We talk a lot about indie comics here at Drunk Dorks. We all have our own favorites, but we do agree that most of our favorite comics from the past few years have been creator-owned. We always look for people who are changing the indie comic scene and making it this incredible, living thing that it has become.
And it truly is a thing of beauty. I go to comicons to see all the new creator-owned comics that I cannot find at my local comic book store. I’m like a vampire in a house filled with people: hungry, and unsure of where to start. Luckily, I was introduced to a new company that is putting out fantastic indie comics, and for some odd reason Peter Simeti let me ask him anything I wanted about it. Thanks Peter, you are a super champ!
I had the privilege of getting to pick the brain of Peter Simeti, President of Alterna Comics and writer of such works as Metaphase and The Chair, and discuss his company, his experiences with working in film, and the lure of digital comics, as well some of the great indie comics that his company is producing.
Stefani: You are the President/Publisher of Alterna comics. When was Alterna comics founded? What made you decide to create your own company?
Peter: Alterna was officially founded at the end of 2006, December or so. I created Alterna for the same reasons that I imagine most creator-owned publishers get started: I wanted to help creators realize their dream of having a published book in stores and ultimately in the hands of comic readers.
You have a very large selection of titles offered on your website, including a lot of young adult graphic novels. How do you pick which titles to publish?
I’d be lying if I said I had some formula for it, but largely it’s just an instinct… a hunch that people will like the book. I’ve got a very large scope of tastes that encompass practically every genre and even the ones that I’m not really *that* into, I can still sense what would appeal to other people and why people would enjoy it. Quality-wise, the art, writing, lettering, etc. should all be up to par with a professionally made comic. Too often, people associate “indie” with “amateur”, an indie creator might be viewed as someone that just wasn’t good enough for a larger company – that’s not the case at all. Indie creators want to tell their story the way they see it, whether that means success or failure – at least they stayed true to their vision.
You also have a large selection of digital comics available on your site. As a comic reader I enjoy the tactile part of reading a comic, but digital comics have been growing in popularity the last few years. Why do you think that is?
Digital comics offer a true “leveling of the playing field”. Comic reading software allows for a unique experience; more interactive and cinematic. Without comic readers, I find it can be a bit boring and tedious; constantly zooming in and out. While I’m definitely more of a print comic kind of person, I do enjoy digital comics when they’re on a reader similar to ComiXology’s. I don’t really play games on my phone; I’m much more likely to read some comics on there.
Which titles from Alterna Comics would you recommend for those that may be new to indie comics?
Well, they’re all great so it’s hard to offer up recommendations, haha! For sci-fi/fantasy, Novo is great. For horror and action, the FUBAR series is second to none. For slice-of-life, I’d recommend All My Ghosts. We also have a few great twists on the superhero genre with Metaphase and The DeaDBeat.
You are also an accomplished writer yourself, with The Chair being one of your biggest graphic novels. You recently had a Kickstarter to finish post-production on a film version of The Chair. How was your experience with Kickstarter?
I think it’s been well-documented how Kickstarter is a great tool for creators that are literally looking to kickstart a creative project, but I think the best side effect of running a crowd-funding campaign is the fact that you get to connect with some really supportive and great people. That’s been the best part of the whole experience.
Working on films and writing for comics are two very different things. Walk me through your process when it came to recreating you graphic novel for the big screen.
You would think that they’re very different but they really aren’t. There’s some things, of course, that are *easier* to execute in a comic than in a film – but as far as writing goes, the scripting process is pretty similar. You write descriptions for scenes, characters, settings, etc.; provide dialogue; set up pacing and framing for shots. Comics are basically complex storyboards, so in that sense, they lend themselves well to film adaptations.
What were the biggest challenges in making this film? The biggest triumphs?
There’s always ups and downs with any creative endeavor; nothing tremendous that really stands out to me though. There wasn’t that thought of, “well we’ve come all this way but I guess we’ll just have to give up and stop now.” It’s been an experience I’ll remember the rest of my life, regardless of whether or not I’ll ever be involved on another film again.
I am very excited to see Sullivan and all the wicked characters of The Chair on the big screen. Are there any other titles from Alterna Comics that you would like to see make the leap from graphic novel to film?
Alterna’s got some great stories that would lend well to film, but being that we’re a creator-owned company, I have very little say in pushing a creator to embark on such an endeavor. Personally, I think FUBAR would make a terrific series – it’d be like Walking Dead meets Band of Brothers. Wolves of Summer and Lilith Dark would also make great films.
What can we expect from you and Alterna Comics in the future? Are there any new projects in the works?
2016 is “10 Years of Alterna” (our 10th anniversary) so we have something nice planned for that. BUT I have to stay a bit silent till we get closer to the end of the year. For June, we’ve got Mother Russia concluding with issue #3 as well as the release of Metaphase. In July, we’ve got FUBAR: Declassified coming out as well as an August release for FUBAR: By the Sword. In October, we’ll be releasing a blank cover/sketch cover version of a one-shot/starter issue of THE CHAIR; it won’t be a variant though as there won’t be a regular release to the issue. November will see the exciting debut of the annual anthology “If” which will have a new theme every year; this year’s will be “science-fiction”. Since the anthology is my creation, we’ll be taking to Kickstarter on July 20th with a modest goal of $2,500 to cover printing costs. Closing out the year, December will see the release of a special edition of THE CHAIR graphic novel which will have a brand new cover, the screenplay, a “making of our death row set” featurette, some new interior layouts, and a “pencils to inks” segment which will feature a side by side on some of the interior pages.
What is your favorite genre of comic? What, if any, comics are you currently reading?
Science fiction is probably my favorite genre of comic. I love the superhero genre as well, but I actually view that genre as more of a subset of science fiction. It’s sad but I’m usually a year behind on my comics reading so I can’t really comment on anything current; too busy helping to make them!
We are all glad that you are working hard, Peter! Keep up the fantastic work, and I look forward to seeing what 10 years of Alterna Comics looks like. Thank you for your thoughts and taking the time to join us here at Drunk Dorks.
As always, look for me on Twitter @drunkdorkstef, the whole gang @drunkdorks, our Facebook page, and our website, which you are on RIGHT NOW!