Written by Neil Greenaway
At Denver Comic Con 2016 I had the chance to sit down and talk with Todd Jones of Wicked Awesome Comics about his 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.
Todd Jones is a mainstay on the Colorado convention circuit. This guy is everywhere. But despite the number of times that I have seen him around, I never really took the time to talk to him until this past weekend at Denver Comic Con 2016. We talked about the new trade paperback collection of his anthology series, Wicked Awesome Tales, and I found out a little bit more about the upcoming Fort Collins Comic Con.
Neil Greenaway: Today we are talking to Todd Jones at Denver Comic Con 2016. I understand that your series Wicked Awesome Tales has a new trade paperback collection. Let’s start out with a brief synopsis. What is Wicked Awesome Tales about?
Todd Jones: Wicked Awesome Tales, I like to say, is a cross between Twilight Zone meets Amazing Stories and a throwback to the anthology comics from the 60’s. So each issue has different writers and artists that contribute stories to make it up. We try to have a nice mix of horror, sci-fi, fantasy with a little bit of humor. That is probably it in a nutshell.
NG: And what prompted the new trade paperback collection?
TJ: After we put 4 out we thought it would probably be a lot easier to just put a trade together so people can just buy them and then I wouldn’t have to carry as much to the shows. I could just grab the trade and have other new stuff next to it. Because it gets kind of tiresome to carry all these comics with you all the time, plus you have to reprint them and every time you reprint them you want to say this is the third printing or fourth printing.
NG: You just had issue 5 come out, what can you tell us about the stories in issues 5?
TJ: They’re as weird and wacky as ever. We revisit two characters that were in issue 1, Captain Jane Marley, who is a character that was created by Ron Fortier - who you might recognize as a writer for Terminator: Burning Earth. He was actually the first writer to work with Alex Ross when Alex first started into comics. Also I knew him as a kid because he was the writer of the Green Hornet for Now Comics, which was the first comic I picked up as kid that wasn’t a Marvel or DC comic. So I was really excited when he and I became friends. He has kind of been my mentor. He actually got me into doing anthology comics. It was at his urging that we started this up and he contributes to just about every issue, in fact I don’t think there are any issues that don’t have at least one story from Ron there. What was the question, I’m sorry.
NG: I was just asking you about issue 5.
TJ: Oh so that character that Ron created, Capitan Jane Marley, she hasn’t been seen since issue 1. We had started a fan mail page and due to the emails we were getting, we realized that was a popular character with people. So Ron created another story with that character. The same for Clinton Slade, the paranormal consultant. He was also in issue 1, he makes another appearance in this issue as well and this time he’s dealing with a possession of a little boy, so it’s kind of creepy.
NG: I have heard several people come up and ask you about your series Stakes. What’s a little bit of the story on that one?
TJ: I call it a horror family comedy. The basic premise is that this artist, Jack Cartwright, he hasn’t seen his grandfather in years. 15 years to be exact. He hasn’t seen him since his father’s funeral. So his grandfather shows up at his apartment to tell him his dad (who he thinks has been dead all this time) is actually undead. And that he comes from a family of vampire hunters. He thinks that his grandfather has lost his mind until his dad shows up and nearly kills both of them. So obviously the first issue is the only one out, I am not sure when the next issues is going to be in the pipe. I think we are going to do a Kickstarter for it. But over the course of the series Jack teams up with his Grandfather and his grandfather’s partner, this girl that Jack knew when they were kids, but she’s a total badass vampire hunter now. But he teams up with both of them to try to recapture his dad because he wants to break this cure. That’s the whole reason he’s still alive and his grandfather hasn’t killed him, is because they have been keeping him in a storm cellar in the middle of field on his grandfather’s farm. Unfortunately he’s escaped and there’s a reason why he’s escaped. There are other forces at play. I probably shouldn’t go too much into that. Anyway, it’s just a fun story.
NG: And there is a grander story to be told there when Felipe Echevarria (the artist for the series) has the time?
TJ: Yeah, yeah. Felipe has been working his Kickstarter for a book called Kloon. It’s a children’s book and he’s been working on that for the last couple of years and there have been some issues. I could explain more about it but I probably shouldn’t. There have been some issues with it so it has prevented him from being able to complete that project and move on to getting back to working on Stakes as well. Plus the man has several commissions and his own projects. Also I have been working on other project in the interim. So we do plan to get back to it. If you bought issue 1 and you’re ticked that issue 2 hasn’t come out, I am so sorry! But I promise you we will at some point get back to that, I just can’t tell you when exactly that second issue is coming out.
NG: Fair enough. Are there any other books that you are working on at the moment that you would like to talk about.
TJ: Not that I can talk about. Joe Arnold and I are working on a project together which is pretty big. At least to us it’s pretty big and we plan to pitch it to publishers later this year so hopefully we can get picked up. We want to have it all done and ready to go before we say anything about it.
NG: Understandably. Moving away from comics then, you are now involved in the Fort Collins Comic Con, can you tell me a little about that?
TJ: It’s a great con. It was started last year by some individuals working in coordination with the Poudre River Library District. Basically all the sales and money from it, it’s a nonprofit, pretty much like Denver Comic Con, but the proceeds go to benefit the library and the library is the primary backer of the con. But it’s a great con. It’s not to this magnitude, we don’t have a space like this up there in Fort Collins, but it’s held at the Aztlan Center in downtown Fort Collins. Like I said, last year was the first year and they had a great turnout. I think this year is going to be even bigger. They have some larger guests coming in from out of state. Including Ulises Farinas who has worked on Judge Dredd, Amazing Forest, Godzilla Goes To Hell and one of the Transformers books, I think it was Transformers: Heart of Darkness. Oh and of course just at the end of this last year he put out a children’s book called Where’s the Wookie? It’s a Star Wars children’s book. He’s a very busy guy, he’s a good friend. I’m excited for him to come out to the show. This will be his first Colorado con, at least that is what he has told me. So it will be nice to have him there. Richard Hatch will be there. He played Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica. Gigi Edgely will be there.
NG: Do you know the dates for the Fort Collins Comic Con?
TJ: Yes it’s August 26th, 27th and 28th at the Aztlan Center in Fort Collins. Mike Baron is also one of the guests there, creator of Nexus and the Badger. He probably wrote one of the best arcs on Punisher.
NG: If people wanted to see more of your work online, where would they go to find it?
TJ: You can find Wicked Awesome Tales 1-4 on Comixology if you want to purchase the digital copies it’s available there. Soon issue 5 should be up there since we just got it from the printer, we haven’t had a chance to upload it to Comixology but it will be up there soon. They can also find 1-4 on www.indyplanet.com if they want to buy a physical issue. If they would rather just have the trade paperback which I recommend, because the trade not only has the first 4 issues but it also has some bonus stories in there from Ron Fortier and also Robert Elrod. There is also concept art and some other fun stuff. I recommend it and they can find that on Amazon.com. Just type in Wicked Awesome Tales and it will bring it up. Honestly if you are going to buy that you are probably better off buying it at a convention from one of us because it’s a little cheaper than purchasing it on the website.
NG: Speaking of that, what’s the next convention people can find you at?
TJ: My next convention is actually the Fort Collins Comic Con. I will be there, so not only am I an Event Coordinator, I’m also an exhibitor.
NG: And we end on a Hair Club For Men joke. Awesome. Thank you for your time Todd.