Dmitri Jackson wants you to do you.

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Dmitri Jackson wants you to do you.

Dmitri Jackson of Blackwax Boulevard on craft, fans, and washing hands. We're excited to see his new work at STL-SPEx.

Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick and what makes your publications tick?

My name is Dmitri Jackson. Been living in St. Louis for most of my life. I'm an illustrator, designer and cartoonist. My primary project now is Blackwax Boulevard, a comic that satirizes indie music culture. Well, things can make me tick in a good way and a bad way. First the bad: it can be little stuff like people not washing their hands after using a public restroom. Or driving on a cloudy, foggy morning and seeing all the cars on the road with their headlights on, except for that one gray/silver car that no one can see on cloudy, foggy morning. That drives me nuts! In a way that leads into what makes me tick in a good way: noticing those little ironies in life that can inspire a really funny story. Also, discovering a great film or record I'd never heard of before. Or running into fans of my work in person. What mainly makes my publications tick is the desire to make sense of the world we live in, to dig into the complexities of life and the emotional, psychological undercurrents that create them.

What drew you to creating, publishing, editing and presenting your projects?

I'm pretty much a hands-on, do-it-myself kind of person. I'm ashamed to say I don't really trust others well with the vision for my work, because a lot of art, especially comics, can thrive greatly from collaboration. Also in the beginning, nobody else would do it for me initially. So, self-publishing came from necessity.


What do you think of the relationship between publishing (what you do) and reaching an audience of readers?

The great thing about that relationship is the constant interaction I get with the readers. Whether it's publishing a page at a time online and getting instant feedback, or readers finding my books in store then following me on social media. There's some kind of steady engagement between publisher and audience. It wasn't like that even a decade ago. It's great to see that relationship continuing to evolve.

Can you tell us about your creative, editorial, and collaborative process?

I write, sketch, rewrite, re-sketch, print, print and print some more. All at the same time. While I'm drawing comics, I'm writing for future ones. The creating and editing stages tend to run parallel to each other.

How did you get into working with small press publishing?

I just jumped into it and figured it out as I went. I'm still trying to figure it out.

What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?

Do "you". Draw what you like. Write what you like. Explore themes that interest you the most. You'll be surprised how many readers might connect with what you're making.

How long have you been at it (by "it" I mean publishing)?

Since college. Been almost a decade now.

What would you have told your younger self about what you are doing? and What do you hope your older self might tell the you of today?

Me to my younger self: perseverance is crucial. Keep pushing. Keep drawing. Your style and content will take care of themselves. Focus on the craft, not the cash. My older self to me: Aren't you happy you listened to me?

Other than your own projects, what are some other presses and publications that inspire you to keep reading and supporting the small press community?

The Mixed Feelings anthologies by local artists in St. Louis. It's awesome to see so much talent in the city.

Anything else you want to say?

It's really wonderful we artists have something like STLSPEx. It allows us to get more connected into the creative community here in St. Louis. Speaking of connected, follow me on Instagram, @frotooncomics.

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To his childself, Greg McCrays tells of the awesome nature of flying cars.

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To his childself, Greg McCrays tells of the awesome nature of flying cars.

Greg McCray, writer and illustrator of Laser Dog returns to STL-SPEx to show us what the next adventure.

Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick and what makes your publications tick?

Yours Truly (Greg McCrary) entered into existence knowing that if I had to choose between life without drawing and death it was off to the guillotine! I grew up with early influences from Cartoon Network favorites: Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory, all imagined by my artist idol, Genndy Tartakovsky. As a child I would draw through reams of paper, driving my mom batty with weekly trips to the store. If there was no paper in sight, I would go batty myself from all the monsters and superheroes that were collecting in my brain, like a creative constipation. Growing up multiracial had its complications as well and eventually served as inspiration for my art.  As the youngest of four interracial brothers, the son of a White mother and a Black father, a resident of North County, and a student in the Kirkwood School District, I constantly felt pressure from my peers to choose a racial identity. It was confusing, but my art and my writing allowed me to channel those frustrations into something cool and exciting: comic illustration. Through the duality of this medium, the ability to write and draw my characters into existence, I could represent the duality I encounter in everyday life and share that cool imaginative stuff with others.

What drew you to creating, publishing, editing and presenting your projects?

As I said previously, I've had stories cluttering my brain as long as I remember and at a point and time in my adult age, I felt the need to share this madness with the world. Drawing and writing comics seemed like the most reasonable choice to reach a audience seeing as it doesn't take as long, as is a bit cheaper than other mediums, not to mention it's pretty darn rad!

What do you think of the relationship between publishing (what you do) and reaching an audience of readers?

