While the rest of us are sleeping or reading comics or typing away bringing you brilliant, nay, incredibly brilliant articles, Wesley Green has been out there laying the foundation for an indy comics empire.
Well, maybe empire is an exaggeration, but he’s certainly one of the hardest working men in comics. From self publishing the horror yarn “Before Dawn” to creating the independent comics website and store Independent Propaganda to the founding new hybrid digital print comics publisher Ambrosia Publishing and the webcomic hosting service Ambrosia Digicomics, Green definitely has the ambition necessary to build an empire.
And with the announcement of Ambrosia Publishing’s first offer, the horror comic “Smuggling Spirits,” that ambition is paying off. We spoke with Green to learn more about his various ventures.
CBR News: Starting way, way back: What kind of comics were you into as a kid?
Wesley Green: I got into comics at a pretty young age, like around 4 to 5 years old. So I wasn’t into any particular character or title obviously. But I do remember having everything from “Archie” to “Spider-Man” to “Batman” and countless others.
My dad also grew up reading comics so I imagine he wanted to pass that love down to me. It wasn’t till I was around 10 or so when I really got into them. I was more into Marvel characters than DC characters –especially Spider-Man. I still have good memories of those John Romita / Gil Kane issues. I still remember trading comics with my friends at school during recess. A much simpler time. I wonder how many kids do that now.
CBR: What led you to doing your own stuff? Was “Before Dawn” the first thing you published?
WG: I guess I just figured out that if you want to work as a writer in this medium, you have a far easier chance of landing a gig if you actually have something to show editors instead of a script. Plus, I have a business background so I thought I would give self-publishing a shot. So I put together the outline for “Before Dawn” and posted some ads on different forums looking for an artist who would work with me on this project.
It wasn’t long before Jason Whitley answered the call and we just clicked. We both dig the same horror movies and share the same sense of humour. So working on the book was a fun and painless experience. Wish I could say that about the financial side of it, but that’s the risk of self-publishing.
But I’m happy with the way “Before Dawn” turned out. We received a lot of positive reviews from people who bought the book and also from the likes of Sam Raimi, Jen at Rue-Morgue magazine, John Fallon at the Arrow in the Head web site, and others.
CBR: Which brings us to Independent Propaganda; what inspired that?
WG: The initial idea I had with Independent Propaganda was to be a portal / online store for indy comics, movies, and music. But I soon realized I was biting off more than I could do alone. So I scaled it back to just focusing on independent comics. As most people do, my taste in comics changed from superhero-type work to more diverse, independent stuff. So I wanted to build a site which would cater to the independent comics scene- including web comics.
The site will celebrate its one-year anniversary this March. So far, I think we’re on the right track. I’ve received emails from people who have visited the site to let me know a review or interview led them to try a new book out or check out a web comic. And that’s really the point of the site: to expose these comics and creators to people who might not have heard of them otherwise.
And I have to thank everyone who has written for the site since it has started. They are the ones who have made Independent Propaganda what it is today- especially Matt Butcher and Chris Beckett. They’ve been there since the beginning and hopefully will be for a long while.
Another goal of the Independent Propaganda site is to provide useful information for independent creators and publishers. There are resources there on the site for people to use in addition to numerous interviews which have some nuggets of information useful for anyone considering or currently publishing.
To me, independent publishers and creators are the future of the medium- not Marvel or DC. Indy publishers and creators have the freedom to pursue different publishing and distribution models. I would like to see indy publishers & creators – both new and established ones – break the mold and do new things.
Sometimes I get the feeling it is a self-defeating cycle for most indy publishers: submit a book to Diamond, get a couple of orders from a small number of indy-friendly retailers, spend thousands to have the comic printed, have the comic distributed, then receive a check from Diamond for a quarter of what you spent to publish the comic, and repeat.
