Today we are joined again by Tom Peyer from Ahoy Comics to talk about his new book Penultiman!
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Tom Peyer Interview
[00:00:00] Melissa: This is my other country and I’m Alyssa searcher today on the show. I’m excited to welcome back legendary comic book creator, Mr. Tom Pyre. Welcome back to the show.
Tom Peyer: Thank you.
Melissa: Nice to be here. Yeah, I think you were, you were on a few months ago with Casey. That was, that was a great interview. Thanks. Yeah.
Well, thanks for being here. How are you doing today?
Tom Peyer: Very well.
Melissa: Very well, ask them, got a lot stuff going on and books releasing. So let’s just get right into it. I wanted to ask you, you know, you’ve been in the comic book industry for 20 plus years and have had some really high profile positions. What prompted you to start?
Tom Peyer: Well, I live in Syracuse, New York, and two of my oldest friends here. Frank Calusa, who’s a cartoonist and graphic novelist and hard Seeley who was a journalist, a print journalist for many, many years. We just started talking about doing something together, doing a caper [00:01:00] together. So.
Some money was found. And we decided comics because Frank and I are like desperately into comics, heart, not so much, but he, it was kind of his idea. Let’s just do something weird to fill his post journalism life.
Melissa: Nice. And do you find it’s a different experience than from when you were like working for Marvel or DC vertigo?
Tom Peyer: It’s different a lot of ways. Probably the same in a lot of ways. Huge difference is that when you when you work for a big company, there’s like such a huge support staff that. You don’t have to think about most things. You can just do your own job, but when you’re with a smaller company, there’s a real learning curve.
You have to learn things about business and distribution and all sorts of things. And we were very smart, I think, to bring in some professionals who knew what they were doing. So we didn’t have to. Yeah, just [00:02:00] blunder our way through life.
Melissa: We have a musket challenging if you’re trying to still create and write and and then having to do all this business technical stuff as well.
I mean, do you find yourself like just getting stressed out at all or, or are you just, like you said, you have this other team that you just can kind of say, Hey, you know, do all this stuff so I can create.
Tom Peyer: Well, you know, we did bring some good people in who know what they’re doing, but I’m more involved than I would have been at like DC se because there’s there’s simply no reason for an editor at DC to go to say a marketing meeting or, well, then now that’s wrong.
A circulation meeting or something, some business meeting. There’s just, you wouldn’t even be. They would just, if you walked in the room, they would say, what are you doing here? But and they’ll be right too. But here, you know, we have we have a weekly meeting of about eight people sort of handling the whole business and then it’s nice.
It feels good to be intimately connected with some things I’ve never
Melissa: had to think about. Yeah, it must [00:03:00] be. Yeah, it’s different when you have a smaller base team, but it feels like more people can be more, like you said, intimate with each other, and it’s not just, you know, a bunch of exact sense suits that you never see on a daily basis.
Tom Peyer: Another huge difference is that when I was working, you know, unstab at D C many, many years ago we were all in the same office in the same building. And so that was sort of our social life too. We worked long hours and we hung out together and that was kind of great
Melissa: and exciting time.
Tom Peyer: So, so now a days, of course, even if I were working for a big company, everyone’s just working at home. So we don’t really have that.
Melissa: Right. Yeah. Well, I think everybody literally is working from home now for the past year, year and a half. So, I mean, I’m sure it has its pros and cons either way. I’m a creator myself too.
So I feel like you definitely get that space that you need that sometimes you didn’t get pre pandemic. But yeah, absolutely.
[00:04:00] Tom Peyer: But even pre pandemic, we didn’t really have like. The headquarters that we all reported to. I had an office, I actually had an office in our office building, but it was just me.
Melissa: Hello? Yeah. But it must have been nice too, though. Like you could have gotten out, walked around and, you know, cause we do need that creative inspiration from real life, which I think we’re all kind of lacking right now. Oh boy.
Tom Peyer: Are we ever, are we ever, it’s kind of amazing that we’re this resilient. I mean, I would be, we should just be like, okay.
I don’t know. Just sitting on the floor, staring into space by now and been
Melissa: right. Well, I think some of it has to do with technology, you know, because I was talking to someone a little while ago about this and she had said something where, you know, can you imagine if, if the pandemic had happened, you know, 20, 25 years ago when we didn’t have.
You know, all these things, all these tools at our [00:05:00] fingertips. I mean, think about how, you know, incredibly bored and isolating. It would have been, as I guess, with the technology, we were able to, you know, connect more.
Tom Peyer: We would have been sending each other faxes
Melissa: pigeons. Right? Yeah. It’s getting into the comic book industry itself.
You know, how, how has the industry changed in your opinion from, you know, from like when you first started till now?