I don't stress too much on the fine art of publishing/reaching readers. I worry on how to pour my best efforts into what I draw and write in each issue of my comics. What I publish speaks for itself and if it's good enough the audience will come to me.

Can you tell us about your creative, editorial, and collaborative process?

My process of writing begins with inspiration from other artists, genres, or history and science. When flirting with the idea of a story, along with what characters are involved, I give myself plenty of time to write and edit the idea. Really nurturing the story as organically as possible, not rushing and making sure it's grounded in dialog. I believe the writing should read like real conversations, despite if the setting is further from the truth.

How did you get into working with small press publishing?

I got into self publication from the need of showing off a portfolio for clients. There were no opportunities to grow my body of work so I figured Small Press Publications was a great way to create my own opportunities.

What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?

DO IT! No need to worry about the Pros and Cons, just commit. If you talk to any successful person in any profession they will admit that the key to success is learning from failure. So get out there and become a huge failure! But don't forget to learn what you can do better.

How long have you been at it (by "it" I mean publishing)?

I've been publishing for four years.

What would you have told your younger self about what you are doing? and What do you hope your older self might tell the you of today?

My younger self I would of told to start working and refining your skills as early as possible. I think some people at a young age believe they will start learning your craft when they are older, but in today's day and age, your education and career starts as soon as you choose it. And I'm sure my future self will tell me to have patience, there is no rush to being successful. And flying cars are awesome!

Other than your own projects, what are some other presses and publications that inspire you to keep reading and supporting the small press community?

I'm very impress with my buddies that created, Ruff and Tumble Comic (Writers- Jim Ousley & Oscar Pineda-Madrid. Artist- Ben Sawyer). Also Brian Moncey's comic, Ghost Town (Artist- Jessie Kwe).

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Trade zines with Nathan Pearce of Same Coin Press

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Trade zines with Nathan Pearce of Same Coin Press

Where excited to see the work of photographer and zinester Nathan Pearce of Same Coin Press at this year's STL-SPEx.

Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick, and what makes your publications tick?

I love seeing my photographs in print and also love sharing the work of other photographers and artists. 

What drew you to creating, publishing, editing and presenting your projects?

I'm a photographer and these days a lot of photographers make work that only lives online. I wanted to take some of my work off the internet and put it onto paper. 

What do you think of the relationship between publishing (what you do) and reaching an audience of readers?

Making zines and photobooks has brought my work to audiences who would have never seen it. I'm blown away at how many times I have shipped zines out of the country.

What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?

Do it. 

How long have you been at it (by "it" I mean publishing)?

About three years now. I have loved zines for a long time but had never made one. 

Other than your own projects, what are some other presses and publications that inspire you to keep reading and supporting the small press community?

I work a lot with some other zine makers. Specifically Rachael Banks, Jake Reinhart, Claire Cushing and Matthew David Crowther. 

Anything else you want to say?

Everyone reading this should trade me a zine. 

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Amber Williams: Lots of coffee and the point where you appreciate everything you draw.

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Amber Williams: Lots of coffee and the point where you appreciate everything you draw.

We are excited to welcome Amber Williams at STL-SPEx this year and to check out some of her work.

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Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick, and what makes your publications tick?

My name is Amber Williams. I was born and raised in St. Louis and am a recent graduate of Webster University. I studied animation and minored in art but my main focus currently is in illustration. Simply being able to express myself through colors and lines and sharing that with people with similar interests is what drives me to keep creating. To be honest, comics are completely new to me. I've read and enjoyed them but never really tried a hand at them until this past year. Learning about comics and creating them has opened my eyes up to a wonderful way of storytelling.

What drew you to creating, publishing, editing and presenting your projects?

I think it's easy to say your friends or family or teachers are who got you to where you are today but I know a big factor is also myself. I've been creating art for so long and when the concept of sharing that art online became a thing it seemed second nature to want to create more and more. Seeing and reading other artist's works is what ultimately inspired me to venture off into trying out these new things.

What do you think of the relationship between publishing (what you do) and reaching an audience of readers?

In my opinion, it feels like a very symbiotic relationship. When you find that niche where you enjoy creating art for a certain theme and then have others who enjoy that and encourage you to make more, that's when it really feels like you're doing something. It's fun creating art, but it isn't so fun when you can't share it with people and without an audience we wouldn't even have events like this.

Can you tell us about your creative, editorial, and collaborative process?
 

I'm pretty new to all of this but like any artist tons of planning and sketches, figuring out what works and doesn't work - trial and error. And lots of coffee.

What would you have told your younger self about what you are doing? and What do you hope your older self might tell the you of today?

