We chatted with Sophocles Sopounas, writer and artist of the graphic novel “Not Alone” about everything from skateboarding to living on the beaches of Greece. Not Alone is a unique spin on navigating life and friendship in a world 20 years after its end. Check out this dry and funny graphic novel – available from BHC Press on July 22, 2021.
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Sophocles Sopounas – Interview
Renee: . [00:00:00] Welcome back to spoiler country. I’m Renee and we are joined today by Sophocles Lunesta writer and artists for the independent graphic novel, not alone. Available from BHC press on July 22nd. Thank you so much for joining us Sophocles.
And I’m curious, how are you doing today?
Sophacles Sopounas: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. I am pretty well. Thank you for asking how about you? I’m
Renee: doing good. I feel like it’s starting to get warmer in places and that always makes people feel a little better, right? Like, yeah. And I like.
You’re an outdoors, like an outdoorsy guy. I think that’s what I, you know, read. So I imagine you’re also excited about that.
Sophacles Sopounas: Oh yeah. I’ve been, it’s weird because like, my brain is ready to go like by March, but the weather isn’t. So I’m just, I’m just like, come on, come on, come on,
Renee: give me some sunshine. Give us. [00:01:00]
Sophacles Sopounas: But I’ve just been using it as much as I could started fixed. I think, I think I’m almost done with my garden. Like I set up like an automatic wiring thing and whatnot. Cause I was worried about that last year, there was a couple of days where I was gone and it was just like Scorchers and calf. My plans were just not doing great when I come back and when it came back.
So I was just like paranoid about that. It’s like, not this year, so
Renee: I’m going to be on top of it this year.
Sophacles Sopounas: So I got. I’ve been skating. I rolled my ankle Villa on the last day of bad weather. And then for the next week and a half, that did amazing weather. I was just out and very I’m pleased.
Renee: No. Where you are, you, you said you were scattered.
Do you do like, are you more in the, like the park or like a pipe or what kind of skating do
Sophacles Sopounas: you do? Street and park skating. For the most part, I do parks getting out of necessity because the streets are not great. But I’m, we’re definitely way more of [00:02:00] a street skater than I am. Like I just get annoyed at the park.
And it’s not just that, like, some things are just like, I don’t know, parks are weird vibe sometimes, but like out in the street, it’s just you and the obstacle for the most part. And like what you can do get away with, with your imagination and this and that. I dunno, it’s a little bit different.
Renee: Yeah. I imagine too.
It depends on the park, right? Like I have friends who are skaters and they definitely have like, oh, don’t go to this park. Right. I definitely don’t want to go. Or there’s like, you know, parks that are mostly like, almost like bowls or parks that have like different things, you know? So you have your like, Style that you like
Sophacles Sopounas: more?
Yeah. Yeah. There’s so much writing. If you’re like not lucky or like you live somewhere where they’re just bad parks around you. It’s just a bad, yeah.
Renee: I feel very lucky that Seattle has a lot of good parks and a lot of
Sophacles Sopounas: culture.
Renee: Yeah. If you ever come to Seattle, I’d be happy to take you some of the [00:03:00] parks and, you know, show you cause they are really cool.
Sophacles Sopounas: Yeah, definitely. I was wanting to like venture over there to a, because of the comic scene B because of the sites. Yeah. I love the ocean. I love like, just kind of like the geography that’s up there. It’s going on? You got like, you got the sound and then you have like the mountains in the back, like rain gear and whatnot.
Renee: gorgeous. I’m not going to lie. I’m very partial to Seattle. I mean, it’s, you know, especially if you like outdoors, you’re just surrounded by beautiful nature. It’s pretty epic. Yeah. It’s definitely no Detroit. Yeah. That I will say. So, you are not originally from Detroit
Sophacles Sopounas: right? No. Yeah. I I moved there.
In 2009, I moved to the states back to the states. I guess that’s a long story. So I was born here to Greek parents. And then when I was six, we all went back to Greece. [00:04:00] And then when I was 18, I went back to the states for school. And so I moved to Petoskey, Michigan of all places first for a year. And that was just so diametrically opposite to anything that I was ever like used to, like, I, you know, It’s if it wasn’t more of a culture shock, it was more of like a culture.
I don’t even know how to, how to explain it because like, it wasn’t evident. And like, I couldn’t tell, like I knew all the things that were wrong, but I didn’t know how long it would take for that feeling to go away. And it hasn’t really like, there’s like half the time I’m looking around, like everything’s just wrong.
Yeah. Yeah. So, and then moved to Detroit from Petoskey in 2009. And I’ve just been here since.
Renee: It’s interesting. Cause I have friends who are you know, who lived the majority of their life abroad. And I, you know, I was fortunate. I got to live in Spain for a couple of years. And yeah. And, and it really [00:05:00] is when you come back to the states, there’s a sense of like, what is this place?
Right. You’re like, hello went in and then never, there’s a sense of like, Where is home. Right. And so I imagine you might feel split right. A little
Sophacles Sopounas: bit. And then all of the things that kept happening just didn’t really help that it’s like, oh, now Greece economy imploded, like in 2010, it’s like, cool. I can’t, I really can’t go back home.
And it’s just like there, whenever I brought it up, like most of my people or my family would be like, no, no, don’t do it. Like. It’s all over there. That’s where you need to be. But it’s just like, after a certain point, there’s just, yeah know, there’s so many things that, that change and the things that you value change and time passes.
It’s just such a weird concept, but like, yeah. I, I technically still don’t feel at home here and that’s not, I, you know, at this point it’s not my problem. I tried, you know, I tried a lot [00:06:00] and I just kinda like, no. Now for the most part that like, that’s just what that means, you know, it’s, it’s no one’s fault.
