Tell us a bit of your personal story. Where did you find your passion for comics?
My love of comics came at a very early age through the pop-culture of my youth like The Muppets, Transformers and X-Men. I remember going to Haney Books and the Huskey gas station buying Marvel's Transformers and Secret Wars. Both were so much fun and were a big part of my childhood, and my 'coming of age' series was X-Men's Mutant Massacre. I had never read anything quite like it and it really hit the mark. Though comics are a huge part of my life, my passion is for all things genre and media; moreover, my passion lies within books, comics, and movies. As a kid I surrounded myself with all things media and that has undoubtedly shaped who I am today.
How did that lead you into indie comics?
I drew a comic book character called Kade. I then drew his friends, his enemies and the world. I put together a Photoshop created book that was about 12 pages and went to the San Diego Comic Convention, partly as a fan and partly to try and get this thing published. This was in 2002 and SDCC looked a lot different then, than it does now. At SDCC I met Steve Leaf from Diamond, sat with him and he said we should submit this to Diamond Comics. I actually redid my issue (I work with much more talented artists than myself), Paco Medina did the cover and we solicited Kade #1. I then had to learn prepressing, I used Transcon to print and it felt like everyday had to learn a new skillset and overcome a new problem. Arcana was born as a publisher for my indie title and my second title was Mario Gully's Ant which really blew up, especially all of the variants we did with J. Scott Campbell. We then launched Ezra, 100 Girls and Starkweather all in our first half year which was quite ambitious. We're up to thirty full time employees, some have been with us since 2010, have published over 300 titles and own one of the largest libraries of comic books and graphic novels. In 2012 opened up an animation studio to turn this projects into animated feature films and TV series starting with Kagagi and then Pixies.
What works have you drawn inspiration from?
It sounds cheesy but honestly it's the regulars most people put. I was really inspired by Jim Henson and his absolute commitment and passion towards Muppets. I was actually talking with a producer at Henson about doing comics with them before the Archaia deal. Unfortunately that producer left and I lost touch with the company but the books they made were fantastic. Disney was another as he also had a relentless passion and commitment to fulfilling his dream. I think I admire those who 'kept at it' as I don't believe this is an 'overnight success' industry as many believe.
If not specific works, where else have you drawn inspiration?
Music is a huge source of inspiration as well as literature. The Steam Engines of Oz was obviously inspired by L. Frank Baum, the Howard trilogy by H.P. Lovecraft and The Clockwork Girl by Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. In these animated movies, I write, direct and produce so it tends to be a 'farm to fork' process. During writing I sometimes need complete silence as I'm figuring out plot points, but there's other times I know what has to be done and I will listen to 'mood music' to help get me into the right mindset.
Tell us about the works you have featured on Spinwhiz currently. For those who haven't already enjoyed them, provide a synopsis in your own words.
One of the most exciting titles we have on Spinwhiz currently is Ultraduck, which the story of an average duck living in an animal world, who gains superpowers and the ability to be a somebody. It's a compelling story with amazing artwork, and a retro feel to it. It's a fun read, and hopefully something that we can bring to the bigscreen.
What unique challenges have you encountered as an indie publisher?
Sustainability. Being an independent publisher is tough, especially in the digital age. Though there has been a small resurgence in print, trying to solely be a traditional publisher is insanely difficult. Being able to adapt is key, and foresight never hurts either. The market is constantly changing, but owning and publishing your own content, and being able to adapt them under a trans-media lens is invaluable.
Outside of comics, where do your passions lie? Hobbies?
I play hockey on two different teams (Burnaby Jets and Thunderchickens) in the ASHL and I have four kids. I don't actually get a lot of downtime so when I do, it's nice to do it with family or friends.
Where can readers follow/ find you?
Through Arcana's social media pages, Arcana Comics on Facebook, Arcana (@arcanastudio) on Twitter, and on our website Arcanacomics.com.
Do you partake in any trade shows?
We proudly take part in the San Diego Comic Con, where we have a booth set up every year. We also participate in the Los Angeles Comic Con, and the Vancouver Fan Expo.
What kind of content can the readers expect from you going forward? What's exciting that's on the horizon?
I hope readers can avert their eyes from the page to the screen as Arcana is looking to expand its animation division. Though we are constantly coming out with new publications of older comics, these new publications often include more information about the authors, artists, and the making of the book. Arcana's next animated feature, Howard Lovecraft & the Undersea Kingdom is coming out Dec 5th and features the voices of Ron Perlman, Jeffrey Combs, Doug Bradley, Christopher Plummer and Mark Hamill. After that the Steam Engines of Oz comes out in early Spring featuring the voices of Ron Perlman, William Shatner and Julianne Hough. We're currently in production of Panda vs Aliens where Stan Lee is my producing partner as well as Howard Lovecraft & the Kingdom of Madness. And on the horizon after those, I've in active development and have written the screenplays for Ultraduck, Avner, Ralph Filmore and Pixies and Trolls. It's been fun and I know the best is yet to come!