Justin Gray and Barry McClain talk Billy the Kit!

Today Melissa got to chat with Justin Gray and Barry McClain about their new comic book, Billy the Kit!

Find Billy the Kit on Kickstarter:

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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas

Theme music by Ardus and Damn The Cow

Announcer: Nathaniel Perry

Justin Grey and Barry McClain Interview

Melissa: [00:00:00] This is where we’re country and I’m Alyssa searcher. Today. I’m joined by two creators here to talk about their new comic, Billy, the kid, Justin Gray and Barry MacLean. Welcome to the show. Thanks for being here. So, how are you both doing, I know Barry, you just joined us.

Barry McClain: I’m all right, man. I was like, oh shit, am I late?


Melissa: can we cuss? You can, you can say whatever you’d

Barry McClain: like, but I didn’t want to be late though, because I knew Justin was going to be late. Cause I was like, man, this daughter probably already finished her homework shit. So

Justin Gray: I hate being late. It makes me crazy. I don’t know why.

Melissa: Yeah. I’m always habitually early and like the first person to arrive at anything.

So yeah. Well, I’m glad you guys are up here to talk about your new Kickstarter campaign, which I believe is funded. I was checking, so that’s really cool. Explain

Barry McClain: that one. Justin explained that. Oh, okay.

Justin Gray: So I’m, I [00:01:00] believe we’re here to talk about Billy the kit, which was successfully funded and. First issue in the middle of the funding blue juice reached out to us and said, you know, we’re really interested in this book and we’d like to publish it.

So that’s where that’s the stage we are now October 6th, it’s going to be in stores. You can find retail comic shops near you, hopefully. So issue one is there. And we did like, like you said, we had a very successful first Kickstarter campaign for all five ish.

Melissa: Yeah, that is awesome. Congratulations.

That’s huge. Yeah. So tell us, tell us what it’s about. I mean, I read a little bit of what it’s about. It sounds really, really awesome. So yeah. Tell us, tell our listeners what.

Barry McClain: Just a, you will explain that. Cause he’s the

Justin Gray: writer, man. All right. All right. I’ll explain it. It is the story of a young rabbit.

It’s sort of a sickly little fellow and his family and their, their settlers in the old west. Dad’s a preacher, a big, big family. And they’re having a family gathering for the first time. I think since they’ve relocated from the east and, you [00:02:00] know, traveled overseas and Billy sick, like he always is, and the family’s kind of skeptical about why a soul, tiny rabbits always sick and you know, maybe the Lord wants them or, and he just won’t go, he’s too stubborn.

And. His entire family during the time of which he’s not at this event, which he’s so desperate to be at, it gets wiped out completely. Everyone’s dad, the whole family of every annual rabbits. They have large families, not just like people. So. Tons

Barry McClain: of buddies, just me a whole bunch of indices, downplaying that part

Justin Gray: on you can even see Barry draw himself as a bunny.

Barry McClain: I got a little Afro back there.

Justin Gray: Yeah. Funny. Any wild west for an Afro is fantastic. I love it. Every time I look at it, it’s funny. Family gets killed by a tornado, God, of all things. So he sets out on a quest to get revenge against this tornado that killed his family. And, you know, we basically start telling the sort of epic [00:03:00] saga of this character as he goes from being the sickly little rabbit to becoming this legendary figure in the old west named Billy.

Melissa: Wow. Okay. Are there more than one God out there is like the tornado God, the only one, or do you have other gods too?

Justin Gray: There are, there are a series of, it’s sort of there’s the little Kirby love in there and there’s this sort of bigger universe of these older gods that had been kind of banished from the earthly plane by rabbits who have the ability to summon Promethean fire and use it to wield it against the darkest.

And there was a huge war called the sun Slinger war. And the rabbits had one, but it wiped out almost all the rabbits and force all the evil back into there into the side where the darkness lives. And for years and years, that’s where they stayed. And it’s only recently with the emergence of new settlers coming and bringing their own ideas and their own gods with them to the old west that it wakes up.

All of these ancient gods and then they start to lash out [00:04:00] and they have their minions, which are witches and vampires and all the monsters that we’re used to seeing, but Dawn in a completely different way than I think we’re used to seeing.

Melissa: Yeah, you got a lot of different tropes going on in here. I love it.

Like the wild west. And then I was reading it’s the devils, which is vampires. That’s really cool too, to combine, like what made you guys want to like combine you know, just all these different is it just influences that you both really.

Barry McClain: I say so because I would say is what we both like, because Justin will have an idea.

He kind of like really kick-started no pun intended. The fact of you have this monster, we have this monster did not just took it there. You give me an answer, I’ll take them out. And I just really to master size the idea of a Sasquatch or something like that, it just really meant make, make it real gruesome and stuff.

A lot of the tropes are stuff that you are familiar with, but at the same time, how we do it, like Justin explained. He let me go crazy. I really just said, you know, what, how would a vampire look in the animal universe [00:05:00] opposed to the human world. We still have the same human field, but when it comes to an animal, maybe it’s just a little bit that much more visceral, especially when it comes to the guy.

