Jim Balent and Holly Golightly talk Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose!

Melissa got to sit down with Jim Balent and Holly Golightly to discuss Jim’s early career when he was an artist for DC on Catwoman. They talked about his own comic book publishing company, Broadsword Comics, where he sells his own original content. They talked in depth about his ongoing series, Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose

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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas

Theme music by Ardus

Jim Balent and Holly Golightly- Interview

[00:00:00] Melissa: This is spoiler country and I’m Melissa searcher today on the show. I get to chat with the talented artist creator and writer, Mr. Jim,  welcome to

Jim Balent: the show. Thank you very much, Melissa,

Melissa: for being here. I’m so happy. You’re here. Awesome. Well, let’s jump right into it. There’s lots that I love to ask you about, but I definitely want to bring up, you know, I know before you had your own comic book company you’re also very well known for doing Catwoman with DC and, and Batman.

What was, what was that experience like? And, you know, what did you learn from it to sort of like where you took, you know, took from it and then branch out

Jim Balent: on your own. Sure. Sure. Well, first I love drawing cat woman, and I love drawing Batman too, but I stayed on the cattle were book for us seven years.

In that time I was offered other jobs from DC and from other companies, but I loved Catwoman so [00:01:00] much. I was like, no, you know, I love cat woman. This is where I want to be. You know, I, I grew up watching, you know, Adam West and Julie Newmar, Catwoman and Batman. So like, this was my home. I loved it. But what did I take from it?

Oh gosh. You know, I’ve always kind of been a workaholic. But you know, anyone who’s going to, I guess, pursue comic books as a career, you, you sort of come at it with a lot of joy and love, but you also know it’s a business, so there’s a lot of deadlines and, and I would probably say the biggest thing is, you know, make sure you hit your deadlines.


Melissa: Yeah, that would be very important. I would think, especially when you’re, well, when you’re working for someone else, you know, obviously it’s, it’s there kind of thing on the line. And then of course, when you’re working for yourself too, I could imagine, you know, you have nobody else really telling you what to do.

So you have to probably self-impose those deadlines, right?

Jim Balent: Well, that’s, that’s a good statement. You bring up going back a bit. I, I went to the Joe Kubert [00:02:00] school of arts and New Jersey. And what was interesting was I was there for three years. It was just fantastic. And one of the teacher was obviously Joe Kubert and I remember him really telling the class that no matter how good you are, that you’re really useless to the company, unless you hit your deadlines.

Right. It’s, it’s very true because it’s, it is a business. It’s a, it’s a publishing business. You may love drawing Spiderman or Batman, but. You know, you might be the greatest artist in the world, but if you can’t hit that deadlines, you’re not going to get published and you’re going to get fired.

Melissa: Right?

Yeah. People aren’t going to want to work with you if you’re, if you’re dropping the ball all the time. Right.

Jim Balent: And, you know, right from there my career started with was Joe Kubert and I, I did a backup story for Sergeant rock, actually, two of them. And then from there, I was hired by Kim Demalda, who is currently a teacher of the Joe Kubert school.

He’s an anchor for Marvel and, and some [00:03:00] DC. And I was his background anchor. And then the reason I’m telling you all this is because, yeah, it’s a dream job, but the underline is, you know, make sure you hit your deadlines because, but it hit my deadlines. I wouldn’t be any help to Kim them older. Or when I, my career started, I wouldn’t be held to the editors or my writers or my anchors.

So. That is probably the biggest thing that I could tell anyone who’s starting in the field, you know, make sure you hit your deadlines, but it was fantastic. It was a joy to, it’s still a joy every day, waking up drawing, you know, if it’s not cat well, I’m drawing terror, which at a black Rose my own characters.

But even though I don’t have this mega corporation over me, you still have publishing deadlines. Like as a matter of fact, as we speak, there is a truck coming to my studio to drop off the early print run of the latest, terrible book. That’ll be in stores in a week or two. [00:04:00] So, you know, there, there’s always this domino effect, like you have to sort of hit your deadline so that the printer can print your book.

So then, then they can put it on the truck. So then they could basically bring it to the stores. And if you’re, if you’re at the beginning of that domino and you don’t push yourself forward to hit that deadline, Everything collapses.

Melissa: Yeah. 100%. And you know, it is the business. I mean, as much as you know, it’s a passion as well, and you want to be creative and have those creative moments, but you definitely still, like you said, have to treat it as a business too.

Jim Balent: Sure. And I don’t want to just sort of underlying, so business, like 99% of it is joy because, you know, hopefully you, you pick a career that you love. So yeah. Everyone says, Oh, if you pick a career, you love, you never have to work a day in your life. The kind of like one on one to alter that it’s more of like, yeah, you work harder because you love to do what you do every morning.

And I, and I’ve [00:05:00] always sort of said is, you know, you feed your dreams and your someday your dreams will feed you. And that just. You know, right from the beginning of, I love drawing the cat woman and I wanted to stay on it. So it was amazing to sort of, you know, work with Denny O’Neil to work with Doug man or, or Alan Grant you know, depending on who is writing the, the actual comic book at the time.

It’s great. You know, it’s, it’s a childhood dream that that came true. I even got to meet Julie Newmar. It was, yeah, she’s fantastic. And it was great going into New York city, the drop off my pages when GC was still at New York city. So, you know, as a little kid, you just feel like this has got, yeah,

Melissa: totally.

I was just thinking about, I was like, you went to Gotham. That’s awesome. Now, you and your wife who is also an artist, all ego lightweight which I hear you refer as Holly G, which is super cute. Started broadsword comics to publish your own [00:06:00] content. Now, how did that change, how you approach your art or did it at all once you were like, this is my own thing now.

