EMPHASIZING STORY AND REPRESENTATION IN INDEPENDENT COMICS WITH PRESIDENT OF STRANGER COMICS SEBASTIAN JONES
Sebastian A. Jones is the President of Stranger Comics and the creator of the world of Asunda including its lead character Niobe, which became the first nationally distributed comic with a Black female author, artist, and lead hero in history. At Stranger, Jones partnered with Garcelle Beauvais on the I Am Book Series, children’s books that focuses on diversity. Titles Jones has written and published include: The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer, The Untamed: Killing Floor, The Untamed: Still a Fool, Niobe: She is Life, Niobe: She is Death, Niobe & Dura, Dusu: Path of the Ancient, Erathune, Essessa: The Fallen, Tales of Asunda: Silver Blood, First Kill, Morka Moa: Rise of the Jade Lord, Salvador, Pinata, I Am Mixed, I Am Living in 2 Homes, I Am Awesome, and Ruining Christmas. In this episode of How Art is Born Season 2, Sebastian sits down with friend and host R. Alan Brooks to discuss the importance of focusing on carefully crafted characters and stories for independent comic creators, what it takes to run an independent comics company, what kind of music they like to listen to while writing, and more.
This episode contains mature language and content.
Links mentioned in this episode:
ABOUT SEBASTIAN JONES
Sebastian A. Jones is the President of Stranger Comics and the creator of the world of Asunda including its lead character Niobe, which became the first nationally distributed comic with a Black female author, artist, and lead hero in history. Before Stranger, Jones was President of MVP Records, releasing scores of albums that featured such artists as John Coltrane, Marvin Gaye, and Billie Holiday. At Stranger, Jones partnered with Garcelle Beauvais on the I Am Book Series, children’s books that focuses on diversity. He has co-written the psychological thriller video game, Hektor. Jones has also taught lectures around the world, including BTH in Sweden to FAMU in Florida. After working with Prentice Penny at HBO, Jones recently partnered with Penny to create a comic company, where they will produce comics, TV shows, and films that focus on BIPOC creators and creations, which will be published through Stranger. Titles Jones has written and published include: The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer, The Untamed: Killing Floor, The Untamed: Still a Fool, Niobe: She is Life, Niobe: She is Death, Niobe & Dura, Dusu: Path of the Ancient, Erathune, Essessa: The Fallen, Tales of Asunda: Silver Blood, First Kill, Morka Moa: Rise of the Jade Lord, Salvador, Pinata, I Am Mixed, I Am Living in 2 Homes, I Am Awesome, and Ruining Christmas.
R. Alan Brooks (00:05):
Welcome to How Art is Born, a podcast from the museum of temporary art, Denver, about the origins of artists and their creative and artistic practices. I'm your host, our album Brooks artist writer, and professor today. I'm joined by Los Angeles based publisher writer, teacher, founder, and president the Stranger Comics Sebastian Jones. Say hello!
Sebastian Jones (00:22):
Hello. Hello everybody. Hello Denver. <Laugh>
R. Alan Brooks (00:27):
So, Hey man, I wanna start this out. So like in 2017 I decided that I was gonna leave my insurance job and go full time in comics and I had no foundation anything and I, I had wrapped for years, so I was thinking, okay, with the charisma and hustle that it takes to be an MC looking at all these other comics creators, like I'm definitely gonna be able to stand out, you know? And I, and I came at it really hard. And then I met this motherfucker with <laugh> 10 times the charisma man, 10 times the hustle of anything, you know, it actually was very inspiring to meet you, man. Just to see how you handle all your stuff, but also it was like, wow, man. All right. Cause the few that I, the few things that I'd done before I saw you do your thing, I was already standing out and then to see it like happen on another level, I was like, yo, these are possibilities out here, man.
Sebastian Jones (01:19):
R. Alan Brooks (01:21):
Yeah, man. So do you I guess want to talk a little about like how you sort of form the way that you approach comics as a business
Sebastian Jones (01:32):
You want, like the trade secret hustles
R. Alan Brooks (01:35):
Sebastian Jones (01:35):
Right. How to get charisma, like no fuck.
