Today Melissa is joined by Chuck Brown, the writer behind Bitter Root which won the Eisner for best ongoing comic!
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Chuck Brown – Interview
[00:00:00] Melissa: this is spoiler country and I’m Alyssa searcher today on the show. I’m excited to welcome Eisner and Ringo award winning writer. Chuck Brown. Thank you for being here today.
Chuck Brown: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.
Melissa: Yeah. How are you doing?
Chuck Brown: I’m doing pretty well. I’m very, very sleepy, but I’m here and I’m making
Oh, good. Good. Are you a West coast? East coast right now. Okay. Yeah, let’s, it’s been an exhausting couple of days
Chuck Brown: glued to my, to my computer and so on for the last few days. And also trying to get this Kickstarter go into what’s going on right now.
Melissa: Okay, well, thank you for taking the time to come on. All right, well, let’s get right into it.
I really want to talk about, bitter root first one, the Eisner award for best ongoing sphere series. what inspired the creation of the series and what did winning that award mean to you?
Chuck Brown: Oh, wow. I’m really, I did. I’ve been wanting to do something, [00:01:00] with, this family for a very long time. It’s kind of a combination of a bunch of John’s roles that I really love, which is, you know, Spotify and whiskers and historical fiction and steam in magic.
So, it’s just one of those ideas. That’s kind of, it was in my archives for a long time and I’ve just been, you know, developing and hearing there. And I really just wanted to create something empowering that showed us in such a powerful, special light. And, I think the stingray family kind of really fit that bill when I was kind of brainstorming everything, getting the eyes on, it just feels very, unreal, to be honest with you, I’m still, still, you know, still trying to wrap my head around it.
You know, it’s a little surreal, but I’m very honored and very thankful and, I can’t speak for my Bitterroot brothers, but, you know, just, you know, it was really mind boggling, you know?
Melissa: Nice. Well, congratulations. That’s a huge, huge honor. Yeah. so the series takes place during, during the Harlem Renaissance jazz [00:02:00] age, why was this time period specifically so essential to the story?
Chuck Brown: Definitely was a period piece where, I was thinking about, Barbara surgeons at the time where, you know, Barbara surgeons, they didn’t, they didn’t hear us cut hair. They, you know, they pull teeth and set bones. And I just kind of had this vision of, you know, this, this, this, this area of this, of, this, of this habitat everywhere.
There was this, you know, these, all these relics and things around it, we could hide a secret life. we’ll have a family like this and, you know, race or inequality is, you know, exist today in the past. But, you know, in the 1920s and 19, 19, a lot of, a lot of horrific things happen. So, you know, as I was studying the Harlem Renaissance, you know, I really, you know, I was, I wanted to kind of focus on that in the story.
And of course, The racism side will be more about the villain and what he’s went through and how he wants to use this, these, supernatural forces to basically [00:03:00] be, or basically take out people to another level in the 1920s, basically more like the early Malcolm X, But, 1920, just a lot of, horrific things happen.
That’s not what the research and all the Renaissance was. It’s just the time period I was very fascinated with and it’s kind of just all came together. You know, I’m trying to reach us to music and, you know, the orders of the poets and things, but, you know, there’s this horrific, acts that happened on that time and it just kinda kept seeping into the story.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Well, and I know it does Bitterroot addresses hate and racism without any illusions. You know what it truly is. and this is very relevant today. Just as much as it was back then, where there were those parallels drawn intentionally or did that sort of organically come about as you were researching?
Chuck Brown: it’s just kind of organically. even before I did research into the Harlem Renaissance, the things that went on and, you know, the, that was kind of the main. driving force behind the villain, racial inequality and just hate and rage [00:04:00] and hate crimes. I love, I love a villain that happened as a villain for a purpose, you know?
but with the vest that, that was the Vester. you know, his, I guess his, his, I guess its origins and his, and his, and his, and his. Intentions are good, but the way he wants to go about it can be pretty overwritten, you know? So, that’s kind of where it really all started with the Vesta and then bringing David on board.
He was, you know, looked like, you know, what if we made all the moms motivated by hate, you know, what, if these must been eating half as well. And that just blew my mind and we just kind of kept rolling with that. And he just kept spinning this yarn. And you know, here, here we are today.
Melissa: Yeah, well, and it is an allegory for the monsters that plague our society now.
do you think that this series will help facilitate a more open discussion on racism in America? Oh,
Chuck Brown: absolutely. you know, sitting at cons, you know, me and David had this discussion as well in Sanford as well. People will come up to us. [00:05:00] And now, you know, they love the story of the Bitterroot and they loved the characters, but there also will be like, and I’ve never.
Heard of red summer, I’ve never heard of the race massacre. I’ve never heard of this and that. And you know, it’s, you know, we have, a compelling story with great characters and wonderful artwork, but also, there are these teachable moments within the book. And, I think, I think, I think it has definitely made a difference.
