Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Staple interview with Tim Doyle

Tim Doyle is about as as Austin as you get. Contributor to Minerva's Wreck, the Blue Genie Art Bazaar, and (yes) Staple!, the man behind Nakatomi is in no small part responsible for a Silkscreen Pop-Art Print Renascence.  And soon his work will be center stage in an Off-Broadway production as the artist behind the first story arc of the Intergalactic Nemesis.  He is also a swell dude who let me pick his brains on art, comics and life.

You have been coming to Staple! as an attendee and then as an exhibitor since the very first expo. Has there been any really cool or memorable moments you would like to share? 
I would have to say that last year was probably my favorite Staple so far- I got to hang out with Kevin Eastman quite a bit, and we talked for quite a while at the after party about life, having kids, and ninjas.  Dude was super cool and relatable, very much a regular guy, considering how much the Ninja Turtles meant to me as a child!

How does the process of interpreting and framing one narrative moment or locality of a film or TV show relate to process of breaking down the adaptation of the Intergalactic Nemesis into panels and pages?
Well, the Intergalactic Nemesis was a very structured experience, when compared to the art prints I do.  Jason Neulander had a script in place, and while he wasn't totally familiar with how to break down the panel flow and what you can and cannot do within a single panel, we were able to work that out over the first few scripts.  By say, issue 3, the process was fairly nailed down. Like most freelance artists, I've found there's always a bit of 'training your client' to get to where you can get to a point where you're both happy with the result. Comparing that to say, my UnReal Estate series of prints, it's completely different. I only have to please myself with that stuff.  There is a bit of intense research and studying the subject matter when it comes to those things though- but it's not as slavish as working from someone else's script.  Instead what you're doing is boiling down the essence of what YOU think the show is about, into a single image.  And I generally am doing that by just depicting locations and environments- which provides its own challenges.

How different was the process behind Bad Cat Comics from Intergalactic Nemesis?  Not just in regards to having a collaborator but also the difference between working with and whithout script.
It was night and day.  With Intergalactic Nemesis, we already had a destination and roadmap.  We had to get the existing script for the play into a new format, and the only changes were dictated by adapting it into the new format.  But with Bad Cats, again, I only had to please an audience of one, and if anyone else liked it, then awesomesauce.  The process of writing that book was pure joy for me.  I just imagined a rambling chase through a city, thought of the beats I wanted to hit, and I thumbnailed out the whole book in just a few hours- and then spent the next few months nerding out on drawing the darn thing. We sold out 2 printings, and I really want to do more, as soon as time allows!  Comics are just SO MUCH WORK, and I'm able to support myself through my art prints, so I only want to do comics that I'm either extremely passionate about, or 100% personally invested in.

What comics are you reading these days?
I quit Marvel and DC (except Morrison) cold turkey about 18 months ago, and have never looked back.  It was shocking how quickly I kicked the habit after about 29-30 years straight!  But I find I'm reading more comics than ever, oddly. Loving the Prophet and Glory relaunch. I still read a couple Vertigo books-  Unwritten is amazing. The Sixth Gun almost out Hellboys Hellboy.  I'm also reading all the Hellboy universe books. BPRD is my jam.  Saga, Luther Strode, Nowhere Men, Manhattan Projects- all the really smart books are at Image nowadays.  Black Kiss 2 is there as well, but that's another story.  A dirty, dirty story.  Walking Dead and Invincible are very addictive as well.

I stopped hanging out in comic shops for a few years and when I got back I was shocked to find that Image became one of the smarter publishers.  In your opinion when and how did that happen? 
 Walking Dead. Image had been publishing some really good books for a while- FireBreather and Invincible were just fantastic super-hero books, and Savage Dragon was and remains a great ride.  BUT- with the success of Walking Dead- I'm talking even before the TV show was even in development- people started to realize that there was no reason NOT to own your own IP and take a hold of your creative and commercial destiny.  The just abhorrent way that creatives have been treated historically at the big licensing houses...I'm sorry- I mean comic publishers like Marvel and DC, means that anyone working there now with half a brain knows that they're just next in line for the Kirby/Ditko/Simon train to heartbreak and sorrow.  So- they get their shit together, make a pitch for Image or one of the other houses, and go for it.  And because of that, you have amazing books like Saga, Multiple Warheads, Fatale...the list of books at Image is just spectacular and dwarfs anything at the big two in terms of craft and quality.  (And, usually much cheaper retail too...)

