Today Melissa gets to sit down and chat with writer of White Ash and co-publisher of Scout Comics, Charlie Stickney! Be sure to check out Scout Comics, they have a LOT of amazing comics!
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Charlie Stickney Interview
[00:00:00] Melissa: This is spoiler country and I’m Melissa searcher today on the show. I’m joined by a producer comic book writer, and co-publisher at scout comics. Mr. Charlie Stickney. Welcome to the show.
Charlie Stickney: Oh, thank you so much for having me.
Melissa: Thank you for being here. How are you doing today?
Charlie Stickney: You know, I always feel like that that question right now is so loaded because you know, we’re in this new reality of being inside all the time and you know, when you go outside you duck and cover.
Yeah. But you know, you know, aside from that, the play was, the play is really good. Mrs. Lincoln. No, I’m I actually had a good couple of months. Scout comics is doing really well. And so I, I don’t have anything to complain about and I’m healthy. My family’s healthy. I hope the same is going for you.
Melissa: Awesome. Thank you. Yeah, no, I know we are in definitely strange times, but I appreciate that we can still create art and and talk to people like you you know, on ourselves. So thankful for that as well.
[00:01:00] Charlie Stickney: Yeah, no, I agree. I think right now, art is, is really important and people are looking for something to, you know, do all their home.
And I think comics have really kind of filled that void for a lot of people right now.
Melissa: Yeah, people are reading more. They’re creating more as well. I mean, I think there’s only so much television that you can binge watch, you know, before you are like, okay, I need to stimulate my, my brain some,
Charlie Stickney: some other way.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah.
Melissa: So how did you get started in the comic book industry?
Charlie Stickney: So I, you know, I when I was in high school I, I wanted to go into comics and I was double major in film and studio art in college. And I interned at Marvel comics and I had full intention of moving to New York, right after graduation to become a comic book writer and possibly an anchor.
And then I got a job offer from a company that was out in Los Angeles. From an alumni from my college in the film industry. [00:02:00] And so I said, well, I’ll just try that for a little bit. And then, you know, here I am 20 years later, still out in Los Angeles, and I was very fortunate to get to work. In a lot of different aspects of the film industry from animation to independent film, feature film, a little bit in television.
And but through all of that, you know, I’ve always had a love for, for comics and for you know, narrative storytelling through the use of sequential art. And about about five years ago You know, like the, the way that Hollywood has, has shifted that everything started becoming about IP again.
And, you know, I didn’t want to write a show that was based on a comic book. I didn’t want to do a movie that was based on a comic book. I figured if I was going to do that, I might as well just do a comic book. So because I was fortunate through animation that I had a lot of artists contacts and went to pre-process and started Putting together, this book, white [00:03:00] Ash that eventually launched on Kickstarter.
And we started building up a following there on Kickstarter and social media through the book. And that eventually led me to, to scout comics who wanted to publish it. And I decided to work with them as, as, as part publishing partners and. No along the way. It was such a good fit that they asked me to come join them and help grow their company, as well as growing my own brand.
And it’s been wonderful fit. That’s great. That’s a creative yeah. Kind of company. And so now I get to help other creators bring their dreams to life. And at the same time, make sure that the stories that I want to tell, get out in the format that I’m looking to tell them, then.
Melissa: Awesome. And you mentioned your series, white Ash.
Can you tell us a little bit what, what that’s about and is that a complete series? Do you have more issues planned for it?
Charlie Stickney: So the, the quick one-line pitch on that is it’s Romeo and Juliet meets Lord of the rings in rural Pennsylvania. The other thing I like to say is it’s if the guys from supernatural got stuck [00:04:00] in Riverdale, but instead of battling demons from hell, they had to deal with the worst of mortar.
So there’s a quick little hooks for people. But yeah, it’s, it’s actually a really big series. I have it slated out roughly for about 60 issues. And we’re to have our first white Ash prequel miniseries coming out next year. And so I’m going to be using those series. I have like three of them in the next couple of years scheduled to go, to try to flesh out the universe a bit more, because like I said, it’s a, it’s a big story that I have.
That I’m looking to tell and you know, it’s, it’s very ambitious, but now that I’m working at scout, like I can make sure that that keeps coming out and like, again, can tell the story the way I was looking to tell it.
Melissa: Okay. And that are you referring to, is it it’s glaring? Is that how it’s pronounced?
Charlie Stickney: So, so that, yeah, that’s a, so we’re doing a one-shot through scout.
And then there will be a Kickstarter later on in the year. I, I work in a model where because of the market’s become so divided because the economics of independent comics at this point are [00:05:00] difficult to sustain a series. If you want to pay an artists, the kind of wages they deserve to be paid.
And you know, I, I am always looking for good partners who can earn a living wage when they work. So for me, it’s about multiple revenue streams. So with white Ash and with glaring, w one of the things I like to do is I, I like to order offer up sort of like a premium advanced version. Of a book and then the book will later on be distributed through scout.
