I have been receiving lots of leads from comic fans on AMAZING Indie Comic companies you’ve probably never heard of. Lee Newman of Swampfox Media (which I recently interviewed) sang the praises of Victor Dandrige Jr, the owner of Vantage: Inhouse Productions; an Ohio based independent comic publisher. Victor gave me a digital tour of his company and a sneak peak of his unique creations.
Who I interviewed:
Victor Dandridge Jr
Claim To Fame: He is Where the Sidewalk Ends, has been There and Back Again and that’s Why the Caged Bird Sings
Favorite Comics: All-Star Superman, Avengers Vol3 #22, Invincible, Hickman’s FF
What we talked about:
We had a long conversation on a variety of comic related topics. I boiled down our chat to the information that matters most to you.
Comic Booked: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what got you into comics?
Victor Dandridge Jr: I’m Victor Dandridge, a comic geek with a penchant for writing and art and all that jazz. I started reading with the prolific Death of Superman series and that’s played out into a lifelong love of comics and an interest in art.
Comic Booked: Tell me a little bit about your company Vantage: Inhouse Productions.
Victor: I currently wear the cap of publisher/EiC of Vantage:Inhouse Productions, my self-publishing imprint. I’m the sole writer of the line, like the Millarworld books, where all the titles are what my mad mind has been cooking up over the last 15 years or so. Because I’m a reluctant artist, I’ve shirked most of the art duties onto who I declare are FAR MORE talented folks like Ren McKinzie (The Samaritan) and Harold Edge (The Trouble w/Love). Trying to stand up to their art skills is like trying to freestyle against Jay-Z or Lil Wayne! Not a stage I’m rushing to jump on!
The feel of V: IP though is all inclusive in one way or another. Its not strictly comics, but aims to take on self-publishing from as many sides as possible, whether that’s comics, prose or even movies. The whole idea is to squash the notion of needing to be big to play big. I’m all about being the underdog.
Only, I can come off SUPER confident, so I’m rarely considered one!
Comic Booked: You briefly mentioned some of your projects, could you give us a taste of what you have in store for us?
Victor: Unlike a lot of self-publishers, I went into this with both feet first, so this is my full-time job! I wanted to start off strong by releasing 15 projects this year alone (called the V: IP 15), of which 7 are currently in production.
Omnibus – My first solo release, I created this book off of a challenge I had instigated about small-press creators only passing on the challenges of creating without using our current set of tools to establish new solutions. The argument was that making comics was expensive and “I said only if you’re not being smart about it”. I created this book (which is 24pgs, done in full color, and with no internal ads) for only $5. What I have here is the 9pg first chapter for the series “Chronicles of Legend.”
Doing A Bid – I did an immediate follow-up to Omnibus because while I had come up with a way for people to make comics on their own for rather cheap, they couldn’t figure out how to organize the process cheaply working with an artist or two. This book was my answer to that, which shapes A LOT of how I do business with other artists.
Living Dead Things – I had an itch to scratch as I was winding down to my official start to full-time self-publishing and I threw this little ashcan together for a story I had drummed up for a friend a few years back. It was fun to do and I plan on returning to it (just not this year like I claimed I would!).
The Samaritan – My most critically acclaimed work so far. This series is kind of a superhero-noir feature that looks at a super-human whose as down-to-earth as can be, foregoing the costume and the codename to just bring about change in peoples’ lives. My good friend, Ren McKinzie provides the artwork for this one and we’re already on the fourth chapter, with a collected edition feat. chapters 1-3 coming out by mid-August.
The Trouble w/Love – I tapped artist, Harold Edge (Dynagirl, Fallen Justice) to do the line work for this tale that takes the cliched challenge of a superhero having to choose between being super or a man and looks at the fallout from when he’s already made the choice and failed. There’s quite a bit of personality with this story and I think Harold (along with colorist, Ryan Carter), truly bring it to life.