I think it has touched a lot of people. I think it inspired a lot of African American writers and artists to basically, you know, to put more stuff out there and put out what you love. And, I hope, I hope maybe it changed a few, you know, Hearts and minds, that would be nice, you know?
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely.
And well, yeah, that’s what it’s gonna, what it’s gonna take, you know, is getting it more out there. you know, cause accurate representation in comics is essential and necessary. not just in the characters, I think in the stories, but also like you were saying the creators themselves, not just having.
White creators, you know, create characters of [00:06:00] color. You need to have, writers of color as well, telling their stories. so are you hopeful that the industry will continue to kind of become more inclusive as we get on?
Chuck Brown: Hopefully. Yeah, I hope, I hope that do work. You know, there’s, there’s definitely a surge, you know, the black man, the black lives matter movement and, people really want to, you know, make a difference and, and, and, you know, have more representation in comics, like you said, in the pages and. And on staff.
you know, I’m, I’m, I’m a bit of a pessimist, you know, I hope they move forward and just, aren’t like on the bandwagon, you know, for now, you know, following the hashtag and don’t forget about this in five years or so, or two years from now, the, you know, so I hope, I hope there are more, people of color and women that are, in comics, but, you know, also goes back to this.
Systemic racism in general, you know, like [00:07:00] myself and a lot of us would just, you know, we, we started, you know, a few steps behind the starting line. So, you know, it’s hard trying to catch up, you know, this trying to get. And to just regular jobs and, you know, and, and regular homes. And, you know, you live in any other, any live in any kind of dreams, low on comics, you know?
Melissa: Right. It’s gone just getting a seat at the table. It’s getting into the room, you know,
Chuck Brown: I guess some more. Traction. I get, you know, I try to lift up, you know, people whenever I can, or like I said, put those characters out there that look like that look like us to inspire, you know, young, young creators.
And not only, I mean, do you examine race and your series, but you do touch on women’s rights as well. Do you believe that those two issues, go hand in hand or have an impact on the other?
Chuck Brown: Well, absolutely. Absolutely. You know, the, link, which is one of the, you know, the main characters in, on the stump.
you know, [00:08:00] it’s a black woman in the 1920s, you know, and we couldn’t go without kind of addressing that, you know, and in a way as we went about the book, you know, cause there’s like, you know, Shirley Chisholm, you know, she ran the seventies in the seventies and you know, her own. Party turned against her, you know, the, as far as you know, in this group then, so is there so many different levels to that, you know, women’s rights, and racism and yucky, like you said, it’s all intertwined and it’s, it’s all about elevating minds.
Just letting us aware of our own biases, you know, black men. Make open an eyes to it, you know,
Melissa: when you’re, when you’re creating these characters. And I know you you’ve decided you do a lot of historical research as well, but some of it’s, you know, scifi and fantasy, what comes first for you? Do you kind of come up with these characters first or is it the setting and the time period that [00:09:00] comes first.
Chuck Brown: Great big gumbo, to be honest with you. Ideas all got to be, you know, drive to the grocery store and, you know, see something on the side of a rural, a piece of garbage that sparks an idea about a world or a time period, or a character or some kind of social injustice going on in the world that can spark it, you know?
The day, you know, what’s going on? a lot of my is I want us to be as motivated by, you know, the things that keep me up at night. You know what I worry about my own issues, you know? Yeah. So, like, you know, the getting lesbian community, you know, growing up, you know, you know, as in the black community, that was like not, not tolerated, you know, that was instilled in us, you know, and, you know, into my early twenties, it was instilled in me, you know, and, and stuff I had to deal with and really, you know, do some soul searching and kind of get out of that.
Mindset. And that’s my, my mindset. And that’s kinda where I’m in book on the stump, you know, there’s, [00:10:00] I created my first, gay character in that, in that, in that book. And I was really apprehensive about it because I didn’t want to misrepresent anyone, but also want it to, you know, It wasn’t just for the readers.
It was also for me and dealing with my own, my own issues with it and trying to broaden my mind.
Melissa: Right. Trying to learn and grow and yeah. Yeah. And speaking of on the step, the, so the promise has to do with the presidential debate that turns violent, and then now elections are decided by hand-to-hand combat.
in, arenas. Yeah. I thought that was really interesting. how did you come up with that idea and how much did like real life politics affect that sort of, concept?
Chuck Brown: Oh, politics had a huge, huge impact on it. politics always frustrated me, you know, I’m no expert by any means, but it just, The political system and the two foot, two sides.
How did they do that band through and had other people, other people themselves are the [00:11:00] ones that suffer and how elite labor alive put our lives in their hands. And, you know, kind of watch from the sidelines. In 2016 or 2015, when the, Trump really running, you know, you move her. Like, I was, I was guilty of it too.
I’m like, you know, everyday I’m sitting down, like, what did that fool hit today? You
Chuck Brown: on the news, like what is like entertainment and that kind of, you know, that kinda, you know, spark the whole ideal of on the stump, honestly, you know, I’ve always had the idea. For years of just a world where people don’t really use guns, we’re just like hand to hand combat lead, cut enough and track, fix someone of jump out and beat the hell.
