I decided to start with Tom Williams since he produces a lot of the artwork associated with SPACE (not to mention our spiffy new web design) and he just happened to be the first one to return the interview questions.
Tom Williams started out self-publishing Crash Comics in 1996. Crash included such great characters as Guston Phillips, the Cyclops cowboy (or is it cowboy Cyclops) and the Satanic Paper Boy.
The turn of the century brought Tom to Misa, a coming of age story. Misa was the winner of the 2002 Day Prize for best self-published comic.
Tom has also produced work with a number of collaborators on paper and shiny screens including Dara Naraghi, Sean McKeever and Brian McLaclan. Tom also contributed Northern Lad to the massive Comicbook Tattoo, an anthology with stories inspired by the songs of Tori Amos.
Tom continues to crank his comics in print and electronically and gives SPACE a good face.
1) Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up on a farm and settled in Columbus after I got a nice scholarship to CCAD. Graduated. I thought hard about moving to Brooklyn or the west coast but I can always visit. Columbus has an alright art/music scene and its crazy cheap to live here. So there you go. I have a day job and do the odd freelance gig here and there. Being as the freelance checks randomly show up, it's nice having that cushion. I've participated in gallery shows state side as well as England.
2) Tell us about your comics.
My self-publishing has been pretty sparse as of late. I split my time between working on my own stuff and freelance work with publishers. I like variety. Bouncing around from genre to genre, I've been focusing on longer works when not doing short stories in Panel. I'm painfully slow on the writing end hence the sluggish output. I'm fascinated by fringe science/archeology, mythology and comparative religion. Stuff I've been working on lately involves that. Beginning soon, I'll be handling art chores on a second OGN project for Oni Press. We're shooting for the fall next year.
3) How long have you been self-publishing?
I've been self-publishing since college. So off and on about 10 years. Things have been changing so radically in the industry, I'm excited by digital downloads. I'll keep publishing minis and stuff for cons but the floppy's on the way down. There are a few great exceptions but you're average comic shop is pretty leery of taking on anything new by an unknown talent. I've had a former contributor whose debut graphic novel got canceled because of low orders. It's rough out there right now.
4) Why did you decide to start self-publishing your comics?
I thought it'd be a good way to get feedback and work out my storytelling. Each new project gets better and better. While some folks do this as a hobby, my goal was to attract some freelance or something published by somebody else. I don't have the business sense to launch something like Cartoon Books.
5) Who are your main artistic influences--both in and out of comics?
Before college, all I knew was comics and the handful of Rockwell prints scattered about my parent's house. The (Kenton) library wasn't much more help. In college, I got exposed to a crapload of designers, illustrators, and artists. I love Alex Toth, Jack Kirby, Lucien Freud, Charles Schultz, Anselm Keifer, Tardi, Baru, Dave McKean, Jasper Johns, etc. Rock posters, Paul Pope, James Jean, Jillian Tamaki, Sam Weber, Guy Davis, and Jeff Soto.
6) What comics do you read?
I don't read many mainstream books. I'll follow certain artists and or writers. I'll pick up a copy of Jonah Hex anytime Jordi Bernet is drawing it.
7) What are some of your favorite books? (the kind without pictures)
I like David Sedaris, Neil Gaiman, and the idea of cracking open Gravity's Rainbow. It seems like I never have the time to sit down and read a book. Books on cd work out better but like trying to read the real thing, I keep putting it off. Lolita on disc has been sitting in my studio. I can't remember the day I checked it out from the library. It's due back in a week.
8) You have provided flyer and poster images (not to mention a website redesign) for SPACE since 2002. How is it working with that Corby guy? Why the dedication (besides the money,Ha!)?
I really believe in the show and what it's trying to do. It's fun.
9) What's it like working for Tori Amos?
It was pretty cool. Once it was pitched to Rantz (the editor) and Tori, they pretty much left me alone to work on my story. Every creator was left to do whatever he or she does and it turned out into a solid anthology. I'm bummed that I missed the San Diego launch. There was a meet & greet with Tori and the creators who showed up.
10) Your work is a combination of hand drawn and computer manipulated images. Can you give us a brief rundown on how you work?
I'll work up the drawing to a certain point then scan it in. I've been using Painter more since I got the program. If you do get it, it's a memory hog (more so than Photoshop) but a great program for illustrators and cartoonists.
11) Will you have anything new for SPACE? Or are you working on anything new?
I hope so. Worst case scenario, maybe a couple of new prints but I'd really like to put together a new mini. We'll see how the work goes on the book for Oni.
12) A traveling sales chicken comes up to a farm house. What happens next?
The chicken turns out to be not a sales chicken but a suicide bomber. KA-BOOOM!!