8 Mins – Trying my hand at prose, this series is a vignette anthology that looks at life during the last 8 Mins of Earth after the sun explodes. While it can seem a bit morbid, the true exploration is taking the mundane and common and making it now significant through the backdrop of it being the last time it’ll happen. This will be the next release from V:IP as I’m finishing up the last two stories today.
Comic Booked: You have lots of very interesting projects. But out of the sea of Indie comic publishers, what makes YOU unique?
Victor: What makes V:IP stand out is our content! While a lot of publishers, particularly in the small press, are telling stories in imitation of their childhood faves, I think we’re doing things a little more complex and showcasing that small-press is a matter of quality of product on the market and not the quantity. We’re challenging things — like with The Samaritan, its a matter of heroes and costumes and what it means to truly help people. I LOVE Superman, but there’s that aspect of him that’s just NOT genuine. We’ve all had that notion of “if I had his powers, I would x, y, z…” With The Samaritan, I actually go there and put more of that humanity into it.
With The Trouble w/Love, its even more so — I play with the notion of a hero who’s done the ultimate wrong (adultery) and still maintains his heroic status and how that affects his life. For me its about being unafraid to tell whatever stories I have in me in the biggest ways possible!
Comic Booked: How do you come up with ideas? What/who are your inspirations?
Victor: Its cliche to say I get them from everywhere, but its hard to pin it down. I’ll say I’m a consummate thinker and I’m especially good at seeing a point of view from multiple angles (that’s where the “vantage” part comes in), so I’ll hear an idea and play with it until something interesting sticks out.
One of my favorite things to do is to challenge myself to rewrite already published works — since so much of what we do has been done before, I like to jump into that with both feet and let those things influence new ideas. I wish there was a magic potion for ideas, though, I’d buy it up and by the gallons!
Comic Booked: What events/conventions can fans find you soon?
Victor: I stay pretty local, to the central Ohio region, but I’m pretty stoked to say that my U Cre-8 Comics line will be a feature of the Kids Day Event at NYCC this year. I’ll be instructing kids on how to create their own comic characters and doing it on this scale is a HUGE dream come true!
But you’ll find me at the Cincinnati Comic Expo, Champion City Comic Con (Springfield, OH), Kokomo Con (Kokomo, IN) and others in the next few months.I’m waiting to hear back from Wizard on if they want to use U Cre-8 for their own Kids Day programming — would love to hit up Chicago next week for that. And of course, there’s Mid-Ohio, our local show that Wizard purchased last year. Rather exciting to see what their contribution could bring about attendance-wise.
Comic Booked: What are some of your favorite comics?
Victor: I have to break that down into categories — My favorite series of all time has to be All-Star Superman. I think Morrison is some kind of a genius and that series is by far and way the more prolific take on what some believe to be an archaic character. Single issue-wise, Avengers Vol 3 #22, where Thor levels the statement “Ultron, we would have words with thee.” I think one of the greatest “Awwwwwww s***” moments in comics’ history.
I’ve been a fan of Invincible since it was in single digits and I’m currently in love with Hickman’s run on FF. On the Indie side of life, I’m going to shout out Girls W/Slingshots, No Gods (Dustin Carson), Did Someone Call for a Hero (Chad Strohl) and most of the line-up from Freestyle Komics (I hate their flagship title, the guy who writes that is a TOTAL HACK!)
Comic Booked: I guess we won’t include the HACK part in the article :0)
Victor: No, totally include that! I’m actually the writer haha, or rather I was before I set out on my own.
Comic Booked: Let’s end this interview right. DC vs Marvel? Pick one, no politics and why??
Victor: I do fluctuate, but right now, it’s Marvel by a mile. They have the characterizations and story lines that I think are challenging and epic! Sure they miss a few marks here and there (my ending for Siege involved Thor getting help from the Greek pantheon), but they’re giving me the fun of comics reading I first had. DC’s not there yet — hopefully with this new 52 it’ll be something