I know you've avoided discussions of art theory but I would like to follow up on the importance of accessibility in your work and the joy of pushing your audience’s “nerd buttons.”  It seems like you are inverting the trend in Pop Art of abstracting the form of pop culture from its context. Your work tends to be formally beautiful and exhibits an original exploration of the content of pop culture.  Your hand produced compositions that stand for themselves and also for mass cultural narrative experiences.  I don't know if there is a question there other than, how much those observations are only in my head, and could this be the reason you cast a notable British Pop Artist as a supervillain in Bad Cat?

As far as Damien Hirst becoming a Kirby-esque supervillain in Bad Cats- that was purely stream of consciousness writing.  It was based on a print I did back in 09, "The Camino Cats Make Their Escape", which features a shark in a fish tank being rescued by cats driving an El Camino.   The print was originally produced for an anti-Shark Finning organization, Pangea Seed.  Bad Cats came about because my friend and Wayne Alan Brenner Chronicle writer needed me to produce a comic book ABOUT that print, explaining the events that led to the image and moment on it.  So, how does a shark get into a fish tank in an El Camino driven by cats?  The logical explanation could be nothing other than it is being rescued from Damien Hirst.  The fact that Pickles the Cat says 'All art must end' as they bust the gallery wall down, is just another example of how great of a writer my brain is when I just STOP THINKING and let the words and pretty pictures happen.  Because, really, if I took the time and effort to write with thought and intent, it would be a disaster.  I can't trust my conscious brain to do these tasks- it's too much of a jerk.
BUT- that's not your question, is it?  I have a general disdain for what people think of as 'fine art'.  For what is supposed to be a dynamic and thriving organic experience, modern art is strangely formulaic and dead.  For me, I find that self-examination and pre-defined intent in art leads to just complete crap.  Artists get focused in on legacy and reputation and collectors and all that stuff, but the truth of the matter is this- not a single fucking part of that is up to you.  It's all events out of your control that shape all that, so you might as well just draw and paint and sell what you damn well please.  And for me, that's squids and cats and Bill Murray and Optimus Prime.

Now- with that said- when I do a pop culture print- I'm trying to play against expectations.  When I was invited to be a part of the first Bad Dads Wes Anderson art show at SpokeArt, I purposefully tried to not draw any of the main characters, and if I did, it was from over the shoulder or partially obscured- focusing in on location and a moment- finding the iconic moment where you wouldn't expect it.  And I went from there with that theme for quite a while. Even with my more commercial Movie Poster work I try to avoid all that- my Apocalypse Now poster for the Astor Theatre in Australia doesn't feature a single main character but it's unmistakably for the film.  It's fun stuff for my nerd-brain, and I guess it hits the right buttons for everyone else.  Or at least enough of 'everyone else' to keep me in burritos.

You have often been asked and answered the “do you have words of advice for young people” question.  What I’d like to know is, as an aspiring artist or businessman can you share any advice that might be helpful from your experiences or from someone who made a strong impact on your work?
I really wish I could say that someone sat me down, and told me how to be successful or at least happy at this, but the truth is- it was all trial and error.  I worked in a lot of small businesses as an employee and a manager, and I just always kept my eyes open and talked to everyone about every aspect, and learned that way.  My upbringing was obviously very influential (but who's isn't?) but I think my parents provided me with enough support to branch out and try my hand at things without fear of failure.  Well, I had plenty of room to fail, but I was never afraid of it.  Here's some advice I almost never give out because it makes me sound like a dick, but here you go- Do not be a collector. To be successful at what I'm doing, you must be more enamored of making things than the accumulation of things. Buy stuff, sure- but as reference, as inspiration.  Do not be a collector.  Know what side of the register you are on. Act as a business should act- not as your customer base might want you to act. Don't listen to the internet- it's an echo chamber- the compliments are nice, but just as worthless as the haters. Don't go into debt.