Jim Balent: Well, once again, I don’t think it’s changed so much since Holly is a workaholic, just like myself. A matter of fact, she’s actually painting upstairs in one of the one of the rooms. Well, a little backstory with Holly is that yes, she came from illustration field and also a fashion field. And on a little side note, she was actually in a music video by blonde day.

She was in the, the mu the music video rapture. Oh, wow. Yeah. So she she’s come from that sort of entertainment world. But she also worked for one of the mega companies, Archie. She drew Sabrina, the teenage witch. She drew Josie and the Pussycats and we just sort of collided one time at a convention.

And we both had the same work ethic. And when the time came, where both of us decided, Hey, you know, let’s, let’s start your own [00:07:00] company. It was, it was an easy, easy sort of like passing into the Baton of going from DC to broad sword comics. I mean, yeah. There’s a lot more things that you have to deal with because now you run everything from publishing to editorial ship.

But you know, like I said, you know, we work literally like 10 hours, 12 hours a day, and that’s seven days a week. So, and that’s normal for us because we love doing that.

Melissa: Yeah, no, that’s great. Yeah. When you’re passionate about something and you know, you’re trying to get, you know, success and, and keep doing it for a living that makes sense, you know, to, to really just go at it all the time, because it does not always feel like work.

Like you said, when you’re doing something that you love and you’re passionate about. Yes, you’re actually working, but you know, I don’t think it’s it’s not the same as like clocking into, you know, an office job that you can’t stand.

Jim Balent: Sure. Yeah. We have lots of friends who, you know, their path in life is to work nine [00:08:00] to five and then, you know, live for the weekend.

And sometimes, you know, they don’t understand our sort of, you know, our lifestyle or our career, because they’ll be like, well, what do you mean you’re working on a Friday or, or you’re working on a Saturday or Sunday, really? You’re working on Christmas and I’d be like, well, yeah, because we have to do this because the next day we have to be in Europe to sort of sign autographs at a con.

And so it kind of like goes over their heads about like, you know, what, what our life is is about. So yeah, we have fun.

Melissa: That’s, that’s all that matters. And do you use Kickstarter at all or do you just completely fund it yourselves? Like how does that work?

Jim Balent: Well, recently we have been doing Kickstarter, but for the past 21 years we’ve been publishing Tara, which the black Rose nonstop bi-monthly, we have never missed a deadline, which we’re very proud of because it’s really just the two of us.

That’s doing the bulk of the work. But recently about maybe [00:09:00] five or so years ago, we’ve got into kickstart. When we have specialty projects, we just finished a trade paperback for a terror, which had a black Rose where we combined all of the Krampus stories together. And what we really love about Kickstarter is that it’s sort of like, I always say it’s like, say you have your favorite band.

Like my favorite band is kiss. And I grew up with kiss. I even got a chance to work with gene Simmons and to give artwork to the band, but I always say like, okay, think of it this way. Now you, you, you get to buy the product from your favorite, you know, this case comic book person, or, you know, or musician, but you get like these added bonuses that you won’t find anywhere else, like, with us, you know, you, you can get to the trade paperback of the Krampus, but you will also, once we hit these certain levels, you know, you might [00:10:00] get an autograph Lytham, you know, for free, you know, and so, you know how Kickstarter works, but that’s sort of like energizes us because we feel the energy coming from the readers going, wow.

That was really cool. Okay. Now we’re going to give you like a free Krampus or tarot pen and you’re like, wow, that’s great. You know, so that’s a lot of fun. And so the monthly or the bi-monthly book is totally funded by, you know, I hate to say myself because it sounds like, you know, I’m flipping the bill, which we are, but it’s tarot the characters and it’s the, it’s the readers who are, you know, sending in the money to purchase the item.

So to me, it’s like, yeah, the, the, the readers are the ones who are funding it. And the same thing with the Kickstarters. So the Kickstarter is definitely, you know, fun, you know, specialty projects, but the buy monthly books is definitely, you know, directly fright from the readers and from the stores.

Melissa: Yeah. That’s a [00:11:00] really good way to look at it because yeah, essentially you keep writing it because there is this demand for it. So they are essentially funding it by, you know, buying it every month or by monthly, and then you get to keep writing it. Cause there’s, you know, they’re enjoying

Jim Balent: it. Oh, sure. And just like, you know, with the diamond catalog, you have to serve plan three months, at least in advance.

And I’ve always planned storylines for like a year in advance. And we were just really blessed that for 21 years, our, our, our readers have been going yeah. Draw some more. Yeah.

Melissa: That’s so cool. I know you have several titles to choose from actually on your website. I definitely want to get into taro as well, but I noticed you have school bites, three little kittens vamp fire, which is really cool.

I love that title. Are all of these for a mature audience only? Or do you have any that are family-friendly or why a

Jim Balent: yes, there are a few that are mature readers and some are for, I guess, The general public for example, you [00:12:00] mentioned a school bytes that is basically for the family. It’s a very cute story that Holly came up with.

It’s sort of like, you know, Harry Potter meets 16 candles as she puts it. So it’s, it’s a really fun, fun story. And those are sort of like specialty mini series because they’re not ongoing. Like tarot is for the past 21 years, you know, Terrell is sort of the workhorse and she’s constantly going where that gives us time to sort of go, Hey, let’s do a mini series of say the three little kittens or van fire, or, you know, right now Holly is working on her own art book that she will be doing a Kickstarter for coming this June.

Oh, awesome.

Melissa: That’s really cool. I look forward to that cause her art is incredible. She’s just super, super talented. We’ll have to get her on the show next time too. Sure. Yeah, no, actually

Jim Balent: I can run and tell her to come on down. She’d be happy to come on down.

Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. I’d be happy to have her [00:13:00] one second.