R. Alan Brooks (01:38):
Behind a curtain,
Sebastian Jones (01:39):
The behind the curtain that sounds like it could be really naughty. So how do, how to approach it as a business? Well, I think, I think for me, it initially came down to the content. The kind of the kind of content that I wanted to create would essentially dictate the audience that would come rather than catering to an audience I'm trying to please. And I think a lot of times especially now, you know, we talk about this shit as all old bastard, you know, especially now it's like, oh, most people are trying to catch a trend and by the time that you've caught up the trend, it's moved on to something else, you know, like, oh, that's a hashtag and now there's new hashtag and so forth. So, so for me, I was like, and this is many, many years ago.
I started stranger comic with, with, with the guys back around 2008, 2009. And even with this, even if I said it now, I think just philosophically you take the same kind of approach mm-hmm <affirmative> on how to build a brand that if it does not succeed, at least you can say, you know, it nourished your soul along the way, it nourished your, you know, you held firm with your own integrity and kind of put out the material that you wanted. So isn't there, isn't such a thing as a, yeah, you might not have a movie. You might not be a best seller, but if you can make a decent living or you can pay some bills and make some folks happy then with, within the, the almost uncompromising vision that you have, well, then cool. You've done something right. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> you, you you've kind of figured it out.
So for me it was like, okay how can I tell stories that essentially you know, celebrate the ceremony of black culture yet within the stories create a, a deeply kind of human global experience mm-hmm <affirmative> so you've got these, you know, so that's just essentially some foundation relatable themes, relatable stories, but then the backdrop is fantasy and it is this world I've created. And, you know so it, honestly, bro, it was just, it was, it was born out of me wanting to reflect my own vulnerabilities. Hmm. my insecurities, my guilt and my wrath and and, and try, and, and then if a reader could read this shit, they could then maybe put themselves in and be really honest and naked with it. Maybe the reader can then put themselves in those shoes and then connect with the story. And then maybe me as a writer. But I, I don't think, I even thought that far ahead to be honest.
R. Alan Brooks (04:39):
Hmm. You know, I think there's something really dope to be said about expressing something purely from your spirit, not, not trying to like read the market or predict what's gonna be popular, but then also deciding what your definition is of success. Right. Mm-hmm
Sebastian Jones (04:56):
R. Alan Brooks (04:56):
Cuz so many people seem to be chasing after this intangible, like when I get published, that's it or you know, like there's no real clear goals and, and so many of the goals that people think they're chasing for, they find, you know, you look at 'em you find out that they're empty. Like there're plenty of people who are published, who are not working full time and what it is that they wanna do. Like, so for me, I, one of the first things I did was move outta my house, moving to some place. I reduced all my expenses and then gave myself a certain amount of time to generate X amount of income, to be able to support, you know, and then basically, I mean really treated it like a business. And I see so much of that with you. So once you got past the point of creating the stories that were important to you, then what, what was, what was the next step?
Sebastian Jones (05:48):
Whoa, one of the thing, the things that once I kind of got past the stories, what was important essentially is how to, how to make enough money to get to the next story, I guess. Yeah. now in the early days creating the story was what was the most important thing. So even before we started stranger comics, we had shopped around our, our comic books to some of the publishers mm-hmm <affirmative> and the majority, some were cool. Some were not as cool. Yeah. some were dickhead and some were vapid and some were predatory. And and when you, when you present, I think, and you, I'm sure, you know, you, you know this, when you present anything that is other, right. Yeah. Oh, it's FA it's FA fantasy or, oh, it's black or oh, it's female or, oh, it's this mm-hmm <affirmative> therefore there comes, that becomes a that becomes the, the statements.
Right. As opposed to potentially the story. Right. And so I was like, they were like, oh, you know, some of them were like, oh, this will look good during black history month announcements. I'm like, yeah, no, I fuck. You know, and I'd run a record label for a few years and I had, I didn't wanna do another run, another company. It was exhausting, but it was like, oh, to protect the integrity of what this is, I've gotta start another company just to protect these characters and and the, in the interpersonal relationships that they're gonna experience on multiple, multiple levels. And these are super personal to me. So once, once that happened, we started stranger comics with those intentions. We don't really know the fuck we were doing. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> we spread ourselves too thin on trying to do, do too many comics too soon.
You know, that was a mistake. But so, but within that framework, still come back to the story, like, how does one make money? Is it in a comic shop? Is it in a convention? Right. And, and it was a, just really learning on the job. Now, Josh, our editor in chief, he had some experience at top car for a little bit. But still we were still as a team, very green. And so, so it was a lot of trial by Erin. And I think, you know, it's funny when you, when you listen to those documentaries of like hip artists that are big and famous and were like, yeah, I performed for two people in a garage. Right, right. So we did a bunch of conventions that weren't conventions, like here's a dungeon dragons event in a, in a shed <laugh> do you know what I mean? Like a glorified shed. Right. and here I am with a comic book and people are like, looking at this shit going, I don't care about that. I've got my fifth level ranger. You, you know, <laugh> and in the like to talk about their fifth level range far more than the story. So I think the, the, the grind was the grind of hitting every kind of basis we could to make an income. Mm-Hmm taught us how to make an income.