It’s just what it is.
Renee: So, yeah. Do you plan on going back to Greece then? Or
Sophacles Sopounas: I plan on going somewhere warm or for at least a few years, like with the Greek S climate, if not like a European climate, you know what I mean?
Renee: Yeah. The Mediterranean climate. Yeah.
Sophacles Sopounas: And it’s crazy that I just willingly left that place of the world.
No, I’m kidding. But like, yeah. So I would like to go somewhere warmer for a few years. Just a buck off like these winters and just somewhere where I can go out. And whenever I want to, and I know for a fact it’s going to be at least decent, you know, cause like it really bugs me and this kind of goes back to the comic book.
Like the comic book was me trying to figure out what to do during the months that I couldn’t skate here in the states. You know, like I knew that I had to do something because I couldn’t leave at the time. [00:07:00] And. I had to like do something because like, I was just losing my mind and, you know, the comic that came out of that, like, you know, not desperation or I can say desperation, just like that necessity to, to occupy, like my hands are like my body and my mind, you know?
Renee: Well, speaking of the comic book why don’t you tell for our listeners who maybe aren’t familiar with it? Give them a little, like, what is it about. What, what is this comic, you know, all
Sophacles Sopounas: about? Yeah. It’s a little convoluted, you know, like as always things are, it’s like, you want to, you want to be able to explain it, but then you’re like, oh buddy, you know, if you, if you, you know, if you read a little bit further on, like this happens and you, you know, but basically it’s.
It’s a journey of two people who find each other in adverse circumstances. And they’re just trying to do right by their circumstances and [00:08:00] themselves, I suppose, is one way of putting it. But the way I kind of like elevator pitch, it is like if Scott Pilgrim met 28 weeks later, And Monty, Python’s the holy grail.
Renee: I love it. I love it. It’s you know, it’s interesting. So I read it and I loved it. It was so good. And yeah, I, I am a big fan. I don’t, and I don’t know how you feel about this, but like, I’m a big fan of zombies. Right. But in both your, in both of your pitches, you didn’t mention the zombie word. And actually there’s like a.
There’s a part in the in the comic where the main character says not everything needs a name. And so I just now, like, didn’t name it. And I’m curious, like, is that something that’s like really intentional or is it just like,
Sophacles Sopounas: okay, it’s, it’s kind of intentional because like each, [00:09:00] each series kind of has their own start sort of inaccurate for it sometimes.
If you kind of noticed, like walking dead has a certain way to call him a night of living dead gen Z or what was he Chensy.
Yeah. And there, there there’s all these like, Unique names that sometimes we’ll come up with. And then there’s like all, all the, the cheeky stuff. That’s certain that certain zombie tropes, like if they try to circumvent the trope and like, you know, they’re called this, or they called that, what is the zombie?
Technically is like, there’s no real definition for it. And then you start getting into the weeds, like, are they dead or alive? Do they run? Do they like, so it’s, it’s kind of intentional as to yeah. Like. They might be zombies, you know, but how we think of it, it just depends on like, what do you think it is?
And what do I think it is? And I, there is a backstory for it and I think it’s kind of [00:10:00] like foolproof too, but I don’t think I’m going to expand on it because. Unless it matters, but the thing is I’d have a great explanation for it, but I just won’t tell it.
Renee: I love you. Like I can tell you, but I’m not going to that’s fair.
You know? I think I like that though, because it’s like, again, having read the comic, right. That wasn’t necessary, right. That wasn’t. That that didn’t add or take away from the story for being, knowing what, what these creatures were, you know, like how they moved or anything like that. So I, I think for readers out there, it’s, you know, I think it’s fine cause the story holds its own without
Sophacles Sopounas: it.
Thank you. Yeah. And that’s kind of what they are. They’re like a backdrop, it just takes part in a zombie universe, basically, you know, like it’s not necessarily about them, but like they are a part of that universe and they are an issue. So.
Renee: Yeah. Even the way you draw them, [00:11:00] they, you know, they kind of blend into the background a little, which I really liked.
I was like, what is that? Is that ground? Is that. A body. I don’t know. You know, I don’t do, I mean for no, I don’t.
Sophacles Sopounas: Well, thank you. Yeah. And it was like, it was so just, you know, everyone, it’s funny, like I was researching how to pitch your book and then it was like, Don’t write about zombies. And I was like, well,
Sophacles Sopounas: It was like, when everything was blowing up, when like the last of us was blowing up when walking dead was blowing up and here I am, like, I’ve already like at least a year or two into writing this. And I’m just like, wow, everyone’s just going to be so sick of zombies when it’s time to come out. But I think.
I hit the flip side, people got sick of it. And then now they’re kind of cool again. They’re cool.
Renee: Again. Yeah. I was going to say, when did you write this? Because there’s this theme of aloneness and of course, like, I can’t think of being alone [00:12:00] without thinking of COVID and you know, like what we’ve all gone through recently.
So I’m curious, like, what was your timeline
Sophacles Sopounas: on this? I think I wrote it in 2013. Oh, wow. 2013, I wrote like the general story and then finished the script for the first one. So I know what’s going on throughout the whole thing, but I don’t know the details.
Renee: Gotcha. Gotcha. Well, I think that speaks to them.
Cause it’s like this theme of aloneness, I guess I connected it to COVID cause I was really relating to that. Right. This, I, you know, this idea that like. It’s we’ve all been super isolated and, you know, just being like, is anyone out there to like, can I connect with anyone? And I think that’s that I really liked that theme in the book or in the, you know, story of connecting.
Right. And. [00:13:00] And not wanting to connect or wanting to connect depending.
