three black-and-white books are beautifully bound with full-color covers in both paperback and hardback editions. Keeping with the tradition of our former Comico publications, these graphic albums are all 8.5″ x 11″ so readers can fully enjoy the larger scale images of the fantastic sequential art inside! And, thanks to modern technology,  we are proud to announce that our first three comic publications are all available for purchase IMMEDIATELY!

Introducing CO2 Comics‘ first three graphic albums, NOW IN PRINT!

HEAVEN And DEAD CITY Now Available!

Heaven and the Dead City by Raine Szramski – This gothic fantasy is a tale of two cities, one beautiful and flourishing… the other, not quite as dead as it would seem. Raine Szramski lavishly hand-paints each panel in her unique style that brings both cities to life with a Victorianesque, Deco quality that will absorb readers into this world of magic, mystery, and adventure! 64 pages.

CAPTAIN OBESE Now Available!

The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese! by Don Lomax - Finally collected in one handsome volume the adventures of Don Lomax’s favorite fat boy, originally published by WARP Graphics in the 1980′s, chronicles the amazing story of the world’s fattest super hero. Don Lomax is a long time veteran of adult comics, celebrated creator of Vietnam Journal and author of Marvel Comics’ The Nam. 108 pages.

Ménage à BUGHOUSE Now Available!

Ménage à Bughouse by Steve Lafler – The highly acclaimed Bughouse trilogy of graphic novels, formerly published by Top Shelf Productions, comes together in one giant package! Bughouse, Baja, and Scalawag combine to paint a full picture of life as an improvisational jazz musician set in an obviously fictional world where all of the characters are insects living in early fifties era Manhattan. On their road to success, the members of the band are tempted by the music, sex, money and the ever addictive “bug juice.” Ménage à Bughouse is an authentic look at the lifestyle of musicians and the challenges they face in an effort to satisfy their desire to create incredible music. 408 pages.

So, yes, we are celebrating our independence as comic publishers in a big way this year and to top it off, there is also a good old-fashioned road trip by that maniacal comic creator, Steve Lafler, himself!  Steve who is also the creator of Dog boy and El Vocho, both features here at CO2 Comics, is so excited about getting the word out about his project Ménage à Bughouse that he has hit the streets in his trusty 2002 Toyota RAV4 and is traveling cross-country from his home in Mexico.

Steve Lafler Tour

Look for Steve at any of these fine locations as he blows is own horn as only a buggy cartoonist/musician can!

July 11, Ada Books, Providence, RI

July 12, MoCCA, New York City

July 14, Locust Moon Comics, Philadelphia, PA

July 17, Boxcar Books, Bloomington IN

July 18, Daydream Comics, Iowa City, IA

July 20, Time Warp Comics, Boulder, CO

July 25, Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, CA

July 28, Cosmic Monkey Comics, Portland, OR

Yours truly is especially excited to have been invited by Steve to sit in on his panel at MoCCA in New York City on July 12!

The Power of Three is alive and well here at CO2 Comics!

Three decades since our first comic book publication as Comico.

Three years as web comic publishers on the internet as CO2 Comics.

Three books, in print, Heaven and the Dead City, The Heavy

Adventures of Captain Obese! and Ménage à Bughouse.

The Power of Three…wow.

Happy Independence Day, America!

Happy “Independents” Day to all our friends who love comics!

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco

Stop the Presses: Part 4

Monday, April 9th, 2012

I recently acquired a DC Comics Production Handbook that was produced in 1989. It was quite clear from the contents that the industry then was clearly moving away from newsprint and focusing on the finer production qualities of better paper stock that we are now used to.  Some explanations in the handbook contradicted information that I posted in Stop the Presses Part 3 and, being that I am always happy to stand corrected, I am sharing these new insights.

As mentioned in Part 3, World Color Press’s Sparta plant played a dominant role in comic book production from the 1940′s to the 1990′s but, though I credited this to their use of the  web offset press, the DC Handbook claims that all the Sparta newsprint comics were printed on letterpress which used plastic coated plates to press ink onto the absorbent stock. The letterpresses at Sparta could print two 32-page comic books at a time and would produce up to 15,000 copies of each interior an hour.

By the late 1980′s, DC Comics, along with every other comic publisher at the time, were exploring other printers who were producing comics on better paper stock allowing for greater color capabilities. DC used the offset presses at Ronald’s Printing out of Canada.  The manual sites that Ronald’s M1000-B offset press could produce 60,000 16-page sections (signatures) an hour which according to my math is the same speed as the letterpress.  (1 32-page book = 2 16-page signatures X 2 books = 4 16 page signatures. 4 signatures times 15,000 = 60,000 signatures an hour. No?)