Tom Peyer: Oh boy, that’s a really good question. When I first started I really became full time about 30 years ago, a little over 30 years ago. So everything’s all different, you know, even that was even before I, it might’ve been before diamond, but it was certainly before diamond was the only distributor of comics, which it was for many, many years.
That’s different. The technology, the way you make comics is entirely different. I mean, we used to I haven’t seen a piece of original artwork maybe since we started four years ago, I’ve seen maybe [00:06:00] three, four pieces of original artwork. I know they exist, but they don’t come through me. But when we used to have all of the original artwork would come through us and we would get it lettered and we would.
Proofread it. And we would write corrections in blue pencil on the boards. And there was a production crew that had white paint and India ink, and they had a waxer to stick paper to paper, and that’s all gone completely, completely gone. Everything they knew how to do and everything they did and all the skill they brought to it.
It’s entirely obsolete. But it was it was a huge part of the company, the production department. I mean, it would have been impossible to function without it.
Melissa: Yeah. Do you miss doing it that way or are you kind of happy that you have a more efficient way of doing it? Well,
Tom Peyer: I didn’t have to do it that way in [00:07:00] editorial, so I don’t know.
I don’t really miss anything about it. I’ll tell you how long ago this was my desk. The DC comics had a typewriter and an ashtray
Melissa: that is, that is old school. That was great. Well, you know, you are really prolific in comics and I’m, I’m curious as to like, with your experience, can you spot the trends as far as like, do you know or have an inkling of like, well, you know, what’s going to happen in the future where’s comics heading or where do you want it to head?
Tom Peyer: I, you know, I keep my head down and just try to do the best kind of looks I can do. I don’t really worry about the larger world. Right? Cause it feels like a distraction. I mean, one thing is, you know, if anyone really knew how to make a hit comic, they would do it all the time and nobody does it all the time.
So that means to me that nobody knows. [00:08:00] So there’s, I don’t know if there’s much that can be learned. I know I used to, this is an extremely dated reference, but they you know, in DC there’ll be people who go, you know, this is popular, let’s do this. That’s just like this popular thing. And I was just like, Kids know the difference and what I, the dated part was that sick is not the difference between mad and cracked, but which is something nobody would even get now.
But I readers know the difference. If you’re expressing yourself or just trying to copy somebody down the street.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah, I guess that it is hard to spoonfeed, you know, people cause I think people are pretty intelligent as a whole. Yeah. Yeah. Well, everything I thought was really fascinating is that you have this background in political cartoons and I’m just curious, like how, how is that process of going about to create a cartoon like that?
And you know, [00:09:00] what would you get your inspiration from?
Tom Peyer: Wow, you did do some homework. I did a sort of a comic strip in an alternative newspaper for about 12 years before I got into mainstream comics. And it was, it was a way to see, I grew up in Syracuse and I had no idea how to like, Enter comics. It wasn’t like today, you kind of had to live in New York city for one thing, which I wouldn’t have been able to afford to do.
And that kind of extended history was almost all people who would just come to the Oaks and person and drop off their work. And that didn’t really change till late eighties with like FedEx. Nevermind. Now it’s. No, you can just send anything anywhere over the internet and it’s wonderful. But so it was very, so I just, I loved comics more than anything.
So I just kept my hand in by doing, by just [00:10:00] taking advantage of this local opportunity that I had. And I loved it. I loved it. I was It’s good to be the person making jokes when people are doing terrible things to the world, it’s better to be the person making jokes than the person either doing or getting them done to you directly.
Right. You can feel like a real wise guy, you know, I liked it and I got to draw a lot. My drawing is really not something we’d ever want to look at.
Yeah. It kept me going and I really indirectly led to the opportunity. So I did get the comics.
Melissa: Okay. Do you ever like sporadically get ideas for, for political cartoons and now, or are you just like way far removed from it at this point? I mean, there’s so much fodder in the news that I’m sure good.
Inspires them hilarious pieces. Well, I
Tom Peyer: think, you know, I, I keep up on it. I, listen, I. Yeah, I sort of [00:11:00] obsessed about it a little bit. Like a lot of other people do, like I probably did back then, but I don’t really conflict jokes for it, et cetera. Unless just in conversation, you know, you might be talking to your friends about it and you’re all saying funny things about it, but I don’t really think about it that way anymore.
There’s no like, burden on needed to do that. So yeah, I’ve always been like, As marginally productive a person as I could be like I, I did this comic years ago called our man, which lasted 25 issues, which it probably people might’ve been liked. It would have been expecting it to last longer.
And they always ask me, they, I still got to ask, what stories did you want to tell with our management? That you didn’t get to tell them. And the answer is zero because I didn’t think of a story until it was due.
Melissa: Right. That’s an interesting process. I think that’s probably more productive, you know? Cause I think [00:12:00] writers, we sometimes think ahead of ourselves and get distracted by, you know, a little plot bunny when we’re supposed to be working on something else.
Tom Peyer: maybe there’s nothing more attractive than the job you’re not.
