I’m happy to share an interview today with writer and artist David Flores, creator of the comic Dead Future King, where he talks about his inspiration behind his story, as well as his plans for the future, before ending off with some solid advice for other creators and comic readers.
Dan: Alright, David, tell us a bit about yourself.
David: I’m a writer / artist who hails originally from New York. I was born on the Chinese Year of the Monkey (which may explain my fascination with simians and why I call my studio [sic] monkie). I’m a film graduate of the University of Miami, a screenwriter who has won a couple of awards but is yet to have any of his script produced. I’m a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick. My favorite recent films are Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road. I love the electric bass (particularly funk and slap bass) I should be fluent in Spanish, but I’m not (both my parents are from Puerto Rico). I’m a husband and a father, and I reside in Southern California.
Dan: And what projects are you currently working on?
David: I’ve just finished issue #4 of Dead Future King. I’m also developing two other graphic novel projects based on screenplays.
Dan: Are you able to work on your craft full-time, or do you have another job too?
David: I have a full-time job in post production and a family which makes it very challenging. Time is a scarcity, but somehow I manage it.
Dan: Tell us more about Dead Future King. What’s it about?
David: It’s about the return of King Arthur to a post apocalyptic England in the throes of a zombie epidemic. Arthur’s purpose quickly becomes clear: to restore his kingdom and heal the land of this devastating plight. My inspiration came from my love of John Boorman’s film Excalibur, the richness of the Arthurian mythology, and my excitement for post apocalyptic stories of survival (such as The Road Warrior, Dawn of the Dead, and 28 Days Later).
Dan: Do you do all the work for DFK yourself? What’s your favorite/least favorite part?
David: I essentially do. I have a trusted editor, Tony Dayoub (an excellent writer and film critic); and my wife, who lettered the first three issues, but that’s pretty much it. My favorite part is the writing because it’s what inspires the art. HOWEVER, I love the art almost as equally much in that it is the visual realization of those ideas. For me it almost goes hand in hand. Probably my least favorite would be the later stages of putting an issue together, when I’m so close to being done, yet so far that the final finishing details become a chore.
Dan: Why did you decide to pursue telling stories and self publishing?
David: I guess I always wanted to be a storyteller that employed some sort of visual medium. As a kid I loved comic books, which was followed by a passion for film. Screenwriting was something I gravitated to as a way to give structure to those ideas, so I set out to learn the craft. I won a couple of screenwriting contest and things were kind of on a roll (agent, manager, pitch meetings at studios), but then nothing ever got made. I grew frustrated and tired of waiting for someone else to decide, so I chose the path of manifest destiny. I knew I could draw, so it only made sense that I would do a comic as a way of producing my own “movie” so to speak. Once I got past the “what the hell am I doing, and how the hell am I going to do this?” I got it done. Self-publishing was another hurdle: I wasn’t sure where to go with it. I knew I had something of merit because people responded favorably to DFK, but there are other cool creator-owned projects out there that are hidden from public awareness. Thankfully I found Alterna Comics. Peter Simetti, the publisher, liked it enough to distribute it digitally. From there I landed a press publishing deal with Ryan Liebowitz of Golden Apple Books who has been amazing, shepherding the print side of DFK. For both of them I am eternally grateful.
Dan: What are some of your upcoming plans and goals for DFK?
David: I want to build awareness of DFK — sky is the limit. Ideally, it will be in the collective consciousness of all — why not think big. DFK is epic, but has a planned conclusion, which eventually will be available as collective trade books. From there, who knows. My ultimate goal is for it to be adapted into a feature film. I’m working on two other projects that will be graphic novels with feature film potential as well. My moniker, Sic Monkie Studios, is a brand with big time aspirations.
Dan: What made you decide on a digital purchase and download model for DFK instead of a serial web comic model? What are the pros and cons of that choice in your mind?
David: After I finished DFK issue #1, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to distribute it. I printed about 100 floppies and used them see if there was any interest. I sold most of them and handed out the rest just to get the word out. I quickly realized the challenges of selling printed single issues as an indie creator, so after some research I decided to do it as a digital comic. Graphicly was around at the time, which was a service that could convert your comics into the various e-book platforms, and allow you to promote your book on their site — for a fee of course. It was nice for a time, but it had its limitations — its biggest one is that it’s no longer around. That’s when I connected with Alterna Comics. I saw that they had a strong web presence with a wide and eclectic library of comics it publishes and distributes. I reached out to Peter Simeti who runs Alterna, and thankfully he responded to DFK. Alterna now publishes DFK digitally. There’s a royalty split when you deal with publishers and e-book portals, but the trade-off is worth it when you factor in time, support, and access to an audience you would otherwise have a much harder time reaching on your own.
Dan: What are some lessons you’ve learned as you been producing DFK you wish you’d known earlier?
David: Biggest lesson was time… and how little of it there is. I’m essentially doing the lion share of work putting DFK together. So a lot depends on time management, prioritizing, and hitting deadlines — all three I could vastly improve on. Another lesson I learned was the value placed on printed copies of books at comic book conventions. Most of all my issues were only available as digital downloads. I erroneously believed that if sold a reusable flash drive with my first three issues that it would sell. Not so much. A seemingly practical idea shot down by the visceral connection people have to the feel and touch of an actual comic — at least at conventions. Something I totally get. With great fortune I found a publisher (Golden Apple Books /AuthorHouse) who has printed the first three issues into a collected edition. Now those searching for a printed version of my book have that option.
Dan: What, besides from DFK, are you passionate about?
David: My writing partner and I are collaborating on a screenplay that we are adapting into a graphic novel. It’s called the InSpectres about a team of ghost busters in London at turn of 20th century. The team is made up of historical characters that many will be familiar with like Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini. We’re nearing completion on the fifth draft and hope to have the first issue completed by the end of the year.
Dan: Any final thoughts you’d like to say to other creators, or to potential readers?
David: I’m somewhat confident when I say that most of us indie comic book creators do this because some fanatical voice in the recesses of our minds tells us we must. It’s the same voice that wakes me at 5am and tells me to get my lazy ass up to work on the latest issue. Often there’s no money, no glory, no acknowledgement, and plenty of doubt and discouragement. For those moments that we all struggle with, all I hope is that we as creators continue to persevere and remind ourselves we do it because we HAVE TO.
Awesome. Thanks so much for answering some questions, David. Everyone, make sure you check out Dead Future King, and connect with David on the ol’ social medias.