You played no small part in the creation of the marketplace that has allowed you to make money as an artist.  You did this when many of the marketplaces having been closing.  The world of big monopolistic record labels, dominance of live television and a handful of print publishers is probably over.  What does the Nakatomi Inc. story say about the future of the arts in the 21rst century?
This will sound hacky- but it's true- it goes to show a little bit of talent and a lot of hard work goes a long way.  Or- with the democratization of access to customers that the internet can provide, anyone with a good enough idea can make it, if they know how to parley a single viral hit into a continuing business model.  In some ways, it is the death-knell of the old gallery system.  The customers are on-line, no one NEEDS a physical gallery now.  That sounds strange coming from me, as I have relationships with a couple galleries- but it's true.  I've seen so many new galleries pop up to take advantage of this new market though- they understand that people want good and accessible art- and that market is much larger than the normal 'gallery crowd' that can drop 10K on a painting.  It's become a much more dynamic and scrappy business out there, and it's very exciting.  At the same time, galleries who just grind pop-show after pop-show are going to burn out their audience pretty soon- there's only so many good group show ideas out there... It's one of the reasons I like SpokeArt so much- they have a smart balance in that regard. 

It would be hard to underestimate the importance of self promotion for many Staple! Exhibitors.  Your presence on the web is one of the keys to the success of Nakatomi Inc.  Everyone's style and audience is a little different but is there anything out there that you would suggest folks try or try to avoid?
Don't just bust up into a blog or message board to advertise your wares.  Make sure you understand the customs and the ins and outs of what a website's particular culture is before you start blasting away.  I've seen people flame out so fast on a few sites, it's stunning. Cultivate real relationships and connections online.
But let's back this up for a second- I meet so many great artists who don't work the social media.  I tell them they NEED to do it.  They usually say 'Oh, I hate Facebook/tumblr/twitter/whatever- I can't do it."  That's cute, I'm so glad you don't need all the free advertising and networking opportunities these sites provide.  Now, please step aside, I've got customers.  If you don't have a tumblr, a blog, a webstore, a facebook, a twitter feed- then you are most certainly going to be ignored. There's a select few artists who don't do this who are also successful- but unless you're as good as someone like Aaron Horkey, the world is not going to beat a path to your door.  So grow the fuck up and start Tumblr'ing like a 14 year old girl.  This might sound harsh, but I'm not telling you these things because I hate you (hypothetical artist I'm talking to right now)- I'm telling you these things because I want you to succeed.  Anyone who tells you different is a succubus who wants you to fail.  I'm on your side, and that's why I'm kicking you in the nuts.
Also- another hard lesson that I've had to learn within the last year or so- some people online will hate you if you're successful, and you need to now extricate yourself from all those great communities you used to interact with in your early days, because A-you've now outgrown them and B- there will now be people who just hate you and can't stop talking about it. It kills me to not defend myself regularly on a couple message boards, I can drop a troll hammer like the Odinson- but at some point, you're going to spend your whole day policing haters, and not be drawing. And, you'll now appear to be just as bad as the person you're fighting with- and the thing is- they're really happy you're fighting with them.  You are providing them entertainment, and all you're doing is getting an ulcer. As much as it pains me, I can no longer tell people online that I'm sorry I fucked their Mom last night.  The price of success, I guess.  
Also- never overestimate the importance of one particular website or community in regards to your art business.  It can be very important to cultivate a particular audience online, but if you find that you are only marketing and selling to that ONE audience, you've put all your eggs in one basket- and sometimes that basket is made of jerks that can't wait to hate on you.  It's a jerk-basket.  The smart thing to do is to go wide, not deep- get in front of as many people as possible- consignment shops are your friend.  AND- the people coming into those shops just want cool art- they don't give a crap about everything else that goes on in this crazy market.  THOSE are the people you really want.  Art collectors can be snobby and say that the people buying at craft fairs are just house-moms and they don't know anything about the market.  But you know what else house moms don't know?  They don't know to go on to the internet and call you an asshole all day.  And their money is just as green.  I'd take a legion of house-moms who want a drawing of Bill Murray over a volatile internet group any day.

Since October part of what I've been doing for Staple! is following and promoting confirmed exhibitors on social media.  Not feeding trolls, hijacking other peoples threads, and not let oneself get baited by haters is great advice.  I have noticed that there is a balancing act between too much sharing and coming across as robotic.  Also between jumping on every soap box and coming across as apolitical and apathetic.  How have you manged to strike a balance and how important do you think it is?
I really don't know how I've struck a balance, and I can't say that I actually have- I probably put too much of myself out there into the world, to be honest. But I guess the important thing is to be genuine.  If you're genuinely excited about a new release- it'll come across.  I don't have a PR firm working for me, I don't have an employee or intern working my twitter account- it's all me.  And I'd like to think that helps a bit.

