When I attend comic book conventions these days, I tend to avoid the Marvel and DC panels, in favor of creator-focused and/or independent comics panels. And it's not just because it's always easier to find a decent seat. But attending the Family Friendly Comics panel at HeroesCon this past summer was mostly a chance to catch up with the work of Chris Schweizer, Andy Runton and Chris Giarrusso. I was not looking to be introduced to new work, but the panel made me aware of Jamie Cosley, the creator of the webcomic, Cody The Cavalier. And once I became aware of Cosley, I decided to interview him.
Tim O'Shea: You just celebrated your one-year anniversary on Cody the Cavalier. How satisfying was it to reach that milestone?
Jamie Cosley: It's very encouraging to find a character that you truly love. I believe I'm just beginning to scratch the surface with this little guy and hope to produce many more strips for many years to come!
O'Shea: What lead you to develop Cody in the first place?
Cosley: A little over a year ago I was contacted by an editor named Jason Long to try out for the Word Girl comic series published by Boom studios. I was stoked beyond belief and put together tons of sample sketches and a one page sample (pencils and inks) working from the script he provided. I worked really hard to capture the look of the show and to stay as close to that model as possible. I was told I made it all the way to the top of Boom and Scholastic but they wound up choosing a much more stylized version of Word Girl. So close. I was really bummed for about 5 days - "really bummed" but then I received some an encouraging word from a friend of mine and sat down to create Cody! I doodled this little kitty with a sword and all was right with the world once again :) Cody is a tribute to my favorite comic strips and creators of all time! Ziggy, Hagar the Horrible, Groo, King Aroo etc. - the tagline from the very beginning was "Ziggy meets Zorro".....although now I'm more likely to tell people it's "Ziggy" meets Puss in Boots especially with the new movie coming out even though the two characters are very different.
O'Shea: It's hard to start building an audience in the comics market, was this strip a commentary on your struggles?
Cosley: Perhaps :)
It's really about working at a pace that you're comfortable with and developing the characters and their audience slowly. During the day I develop comic strips for businesses. I have clients that are security companies and some that manufacturer office furniture and they love to share their news/ideas/grievances through comics. It's awesome - I've included a couple of samples.
So one newsletter/magazine may have an audience of 4,000 but it's just for that particular industry. So when you try and create your own webcomic for a much larger audience and realize that maybe 30 people are visiting each day it's easy to get discouraged. But I read somewhere that it takes like 3 years to really get an audience so I'm not throwing in the towel because according to that statistic I haven't even really started yet.
O'Shea: During the recent hurricane Irene, you had no power, but you had time to concoct some new creative ideas. Any plans to work some of the ideas into Cody?
Cosley: Absolutely! My son Tyler is 10 and my daughter Ava is 3 and we were without power for 6 days, so during the light of the day she would put together puzzles with mommy and he and I would create comics. We would feverishly fill our notebooks with story ideas and characters and some of those ideas have already started to show up in the strip.
O'Shea: Were you pleased with how your name the frog character turned out?
Cosley: Yes, that was actually a lot of fun and I'm very pleased with "Muddy Spoons" (shout out to Little John and OC!!) - you will definitely see more of him in the future.
O'Shea: Of all the Cody cast, have there been any characters that have grown on you (more than the others) over time?
Cosley: For some reasons I cannot explain, this guy haunts me. He first appeared as a painting and has only been in 2 strips so far but I really like him so we'll see what happens.....
O'Shea: While Cody started as one-panel gag comics, you've expanded into longer multi-panel strips. What prompted this shift?
Cosley: I am working on a longer story because I wanted to see how difficult it would be for me to switch gears :) It's actually tougher than I thought because my brain is still always trying to turn everything into a one panel joke. I'm learning how to take my time and pace the story.
O'Shea: How much of a boost was it to your creative drive to have taken part in a HeroesCon panel this year with Andy Runton and Chris Giarrusso?
Cosley: I walked away from that entire weekend with a renewed sense of purpose and passion. HeroesCon in Charlotte is the BEST show and I can't wait until next year. I was honored to be on a panel with them and it was very encouraging to see how supportive they both were. I'm not an equal but they treated me as such and that was inspiring. Andy and Chris are both Superstars and everyone should buy Owly and G-Man!
O'Shea: Creatively what's on the horizon for you?
Cosley: More Cody for sure! I am pitching a longer story to an editor so my fingers are crossed! I will keep you posted. I'm also the regular artist of an ongoing series called Priscilla for Salinas Slugger Studios and Crown of Life Jr. comics. You can read the first issue here. We are working on a fifth issue as I write this. I also write/illustrate a Lil' Priscilla strip that appears in a magazine in Houston, Texas.