Somebody wins. You give it to the high five and you go about your business cause you settled in the streets. But, yeah, definitely the, the, the rise of Trump, really kind of provoked. Sparked that whole idea of on the stump.
Chuck Brown: I kind of just packed a lot of my frustrations into that story. wrote racial [00:12:00] inequality, religion, religion, and, and, and how we’re so distracted by the people that are up on stage and on the television, you know,
Well, and if there is, you know, since, as you were saying, since Trump came into the picture, you know, a verbal, a Handycam combat, if you will, you know, it’s, it’s definitely not, but I remember growing up, you know, politics was something that, you know, we didn’t pay attention to, when we were kids, but now it’s sort of like, that’s all we can talk about because it’s in our faces.
so yeah, it’s interesting how. You could see how your concept and on the stump could actually be real, you know, at some point.
Chuck Brown: Right. Right. And I, and I intentionally in the story, I don’t mention Republicans or Democrats in the story. and I guess the world of on the stump. You know, in the 18 hundreds, there was a fight basically between these two politicians and that fight just kind of spread like wildfire across the country.
And people were [00:13:00] so fascinated by it. That’s kinda what came, became the norm. Right? So my, my way of thinking was, you know, in 2016, you know, You know, this racist, homophobic person, you know, saying these horrible things about people and not really caring about us, you know, what’s that going to lead to what’s that going to rise to?
What, where are we, where do we go from here? You know, I haven’t looked at the numbers recently, but, I think. Buttons when it, I don’t know what your political,
Melissa: yeah. I’m hoping Biden wins.
Chuck Brown: You know, you know, the past two, three days we shouldn’t have biting their nails, you know, it’s so cold. It’s so close.
It just boggles my mind. And it’s like, you know, I mean, he may be out of office, but you know, the CVS planet it’s there, you know, it’s always been, I mean, it’s always been racist, you know, for ever, but, you know, It’s like the it’s like, you know, [00:14:00] the rotors on the afraid to call out in the light now, you know?
Melissa: Yeah, exactly. I’ve been saying that for a while. Yeah, it’s very, yeah, it was very unfortunate because I mean, I guess call it naiveté or whatever. I definitely thought we were going to have a landslide.
Chuck Brown: coronavirus was handled. It just, it just boggles my mind, but
Melissa: yeah, absolutely.
Chuck Brown: You know, it is what it is, you know?
Melissa: Yeah. I think also because I’m in California and we were, we have a different, you know, overall majority outlook over here. So I think all of us in California too, we just don’t understand like, you know, mentality and other parts of the country.
So it was kind of like, okay, let’s just have another drink and see what happens.
Chuck Brown: Miss South Carolina, South Carolina, but I live in Richland County, but Rick, the County is blue. So it’s like rural areas. You know, [00:15:00] they, they are more. Supportive of him. So,
Melissa: yeah. Well, and I think too, and I think you point this out, you know, in, in your books, there’s a bigger picture that a lot of people don’t realize that despite what your beliefs are, the bigger picture will affect everybody.
Chuck Brown: Yeah. Yeah. And, and not just us today, but I, you know, our kids tomorrow, you know, just the lack of, Critical thinking, you know, thank you for yourselves and just kind of taking a step back from just, you know,
Melissa: Absolutely. Yeah. And humanity. Exactly
Chuck Brown: know what I’m saying? The Democrats are perfectly great, but Hey, you
Chuck Brown: the witch of the devil, you know, you know?
Melissa: Yeah, no, exactly. I completely agree. and then, well, you know, and speaking of monsters, I just getting back to, your, your book. You and correct me if I’m mispronouncing this, but you call the monsters that you’re both.
[00:16:00] Chuck Brown: Gino,
Melissa: Gino. What is the, that reference to, what is that name?
Chuck Brown: It’s it’s, I think it’s a South African, term. David can probably explain it to you a little bit more in detail, but, it’s a cipher Africa term, but it’s actually kind of made up different words basically. I think he has something to do with, evil and hate, but it’s like a made up word, but as derived from two different languages, but I’m not exactly sure which ones at
Melissa: the moment.
Yeah. It reminded me of the, I think there’s a, like a mythological demon named . Which is, I think it’s like in the middle East area. So it kind of reminded me of, so I wasn’t sure if that was an, an, a complete made-up word or if it had a historical signal,
Chuck Brown: that’s what the genie isn’t there.
Melissa: Yeah, exactly.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So it reminded me of, I also read that better route has been optioned for film and that. black Panther director, Ryan Coogler signed on to produce. Is that still happening? What can you tell us about that?
Chuck Brown: Yeah. Yeah. I think that was announced in [00:17:00] 2018. I think we’re actually at New York Comic-Con when we finally got the news, we knew legendary had option the property and we’ll just kind of tossing around different names about, you know, who would direct.
