Steve Niles has been a faithful fighter for the little guy in the word of indie publishing and films. In Part Two he wraps up his feelings on the comic industry and looks forward to his own future. A future, it seems, that he is much more able to have a hand in shaping.
The indie publisher almost can’t afford a failure. So does indie publishing actually just come down to the comic creators?
It really does, more and more. I had a nice experience when I did the Little Bloody Pulp Book. We were wondering how we were going to do direct sales. One thing that surprised us was we sold 500 copies in a minute. We put it online and FOOM! 500 copies. Now had I not put a $5.00 cover price on it... We sold 2,000 over a period of time. I can’t make a living selling 2,000 through the Diamond direct market. I can make a damn good living selling 2,000 directly to fans.
One of the things I’ve already told Bernie Wrightson (now that Steve has moved to Austin, TX where Bernie lives – editor’s note) is that I'm dragging him out to book festivals and art festivals. Can you imagine walking by a booth at an art festival and seeing Bernie Wrightson art? We can get new fans. That’s what we need. Because every month we’re all like a bunch of rabid dogs fighting over the same pie.
Is saying “We want to get new fans” also saying “We want to move out of graphic novels and into new things”?
In general I think the entire approach needs to be different. All we’re trying to sell is words and pictures. It’s not that hard of a sale. But I believe that Marvel and DC have kept us in this “it’s little boy’s escapists fantasies/superheroes” and if you ask most people about comic books they either think that Spider-Man is for kids or the funny... the Peanuts. They don’t realize it’s like a lot more.
Is there anything in the works concerning you and the film world?
Definitely. You know I spent 10 years constantly meeting, constantly developing stuff, trying to get anything made and at the end of it I got two movies.
Two movies meaning 30 Days of Night and Remains?
Yeah I got 30 Days and I got a TV movie and the sequel. But nothing has been as big as 30 Days. Even that took almost ten years to get on screen.
Thank you, David Slade, you did a fine job.
Without David Slade (see photo of David and Steve - editor) and Brian Nelson it wouldn’t be what it is. I just decided to take a few steps back. What I want to do is focus on my comics and then if something else happens, Great. I’m right there. I’ll be the first person at the premiere. But I’m not going to get preoccupied with it anymore because honestly I know how to make a book. I know how to make a comic and get it out there. I don’t have a clue how to get a movie made.
So in the meantime you are firmly entrenched in the comic world?
I just want to make my comics. I think that’s where I’m most comfortable anyway. I’m just going to do that. What’s so funny, of course, is that as soon as I say that, I get signed by a new agency and there’s all kinds of heat on my projects again. We’ve got Transfusion, Criminal Macabre, Freaks of the Heartland all these things are starting to spark again. I think it’s all because I’m leaving Southern California and people just want to make me feel bad.
Are we going to see anymore Bloody Pulp publications?
Absolutely. I’m going to be doing stuff with Bernie, doing some posters. I’ve got two more of the little books going to come out. One with James O’Barr and Bernie Wrightson and really I’m the hold-up at this point. Because those things are so affordable to make I’ve got to finish the stories. I’ve just been so busy doing the comics.
What about publishing other people’s books under the Bloody Pulp banner?
You know, we did the Lance Henriksen thing and that was really fun. If something really unusual came along. But I don’t want to become a publisher. I tried that already once with Arcane and lost everything. The fact that I was a teenager probably didn’t help. I want to try a little bit of everything. Now Alex Lodermeir (Steve's partner in Bloody Pulp) is talking about wanting to do more comics. So that’s what a big part of this move is to try and get my expenses down to where I can afford to take all these chances. Well, you know. Since all the stuff in my life I’ve had to work double time for the last, what, five years?
If you could go back and change anything what would you do?
I just wish I’d of had all the experience I have now. That’s just age. I learned everything, especially the Hollywood stuff, with trial by fire.
You didn’t have a mentor or anybody?
No. That was really odd. Nobody came to help me. They just wanted to rake my money. In looking back there is a lot of stuff I would have handled differently. Just a little calmer. You’ve just got to have patience. I didn’t know that. I was at 110% every day. I just burned myself out. You can’t be that way. You’ve got to roll with the stuff and that’s what I’m finally realizing. You know I’m not swearing off movies by any stretch. I’m just not making it my priority anymore.
With the way the industry has changed would you advise new people to break into comics?
You know it’s so hard. Even while I was at a Dark Delicacies signing somebody asked if I had advice for a young comic writer. My first response is “Run.” Get a real job. It’s tough. The only advice I can really give people is that if you don’t love it, forget it. The odds have always been against you no matter what for being a musician, for being an author, comic writer, filmmaker, whatever. But is has just gotten worse now. The odds have gotten a little worse that you are not going to get anything done. But on the same token I feel there is more reason for movies. I’m hoping we’ll get an independent film scene back.
Bloody Pulp Pictures?
Oh boy. But right now everything is tent pole. Everything is a big, ridiculous, overdone Hollywood movie.
Nowadays everything is about branding.
Yep. I want other stuff. As a horror fan especially some of my favorite films are little pieces of crap.
But for you your name is your brand.
That’s what my agent is telling me now. I have to start branding myself. Whatever that means.
Read Part 1 of the interview here.
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Steve Niles can be found on Facebook and so can Del Howison