by Glenn Matchett
The Internet has changed how comics are being created and how they are read. I’m able to help out at GrayHaven despite literally being a world away from the majority of the talent, putting books together and collaborating with people I have never met. In the digital age it has never been easier to get your work out there for people to see. With companies like Alterna looking more towards a digital platform and now the expansion of Comixology and its subsequent purchase by Amazon it could be that digital could be the new ways that indie creators get their work out there.
One creator who is already using the web to make his work available is writer/artist Christopher Kosek. On his website christopherkosek.com/ he offers a lot of information about himself and also a sample of his impressive work, an example of which is the 52 page original graphic novel ‘THE DEFAULT TRIGGER’. The graphic novel deals with a subject I am sure a lot of University graduates are more than familiar with: the harsh reality of paying back a student loan. Christopher has crafted a compelling realistic tale that I’m sure the majority of people reading this can identify with but then he adds a little twist to really get you hooked.
I’ve always been a fan of a good conspiracy story and in his graphic novel Christopher manages to come up with a whopper. What if the student loans are watched over by shadowy figures lurking in the background whose only goal is to keep the cycle of people struggling to repay what they owe going on and on?
In his graphic novel Christopher has tapped into something that a lot of people can recognize but has also something to keep the narrative compelling and exciting for those that wish to check it out. As a huge bonus, Christopher is offering this content on his website on a free or ‘pay what you want’ arrangement. Here is a talented fellow offering a 52 page book for free or for however much people wish to give. With the rising price of mainstream comics and the continuing sliding scale that companies seem to be offering on content versus price I doubt that many people are offering as interesting a deal as Christopher is.
Of course it is tempting to accept a free comic but I think if you read this article and like what you see please consider even donating $5 (or more if you can). We’re all finding our wallets a bit emptier than normal but there is no comic company off the top of my head that is offering the same bang for your buck as you will get for paying $5 for a 52 page book. And please spread the word. The more people that read it the more chance there is for Christopher doing more work like this.
You can read the default trigger at the following link: http://christopherkosek.com/169508/2637589/comics/the-default-trigger
I caught up with Christopher recently for some questions about himself, the default trigger and more.
GH:Tell us more about yourself Christopher, how did you get interested in comics in general?
CHRIS: I’ve always been interested in comics from when i was a kid. They were usually around and probably given to me as gifts. I was more into animation growing up, and things like GI Joe, Transformers and Batman the Animated Series were the main things that I obsessed over. From there I got comics with those characters and started reading. I took about 10 years off from comics once i got into high school and through my twenties.
I bounced around a lot doing fine art and working on-set with photography and TV/film. I went back to school for graphic design, and one of my first freelance projects was on a giant book about the history of DC Comics. From there I was hooked and I started reading again. Making comics was one of my earliest childhood dreams, and I just decided that I needed to go back and do it.
GH: Where did you first learn to draw and hone your artistic skill?
CHRIS: I’ve always been drawing and doodling. Like a lot of kids i tried my hand at copying comics in notebooks as a kid. I did art all through high school and was fortunate to have a really great program. That got me into college where I pursued art and art history. I became a professional graphic designer later and I suppose all these creative jobs kind of added to my skill sets.
GH: Do you find it easier or harder to write for yourself as opposed to others?
CHRIS: I haven’t done much writing for others, but I’m learning how similar it is. For others you have to let go of some control which is difficult. Embrace the idea that you’re only providing one half of the puzzle, and give specific enough ideas and details, that still give your collaborators room to contribute. When I’m writing for myself I’ll either get super specific calling out very precise angles or panel moves just so I don’t forget them later. OR I’ll just assume I’ll figure it out later in the art and write something silly like “BIG SCARY SEQUENCE HERE” and then realize I needed 3 pages where i only allotted 1. My big lesson is that I need to figure it all out in the writing stage and embrace the idea of outlining and rewriting with greater precision.
GH: How did the Default Trigger come about?
CHRIS: Well, student loan debt is the biggest political/economic issues of this generation. Everyone I know including myself has tons of debt and most of our life choices are dictated by it. I think art and literature is at its best when its addressing the issues of its day, and I just wasn’t seeing any stories touching on this issue. I wanted to come up with an interesting piece of fiction that was relevant and was a conversation starter.
I kept coming back to the phrase “enslaved to debt” as i’d read various financial news articles about the student loan crisis. Eventually I started to think about that, asking why and who would want to create that kind of situation, and before you know it, i came up with a conspiracy that turned into a comic.
GH: Did you consider pitching it to someone before you offered it on your website?
CHRIS: It was never an option because I felt like I’m too small time of a creator and not ready to be pitching publishers yet. I don’t really have the personal connections that would make that possible. As great as a time as it is to be an indie creator, there are also more gatekeepers than ever. I didn’t want to get caught up in the endless cycle of creating pitches and not making full stories. I figured its better to have finished work out in the world than a pile of unfinished pitches that never went anywhere. I want to pitch projects in the future, to cast a wider net and take the next step, but I don’t think I’m there yet as a creator.
GH: Offering it in the way you have (free or pay what you want) is interesting. Why go that route?
CHRIS: I’m very inspired by the DIY self publishing scene right now. Lots of creators are pushing that pay what you want model and I think it makes sense. I’m very realistic about where I am as a creator and realize that I’m still learning. I think the market is really crowded with awesome indie and self published comics and I’d much rather gain readers at this point than focus on sales. Its about making the comics and getting them out there. I think a lot of new creators are pricing themselves out of getting readers by putting a barrier to entry on their work at too early of a stage.
GH: What other projects have you worked on?
CHRIS: I had a digital comic called “Ex Libris” about a teenager finding an ancient spirit in an old book. It ran for a year or so. Its not up anymore, but you can find a few pages on my website. I’ve also wrote and drew a one shot called “Ascending” about a strange visitor at a Balloon Fiesta. All my comics and design work can be found on my site at www.christopherkosek.com
GH: Any advice you would give to other creators who are looking to release their work in a similar format to yourself?
CHRIS: It’s very liberating to just go out and do it. Don’t worry about pitching and sales numbers and all that stuff. Just focus on making a great comic and getting people to see it. Just make stuff that you want to see in the world. Go crazy, take real creative risks and experiment. You literally can do anything you want, so don’t hold back. You never know what will come of it. It’s so easy to get work out there. Whether it’s a full word press site, a platform like Behance or a social media site like Tumblr, there are TONS of cheap and free options to have a professional web presence.
GH: What can we expect from you in the future?
CHRIS: I’m working with a couple of awesome collaborators on a few shorts. I also have a few shorts that I’m writing and drawing for Grayhaven. Lastly I’m taking my time writing a new series that I’d like to try and pitch or do as a self published thing. I also design books for a living and many of them are in the comics/pop culture space.
GH: What indie book should everyone be reading?
CHRIS: Lots of great stuff going on in the indie world right now. Headspace, D4VE, Bandette, Doc Unknown, 5 Ghosts and Dead Letters are some of my current favourites. There’s just so much great indie stuff coming out these days, it’s quite difficult to keep up
And remember you can check out DEFAULT TRIGGER here: http://christopherkosek.com/169508/2637589/comics/the-default-trigger