The book who would direct or who would produce. And it talks about Ryan Coogler, his name who kind of just laughed it off. Oh, he’ll be busy. Ha ha. You know, we’ll get him. And then we get the news and yeah, come on down to the work, come on and produce. did, they are very excited about the property? Ryan actually reads the books and cares about the books and its content and staying true to the content.
legendary is still very supportive and they want to get it made. Just kind of. You know, waiting to see Evans, you know, Mr. Rona kind of threw things off a bit, so we’ll just kind of wait to see what happens. But the last time I heard, they’re still very motivated to make it happen. So.
Melissa: Awesome. Yeah. Will you be involved at all in the process?
Chuck Brown: executive producers, me, David Sanford, and I, I know won’t be writing the script. I think they actually found a [00:18:00] screenwriter. but I thought I was going to say they found, we found we have a screen writer on board. I’m not exactly sure what my involvement will be. I’m sure it will be flying out to every now and again, but that’s all, I really know, you know, honestly, my involvement is just right in the comics.
That’s what I’m kinda
Melissa: focused on. Nice. How many, how many, issues is,
Chuck Brown: right now, a writing issue, 13 right now. So, you know, so. We’re going to just keep doing and until we’ll just, we’ll just see, you know, there’s definitely going to be a third arm. Second arm came out to the 21st and I’m working on the third row now.
Melissa: Okay, awesome. So it’s kind of open-ended right now. You’re just going to keep doing it as long as they there’s a demand for it.
Chuck Brown: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Melissa: Cool. And you, you have a connection to black Panther as well, that you worked on a couple of issues, is that correct?
Chuck Brown: Yeah, well, definitely. you know, when the movie first came out, the scene where he was on top of the Alexis, I basically did like a, a book, with the custom comic division of Marvel, based on that scene [00:19:00] where I’m brought up the kind of work with Siri, it was kind of like a must like a commercial almost in a sense was still, you know, I got to play with that character and like they cared in the hat, you know, lived a little, you know, kicked off a checkbox, my bucket list.
Melissa: That’s awesome. Yeah. What did that mean to you to be able to work on that? I mean, it’s, that’s a huge impact.
Chuck Brown: I just kept this, keep getting these. Unreal, unbelievable moments, you know, just to work on that character even just for a few pages. And it was still really amazing. It was really I’m living. My dream was awesome.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Speaking of how did you get into comics? Like how, what was your path to the comic book industry?
Chuck Brown: Well, basically just kicked my way into it, kicking it out. you know, I just willed myself into it. it started out with, sub publisher. from a, you know, I’ll live in South Carolina and our area was eight Oh three.
So in college, myself and a couple of other guys that wanted to break into the industry, we, started up called Isla three studios where we just self [00:20:00] published our own work. and that’s kinda where it started. And I just, So publish anthologies and my, crater on projects just got the attention of other professionals and then a lot of collaborations.
And I worked with Sanford on a couple of things, and I think my first major thing was getting published at dark horse and the, this kept building relationships going to con putting up much stuff as I possibly could. And just, You know, not giving up, not giving up, honestly. Yeah,
Melissa: yeah. Yeah. What, what made you like, what, what made you want to become a comic book writer?
Was there a specific comic book or, artists that, that made you want to really get into it?
Chuck Brown: Well, I don’t really remember, honestly. I just remember, I remember my first kind of was an adventure book. I think it was the Avengers versus the lava man or something like that. I do remember, when I was younger, I used to create characters, give them the names, origins abilities, but I never really thought of myself as a writer.
I just always something I loved doing. And it just kind of was a part of me, [00:21:00] you know, what specific moment that I can think of. But, my mother was a big influence on me. Batman was a big influence on me. Black Panther comics were a big influence and I just kind of just kept doing it until, like I said, I kinda fell into this crowd and, In college when I started had a shared dreams and we just kind of hustled together.
Melissa: And did you know, like when you first got into it or you like, Oh, I want to kind of create superheroes or fantasy, or did you know that at the time that you wanted to, use your platform for social justice? No.
Chuck Brown: I just wanted to create comics and create characters that looked like D and, And honestly just deal with my own issues.
Honestly, you know, it was little self centered, honestly, just, you know, dealing with kind of stuff I had to deal with, but I do, I knew deep down the things I’m dealing with in life that other breeders are dealing with too, you know, I to, I want to touch people, you know? Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, I was, I was a big fan of, I guess, the Simpsons growing up too, you know, and that showed is one of [00:22:00] those things that just ease my mind doing my terrific toughest times, you know, all my work to do that, to people, they got my comment or they see something that I created on the television or, or on the theaters and just, you know, A little bit of escapism and a little bit of enlightenment as well, you know?
Melissa: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Right. Writing is so therapeutic, you know, can’t, I can really, it will transports people, you know, and I’m a writer as well. And that is no, that’s amazing that you said that because I feel the same way. I think that books and whether it be novels or comic books should be escapism, you know, to kind of, either still can be a message and, and to.
