It’s not often I get a chance to interview an upstart indie comic company. Their progress is usually organic and is rarely covered. By the time the companies realize they are onto something, they become successful and get too busy to interview with mild mannered reporters like me.
But I got lucky. Thanks to the wonderful world of Twitter, I got to meet Lee Newman, Co-Creator of the indie comic companySwampfox Media. He gave me a glimpse into the Fox’s Den where I digitally met the people that made Swampfox.
To be honest, it was a frightening thought trying to interview six people at once using Facebook’s chat feature. I had fears of early nineties AOL chats gone awry, but everyone surprised me. Immediately I could tell they work great together. Everyone bounced off of each other like a symphony, not the sounds of the Banshee‘s scream I imagined.
Who I Interviewed:
Melanie Jones Goodahl || The Wrangler
Role: Legal stuff handler, Secretary, non-art related duties
Elizabeth Boyette Neering the Editor, Adams Mitchell, web Guru and Isreal Butler the video producer, where unable to make it to the interview.
What we talked about:
Unknowingly, we had a two hour conversation on a variety of comic related topics. I boiled down our Facebook chat to the information that matters most to you.
Comic Booked: Why the name Swamp Fox?
Melanie: The Swamp Fox is a history reference for Francis Marion, a Revolutionary war hero from SC. He is the father of modern guerilla warfare….and we’re bringing a revolution to comics and media.
Lee: Which is the source for our slogan, “The revolution starts here.” Rob’s brainchild on that one. Good call.
Robert: Thank you
Angela: …and we’re all from SC for the most part
Lee: We wanted something that spoke to the geography because knowing where we came from is very important to us.
Melanie: We have a lot of pride in being local and using local artists together for breaking out of the 9 to 5 and doing something together.
Lee: Melissa is our outlier, but she’s a southerner at heart.
Melissa: lol Yeah, I’m here reppin’ for NY.
Comic Booked: In this sea of comic book companies, what makes you unique?
Lee: I think it’s our presentation and our method. To expound on that, we’re really grass roots, you’ll hear us say that a lot probably. We keep our writers and artists localfor the most part haha. The bands that will be on the soundtracks are local, even the printing is localized. While everyone wants to make money, we also want to bring up and show off as much talent as we can on the way. I’ve run into so many people since we started this that I just have to stop and say, “why are you not already famous?”
Melanie: Exactly, its more than about just us. Its about new ideas, tapping unused resources, and looking outside the norm.
Lee: We are also trying to really hit some different subject matter, or, if it’s familiar, put a whole new twist on it. Like with Compendium.
Robert: Also, we want to do stories that other people don’t want to touch. We can do stories that have been overlooked.
Lee: An example of what Rob is talking about would be Heralds and Heretics. It’s heavily influenced by religion. You’ll really see that come out as the concepts progress and the books come out. There have been books that tapped religion before, but never like this.
Robert: I bring them all together under one umbrella…
Angela: …our illustrators are female too, we have a strong group and I feel like that will give female comic fans something to look up to and look forward too.
Melanie: Yeah…technically the boys are outnumbered 4 to 2! lol!
Comic Booked: You mentioned “soundtracks”, what role will music have on your comics?
Lee: The idea is to tie the two arts, comics and music, together in a way that elevates both. The art inspires the music and the music inspires the art. I know I keep saying it, but reciprocity is the name of the game in all forms here. We really want to provide a musical experience that goes beyond the comicbook. Something that fans can listen to in their cars, but also something that, while in their cars listening, makes them want to go back and read the books again.
FACEBOOK AWESOMENESS (the chat window crashes)
Comic Booked: Sorry about that the window froze.
Melanie: lol!! Don’t worry…..mine did that earlier!
Robert: Go FB!
Lee: yeah, I guess we should all get AIM for next time. We shouldn’t trust the most
broken awesome thing on the internet for our major interviews.
Melissa: Got to keep it classy on FB.
Comic Booked: Alright on to the next Question. You’ve touched on some of your current projects, could you give us more details about them?
Lee: Our top two are Heralds and Heretics and Compendium. I’ll let Rob do the talk off for Heralds and Heretics.
Robert: Heralds and Hereticsmost basic is good vs evil. Basically Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael leading heralds of angels vs demons and half-demons (Osiris, Baal, Legion, Kali, and few others) in the fight for the survival of humanity through past, present, and future. Its a complex story that progresses the entirety of human exsistence. Its definitely a thinking man’s comic
Angela: Currently I’m working on pages and concepts [illustrations] for the Heralds and Hereticsproject….some of the concept work is in the [Facebook] gallery. Prior to this I did the promo poster for it and also the logo for our company.
