“I make books that I genuinely want to read and draw pictures I want to look at for a while” SJ McCune talk Human Beings, Monologue and more!

After pushing the boundaries of story-telling with the uncompromising and truly unique Monologue and Epilogue, Stuart John McCune’s latest project The Human Beings is heralded as being ‘uniquely freaky’ and comes with a money back guarantee if you can find a book that is anything like this new style of anthology. We catch up with Stuart to find out why it’s so unlike anything else around.

So tell us a bit about your new book The Human Beings – from reading the text on Kickstarter it seems like quite an ambitious and unconventional read?Stuart John McCune: With The Human Beings I have no restrictions in place. It has freedom at it’s heart. The Human Beings’ format and content will not be constants yet things will reoccur – sometimes in the background, sometimes as a continuation, or sometimes even just as a recognisable building or structure that will give you a sense of place within the world. Everything will connect and reward. The anthology style comes from comics that stayed with me over the years like Eightball and Raw. Those books had a vibrancy that needs to return. Freedom is slowly being altered in today’s world and the new cannot be created without it.
Plus, everyone like a little crazy once in a while.

What is it about these kind of unconventional stories and ideas that appeal to you? Do you prefer to push the envelope and create books that are fresh and unlike anything else rather than going for something more mainstream? 
SJM: It’s much simpler than that – I make books that I genuinely want to read and draw pictures I want to look at for a while.

I love the challenge you have in the text for people to find a book like it and if they do you’ll give them their money back! Do you think you’ll get any takers?

SJM: None. Although it’s a perception test.

How do you find that people react to the more avant garde story-telling? Does it appeal because it is something different or do you find people are intimidated by something different to the norm?

SJM: There have been hugely abstract concepts in comic books since their inception. I still read The Rarebit Fiend in amazement. Comic book readers embraced and completely understood modern society’s accepted ideas on reality long before it bled into popular media.

There seem to be common themes running through your work like memory and perception of time and space, what is it about these themes that make for such compelling stories for you?

SJM: Our perception of time as linear is false yet memory is self. Any form of writing needs conflict to make it work and I find the battle between these two concepts more interesting than why Tyler likes Marla.

You can have a really unique art style, I love that mix of geometric patterns and shapes that you have, along with the really stylised people. Can you give us a bit of an insight into your process? Is it all digital or a mix of media? 

SJM: It is all pencil. Inking can be traditional or digital and then everything is digitally coloured.

Do you change your style based on the story or does the style inspire the story?

SJM: It is all one process. I see it as I write it.

As a bit of a Kickstarter veteran, what advice can you give aspiring crowd sourcers? What have you learnt and what wisdom was shared with you? Is it easier or harder to do them once you have built up an audience/readership?

SJM: No campaign is the same but generally don’t set your heights too high. Make your goal the bare minimum of what it costs to produce the book and mail it. It is important to remember no matter how much you think you’ve poured yourself into a project you’re a drink on an empty bar without your readers. Readers are everything and they make the project possible much more than you do.

And finally if you could describe your style in 5 words, what would you pick? Or would you not diminish your work by narrowing it down to just a sentence! (We remember you not being a fan of ‘pitching’ your work to Vince on the Awesome Comics podcast!)

SM: You answered your own question.

You can pledge your support for The Human Beings on Kickstarter here and to check more of Stuart work then visit the Millicent Barnes online store

Author: Alex Thomas

Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.