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Joey Manley, founder of the pioneering webcomics site Modern Tales, passed away last night in a Louisville, Kentucky, hospital due to complications from pneumonia. According to his longtime partner Joe Botts, he was surrounded by family and friends. Manley was 48.
A publisher, editor, podcaster and author, Manley launched Modern Tales in March 2002, establishing one of the first workable (and profitable) subscription models for webcomics. He soon spun off Serializer, an alternative-comics site originally edited by Tom Hart; Girlamatic, a female targeted site initially edited by Lea Hernandez; Graphic Smash, the action comics site; and Webcomics Nation, a webcomics-hosting service.
The collective “Modern Tales family,” which closed in April, had published work by such creators as Gene Luen Yang, James Kochalka, Howard Cruse, Chris Onstad, Shaenon Garrity and Dylan Meconis, among many others.
Donna Barr is a creator with a rich history in the comics industry. As noted in her Wikipedia profile (which Barr directs people to): “Common elements in her work are fantastic human/animal hybrids and German culture. She is best known for two of her series. One is Stinz (about a society of centaur-like people in a setting reminiscent of pre-industrial Germany). Originally published in 1986 as a short story in a hand-bound book, it was then serialized in the Eclipse Comics series ‘The Dreamery,’ edited by Lex Nakashima. It was picked up by Albedo creator Steve Gallacci under his Thoughts & Images label, moving on to MU Press and its imprint Aeon Press. It was then self-published under A Fine Line Press.
Her other long-running series, The Desert Peach is about Pfirsich Rommel, the fictional homosexual younger brother of Erwin “The Desert Fox” Rommel. Beginning in 1987, it was set in North Africa during World War 2). The first three issues were published by Thoughts & Images. Additional issues were published by Fantagraphics Books, Aeon Press, and then self-published. Other works include Hader and the Colonel, The Barr Girls, and Bosom Enemies.
Barr has also recently published a number of novels, including Permanent Party, An Insupportable Light, and Bread and Swans. The last two of these feature Stinz and The Desert Peach, respectively. Some of her later books take advantage of the new print-on-demand technologies.”
Barr and I initially started this email interview to discuss Afterdead, her project currently running at Webcomics Nation. My thanks to Barr for her time and to Joey Manley for helping to facilitate this interview.
Tim O’Shea: While some veteran creators are new to webcomics, you are not–as you’ve been running your work with Joey Manley’s various sites since 2003, I believe. How did you jump into webcomics well before some of your contemporaries and what attracted you to the medium?
Donna Barr: Joey asked me to. It’s a good decision; he’s one of those GOOD publishers that make me feel I haven’t gone to the dark side.