An Email Interview with Brandon Graham

brandon graham lead

As promised, here is the Q&A with comic writer and artist Brandon Graham about his very excellent comic King City, as well as other bits that I thought were relevant to bring up. Enjoy!

Eric: Hey, Brandon. Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions. King City is one of my favorite comics and I’m pretty excited to talk about it with you.

Brandon: Holla

Eric: The first thing I’m curious about. King City #1 was released shortly before TokyoPop cut almost its entire line. Can you talk about what was going on during all of that? What they discussed or didn’t discuss with you? What you had to do to get it published in all the various formats–posting it online, etc, until (I think) the complete collection was released as a book somewhat recently? Did anyone get pissed that you were releasing pages on your blog?
Brandon: I was in a deadline rush to get the book done when TP canceled their American books. I book store chain had closed and returned a huge amount of TP books so they were trying to cut their losses. The whole thing was intensely frustrating, they weren’t into talking to me about doing anything with the book other than putting it on their bad web site. Out of frustration I started putting it on my Livejournal– and that at least got a phone call from them. I think they called to scold me. Luckily at the time my pal Joe Keatinge had put me in touch with Eric Stephenson who is the publisher at Image –Eric was amazing and helped me negotiate a publishing deal with TP over 8 long months of talks. 
Eric: Any grand plans for the King City world? I can’t remember if Multiple Warheads is in the King City universe or not. Personally I think I could stand to see the zombie wars explored more, but there are probably a million different stories that could be told in a world that broad and crazy.
Brandon: I have some ideas for short stories set in the same world but nothing too concrete. 
MW is set in a different world. There’s no England or English speaking America in Warheads. 
I feel like the Xombie wars were a lot easier to show as harsh in smaller scenes. I’d worry that it might kill the impact of it if I showed too much.
Eric: One of the things that you said once that stuck with me was that you saw it as your job to keep yourself inspired about creating art. I really love that sentiment. Could you talk about what excites you, what your inspiration was for King City (or in general), and a little bit of shop talk about how you work? EG, tools, the hours you work, your studio, what you read and do on the days you’re drawing comics, or something about the process from designing characters, writing, and composing pages.
Brandon: Thanks. Yeah, I feel like if I stay inspired than making the work is the easy part. I’m excited by a lot of stuff. Sometimes it’s reading novels, I’m really into raymond chandler & Haruki Murakami. A lot of the time I just try to think about what comic I’d be most excited to read and then try to make it.
KC got pretty autobiographical as much as it’s masked in all the sci fi & cat master so and so. I tend to rough out a basic outline and then let myself meander as I go.
I do a lot of layouts. I sometimes plan a couple pages at a time. I draw the stuff 11 by 17 on cheap bristol board paper and ink with Micron Pigma pens. 
I don’t really have work hours I just fuck around all day and work more when I have deadlines coming up. Mostly I just draw in my apartment, or sometimes at James Stokoe’s place down the street. I try to go to coffee shops a couple times a week to write–so I’m away from distractions.
I look at a lot of comics when I work.Lots of Manara & Shirow lately. –The earlier stuff for both of them. I have Manara’s Perchance to dream on my desk now– and I always look at a lot of Shirow’s Appleseed. Also lately I’ve been reading Sonada’s Gun Smith cats and a lot of Rumiko Takahasi’s 80’s stuff. Lum & One pound Gospel.  
Eric: What went through your head when Moebius died?
Brandon: I was in Portland staying at my pal Joe Keatinge’s place, Ian MacEwan who runs a Moebius Tumbr
Came over and we watched a good Moebius interview. 
It’s probably the first time in my life where I felt a loss from the death of someone I’d never met.
I’m pretty glad I got to live on the same planet at the same time as that dude though. I was always excited by that idea.
Eric: One final question. The last bit on our podcast we call “Random Character Generator.” We start with a topic and riff on it, creating a ridiculous character and backstory. Last week we started with “the ultimate 90s superhero” and ended up with Dethpouch (a nine foot tall monster that was once a man, but has hooves for feet and guns for hands because hands and feet are hard to draw) and Spawnzi (basically Fonzi with a Ghost rider head in the Spawn universe). Seeing as you wrote a comic about a guy with magic balls, I was hoping you could give us a prompt or category for this week’s bit.

Brandon: hmmmmmmmmmmmmm  Stokoe was just telling me about his idea for a wetworks relaunch where it would be about a pee sniper who was hired by people to piss on people they didn’t like. He was saying there’d be a scene where they yell at WETWORKS: “TAKE THE SHOT!” and Wetworks yells “II CAN’T WHILE YOU”RE LOOKING!” 

So maybe in the spirit of that, reworked characters from just the names of comics.