Written by Neil Greenaway
At Denver Comic Con 2016 I had the chance to sit down and talk with David Espy & Alex Delia of Puncture Press about their take on publishing indie comics. This interview originally ran on Bleeding Cool on 6/25/2016, and you can read their version of it here.
There are very few comics that take place in Denver. There are even fewer that choose to show Denver as a gritty, crime-ridden city. Or whose “hero” is a serial killer. Alex Delia and David Espy are writing just such a book, and I took some time to talk with them about their latest issue and the future of their series, Eyesis: The Untouchable.
Neil Greenaway: We are here at Denver Comic Con 2016 talking to the guys behind Eyesis: The Untouchable. First, just for anyone who has not heard of the book, those that don’t know, what is Eyesis about?
Alex Delia: So Eyesis: the Untouchable is about a woman in Denver named Eyesis Rodriguez-
NG; May I just break in and say how awesome I think it is that his book takes place in Denver.
AD: Yeah that is one of our selling points. We want to keep it in Denver, keep Denver as weird as possible. But it’s about a woman named Eyesis Rodriguez who has an abusive husband. And she sees motivation from people outside beating each other up. It makes her want to try and murder her husband. So she does successfully, and she decides she wants to see how long she can keep this high, murdering people around town. So she builds this whole identity as a slasher/murderer, killing random people in alleyways. Where we are at in the comic right now is, we learn that she is not the only one doing this, and that people have been watching her the whole time. As we get further in we will find out who that is and what their motivations are.
NG: And what issue are you on? What issue was just released?
AD: We just printed issue 4, but issue 5 (our double issue – which is like the arc finale of this first part) is a 48 pager and will be out in 2 weeks.
NG: Ok and once this arc wraps, is there a plan for another arc?
AD: There is a plan for 3 other arcs at least. Each one about 5 to 6 issues.
David Espy: I think that is one of the best parts, just hearing Alex kind of craft the story. We’ve known that it’s going to be extensive and the way that he talks about it, you know, we talk about it like you would a television series. This is season one. The next season kind of handles these larger broad strokes and he’ll tease me with and of course I want to know. I’m an avid fan of binge watching my favorite shows, so I want to know everything. And he wants to tell me everything, but I tell him not to. And he doesn’t, so it keeps that element of surprise. Just those little nuggets. I know the scope of the mythology and I know what’s being supplanted little by little and it is just super special.
AD: David is pretty privy to the next arc and a half I would say. I am still kind of wrapping up the third arc and moving into the fourth, which I still have kind of vague ideas what it’s about, but it’s not completely written. I have the whole arc planned out. But then as I write scripts, I write them as each issue is done. So that I let my mind evolve and get to the right spot while still kind of keeping that template that we have going on. We’re thinking it’s going to be like 20 or 24 issues at least.
NG: Is there a definitive end then?
DE: I don’t know, that is definitely a question for Alex.
AD: I mean - I do have an ending scene in my head. It’s just, we don’t know when we’re substantially built up to that point where it can be satisfying. But yeah, there is an end. Part of me wants to be like "we will do it in 24 issues" and part of me wants to be like Cerebus and do it for 300 issues. And who knows what’s going to happen. But we don’t do this as a full time job so we want to tell the story as best as we can, as complete as we can.
DE: While working on it I feel the story has come naturally in its evolution to where the things that have been said or explained are coming out organically and they are always reaching a point where – say for instance, if the second arc – if that’s the last one, it would fit perfectly. There would be no need for the other ideas that he has had that makes it possibly 24 issues. So in that sense, the end is definitive. He has said how it is going to end in his mind, but as it’s grown it could just naturally turn into some Kaiju beast.
NG: Ok. How did you guys hook up as a team?
DE: Well we both went to film school together at UC Denver. And then we had a screenwriting class together and then we had a production and editing class. The phone call happened when I was on the way to Vegas, going to a rave and a party. Alex gave me a call and said, “I’ve always liked the way you have drawn in our classes and the work that you have done”. And he has helped me out on projects and vice versa so we have kind of seen where our sensibilities lie in terms of what we like in genres and how we work. He was like, “I have this project that I always wanted to make that we can’t make in film right now, we don’t have the money. And with the content, probably no one would give us the money to make this ultra-violent thing. So I’ve seen your doodles, I’ve seen the way you draw and everything, would you like to do this?” I was on my way to get high and loaded and I was like, “Hell yeah, let’s get rockin' on this.” Then from there, being friends from school it naturally became more concrete.
NG: Now if this whole idea started in film school, is there ever a thought of transferring it to a different media?
AD: I started writing it as a screenplay in 2008 and I would say that most of the first 5 issues comprise what that movie would have been. But since we reprised, since we started doing it as a comic and really started to explore what a comic can be and how it’s better than a movie in many ways, and how your imagination is your budget. So then we started throwing out all the stops. These next coming arcs are only stuff you could do in a comic book. If we had the opportunity to make it into a movie that would be great, but where we are at right now we would need millions of dollars to do.
NG: It’s getting to be far too big budget a movie?