You know, share your views, but it’s definitely a fun escape to get lost in his story. Yeah. Well, I also want to talk about, your new Kickstarter campaign for short complex. So, it’s a collection of short stories set in the genres of Saifai or an action, [00:23:00] but you also cover some really, real topics that like mental illness, politics, racial inequality, are these stories part of the bitter root universe or is this an entirely new world and concept?
Chuck Brown: pilot new world and concept, the only thing it is tattoo, one of the short stories is tied to the, on the stump universe. Okay. But the other words that basically all totally different, you know, unique creations that I’ve been dreaming up for awhile, you know, That would have been a huge fan of Spotify, have all these ideas that I wanted to get out into the world.
And these kind of short stories are just glimpses into these tiny, different universities that are somewhat subtly connected together, you know?
Melissa: Oh, they are okay. I was going to ask that if they’re connected or not.
Chuck Brown: Yeah. Yeah. They’re all connected in a sense. Yes. But it’s nothing that’s, it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t jump out at you when you first read it, but hopefully you’ll, you’ll see the clues as, as you kinda go through the stories.
Melissa: Okay. Yeah. I like the little Easter eggs.
[00:24:00] Chuck Brown: Right, right.
Melissa: Awesome. And so the Kickstarter is, as it did just start, right. It is it’s open and available now.
Chuck Brown: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We, yeah. Well actually we started on number no October. 30th, I think it was. And, we’re not a hundred percent funded. I think we’re 110% I think now, but, I have a lot of cute, you know, ad-ons and stretch goals I have in mind.
So, this please go to our short, complex.com and click on the link and, you know, check us out and pledge and share.
Melissa: Awesome. Yeah. What are like, what are some of the cool, like rewards that backers can, can choose from?
Chuck Brown: Well, of course the, you get the Kickstarter. I mean the shotgun Plex book itself, and you get, three trading cards.
We have a truck on Plex variant cover with the three trading cards as well. We have ’em on the stump bundle where you get a signed copy. Of the under stumped trade volume one trade, and you get the, [00:25:00] of course drug complexity. We have a bit of root bundle where you get volume one and volume two, a bitter root signed, and I’m a book, the truck complex books.
And I actually released, three stretch covers, three sketch covers of Sanford green. Okay. We’re going to be trained today, but those are already sold out already. But, I’m going to be, but I will be doing some more, hopefully be doing some more stretch covers by the end of the month. that’ll also be a limited number, but it will be forum on the stump stash color, but I was also to be done by Sanford green as well.
Melissa: Oh, cool. That sounds really fun. Yeah. I went and checked it out and, it looks, it looks really interesting. We, and, and this is, is this a collaboration you said, or, or is this completely on your own?
Chuck Brown: No, this is a completely on my own, but I’m working with a lot of different artists, and that it isn’t, graphic designer.
So, I mean, it’s, you know, the stories of I’ve written so low, but I a great people to help bring it to life. So of course, all of them, of course, the, all the people that have pled so far, you know, reg grateful to that as well.
[00:26:00] Melissa: Awesome. And then as far as on the stump goes, how many issues do you have planned for that one?
Is that continuous?
Chuck Brown: No, actually, unfortunately it isn’t, there’s, there’s more of a story there, but, you know, issue one was released in January of this year. So, and then it kind of hit right after that, which, I don’t, I’m not complaining at all in the sales, but the sales weren’t that great after that.
Cause everything kind of shut down for a bit at the moment. There’s only no volume, one of on the stump. there’s definitely more story to tell and, Some of that story will be in, in the, short, complex story and that, that story is actually called, stranger days. and that, basically this, secret service agent that kind of goes undercover to root out corruption in stump fighting in a sense.
And, and this is his story outside. Other comments, but also in the same comic,
Melissa: diverse alcohol, do you have a lot of stories planned as [00:27:00] far as for, like side characters, like in your different theories, like from Bitterroot or from on the stump? Like you have that already kind of in your head. I know, like as a writer we get all these plot bunnies, then we’re like, Oh, I want to do this story.
Do you have that planned out yet?
Chuck Brown: not at the moment. Just that stranger today’s story. Okay for short complex, but I have another concept called. flawed where, there’s a, I’m developing a comic called flawed, but also there’s a short story called Florida as well. Again, two different characters cast the characters, but same.
Same, basically, same world, you know, the flood you might say. So
Melissa: the same universe. Yeah. That’s awesome. When you’re writing, do you find it easier or harder to write your own original material versus like writing something that’s already a universe that exists like black Panther?
Chuck Brown: not [00:28:00] really. You know, there’s been so many stories to tell, you know, there’s a, there’s a hero’s journey, you know, there’s a village journey.
There’s You know, there’s the bad-ass check the, that fights or whatever, but, I don’t really have too much story. I’m not too much issues worried about, you know, creating something that’s already out there. I just kinda feel like, you know, my own unique experiences, I just kind of focused on that.