And so I tried to do it like a video game. Every time he does encounter a guy it’s like you account on a video game bus, and then the other ones you just see, it’s like smaller underling versions of the big boss, you know? So it’s real fun.

Melissa: Yeah. No, the art is cool. It’s really, really beautiful. I, it reminds me of something.

I can’t put my finger on it. I think video game, I think he hit it on the head there. You know, I play a lot of video games and it does have sort of like a video game field.

Barry McClain: Thank you because I love the dynamics of, I learn how to draw from video games nowadays. They back in the day before. Had to have him work files to do stuff and references.

We don’t, I don’t really use it. I use video games actually. I’ll get different angles, like from resident evil and a free roamer camera and stuff like that play in terms of the excitement of it. I just think that’s just good old fashioned, Saturday morning, cartoon, less right there. You know what I mean?

Melissa: Yeah. That’s true. Very true. [00:06:00] Now you said there’s five issues, so it’s a five issue arc. Is it a complete arc? Are you going to do more after that?

Justin Gray: It’s a wide open universe. In fact, I accidentally wrote a script the other day when I intentions of doing other things. And it’s one of those things where it’s just I don’t know how to explain it.

Like there is different, like in your life, there’s different levels to things that you do. And all of a sudden you’re like, you have like this joyous moment of creation where you’re like, oh, I’m I’m doing this because suddenly it just feels right. And, and Billy is the kind of character that’s always kind of in the back.

Over my head where he’s always kind of like he, every once in a while, it pushes his way through everything else I have going on. And he’s kinda like, Hey, I have a really cool idea. You should probably write this down. And then another thing was that I, I really love, and this is going to sound terrible.

I really love to like challenge and torture Barry. So like I was literally writing the script and I was thinking he’s either gonna, he’s gonna hate me and love me at the same time for this. Cause it’s. Yeah. But it’s not from a technical standpoint. It wasn’t just so [00:07:00] much the storytelling. I wanted to do something different that we hadn’t done before.

And it goes back to in issue I want to say, is it for barrier where you wanted to do the landscape?

Barry McClain: You’re right, but how you, you, you, will you let me do it because I always wanted to do this job for me to Trek because he always had the panoramic view. Is that the one we talk about Justin,

Justin Gray: turn the book to portrait and just being instead of being a normal double page spread, you turn the book.

A script that has you doing all kinds of stuff like that. But that’s another thing. So Billy is the kind of thing, like there’s no, there’s no rules to it other than just good storytelling. It’s really character-driven, even though it’s not the kind of thing, you know, you say it’s video game and it definitely is because we definitely have that’s where.

Because we both played. And now all three of us, obviously we play video games. You want that excitement. We want that visceral connection to a comic, which you don’t necessarily see. I was just talking to a young writer Paul week and he was asking me to look at some things and discuss some things.

And I said, you’d have to [00:08:00] realize that comics have gone through these, all these different stages. And at one point they were all very much status. They look like Xerox copies of muddy panels, just so that the characters could have what is essentially a TV script dialogue. And with Billy it’s like everything just grabs you and shakes you and makes you pay attention.

And it has that story. Stanley and Jack Kirby call. I’m not saying we’re reaching that level. I’m just saying,

Barry McClain: man, we killer that shit. Fuck that. I don’t care. I’m saying he ain’t got to say it, but I was going for it because what he was doing, we were doing, he was doing what Lee was doing, like leaving the plot.

And then letting me play and then just condense it again. And it’s just like, oh, that, that you can feel the amount of minute it’s it’s the most pleasing project, this and Q bar, the most pleasing projects I’ve ever done. And I think that’s saying a lot. I did a lot of bullshit.

Melissa: Yeah, no, I could tell you know, I read a lot of [00:09:00] comics.

I look at a lot of comics you know, for the podcast and for my own, you know, entertainment and I definitely want. Just really drawn to, to the art. Yeah. Like it grabbed my eye right away. And you know, at

Justin Gray: entertainment, we only have you for a very short window of time, regardless of how long it takes us to make that window of time.

So it should be enjoyable to you and you should see things that you can’t see on TV and you can’t see. In in theater or won’t see right now because people aren’t willing to do those things. And that’s one of the things that keeps me excited about doing comics.

Melissa: That’s awesome. Now, how did you two meet up?

Like, have you worked together before? Is this your first project?

Barry McClain: Yeah. I was basically stalking them for a long time when I was trying to get into comics before blue juice. Before I got signed to Valiant, Justin was like a guy that actually talks to me is not a lot of people in the industry. They were just like, kind of keep me away.

Eh, but that’s just the nature of the game. Justin is the type of [00:10:00] person that like digs in the bottom of the bell because Jess, where the talent really is. And I’d never let up. He was giving me advice here and there. Like, man, you don’t fill in your Xs like that. Like I’ll just like pop. And then I start shaking in my axes and doom, actual, full pencils.

