This interview was originally published on Graphic Policy. It is reposted here in it’s original form.
James Patrick has written comics such as Batman, Green Arrow and Star Trek to name a few. Having recently started his own publishing company, 21 Pulp, which is aimed toward producing high quality comics and graphic novels. I got a chance to chat with James Patrick about his new company, and his new comic the Kickstarter funded Hero Hourly which was also published by 21 Pulp.
Graphic Policy: What drove you to start up your own publishing company?
James Patrick: Hmm. In some ways, drove is a strong word. While I toyed with it because of necessity early on and so there was a vehicle for my early books, and while I’ve always imagined what it’d be like to start one, I was never about creating a publishing company. I’m a writer at heart. But then I was approached about it and offered some things that meant maybe we could do it right, and I started falling in love with the idea. And I become more passionate about it every day – with what being a successful publisher means – about brand and sales and understanding the markets. About making appealing strong products. And I’m built in a way that I’m obsessed with its success now – with not failing and making it everything it can be.
JP: It just stands for 21st century pulp, which is what comics essentially are with their general popularity but still viewed by many as inferior or more trite than other forms of entertainment. It’s a crazy world we live in where the masses simultaneously ingest us wholesale and view us inferiorly.
GP: Do you have a specific style of comic, or story, that you’re looking to publish through 21 Pulp?
JP: Excellent ones. First and foremost. Having said that, I do have a publishing brand that the company has begun steering towards – but I’m not ready to reveal what that is. I’d be lying if I said that we knew who we were at our conception or that we’re what we want to be now, but without a doubt I currently know where we’re heading and how I want people to see us and think about us.
GP: How much does running the company differ from you’re expectations of what it would be like to run 21 Pulp?
JP: The work is massive. It’s massive because we’re trying to do it right. It’s a lot of hats I’m wearing at this early stage and some days. It doesn’t differ so much as I just didn’t know what it would be if I was doing it other than how I had done it before, which was just a writer who self-published early and had a label as a vehicle for books.
JP: After Hero Hourly, Imposter comes out in February, there will be a digital release of some other books in January that will lead to collections and be simultaneous, and in March one of our other books is scheduled for print as well. We’re rolling out to multiple books per month because we want to build awareness before we get there. We also want to get some of the bumps sorted out before too many things are rolling down hill.
But 21 Pulp as a publisher – and here’s your warning I’m going to go into sell mode here – but 21 Pulp as a publisher – aside from the amazing talent we have that’s from DC, Marvel, IDW, Image, Boom, and others – has some wonderful things that we’re rolling into as a company and that’s not hyperbole. We’ve already started getting unsolicited attention and some rumors are bubbling out there about us, but we’re actually shaking hands and making progress in areas I never thought we would at this age of the company. We’re starting to make a little noise and we’re going to make a lot more next year, and it’s a tricky balance between grabbing some things or being patient and growing into them.
JP: Yeah, if that circumstances are right – but I can’t imagine taking on too much other work now. I barely come up for air and while there are characters I’d love to go at again or others I haven’t written, I’d honestly have to make a decision at the time it was offered.
GP: 21 Pulp’s first batch of releases includes an original graphic novel and three miniseries. Do you have any plans for an ongoing series down the road (that you can tell us about)?
JP: I think of two of our next few books can be turned into a more longform if we want and we feel like there’s enough interest, but I don’t want to commit to anything and then put us in a difficult position. Our plans right now are graphic novels and minis, and we’ll look at each situation as it arises.
GP: Moving on to the comic that you’ve most recently penned, Hero Hourly, personally I really enjoyed the first issue. Hero Hourly is a take on superheroing that hasn’t really been approached in this manner before; where did you come up with the idea for the story?
JP: I don’t remember! It’s a years-old idea that was sitting in my computer and we were having a meeting one day and everyone in that meeting said that they wanted to see that book, so it was one of the books we chose. That’s also why it started on Kickstarter – because it wasn’t in our publishing schedule and we gauged it that way. But I honestly can’t remember the sequence of events that happened of when I came up with it.
GP: You touch on some very real problems in North America right now with the comic, and the difficulty in finding employment; was that the plan before you came up with the story, and the character of Saul?
JP: It’s always an evolution. I come up with an idea and then explore it in the construction of the story and that’s what came out of that somehow, whereas the second issue explores a bit of a different area in the entitlement or perceived-entitlement of a generation. What’s odd is that I started it during the recession so that’s why a lot of it is like it is, but I think it’s still relevant overall.
GP: If you could, would you ever want to become a superhero for an hourly wage?
JP: Ha. No. Not like at Hero Hourly anyway.
GP: Lastly; pirates, aliens, ninja’s or cowboys?
JP: Ninjas. Frank Miller ninjas.
The company’s first offering, Hero Hourly #1, also written by James Patrick was reviewed earlier this week. You can find a review of the first issue here (spoiler alert: it’s great).