R. Alan Brooks (09:12):
Oh, that's interesting, man. Yeah. Yeah. You know, so I mean, I guess you know, I had sort of a similar thing where I was initially hitting up all the publishers, like going, going to every con like New York, San Diego, Phoenix, whatever. And to the point where they knew me mm-hmm <affirmative> and they were like, wow, what you're doing is impressive, blah, blah, blah. But then either nothing or offer me deals that were not better than I could do on my own. Right. You know? And you know, like even at this point, like, you know, we've talked about me having done that Ted talk that, you know, is a million and a half views where I talk about my book and still publishers are continuing to shrug at me. Right. So it makes me say, okay, well how do I continue to step over the gatekeepers and create something that is meaningful to me mm-hmm <affirmative> and engaging to the people who follow it. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and that sort of brings me to another thing that I've seen you do very well, which is you engender a lot of loyalty amongst the people who support your work. And I, I would love if you talk a little bit about how that comes to be and what you think of it.
Sebastian Jones (10:27):
Yeah. I, I think it's I mean, the way I look at it is if someone is going to dare to spend $4 on me, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, that's their hard earned money. And a lot of times, you know, if that's their hard earned money, if you are at a convention and someone comes to a convention and they come with a hundred dollars to spend, they go, they wanna get a crisp insert, last name signature, or, and, and suddenly if they walk past my booth and I'm, I'm pretty good at selling and convincing people to buy stuff, you know, and the art is great. That they'll go, well, shit, I might wanna get this, but now I can't get the signature. So it, it really it's on me. It's my responsibility to, to give them, to give them material really, truly who I am.
And then if I interact with them, let them know who I truly am and, and be vulnerable. Right. and I think at times I can kind of conflict with the kind of concept now that everyone's into self love, to such a degree. I think people then become closed off or self rather than self less. So, you know, you, so I think, you know, when people see that and they read the kind of stories and these charact are very, very vulnerable, they're very honest with all the various that they can relate to that. Then they, when, if I'm talking, they can relate to me. And, and the last thing I'll say is on that note is, look, we're, we're independent and we are competing with billion dollar corporations, right. If you're a fan, you don't have to go, well, he's Indy. So I guess it isn't gonna be as no, <laugh> the fan, that's their hard earned money.
They get to choose whatever they want. Right. So I also believe that it's my responsibility to my craft and to someone that is gonna spend the $4 or the bundle deals or the power covers and so on to make sure the quality yeah. Is as on par, you know, and if my ego allowed me to say, my shit's fucking great. Right. And I, and, and like, if someone comes with me and they go, well, I, I stand by the quality and I'm like, yeah, you, you won't fucking find this shit anywhere else if <laugh>, but I'll never say that, you know, unless I'm on a podcast
R. Alan Brooks (12:59):
<Laugh>, well, this is the behind the curtain. Right. We talked
Sebastian Jones (13:01):
About it. There you go. Yeah. We're sneak behind there. <Laugh> see the size of my ego.
R. Alan Brooks (13:08):
You know, I think about I often think like I love superhero comics. I love Marvel and DC. I grew up with it, but I often think of them as a like burger king and McDonald's right. There's not a single person that thinks that McDonald's makes a better burger than a restaurant down the street. Right. Like you don't go to them for the Mo the highest quality you go to them for familiarity, for like you know, inexpensive food, that kind of thing. But when you want something more refined, mm-hmm, <affirmative> you go to sort of the, the smaller places. And, and I think that there's a lot for an indie artist to focus on. So for me, I try to focus on like, what makes the book nicer? Is it embossed? Does the paper feel nicer? Is the art more quality? Because we're not, we're not crapping out books once a month, you know, we're trying to
Sebastian Jones (13:56):
R. Alan Brooks (13:56):
Trying to craft something.
Sebastian Jones (13:58):
It's a different business model.
