Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Exhibitor: Brian John Mitchell

You've had a chance to see the SPACE Anthology. Now meet the guy who put it together.

Brian John Mitchell makes mini-comics the size of a pack of matches for Silber Media. Some are slice of life comics & some are sci-fi horror & some are westerns. Currently out are XO, Worms, Lost Kisses, Just A Man, & Marked. Don’t be surprised if there’s a couple more series by the time SPACE comes around.
He wanted to be a writer as a child, but it didn't work out because he lost interest when he found out it wouldn't come easily for him. He had short stories & poetry published a few times when he was 17. At 19 he started a music zine called QRD which still continues online. At 21 he self-produced a hand stitched book of short stories called Subhorrea which was followed by the never printed 4 Hours Old. At 22 he started the now defunct business-card-sized zine Random Kisses, a poetry zine with an edge towards swearing & violence. At 23 he started Zombie Kisses, a zine about life after a zombie plague & personal responsibilities. In 2004 at age 29 he came back to zining with his smallest zine & first regular comic, Lost Kisses which is 50% Lad-Lit & 50% Charlie Brown. He is best known as the head of Silber Records & for his musical works under the names Remora & Small Life Form. He has a few other mini-comics called xo (about a recovering murderer with art by Melissa Gardner), Worms (a surrealist adventure with art by Kimberlee Traub), Marked (art by Jeremy Johnson), & Just A Man (art by Andrew White).

1) Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in 1975. I run a record label to make money & spend a lot of time taking care of my grandmother who has dementia (by a lot of time I mean about 13 hours a day).

2) Tell us about your comics.

Well, the first thing anybody would say when mentioning my comics is that they are only as big as a pack of matches with one panel on each page. Given that fact, I try to tell a lot of different stories. I have cowboy stuff & slice of life stuff & Lovecraftian things & a hitman story & then I’m working on a post-apocalyptic thing as well. I guess eventually I’ll do a superhero book as well, just to round things out.

3) How long have you been self-publishing?

Well, my girlfriend in high school did a zine in 1993 & so that’s when I was exposed to the small press as something I could really do myself. I started my own music zine in 1994, but it took 6 months to put it out.

4) Why did you decide to start self-publishing your comics?

I was asked to do a zine for the San Jose Museum of Contemporary Art in 2004 & I didn’t have anything I was doing at the time because I had a bad case of the girlfriends sucking away my money & energy at the time (2004). So I just wrote & drew this little comic that would only take one sheet of paper to print & it was well received, so I’ve just stuck with it.

5) Who are your main artistic influences--both in and out of comics?

I grew up on 1980s Marvel & all that stuff is forever trapped in my brain. That said, I like to think my big influences in comics are Frank Miller (particularly Daredevil & to a lesser extent Sin City), Will Eisner (I strangely haven’t really read anything before his “come back” in the 1970s), Matt Wagner (Grendel, I haven’t even read Mage for some reason), Peter Milligan (I liked Shade a lot & some of his other Vertigo stuff as well & his X-Force stuff was pretty great as well), Sam Kieth (The Maxx specifically, but Batman Secrets & some of his other work is great as well), John Ostrander (Wasteland & Grim Jack were two of the edgy books I liked in middle school), & Dave Sim (Cerebus obviously, & he actually drew a comic for me, truly ridiculous). It’s probably worth noting that my main interest in comics is the storytelling & how well the art compliments a story rather than how “good” the art actually is. Out of comics the big influences to my comics are probably Lovecraft, Kafka, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Joe Lansdale, Kathe Koja, Kathy Acker, & John O’Brien. Pretty much anything from between World War I & World War II in America is good in fiction or cinema.

6) What comics do you read?

Nowhere Band (webcomic) is always great. There’s another webcomic called Masquerade that I like a lot. I’ll read a Grendel book anytime it comes out. I read Dave Sim’s stuff as it comes out. But I generally buy trades & graphic novels over individual issues, I just want to read an entire story & I can’t remember things well enough to wait a month (or sometimes a couple of years) until the next installment comes. I’d rather read it five years out. I like Josh Howard quite a bit & wish the Pander Brothers would do more work. If I had more time & money I’d probably read a lot more & maybe get back into Marvel, but for now I feel satisfied knowing what’s going on in Marvel & DC by reading blogs & listening to some podcasts.

7) What are some of your favorite books? (the kind without pictures)

Wetwork by Philip Nutman, The Assault on Tony’s & Leaving Las Vegas by John O’Brien, A Fighting Man of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace, Working by Studs Terkel, Dreemz by Ben Stein, Songwriters on Songwriting (I can’t remember the author), Comic Book Writers on Comic Book Writing (or whatever that book is called)

8) You have mistakenly volunteered to head up the SPACE Downloadable Anthology Project. What were you thinking?

I was thinking people would send me stuff & it wouldn’t be that much work to lay out as long as they followed the specs. I have a feeling it might not come to fruition unfortunately. It’s hard to get people to do things sometimes. (Brian failed to realize the deadline was a few days away-Bob C.)

9) What is Silber Records and what's your connection with it?

Silber Records is a record label I run/own. It’s not just a little vanity label which is what people assume sometimes. We have over 80 releases & maybe a dozen artists in the roster right now. It’s on the cusp of me making a living as long as I live in poverty.

10) Will you have anything new for SPACE? Or are you working on anything new?

I try to put out as much stuff as I can. Last year at SPACE I had ten issues of Lost Kisses, four issues of XO, & three issues of Worms – so a total of 17 books. Right now I have eight more comics that I did since last year & I’m hoping to have eight more before April comes around. Also the Lost Kisses DVD is out now. & I guess the big news is Dave Sim drew Ultimate Lost Kisses #11.

11) How many chickens does it take to screw in a light bulb?

It only takes one, but the only one that could do it died a long time ago.


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