Sophacles Sopounas: Definitely. Yeah. And I’m kinda lucky that COVID happened, but like this this, this kind of thing, like it worked out for me almost because like this concept. Like, maybe I felt like that because of my situation, you know what I mean?
And I didn’t know that that’s what it was, what I was feeling like, maybe like mental isolation or whatever. Like, I definitely had a moment where I was in New York just, you know, kind of half off the boat. And I was like, there’s 10 million people here and I’ve never been lonelier. And I’m sure that’s a feeling that like a lot of people have felt too, not just, you know, people that are coming from overseas or whatever.
It’s like. So that, that was kind of the juxtaposition that sometimes we can feel like, but then if you think about it really, we’re not alone. And all you have to do is just kind of like open your mind and embrace like the world around you too. And you’ll see that you, you [00:14:00] kind of, you’re not alone, but then yeah, there there’s times where it just, all it feels like.
Renee: Yeah. Oh, that’s just like so relatable. I mean, I think you’re right. That so many people, you know, and I think, especially if you come from another culture, I work with a lot of international students and my day job. And so they’re coming from cultures and backgrounds that are even, you know, from China or Korea where it’s like so different than the states.
And you can, it’s so easy to feel like no one understands you. You know, and no one you know, gets what your experience is and you’re surrounded by all these people. And like it’s wanting to scream almost like, hello, I’m here, right? Yeah, yeah,
Sophacles Sopounas: yeah, definitely. Yeah.
Renee: Do you. It’s interesting. Cause I think about camping and the outdoors, which is like another theme in the book as [00:15:00] actually wanting to be alone.
Like most people, I think like my partner, for example, loves camping because you know, like she’ll up loves to get away from it. All right. And, and so I’m curious, like, This idea of wanting to be a not alone, but then also wanting to go out in the wilderness and camping. Like how do those intersect for you?
Sophacles Sopounas: Yeah, this is, this is like a problem, not a problem for me, but like I’m the kind of person that just loves groups. So like, we can, we can go be isolated somewhere like on a camping trip, but like, it’d be red if there was like 10 of us there. So it’s like on one hand, yeah. The group might be alone, but then you’re, you’re not within like the group or even if you do go camping and you really like don’t want to feel alone after like, you know, like you can, you can, I’m sure you’ll find some campers.
It depends where you are. You know what I mean? But like, you’ll find you, if you [00:16:00] want to, you’ll find someone to like, be like, Hey, like, you know, can I sit down here and I’m done. Like I’ve, I’ve literally like gone up to people. I’m like, Hey, like, I don’t know anyone here. Is it okay if I sit with you guys are like, yeah.
So like that kind of stuff. And like when you’re camping, Depends. Like you’re not camping alone. Are you?
Renee: Well, yeah, I guess it depends. Yeah. Because some people like to go backpacking and really isolate, you know, and I’m much more of a glamour myself. I’m definitely that type of like, I want 20 people around, like, I want to bring the party outdoors, you know, like definitely I feel young and wanting to wanting to be away from it, but have everyone around.
Sophacles Sopounas: So
Renee: yeah. Do you have any faith? Oh, go ahead. I was just going to say, do you have any favorite campus spots? [00:17:00]
Sophacles Sopounas: So my absolute favorite is just beach camping in Greece. That’s like, oh, I don’t know. Yeah. Like when I explain it to people here, it sounds really foreign, I suppose, but it’s just, it’s, it’s kind of punk, Rocky too.
It’s not like, not everyone in Greece does it free camping, but a lot of people do like way more than like, you’d think or like that I thought here. It’s like, it sounds like a delinquent thing to do, but it’s more just like. You know, like there’s a sign that says no camping and behind it, there’s 10 tents, you know, but it’s just also kind of like the culture, you know?
And it’s more or less allowed for the most part. It’s just like, if they feel like it, they might show up and give you a ticket or something like that. But that just never happens. But basically, yeah, like free camping on the beach is awesome. It’s a very different experience than being in the forest or on the mountain, because like, You’re just broiling from, from eight, 8:00 AM till like nighttime, basically.
And if there’s not much shade, you’re just like in and out, like dipping [00:18:00] in, come back out, drying out dip. It’s just a crazy way of life. And if you, if you see a lot of people will do it for like a week, two weeks, like in the same spot. And if you just kind of, it goes back into like biblical times, almost like I’d walk around, like picking figs off trees and shit.
And it’s like, What the fuck is happening right now. Like, it was like four days, but like we just devolved into, into beach people.
Renee: Yeah. But like, I feel like that’s awesome because that, that to me again, like, I feel very fortunate that I’ve been to Europe and gotten to experience some of that. And it’s like, you know, when you’re when you’re there that like the idea of travelers, right.
Or like, You know, living just like sort of day to day. And it’s very common that it, you know, that I’ve seen like backpacking through Europe, right? Like it’s always like classic and you know, there it’s like. I would meet other travelers. And then all of a sudden we were like best friends for two weeks, you know, [00:19:00] like while, while in Majorca.
Right. Like, and we’re like, okay, we’re best friends now, but together on we’ve connected. Right. It’s like, and, and then I never see them again. And I, you know, like you it’s, like you said, you become each people or you become right. Like, whatever city you’re in. You’re like, where are these people now? And I, I think that’s.
So much fun. Like I’m all for it.
Sophacles Sopounas: Yeah. That’s kind of like one of the, I would notice that happening, you know, as it was happening. And I was like, this is rad. Like, is this what adventure does to you? Like, it just like makes best friends out of people that are on one. And it’s like, Like, is this what like adversity creates?
