Spazdog Press publisher Shawn Demumbrum has assembled an incredible list of talent under his new publication company. With artists such as Matt Goodall and Jacques La Grange, Spazdog is poised to create huge waves in the creator-owned market. Shawn recently spent some time with CBI publisher John Michael Helmer discussing his formation of Spazdog, his new art teams, and where the energetic publisher is headed in the future…
JMH: Tell us a bit about SpazDog Press. What are its origins?
SHAWN: In April 2009, I was preparing for Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) at my store, SpazDog Comics. My kids expressed interest in creating a comic book for our FCBD in-store signing, so I offered to write them scripts for their comics. 2 days later, I had two 7 page scripts written, but the kids had moved onto other things and were no longer interested. I got the writing bug, so I wrote three more scripts each one represented one act in the three act play structure of setup, confrontation and resolution. I started to show the scripts around to friends, many of whom are artists. Some of the artists expressed interest in the scripts and said that they would like to work with me on a comic, but didn’t want to draw the kid’s scripts (Spazzy the SuperDog and Annoying Cactus Boy) or upset an established comic book pro (Matt Fraction Man of Action). I asked them if they had any story ideas for me to flesh out and write scripts for. Ernie Najera http://hellishsinestro.deviantart.com approached me with the concept of “What if the Captain America program had continued into the Vietnam Era and had come home to people spitting on him and calling him babykiller”. Instead of following the story in the 70s, we decided to fast forward to present day. Unlike Captain America’s physical isolation in a block of ice, The Falcon from Old Man Clem undergoes a social isolation until a bank heist brings him out of his isolation. We debuted Old Man Clem in SpazDog Press Presents #1 on December 30, 2009 during Indy Comic Book Week.
JMH: What sets SpazDog Press apart from all other Publishers?
SHAWN: I think one of the things that sets us apart is that we aren’t afraid to take on any genre. Old Man Clem is a traditional superhero comic. Sonic Youth is a family drama comic. Shadow Wolf is a science fiction comic. The Purge is a comedy comic. I think the strength of our books lies in their diversity. Each book has a different fan base with only a few that overlap, so there is a SpazDog Press comic for just about anyone.
JMH: Tell us a bit about your flagship title, SpazDog Presents. What made you lead with SpazDog Presents as opposed to any of the other titles you’ve announced?
SHAWN: I really struggled with this. Do you promote the title or the brand? I had a fond memory of books like Dark Horse Presents and Marvel Comics Presents that debuted stories and characters that became part of their mythologies. You also had Japanese magazines like Shonen Jump that would serialize stories and then collect them in their own books. I thought that if we were going to put out multiple books at the same time using SpazDog Press Presents to debut characters and stories and serialize them until we had enough content to put out their own book. I decided that we would initially put out the books as black and white mini comics reducing our costs and make it affordable for people to try out our stories. For Tucson Comic-con 2010, we collected the individual stories at that point in their own comic books. In the future, I can see SpazDog Press Presents to publish one shot stories that don’t necessarily go on to become series in addition to our ongoing stories.
JMH: Can you give us a sneak peek into one of your other titles?
SHAWN: Sonic Youth was brought to me by Matt Goodall. Matt really wanted to work with me on a comic, but didn’t have any characters or ideas until he was up late on night with his colicky baby and saw Scanners on TV. We decided to do a comic about how parents deal with raising a child who has the power of sonic scream and can destroy things with that power. Matt’s original idea was more horror driven, but it really has evolved into a family drama. If you read Sonic Youth and meet Matt and his family, you can see his family in the characters of Sonic Youth.
Check out Sonic Youth at: http://mattgoodall.deviantart.com
The Purge was pitched to me as a webcomic which would include a blog entry from the main character similar to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog. Derrick “Dadicus” West (http://dadicus.deviantart.com/) wanted to use a character we created for an in-store promotion. We decided to create the story in single panels. The story is set in a bar full of super villains. The Purge walks into the bar and orders an Appletini and as they say “comedy ensues”. I got really excited about the premise and roughed out 20 stories for the Purge, but Dadicus has been really busy with other projects and hasn’t been able to return to it. We may need to find another artist with similar comedic sensibilities to fill in, because the Purge has been one of the most requested books so far.
JMH: What is Shadow Wolf?
SHAWN: Jacques La Grange http://apachejedi.deviantart.com
pitched this idea of this epic story of a Native American from the old West who is thrust into a post-apocalyptic dystopian future. Shadow Wolf has lost his memory and events in the present bring back memories of his past. He has to navigate his way through this foreign landscape to survive and regain his past. The story that Jacques laid out for me was frankly intimidating, so being able to plot it out 7 pages at a time is the only thing that has kept my head from exploding. Because the story features a Native American character and Jacques is a member of the San Carlos Apache tribe, we have been given lots of opportunities to talk to the Native American community about Native Americans in comics and creating comics.
JMH: How are your books going to be released? Print, digital, or both? Why?
SHAWN: The books are currently released in print. There is something very tactile about comics. The smell and feel of the pages are something that still brings back memories. Unfortunately, the cost of color printing is expensive. I think that eventually we will be releasing the comics digitally in color, but for now you can get them in print.
JMH: Who are some of the talent SpazDog Press is bringing to readers in the future?
SHAWN: I am working with 16 different creative teams to put out an anthology of stories inspired by the songs of the English band The Smiths called United and Take Over. We are going to be releasing it in November in time for Tucson Comic-con (http://www.tucsoncomic-con.com). For writers, we have Eric M. Esquivel, Glen Curren, Brandon Huigens, Adam Orndorf, Dennman, JP Manzanares, Henry Barajas, Dave Baker, Libbi Rich, Emily Rich, Victor Zamora, Thomas Healy, Matthew Burke, Michael Kessler and Justin Ison. For artists, we have Ernie Najera, Madame M, Matt Goodall, Dennman, JP Manzanares, Christian Vilaire, Dave Baker, Mickey Chaney, Jenn Fuguet, Justin Miller, Josh Green, Jeff Pina and Justin Ison.
JMH: When do the next issues of Shadow Wolf, Old Man Clem, The Purge, and Sonic Youth hit the streets and where can readers go to get their copy?
SHAWN: I’m currently writing the next story for Old Man Clem. The scripts for Shadow Wolf and Sonic Youth are with Jacques and Matt. The Purge is on haitus until Dadicus becomes available or until we find a new artist. We should have new issues of SpazDog Presents in time for upcoming events and collected editions at Tucson Comic-con. Our issues are available local Arizona comic book stores.
For a list of stores go to http://www.spazdogpress.com/6522.html
We should also have our comics available for sale through our website shortly.
JMH: Pitch SpazDog Press to the readers! In 10 words, tell us why SpazDog Press books are a must buy…
SHAWN: SpazDog Press, Arizona creators creating comics one staple at a time.
About the interviewer –
John’s creator-owned properties include: The Leaf, Canada’s Greatest Hero, Sky Watcher, The Armor Guardians, NorthForce, MacSorly – R.C.M.P, and many others.