Today Joshua Starnes sits down and chats with Casey about his NetFlix show Kalipari and his new comic The Box from Red 5 Comics.
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Theme music by Ardus and Damn The Cow
Joshua Starnes – Video Intervuew
[00:00:00] Casey: All right, everybody. Welcome again to another.
Everybody welcome again, to another episode of spoiler country today on the show, we have come up with writer, film writer, he’s done a lot of stuff. Joshua Starnes. You have seen his his show called Pari on Netflix. And now he has a book called the box coming out from read five comics. So, let’s get the show on the road,
Joshua Starnes: Josh, how you doing man?
I am. I’m doing all right. Thanks for having me on here.
Casey: It’s good to have you on man. And also I didn’t ask before. Can I call you Josh or do you
Joshua Starnes: go by Joshua specifically? Either is fine. I’ve never had a preference. All right. Cool. Cool. So, You
Casey: have, you always been a fan of comics cause you kinda got this circuitously,
Joshua Starnes: right?
You, you were a film critic before. I’ve always, I ha I was, and I instilled in him and that is sort of how I got into comics, but no, I’ve, I’ve always been a fan, been a reader since as old as I can [00:01:00] remember started collecting a, by collecting a mainly, I mean like, you know, as a kid, I just kept, I didn’t really keep anything in good condition, but I just kept everything.
I never got rid of any of my comics and gradually Yeah, and just put them in boxes and the more bank kept getting more improvement and more boxes and kind of gradually, you know, by osmosis started to find out about the collecting world and was there when the big speculator boom happened in their early nineties and kind of got dragged into it.
But Never really gave up my love of it. So at this point I kind of worked in and all the different parts of it. So I was, you actually,
lots of it. They used to be much modified, but but I still have them all. I, I don’t have a better place to put them in my office. So they’re just sitting there. Right. All belong boxes are sitting there right now until I find something better to do with them. And when the kids can, I used to be like, keep them in a bedroom, but then the kids came in, oh, now they want their own bedroom and stuff.
So I can just use that for extra storage anymore. This
[00:02:00] Casey: is my man cave. You can’t see. But on the other side I have all my comics and crap like that. But yeah, yeah, it can’t coexist with the rest of.
Joshua Starnes: It needs its own space, but anyone in college, I worked in retail. I worked for a, for a comic shop or for several years and in Houston, about four or five years.
And then an alpha, like the last six or seven years, I’ve been the. Cobalt Lusher for for a small independent publisher for a, for read five comics. So I’ve kind of, seen all the different sides of it and I still love it. So, I guess it hasn’t, it hasn’t driven me off yet, but I, and I came into that through film writing.
I met as a, as a film reviewer, I met the person who would eventually be my, my business partner and co-publisher a scotch. It would, we were both reviewing films for the same site. And when he He told me he was going to start read five comics in the mid two thousands. I was like, Hey. So I’ve always wanted to do that as well.
Sign me up or there’s anything I can do to help. And I kind of work with them on and off for a few years before I, I came on like officially as, as [00:03:00] one of the owners and publishers in 2015, so six years ago now. So what was your
Casey: jam? What got you into it? What hooked you?
Joshua Starnes: Income is as probably the same thing, the film, and got me and made that something that I, I spent a lot of time watching and a lot of time writing about it’s.
There’s something about visual storytelling and the, the, the, the you know, reading and I, I I’m a big reader too, so obviously just storytelling in general is a big thing for me, but, you know, it’s one thing and not, and no small thing to try. I had to take whatever someone’s written on her page and, and and try to conceptualize that in your head.
And then depending on the book you’re reading, you know, some stuff that can be read can be, is very evocative, but not very specific. So, you know, there, there’s no telling what it is you’re actually coming up with, but a visual storytelling, which has its own language, which you have to do for both film and comics.
You have to, you have to be concrete, you have to turn your ideas. And that, even though there’s a lot of room for A lot of strange conceptualization in comics because comics can draw almost whatever the, the [00:04:00] artists can come up with and you can have some really great and really strange stuff in it.
But something about that, that marriage of the image and and the word is something that’s always been particularly fascinating for me and the kind of storytelling that I’ve always liked. Best and that’s, I, especially in comics, as I’ve, I’ve worked, read more and more of it, and we’ve seen over the years, it’s been, it’s expanded on and, and in a lot of ways become more cinematize.
But at the same time we have, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of storytelling in comics. That’s very unique to it that you could not really. Replicate in any other media that I, you know, that I I’ve always liked from not just the big, really popular stuff from the major publishers and the funded venture stories, but down to that, the underground comics of the seventies and autobiographical self published stuff of the nineties and the two thousands.
