Written by Neil Greenaway
At Denver Comic Con 2016 I had the chance to sit down and talk with Bob Parks and Colton Muheim of Red Team Go Colorado about their take on publishing indie comics. This interview originally ran on Bleeding Cool on 6/24/2016, and you can read their version of it here.
Walking around Denver Comic Con 2016, something caught my eye. Several of the artists in Artists Alley had a small cardboard standee on their tables that said RTG. Others wore RTG shirts, or had RTG stickers to give away. And there were comics for sale with the RTG logo proudly displayed. Curiosity got the better of me, and I ended up at the Red Team Go Colorado table talking to some of the team. They told me about a group of artists who got together to share ideas and ended up publishing their own books.
Neil Greenaway: I am sitting here at Denver Comic Con 2016 with Bob Parks and Colton Muheim discussing Red Team Go Colorado. I understand that you guys are debuting two new issues at this show; Dinopocalypse #3 and Cryptids & Cogs #1. What can you tell me about these series?
Bob Parks: Ok, Dinopocalypse takes place in a Colorado that is the epicenter of prehistoric chaos, where a mad scientist has brought back the dinosaurs! It’s up to an intrepid group of motorcycle riding nerds to save the day!
And then Cryptids & Cogs is a collection of short stories featuring curious creatures, unique characters and the innovative spirit of the 19th century! Each issue will contain short steampunk/monster hunter stories by different creators.
NG: That sounds pretty cool. How did the idea for Red Team Go come about?
Colton Muheim: That’s you Bob. You were the starter.
BP: Well RTG kind of transformed into its own thing. I had a couple people up north who were looking to get together – we were artists and we liked hanging out, we liked going downtown to drink and draw or drink and commiserate and everything like that – but it turned into more of a social thing. And I know that I wasn’t doing any work at all during those times. So I was always going up to this restaurant up north where I had the back room to myself and I could sit and I could get all my work done. And it was quiet and it was nice. So flash forward a couple months, I haven’t been going to drink and draw that much and my buddy was like “Hey, I’m thinking about starting an art group up north. What do you think about that?” I was like, sure. So Roberto Martinez and some other friends and I, we all went up to Old Chicago. We were all thinking we were going to get a couple of beers, we’re going to drink, we’re going to draw, and it will be like Leela. (Leela European Café in Denver hosts Drink and Draws for local artists weekly.) But it wasn’t. The wait staff was like, “This is a restaurant, you eat and then you pay for your food and then you leave”. So we knew we would have to find something. I’m like, “Ok guys; I’ll let you in on my little secret up here. There’s a place that I go to, it’s like really back alley kind of stuff. It’s a nice place I just don’t want a lot of people showing up because this is where I get my work done”. So there’s like 5 people there and I’m really happy that I can hang out with my friends and draw and get some work done. And then all of a sudden it’s like 15 people the next week and I’m freaking out. Everyone is like, “We’re going to do this. We’re going to make this a community thing, we’ll be drawing and it will be awesome”. And I said “Ok, you guys really sold me on this, I’m really happy about this too”. So we started getting together. The name Red Team Go came out and it’s more like RTG is a big umbrella just to identify who we all are. We were getting ready for Comic Con and we were thinking we should put some stuff together, maybe some promotional material, since we were going to have a community table and everything. Maybe we should start doing some stuff. Colton and all of us just started getting into, “Well you had a comic book, didn’t you?” We had started a comic for fun, let’s really push that out.
CM: So we gathered the material and within like a month or two got one book out and now we finished that whole series.
NG: What was that series?
NG: And so it was the final issue of that which premiered here, is that correct?
CM: Yeah our first issue debuted here last year. Then we did the second one at the beginning of the year. Then the third volume and the final volume of that premiered this year at Denver Comic Con again and we all premiered our new series Cryptids and Cogs.
BP: Which is like a steampunk/monster hunter/cryptids going after unicorns action - and everything like that. Lots of fun.
CM: Foreshadowing (laughs). It’s a really fun series. My issue doesn’t come out until next year. But we have so many people in our group now. It started out with 5 people in a back alley and now we have about 30-40 people in our group that just come and hang out.
BP: And we keep that open because there’s lots of people that just come in because they have a question about “How do I do this?”. Or we have a guy that knows really good Photoshop stuff. Then there’s a guy that does really good marker stuff. There’s a guy that does watercolor stuff. And we all kind of pool our resources to kind of come together and help everyone out and everything like that. We love doing free events, free shows. We love taking donations, but everything we print as an entity as RTG is all for free, except for the comics. So you will find us doing the free sketches for kids, free prints, free programming we will do throughout the year, but especially at Denver Comic Con. Because it’s a way we can show each other off. We can promote each other. And while people still have their own, separate tables to show off their art, we can kind of come together and educate people on those resources that are out there. For kids and for adults, all ages, that want to get out there, they want to draw and they don’t want to just sit there and stare at YouTube videos all day.
NG: I notice here at the booth that you guys have, we also have kids drawing, yesterday there were musical instruments, there’s a makeup-up artist, there’s an airbrush over here – is all of that tied in?
BP: Being a part of the community means we share space. This whole Pop Culture Classroom thing allows us – with the help of the coordinator, Becky Franks-Cassidy, she puts us in-
CM: She is fantastic by the way.
BP: Becky is the greatest. She’s had us come in ever since they started the Pop Culture Classroom with Ded Hed Studios – which is my make-up thing that I run with my partner Jessica. We have been doing this since the beginning. The second year I wanted a community table for RTG we coordinated with the folks at DCC and they gave us a community table. This is the first year where RTG and Ded Hed are together as a part of it. We’re sharing the community space with everybody and we get to obviously show off the RTG stuff but we are doing a whole bunch of free stuff for kids. And it just bleeds itself into all the programming in and around the Pop Culture Classroom and we’re very thankful for that.