This is why there are so many web comics now, not to mention established indy creators like Carla Speed McNeil and the Foglios taking their books to the web. The direct market is not set-up to work in your favor if you are an indy publisher or self-publisher. So I’m aiming to also make Independent Propaganda a tool for indy publishers and creators to use.
CBR: And now Ambrosia Publishing, which is one of the first publishers to take full advantage of the possibilities of digital distribution. Tell us how that came about?
WG: There were a couple of reasons for starting Ambrosia Publishing. One was to publish material I not only enjoyed but also deserved a wider audience. Another reason was to get into the publishing side of things again. The use of digital distribution only makes sense to me. As I mentioned before, publishers don’t have to follow the tried-and-true distribution model. Not saying they shouldn’t use it to a certain extent. But there are other ways of getting your work into people’s hands.
With Ambrosia Publishing, each project will first be serialized online as a web comic before being published. Fans will be able to purchase digital versions of projects for a variety of portable devices – not to mention their computer – along with a published version. By doing this, we’ll be serving both marketplaces: online and offline fans. Each market will have the opportunity to own and enjoy the finished product.
Initially, the focus was going to be just on serializing and publishing graphic novel-type projects. But the decision was recently made to also offer ongoing serial projects which we are now accepting proposals for.
I like to think of Ambrosia Publishing as the AdHouse for Vertigo-type projects. Like Chris does at AdHouse, only a limited number of projects will come out through Ambrosia Publishing each year. Plus, the creators involved will have a hand in how the projects look and marketed. Each project is 100% creator-owned and they also receive roughly 70% of all profit generated from their project. So the creators have a very active interest in their projects at Ambrosia which makes for a great business relationship.
CBR: You’ve just announced your first book, “Smuggling Spirits.” Tell us about how you decided on that as your initial offering?
WG: Well, Ben Fisher and Mike Henderson’s “Smuggling Spirits” isn’t necessarily the first project which will be made available to the public. Their book was the first to sign-up with Ambrosia Publishing. Their project won’t begin being serialized online till the beginning of May. But I’m in negotiations on a couple of other projects right now which have the potential to begin being serialized as early as next month.
I am very jazzed about Ben and Mike’s “Smuggling Spirits” project. It’s a solid horror / action story coupled with some great art from Mike. I wish we could start serializing it now, but it’s not quite ready. Both Ben and Mike will have their own blog for “Smuggling Spirits” which will be part of the Ambrosia Publishing web site in the next couple of weeks. I’m sure they’ll be posting some great stuff about the book there.
CBR: Can you give us any hints about future AP releases?
WG: I wish I could, but I’m in the midst of contract talks with the creators of the possible future Ambrosia Publishing titles. One thing I have learned since starting Ambrosia Publishing is the need for patience. [laughs]
CBR: The Ambrosia Empire also include Ambrosia Digicomics, which offers creators a free place to post webcomics. How is that coming along?
WG: Oddly, that is coming along very slowly. I think part of the reason is ComicSpace broke out a couple of weeks before I started Ambrosia Digicomics. Plus, there have been a couple of other comic / social networking type sites to emerge since then as well. So maybe it was either a case of not being first to market or people just not knowing about it.
For those that haven’t heard about it, Ambrosia Digicomics is a blog network for comic creators, professionals, and web comic creators. People can sign-up for either a free or pro account. There are already some great blogs there which people can check out. Plus, there are numerous people who have a blog there, but they just haven’t set it up to the point where it is ready for public viewing. I imagine once a couple of big name creators start one, people will follow.
CBR: So, what’s next?
WG: As if I didn’t have enough going on, Jason (the artist and co-creator of “Before Dawn”) and I have been tossing ideas back and forth for “Before Dawn 2,” and I’ve been developing a couple of other projects which I plan on writing and possibly illustrating for publication through Ambrosia Publishing in a couple of years. Life’s busy, but it’s fun because I’m doing what I love.
CBR: Thanks for talking with us, Wes. Shortly we’ll have an interview with the creators of “Smuggling Spirits” here at CBR.