Like, because you know, it’s not quite, I dunno, like it it’s enjoyable to us maybe, but like, if you tell a lot of people, yeah. There’s no air conditioning, it’s just you and a sun and sand. And like, you know, you’re just kind of like in this weird haze all the time. And like, I don’t think people would. Find that completely [00:20:00] enjoyable.
You know what I mean? And so like, it’s adversed, if you think about it, when you’re just thirsty with your friend and the sun’s just beating down on you and like the nearest, like water pump is like a mile away and like, oh my God, like.
Renee: Yeah, the way you’re describing it reminds me of burning man, which again, this all feels very post-apocalyptic too like this, like you’re in the desert, it’s the sun is like beating down on you. You don’t have anything, any creature comforts, you just have to like have your widths. And you’re surrounded by all these like crazy people, you know?
Like, and yet it is not for everyone that is for sure, but it is for some people and. You know, the, the adventures, I
Sophacles Sopounas: guess, you know, Yeah. And just that, those bonds that become created through that, like, you know, that, that mile Trek to get water, it might’ve been really annoying, but like, it’s probably really funny.
And like, you probably had some really [00:21:00] funny, good laughs like with your friend, if you had someone, you know, like on the way there, you know, and. That, that thing that you’re saying, like we’re best friends now, like that I’ve felt that so many times, like you said, and it’s basically because of this situation that we’re now in and, you know, there’s people around, but you may or may not know and you just have to make it to the next day.
Renee: Yeah. And, and sometimes, you know, I think of like, sort of the characters in your S in your car, you know, like stories as well, right? Like it’s like. Maybe, I don’t want to be best friends with you, but we’re here together now, you know, and now we’re going, we’re, we’re sharing this experience, right? This like shared experience of.
We’re in it together. And that creates a bond, whether you like it or not, right?
Sophacles Sopounas: Yes. Yes. Yeah. That’s a hundred percent.
Renee: Yeah. I have to ask since there is a zombie, there is a zombie thing. I am curious, like, [00:22:00] do you have a favorite zombie? Movie TRO show, you know, are you, do you prefer fast on these slows on these?
I got to know.
Sophacles Sopounas: Okay. So I’ve seen a lot of them and I’ve seen all the beam, like not all of them, but I see, not like from the beam movies to the blockbusters I really, really, really think that 28 days later is one of the best survival movies and then like slash zombie movie. But even they make a distinction, you know, like they’re, they’re, they’re, it’s like rage, right?
It’s like, I, that was just like, great. Overall, like as a, as an item in the genre, you know, like the music, the atmosphere, the shots, all of it was just the scares. They were all good. Yeah. But to me, like the perfect zombie or whatever like that.
Renee: I don’t know if [00:23:00] there’s a perfect zone
Sophacles Sopounas: visa. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
They’re a little on the slow and stupid side. They are. I’m dead, you know, like they don’t usually they can’t die through other means besides just trying to brainstorm or whatever. And even that, like, even if you cut off the heads sometimes, like you can still like, you know, he’s still animated.
Yeah, that, that to me is more like the, and like if, if, has anyone nailed it, like Romero nailed it for sure.
Sure. I think of like any other ones, just like off the cuff or that like, I’m thinking of like walk, the walking dead was really good too, but it was just like, my name is Erica.
I had other issues with that for the most part, but like, yeah, those times were pretty good too in the walking dead.
Renee: I realized I was talking with my friend, Melissa about zombies, you know, and sort of just like I realized, I really do [00:24:00] prefer. The comedic slows, zombie genre lifestyle. I think it’s cause I get nightmares really easy.
So, you know, 28 days later it just left me like not able to sleep. It’s cool. You know, world war Z. I was like, no, thank you. Like, whereas like Shaun of the dead, you know, like is just to me, such a. That’s like my perfect zombie of me.
Sophacles Sopounas: Yeah. Yeah. Slow, dangerous. Stupid. Yeah,
Renee: exactly. But like, you know, like there’s the comedic relief.
Yeah, exactly. Like, like there’s something funny about zombies in my mind. Like I think that’s also, cause I associate like the bath salts thing. Like I’m like, you’re a little stupid. I’m not that can lead the comedy environment.
Sophacles Sopounas: Oh, of course. Yeah. Like how can it not, you know, like. If you, if you have these creatures just like ambling around, you know, you’re going to fall off cliffs or like get tangled in something or like, just get, and, you know, [00:25:00] that’s, that’s the kind of stuff that I want to start playing around with.
Like, as I get better too. Cause like at the time I’m either, you know, rushing against this imaginary deadline or like, I’m just really focusing on the, the, the background in the, in the characters. But as I’ve gotten better, like with the drawing it’s easier for me to like, start like, Have you read any of the don’t don’t Rosas, Scrooge McDuck series?
Renee: No, I haven’t, but I’ve, I feel like someone just recently recommended that to me. So I was like, okay, I’ve got to get on that.
Sophacles Sopounas: The life and times of screw truck dock is phenomenal. But like, besides just like the, the book of story like that, what he does, he, he, he has so many like jokes in the background.
That are just visual gags, you know, and that kind of stuff. But like half the time, like I said, I’m, I’m, I’m so stressed out about like, just getting the idea out on paper first and foremost. And so like, by the time I’m, by the time I’m done, I was just like, [00:26:00] That part of that part of my brain is just sapped.
But I think coming up on the new ones, I’m going to start focusing more on that. Cause I’m now I kind of know that I can handle the drawing aspect.
Renee: Yeah. I was going to say I, it says part one. So I’m assuming there’s a part two. And are you going to write and draw it yourself again?
Sophacles Sopounas: Okay. I finished it two months ago.
Renee: well then here we go.