There will be some discrepancies between the two and there might be some new pages in the scout version. It, you know, one might be a black and white versus the color version. But you know, I like it because it gives two different products for two different markets and, you know, we can raise enough revenue to make sure you know, that these products keep coming out and that the creators who I work with are compensated the way they need to be.
Melissa: Okay. And Clarion is available for pre-order right now. Cause that correct.
Charlie Stickney: Right though. The one-shot is it’s the one shot is three stories that are set in the white Ash universe featuring this [00:06:00] character glaring, who is Lillian, who is one of the main characters of white anxious mother. And I like to describe glaring is the most dangerous character in the white Ash universe.
She’s part of a cross like an Elvin red Sonia. Yeah. And you know, in, in all regards, you know, just sort of in her lust for life or for hedonism and the, the miniseries that come comes out, it’s going to be exploring her backstory. But it’s also going to be juxtaposed with a story that’s being told in 1971, New York.
About a young woman, who’s having visions of being her about 3000 years ago in L five and how the two stories will eventually dovetail together. And you’ll see, you know, how they’re connected.
Melissa: Interesting. Sounds like maybe a little reincarnation or, or something to that effect.
Charlie Stickney: Like, I, I feel like for me, I think there were a lot of places that have done high fantasy.
What I like to do is I like to give fantasy that has context. To what people currently understand, you know, like, like I said, I like to [00:07:00] speak to experiences that people are having right now. But also give them some escapism. And, and I, I think at least for us, when you can do those two things together that then the work resonates more with people it’s not just seen as, Oh, they made up these crazy lens and these crazy names.
And I know it’s, you know, these are much in the way that I think you know, literature like Harry Potter, it’s, it’s set in the real universe like, Oh, if you only knew these things were going on, I think, I think that’s, that’s the. A natural step for a lot of people, it’s easier for them to, to buy into that kind of universe versus just a completely made up land.
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. I think, yeah, like you said, it’s more relatable. And you can kind of imagine and put yourself into the story because of it’s set in a modern or urban setting, you can go, Oh, well, what if this really did exist? You know, what if there was this magical world, you know, just around the corner,
Charlie Stickney: that’s why, that’s why we liked it.
The magicians that was recently on Spotify,
Melissa: it’s on my list. I haven’t
Charlie Stickney: watched it yet. It’s like, for [00:08:00] me, it’s one of my favorite shows that have come out in the last couple of years. And the first season is a little difficult because it grows into what it’s going to be as a TV show. And I think that’s always taught when you’re adapting something and cause you have to find the rhythm for this new medium.
And, and it takes them a while to kind of realize who the better actors are for their show. But, you know, at its core, it’s almost like it’s almost like a grownup Harry Potter.
Melissa: Yeah, definitely have to check it out
Charlie Stickney: with a darker tone. So if you liked Harry Potter as a kid, you’ll probably like magicians as an adult.
Melissa: Yeah, no, I’ll definitely have to check it out. I was a little older when Harry Potter came out, so I didn’t actually get on the Harry Potter. Bandwagon, but but I do appreciate it, you know, for what it is and, and the magical aspects of it. But yeah, the magicians looks fantastic. And I do like the darker storylines.
Charlie Stickney: Yeah. I think that’s, that was like it was hard for people, especially in the first season, because it is really a dark universe. And [00:09:00] like the books are even, even darker. I’m looking at people who have kind of given up on life and you know, are drinking themselves. Into oblivion, things like that.
You know, and like these are all lost souls who kind of come together at, you know, what I like to call the gut Hogwarts university. It’s, it’s called Brakebills university, but, you know, check it out. But if you enjoy it at the beginning, it gets better. As the ensemble goes along.
Melissa: Oh, cool. Yeah. A lot of shows are like that.
You know, if you can just get past, you know, the, that initial six episodes or the first season, they tend to grow into themselves and get better. I think that’s the hard part is, is getting past that, you know, especially if they’re brand new brand new actors and maybe they had a low budget when they first started, you know, it does get hard to sink your teeth into.
But no, I’ll definitely check
Charlie Stickney: that out. The same thing is true for comics too. You know, like you’re doing a it’s a balance that you have to figure out because you don’t want to give [00:10:00] too much away right off the bat, but if you don’t hook people and they don’t have a reason to stick around. So, so I, I think, especially for independent books, that’s one of the hardest things to do is to establish your universe in a way that’s interesting.
And isn’t just a lot of backstory, right. You know, I think like for TV pilots someone I worked with once said the best thing is like the TD pilot needs to function as two things, which is why it’s one of the most difficult things to, right. It has to function as a template for what a normal episode will be like.
And it has to introduce all the characters and the world. Right. So, you know, so you need to look from that, know what your rhythm of your show is going to be like you had, you know, like these kinds of things happen in an episode. Especially if it’s you know, non serialized television. Like if it’s if it’s an ER or, you know, some kind of medical drama or a lawyer drama, you know, you’re, you’re sending up the template that other episodes will follow.