And a lot of guys will probably cry and shit like that when when a professional gives them their honest opinion. But you got to understand Justin’s the editor too. Judging from what? The stuff that I love to have him, I take everything he says very seriously. And then, you know, I went on my own path eventually anyway, but he did help me in knowing like, this is what editors want to fucking see.

So when he actually had Billy, he reached out to me, luckily, I think it was those ninja, total samples I’m gonna live and die by that statement right there. Justin

Justin Gray: that’s entirely possible. I just wanted us to work on something that was really showcasing your talent. And I didn’t want to put you in a box that said, you know, Barry, let’s drug a crime [00:11:00] drama where you’re standing panels, you know, it’s an eight hour grid and I’m like, that’s just a complete waste of your time and talent.

So just. We always wanted to work together. It was just the right thing. Had to come into play and, and this was it,

Melissa: the right project. Yeah. And then, yeah, you mentioned blue juice comics. Elsa. How did they come into play? Did you submit to them? Did they see you? Like, how did that.

Barry McClain: Oh, hi. Yeah, I’ve already worked with Bluetooth.

I’m sorry, Justin, over talk to you better. I worked with Bluetooth already since 2014 and I was just doing features like little pinups here and there because I was already into view excuse small cast to tell him Steve Dave and I sell comics. They introduced them to me, that podcast. I was drawing some Canada Jack book at the time.

I got wind of them. I went through the same type of method that I went with Justin. I was like, Hey, you got work, you got work. They like know and sell. They say, yeah. And then I worked with them for about, I want to say five, six years, possibly seven before I started [00:12:00] doing Billy to K Kickstarter with Justin.

And I was super happy about that. And in my mind, I always wanted it on there, but again, justice, my brother, me and him like pushing. In a direction, like where do you think it should be? And then he’ll hit it somewhere. And if it bounce back, I’ll hit it somewhere. And it just landed at blue juice. You know what I mean?

Justin Gray: So, oh, I mean, Barry was on their radar. Obviously they had a familiarity. They didn’t, I mean, they, I don’t, I don’t think Tom and I really, we never really crossed paths and there wasn’t that much of a familiarity. So they were. What we were doing. And you know, obviously various, a quiet, shy fellow who doesn’t talk much.

And I had no idea there was anything going on with this book. No, but they saw it and they saw how it was doing our Kickstarter and they saw all the effort we put into it. And they were like, we’re all in. We want to do this and you know, they’re great. I have, I have complete admiration for all of them.

They’re hardworking. There’s no nonsense. There’s no, none of this is not going [00:13:00] to show up online about some nonsense, right? About how they handle their business. They know what they’re doing, they’re professionals and they care about the books. Right. You know, like you could have relationships and obviously Barry’s had a relationship with them much longer than I have.

But the reality is, is that. If you’re in comics to make money, you’re probably in a minority people, success wise. But you know, if you love the projects and that’s one of the things I think that we’re passionate people and we want people to be passionate about the things that we’re doing, whether it’s fans, whether it’s prospective publishers or actual publishers.

So I feel like that’s something that just, it all just sort of came together. Perfectly with this, you know, it just continues to surprise me. There’s a lot of retailers that are reaching out there, really love the book. And I, you know, I couldn’t be happier with the way things have gone.

Melissa: Yeah. And I think that indie market is really where it’s at right now, you know?

I mean obviously like the big ones, like Marvel and DC are, you know, they’re, they’re going to be around [00:14:00] forever, but I think. People like readers are wanting more fresh content, you know, unique content, inclusive content, whereas you don’t really, you get a lot of the same sometimes from the bigger publishers,

Justin Gray: right?

Yeah. I think they also want to know that the people making the comics care about them as readers, because as that careers are in. I mean, I did the corporate thing. I did the Marvel DC thing. I had a lot of fun on certain things and not so much fun than others, but when I look at the broad spectrum of things, I really enjoy working more for the people that support the books that read the books that care about.

And they’re there time after time, whenever you’re. That’s really, you know, when you, it’s your audience, that’s it. They’re the ones that make it all possible.

Barry McClain: Yeah. I do fan service completely all the time on the art. That’s how I really want to say Justin, that’s the secret, how I attract your eye. I listened to who, what she wanted.

I know what the hell I want when I’m like, [00:15:00] if I was a little kid, I tried to look at it as if I was a kid. And when I was going to the comic book shops for like 15 bucks, you got to look at what grabs the eye. Cause only got $15. I’ll probably get like a big title, marble big Seidel, DC, the recipe like indie and shit that you never really see.

And at the time it was like image maybe, and then or dark horse. And then I was going by the cover and that helped. To get your eye attention right now with the iconic cover, a storytelling cover. So if I can get you in, but then on five minutes, it’s like when I’m on stage ramen, because I MC too. And then when I’m on stage, if I can’t get the crowd moving at me in crowd participation within like three minutes, you might as well just wrap the whole show up because they ain’t going to be with you if they ain’t with you with.