Sophacles Sopounas: Congratulations.
Renee: Awesome. I guess maybe then, like, is that one going to be released soon
Sophacles Sopounas: I’m not sure. I’m assuming there’s a buffer between like how long? I usually, like there is anyways, regardless. But yeah, it’s ready to, to give to the publisher. Yeah, I’m just kinda like waiting to see what goes on with with this release and just see what the, what receptions, like, if there is any and yeah, it’s, it’s a lot of work and I [00:27:00] like it and you know, the better I get at it, the more I can like, you know, do those kinds of things and just keep adding to the value of it.
But, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s something that I just like, I’m kind of taking my time now with the third one, since I have this call for time, like the second one’s done and I’m probably gonna start writing it. I’ll have it done and written, but I don’t know if I’m going to start drawing it for at least like another year and a half or something like that.
Renee: So do you consider yourself like a writer first and
Sophacles Sopounas: foremost? I don’t know. Or
Renee: skater first and foremost.
Sophacles Sopounas: Right. Yeah. Like
I think, yeah, that’s the thing it’s like skateboarding is, is, is literally like my medicine. It’s just what I need in order to like, be happy. But I think this book series and, and like the things that I want to do artistically they do stem from writing, I think first and foremost because to me, it’s mostly about the story.
If you have a good story, [00:28:00] the medium doesn’t really matter. I feel like, but then there’s some mediums that are just better suited for certain stories. And I was really not just impressed, but yeah, it’s like, it’s so weird, you know, like you have all these Japanese, like, Monica cousin and like, They’re just churning them out, you know, but then you kind of look into it a little bit further and it’s like, okay, they have a lot of assistance in this and that it’s like, okay, it’s more of like a,
it’s more of like a conveyor belt sort of like things. So that’s how they can put out, like, you know, a volume. Let me see, what is it? 20 chapters, 20 chapters for volume pretend chapters for volume and 20 pages per yeah, I don’t know.
Renee: It’s like an assembly line, right? Like it’s like, they’re just cranking
Sophacles Sopounas: them out.
Yeah. So like it’s, it’s I also know that it’s like extremely, like, you know, involved, still, like for the younger cousin themselves, like they don’t sleep half of them. So it’s like, well, I don’t want to do that. And then I don’t. A whole [00:29:00] industry behind me, like propping me up, you know? And then, and the other ways, like, I don’t, I don’t like just like 20 pages at a time because I just think that like, it cheapens the story and just like the whole, like, and I don’t know, like, I wasn’t really fan of like episodic either earliest, like small episodic and.
It just kind of boiled down to, I think the graphics and just being impressed with like Scott Pilgrim too. It was like, so let’s do it is not a Monica. He’s also not like your typical that comic book writer, but he made like six volumes of like almost 200 each and it’s like, okay, It’s at least like possible to, to like cater a large story like that only later did I realize how fucking it,
Renee: I feel like that’s a lot of people like, right.
We start something it’s like, oh, this is a little more intense than I thought. [00:30:00] So you mentioned Scott Pilgrim and Don Rosa. Are there any other sort of like writing influences or comic influences that you’ve had.
Sophacles Sopounas: Yeah. My God, I’ve been consuming media since I could read, which was a long time ago.
And I’ve been just like devouring, like things like that. And like, I was always drawn to comedy. I was always drawn to to adventure and, and I don’t know, like, I guess it is fiction, right? Classic literature even. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So like last time I
Renee: checked it
Sophacles Sopounas: was fixed. Yeah. Yeah. It’s like, I just never knew for some reason, like what, how to tell it.
He was like, it’s classic literature, but it’s also fiction like Jane and I are it wasn’t real, but yeah. Well, yeah, so I’m, I’m always like trying to. To at least like orient myself in the better examples of, of these things, you know, like of comedy and this and that. I’m always trying to like boil things down.
I’m always trying to, [00:31:00] to like, Get to the bottom of it or like the essence. And then I just kind of try and find people that kind of do the same, but yeah, I dunno. It’s like, the Caddyshack guys, great writing Harold Ramis or whatever, like phenomenal writing, phenomenal jokes. I’ve on laughter by Henri Bergson, he’s a French philosopher.
That was, that was one of my favorite works of all time, because it just goes in on like, laughter and like, what were his? And like, I, you know, I was, I had those, some of those same thoughts, but the way that he explained them, or like, you know, his verb, his view on, on laughter. Really opened my eyes and just kind of changed how I, how I look at it.
And you know, Steve Martin Jim Carey many, many comics. I love stand-up comedy, you know, like prior. I watched standup comedy, like a lot. I even like Greek comedy is different too. You know, like we’re not so much about standup. We’re just now recently getting th the difference with Greek, with greases.
We don’t, [00:32:00] it’s almost like we don’t need standup comedians because everyone is trying to be a standup comedian at all times. I feel
Renee: like that like gives me like a flashback to like an SNL skit of a diner. Right. And it’s like, everyone’s making jokes like. The dad or, you know, the customer, like the coffee guy.
Right. Like, but I feel like that fits with that sketch that I have in my head,
Sophacles Sopounas: like what it feels. So I feel like people are just like, they don’t need to go watch someone be funny. Cause everyone is funny around them all the time. Yeah, but yeah, so like, like my friend’s humor is, is incredible. Okay. People around me are just so funny, you know what I mean?
And like, even then, like, they might not be famous, but I just love like some of my friends sense of humor, like delivery, you know? And it’s like, I’m always focusing on, on those things. So like, yeah, mighty Python, I guess is another one. And then you can like boil it down. Like John Cleese has like, everyone has their own style, but they’re all like so awesome together.