And today, the kids, the kids comics and Neil duck comics, and some of the old and even the old top tier. Daily strips, like original flash Gordon and prince Valiant and that sort of thing. I’ve, I’ve come. I’ve just always loved [00:05:00] all of it. I have, my bookshelf of trades is very strange and there doesn’t seem to be any connecting tissue between all the different stuff have, except that I, I like all of it.
I hear you. I hear you.
Casey: So before you started this book with red five you have a show called
Joshua Starnes: at, at Netflix.
Casey: Calipari, sorry, saying that wrong. How did you get into that? And what did you take from it? That you could then use
Joshua Starnes: in your comic store? I, I got into that through comics as well. We had, so I, I, and I was a, I was a writer on cool Perry party.
It’s someone else’s show. I just wrote the episodes of it. And it was adapted from a, a, a, a, a children’s book series books for like a six to seven year old readers about basically these magic ninja frogs that. Protect other frogs in the Outback. And Netflix had already turned the books into a season of a TV show and they’re giving to do another season of a TV show.
And I was actually [00:06:00] speaking with the writer and executive producer about doing a tie-in comic at that red five, which we eventually did. And I was Doing a lot of brainstorming with them, for what was going to be that, that they liked in that ended up not all of it, but a lot of it ended up yeah. Going into their notes for season two, when they knew that there was going to be a season two.
And so, and I asked him if I could write an episode and they said, yeah. And at first it was going to be the first episode, but then I think it got to a. Which I, I worked on for quite a while. And then I think it got into a situation with the, the train was rolling and it couldn’t stop. So I like, as soon as I turned in episode one, they were like, great.
Here’s the outline for episode two, right? That, because we can’t, we need this. And like half the time need this in a week. And so they just kept handing me all lines and I just kept writing episodes and writing episodes until until I got to the end and there were no more episodes left to. Right. So that was interesting.
That’s probably not at all standard from my understanding and talking with other people who’ve written animation. Not at all standard with the way a [00:07:00] lot of it’s done nowadays you know, a writer’s room and more like large scale television, but that was very much my experience with it. And you know, a lot of ways it was like writing my first comic script.
Is that in that there, there are limitations that you have to be able to, there are. Time, limitations and space limitations that you have to be able to work around. You have to be prepared for, and you’ve got to, you can’t break them. You know, the, the you’re not going to get more than 19 minutes of airtime.
I give an episode. So you’ve got to make everything fit into that. You can’t. Yeah. And that, you know, it’s like, editing is tough and self-editing is tough, but like editing by. Physical kinda, it’s kinda like out how standard issue, the comic book. You’re really not going to be able to squeeze more than 28 pages of story and do it.
You should, you’re probably going to be doing less than that. You know, I tend to set like a length of 24 pages for myself and and I’m always kind of fighting against it. Can I make sure that everything fits into this? What do I have to take out? What do I have to compress and [00:08:00] convince in order to make sure it fits into that?
And now in a lot of ways, animation was the same buddy, but more so, so, and I’ve noticed as I’ve come back to writing comics, after working on that, I, in some ways it’s a little bit easier to condense, but it’s also something that’s a lot more on my mind and not getting myself up. Caught out as much as I, as I was.
And I’m outlining a lot more and trying to know everything down to each panel, what’s going to be in it before I start writing it. So I don’t suddenly start running out of space
Casey: going through that right now. I’m writing a book issue one and two went through fine. No problem. I’m on the script for three and I know what needs to happen, but I’m going through the.
Process of like, I have to cut this. I have to cut this off to cut this. Otherwise I’ll have, you know, six issues over five issue mini series. I don’t want to do that. Although it might be kind of funny to see on the cover.
So tell me about the
Joshua Starnes: box. [00:09:00] It’s a, it’s an idea. I’ve had this kind of been percolating for a long time and I’ve, I’ve, I’ve got a list of I’ve got a list of a bunch of different book ideas that have been sitting. I, I finished my first, my first comic was read five, several years ago called spook. And that came out in 2016.
And and I’ve spent a lot of my time since then working more on the business side of the company. And I’ve been wanting to get back and I was working on school part for awhile. Because 10 episodes of TV takes a couple of years to actually do so there was, well, there was a lot of time spent on that.
Was that how you got your union card? Were you able to do that? No, I’m okay. I’m still talking with them about getting about actually getting my union card. That seems to be it’s more difficult. I mean, I think people will know it’s kind of difficult, but it’s even more difficult than you might think. And there’s some things get allowed and some things don’t be loud and streaming has because cool party was made just specifically for Netflix and streaming is.