Jim Balent: You are

Melissa: okay. Awesome. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah. I looked around at your website and so many great things on there, but you know, I want to talk to you both about, and and, and mostly, you know, what inspired you to create Terrell? I’d love to hear, you know, just how that I know it was, it’s been ongoing for a long time, but I’d love to hear about the, you know, the, the spark of the creation.

Jim Balent: Sure, but I would like to introduce Holly.

Melissa: Absolutely. Hi, how are you? Welcome to the show. Hi Melissa. Hi Holly. Thanks for being here. Thanks for inviting me. Absolutely. I thought, you know, you both work on it and I’d love to hear, you know, both of your input [00:14:00] and it’s such a cool series and the art is just absolutely gorgeous.

Jim Balent: Well, Melissa also brought up that she really loved your school bites, your van fire. And I told them that you’re just working on your news Kickstarter, which is coming out in June, your art book. And she was very interested. Yay.

Melissa: Thank you, Melissa. Yeah, absolutely. I’ll have to get all that information from you after so we can follow it and help, you know, post it and all that good stuff.

Thank you again. Yeah, absolutely. Well, now I’m going to have you both here. I was asking, I would love to hear about the, the inspiration behind taro, like how it first started, you know, what was that spark of creation that really inspired the story?

Jim Balent: Sure. I’ve, I’ve always had this idea of, of this you know, this adventurous, which back even in high school days.

And then I, you know, DC hired me and I worked on cattlemen for seven years. And then when the opportunity to start my [00:15:00] own company with Holly, I said, okay, this is the character that I want to lead with. And I’ve always been a huge fan of Frank thorns red Sonia. And I was lucky enough to have to speak with them.

And Holly was actually lucky enough to visit him before he passed. And we became friends over the years and he really loved my artwork and, and Holly’s work. And we also loved his work, but I always liked that idea of a, so we taught our front door, but I love that idea. Of having you know, sword and sorcery, but sort of make it a modern day version.

So what I wanted to do was no worries. So I, and also, so I had this idea of Terra, which had a black Rose, and I also had other characters, one of the characters in terror, which had a black Rose, his name is John Webb and he’s a [00:16:00] cemetery worker and me growing up, or actually I worked at a cemetery to pay my way through art school.

So I just sort of based that character off of me and also all the other characters around the tarot universe, I sort of, you know, based it off of people that I’ve known or, or people who have influenced me in life and even on the road. So it’s, it’s like. Not just one spark, but I would just say there was this adventure story that I wanted to do.

You know, definitely read Sonya you know, Catwoman and, and other, you know, strong female characters was definitely the beginning of creating this character, Tara.

Melissa: That’s really cool. And now in the literal sense, did you have any influence from actual taro cards or witchcraft or Wiccan type influences at all?

[00:17:00] Jim Balent: Yes. Oh yeah, very much so. There was a lot of, I love the tarot deck. I know several witches.

Holly Golightly: I’m aware of it. I confess.

Melissa: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Holly Golightly: I I’ve read the tarot cards since an eight years old, so I, I think. 48 years of, of reading the taro. And and it just, it’s, it’s just a fascinating experience.

So many ways to read them, but they’re so inspirational, vulvar archetypes and just life’s journey, you know, it is the hero’s journey. So it’s a perfect jumping off point for, for, I would say taro Jim’s character, Tara, just, you know, he totally harness that energy and poured it into the issues. So it is, you know, full of adventure and magic and, or the, all the [00:18:00] archetypes and the emotional and conflicts and, you know, all the.

Supernatural in a comic book that you can’t usually do on earth. So it’s just a very exciting comic book to get lost in.

Melissa: Yeah, that’s so cool. I it’s just so beautiful. Just the idea of it and, you know, you, you were saying you put out issues sometimes bi-monthly and you mentioned that you have sometimes that plans out, you know, a year in advance.

How do you, after writing it for 21 years, how do you keep those story ideas fresh, you know, in the same universe and, and think of new ideas?

Jim Balent: It it’s, it’s very easy for me. You know, people have said the same thing about me on Capitol one for seven years, it was like, how can you talk how one for seven years ago?

Because I loved it. You know, the same thing with same thing with taro there’s always. Either something that’s happening in my [00:19:00] life or friends lives or an article I’ll read that also spark the next storyline. Or sometimes, you know, as of now the characters basically live on their own and they serve almost telling me their stories.

And sometimes I have to pick and choose of like, well, which storyline I can go with because I only have like six issues per year to, to work on a book. But it’s, it’s never. Never a problem to come up with stories. A lot of them are funny. And then there’s a lot of them that are very serious. It all depends on, you know, which way their paths are going.

And that’s sort of like what life is, you know, sometimes you just have a really funny week and then sometimes you have these really terrible but it’s, it’s always an adventure. And the comic book is sort of like entertainment and education at the same time.

Melissa: Yeah, no, that’s really cool. And I also, with the artwork, you know, it was very essential.

And it has a pin-up style feel to it more of like a goth pin-up. Was [00:20:00] that something you intended from the beginning to do, going into the story or did that kind of come after you decided what these characters were going to be like?

Jim Balent: No, it definitely came right from the beginning. The only time I sort of paused a little bit was very, the very, very beginning, the first.

I’d say three or four issues. I kind of pulled back on, on the nudity or, or just the sky clad characters. Because I was sort of hearing a lot of negative responses in the industry from the people who supposedly know what’s supposed to work. Cause they were telling me that my book was, was not going to go past issue three, which is a really scary thing to say to anybody, especially when they’re trying to start something new.

But Hey, you know, 21 years later I’m literally drawing issue 128. Wow. So, After sort of [00:21:00] those four issues, I decided to go, you know, more into the, the, the characters themselves. And there was so there’s a lot of nudity in the book because all the witches have this very positive body image of themselves.