Melissa: Yeah, exactly. And then you have all these unfinished projects, which it’s like the classic writers trope. Well, you know, I’d love to talk about, you know, your new, your new book penalty, man. And I’m hoping I’m saying that correctly.
Yeah. Okay, great. What is, what is it about and what inspired you to write this one?
Tom Peyer: Well, a perfect Charming, powerful, charismatic kind superhero who everybody just adores and and is in complete awe of, and is churned by. And he is playing along with it, but he’s unraveling because deep down he thinks he’s awful.
[00:13:00] He’s the everyone else in the world thinks he’s wonderful. And he thinks he’s awful. And the reason he thinks he’s awful was he was rejected by the society he grew up in, in the far future reasons. He’s called penultimate because he’s not the ultimate stage of evolution. He’s the next to last stage of evolution.
And so the, the, he was raised by the ultimate it’s and they rejected him and sent him back to. Era were full of morons who would appreciate him most therapy. And that was us. And so he really is in trouble because he doesn’t, he just, his self-loathing is growing and growing. And he’s got an Android sidekick, understudy assistant who sees this and decides.
To fix him. So it’s a story about, can, can [00:14:00] Android fix a human can a sidekick fix a superhero and can anybody fix anybody?
Melissa: Wow. That’s really interesting. It’s an interesting dichotomy just to have, you know, a character that’s sort of, you know, I guess an anti-hero at least in his own mind having these expectations put on him to, you know, do whatever fantastic things the rest of the world is expecting of him, but then like not being okay with himself.
What kind of prompted you to go in that direction with writing that type of a character?
Tom Peyer: I thought of a particular gag that is Forms the basis of the first issue, which there is a, the first issue is completely is a total preview of the entire [email protected] right now. So people can go read it rather than hear me blather about it, but basically there’s, there’s something that happens that is a tremendous blow to his ego.
And it makes him look terrible to himself. But these things, I mean, this was seated long ago. I mean, [00:15:00] just sort of brings out feelings he already had. And this thing that happened, it makes him look terrible. It makes us Android look, look like a genius. So there was that friction existing when the Android decides he’d love to fix him.
Melissa: And how many issues do you have planned? Is this going to be an ongoing series? No,
Tom Peyer: there were five issues and they’re all in the trade paper pack that comes out this month. We might revisit it someday, but not necessarily. It feels like a whole story to me right now.
Melissa: Okay. And then do you once you’ve finished a story, do you tend to kind of just lock it away and start on the next project right away?
Or do you take time in between projects to kind of refill the well,
Tom Peyer: oh, there’s no time if I took it, I mean, I could take time to refill the wall and I would
Melissa: That’s great. Another another series [00:16:00] I wanted to ask you about, I was just really curious is your anchor Allen Poe’s theories? It just is so fascinating to me. How, why Edgar, Allan Poe and why? Why go in the direction you did
Tom Peyer: well, Edgar Allen, Poe’s a familiar name and a familiar face. And he’s dead, so we don’t have to pay him.
And he can’t Sue us. He can’t tell us to do it over again cause he hates it. And so we don’t have to do anything for the use of his well-known face and right. And so what we did with them was we turned him into this sort of sad sec narrates introduces her stories, but they’re not even really horror stories.
They’re mostly comedy. They’re comedy horror stories, because the one, one thing that we’ve really tried, we’ve made an effort to set a whole economics apart by being funny. Like not everything we do is a comedy, but [00:17:00] everything has to be funny on some level. And everything has to have a sense of humor.
Melissa: important to us. Yeah, no, that’s interesting. I just, I loved the premise of it, of a drunk and angry I grow. Yeah,
Tom Peyer: yeah.
Melissa: Do you have any ideas for any other future, you know, literally. And historical characters that are obviously royalty for you, that you can, you
Tom Peyer: know, the trouble is most of the, there very few who you would recognize a pitcher, you know, mark Twain, many people would recognize, I don’t know quite what to do with mark Twain, but he’s out there.
If we want to use him I’m looking at. Albert Einstein would be interesting for like a science fiction book. I don’t know if we can use him or not because states keep [00:18:00] license, you know, licensing rights to characters for life, like many, many decades after your persons
Melissa: snap. Yeah, he’s a very iconic looking figure.
People would spot him right away. Yeah. It really
Tom Peyer: is. And people feel good about him. It’ll be, there’ll be hard to it would be hard to know how to mock him the way we can mock PO, but we find a way. Yeah.
Melissa: Yeah. I think there are so many positive attributes surrounded around Einstein. But yeah, you could probably get, get into some kind of made up backstory or something.
Now, how is when you’re writing a character like Edgar Allen power, you know that in that world, do you, do you enjoy writing in those sort of like oddball quirky worlds, like versus the superhero world? Or do you not have a preference? You know, is it just a totally different experience?