So I try to get you with the one song and every image gotta be like really dynamic and shit. So like with justice still, Billy is a different beast because I play more off his word to the build up of the splash or real action, the type of panel, instead [00:16:00] of just giving you hum, we want a million dollars Footlights, a whole super team here and a whole super team.

The at the end. Yeah.

Melissa: Yeah, for sure. Also, I have to say you totally give off a MC energy. I was like this, guy’s got a host something or he’s a standup comic or something.

Barry McClain: If somebody said that, but it’s comic books, not comments. Like in practical jokers, they do the jokes. I just do the comic books. You know what I mean?

Melissa: Speaking of music does that play? Because like when I write, I was at music on a playlist, do you into either of you, when you’re creating, you know, have like a set type of music that you listen to to kind of inspire you?

Barry McClain: Cause I, I was thinking about that. Cause the beats you had me too, like in panel for panel, it feels like at times it could be like, boom, boom, this is not the action part.

It’s the storytelling part. Right?

Justin Gray: No, absolutely. I mean, there, there isn’t, I don’t think there’s a comic I’ve written that didn’t have [00:17:00] some musical influence to it. It’s always different. And, and the, a part of we going back to. Billy’s you know, how Billy came to be. You know, I I’ve written with Jimmy Palmy audio Western for years.

And I wanted to do another Western, but I didn’t want to redo what I had done. And so therefore this was a universe that we could do a Western, but it couldn’t just, it didn’t have to just be a Western. It could be a million different things, but still have the Western flavor. So I started listening to different kinds of music who was when I wrote.

I was always Ennio Morricone it was all spaghetti. Westerns is obscure soundtracks from you know, the 1970s European and German and westerns. So with Billy, it was kind of like finding like in the vans and musicality that wasn’t necessarily about the vocals. It was about the mood and the feeling that had somewhere between spaghetti, Western, and bugs.

Barry McClain: With me when I’m drawing it. [00:18:00] Don’t justice. It’s weird to hear you say that because I’m listening to all like fucking stoner, stoner, or stoner rock, like Sasquatch and BLS and down and shit like that. That’s what I listen to when I’m drawing it. I mean, it, it it’s

Justin Gray: whatever gets your mind right in that rhythm and pacing is, you know, it’s all a matter.

It can, it can vary all the time.

Melissa: Yeah, for sure. Every project can be different, you know, like sometimes I’ll listen to like cinematic, you know, epic, like the soundtrack from the Witcher or something, you know, for like battle scenes. And then, you know, if you’re writing something a little bit more, I dunno, contemporary, you might just do like some indie singer songwriter stuff, but I don’t know.

I think it’s always necessary to kind of like have that outside kind of muse in a sense to get you, you know, into that. But I have to ask. You know, some of the characters. So you’ve got Billy the kit, obviously that’s a play on words. Do you have any other lake famous, you know, wild west [00:19:00] legends that you kind of incorporate like doc holiday?

Barry McClain: You say you, you take that. Cause I got something to say about that, but you start off with that though. Cause we play off each other on that.

Justin Gray: There is a character that hasn’t been used yet. That’s been there from the beginning which is. Thomas Milliano type of. Character named Dani Guana and Guana, obviously, but there’s so many Guana characters I’ve been hesitant to try and find the perfect voice for him.

Because I don’t want it to feel like the gecko thing. I don’t want it to be like Ringo, which I actually really like Ringo. I think there’s a lot of amazing stuff that happens in Ringo. So it wasn’t so much an idea of. Billy, the kid just came together originally, Billy, the kid was just Bonnie and then there was a dust bunny thing that I had seen.

And I’m like, that’s that guy’s thing. It’s somebody else’s thinking. I don’t want to do that. You know, so, and little did I know there was a ability to kit, DJ who was actually really famous, but [00:20:00]

Barry McClain: he likes to see.

Melissa: You know what there is. Cause then I Googled Billy, the kid first that’s who came up and then I added the word comic and

Barry McClain: the comic, the guideline says, I see the posts.

I’m like fucking more when it comes to our campaign and he be liking that stuff.

Justin Gray: So the play on the words, characters isn’t as prevalent as it might have initially been, because I feel like sometimes that’s a leftover thing of doing corporate comments where you’re kind of like, how do we fit a DC character into a Western mold and, and make it, you know, like I didn’t want, I didn’t want to, I, I purposely wanted to get away from that stuff.

So there’s not there’s individual characters who represent iconic. Personality types. But it’s not necessarily the same play on words. I think Billy to kit is probably, that is probably the best launching point for that.

Barry McClain: After one of the biggest bad-ass archetypes in, when I was looking at Billy the kid stuff, I was just like, damn, this is.

They are totally [00:21:00] different or polar opposites because our Billy is he’s, he’s like just a child of God, dude. Like he’s just so forthright, kick them down. He always get back up. But at the same time, the innocence of it, I can see that, you know, I can see that, but we both don’t even try to play on that. I would think so.