And I wanted to show that to all my readers and, you know, you’ll, you’ll get people who might just see the nudity, but you’ll get the other people who go, yeah, I get what you’re doing. So, yeah, right now, the way the book looks is, is definitely the way, you know, I wanted to look in for the past 20 years.

It’s it’s been going that way and we’ve, we’ve been doing very well. Yeah.

Melissa: That’s great. That’s awesome. Yeah. And I think like you were saying, if the, if the nudity is purposeful and not just gratuitous you know, and it’s artistically done, I think it definitely has its place. And there is an audience that appreciates that, you know,

Jim Balent: Yeah, sure.

And once again, going back to, you know, you know, [00:22:00] not all which is practice sky clad, I understand that, but there are a majority that I know who do practice sky climb. So to me, if I were to not, as not be honest to that aspect of the characters, I think it’s sort of doing a bit of a disservice, not only to those witches who practice sky clad, but I also, I don’t want to water down anything for my readers.

I think readers really quickly feel like, Hey, this is watered down because. You know, Jim wanted a PC or something for this issue, you know, and, and we never wanted to do that. We, we, I had this focus about also being honest with the readers and also for the readers to participate because in the back of each book is a page called the broadsword girl page, where I invite any female reader who loves the book, loves my art, loves the stories the [00:23:00] sending of a photo of themselves holding a sword.

And I give them a full page. It’s a splash page and we just do a nice write-up we say, Melissa, and then we give the website and you know, it gives a chance for those readers to shine, where as we were talking about, maybe they have a nine to five job, but secretly, you know, they are that hero within, within themselves.

They have that sword and I want to show to portray that. So yeah, there’s times where those readers will send in sky clad, nudes of themselves holding a sword and they just look so powerful. I mean, if you look at my logo of the broad sword girl, it’s a silhouette of a, of a nude female holding a sword up in the air triumphantly.

And that was sort of the first thing that came before the actual company named broadsword. I, I think for some reason I remember Holly and I was sitting in the library and I drew that. [00:24:00] Image of the broad sword girl with the sword up in the air. And then later on, you know, I just said the company is going to be called broad comics.

Melissa: That’s a really great way to, you know, arrive at a title, just kind of organically. And I think you just know, you know, it’s like when lightning strikes, it kind of just hits you. And I also think that’s a great way to keep your fans and your readers engaged, you know, with your stories and by sending in their photos, I’m sure they probably feel that they’re immersed in the university, but

Jim Balent: Oh yeah.

There’s, what’s funny is we, we do get submissions and then there’s times where. You know, I actually write people who I know have been reading the books, who, who write me saying I really love this storyline. And I, and I noticed like they have not sent in their broadsword girl photo. And so I would invite them and they’d be like, they’re blown away.

They think like, I don’t know, maybe some ELLs would like knock on their door and invite them. So I was like, no, send it in your [00:25:00] you’re. You know, this is exactly what this page is for. Is this the show how awesome they are.

Melissa: Yeah. That’s really cool. Now with, you know, 128 issues, do you keep a story Bible to keep track of all of the details of things or is each, are all the issues connected or is each issue kind of its own thing?

Jim Balent: Well, that’s it’s interesting. You bring it up. There’s not really a Bible, unless you think like, if I have to look up something and I’ll just, you know, go through the archives and pick up that issue and go, Oh, okay. You know, Tyro did this. And, but because they’re all sort of coming from me and not some outside source, which was another sort of, kind of unwritten rule I put down that, you know, since this is Holly and myself working on this, I didn’t want guests, artists, and I didn’t want I didn’t want guests writers because I felt like.

No, these are my characters, and if they’re going to fail, then let it all be on me. [00:26:00] If it’s going to be successful, then let it all be on me. And what also that helps with is I don’t have to go, well, gee, what did so-and-so write about? You know, it’s all coming from me. And like I said, at this point, it’s all the characters themselves are telling me their stories, but yes, there is sort of that Bible that, you know, maybe it’s it’s in my head, but most of the time it’s just, you know, issues that have been already printed that I’ll look back if I need to find out what’s what there.

What they’re doing.

Holly Golightly: The other part is that you don’t have to read every single issue one after the other. And that’s one of the things that’s very exciting about taro. And and I think it, it mirrors sort of our relationship with comics growing up that we would just grab whatever we saw on a stand, or if we got it as a gift and we’d read it and we’d have that story.

So [00:27:00] Jim creates these stories that are one shot

Melissa: or

Holly Golightly: maybe a two-parter or at the longest, I think was eight parts. And I know that when we do conventions or if someone emails me and they don’t know where to jump on, I usually go, well, what kind of genre do you love? Do you love horror? Do you love romance?

Do you love fairytales? What do you like? And I know I could pull one of Jim’s stories and go, this is where you should start. Okay. And from there they could go backwards. They could go forwards. They could go, you know, so it really is like walking into Disney world really doesn’t matter which rides you jumped on.

You’re going to have fun. Yeah.

Melissa: Awesome. I love that idea, but you can just sort of, and some people are drawn to covers too. So like me, I always look for the cover and be like, Oh, I want to read that one first because that’s intriguing.

Jim Balent: Right. Right. And Holly brings up a good point and I forgot to answer that part of the question.

Uh it’s it’s very true that [00:28:00] I, well, I was going to say, I think a lot of people nowadays seem to be caught up in the number of what issue it is. And some people will say, well, this is issue 112. I didn’t re issue one. So I’m going to forget it. And growing up, it didn’t matter to me what the number was.

I saw Batman. Yeah. And I was like, Oh, I want to read this and I’ll pick it up. Or I saw Spiderman or I saw, you know, red Sonja, or I saw, you know, any comic book that I liked. I didn’t pick it up going, Oh wait, this is issue 115. I’m going to put it down. So that’s the way I also designed these stories where I’ll have like two issue story arcs or three, or as Holly said, the one time was I believe an eight issue story.