R. Alan Brooks (13:59):
Sebastian Jones (14:01):
But I think your, that there is truth to that, but however, they've got the pockets to pay for the best artist in the world. Uhhuh
And art is the love at first site. Right? Right. So part booth, the first thing they see is the quality of the art or the quality of the art is deemed not at the level that they're used to. Then they're gonna keep walking unless they get to meet you, the creator and you get to help sell your story. And they go, you know what? I like that guy, or, oh my God, that story intrigues me. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. But I, I believe that, you know, the general populace is desensitized. Hmm. They're desensitized to the high end quality. They're spoil the high end quality. And they're also distracted. They're distracted with farm apps and <laugh> filters and, you know, and auto tune and fucking all this shit is just all like, kind of just like this cacophony of entertainment. Right. And how did, so you go, all right, bet.
Well, I've got the and I'm gonna make sure that if someone walks past the booth, they're gonna be like, yo, that's in dope shit, or that's intriguing, or, Hmm. I didn't see that. Or, oh, that stands out or it doesn't stand out as just as good as everything else. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> cool. The art has that level, but then if you are, then if you can get past that initial you can get past that initial date. So that initial flirting across the room, then you come into my, into my layer, you know, then you come into, into into the realm of opportunity and possibility where I get to engage with you and, and also say, yeah, I'm essentially like you, or, you know, regular dude that wears a t-shirt. And but here is why then I want to share with you the, where is the machine now, there are fucking great writers of the big two, no doubt.
But what we have the benefit of as independent is our business model. Isn't an ocean liner, which is unwieldy. We're like a, you know, like a fucking, like super streamlined submarine and shit. Like, we can, we can move, we can adapt, right. And we can take the time and we can be patient. So with our story, it comes back to the responsibility of the creator that if we have the time, then we better honor the time that we've spent. Otherwise we are just essentially making a hobby and hoping someone picks it up. Right. So if you want to challenge the status quo, you want to challenge, you know, the the desensitizing of what people are receiving. If you want people to go like, look beyond the explosions and the pretty pictures to come to something core and foundational how do you do that?
And I believe you can do that with with story and having a reader go, I can personally relate directly to this that, that, that to me is everything. So yes, the representation a hundred percent, right? This incre so important to me on, you know, in trans be as authentic as possible with that having the experience of cause players or people coming to the booth and seeing themselves as our heroes and, and sometimes crying and hugging and elders going, don't give up and all these various things, which are, which honestly is humbling. And again, it comes back to the responsibility of the craft and the me, you know, as you, as a storyteller, like, well, shit, I have to honor this. I have to honor my own journey and I have to honor the people reading it. And, you know, some otherwise might be like, that's a preachy shit.
And I'm like, yeah, well, I don't really it's, but it's real because also, and one other thing I'll just say, and I'll shut up. Otherwise I was re is when people ask me, what is the most difficult thing in creating an independent comics? And I'll say it's the time spent honoring that medium takes time away from people I love, right? My families, all those types of things, however, what's harder and more painful is their taking is taking away their time experiencing with me as I work on my dream. So the knowledge of that going like, oh, I don't get spend line with my kid. It's actually deeper. I don't, my kid doesn't spend time with me while I'm what making comic books. Right. I could have got a, I've had a lot better financial opportunities. So, well, shit, if I'm not gonna take those financial opportunities and less time at that other kind of career to spend time with my son, then what the fuck am I doing? So I better honor this shit in addition to the work itself and the people buying and to all the things comes back around to, I don't do this. Like I don't, I can't wait to be inspired. And this is that's, that's for folks that are looking at time for now which I, I, I get to, you know but no, you, you, this is it.
R. Alan Brooks (19:32):
This is, it is a Steven King quote that I I'll mm-hmm, <affirmative> he basically says amateurs, wait for inspiration. The rest of us, just get up and work, you know? Right. And I, and I think that's the real thing, like inspiration, I think is great for the idea, but the actual execution of the idea that's gonna be work and you have to treat it like work and set aside a time to do it and just do that shit. Right. in regards to the stuff around your art pulling you away from your family, we also talked about sort of intangible goals. Is, is there like a sort of plateau that you see that you'll reach that will allow you to, to spend more of that time? Or is this sort of like, you're a lot in the life as a creative person?
