G.I. Comics Logo Out of the following three creators who do you think would praise Ronald Reagan for his salesmanship? Would it be Jose from Washington DC? Alan from Idaho? Or Dave from the rave? Now if you want to know the answer to this question, please check out what they told me only the other day, whilst answering some other questions in front of a man with a giant hammer.

1) What are your origins, Josh and Alan? Plus what path did you take in life prior to getting to where you are today?   JOSE: Born and raised native of Washington D.C., first generation African-American, I can say I had a pretty normal upbringing. Two parents, two brothers (I’m the middle brother) and a sister comprised the entire family unit. My parents died before they turned 55 and my sister and I have been caring for my younger, autistic brother since then. I’ve been reading comics seriously since I was 16, but I never really considered turning my like of comics into a career until roughly 15 years ago at the age of 28, and I’ve been working hard at it ever since. Before attempting a career in comics, I wanted to start a rock band. Long story short, did it. It didn’t take.

ALAN: Born in Boise, Idaho, I was adopted when I was only 3 months old. My parents stayed in Idaho until I was 5, and, my father being originally from Washington D.C., decided to move back there to be closer to the rest of his family. Growing up, I was never really considered the type of person that would be into comic books, but I was the type of person that continuously got punished and sent to his room; so reading comic books began as something to just pass the time and then it slowly blossomed into what I would consider a true passion. I had a talent for drawing once, but because of some problems with my wrist (carpel tunnel) I eventually ended up switching my focus to plotting and scripting. I guess I’ve been working, in one way or another, at trying to make it within the comic book industry since 1997. It’s been a long and arduous journey since then, but I’m happy with where we are now and I’m very excited to see what the future holds for us.

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2) What inspired you to form GI Comics?   JOSE: To be honest, I got sick and tired of the cyclical nature of the comic book industry (storylines constantly be recycled or rescinded altogether) and decided to make my own comics. I ran my own company for a few years until I figured out it’s more fun doing it with a crew. At that point, I partnered with two likeminded gents to form the GI Comics family and we’ve been rolling ever since.

DAVE: The inspiration to form GI Comics came from a desire to form some sort of small press confederation. We’ve been trying to make our way in comics for a long time, and we realized that we, as small press publishers, could go a bit farther if we pooled our resources. We were working at the time as Crucial Crisis Comix when we met our friend and frequent collaborator Andrew LoVuolo, who was working as GI Studios and self-publishing his own comic entitled The Rift. He, too, was looking for like-minded individuals to form some sort of confederation and one thing to another giving birth to what is now Graphic Illusions Comics or simply GI Comics.

3) Can you tell us about some of your projects?   JOSE: We have several titles, but the ones I’m most directly involved with are the SWU (Second Wave Universe) books. Those consist of Intrepid, Lighting Rod and Brooklyn Blur (Rod and Blur appear in the title Shonen Double Feature). Those 3 are titles I created 10 or so years ago with Intrepid being the flagship book of the SWU and Shonen Double Feature as its’ companion piece. I think of Intrepid as my attempt to write something akin to the Fantastic Four, which happens to have been my favorite title at the time. Lighting Rod began as a Spider-Man knock off and morphed into something extremely ambitious. Brooklyn Blur was purely an exercise to keep myself creatively active in-between Intrepid and Lighting Rod scripts and it ended up turning into a book and character that is especially dear to my heart and an equally ambitious concept. There are other books connected to the SWU that are being worked on, but I don’t want to say too much about them at the moment. Intrepid is the vehicle by which readers will be introduced to the Second Wave Universe as a whole and after Season 2 (the first 24 issues), the SWU really opens up and many new and different characters, storylines and titles will finally get there chance to shine.

ALAN: Since Jose has already touched on the SWU line, I’ll fill you in on a couple of non-SWU-related titles currently in production. Now, even though we’ve spent literally years creating characters, plotlines and scripts for the Second Wave Universe, we also believe in diversity of product and between Dave, Jose and myself we have more than a few mini, maxi and one shot projects. Two of those projects that we’ll be publishing later this year are:

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No One to Save
NOTS is a 52 page, fully colored one shot which tells the story of the dissolution of a superhero following the downfall of humanity after a zombie outbreak. Now, I’ll admit that of the 3 of us, I’m really the only one that truly enjoys zombies and I feel like I have at least one good zombie story to tell. In a nutshell, the reader will follow a 1950’s Superman-style hero that has to cope with the fact the he’s failed mankind in not being able to stop the spread of the zombie virus.

IV: Armageddon
Armageddon is a 24 page, fully colored 51 issue maxi-series that follows the diabolical antics and machinations of the IV Horsemen after they break free from their imprisonment. Essential they manipulate a war between Heaven and Hell by instigating and prodding key figures on both sides. I can honestly tell you that words can not truly explain what this story is…part horror, action, romance, mystery and drama. Imagine a story that mixes elements of Dragonball Z, Hellraiser, Lord of the Rings, and Twilight. Even the artistic direction taken with this book is something something never seen before, at least nothing I’ve ever seen. The one shot, issue #51 will be available by July of this year.