But it’s it’s for that convenience of someone who comes in sees either a funny issue, picks it up and goes, Oh, I like this character. [00:29:00] Okay. So now I’m going to buy the back issues or, Hey, I really liked this other issue. It looks very adventurous. Okay. Now, now I want to know who taro is. Who’s Raymond hex.

Who’s, who’s the skeleton man. And so it gives them that idea of like, okay, I’m going to start buying the back issues. And we’ve always seen our readerships grow. Over the years. Yeah.

Melissa: Yeah. That’s really cool. And as far as getting into the logistics of the story, what types of magic do you explore as you know, as is an elemental?

Is that like the traditional wicked magic? Is that your own meetup magic?

Jim Balent: Well, it’s a good point because I have several different characters in each one of those characters sort of follows their own path like Raven, heck, she’s more of the dark path, which we’re a tarot and always viewed her as being that balance of magic and, and, and w and mankind how, how the two have to sort of live in the same world.

And [00:30:00] then you have elemental magics, which is more in the fairy realm where you might have these dragon witches who deal with just, you know, fire. So it all depends on the characters. And that’s what I loved about, you know, creating these books are the characters themselves will just scream at me and go create me because I have a storyline about, you know, Norse mythology, or I have a storyline about you know, the fairy magic mermaid magic, you know, it’s, it’s all.

Did you know, there’s not just sort of one or two types of magic as you know, out there. There’s so many different paths and yeah, they sort of grow on two different paths, all of themselves, because each, which brings something new to casting their spouse and as

Holly Golightly: high functioning, which myself I, I do believe that all magic comes from the imagination and that this is all [00:31:00] coming from Jim’s imagination.

She is inspired by the things that he’s seen all around by well-known authors. And he, he was much more well read than I was when we met. And I’d been practicing my craft since I was a kid, but I was you know, solo practitioner. And it’s. You know, it’s its own magic. But it’s also like you can really feel like you brought up Wiccan.

Like I would say taro would embrace more that the Wiccan sensibilities of how she feels that there should be a balance and a, and a justice to her actions where Raven Hans is more net necromancer and she’s willing to push the boundaries of what we would think is, you know, acceptable just for her own her own destiny.

And, and I worked in a magic store and I, I met so many [00:32:00] different kinds of witches, even Satanists and, and it’s fascinating. And if you have an open mind, there’s just so much to. To take in to, you know, to, to see a new point of view. And I think that’s what you’ll find in gym stories is that there are so many different points of view.

So there’s so many flavors of magic

Jim Balent: and, and just you know, jump on board there. When I created Tyro, I made sure that I didn’t cement her into just one type of magic because I didn’t want people who practice. Another type of magic to go, well, this is not my path, so I, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna read this book.

I wanted it to be familiar, but also a little bit different so that, you know, I wasn’t bogged down to the exact candle colors or the exact way, you know, salt had to be spread. [00:33:00] And I think once you get trapped into that, then you sort of go, okay, Terrell can only follow this razor edge of magic because I’ve already deemed her to be only this path.

Right. I wanted this to be more of a broader audience and to also introduce people who’ve never. Oh, studied magic. I’ve never met, which is to sort of, this is their intro into the world and go, yeah, there’s a lot of fantasy in that. But if you read between the lines, there’s a lot of real stuff going on

Holly Golightly: to say that a lot of readers have admitted to me via email or social media that they have actually began their path in magic because of terror.

Melissa: Oh, wow. That’s such a huge compliment.

Holly Golightly: Yeah. They, they were so inspired and that they felt akin. They felt like something just clicked in them and they went, this is it.

Melissa: Yeah. That’s so awesome. Yeah. [00:34:00] That’s like when you find that, that deck, that really speaks to you.

Jim Balent: Right. Exactly. And I also don’t want to just say this is just because the people who are interested in magic, we’ve received, you know, many other letters saying, wow, we love the adventures of the, of the stories.

And we love these characters. You know, I’ve, I’ve had we’re in San Diego comic con one time one of the the large aircraft carriers came in and one of the sailors ran off the boat and ran to our booth because he heard we were here and he wanted autographs. The, tell us that he loved the stories because of the adventures, you know, not that he was practicing witch or anything, but it was just like, there was something about the arts and the stories that they love.

So, yeah, like I said, some of the storylines are just. Full out adventures. Some have magic in it. Some are just really funny.

Holly Golightly: And we’ve had women come to Jim and tell him that they had just survived breast [00:35:00] cancer and that they felt that the stories in the terrible books gave them just comfort and, and support and feeling that they themselves could be beautiful no matter what that they felt power.

And I mean, that was a very beautiful moment. Oh, wow.

Melissa: Yeah. Powerful.

Jim Balent: And, and also you know, even going back to the cattleman days, I mean, to this day, I still get people who, who thanked me for drawing Catwoman and Antero the way I do, because it shows that they are, they can look like that, but also be powerful and independent and smart.

And that those people who were either built that way or, or just, you know, enjoyed you know, women that way depicted on, on paper, they were very happy to see how I treated, [00:36:00] you know, these characters as independent, strong women, which I’ve always been attracted to those in comic books on, in real life.

Melissa: Yeah. And it’s, it is fantasy, you know, and it’s escapism. And I think that there is, like I was saying earlier, there is an audience for it. You know, people there’s always going to be naysayers. There’s always gonna be critics, no matter what you do in life, especially when you’re an artist. But I think that there is a big draw, you know, obviously you have a huge reader base to allow you to continue writing this for so long that there is something to be said for just pure visual aesthetics, you know, and escapism and just kind of finding something that takes your mind off of all the craziness that goes on in the world.

Jim Balent: Sure. And sometimes the craziness of the world seeps into my storylines and I sort of mix it up and, you know, give it back to the audience and they enjoy seeing that as well.

