Continuing our series of posts checking back in with various creators we spoke with or posted about before the San Diego Comic-Con, today we chat with D.J. Coffman, winner of Platinum Studios’ Comic Book Challenge. “But waitaminute,” you might be saying, “are you trying to pull the wool over our eyes? You didn’t post anything about D.J. before the con!” Well, no, you’re right; since the contest was held in San Diego and the winner was chosen by comic fans who voted all weekend, we wouldn’t have known to interview Coffman about winning the contest before the con, unless we were Dream Girl or Destiny or Johnny Carson.
But we did post about the contest, and you might have noticed the ads we’ve been running for a webcomic Coffman does called Yirmumah, so he’s kind of like extended family (if extended family paid rent). And we’re pleased to be able to talk to Coffman about his big win at the con, his webcomic and the money he owes us.
Blog@Newsarama: Let’s start with the obvious–tell us how excited you are about your big win.
D.J. Coffman: I’m stoked. It feels like I’ve been given a unique opportunity to do something with this.
B@N: So how exactly did this all come about?
D.J. Coffman: I saw a link or press release online at another online news site, and I decided to give it a shot and send in an idea I had had on the backburner.
B@N: How long had it been on the backburner?
D.J. Coffman: I believe I made it up early 2003. I had it in my head earlier than that, but actually put it to paper and was planning the webcomic in 2003.
B@N: I understand you weren’t planning on attending the show until you found out you were a finalist. How were you able to make it out to San Diego so quickly?
D.J. Coffman: Luckily, I had just sold some ads on my Yirmumah site, so I had a little bit of a bankroll for advertising. Ironically, I set up to pay for ads on the Newsarama blog, then three days later I found out I had to fly out last minute and book a room for two nights, so all of my saved bankroll went bye-bye. I actually had to e-mail Newsarama and ask if I could pay in August! But luckily you guys are cool and are not sending people to break my legs!
B@N: I think our leg breakers are still recovering from the con.. What can you tell us about your winning entry, Hero by Night?
D.J. Coffman: In a simple nutshell, it’s about a guy who finds the secret lair of a super hero who had mysteriously disappeared in 1955. The lair was filled with retro gadgets, gear and the hero’s ring. The guy’s first impulse is HE’S RICH! The jackpot! He can auction this stuff off … but as he learns more about why the hero really disappeared, destiny might lead him to become the next Hero By Night.
B@N: The contest not only made you the hottest new comics star, but a TV star as well, correct? Tell us about appearing on the San Diego NBC affiliate.
D.J. Coffman: Man, I am just not made for cameras and live TV and all that jazz. I was made to be behind the desk drawing this stuff, but when this opportunity came, I figured I’d do whatever it takes or jump through whatever hoops of fire they needed me to.
B@N: What happens next? Did you meet with Platinum about your book while at the con?
D.J. Coffman: We did meet with Platinum at the convention, but we will meet more. We’re in talks now figuring out the best approach for this story, and I’m anxious to work with them on fine tuning this, especially with all of their experience and the editors involved. It’s going to be a secret thrill for me to work or talk with Lee Nordling, their main comic book editor-in-chief. But pretty much I do know we’re aiming at having something out in March of 2007, definitely 2007. I think that’s safe to say.
B@N: So did you have time to do anything else at the con?
D.J. Coffman: Yeah, I went to a few panels. The Webcomic panels were nuts! And I got to sit in on the Keenspot.com panel, as my Yirmumah comic is moving to their online collective site. That place was a total madhouse though! Wow!
B@N: Your “overnight success” and big win have been years in the making. Tell us a little bit about your webcomic, Yirmumah, and the road you’ve traveled to get here.
D.J. Coffman: Well, Yirmumah is a comic I started back in 1998 when I was a “struggling” artist trying to break into mainstream comics and having no luck at all. Looking back, I wasn’t ready or polished enough. I had much more luck with cartoony work and actually fell into doing comic strips in newspapers for a good while. All along I was also doing small indy projects for various writers over the years. My friend James Patrick gave me a lot of independent work like Crackurz, about two birds in a cage, and Lionxor, mocking ’80s toy properties, and then we teamed up and did backups for Super Hero Happy Hour by Dan Taylor. Then for a spell I worked with Hollywood’s Brian Lynch on the MonkeyMan comics, did some online comics at Kevin Smith’s Movie Poop Shoot site … the list and the name dropping goes on and on!
So pretty much, I’ve just been outside the mainstream throwing rocks at the window and occassionaly starting fires on the lawn to get noticed. I broke into webcomics on accident almost, and my Yirmumah fan base on line has been great to me. I sort of got tired of freelancing so much and decided to do Yirmumah full time, and support myself with Google ads, online advertising and my own printed collected books. That’s worked out pretty well.
But now, this thing with Platinum. I feel like, “Wow!” All that hollering on the lawn of the industry years ago, and these guys have just opened the door for me, and I’m going to run through like Tom Cruise in Risky Business and slide across the floor yelling something crazy. Ok, that might freak them out, I’ll just hang back and play it cool. But in my mind … Risky Business.