RJ Casey is a comics writer who has plunged into small-press publishing with energy and ambition. He publishes his own comics, and those by several other creators, under the name Yeti Press, and knowing that he is a micropublisher, I was impressed to see him and his collaborators at both C2E2 and TCAF this year. He’s going to CAKE in a few weeks as well. Oh, and his comics were recently reviewed on a major comics blog.
Yeti Press is about to celebrate its second anniversary, and to celebrate, Casey is taking his work digital for the first time. Starting on Monday, he will make one comic at a time available as a downloadable PDF at a discount off the print price; after two weeks, he snatches that comic away and puts up another one. That one-at-a-time approach interested me, as did Casey’s life as a small-press creator, so I asked him to talk a bit about how he goes about his work, how it balances with his day job as a teacher, and why he chose this particular route for digital sales.
First of all, what is Yeti Press? Who runs it, why did you start it, and what do you do?
We like to consider ourselves a small publishing behemoth out of Chicago. We put out a variety of minicomics, graphic novels, and even distribute a few select books. On a day-to-day level, I generally run the operation with help from co-founder Eric Roesner. Eric and I created Yeti Press back in 2011 to have a unified name when we worked together on the first issue of our Pecos series. I’m fairly confident that neither of us knew all the steps in every which direction Yeti Press would take following that first comics. To make sure the comics keep rolling though, some of my responsibilities include editing, taking treks to the post office, working with printers, paying artists, and scheduling release dates, signings, and conventions. I also try to get some writing done in my free time.
People have been saying for years that TCAF is the best comics event of the year, and although this was my first TCAF, I have to say that they weren’t exaggerating.
The reason is simple: TCAF focuses on the comics, nothing else. It is unmarred by superhero-themed cars, screeching videogame sound effects, or giant banners promoting this summer’s movies. What’s more, it’s not at all corporate. The big publishers are entirely absent, because this show is about creator-owned indie comics. Everyone is doing their own thing, not working for The Man (or The Licensor, as the case may be). It’s a show for enthusiasts.
That’s not to say there aren’t big names. In fact, the guest list reads like a Who’s Who of independent comics creators. A quick sample: Art Spiegelman, Seth, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Taiyo Matsumoto, Ruto Modan, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, and Michel Rabagliati, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for a panel and who won the Doug Wright Award on Saturday evening for his Song of Roland.
Conventions | The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival has come to an end, after establishing itself in just four short years as one of the most loved indie-comics events. A message posted on the event’s blog under the headline “Thank You and Good Night” reads simply, “We have decided not to continue with BCGF. We had a great run and thank all of our colleagues for their support.” [The Beat]
Creators | Garry Trudeau talks about Doonesbury, supporting wounded warriors, and his Alpha House show in a video interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Creators | Michael Aushenker profiles Rutu Modan, whose The Property, a tale of a Jewish woman returning to Poland to reclaim an apartment lost during the Holocaust, debuted at Toronto Comic Arts Festival: “When I go to vote, I have to decide who is bad and who is a good guy, but when I write I can support the Poles and the Jews. I’m much more interested in the gray areas. They’re more closer to reality.” [The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles]
I walked into MoCCA Arts Fest a few minutes after it opened, with my friend Erica Friedman, and we noticed the difference right away: The last two shows have had an improvised, “Let’s have a comics show! We can use my father’s barn!” kind of feeling. They weren’t disorganized, exactly, and the talent has always been top-notch, but the show floor felt crowded, cluttered, and confusing.
This was the first year that the Society of Illustrators was running the event. Organizers had a lot to prove, and they proved it. The show felt professional. The aisles were wider. A very simple addition — a bright red backdrop that ran behind the tables — made a huge difference, giving visitors more focus and eliminating the distraction of looking out across that cavernous space. The red curtains also set off a small gallery at the back of the armory that featured original comics art from the Society’s collection, a gentle reminder that they have been welcoming comics creators for more than 100 years. Visitors could buy a slick, nicely produced catalog for $5, and there was a modest cafe downstairs, a pleasant addition that allowed friends who met at the show to sit down and have a bite and a chat without disrupting the experience too much.
Look, if we’re going to have Pi Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day and all sorts of other random holidays, we should have a day to celebrate minicomics, too, right? The folks at minicomics.org have declared March 24 the third annual Mini-Comics Day. It’s like 24 Hour Comics Day only… smaller?
Comics | With the release today of Marvel’s heavily publicized Astonishing X-Men #51, which features the wedding of Northstar and Kyle, writer Marjorie Liu and associate editor Daniel Ketchum reiterate that “their story is just beginning.” When asked whether he’d be interested in a Northstar solo series, Ketchum replied, “Is that even a question? I can have a pitch ready by the end of the day. Spoiler alert: Storm and Dazzler will be recurring guest stars.” The New York Times, meanwhile, spotlights Ohio couple Scott Everhart and Jason Welker, who were set to be married this morning in a ceremony at Midtown Comics in Manhattan. Unlike Northstar and Kyle, however, Scott and Jason can’t count Mayor Michael Bloomberg among their wedding guests. [The Advocate]
Publishing | Todd Allen turns an analytical eye on Marvel’s twice-a-month releases as well as the cover prices of the publisher’s comics. Overall, prices are down a bit and frequency is up, but Allen isn’t sure if that’s an actual trend. [The Beat]
When he’s not busy running the Stumptown Comics Festival, Indigo Kelleigh draws comics, and he has come up with a cute mini-comic to hand out to the lucky kids who knock on his door this Halloween. Seven Little Monsters is a spooky riff on the Five Little Monkeys tale, done in a slightly retro pen-and-ink style. He posted the whole thing online for those of us who won’t be trick-or-treating in his neighborhood, so go, take a look.