Written by Neil Greenaway
At Wizard World Des Moines 2016 I had the chance to sit down and talk with Bri Crozier of Bri Pi Art about her take on publishing indie comics. This interview originally ran on Bleeding Cool on 5/17/2016, and you can read their version of it here.
I had the chance to sit down and talk with Bri “Pi” Crozier at Wizard World Des Moines. When I started my interview, I thought I was meeting a young artist with a distinctive painting style. What I got was a conversation with a talented, driven young women who is already well on the road to her own success. Bri has only just started making comics, but her books are already touching the hearts of the people who read them – and I was lucky enough to find out why.
Neil Greenaway: Is this your first convention?
Bri “Pi” Crozier: No. Oh, no.
NG: Ok, so then how long have you been selling your art?
BPC: Since I was 16. I am 18 now, so this is my third-ish year of doing this. We’ve been to 30 something conventions? I don’t remember the exact number off the top of my head. The next one that we are going to be at is Planet Comicon in Kansas City, because that is our home convention, and the very first con that I was ever at.
NG: And are these the first books that you have put out?
BPC: Yes. These are the first comics I have ever done. Well, the first ones that I have sold. I have a mini-webcomic called Flower Girl that was on a somewhat abandoned blog.
NG: Is that still available?
BPC: Yes. Those are still available. It’s a word press blog called Painting The Cheese Wheel, something like that. I am going to move those comics onto my Tumbler, though, to make them easier to find. Because, like I said, that blog is completely abandoned. I have not posted anything in close to a year.
NG: All right. And what can you tell us about your new books?
BPC: So, the first one that I have is called Until Then. That one is hard for me to explain. Last year my sister’s best friend passed away. So, Until Then is about grief. It’s about what happened after her friend passed away. It is made up of two different comics. The first one is called The Accompanying Silence, and it is about the day after her passing. We walked into the house, and she was in hospice for a month before, and it would be very loud. When she was in hospice, there would always be people around, and she had an oxygen machine. And when we walked in the day after, it was silent. And it was just weird. (stifles tears) And the next one (man, I’m going to start crying) is called Until Then. And it’s about how we had to say goodbye to just her, but she had to say goodbye to ALL of us. And so that is what that one is about. And it is really, really hard for me to describe.
NG: I can certainly understand that, it’s obviously a personal story. Now, did you do all of the art and writing on these stories?
BPC: Yes. All of the writing is my own. As well as all of the art. Until Then is a poem I wrote about our friend, and The Accompanying Silence is a silent comic. Aside from the occasional onomatopoeia, and the title. So, no dialogue.
NG: And what about the other book you have here?
BPC: My other book is called Oddity: No Good Deed. It is the first of a series. It’s about a 16 year old girl who makes a deal with a demon. For half of her soul, she gets the power to heal and the power to harm. Every time that she harms someone, a piece of her soul will come back to her. And every time she heals someone, a piece of her soul goes back to the demon. So, she does what any 16 year old with super powers would do. She becomes a super hero. She figures that if she’s only harming bad guys, then what’s the problem, right?
NG: How long did this book (Oddity) take you to put together?
BPC: The Oddity, I have been working on for over a year now. I actually ended up re-writing it. Because the first issue, when I was done with it, I just didn’t like it. So I re-wrote it. And the one that is out now… Actually, it won’t be released until next week. But it can be pre-ordered at conventions….
(At this point a fan breaks in, crying, to tell Bri how much Until Then meant to them.)
BPC: Sorry, where was I? Oddity, right. A lot of that year was spent on character development, and designs, and concept art, and all of that. And then I was having issues with drawing backgrounds. So I cheated, and did background cells. And just put them in using Photoshop.
NG: How much of the series do you have planned out already?
BPC: I have planned three arcs. The first one is called No Good Deed, the second one is currently title-less, and then the final one is called No One Mourns The Wicked. And I am planning around 20-25 issues per arc.
NG: So you have around 75 issues planned just for this story? Would that be the end of your series?
BPC: I already have thoughts for a sequel series.
NG: I assume that this is all self-published?
BPC: Yes, as a mini-comic.
NG: Now, mini-comic is an interesting term. Do you assemble them yourself, or do you use a printing service?
BPC: We use DigiPrint, out of Oklahoma. They were the best option for us.
NG: What reaction are you seeing from the people?
BPC: Oddity hasn’t been released yet. Right now, it’s in pre-order. But it comes out next week. This is our second con with Until Then, and everyone who has read it has said that it is amazing, and that it is beautiful and moving. People come up and start flipping through it, and then tell me that they have a lump in their throat. Or just start crying while reading it.
NG: It does seem like some heady material to be dealing with at your age, quite frankly.
BPC: It was a very hard situation to go through.
NG: I can only imagine. Now if you don’t mind, I assume that this is your mother working with you? What is your name, ma’am?
Mom: Hi, I’m Rachel. I’m mom.
NG: How does it feel having a daughter in this position of being a creative, comic artist?
Mom: I just watch in awe. I’ve read comics all my life. I actually read comics to my children when they were little. So, their bedtime stories were the X-Men, and Spider-Man. Sonic the Hedgehog. So it’s just been really cool to watch her grow. And I can barely draw a stick figure, so the fact that she can draw things like this is just amazing to me. I have so much pride. I’m just so proud of her for what she does and how she touches people.
NG: A story that gets told a lot in the art community is “I wanted to be an artist, but my parents didn’t think there was money in it.” Do you find it difficult to support her in this?
Mom: No. I mean, the very first con, we bankrolled that. But after that, it has paid for itself. Her business pays for itself. And it’s actually going to help her pay for college. We got into this thinking “Well, we’ll try it out. We’ll see.” And then a fairly famous blogger saw Bri’s art and said that we should think about selling it at a comic convention. And we thought that that was just for established comic writers and artists. But we found our local convention, and found out how much tables cost, and we gave it a shot. We tried. And we made back everything we put into it, and then some. So we tried another one. And another one. And from there it just sort of exploded! It helps that my father in law is an artist. So we know that an artist can make money, and that helps. But doing these just showed us that she CAN do this. It IS possible. So we are happy to support her.
NG: That is awesome. Going back to Bri, I notice that the art style in your comics is considerably different than the art style in your prints. How did you develop your “faceless” art style? I have to say that it is a very distinctive, stylized look.
BPC: When I am doing prints, a lot of times I will do them faceless, as you mentioned. I do that because I want to focus on the costume and the feel of the character, as opposed to the character themselves. It is also sort of a cosplay thing where you look at that, and can imagine that it’s you. Because their skinless and faceless, it’s like a mannequin wearing a costume.
NG: They do have a very china-doll sort of appearance to them. It’s a very appealing style. Where can people find you if they would like to see more?
BPC: Well, I have a YouTube channel where people can actually watch me paint. It is called Those Girls Over There. I also have a Tumbler (Ear-A-Corn) where you can see posts about Oddity, any other comics I work on, the video game that I am making (because I cannot do just one thing, I have to do all of the things). Also, if you want to support me, you can support me on Patreon. I have various levels of rewards for patrons, including swag bags with patron exclusive stickers, buttons, things like that. I would also like to say that for every copy of Until Then that we sell, $1 will be donated to This Star Won’t Go Out and Alex’s Lemonade Stand for charity research which helps cancer families pay their rent and mortgages while they are dealing with the illness.
NG: That all sounds great. Thank you both so much for your time!