Melissa: That’s awesome. Now, just from everything you’ve told me so far it’s really reminding me of also, I have to ask you if you’ve ever thought about it, [00:37:00] but do we like a tabletop type of a game, you know, like a Dungeons and dragons magic?

Jim Balent: Sure, sure. And I grew up playing Dungeons and dragons and I was the local DM group and Holly grew up playing Dungeons and dragons and yes, as we speak, I’m always sort of, Tinkler tinkering with other things on the side. So there’s a card game I’m working on. There’s a board game I’m working on. So it’s just because once again, it’s coming from me and Holly’s working on her projects.

We don’t have a staff, you know, a lot of people, maybe the cat, we have a cat. So you got all this, this coming out little by little. So, yeah, you’re sort of probably the first one that we’ve actually said out loud, we’re working on a tabletop game and also like a. I type of card games as well. I

Holly Golightly: would say that was another one of Jim’s mutant powers is he is a very good game [00:38:00] creator because I was an only child.

So sadly I didn’t get to do a lot of D and D in my life, which is very difficult to do on your own. So, yeah, that was one of the wonderful things that Jim and I would enjoy. And he is an awesome dungeon master and the adventures that he creates are so awesome. So I can’t wait for that to happen. And it was really cool that you asked that

Melissa: question.

Yeah, no, it’s really exciting. And like, literally I was looking at the covers and I’m listening to you talk about it and it just screams that, you know, it just seems like it should be that format should, you know, it should be in that.

Jim Balent: So Melissa, are you again?

Melissa: I am a big gamer. Yes, I am. I play a lot of video games.

You know, just a lot of the RPG type of games. And and also I am a little bit of a magic, the gathering, you know, kind of a nerd, I guess you could say. But so I’m not an only child, but [00:39:00] I’m not a lot of people in my circle play games. At least none that live close. So I was doing like an online one that they had for awhile, which is really fun.

But yeah, games or games are great and they’re, you know, it’s, it’s a great way to storytell, you know, in a different format.

Holly Golightly: What’s your favorite video game?

Melissa: My favorite video game is fallout by Bethesda. Yeah. It’s Skyrim. Yeah. I love sky room too. That one’s so fun. Cause that’s more like the, the dragons and the magic, which is really fun.

And then you’ve got the post-apocalyptic stuff and fallout, but it’s a very similar game mechanics. So both of those games are great to play. Yeah, that’s awesome. I love that.

I would love that.

Jim Balent: So have you played dark souls, three?

Melissa: I have not. I think I played the first one. I want to say. You’re awesome. Yeah.

Holly Golightly: Awesome game. And that you [00:40:00] have played it. You, you, you now are in the room of awesome.

Melissa: Thank you. I know it’s so fun to like talk to other gamers because you know, you don’t always encounter that a lot in life, especially. You know, nowadays

Holly Golightly: putting the golden resin on your sword so you can get them the giant Minotaur.

Melissa: Exactly. It’s like a whole different language that other people are like, what are you talking about? And I’m like, Oh, nevermind. That’s so awesome. I also wanted to ask you about you have so much incredible merchandise on your website, not just, you know, the books, but also I wanted to ask you, it looks so cute.

It’s the fairy realm passport. I love that concept. Please tell us more about that.

Holly Golightly: Well, I’m, I’m obsessed with fairies. I may be one. I’m not sure. I’d like to think that

Melissa: one tattooed on my shoulder by the way.

Holly Golightly: Oh my [00:41:00] gosh. I have Tinkerbell. If that counts, what kind of fairy is on your shoulder?

Melissa: She’s like an earth fairy.

Oh, yeah, it’s got an age. It’s like, I went a little faded now, but I got it when I think I was like 17, but anyways, continue, I just had to, I must be fat as well.

Holly Golightly: I’ll, I’ll be a hundred percent honest how that, that came to me. I I’ve always been strong with the Schwartz. I love doing merchandising and because I love buying it when I was a teenager.

I huge star Wars fan in 1977, when it came out, she had signed science fiction fan and I went into a store. I grew up in Manhattan and there was something called the I guess the planetary passport. And I remember I dressed up like princess lay and made my friend take a photo of me. And back then, I mean, dressing up was very difficult.

I think I took a pair of [00:42:00] scissors and put like a toilet paper thing on it and pointed it at the camera. So it looked like her gun. And I love the idea. I would stare at it, but it did nothing. So as a grownup, I thought I want to revisit that passion. And I thought, well, why don’t we do the passport, but it’ll be interactive.

So when they get it, The passport itself is more unique than what I remembered. Each page has some, what’s the call? The, the paper that yeah, parchment looking with kind of like an ink or pencil drawing of a unique ferry or creature that you might meet in, in the broadsword world in a current issue.

Right. Because what happens is when you get your passport, you get little stickers. So there would be sort of like, that’s the proof you met that creature. So you would get, like, [00:43:00] we have, like the booby fairy would visit you or a winter Sprite. We’ve had werewolf stickers. So every time someone orders a special preorder bundle, and I don’t know how many years we’ve been doing this, they will receive.

One of these stickers and if they buy the book, they can put it in the book or they could just collect the stickers it’s up to them. But I thought it would be fun to have that book. And then, Ooh, I knit a mermaid and they get the mermaid sticker or they got the luck fairy, or they met the fool from the taro deck, you know, and sometimes they’ll meet Tara and they’ll get like a terrorist sticker.


Melissa: that’s exciting. Yes. They just never know what they’re going to get. It’s like a nice surprise. Yeah. So,

Holly Golightly: I mean, it’s kinda like a game it’s it’s it’s, you know, an imaginary sort of journey. And then in their package, [00:44:00] they’ll say, Oh, this is who I met this time.