Just kind of go from there, honestly.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. What’s your process like as far as when you get an idea, when you’re developing your story, are you an outliner or are you a pantser where you just kind of make it up as you go along?
Chuck Brown: Well, the pants are honestly a little bit of both, honestly, but I’m a little bit more of a pantser and, I know we’re working with David and it’s hard to be a pants, so you know what the kind of coordinate.
A little bit, you know, as we kinda do a real detail outline, you know, and we tighten up the outline and then kind of go to script from there. most of my brainstorming is kind of off the top of my head and I kind of jot it down here and then maybe on a sticky [00:29:00] note or notebook paper, but once I get all those ideas down, you know, then I kind of start trying to, you know, For my design ideas, you know, get the, get the outline, going, tighten up the outline and then start writing the script and kind of dig at least figure out how the book ends or how the story ends.
So I can, won’t lose my way as I start writing.
Melissa: Yeah, I know that’s a good point break and the middle part can, the details can kind of change, but it’s always good to have that end goal in mind.
Chuck Brown: Right, right.
Melissa: Yeah. And so when you collaborate with other people, is that something you do well with? Like, do you, do you enjoy co-writing or co working on something with another artist?
Chuck Brown: Well with another writer is definitely challenging, you know? and we both have our own ideas about how the story should flow and go. but once you get those brainstorming sessions, sessions, those can be very fulfilling and fun. You know, once you really get down [00:30:00] into the nitty gritty of Canada, you know, developing the story.
But like I said, we, we have different, you know, I may have a different process than some artists and some writers where, you know, like you said, sometimes I’m a pantser and sometimes I, I like to, you know, It’s on the outline and can get things tight, but, I’m, I’m a bit all over the place. So when it comes to collaborating, that can be challenging, but I’m not.
Not difficult, you know, if that makes sense.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, no, it’s yeah, it’s, it’s interesting when you blend two, two people’s perspectives together and sometimes it can work really well and other times it doesn’t, but, you’ve been fortunate enough. I think too, I’ve worked with people that you gel with, you know, Yeah.
I also just kind of getting back to, Bitterroot again, cause I’m really fascinated, by this comic, you have a character name, as Johnny Ray, am I getting that right? And he seems to sort of represent the [00:31:00] growth that people are capable of. Is that his purpose in the, in the series?
Chuck Brown: Yeah, absolutely.
It’s you know, it’s just an examination. Of looking through someone else’s eyes and looks at you now. he anyway, basically was, you know, we first see him, you know, with the clan about, you know, with people about the Lynch, a black man, you know, and everyone around him start turning into these, these genomes, these monsters, you know, and, he doesn’t, and basically Ford explains that, you know, You’re not all the way tainted yet, you know, in a sense your soul isn’t lost yet, you know, and that kind of Sprockets curiosity, and wants to know more about it.
So that’s why he kind of follows forward and travels with them to kind of understand what has happened to other people he grew up with around him, you know? and yeah, it definitely is. It definitely is an examination of, you know, can people. Truly change, you know, they can, and are they willing to, you [00:32:00] know, it’s all about what you’re willing to do, you know?
I think we all want to, but I know deep down, I want to believe that people can change if people can do better. And I think that’s what kind of what generate represents at least to me. And also, I don’t want to do any spoilers, but you know, in Reno, in traditional movies, there’s always that one. You know, black character, that’s always, you know, the, the, the sidekick of, of the main, now the main hero.
So that’s kind of what January Alto represents as well. You know, it’s kinda a little bit of a reversal.
Melissa: Okay. Yeah. Redemption,
Chuck Brown: right.
Melissa: Interesting. Yeah. What are the, I always liked characters that have more that are multi-layered, you know, like you were saying earlier about villains, who actually have, you know, a motivation or, are not just a villain for the sake of being.
A villain. I always say that villains think they’re the heroes of their own stories.
Chuck Brown: Right.
Melissa: So I think it’s interesting. How important is [00:33:00] that to you to make sure that every single character, whether they have, you know, a main part or one line is multi-layered,
Chuck Brown: that’s very important. I want, you know, comics, you know, it’s only 22 pages, you know?
Right. And there’s only so many words in, in, So much real estate to work with. So when I put it, I character in a book, I want to make sure they matter. You know, I want to make sure that Canada has a purpose or the sending the meshing method or means something to the book. It helps things along. So, it’s definitely something I’m conscious of when I’m, when I’m writing a comical, writing anything, then that’s what I want to make sure that character has layers and has a purpose and has a meaning.
You know, even if that, you know, isn’t always, you know, Relevant at first, you know?
Melissa: Right. Do you, do you have like a, like a story Bible where you keep character backstories and, deleted scenes and things like that?
