There have been so many shocks and surprises and the internet just can’t be broken anymore. It’s become tougher, like when you tear a phone book into pieces and eventually it just won’t rip anymore. How do you tell who’s who and what’s what in this new world out there? Don’t worry. I’m here to comfort and guide. Welcome to the world outside B@N. Welcome to Meanwhile….
Today we’re going to start things off a little differently. We’re instituting a new feature here on Meanwhile where we’ll spotlight a different blogger. This week’s blogger is Kevin Church, creator of BeaucoupKevin.com.
So Kevin, Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do besides blog?
Besides blogging, I write comics for BOOM! Studios (and anyone else who wants to give me money, if there are publishers reading this thing) and work in marketing at a firm in the Boston area. I live with a girlfriend that puts up with way, way too much of my crap and far, far too much in the way of disposable media. I also take pictures when it’s not as stupidly cold as it has been of late. That’s the short version. The long version is available in my forthcoming tome Remembrance Of Things Past II: The Re-Remembrancing.
There’s also my recently-launched webcomic with Benjamin Birdie, The Rack. Birdie and I started working together on the Nitroglycerin promotional strip for BOOM! and have such a good time together that we’re trying to make our lives a bit more difficult for your pleasure.
With you’re background in marketing do you feel that a blog is an essential marketing tool for people trying to get into the comic business today? Did your blog start out as an effort to be noticed or did it come naturally?
My blog started out, honestly, as a way to kill time at work. The first two or three years of entries are fairly crap because I didn’t organize my thought at all. I finally got my head on straight and started taking it “seriously” in mid-2004. Part of me wants to delete the earlier material because, hey, it’s of very little relevance to the current iteration of my site, but at the same time it proves that I’ve gotten better at this thing and it’s been over five freakin’ years.
If you are trying to get into the comics business, and I say this as someone who stumbled into it blindly while drunk, having a blog that’s regularly updated shows that you care and can discipline yourself. If you are an artist, regularly putting up art can only improve your reputation (and probably the work) while providing people with a quick reference to your material. If you’re a writer, show that you can string words together in an interesting formation and keep doing it.
One thing I specifically recommend avoiding is posting more than the briefest excerpts from scripts or plots that you have come up with. There’s two reasons here: the first you should jealously guard your original ideas; the second being that publishers and editors don’t want to read entire scripts or plot breakdowns due to legal complications. I’ve got a science-fiction concept I’m hacking away at that I will probably not offer more than a code-name for until it’s soundly rejected: Naked Space Vixens In Space.
What makes your blog unique? What do you bring to the game that no one else does?
I – and I think every good blog out there does this – use my personality in each and every post and despite the claims of others, I’m really not that much of a jerk when it comes to other opinions. One thing I assiduously avoid is attacking creators. I may think, for instance, Mark Waid’s a great guy (and he is,) but I really, really despise Kingdom Come because his fascist version of Superman drives me up the wall. If I were to write about Kingdom Come, I’d be sure to keep in mind that Mark Waid did not piss all over my childhood dreams: he simply wrote a comics story I am supremely irritated with. To be fair, I should also mention that I adore his Legion of Super-Heroes to tiny little candy-coated pieces.
I also freely admit I’m not some kind of all-seeing oracle and I actually appreciate it when people correct me on matters large and small. I also like opening up dialogues over various matters, from things like “What are you buying this week?” to talking about blogging and what works and doesn’t. (That last bit’s very meta, innit? Talking about a post about blogging in an interview about blogging.)
To simplify: an eagerness to the readers, trying to come off without having too much in the way of fan entitlement, and having a sense of humor about the medium without (hopefully) engaging in cheap snark – that’s what I bring to the “game.” I’ve got fairly catholic taste in comics – I like a good spandex story as much as a thought-provoking work like Fun Home and think I manage to balance things well without alienating anyone.
Give us a rundown of some of the regular features on your blog. What can a typical reader expect?
Every Monday, I snatch Diamond’s shipping list and do a rundown of what I’m buying that’s new or different and occasionally managing to get in a bit of lowbrow humor at a publisher’s expense. I also view it as a chance to point out things that may not be on people’s radars for whatever reason – the recent Beasts book from Fantagraphics for instance, or reminding people that their shop may have re-ordered Wimbledon Green. Saturdays belong to Kirby because, hey, he was The King, and I’ll use a panel or a page to remind people that giants have walked among us. I’m doing them less frequently for whatever reason, but I still manage to post a few Genius Covers Sundays here and there.
Are there any posts you’re particularly proud of? Basically, what are Kevin Church’s Greatest Hits?
Oh, that’s not at all easy. Er. There’s that whole Just Imagine…Stan Lee’s Watchmen thing that was a bit of a hit. I’ve had a soft spot for my overview of Justice League America 38-40 because it was my first attempt to write long and hard about spandex funnybooks. There’s also the copied-by-some, linked-by-many “These Are My Words” post and the bit that started a sh*tstorm with some thin-skinned, unnamed creators (something I’ve been accused of): A Handy Primer For My Fellow Neophyte Comics Creators. There’s a ton of material on my site I quite like – people should just look at the archives and savor my brilliance.
If you could start your blog over from scratch is there anything you would do differently? What mistakes did you make that you might not have knowing what you know now?
I’d probably go with WordPress if I were starting now, just because it’s a faster, better system that gives the writer more freedom than Blogger does. It’s also easier to customize and create a site that’s not a cookie-cutter. Mistakes? I’ve had a few, I’m sure, (to quote The Chairman of the Board) but that’s why you keep writing, you know? One thing I do, despite telling myself otherwise every time, is that I tend to let things die if I am not getting a great reaction from them – that’s why there’s been no posts from Thor’s Jukebox for a while and my photoblog is lying semi-fallow.
Do you have any advice for new bloggers or aspiring writers?
Funnily enough, this was the topic of a recent post. Heck, I even threw in a Dreamhost promotional code to give people an impetus to go and get their own domain and grab the bull by its horns.
As far as writing comics goes: do anything but read comics for inspiration. Watch a hockey game, absorb old films in other languages, read non-fiction, talk to people at bars, do anything that can expand your horizons outside of the medium and then bring that into your writing. That’s why Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison, to name two, are so well regarded by many: they bring a broader perspective to everything they write, from superheroes to science fiction.
My own example here is that a single line in The Ambient Century gave me the inspiration for an 8-page story in Cthulhu Tales: The Rising (in stores this week!). One of the reasons I’m enjoying writing Cover Girl so much is that, despite myself, I love a good bit of Hollywood gossip and playing in that world is a tremendous amount of fun.
Of course, there’s the old standby advice: write often, make time to do it, and don’t be afraid to fail on paper a dozen times before you nail it.