Sebastian Jones (20:19):
It's a great, it's a great point. You know, getting up there in years is, yeah, I do want to spend time more time with my family. So I think there's a, a financial stability that needs to happen excuse me. And in order of that to happen, you need to put in the work. So I think they'll hit a point, you know, God willing where I'll be able to spend more enjoying my time. Right. with the creations and with family and less time worrying about, you know, is it is it X for the cost of the printing of the comic versus Y should we better go with X, you know, and urgency and those types of things, but you know, being in the game and having the attrition to get through that, you know, we are we're, we are inching there, you know, we're, we're getting to those places. Thank, thank goodness. But, you know, again, I think in this whole, this whole day and age of people looking for the out, or the quick fix or the, you know, the the immediacy of new business, which is wonderful in entrepreneurship, but, but without the understanding of the attrition, right. You know, like in the pandemic, everyone started businesses, which is understandable and commendable, but at times I think there's not the realization of cost versus income. Right. Versus the reality of social media paying for your for your business.
R. Alan Brooks (21:58):
All right. So we were talking about the people being distracted by their devices and apps and all that stuff. Sure. And it seems like people largely come to art in order to have some kind of emotional experience like TV shows, movies, books, whatever it is. And you also talked about sharing your vulnerability in your art. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> it, it's a really important thing for me as an artist to, to make an emotional connection with whoever is reading what I'm writing. So I guess I wanna hear a little more about what that means to you to make that emotional connection with the reader and and to share your vulnerability, like what it is that you're trying to get across.
Sebastian Jones (22:45):
I, I guess it's just I feel like it's a cathartic release. I feel it's in a lot of respects it's I'm, I'm lucky I'm blessed to be able to do it versus I think sometimes people are other writers I chat to they hide their vulnerabilities more within certain characters. And some like here is a, a representation or fictitious representation of what I wish I could be, or, you know, and, and so on. I wish I, you know, great writers, whatever, whatever works for you. Right. for me, I think it's just no, I'm gonna rip that fucking scab off and I'm gonna show you, here's me bleeding right here. Here's my, here's my, my, my soul bleeding. And and maybe you can relate as a reader like, yo my, so I've bled for the same reasons I've, you know, had a loss I've had relationship lose.
I've had regret, I think a lot, if I would say there's a common theme to maybe just openly talk about it is how do you heal and how so therefore, how do the characters heal? And if you've had some shit happen to you, if you can then go, oh, I can relate to this person, oh, look, there is a light for them. There is an opportunity for, for redemption and salvation and being better, you know, and being the cool, cool badass and whatever along the way, fine. Right. The John Wiki of it all, or the whoever you are, you, you know, if you're into that dude, you know, or, or whatever, whatever you're into, right. It was like, you know, the old samurai movies, the seven samurai, yo Jimbo, and then the spaghetti westerns and all these wonderful things that allow us, you're like, oh, shit, there is that.
I can, I can find that too. So I think in that, in that that's healing for me. And I think, and I hope it's healing for a reader. It's like, what would, how do we fuck with second chances? Yeah. We were given a second chance cause we already was regret. And I have a a cheesy line that I wrote in one of the on teams. It was like, I think I wrote something like regret lingers longer than sin. So if you do the sin, does you regret out outlast the actual sin? How long do you continue to beat yourself up and, and so on?
R. Alan Brooks (25:21):
That's interesting, man. Yeah. I think, you know, for me, I'm always exploring some version of how do I remain openhearted while still having the strength to do what I need to do in the world. And particularly growing up you know, in Atlanta sort of like just ideas of black masculinity being very confining and, you know, deciding like, okay, how can I make sure that I'm still a full human being, but still able to protect my life and, you know, household family, et cetera. Right. Yeah. So that's, that's a, that's the thing that pops up a lot for me. So you and I share the passion of hitting the dance floor at least several times a week. And we both we both love dancing to old school music. So for me, if, if I, if I encounter like a writing problem, like something, I can't figure out sometimes in the midst of practicing, like my Michael Jackson spins, <laugh> the story point will come to me and then I have to like leave the floor and make the note of my phone and then go back to dancing.
Does it ever happen to you? Like where things come become clear where you're dancing?
Sebastian Jones (26:31):
Yeah. I can't make the Michael Jackson spins there. No.
Yeah, no, I not, not so much from the dance. So that's really interesting cuz it's such kind of, you know, good therapy. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> the, the release there's friends of mine had run a club here in for, for many, many years in LaMer park as kind of a famous kind of cultural black Mecca in Los Angeles and then within the CreER area. But, but, but music and dancing mu music essentially is the, the inspirational foundation for whatever I write. And it sounds so fucking obnoxious, but it's real, you know? Yeah. So like even the other day I was I was listening to like Bow's albums and the idea of AST projecting and like, where are your thoughts go? And so on. Right. So I start, I was right writing this one new piece and I was fucking around with the idea of the difference between dreams and worship.