Chuck Brown: Well, it’s more like, cat descriptions, you know, And it’s something that develops over [00:34:00] time, honestly, you know, sometimes as I write the script or I’m having a conversation with David or Sanford or, or a Prezi about something, you know, these characters breathe more life more and more life is breathed into these characters.
You know, they. They grow just like anyone else as you write them and actually put it out into the world. And I’ve, I’ve written characters and put books out and people will see things that I’d never even realized I was putting into the story. I think, you know, one of the things about being a road and on the stump is that we have these essays in the back of the book.
And, someone basically did an observation of. You know how I have always had the characters eating and on the stump, you know, and, and my original motivation was that was about my own, relationship with food. And I guess the nation’s relationship with fluid honestly, but, I can’t remember exactly what she wrote at the moment, but the way she examined, how I, Youth food in the story, was just absolutely blew my mind about how [00:35:00] she saw things that I never even imagined in the story.
And that adds more to this world. You know, it, once you put a story out there, I, I believe it kind of evolves on its own, you know, cause the fans and the radio, they add to it as well and what they, what they read into it and, and, and, and how much they care about it. And the County.
Melissa: Yeah. And they develop their own theories and stuff.
Chuck Brown: Yeah,
Melissa: yeah. Yeah. It was almost like you subconsciously put something in that everybody else picked up on. And speaking of, so your relationship to food, cause I believe that’s also can be somewhat of a. Political and social issue. what kinds of things do you, do you have, thoughts about that and how it was portrayed in your, in your mind and how you sort of conveyed that in, in the series?
Chuck Brown: Well, basically, you know, there’s, you know, constantly consuming, you know, we as Americans, we constantly [00:36:00] consume, you know, I think part of the issue with the corner of our eyes with America is that, you know, we feel the need to go out and, you know, there’s this illusion of freedom and the illusion that we have to be out there, the restart the economy, you know, and don’t really, some people just don’t care that.
You know, our lives are at stake, you know, that we have to go out there and consume, or people have to be out there and, you know, and, and serve and serve us and, and, and keep the economy going, you know, in my personal relationship with food is that, you know, that’s, you know, I don’t smoke, but it’s like that that would be more cigarettes.
You know what I’m saying? Like when I’m stressed, I may eat, you know, and that’s kinda what the characters were doing in this, and it’s in this book, but, One interesting thing was that a friend of mine told me that I didn’t even think about it. He was like, they’re always fighting. So they must be burning a lot of calories.
And I was like, I’m like, damn, that’s a, that’s a really good point. Yeah. You know, so again, they’re [00:37:00] reading things into this that I never even imagined myself, but which totally makes sense, you know?
Melissa: Yeah, no, I would never have thought about it that way either, but that’s true if they’re constantly being active, right?
Yeah. I know you made a good point though. I do. I do agree. There’s a lot of, you know, there’s a lot of levels of privilege and, I feel like, I mean, we’ve really, it feels like forever, right? Because this is something that’s very strange and different for us than our current society, but it’s really only been since March.
and I think, yeah, People are getting a little stir-crazy and I don’t really understand it. I’m fine with being at home and, you know, keeping, keeping myself safe. I don’t need to go to a restaurant. I didn’t really go to many before and to be honest, but yeah, there’s definitely.
Chuck Brown: I’m an introvert.
So, you know, I don’t, I don’t mind staying home all the time, so, you know, but some, but, you know, to be honest, some people, you know, they need other people and there’s nothing that, you know, there’s nothing wrong with [00:38:00] that. But. You know, I guess it’s easier on some than others, I guess.
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. Well, the other issue too, I think with food is, there is, there’s this thing where if you can’t afford organic food, you know, you’re going to buy food.
That’s not good for you. And when they talk about, you know, the food issues in this country, what they don’t, what they fail to mention is that to eat healthy. A lot of times this is very expensive and a lot of people can’t afford it. So, there is that. You know, side too, as far as how we keep ourselves healthy and that, that disparity, you know,
Chuck Brown: Right.
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I really want to ask you as well, about an important, you know, element of the series is that all these horrors that are happening are basically caused by humanity, doing it to ourselves switch. We’ve been talking about, in real time as well. do you think humanity will be the cause for its [00:39:00] undoing?
Chuck Brown: Yes.
you know, if you know yes. I mean, I think, I think, you know, Own selfish nature, you know, divisiveness, you know, may one day be around doing, you know, I honestly, I mean, I hope not, you know, I have it’s and I hope there’s a better future. And that’s all that all of us can do is to avoid that, you know, to keep that from keeping us from being our own undoing, you know?
but then again, you know, like this, this virus, you know, this isn’t. You know, it’s, it only, it could have been controlled if, if basically, you know, we, you know, we basically stay home and, you know, try to care about it and wear the mask and care about everyone else, you know, but in that, and that was people, you know, not wanting to know, listen and do the right thing and listening to lies, you know, and, and that’s, and that’s on us.