According to the manual color adjustments on the offset press had to be done while the press was running  and could waste as many as 10,000 copies before a proof was okayed. Sheet fed letterpresses stop while color adjustments are made and waste far less paper.

The 1989 manual also makes a startling claim that, with all factors involved, they could not make any money on a comic book selling less than 20,000 copies! There seems to be a lot of titles below this number on current sales charts, so either production costs have dropped or the higher prices of today’s comics can support this decline in figures. I’m sure it’s not because DC likes losing money.

The DC Comics Production Handbook went into a lot of other now obsolete but fondly remembered production techniques such as color separations, blue boards, coding for flat color, photostats and even pasting up word balloons. The Digital Age of art production has changed all of those things and the comics industry got its initial taste of that with First Comics‘ 1985 publication of the all digitally produced comic book SHATTER by Peter B. Gillis and Mike Saenz.

Nearly thirty years later coloring, lettering, and even artwork is being done digitally. This is true of printing as well. Though digital printing may not be the cheapest way to print it is giving many publishers an opportunity to be able to publish in very small print runs because of the lack of set up costs. Previously much of the initial cost in printing was tied up in the production costs of films and plates requiring minimum runs in the tens of thousands before a comic could recover those costs. Now it is possible to print just one copy of a comic book and, though the unit cost is much higher than a comic printed on an offset press, there is no need to have a warehouse of unsold comics to meet the limited demand of a niche product.

Print on Demand (POD) providers have created an opportunity for independent publishers to create beautiful editions of their publications in nearly every format imaginable. Creators and publishers just need to upload digitally formatted content to the POD providers site, usually at no cost, and order a printed proof that generally takes no more than two weeks to arrive. Once the proof is reviewed and and any changes made the books can be made available for sale or ordered in quantity for distribution.

David Anthony Kraft's COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Volume 2

CO2 Comics has taken advantage of this POD production process and has been able to produce the beautiful 640-page David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection Volume One of this eleven volume project has already been made available and Volume Two is currently in production. Other new print projects will be announce very shortly so please stay tuned for the exciting news HOT OFF THE PRESS!

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco

When Comic Artists Die

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Bil Keane, the creator of the classic newspaper comic Family Circus just passed away at the age of 89 and I find myself stricken with the usual distinctive grief that I have every time I learn that a comic legend dies. I had a bit of a connection with Keane that I’ve blogged about before that made his passing more personal but in general comic creator deaths create a void for me that is very specific.

I feel like I develop a strange sense of a personal relationship with comic creators when I read their comics. Their development of characters, stories and images, to me, are a window to who they are as individuals. I  know them vicariously through their works. Though I may never meet these people that richly touch my life I have a connection, a bond, that resonates with sadness when these creators die.

Comic creators, for me, are also kindred spirits. Having made comics myself, I have a unique understanding and appreciation for what motivates other comic creators. They are a distinct breed of artist drawn to a medium that requires a special skill set, an understanding of specific disciplines, and a willingness to sacrifice socially and economically for a rare love of this medium. Comic creators are denizens of a finite community that shares an exclusive bond of india ink on paper.

Comic creators are teachers. Some stand before classes and spell out every detail of what makes comics tick and how to make them but every comic artist teaches by example. Their works are clear portals through which an observer can easily see what works and what does not. The best comic artists inspire imitation and spawn each new generation of fine talent.

Comic Creators are the history of the medium. All begin as students, learning from what has gone before, then they effect a new trend building on the virtues of the past while laying the groundwork for the future.

Fortunately, though comic artists do die and we have lost many, their work lives on and we will always be able to witness the result of a creative twinkle that once gleamed in the eye of a comic genius. Many have left behind interviews that dive deeply into their creative world.

CO2 Comics has taken on the monumental task of collecting the entire 150 issue run of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW just for this reason. In its pages are the remarks and insights of many comic greats who have left us.  Working on this collection is a bittersweet joy, sadly reminding us of our many favorite creators who are gone but delighting us with their legacy of knowledge and talent that will live on through their work.

Celebrate your favorite comic artist who is no longer with us by reading some of their comics. I guarantee that you will find them as entertaining as the day they were created. Share their work with someone else and you will have done your part to keep their memory alive.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco

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