4) In your own words, how would you describe your line of publications?   JOSE: Speaking of the SWU line, I would describe the books as fun, diverse, very ambitious, (if given a read) infectious and progressive.

DAVE: I would have to describe our line of publications as American Manga. Not so much in the artistic delivery, but more so how we utilize Japanese style storytelling, meaning character-driven, plot-heavy, slow-burn style of storytelling. And we apply that style of storytelling to distinctly American genres like superheroes, zombies and westerns…hence, American Manga.

5) Are you affiliated with any known storefronts?   ALAN: Unfortunately we don’t have our product in any stores, but that’s one of the things that we’ll be making big moves on in the near future. Being able to penetrate the Direct Market and, in general, be carried by Diamond Distributors, we would need to have a consist flow of products being published to be able to compensate for the very expensive upfront printing cost and waiting payment period. However, all of our titles are available for digital download exclusively through Cloud 9 Comix. The Cloud 9 app is available for all Apple and Android products for free and most of our issues are available for just 99 cents. Intrepid #1 is even offered as a free download, giving people that much more incentive to start their journey into the Second Wave Universe.

6) What song would you say best represents your publishing house and why?   JOSE: “Crazy Train” because it’s been…and still continues to be…a wild ride.

DAVE: This is a tough one. If I were to pick a song that best represents us, it would have to be…uhm…Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s a song that’s comprised of several distinct sections and somehow they blend together to form a masterpiece. While I don’t think that we’re quite yet a masterpiece, I do think that we are a blend of several distinct influences. Like we said earlier, we consider ourselves an American Manga company. We were all brought up on American comics, and we love the classic superhero comics of Marvel and DC. They have very strongly influenced us and inspired us to tackle the superhero genre. And when you throw in manga, which truly was a game-changer for all of us, it becomes something a little different. We all fell in love with the Japanese approach to storytelling and embraced it. We are doing our best to marry the great American comic book genre with a Japanese approach to storytelling. And on top of that, we sprinkle in other elements that have been influential like westerns, space odyssey sci-fi, mafia flicks, medieval fantasies, and a bunch of other stuff we find amazing and you get GI Comics. A hodgepodge of things that hopefully will come together and be something cool, just like Queen’s classic.

Ronald Reagan Caricature
7)  If you could get a known celebrity -- either living or dead -- to promote your wares, who would you chose, and why would you want this particular person?   JOSE: Don King. He can sell anything.

ALAN: Ronald Reagan. For better or worse, what he sold the American public is still in effect a little over 30 years later. Now that’s a salesman.

8) What were the main obstacles you had to contend with?   JOSE: Money. It’s not easy making a living in comics, especially when you’re not a celebrated ‘name’. Some people claim it’s impossible but that’s obviously not true. We have the talent necessary to make it in the business, but talent means nothing without the money to back your ambitions. We’re working on that bit.

ALAN: Even though money is a HUGE obstacle for us, I would have to say other the Small Press/Independent Industry itself. The same thing that makes the Small Press Industry so welcoming (the freedom to experiment stylistically, try unproven marketing and advertising techniques, not being a slave to direct market and its’ politics) is the same thing that confines it. There is freedom to experiment stylistically, but there is a standard, especially within the American market, that retailers and distributors look for. One can try unproven marketing and advertising techniques, but without any real experience and/or the connections to properly promote your product, you’re probably just screaming into the void. People will not just flock to your product. That, surprisingly even when it concerns ourselves, is something that can’t be taught…it must be learned for oneself. And being a boutique publisher, getting material out when able, is definitely something that’s mainly dictated by finances, but we’ve learned that unless there is that deadline to meet, you’ll end a staying a boutique publisher. Regardless of whether you have the money or not. Sometimes it’s not about money, but a mindset. And just like everything else in life, you get comfortable doing things a certain way and in a certain time frame, which could ultimately bring about your own demise.

GI Comics
9) If 'GI’ had a motto, what do you think it would be?   DAVE: GI Comics does have a motto: “WHERE CREATIVITY MEETS COMMITMENT”.  So often, small press publishing houses fall to the wayside because the comic book industry is, let’s face it, a tough shell to crack. Like we explained before, financing is a huge obstacle for most small press publishing houses. These publishing houses will disappear from lack of funds and the stories they were developing will disappear with them. A common complaint from small press fans is that they’ll start following a book from an Indy company and it will never finish as that publishing house will have gone away. A lot of folks are hesitant to make a commitment to a small press publisher because of that very reason. We’ve decided a long time ago that we would never be that company. We won’t start a story arc that we aren’t going to finish. We are committed to getting completed stories into the hands of our fans, so any story that we start you can count on us finishing. 

So there you have it, folks. G.I. Comics in a nut-shell. When you have the chance by all means check out their facebook page and website. Trust me. What they have on offer is nothing to slouch at.

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