We definitely don’t try to play on that, but it’s just, his name just happened to be Billy to kit, but I come up with concepts like, Hmm. What if we did like, something like this or this or that? There was some sketches at him. That’s how I did kids. If you want to sell your editor or your partner, just draw some pictures and just, that’s all you gotta do it.

Don’t say nothing. Just say how about this?

Melissa: The proof is in front of you. Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, when you were designing, you know, some of these characters. Your, as you said, your versions of devils, which is demons, because they’re not human, it’s all animals, right? There’s no humans in this,

Barry McClain: no human stain, God.

And Justin had a [00:22:00] mandate, like even like we didn’t even really want of to animals to be too small and stature at times. And and that leaves it wide open. You really asked me because even if we decide to add nevermind, but I’m just saying it leaves a wide open.

Justin Gray: The whole idea is that you can do. Yeah, you can reflect social issues without it being a thing, you know, you don’t need to make it a social issue.

You can just say at the end of the day, we’re all the same. We just might look different. But as, as animals, you can make statements about things just like it’s been done, you know, in literature. And that’s one of the things I liked about it is that it’s, sometimes you have a hard time telling stories about people without falling into stereotypes and traps and cultural issues.

Barry McClain: Everybody’s looking for a fucking reason to cry these days. And this book doesn’t give you. It brings you together. It really brings you together. I’m on two titles that bring people together, but like Justin said, you can’t touch on social issues because how he touches on faith, the [00:23:00] nuance of faith, I had a distributor comic books.

I was like at first I, they got to carry this in my store, but I thought I’ve got to the end of the book. He was like, I can absolutely do. I was like, oh, thank you.

Melissa: Gimme five. Yeah. So would you say it is, you know, you’ve mentioned faith a couple of times, so is, does it like a religious content connotations?

Is it a hero’s journey? Is it just this battle, you know, between good and evil? Like, what do you think is like kind of the overall message?

Justin Gray: It’s all those things. One of the things was incorporating that was that we I like to do things that don’t line up with my own personal values, but I like to see things from other people’s perspectives and realize that there’s value, even if I don’t understand it or it doesn’t relate to me personally, there is value in things that sometimes get portrayed as negative.

Right. And it’s easy to take the negative. I mean, I’m a cynical person. I know how to take the negative in a heartbeat, but it’s different when we just want it to show that that. The [00:24:00] idea was like, not everyone that does this as bad. Not everyone that believes in this is bad or it needs to be pigeonholed or stereotyped or whatever.

And the idea was. Those characters have had that all along, but they don’t necessarily say it. And so for Billy and it’s the old west and its, and its manifest destiny and whether it’s right or wrong has to be told out in a story. But if you’re a kid and you’re. Are your world. And they say, this is the way that the world is and your dad’s a preacher.

And he preaches the word of God. And then you move to a completely different place where you have to work all the time. And your dad beats that into your head one way, or there there’s, sometimes it’s with love. Sometimes it’s with hard work. And then all of a sudden you realize that there’s this whole other dynamic of demons and moms.

It kind of validates your belief. And I think that’s something that’s, that’s that you’re not going to expect in a comic like this, and then it gets it. It’s a gun slinging rabbit who shoots fire pistols at tornado demons and tornado gods. But I like the idea that it’s not just that, [00:25:00] that, that if you want to read into it, you can, if you just want to have a great time to play a video game, you could do that too,

Barry McClain: but I’m not going to lie.

He. I know I want to have fun and we do want to have fun. Cause that’s just all I’m about as fucking fun. But when it comes to getting the job done, he tells the stories just so pinpoint because in the beginning of that book, what you read in issue one, I literally tried to make you cry when he’s burying his family, man, I don’t give a fuck.

So like.

Melissa: The, you know, cause you have only so many panels, right? You have only so many opportunities to, to get that across and like how to hit home. So that’s, that’s important. And is that something like, has that something that’s always kind of easy for you or like have you, you know, has it been challenging?

Like how do you perfect, like your craft? Like what inspires you to to make, you know, your art better essentially?

Barry McClain: I would probably say leading off as well, just following his words. [00:26:00] And then I would say, how would I feel if I was this? And I look in the mirror a lot when I’m drawing and stuff like that.

And, you know, I don’t know. I, I B I’m a big what’s bad when it comes to emotion. I really am. I’m not afraid to cry in time. And that definitely shows. So when he’s playing. I’m crying in a book when he’s angry, I’m angry. When somebody dies, I feel that anger too. And it’s really easy to fall into that reviewer of, of reader because I’m a fan of the writer more than I am an artist.

I know that sounds weird, but I always was a fan of the writer more. Okay. ’cause they can do what I can, I can write and everything like that. Right. More where I can write short stories. I can write, but when I’m doing it with somebody else, especially Justin, man, he, he doesn’t write like anybody else. I don’t remember what I’ve wrote drew for Brandon Easton, blah, blah, blah.