Tom Peyer: If [00:19:00] I’m, if I’m writing, no matter what the moment I’m looking for.
And the thing that keeps me going is the moment where I am entertained or something happens that makes me laugh or makes me, or surprises me. So that, to me, that’s more important than what the subject matter is. I find it really easy to write. Stories with a very loose plot structure that demand a lot of humor.
Like I used to, I’ve written some art Simpson comics and some Batman 66 stuff. And that, that stuff is meant to be funny. And really, I mean, the plot doesn’t matter at all right. You have like kind of a semblance of, well, you have a reference to clock. So this is, this is like bet plot, you know, already, but you don’t have to really follow it or be clever with it.
[00:20:00] You can just fill it with character moments and jokes. And to me, that’s the easiest kind of writing in the world and I love it.
Melissa: Yeah. Writing like banter and kind of, would you say you have a dark sense of humor,
Tom Peyer: I guess? Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Tom Peyer: It, ain’t funny if nobody’s hurting.
Melissa: What are some of your inspirations, you know, writing wise that, you know, are aside from what you do?
Tom Peyer: There are just so many in comics. I mean, everybody, I grew up reading, probably put a thumbprint on me. You know, there was a girl Steve Gerber was tremendous, who. I looked up to a great deal. He was a very funny writer for Marvel. He did Howard, the duck and man thing. So he was just great of all the writers from the 1970s.
I think he’s one of the very [00:21:00] few whose work holds up today.
Melissa: Yeah. Holds the test of time.
Tom Peyer: I just like fun writing. I like. I like to find things like there’s a guy named Piercey again, who wrote about boxing in the, in the 18th century. And he’s so funny to read because his use of languages. So.
Unnecessarily convoluted. And it’s now absolutely there’s word choices that nobody would make today. And the fact that he’s writing about boxing in the 18th century, where it’s not even, I don’t think it’s even legal, right.
Melissa: Underground boxing. So I
Tom Peyer: like, if I can find something like that, that’s like it’s got its own voice and nobody else is really writing that way.
I really. To enjoy
Melissa: that. That’s what you’re drawn to. Yeah. What are you, are you reading anything currently right now, like, even like in the form of a prose novel
Tom Peyer: that’s, you know, last week there was this really [00:22:00] wonderful mammoth interview in the new Yorker with John Schwartz, welder, who was one of the funniest writers ever, and who never gives interviews?
Well, he was one of the Simpsons, very funniest writers ever. And It was revealed in the article that he’s been self publishing, these novels about the humor novels, about a private detective. And so I went and I bought the first one. It’s called it’s called the time machine. Did it. But John Schwartz, welder, and I’m reading.
And that’s really funny, you know, it’s like if they won’t step to your rooms or anything, but there’s like 40 good jokes on every page,
Melissa: right? Yeah. A lot of there’s so many great books out there right now. And it’s hard to, it’s hard to find the time, honestly, to sit down and read, especially when you’re, you know, you’re busy creating as well.
And then there’s other things in life, family and, you know, obligations But, you know, it’s, it’s interesting that when we do sit [00:23:00] down to read, I feel like it does really, you kind of have this aha moment, like, oh yeah, I missed this. You know, this is true. Yeah. The escapism and learning something new. And do you find even, you know, with all of your experience as a writer and as a creator do you still find like that you’ve learned something new, whether it be like a technique or an angle.
Tom Peyer: Oh, yeah. I think absolutely. Absolutely. No one knows everything. You can always learn that. Yeah,
Melissa: sure. What genres, you know, I feel like you have I was doing a little bit of reading and you are drawn to like the sort of noir, like black and white type of stuff. Right. Is that something you’re really drawn to
Tom Peyer: a little bit, a little bit.
We did some black and white stuff in PO just for. Just for I, I’m always thinking about all the comic books I ever read in my life. And I read a lot when I was a child and there’s some, I just have a real affection for it and I [00:24:00] don’t want to be, I don’t want to put out Mrs Daljit material, but I think that some of the virtues that could exist today and there were there was a wonderful line of black and white comics that.
Horror comics that existed because regular color comics were heavily censored.
So they could bypass the censorship, like regular calmer colored on us. Weren’t even allowed to have like sound base or vampires.
Tom Peyer: Well, that’s true. That’s why, if you look at silver age comics ever The re the, they have a reputation for being goofy. And the reason for that is they were so heavily censored.
You couldn’t have like ultra violent or sexy scenes or anything. So they had to come up with visuals that were something brand new, something nobody else was doing because you, you needed striking visuals, but you couldn’t, [00:25:00] you couldn’t use anything that would, that would anger the the. The people who were scolding you all the time.
So they would come up with giving the flash a giant future person’s head or, you know, or making,
turning Batman into like a negative, like a negative photo with who could shoot rays from his hands for, for a story, just all this crazy stuff. Wow. And we owe that. Sensors so much gratitude for this period of COMEX. Cause it was so good.