Has made all of that, even more complicated, the
Casey: redheaded stepchild of Hollywood D do you think, sorry, [00:10:00] sorry to break in, you know, in front of the box you’re in Houston, is it hard to work within like, you know, filmmaking and TV and all that? While being away from it
Joshua Starnes: all while being hard to, but it’s hard to make the connections.
It’s hard to get the work cause I’m not in the, I’m not physically and all that. I go out there from time to time and to have meetings and I, and I. It’s been a little bit different in the last couple of years, because everybody’s doing other meetings by zoom. So I’m about as cutoff as everyone else, but usually I, you know, I’m not necessarily around to go to the meet and greets and to know everyone.
So I make my contacts where I can and push them where I can, but it’s a. I probably have a smaller pile to pick from once I do the, I get the work. It’s not that different. I mean, we’re not doing it face to face and doing a lot of it by phone and buys noon. But you know, the work is that we’re going to doing a lot of it.
I’m just, you know, I’ve got all my notes and we’ve got all the meetings and now, except to sit down and write, and I’m going [00:11:00] to do that. Whether I do not office there, or I do it in my office here. It’s it’s the work is the work, but it’s to get the work when you’re not there.
Casey: Yeah. So you’re not having to worry about like writers’ rooms and stuff like that.
Joshua Starnes: Correct much. We’ve had like a more something I’d like to get into at some point, but it’s been you know, I, there was a version of a writer’s room on Google party, but, you know, nobody was actually in the same city. People would one, one person was in Boston and one person was in Seattle and one person was in Baltimore and I was in Houston.
So just every, just sort of by the nature of the beast, everything was done by the phone. And everyone knew upfront that no one was going to be was going to be in the same place at the same time. So that was fine. We just had lots of very, very, very long phone calls and a few video meetings and And maybe it got me pre prepared for the pandemic when that just became what happened all the time.
And it wasn’t that strange because I was already doing stuff like that. Yeah.
Casey: I love this. Like, this is great. I wish I could do [00:12:00] my real job, like, because. You know, I wearing board shorts and a t-shirt is great,
Joshua Starnes: but
Casey: tell, tell me about how you got the idea for
Joshua Starnes: I had. You know, while I’ve been working on that, I, I still had a lot of comic stuff that I wanted to get back to.
And I had like this list of three or four basic comic ideas. And so in some cases they were to the point of like, I’ve got, this is the story for the first four shoes or whatever. In some cases it’s just like a. Here’s a really good title. Here’s the main character. Who’s the, the, the boiler plate pitch for it.
But I didn’t have like a story to go with it that I had made of the stack, probably five or six of these. And I have been, I have been wanting to go back and I’m like, I’m going to get one of them done and I’m going to make it, I’m going to make another, it’s been too many years since I’ve actually sat and made a series.
So, when the pandemic happened and I’m suddenly stuck at home for long periods, I said to myself that now’s the time to now’s the time I’m going to do one. And I, I had two dueling ones. One’s called the [00:13:00] box and there’s another one which I’m working on now. And that was going back and forth between both I’m working on that, working on the outline, the box, actually it goes by originally originates, just sort of spitballing.
I was dealing with a good friend of mine and we were talking about we were actually, I think originally we were talking about like coming up with. Bad seed list and delis, superhero characters, like the kinds of people you’d find as members of the great lakes, Avengers. And my version was this guy who has a box that you just take stuff out of, but he has no control over it.
So he doesn’t know what he’s going to get out of it. And and it could be something helpful or it could be something ridiculous. And, and that just, that like was the original kernel of it that sort of sat there for awhile. And I came back to and I had from time to time, I would have like really good gags that I could do with the box that you can put things into and take things out of it, especially, especially for fight scenes.
So I’d write them down whenever I thought of a good one. I’d be like, I’m just sort of squirreling all this away for, at some point. I will, I will write a series of about this person [00:14:00] and and I’ll have things for him that he can actually do with his magic box. And so things, you know, I just, over the years I kept adding little bits here and in bits there, and it was just sitting there in my notes.
So I got down to I get down to the pandemic started and I had two outlines. I was like, I’m going to do one of these series. And I started working on one of them and I got really far along and then I got horribly bogged down and and I couldn’t get any further. And so normally what I do when I have that kind of problem is I set it aside.