But I still think like a lot of those principles hold [00:11:00] true that when you’re, when you’re launching A new comic book series. You have to be very particular that you don’t get bogged down in trying to introduce everyone in that first issue, but you have to make it accessible and you have to give a flavor of what the book to come will be like.
So it’s, you know, there’s a lot of give and take there that you have to think about. That once you get into the world, you don’t have to do,
Melissa: yeah. You have to balance the or you have to go kind of against, you know, not info dumping too much, you know, backstory in the beginning, but also giving just enough, like you said, to, to keep people interested in wanting to read more so I can imagine that must be really challenging.
Charlie Stickney: Yeah. And, and I think that’s, that’s why a series can sometimes be better once it goes on, because once you’ve introduced. The characters in the world, then you can get into the, the meat where you start telling the story you want to tell. And you know, and so getting people past that initial hurdle of buying into your unit or spying into your characters, then [00:12:00] they’re excited to go onto a journey and you can just string together multiple stories.
Now that they, you know, want to see those characters going on adventures
Melissa: right now. I know you’ve written scripts as well. As you said, you’re, you’re in film and television for a little while. How did you how was that different writing a script versus writing panels for a comic.
Charlie Stickney: Well, I think there’s a lot of different differences between say film, animation, television comics, and you know, one of the primary things that you have, that the differences in film or television, you have actors whose faces can be seen.
Right? And, and you’re counting, you know, like you don’t want to have dialogue that says everything. You want to have the, you know, the poet, you know, the actor be able to carry off the emotion in the scene. So sometimes you’d roll things back that you might have, you know, that you might need to put in terms of exposition in a comic book. [00:13:00]
And the pacing is different. The pacing of where, where, you know, like con comics, like, so for each medium, they have their own specific. Things that are unique to the medium. Like, so for, for comics specifically, you know, page turns are a big part of good comic book writing, thinking about, you know, that experience for the reader when you’re writing the script.
So that that’s different. The length of a scene is going to be different. How quickly you transition from place to place. Might be different. You know, the balance or how long you have to tell a segment of the story might be different. You know, like when you’re looking at a feature film, you’re often looking to tell one inclusive story.
And so, you know, you have your first actor, second actor, third act, and each of those has specific beats and rhythms that you want to hit. Television is more kin to the comic medium because that’s a sequential. Narrative kind of medium, where you’re trying to tell multiple stories and, you know, each episode has its own story [00:14:00] generator or you’re in a world and you’re taking all of these, you know, like they’re new they’re individual stories that happen in each episode of a TV show.
Like that happens in a comic book where you have, you know, you have a contained story, usually in each issue, even if, you know, it’s part of a bigger picture. So that’s why I like to say that comics and TV are very similar. You know, and like an animation is somewhere in between those. But you also write different levels of description for each of these different things.
TV is probably the least amount of description in a lot of television. Mainly dialogue animation. You sometimes have to call every single shot. Because depending on the storyboard artists that you’re working with, they need more or less direction. And, and then, then when you go to two comics, it’s, it’s a little bit of a wild West because there is no standard form for comic scripts where in the other mediums, there are very specific.
Things that people expect. And if they get a script that doesn’t look the way it’s supposed [00:15:00] to, they won’t even consider it as a professional script. Right. So you really need to learn screenplay format. You need to learn Tala play format. You need to learn animation format. To be able to be in those universes where comic book writing.
It’s more about what works between the artist and the writer or the artist or writer and the editor. And you need to find a rhythm for that particular team that works in terms of the script.
Melissa: Okay. Okay. Well, and I’m sure there’s, there is preferred formats as for like what the reader prefers, you know popular formats that are easier to, as you say, turn the page.
Charlie Stickney: Yeah. Well, so in, you know, like the thing that remember about all of these mediums is the scripts are not the end product, right? The end product is the TV show. The end product is the, you know, the movie, the end product is the comic book. So you know, like for me, I, I don’t know which book I [00:16:00] stole this from.
So I, it, the attribution, right? It might’ve been Brian, Michael Bendis who said. You know, the, that a good comic book script should be a letter between the artist and the writer, and you’re providing notes into back and forth, and you’re providing them the kind of information that they need because you are an barking on, in, in many ways, a one-on-one collaboration with this person to build a world together.
Whereas like I say a film script, You’re going to go through a lot of drafts. You’re going to, you know, like a new actor is going to come in and they’re going to rewrite a part for that actor. You know, there’s, there’s different permutations of that script. The director is going to come in and say, let’s do these nodes.
Let’s do this, let’s do that. So if it’s in that, you know, interchangeable format that anyone can come in and, you know, quickly rework. Because I have final draft or, you know, or whatever screenwriting program, and I can just pull it up and change the dialogue of the character, you know, like that, that’s just how that production system functions [00:17:00] versus, you know, like I, you know, I’m sitting down with an artist you know, some artists in comics prefer to have a very detailed.