That’s on us. You know, the virus may [00:40:00] be. I think they know that’s this kind of asking always, maybe existed in the world over whatever, but you know, the fact that we can’t get them to control that’s that’s on us and our, I guess our, our illusion of freedom, you know, and, and that’s not in people being sheep and not listening to, you know, the science and then what needs to be done to take care of ourselves and others.
Chuck Brown: yeah.
Melissa: Have, in your process of, of writing and publishing your works and, and because of the themes that you tackle and the issues you tackle, which some people, you know, still aren’t ready to quite deal with and talk about, have you, have you lost any supposed friends over it or have you, or have certain people surprised you.
Chuck Brown: I hadn’t had a whole lot of friends in the beginning with animal to have a circle. not my books. No, it was honestly, it was just, it was honestly the, The presidential election with 2016, that a few of those acquaintances kind of surprised [00:41:00] me and kind of thrown well, I wasn’t really expecting that.
You know, it, you know, I may not have been expecting that, but then again, I wasn’t too surprised, right? Yeah. Cautious of people in, you know, not really trusting, but, yeah, it was more the election than my work, honestly, that surprised with people. That’s why my work is concerned. I’m like, well, I’ve been a route in particular.
I mean, I’m, I’m just blown away about the amount of support and people that love this book and like this book, You’ve had people say things to us here. They had to be had a kind of something, but you know, nothing major or nothing I cared about, I guess.
Melissa: Yeah. That’s good. Yeah. That’s good. No, it’s a fantastic series.
I’ve just started reading it. So, I, I can’t get too, too into it cause I don’t want any splits.
Chuck Brown: Volume one or two
Melissa: I’m on volume one. Yeah. Okay, cool. Cool. Yeah. And the artwork is beautiful as well. Such a sucker for [00:42:00] visual, you know, so that that’s, that’s very vivid investor role and, yeah, it’s just, well put together there. and it hooks you right away. Like you can just, you know, right away you get into it.
So. Yeah. and then I also just wanted to ask with you made the point and, and one of the issues and I’m quoting this cause I, I researched it, that everyone is fighting the same evil, just under different names. Which I think is very pointed. Is this a reference to the idea that combating hate?
Shouldn’t not be the responsibility of just one group or identity that, you know, it takes everyone’s responsibility.
Chuck Brown: Well, 100%, it’s about, you know, division and divisiveness, you know, we’re all dealing with the same thing. We’re all affected by the same thing, you know, hate affect us. All. Some people may not want.
The knowledge that you hit the nail on the head, it’s basically about [00:43:00] division and we’re only gonna conquer, not just hate, but hate poverty war. When the going to conquer that stuff, we all just get on the same page, give it to him and start fighting them amongst each other and stuff fighting. I guess the real you might say him.
Melissa: Well, it’s just like greed really, you know? Right, right. To all the other yeah. The issues. no, I think that’s really important and I’m glad that you’re tackling these issues in your books because people need to read it and, you know, and I’m hoping that it reaches people that maybe wouldn’t normally pick it up, you know?
Chuck Brown: I hope so.
Melissa: I hope so. Yeah. Well, finally I just, one last question I want to ask you because I love to ask this of all writers. What advice would you give to someone like yourself? Like, someone who was once not involved in the industry, but just really wanted to break in, but didn’t [00:44:00] know how, what would be your advice to young comic book writers?
Chuck Brown: French. Perfect. Your craft. be honest with yourself and your, your strengths and your weaknesses and, just do it, you know, let’s be honest, this a perfect your craft right. Read. no, just read comics, read and all that as well. read different articles, and, Just put it out there. And if you’re, if you’re a writer, you want to be a combo.
Granted, you’re going to have to make comics, you know, collaborate with some awesome, talented artists and, you know, start by putting your own stuff out there, you know, off I’ll collaborate with it, had the same dreams as you, and, don’t give up.
Melissa: Awesome. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, no, that’s great. Thank you.
Thank you so much for taking the time. I know we’re in, you know, challenging times right now, and it’s also been a nice distraction though, to not be glued to the TV for an hour.
Chuck Brown: Oh, absolutely. I’m going to click on, you know, the middle school as we get off, but
Chuck Brown: Nice talking to you and just [00:45:00] taking a break from the, even though we didn’t talk about politics a little bit, but still it was nice.
Just taking a break from that and taking a step back from that into everyone listening, you know, it takes a. It’s okay. It’s, it’s important to be informed, but also, you know, don’t. Don’t kill yourself and don’t touch yourself. Take a step back from it,
Melissa: practice self care and get some rest, drink. Lots of water.
And yeah. Well, no, thank you so much. Please come back at any time. I would love to have you back on, to talk about anything that’s, you know, coming up in the future, or we can talk about when your Kickstarter is done. Love to have you back on. yeah, everyone, please go check out a short complex that kickstarter.com short complex, and also check out a better route and on the stump as well.
I’m really excited to get into both. So again, thank you so much for being on tonight. Awesome. Well, you have a wonderful night. Thank you. Take care. Bye bye. [00:46:00]