I put the drawer and I switched entirely over to something else. That will clear my mind. It had me not thinking about whatever that is, and then I’ll go back to it fresh and see if I’ve. I’ve got some inspiration where I’ve got away out of the corner I was in. So I put a, I put that aside and the box was the one I wasn’t working on.
And so that was when I’ve turned to to help me out with my writer’s blocks. And I started working on it and it started to come very quickly, partly, probably because I hadn’t actually been actively thinking about it for, for many years. So I, I had, you know, kind of the kernel of the gimmick, but not.
The character, [00:15:00] his story. So I started writing regionally. I was like, alright, I’m going to write like a, an eight page story that just introduces this person. And his box in the world is, and start to figure that out. And right away, like immediately, I was like, okay, he’s a private detective. He’s a private detective.
And his partner is this magic box. And like, all right, well, we do a private detective story. What do you have to have? Well, you gotta have a SIM Patel and you gotta have. So, and you’ve got to have some mobsters and you’ve got to have betrayal and people backstabbing you. And a lot of double crosses, you know, all the, all the classic elements of, of you know, classic hard hard-boiled crime from the third national candidate, Raymond Chandler.
So that kind of went into this original eight page story very, very quickly. And and from that I had, I didn’t have a story that I had to character, like by that I knew who. Leo bloom, who is the main character? Who’s the private detective who has this box. I, I knew who he was. I started to have some ideas for what would happen in a full lik story.
So, that was like a really good [00:16:00] exercise for figuring out at least who the main character was. And then I sat there and now I’m going to sit down and write. This this first story. And so one thing I have discovered is that like, once you, at least once you know who your main character is, the story, I won’t exactly write itself, but it’ll do a lot of the heavy lifting because they’ll start to tell you what they’re going to do.
And then that. Tells you like what sort of conflicts you can put in your way, what roadblocks you can put in your way and how they’ll react to it? A lot of my other series, I’ve planned them out heavily beforehand with a lot of plot. And I, as I write them, I discover the characters. I have to go and change all the plot and this kind of round is more.
The character was so, you know, I knew what the basic problem he was going to face. It was going to be, which was that the original owner of the box was going to come back and try to take it from him. And he had to decide if it was worth the trouble of trying to keep it away from this guy, whether, you know, whether this guy would be bad news, if he had it, whether that’s really his problem or somebody else’s problem that he [00:17:00] wanted to see more when his life protecting this thing.
Or does he just want to get rid of it and move on with his life? So I knew what, like the basic story was. And then he started telling me, well, this will happen in this will happen and I’ll have to do this. And, and and it just started to write itself very quickly. And usually I have to do many drafts.
I, I, I have tended to look my last series. I think I did four drafts of each tissue and this issue, I think only one. Well, this series only one issue that I have to be more than one draft of 40 to change, like noticeably from my outline, it kind of went really fast. And then about six weeks I had four issues written and it was really started growing.
So it went, it went very, very quickly once it mainly because. I had the main character and then very, very quickly the main two characters. So once, once you know, his, the, the, the main female lead was a lot more sketchily drawn because I think in my original notes, it was just an Italian. She was supposed to be a one and done.
She was just gonna like show up once and have one of those kinds of classic north stories and then disappear. [00:18:00] And and then she quickly. Sort of defined herself in her role, in the story. And the story started to change and evolve, to find a place for her and be, and have her be much more of a three-dimensional character in between the two of them.
They basically defined everything that was going to happen. And I was just writing it down rather than having to stop and think about. Plot contrivances and all of that sort of thing, which I’ve, I’ve gotten myself stuck with in the past. Oh yeah.
Casey: Yeah. That’s always fun. And then you have to wait and sort it out and because.
I don’t know, I can’t, I can’t ever force myself out of that. I have to kind of have a shower moment and I’m like, oh, okay. Yeah. How did you go about meeting a
Joshua Starnes: Raymond Estrada? So he sent in one, it was really one of the benefits of the Ticer five is we get a lot of artists portfolios on a pretty regular basis.
People looking for [00:19:00] their first work and they’re breaking work and we’ve, we’ve worked with a lot of really like strong talent that way, usually right before they go off and do you know, a lot of bigger stuff. So I have a nice, good portfolio. I did not have any idea what sometimes, you know, sometimes if some books I’ve written, I have a really strong idea in my head, what the look should be in, what kind of artists I’m looking for?
It’s like the book I wrote before this, I, I. I’ve always been a big fan of Edward Riso. And I really liked, and I was thinking about that when I was writing spook. And so when I got the artists on that book was a guy named Lisandro Sterin, who’s drawing redneck for image now in his fulfilling, it came through and had like a lot of real.