Script that says, you know, I, this first page has seven panels. You know, the first panel is this large panel. The second panel is low angle, the third Ambien and others, you know, just say, just write your dialogue, tell me the action and I’ll break it down. So it really depends on that, that person you’re working with what, you know, what they like, what they like, what’s going to help them do the, you know, bring.
Everything that they can to the world where they don’t feel constrained, but they also don’t feel that left on their own.
Melissa: Okay. Yeah. That makes sense. Just depends on how well the artist and the writer work together and I’m sure it’s, it’s different. Like you said, for every symbiotic relationship. Now you’re good.
Yeah. I was going to ask you but no, continue your thought before we go. Go on.
Charlie Stickney: And that’s also where the editor comes in. Like if you’re working for if you’re working for Marvel, if you’re working [00:18:00] for you know, IDW or something, Laser DC that has a house style, or they have an editor who’s helping to coordinate things.
There might be some qualifications on, you know, how they like the script because they have to send it out to the writers. But in, in the world of more independent comics, like if you’re looking at something that’s image, it’s creator owned most of the creator in comics. It’s, it’s a one-to-one between the writer and the artist.
Melissa: Okay. That’s cool. It makes it more organic. Now as a publisher or a co-publisher at scout, how do you balance working on your own comics and then also, you know, trying to publish other, other people’s comics?
Charlie Stickney: Well, I, I think, you know, that there’s two parts to that, that there’s, there’s the you know, the part of, of getting work done and making sure that, you know, my own artistic endeavors are advancing.
And you know, this is where it comes back to the fact that. It’s much easier to write something than it is to draw [00:19:00] something in terms of the amount of time it takes. Okay. So, you know, I can spend three to four weeks writing something and then the artist will go away for six months. So, you know, then I have four to five months to devote to other things.
Yeah. Now the truth is like, I don’t take that four or three to four week. You know to just go do the writing. So that might be over, you know, two months or three months that I’ll, I’ll do a script, but then I can hand it off to, you know, the artists that I’m working with and on white Ash, my, my Connor and, and he’ll yet, like, I have plenty of time to do other things.
Wall you know, while he’s off drawing. But, but on the, you know, the other side is like, it’s, I think you have to compartmentalize that, you know, your job is, is two different things. It’s To grow the company as, as publisher, by putting a good product. But you know, at scalp, we’re also trying to promote [00:20:00] other creators.
You know, we want this to be a creator owned company. We want creators to feel good about having their books at scout to be part of something. And we encourage, you know, and I get this in the Kickstarter ecosystem where a lot of creators. You’re there, you’re a family, you’re a community. And so I’m trying to foster as kind of the same environment at scout where you see, and you see this on Twitter and Facebook, you see other writers and artists plugging the other books that scout comes out because they are trying to help each other and increase the visibility.
So like, so for me, you know, my job is as, as publisher. You know, in addition to making sure that we’re putting out great books, putting them out on time is to build a a scout community and make sure that, you know, when I’m calling no shop, I’m promoting the scout community. You know, if I have like, say glaring coming out, I’ll maybe we’ll tag that on the end, but you know, a year or two ago, I would be calling them to tell them all about my book.
And now I’m trying to spread [00:21:00] the scout brand. And there’s a little side, Hey, by the way, there’s previous right now.
Melissa: No, that’s fantastic that you guys, you know, everybody supports each other. I, my publisher, I write novels and we do the same thing. We’re an indie press and we promote each other’s works, not just our own, because as you said, we’re trying to grow the press as well.
We, you know, we want as much attention on the entire publishing house and not just ourselves individually.
Charlie Stickney: Right. And, and, and, you know, we’re, we’re working to, to, to try to find ways to make the creators. We work with more visible, you know, in association with the scalp brand, but also to promote their own brand.
Win-win for everyone and together we can, can amplify each other in a way that even, you know, our, our company has a lot of contacts with media and press and things like that, but it, anytime a new creator comes in, they’re bringing in new readers and new contacts and together, we just know we assimilate
Yeah. [00:22:00] Yeah, of course integrate them in the what, what types of stories are you currently on the lookout for? So for people that, you know, want to submit what are, what are some areas that need to be filled? For example?
Charlie Stickney: Well, I, I would say more than Areas that need to be filled. It’s the areas that don’t need to be filled.
You know, we’re not looking primarily for superhero books. We’re not looking for zombie books. Maybe no more like we have a couple of good vampire books coming out, but we might not need one for the near future. Unless you have a really unique take on that. And I think everyone thinks they have a unique take on those things.
But I’m just going to say, you know, if someone’s listening to this and they’re thinking about submitting to scout, because they have a book that’s in those categories, if you, you know, if it does not get accepted, It’s just a harder climb in those areas because the market is somewhat saturated and we don’t want to put something out that we can’t, [00:23:00] you know, you know, support in a way that’s going to make you the creator money, make the company money.
