SILBER MEDIA - STICK WITH COMICS

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Back in the day my Nan used to love drawing pictures with me. Granted, she was not any good at it, because she was only able to draw stick figures. Nonetheless, her creative energy flowed into my being, making me want to draw-draw-draw in turn. Hey! Do you know else likes to draw stick figures? My mate Brian. He runs a great publishing house called Silber Media. Here, check out this interview I had with him only the other day, whilst hitting an old age pensioner with a stick figure.


Stick Man


1) What are your own origins Brian? And when did you know that you wanted to be 'a creator'?   I started getting comics as a kid and I never thought I’d be able to do them because I couldn’t draw well enough (for some reason it never occurred to me to “just” write them instead of drawing them).

Like a lot of folks, as a teen, I fell out of getting comics and started getting into music and that led me to doing some zines (most notably QRD) which still exists, but now only as a webzine. I used to do these one off zines for my girlfriend and they’d have stick figure comics in them and so eventually that morphed into Lost Kisses and people really latched onto it. The first issue came out in 2003 I think, so I was already 28. Which I guess is a late start.

2) In your own words how would you describe your comic books? Plus what formats do they come in?   My tagline is “as small as a pack of matches with stories as big as life.” Because the physical versions of my books are the about the size of a pack of matches (though I have digital versions available as well).

They have a single panel per page. It started off that it was this really dark self-examining sad bastard narratives on the bottom with funny stick figure stuff on top to make it palatable. I like the juxtapositioning of things like that. But as those books started to get reviewed, people would say, “Only this type of story and art could work in this format.” So I kinda took that as a challenge and started writing crime and horror and sci-fi stuff and get the stories drawn by people infinitely more talented at drawing than myself.

3) It has been well documented that Harvey Pekar uses stick-figures to illustrate his tales to whatever artist who drew his comic books. What inspired you to draw this way? And do you think it aids your story due to its simplistic nature?   When I saw the 'American Splendor' movie with that bit where he does the stick figure thumbnails, I got a little upset for a second. At that point I hadn't really seen any of his work in particular - with the exception of Robert Crumb - so I hadn't really seen much from cartoonists who didn't work for a company big enough to get distributed by Diamond. So I kinda thought I had invented my style instead of that I was just re-inventing someone else’s style.

I think I leaned towards the stick figures because then people couldn’t make fun of my style because I was making fun of it myself. I do think there is something where people see a stick figure and they can instantly relate to the story as being about themselves or people they know. That’s been both a plus and a minus. The pluses are obvious, but the minus is sometimes a story is about a particular person / character and people assume I’m making some sweeping statement about gender or something. 

I once had a stick figure story about a pragmatic girl cheating on a guy and him not letting go and people say that means I think all women are pragmatic or evil or whatever – which isn't the case.

4) If you could cast a movie based on one of your comic books, what comic would it be and who would you cast?   Well, first off, I need to say that most of my comics wouldn't work well as 90 minute stories. I’m generally trying to tell 10 minute stories and stringing nine of those together might not really work as a movie. That said - I think Worms might work. Maybe starring Krysten Ritter from 'Breaking Bad'? I think though ideally it would work better with it being for television with maybe two or three stories told from two or three different series each week. Maybe some animated and some live action and some through photographs like La Jetee.

5) What was the first comic book you have ever read? And do you still read mainstream comics?   I think my first comic book was a set of three comics from Woolworth’s and the front of the three pack was The Thing #5 (1983) and I have more or less everything Marvel put out for the five or six years following that. I don’t read any current monthly mainstream comics, but I have gotten into reading some of the golden age and silver age stuff. I don’t like how now everything is a mega-crossover event. That first started happening in the late 1980s and I think is part of why I got out of the mainstream books.

6) What song would best represent your style of illustrations and tales?   Hrmm? Joy Division’s “Wilderness” comes to mind, but I can’t really tell you why. I guess because it’s simple and minimal in a certain way, but really gets you inside of someone else’s head.




7) During your time as a writer, what is the one thing that has kept you in good stead?   There have been a few fans of my work - and that makes me feel like it’s worth my time. Also, I’m not really into movies or video games and I get kinda burned out on music, so they’re a good way to spend my time.

8) If you could only change one thing about what you do, what would that be and why?   I’d really love to be at a point where I could pay my collaborators. I think if there was money involved I could crank out more stories and hopefully get to be a better storyteller (though I do fear just constantly repeating myself). Also figure out a way to get the art to print a little sharper.

9) Do you have any other projects on the horizon?   There’s a ton. Yesterday I got final versions of the scripts for Pow Wow #2 and; #3 out to the artist. I think I have six other stories out waiting for the art to come back in. But I guess right now the two big stories are I have a project for putting my comics in bottles and putting them into the ocean on Kickstarter. Plus I have this thing I’m trying to start doing comics with children and their parents simply called “Kid Comics”. I’m talking to some folks about publishing some one offs in the format that I neither write nor draw and my webzine QRD is going to have a series of interviews with comic creators go up in late July most likely. 

That’s it for my comic news. I also do a bunch of music stuff that you can find out about through the website.

So there you have it folks, my mate Brian and his website www.silbermedia.com. When you have the time please give it a click or three, and don't forget to do the twitter and facebook thing too. Shazam!!!!