INDIE SPOTLIGHT WITH SAM READ

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Indie Spotlight featuring: Sam Read

By Erica J Heflin and James O’Callaghan

GH: Sam, you’ve had an exciting year with the publication of your one-shot “Find”, illustrated by Alex Cormack. Can you tell us a bit about the story concept?

SR: ‘Find’ tells the story of Teddy Chance, a boy who makes a strange discovery in the woods near his house one night, and looks at the impact this event has on him across the course of his life.  It really is an ode to the type of movies that I grew up watching, such as ‘Flight of the Navigator’, which used action and adventure to talk about the way young people understand the world, and explored how single moments can change people forever.

GH: “Find” was picked up and released by Comixtribe. How did you approaching pitching the concept to the Comixtribe team?

SR: I didn’t really pitch it as such; the whole book was brought together from scratch with the team at ComixTribe.  The initial idea was something I first talked with publisher Tyler James about, and then developed with their editor-in-chief Steve Forbes, with Alex Cormack’s art style being at the heart of what we were looking to do at all stages. 

The process reflects the commitment ComixTribe they have to helping comic writers and artists, summed up in their mission statement of “Creators helping creators make better comics”.

GH: Readers may know you from your previous work, “Exit Generation,” with art by Caio Oliveira. As a four issue story, how was the approach to different from the one you took with “Find”?

SR: Yes, people might be aware of ‘Exit Generation’ from small self-published run it initially had here in the UK, but I hope more folk will get a chance to read it when it hits the direct market in September, again through ComixTribe.

In terms of how it differed to write from ‘Find’; I’d say in many way it actually wasn’t too dissimilar.  I always work from breakdowns of the beats that I then build in to the scripts.  Of course, ‘Exit Generation’ had more of these, so the real difference came in portioning these out over each issue, and identifying suitable moments on which to end issues. 

GH: How did the length and format of release inform your storytelling?

SR: As hinted at above; ‘Exit Generation’ has many more story beats to include, but actually when you are going issue-to-issue the extra space can actually provide a whole new set of restriction and challenges.  Simply hitting beats as they might naturally fall for you isn’t an option; you have to work to the format, and ensure readers are compelled by the way they land, so they’ll not only come back each issue, but even just turn the page in the one they are reading.

I take great inspiration from an interview I read once with Shawn Ryan, creator and writer of the show ‘The Shield’, who spoke about how he had to embrace the nature of television and write to the commercial breaks.  This forced each show into a series of ‘act-out’ moments, which is what gave it a momentum that kept viewers enthralled.  I think of page turns and issue breaks like this; opportunities to do something that will leave the reader curious or desperate to keep reading, and I hope this is reflected in the comic work I produce.

GH: Do you feel that your location inhibits or enhances your ability to get your comics into publisher hands?

SR: I think that being UK-based is a double-edged sword, in many ways.  One is that with the bulk of those publishers producing direct market books being based in the United States, this is reflected in the majority of creators also being based there.  But then what the UK might lack in this sense I think is made up for in intimacy and interaction between those involved in comics here.  I’ve been to events all over the British Isles, and that experience of being able to see, talk with and even just hang out with fans, creators and peers has been so positive for me.

And with the internet, the distances between collaborators, publisher and fans isn’t insurmountable anyway.  This can be seen in the fact that both ‘Find’ and ‘Exit Generation’ are feature with teams from across the globe, and that ComixTribe are US-based. 

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GH: Are there any American conventions that you would like to get to? Or any North American stores we can anticipate release of your products?

SR: I will be at New York Comic Con in October, where I’ll be there to promote ‘Exit Generation’ and generally have a blast!  Really excited to have the chance to experience my first US convention, especially doing so as a creator, and looking forward to it tremendously.

Also, my series ‘Exit Generation’ launches worldwide through ComixTribe in September, so I hope people will take a look at the preview on my website, and perhaps preorder it, so they can pick it up once it hits the shelves!

GH: For those who are unfamiliar with the European comics convention circuit, what conventions are your stand-outs?

SR: Of the many, many excellent shows this side of the Atlantic, I’ve a couple of favourites.  Dublin International Comic Expo (or DICE for short) in Ireland is fantastic, and I had a really great time, and made a tonne of friends there in both 2013 and 2014, though they’ve taken a break in 2015.  But when they return, you can bet I’ll be one of the first in line for tickets!

The other convention that I cannot recommend enough is Thought Bubble, which I’m fortunate enough to have just up the road from me in Leeds, England.  I launched my first book there in 2013, and love it for the range and variation of the exhibitors, the passion of the fans and organisers, and just the overall feel of the event.  I’ll be there again this year, and expect it will be as big and brilliant as ever.

GH: As an indie creator how much does the convention scene influence your focus? Are there any areas where you think the American comics scene is divergent?

SR: I can’t really comment on the difference between the UK and US convention scenes; ask me again after New York in October!  But in terms of how the convention circuit impacts on my schedule; it is crucial to how the ‘rhythm’ of putting together projects and planning how I manage my time. 

Conventions are some of the best opportunities you get to engage with comic fans and your peers, and indeed to get advice from professionals, who are more often than not incredibly generous with their time and knowledge.  Therefore, having work to sell and show is vital, so my whole year often revolves around events such Thought Bubble and DICE!

GH: Do you have any other projects lined up for release in the next year? Or any tidbits you could toss to your fans?

SR: ‘Exit Generation’ arriving on the direct market in September is a huge deal for me right now, what with reaching out to retailers, press and potential readers, but I also have several different projects of various lengths bubbling away below the surface.

I’ve some short work that should emerge online in the next month or two, and pages in a number of anthologies that will see the light of day before the year is out.  I’ve also teamed up with a number of different artists to produce new work, for release at conventions later in the year, if all things go well.  If people keep an eye on my twitter (twitter.com/bronzetrex) and site (samreadwrites.com) then they will be able to see any announcements!

GH: Let us know where we can find you and your present projects for sale!

SR: People can pick up ‘Find’ from ComixTribe on Comixology right now, and as mentioned above ‘Exit Generation’ will be arriving in comic shops across the globe in the second half of the year.  The first issue will be in stores in September, and folks can see a preview of the book on my website, and pre-order it using Diamond code JUL151204.

Thanks for having me!

Some links –

My Website

ComixTribe’s site – Comixtribe

‘Exit Generation’ on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/exitgeneration

‘Find’ on Comixology – Find on Comixology

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