Aside from that, you know, we’re looking for four people. You know, we’re looking for creators and the product. We’re not just, you know, we don’t just look at the title. I mean, we do, but it’s not always in a vacuum. It’s in the context of who is this creator. You know, you know, and, and I think people do this now, and this year, they check social media profiles to make sure that these are the kinds of people, good people that are supportive of other people that you want to work with.
And you know, I mean, we’re, we’re looking. We have lots of different lines. We have a horror line called black caravan. We have a children’s line called scoot. We have a new line that’s launching next year called our outsider line, which you know, is, is more LGBTQ and people of color and people who haven’t in the past felt as welcomed.
By, you know, the, the general nerd community. And that’s, that’s based with a shop that’s called outsider [00:24:00] comics. So that’s where the, the name and the branding comes from. So, so we’re doing things in all those different arenas. So, so really, if you have a S you know, We’re doing everything except for superheroes, except for zombies.
I, you know, we look for good stories. We want people who are good storytellers who have unique vision. And you know, we also want you to have a good artist attached because you know, you, you, you need to have a certain level. Of professionalism with anything that we put out. And we’ve been fortunate as a company over the last year to have tremendous growth which means we have a lot more submissions.
The caliber is really high for things that are coming out in 2021. Look amazing. And you know, that lets us be very picky about what we’re adding to, to the slate. But we’re, we look at submissions every day. And you know, we’re, we’re constantly like if you submit what we do, look at it.
Melissa: Okay. And so what is your, [00:25:00] you know, and I, I was poking around your website just to get more of an idea of how you guys operate and, and what your vision is.
So what is your ideal proposal? When you’re, what you’re looking for. I mean, obviously you mentioned having a good artist and being professional but, but what is sort of like the, the ideal dream proposal that you wish would come across your desk?
Charlie Stickney: Well, I think it’s, it’s something that you can immediately see this story.
And I like, I think this, this is always the thing that people are looking for. It’s that story that, Oh, of course. That’s the pitch I could have sworn I would have seen that movie or read that book or seen that comic five times, but I never have before you, you want something, that’s just, it, it just hits you like, of course.
Why didn’t I think of this? This is such a great idea. You know, so I think because that’s sellable, it’s, it’s something that you can immediately, you see the story from the one-liner, you see where it’s going. And then the writer can subvert that narrative [00:26:00] you know, as they go forward, but it it’s something that that’s You know, that are ideas that, you know, that, that the general underlying theme is easy to grasp and it’s exciting to people.
And then it’s your execution of that idea that makes it unique. And, and that makes it different. And not the thing that we’ve seen a hundred times before. Right. You know, I guess that’s a very amorphous. Response to that. So, you know, I, I can’t think, I I’d love to be able to say we’re, we’re looking for something with a Ninja robot grad
plan, and it has to fight through, you know, the solar system to get home, to, you know, to the young boy that used to dream about him as a kid, that he was separated from like whatever, you know, it’s like, it’s more like, it’s that intangible. This is it. And and that’s, that’s a really hard thing to,
Melissa: yeah, well, it’s like the high, high concepts
Charlie Stickney: yeah.
Concept, but, you know like, let me give you a great book, which was Canopius, which we put out earlier this [00:27:00] year. And you know, like that is by this, any cartoon is day of Chris’ home and it’s a fantastic story. And I liked, you know, it’s about this woman. Who she’s a scientist. And she wakes up on a planet in a spacesuit and she has no memory of who she really is and how she got there.
So, you know, like imagine gravity plus amnesia and you’re on a planet, right. That’s the starting point for, and she’s going out exploring, trying to figure out who she is before she runs out of oxygen. Right. In, in this. And it was, you know, it’s an, a little bit of a cartoony style, but it’s, it’s a fabulous, like, like from that, you know, like from that pitch, It, you know, people want to read it,
Melissa: I’m hooked already.
Charlie Stickney: But you know, a lot of different ways that you, that you that you don’t expect. And the story is really interesting, but like, I want things that people say, Oh yeah, exactly. I want to read this. Is that sounds fascinating to me [00:28:00] and, and not every writer you know, some people are really good at writing, but not good at selling themselves because those are two very different skills.
You know, it’s our job to see what’s sellable in something, it’s our job to help you be able to bring that to market and market it that way. So we can come up with a hook, highest pitch to get people, to read your work. But there’s gotta be that thing underlying it. That makes me say, Oh God, I want to read this.
And then, you know, unfortunately, you know, it’s, it’s about being able to execute that too, because we’ve had cover letters that were, Oh my God, I want to read this. And then either the art doesn’t hold up. Or they don’t know how, you know, they had the great hook, but they can’t, you know, can’t pull it off.
Melissa: Yeah. That’s, that’s disappointing. So you, you mentioned your imprint, the outsiders. So, and I wanted to ask you about accurate representation in comics. So is this. This is an imprint. That’s going to focus on, like you said, diversity, LGBTQ POC [00:29:00] voices. And what are you doing to try to attract more artists you know, of color and of the LGBTQ community to get them more involved?