I am guessing that ten years ago you were not expecting to have one man gallery shows on the West Coast while having your work headed to Off-Broadway.  In light of that, what are you expecting for the next act in your career?
Man, I have NO idea.  I've been getting more and more freelance gigs coming in, and I'm doing less and less personal projects- which is a good/bad thing really.   I'd like to scale back the outside work at some point and do more personal stuff, but that's just me talking without really planning.  So much of what I've done is just gut and intuition responding to situations in front of me- no real careful analysis at any time, so take anything I 'plan' to do with a grain of salt.

You've been part of the Austin scene for about a decade.  What has having access to retailers like Austin Books and Drangon's Layer and institutions like Sketch Group and Staple! had on your work?
I've actually never been to a sketch group meet-up, sadly.  It might have something to do with the fact that I draw only late at night in my underwear. I've never been much of a public artist in that regard.  I will say being in such a comic-book friendly town as Austin, with it's several world-class retailers has been amazing.  The community of creators in town is stunning.  I used to run a few comic book shops myself in Austin, back in the day- but I wouldn't call any of those world-class. But it was educational.  I can't really put a finger on anything in particular that being in Austin has influenced my work- but at the same time, I know that I wouldn't be doing it like I do if I hadn't moved to Austin back in '99. Something in the water, I guess. 

What impact do you see Nakatomi Inc. having on the Austin scene?
No idea. I'd hate to overestimate my importance, but at the same time- I know a lot of people view Austin as a silkscreen pop-art print capitol because of my work running Mondo and now Nakatomi.  I try not to think about it too much, though- that way leads to madness.  I also don't leave my house much, so it's easy to think you're some anonymous dude walking around HEB when I do get out.

Who are you looking forward to seeing at Staple! 2013?
The usual gang of friends that I've made over the years- Austin's got a really strong comic and creative community, but we all work in our own private studios and rarely get to see the sun, much less each other, really. So Staple! gives us a great, no excuses-reason to hang out. Love it.

What do you think of the resurgence of dark fantasy and monster comics and its representation at the expo with guests and exhibitors like Bernie Wrightson, Steve Niles, Cody Schibi, Fabian Rangel Jr, Jeremy The Artist, Jon David Guerra, Mark Nasso and Paul Hanley to name a few? Not to mention Nakatomi Inc members James O’Barr and Robert Wilson IV.
Well, I do love me some Hellboy and BPRD- so I'm all for it!  Bernie's just signed on to do some prints with us, so that's a big deal for me- I've always been a fan of his work, and now we get to work together.  I'm always surprised by how approachable these people really are.  

In closing what can you tell people to expect from you and the Nakatomi gang at Staple 2013?
We'll be there with our display of prints that are in-print- a lot of stuff not available on our site, and what not.  I'm hoping to have some cool new exclusives and pre-releases as well!

Mr Doyle's work is for at  Archives of his work can be browsed at and on  tumblr at  He updates the Nakatomi Facebook page pretty regularly and tweets under the hashtag @NakatomiTim.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Staple! Interview with Geoff Sebesta

Geoff Sebesta is the man behind the ongoing Cloudhopper books and the hilarious giant-sized mini-comic Busta/Lovecraft (both can be found at  He is co-editor of Rocksalt found at and at finer Austin establishments. 
Matt: As someone relatively new to the independent comic book scene in Austin, I 've been impressed by how expansive and vibrant the community is.  I get the impression that you have been very involved long before Rocksalt.  I was wondering if you could give us any insights into the community?

Geoff: Thanks!  Yeah, I've been "part of this community" for a while now, and it's nice to be noticed.  Basically we are in the Fourth Great Epoch of Austin Art (unless you count things that happened before the 60s, which are lost to history), also known as the Era of Sketchgroup [Austin Sketch Group/ASG], and I'm proud to be a part of it.

Although there are huge amounts of the Austin scene completely unknown to me, I know a lot of the people who are doing comics in this town.  I don't really know why, I just enjoy the company of artists.  Artists are the only people who consistently know how to have a good time without breaking everything, and those two things are important to me.  Artist parties tend to be filled with interesting people saying interesting things.  Last night my artist housemates and I spontaneously did a fan re-enactment of Cloverfield, and we weren't even drunk.  I really like that.

Matt: How did you get involved in the Austin scene?

Geoff:  I was invited to an early meeting of Sketchgroup by a crazy man.  Then I didn't leave, for eight years straight.  I picked the right spot to stand and watch the scene coalesce.