My band. But justice work because it gets you into fields and it’s not, he can get cheesy when he wanted to get cheesy. I mean, that’s all folk shit, dude. I was like, really?[00:27:00]

Melissa: That’s great. As a writer, I’m always very envious of artists because I don’t have, I can’t even draw stick figures. So I’m

Barry McClain: like, so Dick’s all day, but I’m sorry. You know what I mean? It’s all about the writer to me.

Melissa: Yeah, writing challenging. Justin, how did you, how did you get started writing just briefly?

Like kind of what was your first foray into it?

Justin Gray: Lyrics wanting to write me. And then cause that was the, my connection to words more. So it was comics and music were pretty much the, the foundation when I was a kid and it wasn’t until later that I really started appreciating books and then consuming massive amounts of books, but it was just sort of, listening to a lot of music, being an angry.

And reading a lot of comics, the sort of dichotomy of, of angry music and comics to make you feel like you belong to something when you don’t feel like you belong to anything. And I think a lot of kids go through that. And I don’t know that that necessarily translates to majority of comics. Now, I think that everything.[00:28:00]

Yeah, I don’t even get to get into that. But writing lyrics led into poetry led and the short story is led into a couple of really bad novels. But I had always wanted to write a comics because I couldn’t draw. I could draw. If you want me to draw a picture of a cat, you would know it was a cap, but it would not be a cat anyone want to own, so I started writing because I couldn’t get what was in my head to come out of my hand on a page.


Melissa: Yeah, that’s awesome. So are you guys going to do any appearances, like comic con stuff coming up to like reach out to the fans and like, get that like one-on-one engagement or, you know, I know the world is finally kind of slowly starting to open up again.

Justin Gray: Right. We’ve both done cons to this point now.

Right? I did

Barry McClain: on a Connecticut.

Justin Gray: I think so. Yeah. And we’re going to do New York comic con. I’m going to be there on a Saturday

Barry McClain: to Saturday game. Good. I’m going to be comic con New York comic con all four days and shit. So I ain’t even got my [00:29:00] girl, man in the damn register. That’s how serious.

But at the same time, I’m excited to meet my brother and I have my brother, all the stuff we did finally get to meet him. His life is, I mean, I’m in a weird position guys. It’s like, I finally get to read my hero, but at the time, by the time I met my hero, he became my brother. So it’s not like I’m all star struck.

When I finally meet him. It’s more like I can breathe. Yeah. You know,

Justin Gray: talking about me,

I’m sorry.

Melissa: I think that’s one of the amazing things about, you know, the past couple of years you know, since 2020 with. Everybody having to work online. Right. And doing zoos and just not having that physical engagement. And yet I feel like I have friends now that I’ve actually never met in person like you too.

And, but I feel so close to them regardless. And that

Barry McClain: digital shit actually worked for a good part. When it come to that, because like I’m telling you if it wasn’t for, it caused all, it made the [00:30:00] world on fire for four or five, six years in the long future from that. But it did kind of save everything like online gaming, how comics, movies, shows music is getting back there again.

This is like, I like it. I like it when we, when we desperate like this, you know,

Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. And Justin, you mentioned Jimmy poppy Audi, which you know, he’s one of the show a few times a corral up. I

oh my goodness. Yes. He can talk for sure, too. He’s great. So you worked with him, how was that? Like, what was that like? It was terrible.

Justin Gray: It was awful. No, I mean, we worked together for like 15 years, so many comics. And we met when he first started doing Marvel nights. Back in 97,

Barry McClain: I was with like Kevin, when he did the guardian devil shit to Kevin

Justin Gray: Smith.

I have, I have that page, that splash page with [00:31:00] Daredevil and Dr. Strange

So yeah, I mean, I, I met Jimmy online and Joe online, and then I met them in person. And then we became friends and then I was interning at Marvel nights for a little bit. And then we ended up, he called me up one night. I think I was having like nachos at Fridays. And he said, do you want to write a comic for WildStorm?

And I was like, sure. You know, let’s do that. We’ll pitch it to them and whatever. So by 2000 we started working together before anything got published and then 2001 where we had two series at WildStorm before WildStorm was absorbed by DC. And so we’ve known each other since for a long time.

Melissa: Well, yeah. You know, what’s funny is before I was doing the podcast, you know, the comic book industry seems like this crazy, vast, you know, universe. And once I, you start talking to people, it’s actually quite a small world. I mean, I feel like everybody knows everyone and worked together. And I mean, that must be exciting [00:32:00] too, because it’s like you get to collaborate with, with people you respect and admire.


Barry McClain: I knew Jimmy through his brother, Peter, because leader Apollo Miata was inker for me when I was trying to get in. And he, he was talking to me up to Jimmy at Denver. Comic-Con 2015 when I got signed with value and that’s the sign, the sign. He signed me right there on the spot. And he was like, I went over to the Jimmy.

