Written By Neil Greenaway
At Denver Comic Con 2016 I had the chance to sit down and talk with Dan Conner, Mister V, and Jesse Dubin of 8th Wonder Press 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.
According to its back cover, Uncanny Adventures: Duo is “a collection of astonishing tales, told entirely in two pages each”. Published by 8th Wonder Press, Uncanny Adventures has served as a window into the Colorado indie comic scene for years. There have already been two graphic novels, and DCC 2016 saw the release of the third and final issue of the Duo mini-series. I had the chance to talk with the publisher of 8th Wonder, Jesse Dubin, as well as Dan Conner and Mister V, some of the contributors to Uncanny Adventures: Duo #3.
Neil Greenaway: We are standing here at Denver Comic Con 2016 speaking with Jesse Dubin, Mister V, and Dan Conner about 8th Wonder Press and the Uncanny Adventures series. Now I understand that you, Dan and Mister V, have been a part of the series since the beginning. Can you tell me how you got brought into it?
Mister V: Well yeah we go to the same comic shop and Jesse was picking up my books that were being sold there, so that is how we met. I actually did the flyer for your first anthology calling for artists.
Jesse Dubin: That’s right, you did.
MV: Yeah and I like to draw comics and Jesse always has really good themes for his collections. So it’s challenging to think of stories that go within those themes. I like a challenge so it’s always been really fun to work with him on this stuff.
Dan Conner: I was at an art show at Wazee Union Art Gallery and Jesse and Andrew Middleton came by and I was talking and I think I drew a penguin for them. I think it was like a gangster penguin. One who’s pretty street. He had a backwards hat and everything. That way you knew that he was street. And I wrote Bad Boy Penguin on it. So then I got an email from Jesse, and he said that they were going to do an anthology, so I was in volume one with a story about my grandpa. It was called Little Dale, because my grandpa’s name is Dale. It was about when he was a kid and he killed a rooster. So go get volume one. The first Uncanny Adventures trade. Then the second trade was Mad Science so I did a really fun, I mean I love it – it’s one of my favorite stories I’ve done, a mad scientist story versus My Gal the Zombie. And I called her the Mad Scientess, because she’s a lady but she chose that title herself. So it’s not like I’m saying put an –ess on it, she chose it, the character chose it.
NG: All right. Can you guys tell us a little bit about the stories that you have in the newest issue, Uncanny Adventures: Duo #3?
MV: I can. It’s all two page stories and I thought that was really fun. There is something to be said for minimalism and just trying to contain a story in such a short amount of time. So I had one that was an experience my wife had when she was with daycare and kids who put things in their mouths that don’t belong there. And another one that is also in there was kind of a defense for Jenny McCarthy who I grew up just cherishing. In the late 90’s Jenny McCarthy was our goddess and she’s gone crazy with her vaccines. So I wanted to tell a story to kind of make it ok for me that she went crazy with her anti-vaccine stuff, so that was the other story.
JD: I didn’t realize the Ash Eater story was a true story. That’s spectacular.
MV: Yeah it is. It’s unfortunate.
DC: Allen Bellman, who’s amazing, he called me on Christmas day one year and said “Hey, Merry Christmas, I have this idea, you need to do a niece and nephew for Chelsea”. So I formatted it for the comic and then submitted that one. So Jesse picked that up for the comedy issue, the third one. Also, it’s the first comic that I drew that was specifically influenced by Justine McKinney’s portrayal of the My Gal the Zombie character that she does on our horror host show – My Gal the Zombie: Treasures and Travesty. For the cover he got another artist, from England I believe, who did a great job on the cover itself. So I’m just thrilled to be a part of it. I love working with Jesse, he’s the best. I really think that he’s putting out the best indie books on the market today, the most accessible. I love when publishers aren’t like, “Oh what do you have published?”, they’re just equal opportunity for submissions. But he’s also really organized, he wants to see the scripts, he wants to see the layouts during the process and most people don’t do that. So the care he puts into that shows me that it’s that much more valuable, it’s not just someone looking to fill pages.