Melissa: Wait, what, what time period was this? When they were doing that? It
Tom Peyer: wasn’t like this the fifties, there was a huge comic book crack down in the fifties and they were going to make certain comic books that are illegal.
There were congressional hearings and television. Wow. If you told, if you wrote or drew [00:26:00] comics in 1954, And you told your neighbor, that’s what you did. Your neighbor would never speak to you again. Wow. You had to lie about what you did for a living. And so this, I know it is it’s nuts. It’s absolutely nuts.
But comics were made the scapegoat for things like juvenile delinquency extremely unfairly, extremely longly, but it happened. So a lot of brilliant companies will put out of business. A lot of brilliant creators never found work again. So in order to prevent in order to protect themselves from government censorship, the complex industry created their own censorship and they put a seal on the cover approved by the comics code, and every comic had to follow this extremely.
Conservative list of do’s and don’ts, I mean, they were all dumped. You couldn’t have divorce, couldn’t have [00:27:00] you couldn’t have anyone profiting from crime. You couldn’t show the police in a bad light. For any reason you couldn’t have werewolves and vampires
Melissa: sounds depressing,
Tom Peyer: but it was extremely depressing yet.
It Was directly responsible for this creative flower, where they came up with, you know, Superman’s fortress of solitude and, and men’s danger room and all these things that are still unused to that. And there’s still people keep going back to these ideas that, that blossomed in the fifties and sixties because they were.
They were great because they weren’t just your usual step and then shooting, which they would have done if they’d been allowed to.
Melissa: Yeah. So I had to go deeper and figure a way around it and yeah, that’s, that’s cool. Well, and history kind of repeats itself a little because, you know, when you were telling me about that, it reminded me of, you know, when I was growing up in [00:28:00] the eighties and early nineties you know, they did the same thing with the video games and hip hop music, you know, trying to get rid of it.
Tom Peyer: They do it video games, they did it with music in the nineties. They did it certainly, you know, certainly rap music, but also. Wasn’t tipper gore. She wanted warrant A’s ratings.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. And I think Barbara Bush as well. Yeah, they do the
Tom Peyer: same thing. And in the, in the early 20th century, it was newspaper comics.
At any, every time we find something, we like, they try to make it illegal.
Melissa: Right. I’ll try to sensor you and yeah. There’s other people that don’t get censored that probably should that just, you know, spread misinformation all the time and you’re like, wait, yeah. What about them? We’re just creating art.
Tom Peyer: There’s a few. I would, yeah. I would definitely muscle some people. Yeah,
Melissa: exactly. Yeah. I felt like sometimes you just have to. [00:29:00] Like I haven’t seen the news, you know, like watched a full news program in about two months. It just, because it kind of, it gets you a little riled up, you know, and it’s the blood pressure going and I’ll check the headlines just so I’m not completely, you know, unaware of what’s going on in the world, but but just sit and get ups, you know, cause we would obsess, you know, during the election and before the election, I think we were all just sitting around, you know, watching whatever our, you know, news sources.
And do you feel like that. Kind of like release now, like we’re kind of like collective side or I guess a relief in a sense.
Tom Peyer: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s great. Trump has gone, I’ll say it out loud. I mean, it’s, it’s you know, we started a hallway. January, 2017. That’s when we had meetings and say, let’s do this.
And the reason I know the reason that we did it then was to give us ourselves something else, big to think about to save our lives, save personality. And it was [00:30:00] still bad to go through that even with worse for other people, obviously. But yeah, I feel, I feel a great sense of relief and I also feel very No wary about the future too.
I mean, the stuff that’s going on with voter suppression and yeah. So you can relax entirely, but it’s so great to have that right
Melissa: out of there. It’s like we’re on a CS stuff, anything right.
Tom Peyer: Really, really, and, you know, and you get, you get, you get to the point where you’re. You’re just submersing yourself, submerging yourself in all this news and it feels kind of like you’re helping by doing that, but you’re really not.
It doesn’t affect anything. It just makes you more
Melissa: miserable. Exactly. Yeah. Just started getting more cranky and drink more.
Tom Peyer: Yeah. It’s
Melissa: yeah, it’s been, it’s been interesting. You know, especially just, you know, the past year [00:31:00] talking to people through this, you know, like, you know, at home and we’re all in our little confines.
And I think the majority of, you know, the people we surround ourselves with are probably, you know, People that we agree with. Of course, I think everyone does that. But do you find, like, do you think that the, the pandemic affected your writing at all? As far as like the stories you decided to tell?
Tom Peyer: I don’t know.
I don’t know why I make those decisions. Sometimes some, and I’ll get asked questions like that and have no idea. And then a week later I’ll think of the answer. Cause I’m just gone to your story, I’m writing it and I’m just, at every point I’m thinking. Should I do this or should I do that? And it’s like finding your way through a or something.