I would have told my younger self that you get so much better than where you are at now and you're going to get to that point where you appreciate everything you draw. That making others proud of yourself is good, but being proud of your own work is better. And for my future self, I'd hope she say you've accomplished way more than you imagine and you'll continue to do so.

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Anna Bongiovanni: On writing about everything, self-validation & the power of zines

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Anna Bongiovanni: On writing about everything, self-validation & the power of zines

When we got Anna Bongiovanni's application to #stlsxpexpo, we wanted to run around the block.  Whether you're coming to the show or not, seriously read Anna's weekly webcomic Grease Bats here. 

Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick, and what makes your publications tick?

I'm a genderqueer cartoonist whose work has been published online, in anthologies, graphic novels, and mini-comics. I love self-publishing and zines because I get full control of my work and there tends to be a super quick turn around between when I create it to when I publish it. I try not to box in my work or the subjects I want to address. My comics are about everything from queer BFFS, dysphoria, erotica, to fuckin' capitalism, educational, and auto-biographical.

What drewyou to creating, publishing, editing and presenting your projects?

I wanted to get my stuff out into the world! I'm impatient. I am not a perfectionist. I believe in the power of zines as an alternative way to get across information and stories in an accessible and cheap way. I love having control over the paper, the look, and the final product. It's great because I don't need anyone's approval but my own. 

How long have you been at it (by "it" I mean publishing)?

As long as I've been drawing, honestly.

What would you have told your younger self about what you are doing? and What do you hope your older self might tell the you of today?

That what you're creating is valid, that you don't need others approval, that what I'm making and what I want to focus on in my art and stories is important and even if it's published without a giant distribution, it's still going to reach those that need it.

Join is at #stlspexpo 2016 on October 15th at Central Library from 10:00 and 5:00. 

If you can't make it, buy Anna's stuff anyway: www.annabongiovanni.com

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Andrea Bell: From childhood make-believe to Kickstarter fame!

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Andrea Bell: From childhood make-believe to Kickstarter fame!

We're so thrilled that Andrea Bell is bringing her whimsical work to #stlspexpo 2016, all the way from Chicago!

Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick and what makes your publications tick?

I grew up in a very quiet town that was next to a very normal suburb outside of Chicago,Illinois. Although I really enjoyed growing up in the town I did, my personality was truly shaped from the trips we took to visit my grandpa in his log cabin in the northern woods of Wisconsin. In my work you can see these influences really shine through. My nostalgia of running around with my cousins through the forest, the make-believe we would play, and the lessons my grandpa would teach me at the end of the day find a place in the subjects and scenery I write about and illustrate. 

What do you think of the relationship between publishing (what you do) and reaching an audience of readers?

I think as a kid (and I think a lot of kids an relate) that I drew and created pieces because I soon learned that when showing others my work they would react. The idea that a drawing that took me X amount of time would then merit reactions like excitement, admiration, sadness, was a powerful tool for a 7 year old but to this day I enjoy hearing about someone's reaction (any reaction) when they see and read my work. 

Can you tell us about your creative, editorial, and collaborative process?

My creative process involves a lot of writing and rewriting. For a comic I tend to first scribble down key points or topics that I know I want to express in this work. Sometimes this manifests itself in a list and other times I start "free-writing" conversations between characters about how I think they would naturally talk in a conversation about said topics.

The same can be said when creating editorial pieces and when collaborating with a group...I'll usually appoint myself to record all the thoughts that are being exchanged. I noticed I tend to overcompensate with all the rewrites and lists trying to find the best way to communicate these ideas. 


How did you get into working with small press publishing?

In my last year of college I ran across a small publisher called Yeti Press that at the time was based in Chicago. Digging deeper through their catalog I noticed a lot of work from peers in my same school. I decided that after graduation I wanted to keep the momentum of my work high and I started crafting the basic story and script of Rose from the Dead. I wrote a few emails to the Yeti guys and had a meeting where they agreed to bring on my book to their huge Kickstarter subscription project and before I knew it, my book was being made and find their way to the nice people who donated to the project. 

What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?

Please just finish your projects. You may be in a rut and you don't like how you're drawing/writing/creating this book/comic/what have you, and you want to quit. Just finish it so this idea is done, and you can move to the next one. 


How long have you been at it (by "it" I mean publishing)?

About 3 years

What would you have told your younger self about what you are doing? and What do you hope your older self might tell the you of today?

I would have told her to study harder for her spelling tests. And I would hope that my future self will let the Andrea of today know that all my hard work paid off.

Join is at #stlspexpo 2016 on October 15th at Central Library from 10:00 and 5:00. 

If you can't make it, find Andrea's work here: http://andreabelldraws.com/

 

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