Melissa: That sounds like a lot of fun. I mean, especially for people that do like have a big imagination and can kind of immerse themselves in it.

It’s nice to have that like physical thing that you can hold in your hand.

Holly Golightly: Yeah. Or it’s like wacky packs and you just collect it because it’s fun to look

Melissa: at, you know? Yeah. Just big co you know, there’s a lot of collectors, I’m a collector myself. It’s just fun to have that kind of stuff. And you can look back on it years from now.

And just to have your toy collection or your comic collection.

Holly Golightly: Totally. I too am a collector of many things, including

Melissa: makeup. Yeah, sure. Jim’s really interested in our makeup, but

Holly Golightly: actually Jim has bought me the most beautiful makeup ever.

Melissa: That’s awesome. That tastes then. Yeah. You kind of have something similar.

I mean, you have perfume and body oils on your website as well. [00:45:00] And I was just curious, do you have, do you outsource them, do you mix them yourselves? Like how do you create that

Holly Golightly: done by our editor, Neil? Neil Morris. We call him the aroma, which not only does he edit taro but he has combined his, his talent and his path with the world of broadsword.

And he’s done everything for all the characters in terror, which the black Rosie, he did cherry from my school bytes. Or just any ideas we would come up with. Yeah.

Jim Balent: He’s a professional perfumer.

Melissa: Awesome. And do you guys get to sample them and everything or do you just trust him to, and

Holly Golightly: he is a witch, so they’re all done with magical intent.

It’s not just smelling good. He’ll think about the components of like rave and hex. So when you wear her fragrance, you’ll be wearing her energy. You know, so [00:46:00] you should be mindful about which character you choose

Jim Balent: from. Yeah, I think it was the, it was the first year we were on tour. We were actually in Salem, Massachusetts, and doing a book signing at a comic store and he walked in, he introduced himself, he loved the comic book and he said he was, you know, he made perfumes for a living and he wanted to create a unique.

Blends for each of the characters. So we thought, okay. And we hit it off and we said, Hey, we need another second pair of eyes to, you know, read the script. Would you mind if I hired you to be sort of like a second pair of eyes, the editor? And he’s like, yeah, sure. So once again, for 21 years we had no working.

Melissa: That’s so cool. That’s so great. How just life works out that way, where you just

Holly Golightly: meet people.

Jim Balent: Right. And matter of fact you know, like I said, I’m influenced by friends and people that I’ve met and a lot of times I’ll have [00:47:00] them pose, so I’ll draw them into storylines. So there’s times where I needed this Werewolf. And I know Neil was a big fan, so I had him be a wearable for one issue.

Holly Golightly: I always boast that we have the first gay werewolf in common.

Melissa: Oh my gosh. That’s amazing. I have a gay werewolf in one of my books that I release. Yeah. So that’s awesome.

Holly Golightly: I love that.

Melissa: Yeah, exactly. Go on a little first date. That’s so cute now. And Holly, you mentioned your art book that you’re going to be doing on Kickstarter. When is that going to kick off?

Holly Golightly: I’d like to do, I’ve been actually building it by sort of, the movement of energy and the timing of the seasons and everything.

So I, I want to launch it June 22nd. I, I actually announced it on spring. And I’m very excited [00:48:00] because it isn’t an unusual book. It’s not just an art book. It was inspired by the frown, very book that I got. I think when I was around well from my uncle and I just loved that book so much. And one of the decks that I do read from is the heart of a very Oracle deck.

And it just inspired me so much. At first I thought I was just going to do a book and it’s sort of like a field book of fairies. And I’ve been you know, creating all these paintings of different entities, like the lady of spring, or I have like all the Crow, which, and all these different paintings.

And then I had someone asked me, is this going to be a deck? And I thought. Oh, that’s a good idea. Yeah. And I fought it because I did this way. I want to try. And right now I was like, Whoa, maybe I’m getting in my own way. Maybe I should just [00:49:00] keep, you know, to what I know I’ve been reading taro cards for so long.

It’s kind of a dumb moment.

Melissa: Yeah. As you were describing it to me, I thought, Oh, taro deck.

Holly Golightly: Yeah. So I listen it, you can either get the book. Or you could get the deck or you could get both. And I would say both is the

Melissa: best. Yeah.

Holly Golightly: Yeah, cause it’s gonna be kind of like what I was explaining, what the passport will be in like a journey and it will be an adventure when you use the book or the D the deck, because I’d like the book itself to be a divination tool.

So I’m having a lot of fun and I sold Jen today. I don’t even want to stop doing it. You know, I know I have to like finish the project so that, you know, you have only so many pages and so many cards, but having so much fun, I want to keep going.

Melissa: Yeah. [00:50:00] Keep doing more of them. You can do a second one and a third one.

Holly Golightly: Yes, exactly. So I’m very excited. I was just working on a new painting that is inspired by Venus in Taurus. So the, so I’d like to personify the, the energy. So like, you know, this is the kind of energy that you either need to use to get through a certain situation or whatever. So it’s going to be really cool.

I can’t wait.

Melissa: That’s really cool. I can’t wait for it to I’m a tourist, so that’ll be awesome. Oh my gosh. Look out for that. Yeah. Come on. What are the odds? I know. Yeah, like a triple Torres tourist, moon or sun or a Sagittarius rising. I mean, it’s, it’s pretty crazy when you start delving into all of that stuff and start doing your charts, but yeah, I was like, Oh, I’m definitely gonna check that out.

Cause the whole Lena totally

Holly Golightly: Astro nerd out. I would love that. [00:51:00] I’m a, I’m a Virgo Scorpio, rising mining

Melissa: cancer. Oh wow. That’s a really interesting dynamic. Oh, my gosh. That’s great. Oh yeah, we have to. Totally.