And I talk to them about, yeah, I love it. Where are we? So it had a lot of real strong and border Riso times too. It’s like, this is it. This is what this book should be like. And so it was kind of, it was kind of same thing with Raymond where except that I didn’t know. What it was going to look like was the big difference.
I had no real conception of what the visual aesthetic was going to be, but then he sent it, Raymond sent in his [00:20:00] portfolio while he was in his his graduating year, senior year at the Cooper school, he was like, Ooh. He was basically like, yeah, I’m going to graduate this spring. I’ve actually got, my portfolio is going to it’s it’s grading, you know, review right now, but I saw your MaxxHaul.
I want to send you in some stuff and show you what I’m working on just in case. Do you guys have any series? And I’m like, as a matter of fact, I just finished writing one and and I think your look is I didn’t realize it until I saw it, but I think your look is the lookout I want. So I started like, you know, sharing scripts and started telling them about the general idea.
And and he started working on it before actually even graduated from school. He was, oh, wow. That was really nice. And and he turned in some, just some blow away work for really some of the first some of the first published professional stuff that he’s done. And I think he’ll have a a big name someday.
I think there’s somebody we’re very lucky, some bigger publisher, be very lucky to bring him on and have him do their books. He’s got a dial. Yes, he does. [00:21:00] Yeah.
Casey: So, yeah. Yeah. You got a solid team on it. It’s coming out in August, correct?
Joshua Starnes: That’s right. It should, one will be out August 18th. So it’s it’s available solicitation now in diamond right now.
It’s where code is J U N two on one seven eight three. So you can look it up in your previous catalog. Tell your local retailer, you’d like a, copy it. The issue one will be out August 18th and it will be a force U series. So we’ll be running monthly from August until November. Oh, nice.
Casey: Nice. Are you are you planning on doing a collection or
Joshua Starnes: doing a collection? I don’t know exactly when. But I think I will know soon. So, red five, they had just signed a, a new distribution deal with Simon and Schuster earlier this year to be distributed, not in bookstores. So, we’re laying out a lot of our, of our distribution plans for, for new and old trades for 2022 right now.
So it’s now it’s a matter of finding out Figuring [00:22:00] out what goes, where and when, and especially cause a lot of that stuff you have to do, you know, eight to 12 months in advance and we have. We have both a back catalog of some series that I’ve been wanting to put in the trade for quite a while that now’s a good time to do it along with stuff that’s coming out right now, like the box.
So, it will definitely it will definitely go to trade. I just don’t know exactly when yet, but. I will know, by the time she one comes out. So you will be able to look at Amazon and look at your local bookstore and see a a date for release of a collected version by the time issue one comes out.
Casey: you mind if I ask you about your work with red five? Because I’m really curious, especially just considering you, you haven’t been with them very long and as soon as you start the job
Joshua Starnes: almost. Everything goes chaotic, which is
Casey: not ideal. [00:23:00] So, well what with the pandemic not with, right. So, so H what was your impression when you first started out and how did you guys navigate the opening of the pandemic when comics were shipping and stores were closing.
Joshua Starnes: did you have? It was really tough. I hadn’t been here. I hadn’t been I’ve been with red five, four for a few years, by the time the pandemic started, which is good. So at least I knew where everything was and how you know, who, who was in charge of what, who, who like are our contact representatives that are different vendors were and things like that.
But you know, at the time of the, of the The time of the pandemic that didn’t help a huge amount because nothing was open. And, and for us in particular, we were coming off of a banner year, 2019. I’d seen the release of dark age and a machine girl, which were a couple of our highest selling series. That was actually the, you know, we, we did a really, really good year.
It’s one of our best years ever in 2019. And we had some real So real momentum coming into the spring and then everything [00:24:00] just halted. So at the time, actually at the time that the, that basically everything’s shut down we had just gone to print with with issue one of a new series that was supposed to be coming out in March and it finished its run right in time for everything closed down and We print in Canada.
So everything has to come across the border and the border was closed. So basically we had like an entire first issue of a new series stuck in a warehouse. It was finished being printed, but I didn’t have any physical access to it. Science stores didn’t have diamonds shutdown, so nothing at a diamond warehouse could actually make it.
Two could be sent out because they weren’t running and they weren’t many trucks. So a lot of small publishers independent publishers, I guess, were looking for analog. You know, a lot of stores were shut down, but a lot of them were open and trying to find ways to stay open, but they just couldn’t have anyone coming to their store.