And. [00:33:00] That whole like SNL vibe and Monte Python vibe and like the individual, but also like when a lot of funny people get together to write something it’s even funnier, you know? Yeah.
Renee: Like con comedic collectives,
Sophacles Sopounas: I guess yeah. Saying that. Right.
Renee: But yeah, like, you know where you start. I think like a lot of people, you know, they find a couple other people who have that same sense of humor and then they all come up together.
Right. SNL is a great example of that and the Monty Python guys, right? Like, and then you start bouncing ideas off each other and. Yeah, it just makes magic
Sophacles Sopounas: sometimes. And then like, who else? Lemmings? He had me like cracking up so hard. There’s like a lot of people that, that have humor. Don Rosa, for example, like, atrial Odo, like one piece is really funny, you know, like there’s, there’s really good humor.
Like just things like that. I [00:34:00] don’t know. I hope I answered the question.
Renee: Yes. I, I wanna, I wanna touch on something. I love the graphics and the use of like black panels and everything. And it reminded me a little bit and I don’t know if this is, cause I had it in my head of Xen culture. Right?
Like it had, it had kind of a zene. Feel to me in a way you know, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. Cause it’s like something I associate with state boarding as well. Right. Like, you know, zenes, and that, that medium as a way of like conveying a story or an idea, and I’m curious, like, was that at all part of your process
Sophacles Sopounas: or influence.
I mean, if you really like, if you can, you can kind of look at it in a way and say that this whole project was just a Zane in the first place, you know, it’s like, It’s me trying to get a concept out and an [00:35:00] idea out and, and just something out. And you know, it’s not, I didn’t want to go like the pure Xen route, but, you know, I just like chilled out a little more and got like a printed book instead of like a Xerox that I stapled, you know?
Renee: I’m going to go for a little nicer version here instead of having my buddy at Kinko’s, right. Like help me out with the binding.
Sophacles Sopounas: There’s nothing wrong with that. And like, yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s, that’s the culture though. Like, I mean, that’s, I just started doing this because. You know, I felt like I showed her.
I wanted to, and like, I couldn’t say that it couldn’t be stopped, but I was just like, yeah, I almost couldn’t be stopped. So even if I had to eventually like, just like Xerox it, I would have, you know, but it just, I was able to not have to. Yeah.
Renee: I mean, I think that’s what I love [00:36:00] about Zen culture and comics too, is it’s like, Sometimes you just like, if there’s such a DIY sensibility of like, I’m just going to put this out there, you know?
And like, doesn’t matter. Anything else, like I’ve got, I just got to put it out and I’m going to, you know, even if it’s like two pieces of paper with like tape, you know, like it’s, it’s gonna be put out there. So I love that about it.
Sophacles Sopounas: Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you. Yeah. I mean, that’s that’s yeah. It’s like, someone’s like, oh no, no magazine is going to let me write this article.
So I’m just pumped, like, you know, put it out there and. It’s kind of freedom of speech. It’s weird, you know, like you have it, it feels like gatekeeping, you know what I mean? And then once you, and there is definitely gatekeeping, but then once you get into it too, it’s like, there’s so much content getting thrown around left and right.
And so little time and so many emails. And like, [00:37:00] I understand now if someone doesn’t get back to me, you know? Yeah. But at the time, you just don’t know why you’re not even given like a single time of day and you know, some people get discouraged. All the people put out a scene.
Renee: Yeah, exactly. Is it I’m curious, like, is it different in Greece?
Like the comic culture or like Xen culture or anything like that? Like. Was it easier for you to think about doing this on the stage?
Sophacles Sopounas: I think so. I think because one of the issues over there is that we have incredible drive and talent. Yes. But there’s very few it’s not even an opportunity it’s like, and this, I don’t know how much I attribute to my upbringing too, because I had, you know, every culture kinda like pounds, different things into, into its people, you know?
And I was reading something the other, well, not the other day. And I was like a year ago or something, but [00:38:00] I was reading something that said bat. Not many places in the world tell their children that they can do and be whatever they want to be. If they put their mind to it. That’s a very American thing, you know, but there’s a lot of, a lot of motivated individuals in Greece that do things.
But the DIY culture there’s different. There’s no hobby. Lobby’s, you know, there’s no like. You really have to kind of, sort of stretch yourself even more than you might have to here. And then you get discouraged because like, you know, there’s five of you and half the time people like. They’re like, okay, this is cool.
Like, we’re kind of, because I’m half the half the time too. It’s like almost emulation because you, you see this culture that isn’t yours, you know, like punk rock, Xen culture, DIY, that all kind of came from like the U S and England and stuff, you know, which we definitely assimilate. And like, we definitely [00:39:00] appreciate in our culture as well, like certain individuals, but like there’s a lot.
There’s everyone does DIY, like, you know, I remember my, my uncles no, my granddad’s garage, like the whole house was DIY. You know what I mean? Yeah.
Renee: And sometimes it’s like, it’s like, how you even just name it? Right. Like probably he didn’t think he had a DIY garage. Right. But the way we call it here, right.
Like, it’s like, oh, wow. So DIY like. Right. Like maybe a branding thing.
Sophacles Sopounas: Yeah. Yeah. It could be, but like, that’s the other thing too. It’s like, I guess the people that would feel the need to put out a Xen in Greece are even a little bit more out of water than, than they are here. You know what I mean? So I think that in itself makes it a little harder to to go for things and it really closes it can [00:40:00] kind of close your mind, like.
That that’s sort of, if not that many people around you are doing it, or like, I guess now with the internet is different, but even back then, you know, like these things were just kind of like floating in from other places. And like someone went to England to study for like a few years and he came back with like new habits or like, you know, something like some new music or whatever.