It’s so crazy. So funny. So, so that’s good. So if I go to Kickstarter do I look up your name or do I look up broadsword comics?

Holly Golightly: It would, it would probably

Melissa: be under Holly Golightly. Okay, perfect. So I can follow you. And then when you release something, it’ll send me an

Holly Golightly: email. Yeah. Yes. All the, to all the terror, which the black roses are under Jim balance.

And then like the school bikes and then all my magic books will be under Holly

Melissa: Golightly. Okay. Awesome. Perfect. That’s so

Holly Golightly: cool. Anger, but there too.

Melissa: And then Jim, what can you tell us about your, your latest issue of taro? The one that’s coming out in a couple of weeks? Like why can [00:52:00] we expect what’s the theme.

Jim Balent: Sure this issue is actually a two part issue and it’s a sort of a dark issue because it deals with passing away. Of of an accident victim, but also it gets into some of the deep situations that John faced when he was a little child, there was some abuse in his family. And I touched on it and in past issues and I received a lot of letters from people who have unfortunately experienced a life cycle that way.

And they wanted to know, you know, what, what is this character doing with the trauma and how is he dealing with it in his life? So I came up with this story where John not only has to face his own demons, but John meaning the skeleton man not only has the face, his own demons, but he’s also trying to rescue this this soul who, who died in [00:53:00] a car accident and accidentally.

Grabbed him and brought, brought him into the afterworld and the issue’s coming out in a few weeks. And it’s, it’s a, it’s an interesting take on sort of, the afterworld where the, the, the woman who passed away, she was a farmer. So when John wakes up there in a back of a, of a hay wagon and it’s actually death in front pulling the hay wagon on a horse, and they’re sitting in the hay wagon is the woman and also her passenger.

And I thought it was an interesting take of sort of the, the ferry man going across the river sticks. And I thought, I was like, well, if you were a farmer and died this might be your journey instead of being on an actual boat and having a fairing and take you, I thought. You know, I hay wagon and it’s funny because we live out in the [00:54:00] forest and we love Halloween and the local farms have these hay wagons.

And I’ve always had this idea of, of making this into more than just a ride, but actually a journey through the afterlife. So in this part, one issue, we have John facing his inner demons of what happened to him as a child, but then also trying to be the hero and rescuing them from this this path that they’re on.

Melissa: Wow. That sounds really intense and very intriguing. I, I love that entire concept as a whole afterlife. I find that very fascinating and you help. So that’s really cool. So that’s going to be coming out. I think what, April 28th you have listed,

Jim Balent: Yes. That’s part one and part two. I’m almost finished with,

Melissa: Oh my gosh.

You’re a fast writer. That’s awesome. And do you have well you were saying that you plan these out ahead of time. So even though they’re not written, [00:55:00] you do have like outlines for some of the future ones coming out in the rest of the year.

Jim Balent: Yeah. Right. Matter of fact there’s one coming out. Well, after the second part, I have a Halloween issue coming up then after that there’s the annual Krampus issue that’s coming up.

So, I have to sort of think a year in advance and have, you know, these rough story outlines. And if something. More interesting comes my way. Or if I think of a different concept before, you know, I have to send in the solicitation, then I can sort of juggle. But most of the time it’s like within a year, I know what I want the characters to do.

And I might, you know, now that I have like two issues that are sort of serious, I think all the next issue will be a little bit more lighthearted so that we’re not always what doom and gloom, write it up a little. Sure. Even when there some doom and gloom the characters, say these one liners that just sort of, you know, break the ice and you get the laugh, even though, you know, they’re in a terrible situation.

[00:56:00] Yeah.

Melissa: I love that. That’s like my, my favorite, when you have a little bit of sarcasm or comic relief in a story that’s just so dark, you almost have to put that in for that relief for the reader. Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Well, I know things are slowly starting to kind of open back up again. Do you have any like convention appearances scheduled yet?

Or are you kind of waiting to see? Yeah. Right,

Jim Balent: right now we’ve sort of canceled, obviously everything from 2020, but even 2021 we’re we’re we’re not even in the wait and see, we’re pretty much saying we’re not going to appear anywhere. You know, maybe towards the end of the year back in 2020, we were supposed to fly to France and do an appearance there.

We were invited but then, you know, everything got shut down and, and right now there’s so much things that are up in the air. We just thought, you know what, let’s just play it safe. [00:57:00] And we’re just being more creative and, and we’re really blessed, like I said, with the readerships, because even though we don’t see them every year in San Diego they feel like they’re next door because they write us every day and, and we have a ball drawing for them.

Melissa: Awesome. Well, I’m so glad I got to chat with both of you today. This has been like an absolute pleasure.

Holly Golightly: Yeah.

Jim Balent: Thank you so much. You rock Melissa

Holly Golightly: astrology.

Melissa: I know it’s been great. There’s so many yeah, I definitely can’t wait to check out your series taro too, because it’s just, I feel like it’s right up my alley.

I think I would really enjoy it. So I’m definitely going to be looking at that on your website and speaking of your website for everyone listening, you know, please go check out Jim blunt, studios.com. So, you know, you have all the merchandise on there. All of the books can be purchased, you know, right there as well, correct?

Holly Golightly: Yes, no. So in [00:58:00] Comicology if they just want to read it digitally on the website, Jim bounds.com at the bottom, there’s a link to our Comicology page where you can read taro and I have some school bites up there. And we have three little kittens up there

Melissa: too. Awesome. I look forward to yeah, to getting into all of that.

And then, you know, we can always have you back on when you are launching your Kickstarter as well.

Jim Balent: Yeah,

Holly Golightly: that would be, yeah. And I also have a website where I have my art on and it’s called Holly’s heart.net. So I have my paintings up there and some magical items too, like bracelets and fun.

Melissa: Yay. That’s awesome.



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