So a lot of stores are switching to you know, a mail order services and internet mail order services, but they needed products in order to In order to actually service that. And we were trying to find ways to get product to them, without us being able to go to a warehouse, another [00:25:00] warehouse being able to send out.
And we were kind of going back on ideas like that for pretty much, the entire two months, everything was shut down. It seemed. It seemed an eternity at the time, all there in reality was it was only two months. And then slowly diagnosed, started trying to ship things out. But yeah like a lot of businesses, they were shorthanded and it was, it was spent pretty much an entire summer sorting out all the details and the paperwork and trying to figure out.
What books were aware who had ordered what a lot of stuff ended up having to go back and be reordered because a lot of stores were in totally different situations either. You know, they were having cash crunches. They weren’t having customers walk in the doors. And so we spent basically three months navigating that, trying to figure out.
How to get material to stores and what stores wanted. And then, and then we started to go through the life of independence where you really, especially in retail, you see getting comics, retail, the requirement for foot traffic, because so many books, [00:26:00] especially small press books are bought by people, browsing through the shelves and seeing something and going that looks interesting.
I’m going to try it when that doesn’t happen. You know, people will kind of still buy the normal franchise titles, but a lot of other stuff doesn’t get bought because people aren’t coming to the stores to call the store and saying, can you wrap up this month, Spiderman or Batman and I’ll come do a curbside pickup and that’s it.
And so the stores, you know, are having to carry a lot less of everything except for their core books that either they’re most sales and cut far back. Cause they don’t have a traffic either. And. And that turned into a really tough year for for everyone on top of which we are not having any face to face within your readers.
We’re not going to any conventions or any of the normal outreach stuff that we would be doing, trying to do a lot more podcasts and trying to outreach we can taking, you know, working with virtual conventions. We hosted a panel for the San Diego at home last year, and we’ve been doing some more of those, [00:27:00] but It’s hard to reach people and get, even with everyone trapped at home.
There’s so many things to look at on your computer screen. It’s hard to get people to tune into those the way they might, if they buy a ticket and show up in person. So it was really a trying as much as possible to reach out to as many readers as possible. And and seeing just the effect that, that had on books that went from really hot to okay.
But, and then it just became kind of, waiting out. The wave until things could, there was a vaccine and things could start opening up and people can start, we’ll start actually going back to something like a like normal activities, which has seemed like in a lot of ways for the comics market is still more towards the end of this year and really into next year.
Cause there’s most of even this year most of the shows are not going to be in person. And I think that tells you something also about expectations for foot traffic, into retail stores as well. And everyone is trying to build that back up. So, so now we’re all kind of looking to 20, 22 [00:28:00] and being able to be a direct you know, face to face with readers and connect with them that way.
Casey: are itching for it too. Like, You know, I’m on Twitter, I’m on the message boards on discord. People are ready to get out there. And so that means that people are ready to get out there and ready to spend money.
Joshua Starnes: So, in the middle of this, you have, you know, wholesale dismantling of the Of the distributor situation that we’ve been trained and deal with for the last 20 years and completely overall.
And it says as you know, diamond is no longer is no longer a monopoly. They still have most of the retail or network, but they’re not a monopoly. And we’ve got the growth of you know, we’re starting to work with the district distributors, which is something that was always hit and miss and doing a lot of.
Direct to to retailer selling. And a lot of that’s happening more and more, and a diamond diamond is important, but it’s not the end all be all. There was even 24 months ago and that is having a big ship that affects [00:29:00] everyone in many ways.
Casey: Has that been advantageous to you guys as a, as a smaller publisher, being able to, to hook up with Simon and Schuster yet?
Joshua Starnes: Not yet. I think it will be, it sort of depends on, on how things shake out. Depends on what the overall retail appetite is. It’s good to have. It’s always good to have more distributors and more sales people moving your product to the next. I’ve still got to reach out to whether it’s a bookstore retailer or a.
Or a comic store retailer, being able to reach them and find, you know, the kind of products that they want and be able to push towards them. And it depends on how many how many different publishers are doing that at the same time. And it, and it depends on the strengths of the market. You know, we’re still coming out of out of what really was that recession.
We’re still People coming back to work and starting to have you know, expendable income again, and that’s got to keep happening before everything else will kind of catch up to that. And we’re still we’re still waiting on that it’s happening, but it’s happening slowly. So, You
Casey: guys right now are [00:30:00] one of several small press, you know, companies that are just killing it right now with this, with the books and with, you know, solid teams.
And it re it really says something when you guys are able to stand out among all these other people. So,
Joshua Starnes: It’s.
