Gabriel Smith from Human Comics Interview
During my adventures at the Emerald City Comic Con I only met a small handful of indie creators and Gabriel Smith was a pleasure to meet. He was excited about his book and excited about being in Seattle to meet new people and generate some new fans. He was successful because I’m officially a fan.
Ian: Human Anthropocene the Human Saga is a cyberpunk Sci-Fi book, what made you want to write a cyberpunk Sci-Fi book?
Gabriel: I often wonder how new technology will be incorporated into future society and who will have access to it. Trans-humanism is beginning to take place here and now, but I don’t think that it will be altogether accepted into the future. I think the singularity and creation of human-chimeras by tech firms in China will be shunned by a large portion of humanity, and that we will attempt to hold on to our traditional way of life as long as we can, but inevitably, major and potentially catastrophic change will come on a biological level, altering reality as we know it. These are major themes within Anthropocene: The Human Saga.
Ian: Are there any cyberpunk Sci-Fi tales that inspired you to make Human?
Gabriel: Blade Runner. Battle Angel Alita.
Ian: I feel that there are more elements to Human than just the cyberpunk aspect, there are some emotional aspects that the characters deal with, is that an attempt to keep the human feel to Human?
Gabriel: Yeah, I wanted to create relatable characters so that people would see these changes through a lens of fiction before relating these tough questions and political inquiries to their own lives. Fictional literature is a great way of doing that, especially as a comic book.
Ian: I feel that Human has a lot of relevant political issues as well, can you talk a little bit about the politics of Human?
Gabriel: I think I answered this in question 1… but I can elaborate with a bit of a spoiler. You will find that the major motivation of “The Circle” within my series is the hoarding of life extension technology, and denying access to the general population.
Ian: I understand that you’re a screenwriter as well as a comic book writer, do you have plans on making Human into a movie or TV series?
Gabriel: Yes. I have been approached by some production companies and we are attempting to hammer out a deal. Too early to say more on this though.
Ian: That’s exciting, I would love to see Human on the big or little screen!
Ian: The success of Human is what spawned Human Comics to self publish and find distribution, can you talk a little bit about the publishing process?
Gabriel: Self-publishing is rewarding, but extremely difficult and expensive. You really have to believe in your own project to make it a worthwhile venture. Kickstarter helps, but I’ve put my own money into this to get to where the project is. Fortunately, sales have helped to earn back the investment, but it has been a huge time suck and I find myself doing a lot of other things than writing comic books (like sales and promotion), which isn’t really why I created this company in the first place. I just wanted to write and have a platform for my work to be seen. For new writers, I would recommend aligning with larger publishing companies to have your work published. You’ll have more time to be a creator and less stress over being a professional or executive.
Ian: Can you tell us a little bit about the distribution process and how you came to getting Human distributed?
Gabriel: It started with my local comic book shop. I went to Hi De Ho comics in Santa Monica and the owner at the time, a guy named Bob, was encouraging and said that I should seek distribution. He just said to cold submit it, so he wrote down an address in Maryland for Diamond distributions. I sent in a copy, and a month or two later received a response from Tim Lenaghan (VP at Diamond). They showed interest, and said they would like to distribute the work in Previews. In short, it pays to go to your local comic book shop as a creator or artist. That’s where it happened for me.
Ian: Despite my love for Sci-Fi I can’t ignore Human Comics other titles, can you tell us a little bit about the other titles?
Gabriel: I have an historical fiction story that was recently published through Human Comics called The Fall of Ebla. It is about the conquest of ancient Sumer by King Sargon of Akkad, and his conquest over a historically significant Sumerian city named Ebla. The story is retold by a slave in Ebla, who rises to leadership in defense of the city during this gruesome Akkadian assault.
Ian: Human’s artist Ryan Merrill has a unique style, can you tell us how you found Merrill and how you knew he was the one to bring Human to life?
Gabriel: Ryan and I first met on Craigslist. I chose to hire him out of many responses from a craigslist post. The collaborative process moved forward from there.
Ian: Can you tell us a little bit about the other artists and people involved with the other titles like Chris Malidore and his work on The Fall of Ebla?
Gabriel: Chris and I both met when exhibiting at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle in 2014. It would be some time before we wound up working together, but I admired his work and kept him in mind for future projects, which turned out to be The Fall of Ebla.
Ian: Human Comics is open for submissions at this time, is that for writers, artists, or both?
Gabriel: Both but the dilemma is financing all the great projects that people send me. People often look to me for money, and I have to respond by saying that a project isn’t viable without sales. Sales are what puts gas in the engine to keep the wheels turning. Most people want to dump a project on my lap and say “do something with it.” If only it were that simple. I often have to let them know, I can help you to get it published and distributed, but it’s going to take some up front capital investment. Human Comics has been successful, but only with extremely hard work to get it out there and bring in some sales. It’s the only way that any publishing company stays afloat, which is why it is so important that people support independent comics on kickstarter and at conventions. There wouldn’t be any without it. My company is now set up with a similar business model to Image or other creator owned publications. Human Comics will charge a low flat fee to have the books published and distributed and to handle marketing and sales, and we charge a very low fee for it. If we believe the project is strong, we will accept it and make it successful, while the creator still owns the rights and IP to their own work.
Ian: What exactly is Human Comics looking for in submissions?
Gabriel: Quality. Simple as that. We want quality comics that can be sold.
Ian: Where can people go to submit for Human Comics?
Gabriel: Go to Human Comics Website.
Ian: Where can people go to get Human Comics?
Gabriel: Again, go to Human Comics Website.
Ian: Where can people go to find you?
Gabriel: At major conventions on the West Coast, at the Venice Beach boardwalk, at your local comic shop, or our website.