But when we were going, it was a little bit more like jackass was out and punk rock culture was like, it was big and no facts, the war on terrorism, like all that George Bush stuff, you know, I was into punk rock since I was like 13 ish. So like these were concepts and things that like, I just kinda knew both in the music and the culture.
Renee: Yeah, I think, I mean, it’s interesting because I think we often forget that one of America’s best exports that’s culture. Yeah. Like, you know, hip hop culture, punk rock culture, right? Like surfing culture, you know, you name it, it, you know, it has a country music, right? Like it has, [00:41:00] it is something you can see all over the world is, is the influence of the U S which I feel like we could have a whole separate conversation on like, How good or bad that actually is in the world.
And you know, that
Sophacles Sopounas: it depends. Yeah. That’s the thing, right. Like I thought about it sometimes it’s just like, why am I trying to do this, this isn’t, you know, like sometimes I’ll think about it, like in like some, some dark moments or whatever. It’s just like, Like, I’m just, I’m just, I’m supposing right now.
Like I’m not even like, it’s not even like why is a Greek person like skating and trying to go to California? You know what I mean? Like it’s not,
Renee: but also like if we go back to gatekeeping though, right? Like why not? Why, why shouldn’t a Greek person want to be skating? You know, like going to California, right? Like, and, and so for me, you know, like, I think [00:42:00] we shouldn’t be limiting people at all about what they want to do. And if it’s, if it’s something way outside their culture, like who cares?
Sophacles Sopounas: Like, Yeah, yeah, yeah. A hundred percent. And that’s the thing it’s like, you, you don’t know if you’re being inspired or coerce half the time and that’s all propaganda, you know what I mean? It’s not just, it’s everywhere. It’s like, is this oh, okay.
Renee: Yeah. Right. Like, do I actually like that? Or I just don’t think I like this because the marketing’s working really well.
I mean, like, I love for me, like I love, I have friends who. Your escape skateboarders in Japan. Right. You know, skateboarding was big when I was living in Barcelona and, you know, I love that because it can connect you. Right. And I, you know, I think back to what you were saying, like when you first came, you know, into Michigan, what Petoskey was it?
[00:43:00] Right? Like where were those moments of connection? Right. And like, You know, how did you find
Sophacles Sopounas: that? I don’t know. It’s a little bit about me and a little about, about like, I’m also assuming like my vibe, I guess, or like my aura, whatever you want to call it. But there’s times when I, when I seek out my people and like, I create an environment around me, of people that I know, and that know me because that’s kind of how greasy it is.
Very collectivist. Everyone knows everyone. Almost like that’s the thing, like the saying is that like, there’s no cameras. There’s grandma’s on the balconies. You know what I mean? Somehow. Yeah. Through the grapevine, like your mom will know where you were last night, who we were drinking, if you were drinking, you know, like, and so, that environment where like a lot of people know me and I know I’m not in a popularity sense, but just like in the literal sense I, I create that wherever I go, just out of necessity, [00:44:00] almost, it feels like, so I will definitely try to find people sort of like me.
I will find the skaters, you know, like I’m so grateful that like, there’s at least a built-in community. That’s like kind of outward and social that like, I can go to the skate park if I’m really like searching a scraping, you know, to find someone to connect with or whatever. Like I can go to the skate park.
But thankfully I was also at school. So like within that, you’d start meeting people. But I met my better friends in the summertime when most of the normal people laughed and I was just the weird people in the dorms and the summertime. And sometimes they find me, like, I remember when I moved to Wayne state to Detroit, I was eating lunch myself and this one guy came over and he’s like, Hey.
Yeah, you look like the cool guy. Like he says, you, you look beautiful. Do you escape? You smoke weed. And I was like, Yes escaped and we don’t smoke weed anymore. But then I was just thinking about it. I was like, I am fucking curse to just keep making the same friends over and over again.
[00:45:00] Yeah. Yeah, but you know, that’s, that’s, that’s beautiful too. And he’s still one of my best friends. Like she invited me to his table and I met other people who became my friends and like, yeah. So it’s a little bit of both, you know, like when I need to, I, I definitely like. I need to, and I branch out and I find people, but then other times it just kind of happens.
Renee: Yeah. I feel like that’s also true in the comic world. Right? Like you, you know, I feel there’s something about like, if I’m reading a comic book or. If I want to go find people who, you know, sort of speak the same quote, unquote cultural language as you, right? Like you can go into a comic book store and like find people.
Right. Like, and
Sophacles Sopounas: that’s kind of what I was like, thinking about. Like, I’m always trying to find my tribe, you know, and my people and like there too, it’s not like there’s not [00:46:00] creative people in Detroit, but just the way it’s all set up is very odd. And it’s, it’s just, it’s a weird tone. It’s, it’s a, it’s a tough town, you know, like the winter sock just beat you down and you just kind of like, it’s isolated, lots of driving half the time you don’t want to drive.
And so it’s like where? And like we had a comic shop that opened up like three or four years ago. I think. Okay. But if my dad at that point I’m I was burnt out. I’m trying to find anyone, you know? Yeah. It’s like, okay, cool. Like cool. But no, that, that’s, that’s definitely what I, why I was thinking about like Seattle and Portland too, because like, it seems like just a lot of people are from there or are there, and like a lot of companies are there and it’s just like, that must be nice to be able to have that around you.
Renee: Yeah, for sure. And I mean, I think to rate it also depends on, you know, exactly what you’re looking for too, because I think [00:47:00] about like my friends who live in LA or San Francisco and, you know, there’s things there that I really like about those cities and, you know, finding your home and find it on, you know, what you like and.