Matt: Has ASG helped and/or challenged you to improve and expand your art?

Geoff:  Oh, it revolutionized my art.  It's totally fair to say that Sketchgroup made me the artist that I was...about four years ago, which made me the artist that I am today....?  I guess?

But yes, at the beginning Sketchgroup and the Austin scene were completely inspirational.  At this point I think I have enough momentum to keep going on my own, and I don't think criticism is quite as essential to me now that I've trained my eye to see when I do something that doesn't look good.  These days I'm usually a lot more concerned with the next drawing than the last, so the role of criticism and inspiration is not as great as it used to be.  I guess it helps that I'm married to my best collaborator and critic, that probably has something to do with it.

Sketchgroup is still as important to me as it ever was, but my wife and my child are the most important things have ever been to me in my life, so Sketchgroup has been knocked down a peg.  Fortunately Sketchgroup requires no effort at all.  It just keeps sketchin'.

Matt: How do you see the community developing in the future and what is the role of Rocksalt?

Geoff:  For quite a while after the Scanner Darkly thing ASG was a pretty hard core of comic book aficionados who worked together on all their projects.  That's where Sequentulär and a bunch of other projects come from.  We went through a long period where there was somebody, usually somebody who hadn't been coming to meetings for a while, who wanted to "revitalize Sketchgroup."  Then they stopped trying to do that, and suddenly ASG exploded.  It was around the same time Rocksalt started, so there was probably a relationship, but I really think it was just mysterious cultural movements that were too deep to perceive.  All of a sudden the average Sketchgroup meeting was bigger than a big Sketchgroup meeting used to be, and when we have one of those odd days where everyone shows up at once we literally crowd all the other customers out of the coffee shop.
Now there are so many projects coming out of ASG that I can't keep track.  There are comics, video games, novels, new publishing ventures, paintings, youtube videos, sculptures... basically anything that you can make, somebody in Sketchgroup is busy making.  

I have no idea where it's going from here, and it's not really that important where it goes.  The core concept of what ASG is has become essentially indestructible, and even if we all left town tomorrow there would probably still be a Sketchgroup.  I consider that an achievement on all of our parts. The reason it's indestructible is because it doesn't do anything. There are no dues, no rules, no rites of initiation.  We all agreed to keep it simple, and that will probably let it live forever.  ASG doesn't exist to accomplish great things, but to provide a central base from which great things can be done.  It's perfectly accurate to call Rocksalt an ASG project, since the majority of talent in the magazine are culled from ASG, but there's a whole lot of ASG that has nothing to do with Rocksalt.

Rocksalt, if we can ever figure out how to plug the advertising monies into it, will hopefully  also last forever.  There is no reason not to why it wouldn't.  Jeanne Thornton and I are essentially printing out the internet.  Of all the tasks associated with running the magazine, filling the issue with art is by far the easiest.  We will probably always remain close to our home in ASG, but once we get it going we will "salt" some other cities too.  Even when we have distribution in thirty cities and twenty nations and our own diamond-plated newspaper boxes Rocksalt will remain a showcase for the best cartoon work in Austin, because we live here.  Probably gonna keep living here.  This will probably have some sort of synergistic effect because, hey, Rocksalt is good publicity.  But we are the little remora feeding off the big sharks of Austin and the internet, and that shouldn't change.

Matt: One of the first books I picked up at an Austin comic con was the first volume Cloudhopper. This may say more about me but I can't think of any comic books even remotely similar in tone or content as Cloudhopper and work found on your web page megaTexas. Are there comics that inspire the stories you tell and how you tell them?

Geoff:  Hmm...Keith Giffen, Moebius, Dave Mazzucchelli, George Herriman....I find it easy to conceal my influences because there are so many of them and I steal so liberally from all of them.  When it comes to storytelling and composition, I was raised in the Marvel House Style.  I think a lot about composition.  Giffen is the master of composition and storytelling. Modern comics storytelling owes him a huge debt. Chris Ware was to the 90s what Giffen was to the 80s, but it's probably even harder to see when I'm ripping him off because I don't draw like he does at all.  I'm just not careful enough to draw like that.I think the reason most people can't detect who I'm stealing from is my odd approach to figure drawing.  I take a lot of life drawing classes, so I don't stylize my characters in a comic book way.  Characters are drawn according to figure drawing proportions (not heroic anatomy proportions) and rendered to the best of my abilities, which is pretty scary if you look at some of the crappy figures I've drawn.
Right now I'm reading BPRD, Prophet (postapocalyptic as it should be; terminally weird), the Unwritten, an old Tezuka GN called Ayako, and catching up on Secret Six.

