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.