Casey: I don’t know, I I’m, I’m really hopeful right now with how the industry is going. Even though, you know, we got kicked in the ass a bit during the early days, the pandemic, I don’t know. I th I think, think we’re starting to, to see a shift.
But Yeah. It’s,
Joshua Starnes: I’m sure it’s also.
Casey: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, so what exactly do you do? What is your job at, at red
Joshua Starnes: five? I I’m the co publisher. So I’m in a live where there’s, there’s two of us who do most of the day-to-day. And it’s split, but it’s not heavily defined. So it tends to be whatever it needs to be done, that the other person hasn’t done.
But [00:31:00] I do I do a lot of the, a lot of the operational stuff. So I deal with, I tend to deal with the printers and the shippers. And with distribution. I don’t do, I do a lot with the retailers, but Scott also does a lot with the retailers, so that’s kind of split, but I, I spend a lot of time talking with the different printers that we use, getting books actually physically made and to warehouse and to distribution centers.
So they can go out to stores and making sure that they’re that they are actually, you know, that orders are in and people are getting what they want. And then we have someone else who’s doing a lot of The front end marketing as well. And and then everything else is sort of catches catch cans.
And there’s a lot of dealing with the retailers making our own books. So I’m spending a lot of time, obviously in my own writing and dealing with my art team. And then for people who bring in create our own projects, which is about half. Of red flags output is creator material that we’re publishing.
So we split a lot of you know, talking directly with the various creator own teams and helping them get their stuff ready and then getting that out to market. [00:32:00] So
Casey: this is, you know, based on. Your career path prior to joining of red fives is much different from what you what you had done previously with with, you know, film critic and you know, writing for television and stuff like that.
Has it been fun kind of using that, like, I guess more organizational. Part of your
Joshua Starnes: brain to, yeah, it is when everything goes well, because we have a, the year and, you know, and we have we’re, stuff’s coming out that people want to read. And we have, you know, especially when there’s big hits like retired or, or the dark age in this big There’s a big demand for it.
That’s awfully fun and trying to figure out ways to get things to people and find new ways to to get people interested in books. When it works. It’s a lot of fun when it doesn’t work, it’s it intensely frustrating and it seems like there’s no end to it, but I do like it a lot. It’s probably one reason why I’ve spent more time doing that the last several years and doing my own, my own [00:33:00] writing.
And the one downside of it is. Didn’t always, doesn’t always leave me a lot of time for my own writing. I haven’t put out as many books over the last several years. And so I had had at the time originally planned, I’d be like, I’m going to do a book a year that has a, Matt has not happened yet. Let me get back on that horse, starting with starting with the box so that it shouldn’t, you know, not going to be another long five-year hiatus or, or not quite that long, but hiatus between the.
Between next series and Marty hard at work at the things after this, but I’ve been boxing, a nice, good return. And and and it works for a lot of people in mental weeks. I’m looking forward to to what comes next after that. But the first I have to get through, get through that. So we got to get through the, through the summer and the fall actually getting it out in front of people and you know, you have.
You always read your own stuff and you, you know, some stuff you think works, some stuff you don’t think works, but you have your ideas for it. And the, she didn’t never really know until other people are actually reading it. And either [00:34:00] something that you thought was settled, turns out to be extremely obvious or something that you thought was really obvious.
Nobody gets or something he thought was funny that nobody laughs at. So I’m, I am Anxious to see what people actually think of it once they can get their hands on it. Awesome. Yeah. Yeah.
Casey: And as, as somebody who
Joshua Starnes: thinks
Casey: very critically about film and, and I’m sure writing as well is it hard for you to get over that when you’re writing?
Joshua Starnes: Yes, not on this one. This is one of the benefits of this writing. It wrote so fast that it really did a lot of that bore itself. I didn’t have to, it has definitely been a real issue with probably one of the other reasons I have not turned in as don’t, haven’t done as many series as I would’ve liked to by this point, because I’m, I have been so slow.
In writing mainly because I have done exactly that I have seriously oversalt things or thought that problems were larger problems than they really were, or worry too much about things that, you know, in the long run didn’t [00:35:00] matter. It’s one of the benefits of. Having a couple of books out on shelves, and I can see what people react to.
You can really see like, oh, that, that thing that I was anguishing on for six months didn’t really matter. So there was no need for me. I could have just gotten past it faster. And one of the benefits of this, and I’m very interested to see How people take it. Cause it will be one of the books that I have not done that on one of the few books, I have not done that on and not like way over over thought things while I was trying to do it and see if that makes it more fun to read or less, less interesting to read if it loses something or if it gained something.