And I go to Jimmy and him and Amanda sitting together and then he didn’t even look up cause he just cut somebody’s fucking portfolio off the hell. I was like, oh shit, man, here we go. And so I go over to the table he’s he had his head down the something, and then I go, Hey, Jimmy. Hey, Barry. He didn’t even look up.

He knew I was coming cause I was telling people, Hey man, when you go over there and tell him, tell Jimmy, I said, because I

actually tried to get me a job with Boeing. You know what I mean? That same day, but I was just like, I don’t want to get in on Jimmy shit. You know what I mean? Even though he probably would have really hooked it up and not [00:33:00] to diminish Jimmy. So I’ll really appreciate it because thank you, Amanda, for telling him that I could.

It’s like the little tiny look. Good. Another thing, comic book kids. When you’re trying to get in, if you want to sell an editor or another famous guy, get in with his wife or her husband, because they’re the gatekeepers. They can say they got the best interest in mind. And so I went over to value instead, but at the same time, Jimmy, my nigga man,

Melissa: low, isn’t it.

Wasn’t too savvy. A really interesting guy and yeah, I mean, they put out so many good quality. I mean, all of it, dark horse films, he can’t really go wrong. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, so what, what else can we expect going forward from Billy, the kid? Like you got the five issues. What can fans expect coming up?

Barry McClain: What do you think, Justin? What we should, what we got going on? Cause I got a lot of ideas, but w what do you feel.

Justin Gray: The there’s the thing that [00:34:00] just kind of, I didn’t intend to write a script. It has a really good core story concept to it. I liked the idea of large and small scale. I liked the idea that someone we care about intimate level is involved in.

An extraordinary life. So there’s some stuff in there that I, you know, I hope we get to, to start working on that. I want it to be the same. I want it to be better than what we’ve done before. But I also want it to challenge us more to stretch us more. Like I said, when I wrote that script, I was just laughing.

Oh, now I make Barry do this and then I’ll make you nuts.

Barry McClain: I know it’s not,

Justin Gray: but it’s not even like, it’s not even malicious. It’s just kind of like, no, like, okay. So here’s an idea that someone had to do this. How can I take that and do my own thing with it? And then. Let Barry do his thing with it. I know it sounds very vague.

Barry McClain: I know what you going golf for right [00:35:00] there, because we usually do that anyway, though.

Justin Gray: Right. I’ve been leaning towards recently. I’ve been leaning towards making the physical act of reading a book more visceral, and I know. I, it sounds weird, like more tactile, more functional in the thing, because we were viewers we’ve become less interactive and more you know, more staring at one thing and maybe we press buttons or maybe we, you know, pull triggers or things, but the idea of reading as something where you’re participating in it If I fail miserably, I don’t know.

I just want to try something different.

Barry McClain: I wanted you to fucking do something like that because I was like, what don’t we have the reader turn the page though. Like

Justin Gray: they also want like the, yeah, there’s that. And I want it to be almost I didn’t want to give it away. Cause if it, if it works, then I’ll be really happy with it.

I want to send any expectations. But hopefully we can do that. I mean, maybe we need people to get out there and buy this book pretty much. That’s the main thing right now. That’s our focus. I mean the creative stuff, you know, [00:36:00] that’s when we huddled down and we, we, we get it done and, and that’s, you know, that’s the joy of that on our side, but we need people to get on board with it.

And so hopefully, you know, your listeners are going to go, what is this crazy book? And this just seems like just, you know, again, mixing all these genres. Never be boring. I think that’s the thing. And I think Barry, even though we would have different approaches on never be boring, but we would also agree on never be boring

Barry McClain: and be born even when they just hand in each other a cup and they having a conversation.

It’s never boring, dude.

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like that whole concept, you know, the checkoffs gun thing, you know, if you’re going to put it in the room, like make sure to fire it

Barry McClain: later, people want to buy our banner every car and they be like, is that for sale? No. No.

Melissa: Hey, maybe you guys started selling them then.

Right? Like making some banners.

Barry McClain: That’s not the work stock.

Justin Gray: I mean the capitalist side. Yeah. I want to sell there. Absolutely. Yeah. [00:37:00]

Melissa: People people love like memorabilia. They love money solid that the bloody bunny is. I love it. Well, it comes out October 6th and and that’s gonna be available like pretty much all platforms, right?

Comic books.

Justin Gray: Yeah. Yep. And you can actually pre-order issue three. Now. I believe, I think the window is still open on issue three and there’s five issues. The last issue will come out in the first week of February. And this is really just been kind of an interesting journey for us. And this is a PR thing in terms of just even just the work we did.

Cause initially we did a trailer. Initially it was like, Hey, you know, Mary, I want to do this thing. It’s only eight pages. Yeah. What do you want to do with eight pages? And, you know, you blew me away with that. And more so than the samples. I mean, the samples might’ve been like, okay, let’s go this way.

But once you did the APH trailer and we were doing this whole thing of like this crazy world of, you know, salty, cursing, rabbits shooting, fire, pistols, demons, and tornado [00:38:00] gods. And it just sort of, you know, it’s organic in a way that you don’t get there’s no, it’s not contrived. We didn’t spend six months setting up a PR campaign for this.