And I’m not really thinking of that the way the reader might, I guess,
Melissa: do you outline, or do you, are you a discovery writer?
Tom Peyer: I like to have some idea of where it’s going, but that can [00:32:00] change. And yeah, I’m more of a, I used to be a heavier outline writer and then I became. More of a, what you call a discovery writer, because I just think none of the stuff feels, it feels true to the characters.
If you’re making decisions, when you’re in the weeds with them, rather than like planning their lives before they happen. And it just feels, it feels more entertaining in a way, because. You’re not just sort of checking off a bunch of boxes that you thought of last Tuesday.
Melissa: I used to outline really heavily as well.
When I was starting out and I noticed that I don’t do it as often certain things I will, but I’m almost wondering if it’s, it’s one of those things where, you know, when at the beginning you have so many doubts about writing and you know, we’re self critical and. Possibly now there’s this confidence level, you know, like, oh, I can do this.
I can, I can write [00:33:00] this. I don’t maybe need an outline. I mean, do you find it maybe has something to do with that? Just like trusting yourself more.
Tom Peyer: I think that’s exactly right. Once you’ve you need experience before you came. You know, take the training wheels off.
Melissa: Yeah, it’s a, I mean, it’s an ever evolving process, really.
I mean, the techniques I, I used, you know, two years ago, obviously I don’t use anymore. And do you, do you have the same process or has your process changed as well?
Tom Peyer: I probably have been, well, maybe the first. 25% of my career. Yeah. I was like, you know, more of an outliner and more of a, not really trusting myself writer.
Yeah. I, I wrote something with Jamie Delano who was a. When I was an editor at DC, I worked at vertigo, which was their adult kind of horror print and [00:34:00] a great writer named Jamie Delano was the original writer on Hellblazer Constantine. So gifted, so great. And I was writing superhero stuff and I was like, you know, I would, I would sort of sit down and write all the pictures.
Right. What was going to happen on each page and a little sentence, then I would go back and write all the pictures and then it’d be ready for the characters to talk. And I thought that was like really the pro way to do it. And then I wrote something with Jenny, we collaborated and he just sat down with a blank screen and started writing dialogue.
And I’m like, what are you doing? It’s not what you do. You said, it’s how I do it. And Boy, those characters were so alive because the scenes were built around them. They weren’t built around the scenes and it was such a better way to do it for me. I found, and I did it that way ever since.
Melissa: Yeah. I mean, I definitely [00:35:00] believe that.
Yeah. Character is the most important thing. I mean, we can have a great plot. You can have a great world that you’ve built, but the characters are, are what are going to make the reader, you know, fall in love with the story. I
Tom Peyer: think. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Sometimes you’d like to just spend time with the characters without having to worry about plot.
I hate readers like that.
Melissa: Yeah, I do an exercise called a writing sprint where you just set a timer and just write. And it’s always a great way to just get into your character more, you know, just to scribble, you know, whatever comes to mind and, and it’s just has nothing to do with plot. It’s just ramblings of the character.
And I find that to be, you know, helpful, beneficial to get inside a character’s head because sometimes it’s challenging. I mean, do you ever have characters that just. Like you, they will not give you anything.
Tom Peyer: Well, they don’t, they end up not getting much to [00:36:00] do. Yeah.
Melissa: They’re like, all right, you’re cut.
Tom Peyer: Well there’s yeah.
Well, I’m in a lucky position because I’m creating stuff now. You know, if a character doesn’t click with me, they simply just don’t get the screen time and I’m the boss. But if I were to like, say right, that’s heightened for the sea and it would be my duty to think up definitely of what to do with temper, whether I wanted to or not, you know?
Yeah. And I would do it.
Melissa: Yeah. Sorry. Are you enjoying the freedom of, of creating your own content and being in charge? I
Tom Peyer: like it. I like I do like that quite a lot and I liked it. We’re doing stories that are contained like each book. Like if, if the, if the Brooklyn bridge gets blown up in one of our books, you can still use it [00:37:00] in another book because it didn’t happen in your book.
That’s how I, that has been wonderful because you get to tell the story, you want to tell what we think you need to tell without someone interrupting you and saying we’re having an alien invasion next month. So whatever you were planning for your comic book, it’s really got to take the back seat to this.
And that’s, that’s a hard way to, right?
Melissa: Yeah. That’s gotta be stifling.
Tom Peyer: It, it, it can be frustrating because if there’s a lot of that, you never quite get to tell your story. The other hand, what they do, they do very successfully and people love and respond to the shared universes and more power to them.
That’s just, it’s it’s nice to have this too.
Melissa: Yeah, well, there are so many, you know, Indi comic book companies that are, that are coming about. I mean, they have been for awhile, but I feel like they’re coming more to the forefront nowadays. [00:38:00] You’ve got, you know, like scout comics and bad idea, and it must be great to, to be a part of that community and reaching a whole new audience that, you know, cause not everyone’s into the superhero comics or the shared universes.
