In last week’s Sunday Digest we told you about a brilliant self-published indie anthology from King Bone Press called Bandthology. A collection of awesome music themed comics from a variety of talented writers and artists across the US, all with a musical/band related theme. We were keen to find out more about the story behind it, as well as the other King Bone titles (and not to mention that slightly risque name), so we contacted ‘King Bone’ himself Bobgar Ornelas as well as writer Jon Westhoff to find out the back story of this unique indie self publisher.
Tell us a bit about the ideas behind King Bone Press and how it got started? Where did the name come from for example?
Bobgar: King Bone Press was just the name that I would attach to my self published books. With the book being published (b-one) “Bone” was a seemingly good idea at the time. The current publishing house of King Bone Press could not and would not exist if it wasn’t for Jon and his enthusiasm for new projects.
Jon: King Bone Press was started by Bobgar in 2008 as a way to publish his anthology b-one comics. A few years later I joined up with Bob and they have been publishing ever since. Part of the soul of KBP is making comics we want to read and making comics with people we can call friends. Bandthology was started after we realized we knew a lot of people in bands, who also made comics. We wanted to bring those passions together and with the help of Wendi Freeman, we recruited some folks who have been through the grind of making music and comics and/or just love both mediums
You’re releasing your books via your own website and are soon to be getting on ComiXology, how does the growth in digital publishing help small publishers like yourselves? And do you still think it’s important for small publishers to keep a foothold in print or should indie publishers be embracing digital wholeheartedly?
Bobgar: I love digital comics, but lets be honest most are priced terribly. If priced right almost any comic can be a major hit. The problem being needing to remain a print publisher as well as digital. Even with the growth of digital comics acceptance in the hardest of hardcore paper fans, there is still little crossover. For the most part they are two separate audiences, and as such I think doing both is the smartest and best bet for success and growth in the industry.
Jon: I also love digital. I think it is a great opportunity for small press and I just enjoy reading on the go and not lugging paper around. I believe all indie guys, like us, should embrace it. It just makes sense. Part of the struggle to get books out there is the overhead cost, particularly shipping and printing. Digital eliminates that, while still getting your product out there. It is hard to say how it will play out, being so early for us and other publishers, but I think it’s going to be great.
Which of your titles are you most proud of and how involved are you in the creative process for the various titles?
Bobgar: Don’t make us choose! Of course for me specifically I’m proud of b-one, it’s my baby and has personal significance on every page. It’s where I can do my most personal stories. I’m really proud of the Low Concept and Bandthology series which are spearheaded and coordinated by Jon. Due to the scope, page count, variety of content and the incredible talent I’d have to choose those.
Jon: Tough question! I love all our books, but Low Concept has been so great for King Bone Press and for myself personally. I get such joy looking at the 3 volumes. Not as much for what we created (although I love our trilogy), but because of the stories people told and the stories the creators tell me about the book. The friendships I’ve built and the excitement of the creators (a lot in print for their first time) is something I will always treasure. We took a hands off approach to the stories, but all the books came out great, content wise, as well. As far as personal projects, the process is different for every book I write and depends on the person I am working with.
Do you think it’s easier for small publishers to stand out in the digital market than they would in print, and what do you think makes King Bone titles stand out from the crowd?
Bobgar: We still love comic books! We love them as much as you do! We make new friends with every project, not business partners, not employees, FRIENDS. We love comics and we hope it is reflected on every page that we publish.
Jon: I think the struggle is the same. How do you get someone to pick up a small press book, from someone they don’t know. Whether that’s on a book shelf of tablet, it is the same to me. What makes a book stand out(and I believe this applies to us) is trying to do something unique. If your book is well done and original, people will find it. If it’s the 347th book about a crooked cop whose past comes back to haunt him, they will walk to or scroll to the next book. Also great art helps and we have that.
What do you make of the growth of digital comics in the last 12 months? Are you an iPad user yourself and if so what books do you recommend or are inspired by? Is the iPad really the future for comics or just a fad?
Bobgar: I’m a user, but I’d like to mention that all tablets and current smartphones have digital comics apps and stores. The tablets and e-readers may not be THE future, but they are definitely A future for comics. I believe that they are here to stay. Personally I am a big proponent of digital comics and I read them at about an equal percentage as traditional paper comics. Price of either format is the main contributing factor on which way that I read them.
Jon: I read on my phone or computer, no tablet yet. I love the growth of comics so much and will definitely get one when the price is right for me. As far as digital or books I think about when thinking digital comics, I am inspired by Double Barrel and anything from Monkeybrain comics. Talk about digital done right. Fun, cheap, unique comics. That’s what digital should be. I agree with Bob, It is “A” future, but high quality print will live on. Ok, I am done agreeing with Bob.
We’ve been loving your Bandthology book, what inspired you to put that together and why do you think music and comics work so well together?
Bobgar: Making music and making comics. I’ve been making one or the other (and sometimes both) for most of my life. Having now said that, I wasn’t the one to bring it to the table.
Jon: Thank you so much. Like all great comics, Bandthology started with a twitter conversation. Wendi Freeman was talking to someone about how so many of us were in or are in bands and how we should make a comic. I jumped in and we dubbed in “Bandthology.” She recruited most of the creators and we tried to find people into both mediums. I think, when done well, comics can make you feel the music. In a lot of ways they are both personal experiences. They are both about feeling something special and when combined, they can bring out a lot in a reader that they may not have in other mediums.
In keeping with the band theme, what would be your ideal comic book band line-up for a gig, and what’s the secret to a good band name?
Jon: Animal on drums, Gene Simmons on Bass, Heath Houston on Guitar and Henry Rollins on vocals. I have no reasoning for this. I have been in bands with the most random names so I would have to say the secret is a good inside joke.
Finally, what’s next for King Bone? More Bandthology, any more other titles on the horizon? And which of your titles would you really like to see hit the big time?
Bobgar: Besides our continuing series, we always have a few potential stories, books, and series gestating in the back of our heads. For us it’s always waiting for the right time and the right people.
Jon: We always have to many irons in the fire. It may not seem like it, but for two guys with day jobs, we keep busy. We are continuing with our webseries, World’s Strongest Mailman, wrapping up this November. We have a Kickstarter for a one shot call Bulletproof Chicken and we have the third volume of Bandthology in February 2014. Plus many secret projects that my boss says I can’t tell you about yet. Thank you for your time, we small press guys really appreciate it.