Yeah. It's like, oh, that's interesting. So, but it was just, you know, listen to music usually, and then listening to a lot of, and I, listen, I think you probably know this. I listen to a lot of Alice Coltrane and far Sanders SAS. And so that's all this kind of, you know, the idea of how do you connect your spiritual frequency to the universe and other people and all that kind of stuff. So everything has a soundtrack even. So of course we do our, as you know, our hip hop or Mars. Yeah. You know, within the comic covers, but okay. So fans of the UN tame that might not know this, the first untamed book is called a sinners prayer. There's a Ray Charles tune called sinner's prayer lo fallen. But I love, I love the Ray Charles version. And the second book is called killing the untamed killing floor named after Hal Wolf's kill killing floor.
But also after another blues artist, one of my favorite blues tunes called the hard time killing floor blues, which just wrecked me when I first heard it. And the third in the UNAM in Sawman is called a, still a fool. Which name is named after my favorite muddy water song. Still a fool. Huh? So this, so when gangster, when was at Luke cage has all sorts of hip hop tracks for episode. Yeah. Right. For the uncertain I'd done that like back in 2004, when I wrote the very first ever incarnation of the script, I was like, oh, if ever I get to do this, I'm gonna Lima each untamed after a blue tune that has a, a lot of weight and significance because of the pain, how I was experiencing and the re the, the connection of the character within the story connects with the character in these blue songs. I was like, that's it? So all these, you know, just, I, I, I love all that shit, man. Like yeah. You know, music, frequency of spirit, the emotion captured in these moments in time that essentially connects us all, you know,
R. Alan Brooks (29:30):
Are you, are you listening to those tracks while you're writing? Or do they just kind of set the tone for you to get into your writing zone?
Sebastian Jones (29:35):
Some sometimes yes. And sometimes no, sometimes it is. They just set the tone. It's like, ah, that's too, too much.
R. Alan Brooks (29:41):
Sebastian Jones (29:42):
Too many lyrics. And I'm like, I don't wanna, I don't wanna bite either. I don't like that shit. Oh yeah. So, so I'm like, oh, there's maybe a, a thought will pop in. Like if you were having writer's book and like you, with your dancing, like a thought will pop in or a concept, which might not be even in the song at all. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, but it's adjacent, or it takes you Aly projecting like, oh, Aly projecting. That means I'm now, you know, playing the idea of how to, how to, how are angels, what are they experiencing? You know, how do they, so you can have 10, 10 gentle thoughts from, from that. But if it's something and sometimes no, I'll put some music on, but mostly it'll be without the lyrics.
R. Alan Brooks (30:32):
Huh. Same, same for me. Actually, the funny thing is the only time in my life that I listen to drum and bass is when I'm writing.
Sebastian Jones (30:40):
R. Alan Brooks (30:41):
Has it occupies the part of my mind that would get distracted but without distracting the part that I need. So when I do that, I can go into it zone and write for like sometimes like a six to eight hour stretch. Wow. And I'm not even like really processing songs, it's just in the background that, you know, just going for hours and yeah. So that's that, that's my that's my little tool for zoning out.
Sebastian Jones (31:05):
<Laugh> yeah, man. Yeah. And, and for me, it's just, it, it jumps around, right. So it could be classical, it could be punk, it could be hip hop. It could be, you know, and there's something else too. Also too is I think a lot of times any artist that stays within their own lane for inspiration is kind of doomed to stay within a, a vacuum. Hmm. So it's like, I might not generally listen to X or, or watch Y yeah. But I appreciate the, the greats within their space and go, oh, I I'm just learning. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, you know, it's like, if you want to draw cartoons, study DaVinci. Right, right,
R. Alan Brooks (31:45):
Sebastian Jones (31:46):
You know, it's just you know, but you might not wanna just draw that, but cool. You know I think a lot of times they're like for folks are like, oh, I just like anime, but that's all they'll watch. Right. If you no problem. But if you wanna write, understand how to try and study other types of mediums to learn how just to be a better ride within the medium you enjoy, that's all mm-hmm
R. Alan Brooks (32:11):
<Affirmative>. Yeah. I think that's great, man. It's about a, a breath of like a breath of diversity in terms of what you're feeding yourself. I've been going through these old VA re comics from the seventies.