So there’s, you know, it must be. Quarter to get to see a different fan base.
Tom Peyer: That is nice. It isn’t that our fans seem to come from everywhere. You know, indie fans have made mainstream big company fans.
And really just the last year, I don’t know if it’s a pandemic or what, but I’ve been. Feeling a lot of like maniacs out there. I just really love it. Then that’s a great feeling.
Melissa: That’s awesome. So what are some of the other titles that you guys have coming up
Tom Peyer: coming?
Melissa: Yeah, from Hawaii,
Tom Peyer: we’ve got one called Snelson [00:39:00] S N.
E L S O N comedy is dying. Right. And it’s about a guy who was a Stan. He is a stand-up comic. And he started in the nineties when he was young and he was edgy and he dressed a certain way and he almost made it big, but we didn’t, and that’s on time. Now he’s he’s around today and he’s still doing the same kind of edgy material, and he’s still dressing the same way and it’s, it’s going over even worse than it did.
Then he’s got to what’s he going to do? What’s he going to do? And he, there might be a brush with the alt-right and there might be a brush with podcasting by Paul constant than Fred Harper. Paul did a Serious for us a couple of [00:40:00] years ago called planet of the nerds. And it was wonderful and this is wonderful too, but in a different way.
Melissa: That’s awesome. And when is, is that out now or is that just coming up soon?
Tom Peyer: It’ll be okay. In our next wave will be coming up in a couple of months ago. I should have dates in front of me, but yeah, that’s okay. We can look at it. There’s one called blacks myth. Black apostrophe S oh yeah.
Melissa: I keep saying the promo for that.
Tom Peyer: Yeah, that’s great. It’s by a. Eric colicky and the artist Wendell cuddle content. And it’s about a conqueror private detective who is a werewolf. Oh wow. That’s usually all I have to say to people and then they want to read it.
Melissa: That’s awesome. They’re right. To do that. That’s a great hook
Tom Peyer: penultimate. Again, this month it’s in the collected edition is in stores.
[00:41:00] And I want to mention Alan Robinson, the artist, because, oh, absolutely. It absolutely would not be the comic. It is without him, his characters are so, emotional and he really, his approach really carried and directed a lot of the story. Cause I, I saw what he could do with People who were upset
Melissa: well, and the characters are very vivid.
What was, as I’m guessing, you had probably an amazing experience collaborating with them. Does he did he just do it based off of your dialogue and then where did you kind of work simultaneously and creating it?
Tom Peyer: So it might, some of it was just plot, script. I would just give him like a bunch of events and he would.
Make pages out of it. And that was really nice. He did a great job at that. That’s great. And then I would put the words on later and some of it was Fullscript and he, you know, I D I defy you to look through it and see which pages or which cause yeah. [00:42:00] Cause he did a bang up job on all of it.
Melissa: Yeah. I’m always so in awe of, of people that have the skill of that level, it’s such a gift.
Yeah. Had you collaborated with him before
Tom Peyer: the recliner, the nerds? Paul constants, I just mentioned. And so we’d worked with him and he did some stuff in our own Edgar Allen Poe book. He did the last few covers of that too. And we love working with Allen.
Melissa: That’s great. Now for any of our listeners out there that are trying to get into comics, does a Hawaii accept submissions or is it say gift of an Inn?
Tom Peyer: the best, the most surefire way to submit to us? Well, nothing’s sure-fire, but the way you have the best chance we also. We call it ourselves comic magazines are what we put out. We call it kind of like magazines because in the back after the comic book story, [00:43:00] we have a short fiction poetry.
Non-fiction prose all with illustrations and we have a pretty big appetite for those. And there’s like a few in every comic we put out. And if you go to our website comics Hawaii com. And scroll all the way down the first page. You’ll see a submissions link. If you click that with a portal, submit to things like that, but we’re looking for short prose fiction and nonfiction.
I’d say like a 750 to 1500 words, black and white. We if we get a look at your portfolio, we can assign, we assign you black and white illustrations for these things. The back of the book is like, it’s this colorful comic for the first two thirds in the back of the book is like, This gray, black and lights, bunch of words.
And [00:44:00] it’s like a whole different feeling. That’s
Melissa: really cool. Yeah. That makes me want to definitely have a copy of one then. Yeah. I also wanted to ask you, you know, As also like a, kind of an advice question for, for two parts here. For readers, let’s say readers that are new to comics that just are kind of starting out, whether it be cause they’re young or just never got into it before the comic book industry can seem pretty overwhelming.
You know, I was aware to start what to pick up, you know, what would be your advice to a new comic book reader?