But that’s definitely something I’m trying to learn from it. Yeah. Yeah. And
Casey: I’m sure sometimes it’s, you know, you get in your own way with your. Yeah. Yeah. But it always fascinates me with people who actually, you know, have that I can watch the dumbest movie and be very happy. I’m not a smart person.
I’ll admit that my wife is very smart. People that think critically about stuff. I don’t know. It it [00:36:00] always fascinates me that, you know, they’re able to, you know, sit through a stupid movie and enjoy it
Joshua Starnes: sometimes.
Casey: And you know, also when the act of creation, because you’re, you’re having to put yourself out there and you know, spitball stuff and until you get it right.
Joshua Starnes: Yeah, but
Casey: I always like to ask people what we want to keep the local shops open. Yep. Do you have any local shops you want to
Joshua Starnes: shout out? Yeah. I had like shout out to a space cadets collection collection and Texas. That is the name of the space cadets collection collection by my nice. That is a that’s my local shops down the street from me.
And it’s w I live in a suburb call them Woodlands. And basically that’s, it’s up here in the Woodlands. So anybody’s, who’s looking for a really good store. Check it out has a heavy online presence giant store, which got almost anything you can go for it via a king. And then [00:37:00] also bedrock city comics, which is a, in the heart of Houston inside the loop, which is my, my store for a long time until I moved too far away.
And it took a long, too long to just drive there and back that’s actually where I worked when I was in college. But that was, yeah, that was. I still have a lot of fond memories. Like they’re there, they’re the biggest store in Houston. One of the biggest in Texas now they have like five locations, including a giant warehouse in downtown Houston heavy in the golden age and silver Ridge presence that the owner of the store Richard Evans is a long time.
Bill Nate, silver H collector is pagan into that area. So it was always interesting seeing just a. So many amazing things that would come through there, but bedrock city comics, if you’re looking, if you’re in Houston looking for a great shot to check out yeah, definitely check them out. Space, guts, and bedrock.
That’s that’s what has served my, my comic needs for many years now,
Casey: I have a question about being a dad and being creative. I have
Joshua Starnes: two kids until they go to sleep. Oh, okay. Okay. I was about to say how’s
Casey: that [00:38:00] work-life balance that, do you ever achieve it? What have you done to achievement?
Joshua Starnes: Well, I, it helped a lot.
Well, it was, it w being at home all day when the pandemic started and, but not entertaining them because they were having to do school stuff. But definitely harder during the summer months finding out. But I, I do a lot of stuff at night. After they’ve gone to bed. So I, you know, I try to try to spend as much time with them as I can when they’re up and about and play with them as much as I can.
And and then I try to catch up on stuff after they go to bed. I fall asleep many times that has happened. I don’t, and I don’t sleep much. So you have to give up something and ends up in, mostly ends up being sleep. Awesome. So,
Casey: yeah. Yeah. I I want everybody to go out and check out the box coming out in.
Joshua Starnes: August, August 18th. I’ll show it to you August 18th, also your store now that you want it. And what was that code again?
Casey: The order coaching you
Joshua Starnes: in two one, one seven eight eight. You [00:39:00] have
Casey: to, you have to make a song with it.
Joshua Starnes: Not off the top of my head. That is probably hitting the, the limits of my creative ability.
Casey: I did so many pneumonic devices when I was in college and now I’m just like, Yeah,
Joshua Starnes: marina is shot. I can’t say oh, I’ve been saying it wrong this whole time. So two one, one seven three eight seven one one. Remember it the correct one, J U N two on one seven, three eight. This is why I should never try to do things from memory.
As I get older, my memory gets shot and I’m bound to say something terrible, but look it up. Or from your local retailer now I’m going to be doing several limited run retailer variant covers that you’ll start to be seeing a I’m on social media in July and August. So really looking for a collector’s items related to it.
There’s going to be several coming out. So keep your eyes out and follow it on social media. Hashtag the box comic or at box or at the box comic. [00:40:00] And you can follow me at, at Josh, Darren stone. And so I have something about the box every day and you will be sure to to see some sort of advertisement for it.
Casey: nice. I’m looking at your Your Twitter right now? Yeah, you guys go out, get the box. Josh yarns. It was lovely having you on, man. Thanks for
Joshua Starnes: having me. I appreciate it. All right.
Casey: You have a good one. Enjoy your summer and stay safe
Joshua Starnes: out there because there’s still idiots. All right, man.
Daddy’s brother. Bye. Bye.