Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Indy Hunter:

I’m the InDiY Hunter and welcome to our first interview of 2013! Today we have Nix  Publisher, Editor, Writer, aka  Indie-Man O’ Mighty  Ken Eppstein with us! 

IH: You ready to mix-it-up-a lot sir?

KE: You may fire when ready, Gridley

IH: ...What do you call your style of Kung-fu? What would you prescribe this growth to?

KE: Rufus Thomas taught me "Monkey doing the Dog" style Kung-Fu.  Its the funkiest Kung Fu.

As to the growth... Well I'd say its a little illusory.  My second full year of publishing and Nix Comics still 90% me writing a bunch of stories, hiring on artists and hustling for placement and promotion.  Y'know... I work hard at that, and combined with a wonderfully ardent but actually small fan base, it gives the illusion that I'm a bigger publisher than I actually am. 

Real growth is a slow build... Convincing people outside of the small but ardent audience I already have that Nix Comics is worth their time and money.  

IH: ...Looking back at issue no.1, when it finally went to press to now the impending debut of issue 5. How does it feel?

KE: Oh gosh... I've been so busy the past couple of years with it all that I can't honestly put a single single feeling towards it.  Every comic I put out is an emotional roller coaster...  Anticipation as I wait in line for the ride and board my car and start out on that first incline, followed by the sick to your stomach thrill of taking the ensuing plunges and loops followed by new anticipation as I get back in line again.

IH: You’ve expanded your efforts to other genres, other demographics. What was the motivation behind the scenes?

KE: Well, first off, Nix Comics is still at it's core a vanity press.  I make the comics that excite me personally.  Before starting Nix, it had been literally years since I had been in a comic shop.  The gravity of the new material being made simply wasn't enough to draw me in.  The genres I tackle and the style I write in are a direct response to what I feel is lacking in the modern comic scene.  (So... It's an ego stroke as opposed to some sort of business plan)

Fortunately for me, that aspect of vanity matches up with decent business planning strategy.  I see a lot of gaps in the genres getting being represented in modern comics and lots of potential markets for comic books being untapped, and Nix Comics is ready to fill the gaps and reach out to those markets.

IH: What is a day like for Ken the writer, take us through that please.

KE: I hate this kind of question.  It exposes how I butterfly about in my writing practices.  Most writers I know have a schedule and style of working that they stick to dogmatically....   For me it tends to be pretty free-form. Sometimes a scene comes to me and I build a whole story around that.  Sometimes a whole plot unfolds in my mind and I write out a whole story in prose before breaking it down into script elements.  Other times I have a social issues I want to address and I have to work hard to put a framework around it.  I do a lot of focused free writing, where I just put down on paper or a google doc every brain snippet I can on a particular subject/genre.

When I'm on somebody else's dime (Like the Astonishing tech tales comic I did for a local IT services provider) I come at things a little more formally.  I outline and thumbnail the comic, I draft the script and go through at least three iterations of rewriting and refinement... Looking at both story telling elements and making sure I'm providing a clear blueprint for the artist.

IH: Out of all your scripts, which story would you say jazzed you up the most?

KE: Oh man.... You want me to pick a favorite child?  My favorite is actually a script that I've been fishing around for publication outside of Nix Comics... Another western titled "The Six Guns Of The Widow Boylan."  The basic premise is a rough and tumble Boston-Irish girl, who was raised by her father (a policeman) to be able to hold her own in a man's world is widowed as she and her husband attempt to start a new life homesteading in the west after the great fire of Boston.  It was an idea that took off on me as I was writing Nix Western Comics #1.

Of the Nix stories, probably my favorite is still the very first.  "The Devil and Ellis Church" was the one that i I enjoyed writing the most because it was as fairly simple devil story, but I managed to communicate my subtext so well.  Half of my friends who own independent record labels asked if I relaized that i was comparing them to satan hisself.  Ummmmm... 'Fraid so, but I still love ya guys!

IH: As of right now, You're the only writer on Nix Comics, do you see it staying that way for the foreseeable future?

KE: Not exactly true.  Rachel Deering, Dustin Goebel, and Patrick Roach have contributed stories to the quarterly.  James Moore from Two headed Monster has one in Issue #5 and I've been talking to Jamie Gambell from Monkey pipe studios about a story in #6.

IH: Any plans to expand roles in the Nix Bullpen? 

KE: Desire?  yes.  Plans? No.  Things need to take off more before I can start making those kinds of promises.

IH: If so what would you look for in a fellow-creator?

KE: Oh... you know....  Its like pornography.  i'll know it when I see it.

IH:  Do you think there’s any strategy to scheduling a kickstarter or heavy publishing run?

KE: Sure.  Of course there is.  There's always strategy to sales regardless of the venue.

If I can presume a little, I'm guessing that your question is a way to gingerly approach the fact that my recent "Big Ask" kickstarter didn't reach its goal. Directly to your question... Yes, I think that between the election, thanksgiving/the beginning of holiday shopping and the less predictable things like the tragedy of what happened on the east coast with Hurricane Sandy, I could have made a better choice of when to run the campaign.  I actually had considered a  lot of that, but part of my strategy was to have the campaign up and running for New York Comic Con, thinking I'd get a good starting boost from that crowd.  Which didn't happen.

That said, timing wasn't the only issue with the campaign.

The ambitious nature of the ask worked against me.  I know I talked to a lot of people who told me that they wouldn't pledge because I wasn't likely to meet my goal. That's a little perplexing to me... especially given how many of them were from Ohio and Cleveland Browns and Indians fans....  But there it was.

Mostly I was victim to that illusory feeling of growth I hit on in your first question.  I knew I had a following, but I didn't know how it would translate into actual capital at this point.  When I looked at kickstarters that made money in the range that I was asking for, the one thing that seemed to be the difference was great word of mouth... Or I guess Social Media virality.  The one question I didn't feel like I had the answer for at the start of the "Big Ask" was "How much buzz could Nix and its loyalists generate?"  Not enough, it turns out.

Fact of the matter is that asking for money is a tough deal.  You'll be turned down more often than taken up.  The important thing is to look past the obstacles and at the potential rewards.
IH: What was New York Comic Con like for you?

KE: It was a lot of fun.  Not super much my crowd, but it was nice to see so many people gathered in one place, having a good time and doing their own thing.  I kinda wish I had splurged for a full table because the exhibitors on either side of me had huge displays of anime/manga related stuff and it was hard for people to see me and my little devil comics squeezed in between them.

IH: But if they had pledge you would've been closer or have met that goal? Strange how that works.

KE: Yeah, I guess its a psychological disconnect.  Thing is, at this point I don't want to do kickstarter for anything less than a grandiose idea.  I could break it up into a bunch of smaller kickstarters, but then I feel like I'd be leaning too much on a third party resource as a major part of my business plan.  I feel like if I'm going to grind things out the hard way, I might as well throw away the crutches.

IH: Do you plan on moving out out of Ohio?

KE: Are you kidding me?  Columbus is going to be the next big comic mecca.  We already have one of the more venerated on going small press conventions in SPACE, we have the biggest collection of cartoon material in the world at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library at Ohio state and the rent is cheap!  We're only a stones throw away from all of the other great cons and resources on the east coast and the midwest.  Plus, Columbus is one of the key test markets in the country.  I love it here!

IH: Lastly where can people find you and Nix Comics? Websites, twitter, any other social media where they can follow the adventures of Boy Howdy and Ken Eppstein?

Thanks Ken!

-InDiy Hunter


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