Matt: Are there any strong influences from film or literature in your work?

Geoff:  I read a lot, watch a lot of movies, read a lot of comic books.  I've never really been into video games, I use the time most people use on games to consume massive chunks of static media.  I'm not saying it's better because obviously it isn't.  I'd have a hard time arguing that watching a movie is a more participative act than playing a game.  

I was really into the ideas of Stanley Kubrick, and how his innovations in set design have really come to dominate the film world.  But I don't really enjoy his movies as much as his ideas.  His movies are sort of mean and boring, except Eyes Wide Shut, which is a fairy tale about mean and boring people.  But I do like his way of hiding things in plain sight.  I love the Sopranos, the way they tie symbolism so closely to the narrative.  I love the dialogue of Mamet and Stoppard.  I think Wes Anderson has come closest to creating a purely filmic language that simply could not exist in any other medium.  I've seriously come to believe that Paul Verhoeven is the greatest satirist of film history and that Showgirls is an underappreciated masterwork the equal of Starship Troopers or Robocop (but not Total Recall, the greatest Philip K Dick film of all time).  Right now I'm really into old Disney movies, believe it or not, though I watch them with the sound off (Pinocchio is a gorgeous film but the old Disney orchestra is so obtrusive and cloying) and anything in French.

I love Thomas Pynchon.  I like the multiplicity of inputs and the "everything goes" narrative style and the abstruse humor.  I am really into Crowley's Little, Big and Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being and books with unhappy endings.  If you are not more than a little sad at the end of Cloudhopper I will not have done my job.

Matt: The more I read your work the harder it is for me to recall static panels. Now that you mention it I can see how some of this might come from your life drawing. I feel that there is playful looseness to your lines that conveys motion not just between panels but within them as well. What inking tools do you use to pull it off technically.

Geoff:  I use a uniball vision pen, a sharpie, and Photoshop.  The reason it looks like I'm a better inker than I am is because I fake ink textures with Photoshop (at this point Busta/Lovecraft is probably about 60% computer but I hope you can't tell to look at it).  Texture is the one thing that computers don't do well so I've put thought into how to fake it faster.  Computers let me work endlessly on the same image, so I do a thumbnail, then a decent pencil drawing, then an ink drawing, then I re-ink on vellum if I'm trying to be "prestige," but after that it always goes into the computer for lots and lots of drawing and redrawing.

Matt: Is there any other cartoonist whose line work you study or who you would suggest to readers who like your work?

Geoff:  I learn more from the people I know than from books.  I steal color ideas from Zach Taylor and ideas for faces from Carey Atchison.  I really like Anton Solomonik and Austin Bedell's ink styles, and try to steer a course between them.  We have an amazing figure drawing thing going on in Austin, which is very useful, because I can compare the way I drew a model with the style other artists use.  John David Brown has become the ASG championship figure drawer, we should enter him in competitions against other cities.  I want to live like Sam Hurt, who seems to have it figured out a little better than most guys.  Sam proved to me that you can make a living in this town if you work hard enough.

As to people I don't know, Moebius gets more art out of less line than anybody.  Michael Lark has an incredible gift for faking perspective and creating space with just a couple straight edges, so if you want to create deerriman is still the greatest cartoonist yet, probably ever.  Herriman is every bit as important, artispth I'd check him out.  Keith Giffen is so good at comics composition that even his worst work (and there is plenty of his worst work) is a master class in storytelling.  George Htically and historically, as Louis Armstrong.

Matt:  You sell both color and black and white editions of Cloudhopper.  You have self-published both a soft and hardcover edition of Busta/Lovecraft.  Your work in Rocksalt is printed on ephemeral newsprint.  All of this work is also available on your web page that I found both user friendly and sets the tone for the artistic content.  In your opinion what does the physicality of work bring to the reader?

Geoff:  Permanence.  People will read something on the web and like it or not like it, sure, I'll get my penny from advertising and whatever, but a real printed comic can be passed hand to hand.  It can be left lying around an apartment until somebody is too lazy to get up off the couch and reads it instead.  You can put it in the bathroom.  You can wrap a fish in it.  You can take a page out and post it on your wall, or cut one cartoon out and stick it on your office door, or incorporate it into your awesome collage on your bedroom wall.  Physical objects are cool like that.

