AMBER LOVE 21-OCT-2013 Welcome to another delightful episode of VODKA O’CLOCK podcast which features the talented screenwriter and comic book writer BRAD ABRAHAM. Brad joined me to talk about his comic series MIXTAPE which uses music of the 1990s as a backdrop to show how a group of friends came together with only this in common.
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Brad discusses some of his experiences selling MIXTAPE at comic cons to readers of different ages. There are the ones that see it as “their Dads’ music” and others that relate from living through the 90s at the same time as these teen characters do.
Sharing music on cassettes was a unique collaboration between people. There was the less than emotional sharing of copying full albums as they came out for your friend to save some money; then there were the illegal bootlegs of live performances; and then there were the mixtapes that served purposes from expressing romantic intentions to having a good rotation for road trips. Brad and I think back to how you had to put in the time for a mixtape. You had to sit through the songs and get creative by making one-of-a-kind covers (don’t forget to pop out those tabs!); but now everything is fast drag-and-drop playlists, illegal torrents, and quickly shared YouTube links.
MIXTAPE’s creative team is rather international. Gervasio and Jok live in Argentina. Brad is from Canada but now makes New York City his home with his wife. Letterer Dave Buceta is over in Spain.
Brad openly talked about the failed relationship with Ardden Publishing who had printed the first two issues. There were unexpected delays, to no one’s fault. The finances weren’t there. It was decided the best interest for MIXTAPE was for Brad to independently publish it and not be in Diamond Previews catalog. Publishers these days don’t even guarantee creators that they’ll do any promotions. They are basically sources for printing large quantities and have stock in a warehouse for you. Publishers won’t necessarily give you any web presence, web development support, online sales interfaces, or financial help. In a case like MIXTAPE, a book about grassroots music sharing between small collectives of people, this independent approach to comic book distribution actually fits the theme of the story. It’s not quite the indie-level of some books where creators are going to Kinko’s for copies and stapling them together at home. He’s using IndyPlanet which is a solid resource for indie creators. (You can find one of my comics there, in fact).
Brad discussed getting burned out from his old schedule. He now maintains “normal” business hours and then stops to make dinner and enjoy his family time. Usually he’s not working on the weekends except for conventions and making occasional notes about stories. He remembers advice from author Joe Lansdale along the lines: You can tell when a virgin is writing a sex scene and you can tell when a person who’s never been a fight writes a fight scene. Brad believes experience – getting out there and living life away from the keyboard – is still the best tool to have.
Social media is a necessary tool these days as well obviously. Brad and I agree that when it comes to providing any kind of product, you don’t lose your identity, or shouldn’t, only to tweet/post about your projects. Brad admits that he’s terrible at self-promotion. He does it in a very tongue-in-cheek way with the occasional #shamelessselfplug type hashtag. Brad also falls on the side of inclusion and open-door policies with our geek culture where people should be welcomed. You can’t live your life constantly worried that you will offend someone because the bottom line is, you will anyway. Everyone has opinions on everything from storylines to politics and there’s no reason to hide who you are as a person.