The Gathering is an anthology that offers comic creators the opportunity to have their work published for the first time. Through fourteen issues of The Gathering, GrayHaven Comics has helped over 200 creators launch their careers. The next step is the launch of Phase Two, which begins launch now and will continue through 2013. The new lineup includes a mini series called Mothers and Sons, new one shots and ongoings, print collections of popular webcomics, an adaptation of a novel and projects featuring established comic book talent.
I connected with publisher Andrew Goletz to chat about what GrayHaven Comics does and what we can expect from them in the future.
Melissa: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many creators, writers and artists gathered in one place like they are in GrayHaven Comics and The Gathering. It’s awesome that you’ve offered the opportunity for publication to so many new creators. Was there a personal reason or investment you put in to GrayHaven Comics?
Drew: Everyone needs a chance and we want to offer that chance. When we put out the first issue we were complete nobodies. Heck most people still haven’t heard of us. It was a group of friends putting together a comic and most of the people involved had never written or drawn anything for publication. Gail Simone heard about what we were doing, asked for a copy and provided the most in depth critique and advice we could have hoped for. Pages of it and most positive which filled us all with renewed inspiration. Because of her people took notice and we sold some books. She offered to do a short in the second issue and that helped sell some more books, haha. When I knew we were going to try and put out more issues I wanted to keep it about the creator and give others the same opportunity that we all had. Over the years we’ve been fortunate to add some more pro creators along the way and we have repeat creators coming back for more stories but we always make it a point to get new writers and artists on board for every issue.
Melissa: Phase Two has begun, with lots of new projects in development. Was there anything you felt you learned in 2012 about comics publishing that you’ll use to make improvements or changes for 2013?
Drew: Stick to the schedule and balance the schedule. Just today I took a look at our various deadlines for the 2013 books and tweaked it with one of my other editors because one month was much busier than another. We shuffled some dates around and I think it makes it much easier to hit our aggressive goals for next year. The hardest part is making sure we stick to the deadlines and cut if someone is running too late. It sucks because I hate to leave someone out, especially if they’ve put work into the pages but if something is running too far behind we risk going to print late which gets the book out late and in this market we want to be consistant with scheduling and quality. By the end of this year we’ll have put out over a dozen comic books on schedule.
Melissa: Phase Two is currently being funded by a Kickstarter, correct? What do you, personally, think are some of the most impressive incentives being offered to backers for that?
Drew: Yes it is. I think this time out we’ve managed to take some of the most popular rewards from previous Kickstarts as well as looking to see what other successful campaigns offered and tried to give people a lot of options. Smaller dollar amounts can get different amounts of comics. There are options like getting to name a character after yourself or having your likeness used in the book of your choice and even a NYCC package where you get a ticket to the show, can hang out with us at our table and even grab dinner on us after the show. But my favorites are the critiques from professional creators. This is about comic books and a lot of comic book fans, especially ones that follow GrayHaven want to work with us or on their own projects. Getting a critique from an established pro is an opportunity of a lifetime for a creator who wants real feedback from someone who’s found success in the business and we have a bunch of Image greats like Justin Jordan, Mark Andrew Smith, Ken Garing, Jimmie Robinson, Jim McCann, Joe Eisma and Rahsan Ekedal along with Jamal Igle, John Jackson Miller and Victor Gischler. I’m thankful to them for agreeing to take the time to do this and I’m thrilled to be able to offer it to fans who support the Kickstarter.
Melissa: Mother and Son. Can I just say that I’m currently almost 8 months pregnant and that cover isn’t far off from my reality right now? According to Mother and Son, chatting with my growing belly could be way weirder than it’s intended to be.
Drew: That’s all from Erica Heflin’s twisted mind. Erica was a supporter of our book for awhile and then she submitted a few stories and I don’t think we rejected any of them. They were all amazing. I made one of the best business decisions ever by making her an editor of the book which soon morphed into her doing production as well. I’m very happy to be able to bring some of her solo work like Mother and Son, Of Wolf and Woman and Chronographer to GrayHaven.
Melissa: Can you pick one or two favorites from the lineup of new material rolling out in Phase Two?
Ohhh, that’s a hard one. The sci-fi/western Titanium Star by Victor Gischler and Sam Tung is definately high on that list. We’ve had pro contributors before but Victor is not only an accomplished novelist and comic book writer but he’s doing this mini series which is open ended to leave room for a follow up. That’s huge for us and even better we were able to pair him on the project with Sam who illustrated a short for us way back in Gathering Volume 1 so it goes back to the goal of giving exposure to newer creators with a talented big name pro and a talented but relative unknown and Sam is definately up for it. His work on this has been fantastic so far. Of course I have to make a mention of Run Like Hell by Elena Andrews and George Amaru which is an adaptation of Elena’s acclaimed YA Thriller ( http://amzn.to/wq4YNG
) Chronographer by Erica Heflin which is a very complex time travel mystery, Tomorrow by John Coker, Jason Hissong and Devin Taylor a super hero book, and 11:59 by myself and Nick Francis which is best described as a post apocalyptic coming of age series.
Melissa: Do you have any surprises or special offerings lined up for NYCC to help get the word out about what GrayHaven Comics is doing right now?
Drew: Well most of the Phase Two stuff was supposed to be announced at NYCC but with open submissions and the Kickstarter starting now we needed to show all our cards a bit early. I’m hoping we’ll have some newer art and images from the projects to show and more details about each book. We’ll be at a booth again, #2457 and all of our editors will be there at one point or another and we’re likely going to have some creator signings as well. It was a good show for us last year and we found some great new talent and we’re hoping for the same again. Maybe we can throw a few surprises in as well.
Melissa: What’s the submission process for hopeful creators who want to get in on the action at GrayHaven?
Artists are welcome to pitch anytime. We’re always looking for new artists. Always. We open submissions up to writers several times a year as we announce books for the next year. We’re in the middle of another open submission period (our last of the year) for books coming late 2013 including All Women 2 (a follow up to our very popular book from this year created by the best female talent in the field), Cities (stories where a location is the main focal point), Deadly Sins (featuring the seven deadly sins) and Sunday Funnies (a color book aimed at young readers filled with one page shorts similar to comics in the Sunday paper). Submitting basically amounts to picking which themes people like writing a one paragraph pitch and emailing it to the right editor before deadline. More details can be found here: http://www.grayhavencomics.com/submit/
Melissa: Thank you, Andrew! And good luck on the Kickstarter campaign!
Drew: Thank you very much, Melissa. It was a pleasure!