NG: Going to the books that you guys have put out, are they being published by RTG? Is that the publishing house for these books?
CM: Yes. The Dinopocalypse ones no, those were still under our old publisher Legacy Action Comics which was Andrew Mark, who is in our group. Now that we started making our own books we are actually now our own publisher. We are our own LLC, we are doing all that ourselves. So yeah we are doing Crypids and Cogs, and everything after this is all RTG.
NG: Moving forward which direction would you like to see this go? Would you like to move more in the publishing house direction? Would you prefer it to be more of a community group direction?
BP: That’s the funniest thing about this. I’m not speaking on your behalf-
CM: Oh no you are great; we are actually on the same page with this.
BP: Our core group of members wants to start pushing things. We learned a lot from Dinopocalypse. We’re using the things that we learned from Dinopocalypse to push Cryptids and Cogs out. We’re learning things as we go with Cryptids and Cogs to push forward to do more stuff, to start publishing more and having things that we can drop at certain cons. All obviously locally, but some of our other members want to be able to go out and to do other cons across the state to get the Red Team Go name out there. I still want – and there are still other people out there – that just want to show up on a Thursday. They just want to show up and have a good time and we want to leave it open for those people to do that. We’re not splitting, that’s the best reason why Colton and I are up here now having this talk. Because Colton is huge in capitalism, pushing the thing and doing all this stuff and promoting, promoting, promoting. Which is awesome, I love it. And I’m like; I just want a place to draw on a Thursday. But we’re working together as a core group to make sure that both sides get taken care of and that one side does not feel left out or unappreciated of the time and effort that we put into that kind of stuff.
NG: Moving forward with the books that you guys do, do you see them being more anthology style books or are you guys looking at all at running titles?
CM: I see our anthologies as the teaser for the story that is going to be coming. So that’s how I see them coming. But until we get a few more out I don’t know if it’s going to stay that way or if we’re going to stay on the anthology route. I would love to run an actual run of books. I would love to do an actual full story with just those characters and just continue doing stuff like that but the future can only tell me what I am going to do.
BP: Yeah if it ends up being super popular or if there’s a demand for the characters to come back obviously we’re not going to be like “Uh it’s a limited run, we’re going to snuff out blah blah blah,”. We’ll definitely bring it back and a lot of that is going to have to deal with getting it out to people and seeing if they like it in the first place.
NG: Ok. And what’s the future holding just at the moment? Are there any projects in store we can talk about?
CM: Which ones? We got a lot. The whole Cryptids and Cogs run which is going to be running pretty much every main con in Denver, we’re going to be premiering a new comic at each one. The end of this year the Rocky Mountain Con which is going to be in November is going to be our next book. Then after that we don’t have anything until next year. We’re just running every con and hopefully premiering a new book at each one.
BP: We’re hoping to have a really big push on that. We’re also doing Halloween books. We’re doing a Halloween book that we hope that we can do yearly at some point; we are just kind of putting that together. There’s coloring books that we’ve been doing. There’s storytelling books where – so not all of us at RTG are just artists, we’re not all just comic book guys. We’ve got lots of writers there, poets, we’ve got people that-
CM: Oh yeah, I forgot that we had poets.
BP: Yeah, we find out that we have people that do photography and we encourage people who have those passions to come in if they want to be part of that project as well, by all means. We’ll do spot illustrations or longer stories or stories with more prose or narrative than just a script. You know we want to kind of let those guys highlight. And if we have to change the format for it too to like a magazine or to a book or to a ‘zine, we want to be able to accommodate that for all our members.
CM: Yeah. Let them all have their own opportunity to shine and where it’s not just comic books. We’re at Comic Con, of course everyone here loves comic books but they all like comic books for their own reasons. And that’s what we’re trying to help out with everyone else is show off what they love about it. They want to be a writer, show off your writing. That’s what we’re working for.
BP: That’s why a show like this is so good for a group like us, because it is all pop culture. I mean we have guys that do cosplay shoots and stuff like that, that kind of go out into the community as well. If we can help kind of bridge those gaps and put those people in touch with other artisans and put that kind of stuff together, we feel like we helped out and all the better for it.
NG: So right now you guys are doing comics but if the opportunity ever arose or the demand ever arose for say a cosplay photo book or a prose novel you would also be open to publishing those?
CM: I don’t see why not. I’m an opportunist, if I see an opportunity and I think it would be fun just to go and try and see if it’s actually worth something, yeah, sure.
BP: And if there’s a call for it.
CM: If there’s a demand for it I’m probably going to do it just because from a business standpoint because I do have a business mind, if you don’t try it, you’re never going to find out if you’ll succeed. That’s the same thing with making a comic book or being an artist for a comic book. If you don’t try you’re never going to go anywhere.
BP: There is no bottom line for us. We are not doing it because it costs money or because it will get us money we’re doing it because we have a strong enough group and we have a strong enough following to put something like that out. If we can help put something like that together, I mean that is kind of our mantra is just helping each other out getting all that stuff together into one spot into one community that we can branch out into all the other various communities out there as well.
CM: Just making it like a big nerd culture.
NG: Awesome. I think that about wraps it up for me, but one last question, if people wanted to see more of you guys or learn more about Red Team Go where online would they go to find you?
CM: Look up Red Team Go Colorado and you will find all of our social networks. The biggest one you’re going to find for us is www.redteamgocolorado.com.
BP: #RTGCO is a big one if you want to find us on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and all that stuff.
CM: Facebook is the fastest way ever to get a hold of me.
NG: Sounds good. Thank you both for your time.
Walking around the floor, I was able to put together a small photo gallery of just some of the members that were present at DCC this year.