I owned a comic book once called Face, by Milligan and Fegredo, a Vertigo one-shot from the nineties.  It was okay, not that great, but pretty good.  It just so happened that I left it on the table by my bed.  I must have read that comic twenty times.  Why?  Because I woke up and didn't feel like getting out of bed, or I was going to sleep and I wanted something to look at, or I was sick that day, or whatever.  On about the fifteenth read I felt like I "got" it, but I never really liked the comic.  The only reason I read it twenty times was because it was sitting right there.  When I realized this it was a complete revelation.  I would never read the same webcomic twenty times.  But since the comic was printed and sitting there, I did.  

The age of comics has not passed; the web is one giant comic book.  People actually want comic books more than ever.  But they do not, absolutely do not want to pay for them.  "Free" is the right price for a comic book these days. I think that's why Rocksalt does well.  People want comics, but we have gotten out of the habit of paying for words and pictures.  We need that money for food and rent.  Why should I pay for words and pictures when I can read them for free on-line while I enjoy that burrito that I can now afford with the money that I could have spent on this comic?  I'm a human being.  I'm exactly the same as everybody else in this regard.  Just because I love comics so much that I've essentially dedicated my life to them does not mean that I can afford them.  In fact, it means the exact opposite.  So I can't give you four dollars to hear about what wacky hijinks Green Lantern got up to this time, but I'd still love to hear all about it.  Who wouldn't read a great comic book when it's sitting right in front of them?  Nobody but a dedicated reader is going to go out and get them (and that's why conventions are so enormous right now, because they put the creators where people can find them), but if you put Rocksalt in front of them anybody will read it and love it.  That's why we make it.

I can give a comic book to anybody.  I can only sell books to the most dedicated of fans, mostly the ones who go out to conventions.  When people go to comic book stores, as a general rule they are not going to spend money on artists they don't know.  People who are emotionally invested enough in my work to drop ten dollars on it (and that's what stores have to charge; they really can't charge any less after printing and shipping; I make maybe a dollar out of the ten you give the store).  Those are the sorts of readers that I want; they are the ones who are going to say "Hey this is great," and loan the comic around.  I'm convinced that most readers come from one person who says to another, "Hey you have to read this comic," and loans them a copy.  I hope that every single comic I sell is in its own way a library copy.

Matt: What went into the decision of make all this work available on-line?

Geoff:  Why not?  It takes about thirty seconds of effort to post a picture, and then people in Zimbabwe can read it, if they want to.  The reason I'm an artist is....well, the real reason I'm an artist is because I realized nobody was going to read my novels if they didn't have pictures, so I went to art school and learned to draw.  But the reason I'm a writer, or I guess the reason I'm a creator in general, is that I want to change your mind.  I have certain things that I would like to get across to humanity.  The main one is that war is fucking stupid but there are many others, and I'm willing to couch my words in pretty pictures and amazing storylines if that will get you to pay attention.  The web is a cheap and easy amplifier for my work, and I'd be a fool not to use it.

Besides, web design is an art form.

As to why I don't charge for content? Because I tried that and it just lead to less readers in general. Maybe Neal Adams and Alan Moore have such a huge fan base that they can afford to cut it in half and shake down the ones who stay, but I am not actually that popular and that isn't going to change if I try to charge people for the privilege of getting acquainted with my work.

Matt: What was the experience of having you work square bound, in color and having a hardcover book?

Geoff:  It's a lot of fun when you get a crate of books delivered to your home.  There are few feelings better than seeing your work printed, and knowing that it needed to be printed because you sold through the last crate so you have to have another.

That said, keeping everything in print is quite a task for a small publisher.  Right now I'm totally sold out of three titles and a poster, and I have to replace them before the show.  They'll sell, so it's worth it -- the first comic I did is still selling, so I'm still printing it -- but it does require an uncomfortably adult level of responsibility to stay on top of your own inventory, ship it to where it needs to be, and store it the rest of the time.  Thank god I don't have to deal with T-shirts yet.

Matt: Finally, is there anything you are looking forward to at Staple! 2013?

Geoff:  Two new issues of Rocksalt and a new baby girl.  My wife Gewel Kafka and I are expecting our first child in just a few weeks, right before Staple.  I'm pretty excited.