Charlie Stickney: So, I mean, I think like that’s, there’s a couple answers to that. You know, like, like that’s important to me. As, as a person that we’re telling stories for everyone I was just talking with a comic book shop the other day, anyone comics, you know, you can tell from their name, the kind of, you know, what they’re looking to do, right.
They want to have comics that, you know, serve to everyone. I think it’s important as a company that you are telling stories for everyone. That you have tails that speak to different experiences and that you have creators that can truthfully, you know, honestly bring those things to your book. You know, I think that if you are a writer and there is subject matter that isn’t necessarily like, like for instance, like the glaring miniseries that, that I’m doing, that’s coming out. [00:30:00]
You know, later this year I wanted to make sure that that was drawn by a woman. Like that was important to me. I wasn’t going to do this book with with a male artist. I’m working with Melissa White as my editor on it to make sure that I have Another voice in my head, making sure that that we’re representing things the way I want them to.
So like, so that, for me, that that’s, that’s important in terms of you know, what we’re putting out as a company we can only put out what we get. Yeah. You know, so like, you know we have a great book that’s coming out in February, that’s in previews right now called black coffee.
Melissa: I did see it.
Yeah. I looked, I love the cover.
Charlie Stickney: Yeah. Which, which is, you know, Brian Hawkins is doing it and he’s doing an exploration of, you know, racial profiling and things like that with a society that you know, has. W where everything’s switched, where like there, where it’s a black dominated society, where whites are the [00:31:00] minority, and there’s a white woman who shot by a black officer.
And, and just seeing how that plays out through a different lens. So like that’s, you know, that’s something that, that. You know, Brian brought to us and, you know, we were, we said yes to but if he hadn’t brought it to us, you know, we can’t put it out. And what I don’t want to do as a company is you don’t want to start lowering your standards.
And see like, like we would like to have More tails by, you know, more books written by women, more books that rep from the LGBTQ community by people of color. But you can only, again, it only comes down to getting the good versions of what’s submitted and. You know, you don’t want to be unfair to your other creators to put out a book, just to serve a community.
You want to put out the good version of that book to serve the community. So like, I think like that, that’s the, that, that the balance that you’re trying to walk as a publisher, but it ultimately, it comes down to, you [00:32:00] want to put out good books to serve everyone, but you need to have creators coming to you with those books.
So I think you know, people who know me on Twitter no kind of where, where I stand on things. So I think that helps you know, attract creators to might not have wanted to come to check out scout before. I mean, the primary, I mean, like at the end of the day, the the owners of the company and a couple of then there, a couple of partners are all, you know, white men.
You know, that’s just, just what it is. But you know, we, as a company are concerned with those things and we’re trying to bring in more people to editorial positions or to other positions to, to, to, to flesh out the diversity of the company.
Melissa: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Awesome. I love hearing that, you know, it’s great to see you know, the possibilities are really endless of what you could do in the future and just as you continue to grow and expand, I mean, you have so many titles as it is.
And I think it’s great that you’re just inquiring all these new imprints and and new titles. That’s just gonna [00:33:00] really put you on the map. I think, you know, and to get you into more people’s homes.
Charlie Stickney: Well, thank you. And I also think, like, just speaking as a writer you can create a lot of different experiences and, and you can imagine them and you can write things, but, you know, there are certain experiences reading about it.
Doesn’t make. You know, and researching it isn’t the same as living it and making sure you’re partnering with people who have lived those stories, who understand those characters, maybe in a different way than you do will make your, your, what you’re doing more rich. I will re enrich it. So I think, you know, that’s, that’s, you know, that’s something that writers can do.
When they’re trying to figure out what partner they’re working with, when you reach a place where you have those choices. Like when I, when I first started working with, say with white Ash, you know, I, it was about finding the best artist I could to help build that brand. And I love working with [00:34:00] Connor and he is an amazing artist and fin cram who’s our colorist on, on that book is amazing too.
But then when, like I did the second book that it was just called the game and I, you know, we’re gonna bring in a different colors to give it a different work as look because Connor Hughes, I wanted to make sure the colorist was a woman. And so we’re working with Fiona feral on that. So I think when you have choice, it’s about making the right choices that, that work creatively.
But also work holistically to make what you’re doing, a more enriching experience for everyone.
Melissa: Right. And now, and from a logistic standpoint for your own writing, for example, how do you go about finding those artists? Is it word of mouth? Do you have like a database of people that you can pull from?
Charlie Stickney: Well, I am. It’s interesting. Like it’s, it’s a smaller community than you would think. I feel like it, it feels large on the outside. But you know, as someone who’s, like I said, worked in it in all the [00:35:00] different mediums, comics is one of the ones that’s the most welcoming where the minute you start producing for some things, if they’re good, people want to get to know you.
So a couple of years ago I, I was posting on, on boards message boards. Hey, you know, the guy looking for an artist, you know who who’s going to answer this call. So that was paying, there was a lot of people. But you know, at this point now I can just DM people on Twitter and say, Hey, are you free for a cover?
