In this interview series, I speak with other comic creators to learn about them and their work! Here, I have a discussion with Jon Esparza of the CRAZYVERSE!
Travis Blair: Hey, Jon! So, we have something in common. We both enjoy collaborations. What is it you enjoy about them?
Jon Esparza: Just working with others I guess. I mean, I don’t get to truly collaborate very often. I’m usually just being part of a collective.
Travis: Well I know I’ve discovered a few webcomic creators from events you’ve hosted. As someone who’s in communication as much as you are, how would you describe the webcomic community to those unfamiliar?
Jon: Very close knit with many new friends always being made. It’s also a great testing ground. Constant interaction allows for a lot of feedback from fans and fellow creators. It’s the only “Industry” that truly is creator-driven.
Travis: I do appreciate how close the community is, and how direct creators are with fans. Also, a lot of fan art being made! Where do you think you find your creative side, that leads you to create your comics?
Jon: I’m really not sure. Ever since I was little I always had an overactive imagination. Usually at times when I’m really bored, stories just come to me! It’s like I’m only creative when I’m NOT trying to be! XD
Travis: I think it’s when our minds become blank slates do ideas get scribbled upon them. You’ve taken your creativity on the road, to conventions. What is it like to prepare for one?
Jon: It’s a trip for sure. I try to be prepared, making sure my inventory is full at least a month before. I also make sure my supplies are fully stocked too. As a web cartoonist, book sales aren’t exactly a guarantee, so I make sure I have sketch cards at the ready. Fans seem to really like those. Other than that, I look at cons as a working vacation. If I’m relaxed and loose. Fans will be too.
Travis: I like the collections of creative types. When attending a convention, is there any rhyme or reason to what people like? And aside from preparation, do you have any suggestions for those looking to participate in a con?
Jon: There is to a degree. Most con goers are into whatever’s big at the present moment. Obviously, there are many big things right now! My cards have sold far better than my books, mainly because, well, my cards feature mainstream characters. That’s what makes it hard for those of us that aren’t with a major publisher. It can be frustrating, but all we can do as artists is just stay friendly and keep promoting.
My cards brought a lot of return customers who in turn picked up books. Sometimes, it just takes that one niche.
As far as first timer advice, I’d highly recommend starting small and working up to bigger shows. I jumped off the high dive right away and learned some harsh, but good, lessons fast! Certainly know your audience and who you’re really catering too.
Also, have some kind of freebie to give away. Even simple postcards and bookmarks can have an impact.
Travis: That’s some good advice about conventions. From those I’ve attended, it does seem as if getting your name out there can be a challenge. That, and the cost involved in attending could be a gamble. I’m glad you’ve learned how to make the most of them! They do appear to be fun.
Jon: They can really be great, but can also be soul crushing. It’s best to go in with low expectations.
Travis: What about when you’re home and keeping in touch with others via the Internet. Do you find the ease of communication helps or hinders your work?
Jon: I do, because you get instant feedback. Before, you had to brave the crowds, and your own nerves, to get creator feedback at cons. Now, you can get it instantly, not to mention off your own feedback to others. Social Media’s such an informal setting as well. I think creators feel more at ease on the web than in person. Being online also gives us a way to better show our appreciation towards fans.
Travis: Also, trending things sometimes seem to spur conversation. I recall seeing so much great art online shortly after Mad Max was released. Has any recent entertainment – be it book, movie, or other – ignited your creativity?
Jon: Yes actually. The latest Avengers movie helped fuel an explosive tale coming next spring for Bubble Fox and his pals!
Travis: Sounds fun! I’m looking forward to the upcoming Bubble Fox. Jon, thanks for taking the time to speak with me!
Jon: My pleasure dude! Always happy to talk comics and the creative process!
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Image credit: Jon Esparza