Sebastian Jones (32:24):
R. Alan Brooks (32:25):
And I do not, I don't care for the stories, but the, the, the artists, they're all these Spanish artists who are doing those. And they're, they're incredible, man. Like, they're incredible. Like they're, they're like artist artists. They may be some of the best strong comics maybe, maybe of all time. Certainly. and they all, and all, a lot, those artists did romance comics as well in those,
Sebastian Jones (32:46):
R. Alan Brooks (32:47):
Yeah. I'll send you something
Sebastian Jones (32:49):
It's highly emotional. It's highly emotional. It's highly evocative, you know? Yeah. I mean, it's funny actually, you know, we, we did this cover we did a couple of these covers, right. If you can see it on the screen and I can send you JPEGs. Okay. It's just the concept of evoking and emotion. I was like, I, this is a story about the creator of the world. Not wanting to create the world anymore and passing down the, you know, passing down her burden of responsibility onto a young, naive abuse, like eight years old, but she can't quite tell her everything yet. And it, that was kind of just a take on the idea of, you know, the black elders passing down the burden of taking care of our world. Yeah. And, and within a, within moments and of braiding hair. And I was like, oh, that would make dope, a dope cover.
And I was like, let's do three different artists, interpretations of that. And a lot of the guys were like, why do three? We don't need one of those. I'm like, no, I wanna see three. I'd like to see different interpret. So then when our readers come, they can feel not just seen mm-hmm <affirmative>, but heard. And other senses are also, you know, stimulated the intangibles assimilated. So something that's evocative of an emotion, like I could have just gone, like, yeah. Cool. More action. And more this, more that, but how do I just bring it down into the most quiet, quiet moments that, and I, I just feel like I'm just a bit of a gateway, you know, to just go, okay, here's a seed that's planted step away and then readers can find it. And then it is, what's really cool is I see then a lot of the D a lot of big, some of the other comic books then just completely bite it and they've got the billion dollar corporations to promote. And they're like, oh my God, that's so good. You're the first ever. I've never seen that before. And I'm
R. Alan Brooks (34:41):
Sebastian Jones (34:42):
R. Alan Brooks (34:43):
Sebastian Jones (34:44):
You know, but if a reader gets it, I don't might sometimes I'm, I'm hurt more. So because people haven't got to experience the comics than my own ego. Like you might like, I should as well. But if I've been, that's all I've been at that time. Right. For somebody to see something similar I'm and someone else finds that at the comic shop in a different comic, but than cool. If I've been that gateway, you know cause the reader doesn't know any difference. They just see themselves. Right.
R. Alan Brooks (35:15):
Sebastian Jones (35:16):
My hope is they'll find my story and then RO because again, you can, people can buy it and you're like, oh, that's a really good idea. Let me slap that on a cover, but then get into the story and be like, it's gonna hit only certain levels because you didn't fucking originate. You copied.
R. Alan Brooks (35:37):
Sebastian Jones (35:38):
So how's your story. Is that actually gonna copy two
R. Alan Brooks (35:41):
<Laugh> sometimes. Hey it's
Sebastian Jones (35:44):
R. Alan Brooks (35:45):
Sebastian Jones (35:45):
Go ahead. Sometimes, but then there's layers within what you can copy.
R. Alan Brooks (35:48):
Yeah. Yeah. You know, I think looking at some of the so for me comic book legend, right? Like the difference between a Stanley and a Jack Kirby Stanley sort of made himself the product, or even a say a Stanley and a se and Schuster, right? Like he made himself the product in such a way that if people tried to imitate what he was doing they couldn't separate him from it. And it's an interesting thing being sort of a building sort of a cult to personality around the stuff that you create. And, you know, I know that people follow your personality in a really strong way. So like, I don't know, is, is that by design, is that another way to engage people? Do you cuz for me, I, I do okay at it. You know, I'm doing, I'm alright at it, but I, I I'm fundamentally introvert. So if I could figure out how to Banksy this shit, I would, I would, I would do that in a heartbeat. Sure. The only way I know to do it is to like put myself forward.
Sebastian Jones (36:47):
Right. I think it's never by design. I don't, I don't know if I, I know I couldn't do it another way.
