Here at Comic Crusaders, we love Indie books. Following the first issue of Queen, we caught up with Indie book proponent, Queen writer and #ComicTalk creator/host, Jamie Me for a frank and honest conversation covering reading material, personal challenges and real life inspirations:-
CC: Hi Jamie. Thanks for taking time out to speak to me. How did you break into the comics industry?
JM: I took my comic book idea Queen to Kickstarter, and I was fortunate enough that the preview resonated with people. I ended up hitting my funding goal, and just this past week I sent out the finish product. It’s crazy to think that my graphic novel about British politics is going to the US, Brazil, South Africa and many other countries.
The point I started to ‘break in’, I guess, was when I founded #ComicTalk. The responses from indie creators, publishers and established talent have been incredible. It’s an achievement that I share with every single person who has joined in. We’ve reached 4.2 million eyes in a single week just for reference. I’d argue that it’s the biggest comic social event of the week. Yet I still can’t get some websites to respond. The industry should get involved more, and help the next generation grow by supporting them.
JM: I love manga. It’s the comic flavour that resonated with me to begin with, and it still does. It influences my style of writing, how I design and the way I letter my comics. The energy in Japanese comics is off the charts. It’s like adrenaline seeps out of every page on the best manga. I don’t really have a favourite as I’m an indecisive person, and everything I enjoy becomes my favourite there and then. Some of the titles that have inspired me are Bleach, All Rounder Meguru, Death Note, Attack on Titan, Soul Eater & Monster. I’ve got Gundam The Origin and Vinland Saga death glaring me on my shelf too. I’ll get to them shortly.
CC: Entertaining politics is a hard to do in any media with maybe Yes Minister and The West Wing are maybe the exceptions. How are do you maintain the impetus from the first issue of Queen?
JM: I love political elements in stories. It’s something that affects all of us. The motivation for Queen came from a potent disdain for the British political system, and a fantasy of an alternate Britain where something was happening behind the scenes regarding corruption. I want to ask readers a simple question. What would you do if you had the opportunity to change your country? I think that resonates with many people in the world. Queen is the perfect story for someone who doesn’t like politics.
CC: You’ve previously said that the British system is broken, how so?
JM: We have a voting system where the vast majority of people didn’t want the winning party. The way MP’s are elected is deeply flawed and allows situations where a party like the SNP can get 1.4 million votes and 56 seats, and then the Green party can only get 1 seat for 1.1 million votes. Nobody can argue that is democracy. I don’t have an answer for how I would fix it, but I think more people need to be asking for reform. Then you have the media that shows such unreal bias that it’s laughable until you realise that it does influence the general public. Look back at how they targeted Jeremy Corbyn over not wearing a poppy because of his anti-war stance. That was all over the front pages of the tabloids. Then you have Lucy Allan, an MP who voted to yes to bomb Syria, and who yesterday blatantly lied about death threats, and it’s barely mentioned. Maybe I should write a comic about this stuff…
CC: Can you talk a little about the difficulties you face in getting an independent book out, when you have the Big Two to compete with?
JM: I don’t really worry about the big two in all honesty. I research them in terms of presentation, lettering and stuff but manga and indie comics are where I pay the most attention. I guess if you fixate on things like how the traditional distribution channels favour those companies that’s when you can get trapped in negativity. Personally, I concentrate on reaching people in the ways that I can. Like with #ComicTalk, Kickstarter and other cutting edge methods. That is what the indie scene does. It innovates while reaching people without limiting itself to convention.
JM: The people I surround myself with inspire me. My partner, who edited Queen, is touring around the UK doing corporate theatre teaching the Equality Act. I have a friend recovering from Agoraphobia that’s learning how to make games. My cousin introduced me to the manhwa style of comics, and that inspired me to broaden my horizons when it came to my research. Real people who I interact with on a regular basis provide me with inspiration, and they encourage me to be the best that I can be.
CC: What comics are you currently reading?
JM: Prophecy, Low, Saga, Replica, Wolf, Knights of Sidonia, Vinland Saga, Monster, Letter 44, Bleach, Attack on Titan, Dead Days which is a Korean manhwa and many more. I have crates of comics surrounding my work area. It can get quite annoying to sort out in all honesty. Last night I wasn’t sure what to read so I just had a look in a pile and found The Walking Dead book one.
CC: I have read that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has played a role in the creative process. Maybe ask how so?
JM: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy saved me from imprisonment within my own mind. I’d open my doors with my elbows, be scared to go outside and have contact with people. For a year there was periods of time where I didn’t go outdoors for up to 7 days at a time. It was brutal, and going to therapy to learn CBT gave me a way out, literally. It taught me to manage my condition by facing my fears with repetition. The more you do things the less anxiety takes a hold. This has influenced the way I develop my characters mentalities. Emily Green, the protagonist of Queen, has some of the issues I’ve had mentally. Exploring that in writing has provided its own sort of therapy in many ways.
CC: What can we expect in future issues of Queen?
JM: I fully expect issue #2 to be released in 2016, but I’m not sure if that will be with a publisher or a second round of crowdfunding. Both are exciting options, and we’ll see what happens in the next two months. You’ll definitely see something in February-March regarding the future of Queen. I’m exploring all the options, and whichever gets the book to people best will be the winner. You can also follow me on Twitter @JamieMeWrites for any updates, and to learn more on my new comic START AGAIN which just started production. Exciting times. Thanks for having me as well, and hopefully I’ll see you and your readers on #ComicTalk one weekend!
Thanks again for taking the time to speak to me. Good luck with Queen #2, I can’t wait to read it.
For fans who are interested in taking part in #ComicTalk can click the link http://jamieme.com/comictalk-guide and for those interested in Queen, don’t forget to check out the review which can be found in our reviews section.