Would you be interested in working on this project with me? So it’s, you know, it’s nice to be in that position. But that’s because I spent several years investing in the community. If I was someone who’s looking to get started right now, if I was a writer and I was trying to find an artist, I would start following people on Twitter.
Instagram. And being friendly, being friendly is, you know, is, is the currency of social relationships with just supporting what they do. Retweeting their work. [00:36:00] And you know, if you are friendly and honest and sincere about it, they will probably follow you back. At some point, you can find that, you know, maybe to reach out to them and say, Hey, you know, I love your work.
I’ve got this thing. Would you be interested in working on it with me? Or can you recommend someone? Because often artists, if they’re booked up, they have like eight friends who are looking for work. Yeah. And know you in touch with that person and then you guys go off.
Melissa: Yeah, no, it’s, that’s so true. You never know.
Unless you ask, I, I have an artist a pretty well-known artist that did the map for my, one of my fantasy books. And I just reached out to him on social media, you know, thinking, Oh, there’s no way he’s going to respond back to me and sure enough, he did. And I ended up doing the map for me. So yeah, just anyone listening, you never know.
I mean, don’t harass anyone, but you know, if you can. You just send a message or an email and they might say, yes,
Charlie Stickney: you know? Yeah. I mean, look, if, if they’re not doing anything and your project looks good, [00:37:00] they be happy to, you know, be part of it. I also, I it’s also getting people early. You know, it’s, it’s hard to go up to someone who’s working at Marvel and DC, right.
If you’re an unknown and say, Hey, would you mind doing a cover for me? But like I got to know Nick Roblis a couple of years ago, he’s now been doing like the dreaming and things at Dolly, and he’s done two amazing covers for me. Because like afterwards, you know, like at the time when I started getting to know him, he had just come off of just doing something for fault.
I mean, like, and that was his big break. It was alien bounty hunters, like one of the first things he had done. So he was still, you know, just like working his way up the ranks, but you could say, Oh my God, this guy, you know, he, he can paint, he can draw. He’s incredible. He’s also a super nice guy. So we struck up a friendship and yeah.
And so he’s done, like I said, did a white Ash cover and just a, a killer pinup for me. It’s you know, it’s, it’s again, cultivating those relationships over time and being sincere about them and trying to support those people.
Melissa: Yeah, [00:38:00] absolutely. Now, as far as I know you have the white Ash series and then the spin-offs coming up.
Is there anything else that you’ve got brewing that you can share with us?
Charlie Stickney: Sure. So I also have this other Saifai series I’m doing called the game. And like, I give you a pitch that, that might resonate with you, which was it was like if Sam from quantum leap jumped into the body of the Highlander, Yeah.
It’s like, and those are reference points that, you know, correct. Yeah. Yeah, so I pitched that to a couple of places and people are like, what’s quantum leap. I was like, Oh, I’m getting old
Charlie Stickney: I only said that because you said you were a little bit older when Harry Potter came out, but he was like me.
Yeah. So I, I that’s, I was taking that into account that you might know, but but yeah, like, so like that’s, that’s kind of the it’s, it’s about a guy who, on his 30th birthday start seeing these numbers and he right. Eventually realizes that it’s, it’s some kind of score that’s [00:39:00] keeping track of everything he does.
And he’s been mistaken for player. Number three in this game that’s been going on for centuries. But these are mortal beings and he’s just a guy or is he and, and so, you know, we’re, we’re playing it out from, from that issue two and three of that will be coming out. Next year I’m also working with a company called a mortal studios on a book called the adept.
That I co-write with Tasha who and that’s about a young girl, young woman who was basically trained by this Kung Fu master in her dreams, or while she, she’s not sure then, like, I, I think, like I find that a lot of my stories come back to perception. Yeah.
Melissa: I like that. That’s really interesting.
Cause I always think about that. Like, is there, you know, are you really. Is it real when you’re dreaming, is that another world that you think is a dream, but maybe it’s like another life you’re living.
Charlie Stickney: Right. Right. So, so she basically was, it was on the run and homeless for a couple of years. But like having these [00:40:00] visions every night where she was being trained by this, I wish you’d asked her.
And you know, then the dream stopped. Which was kind of like her catalyst to say, you know what, like, I, I need to try to go reconnect with parts of my life. And so she’s like the book starts with her trying to reconnect with her sister. And then there’s this crazy attack at a stadium. And she has to kind of venture into it and see whether these things that she’s been training years were, you know, real or what she did is insane.
And then the master shows up. And so it’s like, it’s it’s for her trying to unravel what this, this history was for. You know, why she, you know, why she’s connecting with this piston and what, what’s this big game that she’s now a part of. And that’s drawn by Shawn Lee who did some incredible art for it.
It’s it’s, it’s, it’s a good, good book as well. So I’ve got more of that. So like it’s, it’s, it’s a somewhat full slate. For for next year, you know, between more white Ash, the white Ash spinoff series the [00:41:00] game and the adapt. I know I’m trying to keep growing scout and promoting other creators.