Lee: Briefly, Compendiumis a modern day fairy tale meets Hellboy meets Ghostbusters meets Fables meets Buffy. For reasons that will be explained, characters from the realm of fantasy are brought to reality. Not everyone in fairy tales is as nice as Dorothy or Alice, so you end up having epic villains that now have the real world and all of its vices at their disposal. A world where, really, they have the advantage. Mel, wanna talk about illustrating Compendium?
Melissa: Sure. I’m working the concept art currently, also shown in the Den. Like Lee said, its a lot about putting a nice update on the old familiars.
Lee: So our third launch title is No Rest for the Wicked. It’s illustrated by Sierra (aka Nikki to me). I have literally been writing No Rest since I was in college and gone through at least 3 artists to get it done. It’s about the life of an average guy who, due to finances needs room mates. They turn out to be super villains that are terrible at being super villains. Their inept counterweight is a group of equally terrible superheroes led by Captain Adequate.
Sierra: Yea I think what makes No Rest for the Wicked. funny is the mediocrity of its characters or everydayness anyway.
Lee: Carrying on, we also have Melissa’s book Mermaid to Order in the works. Mel, want to talk about it or is it still too secret?
Melissa: Mermaid to order is the all too common tale of fairly average characters pushed to the extreme while just looking to be content in their lives. I’ve taken the “normal” characters, thrown in some odds and ends (tentacles, robotic body parts, etc… all the fun stuff) and given it a colourful twist!
Lee: Finally you have the two webcomics Burdened Vessel and Random Acts of Mindnesswhich I write and “illustrate.” They were contrived as just some filler for people while they wait, but people have actually taken a shine to Ole’ Dudebeard.
Comic Booked: When can we expect some of these projects?
Lee: October to be precise. Our launch date was officially Halloween, but with Xcon coming before that, you’ll see them there. But you’ll see merchandise way before that. We already have a series of promo posters and will probably be making more merchandise as well.
Melanie: Tshirts for sure!
Lee: If you take a look at the galleries on the public page, you can pick out the promo posters. They’re the album covers for each album. They will all be available for purchase from the website. swampfoxmedia.com.
Melanie: Again, [using a] local screen print shop
Comic Booked: What events/conventions can fans find you soon?
Robert: For sure at XCon in Myrtle Beach.
Lee: They’re pretty stoked about us, and we’re pretty stoked about it. I’ll be at NYCC. We won’t have a table there, but will be handing our freebies and networking.
Sierra: And I live in Chicago, so hopefully you guys will all be at C2E2 with me next year.
Lee: Speaking of C2E2, that experience was instrumental in this all happening.It was meeting people like Victor Dandridge, Jr and Justin Peterson there that made me realize that indie press was something that was really attainable. I took that vibe and carried it down to Rob for Heralds and Heretics.
Sierra: Yea actually that particular con made the comics world seems way more accessible than I’d previously imagined.
Comic Booked: You seem to work well together, how do you know each other?
Lee: We really are tightly knit. Everyone is very cool with everyone else. Mel just joined us maybe a week ago and you see how we take her in. Like I’ve said to you before. There’s no ego here. There are “managers”, but that’s just to give some structure to the teams.
Sierra and I are cousins. Rob and Angie are cousins.
Melanie: We’re all tight knit, lol! Robbie and I are married as well…. Lee and I went to school together since middle school, and sierra was/is best friends with my little sis
Lee: …and Melissa is renting a house from me in NY.
Angela: Yeah that is why we are going to rock the industry, we all work well together.
Comic Booked: I’m sorry but I have to end this interview with one of the thoughest questions ever, what are your feelings on the DC Reboot?
Lee: I’m really mixed. I was always a marvel guy, but I have gotten more into DC lately. Being as I’m not vested in as much continuity and I figure it will all be over in a few months, I’m not sweating it. To me, though it seems like they’re trying to “Ultimate” and that only worked for so long for Marvel. I like some of the redesigns, I don’t like the others. Why all costumes now require collars? I don’t really understand.I really don’t think it’s something that is going to last though. If it is, I’ll be really surprised. I don’t see how you can do what they’re doing to continuity and not expect a backlash. Not that they haven’t gotten one already from it. Although…Crisis set a lot of things straight. SHORT ANSWER: “Do I think it’s a great idea? No. Did it do what they probably wanted? Yeah.” It’s going to sell books, it’s going to get people talking.
Angela: Well it certainly has us talking. But hey every thing cycles back around and becomes popular again for a little while.
Robert:They had to do something. I understand. Their storylines had become very convoluded. and cliched…..they’ve been around forever. They needed something fresh.