Tom Peyer: Well, I gotta say we put out some things that might be really good for somebody who’s not, as I said, we’re not like a heavy continuity shops, so you don’t really have to have read other things before you read one of our things.
For the most part, I mean, There’s a code like we do the wrong earth. Maybe you want to live, read some kind of like books to get the jokes in it. But we have a wonderful one called Ashland thorn [00:45:00] by Mariah McCourt and Sue Lee. That’s about Two magicians who have to save the world from a monstrous, other dimensional entity.
And they’re both in their eighties. Wow. And
Melissa: yeah. Sounds fascinating.
Tom Peyer: Yeah. And we have captain ginger by Stewart Moore and June Brigman, which is about a star ship that’s prude by cat people. And they act like people and they act like cats. And that’s really
Melissa: great. That sounds really adorable.
Tom Peyer: That’s adorable.
And it’s funny and it’s scary and it’s like a real space opera adventure with this added layer of humor that they’re cats. Those are two. Those are two kind of like, so I would like confidently hand out to anyone. Who’s never read a comic book. Okay.
Melissa: That’s awesome. And these comics, I mean, obviously [00:46:00] they’re on diamond and comic book stores.
Do you sell them directly off of your website as well?
Tom Peyer: No, we don’t. But we do collect everything. After after our monthly series are done after five or six issues come out, we’ll do a collected edition, a paperback, and those will go to bookstores too.
Melissa: Okay, so you could get them like a Barnes and noble or Amazon.
Is it all? Sure. That’s cool. And then the second part, I wanted to ask you for advice now, before you know, these aspiring comic book whether they be a writer, an artist before they hit that submission button and they, what are the, the main things that they should do to You know, kind of learn the business and perfect their craft and, and really help their odds of getting into the comic book industry.
Tom Peyer: Well, I think the more the more you concentrate on perfecting your craft, that’s the important thing. That’s much more important than whether you’re [00:47:00] getting published or paid or not because to compete, you need to get. To a fairly high level, I think of ability and we’re human with human nature and it’s so completely ordinary for us to think.
Well, I’ve written two stories. Let me go, let me cut live off this. And it, it really does take more than.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah, it does definitely doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t
Tom Peyer: work that way, but I would say, you know, keep working if, if you’re really interested in, you know, getting money and having your name on a book, then if that’s your primary interest I’m afraid it’s if you’re in for an unhappy time, but if you really, really want to be writing.
Sitting in a chair with your fingers on a keyboard and doing it, if that’s what you really want to be doing. And I think you’ll have a much better time.
Melissa: Yeah, [00:48:00] absolutely. You know, that’s great advice. Yeah. It’s definitely stuff. We long road lots of carpal tunnel syndrome as well, by the way.
Well, before I let you go I wanted to ask you one last thing and you may or may not have an answer to this, so no pressure, but if there was, you know, what do you wish you knew back then that you know, now as far as,
Tom Peyer: oh, that’s a good one. I liked that question. Somebody put it to me differently a couple of weeks ago and they said, what do you wish someone had told you at the beginning? And I said, relax.
Melissa: I forgot to answer.
Tom Peyer: Well, it’s a slightly different question or that’s, that’s my answer to that one. Yeah. I think.
Yeah, I think I would [00:49:00] love to. I would like to have been told it is tomorrow about the work then creating an identity for yourself or being a comic book writer. It’s really more about the work.
Melissa: Yeah, the quality of the work rather than the
Tom Peyer: brand. Yeah. And that’s just the quality of it, but your experience with it, it really has to be something that you want to spend time do.
Melissa: Let’s, that’s great. And you
Tom Peyer: would get it. And I would be able to tell my younger self that you really do get the most satisfaction from that part of it. I mean, after a while it wears off to see your name on print. Right, but it doesn’t wear off to like write something and I’d be like,
Melissa: yeah, that’s interesting.
Yeah. You probably get desensitized to the media stuff. And, but it’s good that you still enjoy the actual craft and like, you know, still have the passion for it.
Tom Peyer: Thanks. I do. And except the days I don’t
[00:50:00] Melissa: join the club. Right. Well, thank you so much for chatting with me today. This has been an absolute blast.
You’re a very cool, interesting guy. And I’ve loved getting to know you a little better.
Tom Peyer: Thank you. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you a little better too. It was a good, it was a nice bunch of questions. Oh,
Melissa: thank you. Thank you. Yeah. And you know, I’m looking forward to yap penalty, man is I think it was May 25th.
Tom Peyer: all the 25th. Bookstores and comic chefs May 12th.
Melissa: Awesome. That’s great. And I’m yeah, I’m looking forward to checking out some more of your titles at a Hawaii. It sounds just the ones who told me, I’m like, oh, I, I, that’s definitely right up my alley. Thank you. Thanks so much. Well, Tom, it’s been a pleasure, please.
Come back again. This has been so much fun.
Tom Peyer: Will do. Thanks for having me.