What you can find about a city and it’s like you said, finding your people. Right. And I feel lucky that I, you know, that Seattle was that place for me, but cause I was in LA to LA thing. Yeah. Again, LA has a really cool skate culture. Really great like food so much in LA, too. So. And it’s sending all the time.
Not that I’m trying to not have you come to the end.
I was like, oh, you know, other places that
Sophacles Sopounas: I know. Yeah. That’s the thing it’s like, there’s, that’s what I’m trying to do right now is basically just kind of find a, not home per se, but yeah, just find that place.
[00:48:00] Renee: And you’ve mentioned a part two and part three. Is there anything else we should be looking for that you’re working on or anything else coming up?
Sophacles Sopounas: Comic speaking. I mean, yeah, this, this might go to six or seven volumes. Oh, wow. So, I mean, I want to try not to,
Renee: no, I think you can make it as many volumes
Sophacles Sopounas: go for it.
It’s such a big thing to have over my head. And I’m not saying that like it’s sometimes I feel like. I’m exercising. I’m not, I’m not like doing it for fun, you know, exercising like pushups, but exorcising like the extra system. So
Renee: I was thinking exercising. It’s like a workout. You got to like a muscle,
Sophacles Sopounas: which yeah, that, that is there as well.
Like I, can’t not be creative. Like I, I go stir crazy or I can’t not do be doing something, you know? But it’s, [00:49:00] sometimes it feels like. I don’t want to trap myself, you know, and I’m not saying that like, it’s not worthy enough for me to get trapped in, but it’s also like, I, you know, I’ve got an album coming out, like a music album with my friend’s band.
Like I’m also like doing like solo music stuff. I do like, You notice they’re skating. And so I don’t notice. Yeah. If I can get I, if I, if I can be happy and content with the, with the story, like sooner, rather than later, that’s cool. You know what I mean? But at the same time, I don’t mind like kind of extending it or filling it in to make sure that the story has been told.
And that’s the other thing too, like I’ve thought about releasing, like, one-off like 20 pages that go into the backstory of the characters. Because I, in a weird way, I built this really big universe. And if you want it to, I could spend so much time on just so many things like how he came to be, how that came to be like what happened in the 20 years of like [00:50:00] what’s been going on, you know?
So my story starts 20 years after like the event. So. There’s so much to even like dig into even just like in the character’s past or even the world’s past. So like, I think I might’ve just like accidentally, it was just like built a universe that I can either keep going as much as I want, or like wrap up or supplement, like as the years go by with like interesting one-offs, you know?
Renee: Yeah. Like the super top secret information that I’m not allowed to know.
Sophacles Sopounas: Well, that’s the thing it’s not even to you it’s like. Okay. I’m a second time. I might talk to you about it.
Renee: Well, we’ll definitely have to get you back and we can talk. We can maybe hear more. I would say, go for it because I think again, I’ve read it.
It was great. I think the world that you’ve built is just really fun, you know, fun, but like really exciting. And. I think there’s a lot there and you should definitely explore it. And it, [00:51:00] and it ends on this like kind of cliffhanger. So like, I definitely am like, well, like can’t wait to. Let’s see what happens
Sophacles Sopounas: all I’m glad.
Yeah. And like, that’s the thing too. It’s like, I don’t, I hate cliffhangers, but also it’s like, I gotta stop falling one at some point. And at the same time it was like, okay, this is book one. And if you happen to like it and go to book two, I’ve changed even like, There’s so many more characters now in book two.
And like, like a lot of people get introduced. So it, it, the dynamic changes, you know, and like I learned from my mistakes from the first one, and I kinda like, do I try out different things, both story-wise and pacing. And like, so it’s like first one didn’t have that many characters. Second one has more characters.
And like the third one’s going to be like so-and-so and like, there’s going to be different kind of like twists to even itself, you know? Yeah.
Renee: Well that I’m looking forward to it. So.
Yeah. [00:52:00] Well, do you have any last things you want to say? Any, any last advice for not being alone or reading your work?
Sophacles Sopounas: You can change your circumstances and it might be hard. It might be annoying. But for the most part you can, and sometimes we’re, a lot of us are not lucky enough to be given, you know, friends circles or interesting places or, you know, big cities to live in.
But You know, if you’re feeling lonely, go find your people. And that thing that you’ve been wanting to do that you think that you can do definitely can do it. It’s just going to suck sometimes.
Renee: There there’s a little bit of exercising and exercise of the Michael
Sophacles Sopounas: and, you know, just like, I don’t know, last, like, you know, I just want to say [00:53:00] thank you to everyone. Like thank you to you. Thank you to the people that set this up. Thank you to anyone that cares, you know, and I’m. You know, I’m, I’m standing on everyone’s shoulders, you know, friends, family, people that help people that say nice things about it.
And you know, I’m, I’m really grateful for all that. Yeah.
Renee: And I think that speaks to the importance of not being alone. Right. You can’t, you can’t do it ourselves
Sophacles Sopounas: sometimes. And understanding that you’re actually not alone if like, you really don’t want to be like,
Renee: so you’re not alone. Right? Like all of this came about because of all those people.
Sophacles Sopounas: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Renee: Well, thank you so much for joining me today. Stuff crazy. It was great. It was like super great talking with you. This is a blast and I have a feeling we’re gonna have to bring you back on again, because there was a lot more, a lot more. I feel like we’re gonna want to talk about.
Sophacles Sopounas: Yeah.
Renee: And again, this is spoiler country and [00:54:00] you were saying to Renee and Sophocles and not alone is available from BHC press on July 22nd, 2021. And check out the show notes for more information, and don’t forget to follow us on social media for all the latest interviews and updates from spoiler country.