NG: And then outside of 8th Wonder you both do your own books as well. Could you tell us a bit about those?
DC: Definitely. I have My Gal the Zombie. So, college girl is turned into a zombie, she doesn’t want to let that ruin her afterlife, ha-ha. But just because you are a zombie you don’t have to break up with your boyfriend or quit your job or stop playing in a band or anything. So she tries to navigate life along those means. Her niece and nephew independently also were turned into zombies, so that’s why, who else are you going to get as a babysitter? They aren’t like zombie related, they weren’t born zombies I guess. So yeah, www.mygalthezombie.com will get you there mgtz.co is a shortcut and then www.mgtz.tv.com can take to our video stuff.
MV: Where do I start? Well my current series that I am working on is a web comic on my website arborcides.blogspot.com/ . It’s Mile High: Adventures in Colorado Medical Marijuana. I am retelling all the horrific things that I got to live through as the marijuana industry in Colorado gradually matured. It’s anecdotes about sketchy doctors and horrific dispensaries. Good stuff too. Like the best kind of buds that I have been able to find.
NG: I have to break in to say that, because they legalized marijuana in Denver and because we have a strong indie presence, I was able to smoke with Denis Kitchen for Bleeding Cool.
MV: Nice Dude. Very cool.
NG: What other books have you got out there?
MV: I’ve got tons. I’ve got my series about healthcare in Colorado called DNR. It’s 800 pages, so hit that up. I’ve got my first collection of my historical series which is published in the Grand Gazette in Kremmling, Colorado and it’s rediscovering that county’s pioneer past with the shootouts and the distilleries during prohibition and true crime stuff. I have all my ‘zines over there too. I have 30 ‘zines. I have Tumblr, it’s fistcitycomix and I have Twitter, @therealmisterv and I throw all my stuff online. I want everyone to be able to read my stuff for free, so it’s all for free on the website as well at arborcides.blogspot.com.
NG: Then if I can move over to Jesse just a little bit. How you are picking up your artists? Is it just random encounters or do people submit? How are you finding the people you work with?
JD: It’s a little bit of both actually. I was really excited when I decided to make a go of this. I wasn’t sure that people would latch onto this or would be interested in the idea. The first thing I did was I knew Dan and I knew Mister V a little bit from hanging out in comic shops and the local scene, so I reached out to them to see if they would be interested. They both said yes immediately, no hesitation. I was amazed. That was the first moment I thought, we could make a go of this. So we do have an open submission period where we are trying to find people for the anthologies. We post things online on our website, on Twitter and Facebook and all of that. So we wind up with international representation in our book, people from Japan, England, Canada all over the US, clearly a bunch of people from Denver. It’s real exciting to have that kind of diversity and representation in our books.
NG: Also, if any aspiring artists were reading this, could they find a submission outlet there?
JD: We tend to take submission towards the end of the year but anyone who follows us will see those announcements, we make them pretty frequently. We generally have one submission period a year and it usually lasts for a month or two just to make sure that we catch as many eyeballs as we can possibly catch. You know, nobody has to turn in complete stories at the time. We are generally pretty good about working with people, because we realize that often people will have an idea but it hasn’t been fleshed out yet. So we are pretty good about deadlines and things like that so we can work with artists on timeframes they are comfortable with. Partially because a lot of us have day jobs and we are making art in our spare time, so it takes time to do that when it’s not your main income.
NG: Did you do anything in the latest issue?
JD: Since the third issue is our humor issue, we had so many great entries that it filled up without needing me to pad it with my own work.
NG: That is a fine answer. Then just as a wrap, what have we got coming up in the future?
JD: We’re really excited that we are going to be at SPX (Small Press Expo) in September. We haven’t been to the east coast yet and SPX is a spectacular show. So we are looking to meet some new people out there. That will probably be around the time that we have submissions for the next book so we’re going to hopefully meet some new people and get some cool creators working out there.