I think that’s, that’s gonna be enough for 2021.
Melissa: Now you’ve got a lot. And then yeah, scout has you know, exciting titles coming out as well. And on top of all that, and I know you’ve got the, like the imprints and then I saw that you have the subscription box, which looks really cool. I mean, you got what?
12 comics a month for like $34.
Charlie Stickney: Yeah. It’s, it’s really a great deal for both readers and collectors. Like for those collectors out there, because we often put one or two of our exclusive variant covers in that box instead of the regular cover. So, you know, like we just had a series drop last month called the recount and the web store exclusive cover on that already.
Like a couple of weeks later is going between 15 and $25. That was one of the books that was in there. You know, the, the speculators and the collectors have descended on scout lately, and I’m not going to [00:42:00] dissuade them because they’re good books and they are low print runs, so they could be valuable one day.
But but in terms of like a deal, what you can get delivered to your house when you’re getting 12 titles a month and it’s, it’s basically one of everything that we’re putting out. And if we don’t put out. 12 titles in a month, then we’re dipping into like a number one of a backstock. So sometimes those are also expensive books that we’re putting in there to fill out that box.
Then, you know, like this, this month, I think there’s there are going to be some glary and posters coming out for people who get the box, this coming month. So like little perks like that, that are just stuck in as well.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. And I’m, I’m thinking about signing up. Actually, it looks good.
Charlie Stickney: It’s a good deal.
You want to check out the, you know, the brand for a couple of months, it’s a great way to sample. And I mean, Yasmeen, which we just put out this year is also great. I think, you know, if I was to put two books up for the Eisner’s, it would be Canopius and Yasmeen. They’re both just incredible. So.
[00:43:00] Melissa: cool. And where, where can, I mean, can people just buy the comics straight through your website or can they also get them through their local comic book shops or Amazon?
Charlie Stickney: Well, I really hope they can get them through their local County bookshops. If you are a local comic book shop and you don’t currently get scout and you listened to this amazing podcast you know, reach out to me on Twitter and we’ll make sure that we hook you up.
We, we have a lot of shops and I think we, you know, we’re, we’re in over probably about 1500 shops. And if you go to your, your, your local comic book shop and tell them you want any of our titles, they’ll, they’ll pull in order it for you because we’re in diamond, which is like the, the distribution magazine that the stores order from.
We also just signed a bookstore distribution deal with Simon and Schuster, which then got bought out by penguin random house, random house. So you know, we are now part of that conglomerate as well. So starting this summer, our trades. We’ll also be coming out through them in bookstores and on Amazon.
And you can always buy things through our [00:44:00] website as well. And you know, I, we like to, we try to put our books in as many different distribution channels as possible. So people can get the books, whatever best suits them. If you’re a retailer, we want to make it available for you to get things for your store, you know, however works for you.
And the same thing goes for our customer. If you’re shopping, isn’t ordering scout books, you know, tell them if they don’t do that for some crazy reason, you can always get everything that we have online, or you can get a subscription box. If you live in Los Angeles, where we’re I do, you know, hit me up, maybe I can just dry my bike by your house.
Melissa: Right. I got like an Uber Lyft or something. Awesome. Well well thank you for chatting with me today. I really appreciate it.
Charlie Stickney: No, of course, I really appreciate being on the show and thank you guys for taking the time and, and spreading the word about companies like ours and, you know, and the great creators we have, because I think, I think, you know, in, you know, more than the scalp brand, I think people [00:45:00] should check out the creators that we have that we’re putting out on the shelves, because there’s some really great people.
Like, like I said, I mentioned Yasmeen. I mentioned you know, black cottonwoods coming out metal shark, bro is one of the funniest books that’s been out in a long time. They’ve got a couple of books out, Bob friends and Kevin cough and Walter style. Who did that book? I mean, like there’s just so many great creators Brian Wickman who just did grit.
I mean, that was a really big hit for us. He feeds it. So whatever genre you want, we have an amazing creator that can give it to you.
Melissa: Yeah, no, I, I definitely, I was browsing through your website and yeah, everybody that’s listening, you can definitely find something, you know, that you like, there’s multiple genres represented and there’s a lot of titles to choose from too.
So I, I think I might try that subscription box, actually. I think that sounds like it good way to get, get a good taste of everything, you know, so.
Charlie Stickney: For sure.
Melissa: Yeah. Well, so everyone go make sure to go check out scout [00:46:00] comics.com and then you can also find Charlie Stickney on Twitter and you have a website too.
I believe it’s Charlie stickney.com.
Charlie Stickney: I, I do. I mean, it’s, it’s an older website that I don’t spend enough time with because there’s only so much bandwidth. But the best way to find is Twitter. Usually I’m pretty visible on there and approachable.
Melissa: Right. Awesome. Well, there you have it. Thanks again for coming
Charlie Stickney: on.
Thank you. Thank you.