We actually. Did a thing said we loved it and then went away for awhile and worked on it and then brought it back. And that’s where we are now. So, you know, if we sell enough copies, then we’re doing this. Yeah,

Barry McClain: Justin, I know you probably agree, but it’s like metaphorically. We are like stoned in. We forgot something many apartment, but we too far down a hallway close to the elevator to go back now.

So we got to go down, up or down the elevator. Now can’t turn back now. So y’all got to buy this damn book, man, right?

Melissa: Don’t leave them

Barry McClain: hanging all this work. Come on. Y’all

Justin Gray: once we get to issue four 20, then we can just sign off

Melissa: and we’re done. Willie Nelson

Barry McClain: turtle. We can do the rolling out some turtles.

Justin Gray: Oh,

Melissa: my goodness.

That’s [00:39:00] amazing. I can’t wait to read it. And, and so for the kickstart, are you going to do another Kickstarter you think in the future, like for another five issues or will it just be kind of straight, like distribution after that?

Barry McClain: If y’all buy this shit, we ain’t go to do that, but you never know.

Justin Gray: I mean, I I’ve been in the industry over 20 years and I know that you never know, and the best laid plans and all that stuff.

You just gotta go with, especially for me now. We’re relying on a structure of corporate, whatever. It’s kind of like. You know, we’re in love with what we’re doing. So if we get enough feedback and enough financial people are, you know, buying the book, the book goes on for sure.

Barry McClain: And I’m of course though, sometimes like, I don’t know who I’d be giving hand jobs to, to get the opportunities I get, but I’m gonna tell you right now.

And it’s a winning period

Justin Gray: also in it to win it, but less likely to be gripping

Barry McClain: mitzvah with somebody like, yo, you noticed he noticed me,

Melissa: oh, I can imagine the car

Justin Gray: at a con [00:40:00] in a bunny costume working out for me.

Barry McClain: Fuck that shit.

Melissa: I can literally picture this. Thank you for that image. I don’t think I can ever un-see it

Justin Gray: writers in the room.

Like 10 miles down the road


Melissa: Oh, that’s so funny. Well, yeah, I I’m definitely gonna buy it. Now. You guys have dominated intrigued for sure. Yes. Before you let you guys go tell us where we can find you on social media so everyone can stop you.

Barry McClain: Oh you can find me a Barry McClain Jr. Or Facebook, Instagram in Twitter. And you can find me on blue juice.com, Mecca workshop.com or just Google me. And you’ll probably just see me like this and a picture of some shit. I don’t know. I’m very approachable. Easy to get at. So.

Justin Gray: I am less social media friendly.

I have a website, [00:41:00] JV, gray.com. I have switched over to a free newsletter that is using Twitter technology without Twitter, where you can sign up for that. And if you go to my Twitter page, which I’m pretty easy to find on Twitter you could sign up for the newsletter. And then I just, I prefer that like, At direct route of saying, you know, I have all these behind the scenes things, future artwork, different Kickstarters coming up.

Other projects was, there’s a bunch of other books that I’m working on. Cause I don’t have to draw them. So it’s a little easier for me to do multiple projects.

Melissa: Yeah, perfect. Yeah. That way people can go on and and follow you guys. And then they can keep up with all of the the updates and the bunny costumes and stuff.

Barry McClain: She’s on board, bro.

Justin Gray: Come on. All right. I’m just, I I’m, I’m just going to be more conservative in my approach to the hand job thing. That’s all.

Barry McClain: That’s why I love you bro. Step at a

Melissa: time. It’s you know, you got to have one, you know, good cop bad cop, right?

Barry McClain: [00:42:00] That’s enough for me y’all to meet the black dude blush what is going on?

Melissa: So everyone listening, you know, you heard it, you heard it here. You gotta, you gotta get your copy of Billy, the kid for a, all right. Thanks guys. For

Justin Gray: coming.

Melissa: Happy endings and bunny costumes. I think that’s all that. I think that should be your pitch actually going forward.

Barry McClain: Bitch, please. Perfect

Justin Gray: cameo appearance right now.

Barry McClain: Just to again, what ma look, see us that Deborah comma comment. I said Denver. That’s where I got signed guys, 2015 to get about me, but I’m talking about coming to that New York Comicon just from the seventh today.

And, and again, it’s going to be a real fun time is my first time I did event. I’ll get into red carpet treatment with this book. You know what I mean, guys, justice is going to be there or what you’re going to be there the day two or day four.

Justin Gray: Okay. Tonight,

Barry McClain: please come see us. That way you can get on me and him, [00:43:00] the autographs from shit.

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. That’s really cool. Cause you guys will both be there. You can get both the writer and the artists to autograph your copies and that’s New York. Comic-Con where’s that? Okay. Awesome. Well, thank you guys for coming on the show. This has been so much fun.

Justin Gray: Absolutely.

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