AD: Totally. And I mean, we are at a point right now where film is equivalent to paper in what you can create with it. It’s just you can do it for the price of a piece of paper with a comic book. Whereas a film, we could fulfill this, just not with our current resources. So it’s better to lay this groundwork right now as a comic book and see what happens. I think it would work really well – because it’s like a hard NC-17 – to be like an HBO show or a Netflix show if they ever went that hard, you know? But we’ll see. Media is interesting now with the way that TV shows are getting movie-ified and the movies are getting TV-ified at the same time. Media is kind of becoming this whole thing. Comics, movies, TV, video games, music – they are all kind of becoming this big soup and everything can kind of pick apart and throw into that different community. John Carpenter is making music now and touring with it. Who would have ever thought that would happen? I have been wanting it my whole life but now it’s an official thing because we live in this trans-media world
DE: Yeah that’s my ultimate dream for this is as the artist, to see it in the video format as he had originally envisioned it. I think it’s going to get to that point, we are even thinking about ways we can get more of the mythology out. Trading cards or making little viral snippets, vignettes of that world and putting it into a VHS tape and just like dropping it off throughout the city. And having someone stumble upon it like the ring video tape, like OMG. If we were able to make any trailer, or any sort of video we make for it since we are making it on our own time, has to have that purpose of excelling, pushing it towards the next plateau where we can share this with people or push the story in a way. Yeah, we’re going to get it sometime on VHS or some form of visual media aside from print and get it to Westword (a local Denver paper), get it to everyone. I also think that there are some panels that I can only think of cinematically when I’m creating it. So I will always think about how this would look as a film more so than a comic book, and maybe that’s a bad approach as a comic book artist. But that’s always when I’m thumbnailing something or I’m editing it and during pencils and inks, I’m always trying to figure out how, or envisioning it on the final stage of being a film or being a television show.
NG: Is this you guys’ first book or have you (individually or together) ever worked on another comic?
DE: First comic together.
AD: First comic together, first one I have published. I used to write comics as a kid but I never actually produced them or anything because I was a kid. But you know, I knew David could draw because he would do storyboards for other people when we would make short films. I was like, “If you really spent a lot of time on this you could be a very good sequential artist”. So in storyboards for film is good practice for that. Comics are such a different language than film. It allows us to do things that benefit from people looking at it for a long time. Like the Watchmen. They talked about how it could only be a comic, they made a movie and it was pretty good, I kind of liked Watchmen. But it’s not as good as the comic because the comic has the benefit of unlimited time to examine something. To examine every panel, to see how they interact with each other.
NG: To read the newspapers and novel excerpts.
AD: Yeah. But the overall idea for this is sort of came from a tribute to all those really grizzly 1970’s exploitation horror slasher movies. Even going into the 80’s like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Miss .45, the Able Ferrara movies. And so we kind of wanted to start with that template and that whole art style. All our covers look kind of like VHS covers but still kind of make it a modern sensibility, set it in Denver. Denver is a weird town. It’s really peaceful and I love it because I’m a really peaceful person but it’s cool to kind of flip it on its side and make it this kind of violent, vile place where there is always something sinister going on in the shadows and alleyways.
NG: It’s a very peaceful and quiet place now, but if you’re homaging the 70’s violence I think there is something to be said about 5 Points in downtown. It’s nicer now, but it used to be pretty gritty. Ok, so, you said that issue 5 was coming out in 2 weeks. As that is the end of an arc, are you guys planning any gap before starting on the next arc, or are you going to dive right into issue 6?
AD: Probably a little bit of both. I am writing issue 6 and 7 at the same time and David is probably going to draw them at the same time and then we will stagger the release. But in the meantime we want to do a Kickstarter for a trade paperback of the first 5 issues. We have been developing that and we want to get some guest artists that inspired us and see if we can have them do an interpretation of our work, that we are interpreting from them. It’s interesting because it’s like the covers are like VHS slasher movies and stuff, but when you look at the art, it’s like manga doing an attempt at a superhero comic and all kind of grounded within this horror slasher movie. So it’s just this huge hodge-podge of influence that wraps around itself. And so we want to get some really cool guest artists that inspired us to do different panels and inspired me to write things for David to draw. We just want to make something really cool with it and we also might shoot a few scenes from it as if it were a movie for the Kickstarter video.
DE: I don’t think there will be much of a break really. While trying to finish issue 5 we were trying to have it for Comic Con here and we were close. But in my haste I was trying to convince myself that it was fine, but Alex picked up numerous times that I was very stressed over it and the work was probably lacking or hurting because of it. So we decided to push it two weeks, and I am so glad we did because even though I have had room to breathe and have the Con be its own thing, the work isn’t going to stop. So I’m going to be getting right back into it, and then doing wallpapers and other kind of open illustrative arts to supplement everything. So while there maybe that break for a month or a couple months until we get issue six out, there’s going to be the world of Eyesis popping up in wallpaper art and stuff like that.
AD: Yeah I told David just to focus on the covers so we could sell preorders because I think David makes the best covers in indie comics for what we’re going for I just love this stuff. Either way we have something to show and that’s what we are happy about. Issue 4 is a really good issue too so we are really happy about that.
NG: One last question. If people wanted to see more of you guys or find more of the world of Eyesis where online would we go look?
DE: I’m on Twitter as @despyonage and then on Instagram as Espylicious. Most of what I put on those sites is usually ideas and sketches all with a purpose in the world of Eyesis and surrounding it and other personal work as well.