R. Alan Brooks (36:57):
Sebastian Jones (36:58):
Cuz I would just feel like I'm fake I'm I'm fr being a fraud. Yeah. So but I do, but I will be honest. It's like, you know, when I'm it is, it's another aspect of your, my personality. Right. Which is like big on a show you want to like, oh my God. And I'm psyched to see people and I'm engage in them and it's like, oh my God. Well, ah, you know, and then after I'm like, I don't, I I'm dead. Right. I just don't wanna see anybody. I just wanna flop on a couch and watch
Fricking eighties murder mysteries at a camp in, you know, like, you know, like twitching curtain, eighties, English, murder mysteries. That was just kind of Blands. Right. And I can just do nothing. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but I, but it's not, it's inherently a huge part of me. And there's a, I wouldn't say a performative part mm-hmm but there is entertainment that okay. If you've you've been a, you know, you've wrapped, it's like, yeah. You're when you're on stage, you are giving your energy. So people give their energy back. As soon as you have this energy exchange, that's real. It's not fake. So that's, again, just you're an introvert mm-hmm <affirmative> but you understand what it is to give your energy to people and then receive it. The more you receive it, the more then you're like you are, then I think that's why a rock star to a pastor in a church, right? There's this flowing energy. That's going to one source you one conduit. I should say it still might go to the source, but the conduit is there's one person on stage and that person then feeds off that energy. Yeah. Right. So I think on a much smaller level <laugh> right.
People, if I'm gonna give my energy to people and they feed off it, they're gonna bring it back in kind. And then that, that that's real. I, yeah. I just, I, part of me, yes, definitely fantasizes about we're successful. I will be Howard Hughes in that shit.
R. Alan Brooks (39:05):
Sebastian Jones (39:06):
No one will ever see me again, like women, our English guy a bit crazy. <Laugh> yeah. Do you see, do you ever see him in a convention? Yeah. I bought everything. I can't find him. I wanna give it back. No, I, you know, like, so, so yeah. Hmm. That is the balance too. I have a son, I, you know, being so vulnerable allows some people to be like, you know, they go on the attack or whatever. Yeah. Yeah. And, and or, or can then judge or whatever. And but for the most part I've had, you know, I've had very positive experiences. There's been some, there's been some negative, but mm-hmm <affirmative> I, I don't give a fuck to be honest.
R. Alan Brooks (39:51):
Sebastian Jones (39:52):
R. Alan Brooks (39:53):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, after I've passed through the threshold of a death threats over a comic, I was just kind of like
Sebastian Jones (39:59):
Same. I've had them too. It's
R. Alan Brooks (40:01):
Adorable right now. Like in the moment it wasn't like I couldn't shake it off immediately. Like it was like for me Christmas day, you know, and I was like, really go up in a present motherfucker. Why are you sending me this? Mm-Hmm <affirmative> but ultimately like the decisions to go move forward in the midst of such a ridiculous opposition eventually get me to the point where I'm like, all right, well, this is important enough to me that I'm not going to stop no matter what that is, you know?
Sebastian Jones (40:25):
Right, right, right, right. Yeah. Yeah, man. Yeah. I've had a lot of stuff. Hmm it's yeah. Sometimes it's I think sometimes it's hurtful depending on what it is. If it's an out and out now attack. Yeah. Then it's not hurtful. It's just, it makes you angry, you know? Or or, oh, that's, that's beautiful. That's some, that's really sweet. You, you have anti you're antiquated <laugh> and you're just struggling with your antiquated. That's cool. You know? Right. I can't even be mad at, I almost, I just pat someone on their head and go, I just wish you the best of luck. Right. You know, and for folks that also inherently want to might see my shit and might think they might not vibe with it. A lot of times I seek them out at conventions where if they walk past the booth and they're wearing things that might, you would assume not vibe <laugh> with the stuff I'll run out and be like, Hey, what's up my, you love this shit force a representation.
It's the first black, this and the other come and check it out. Ah. And they go okay. You know, you always give him an excuse to leave and then they'll come over and I'll go, it's a better man. Who's stuck in purgatory seven days for seven soul. And they start telling the story and they're like, oh shit, that's a good story. What do you think, honey? And the family's like, oh no we're usually like against these kind of people, you know, like the stores, you know, and, and the guy buys it. Right. I've had instances where literally folks will have messaged me and said, you stopping me has changed my perspective on this app. You know, without, again, going, going down the rabbit of that. But I've got, it's been like, you know, if it was on the street, it'll be a different story. Right, right. And I've, I've evolved as a person too. You know, you, you want to, you, you hope that you can give folks the opportunity through your stories to if they've they live this kind of narrow perspective, maybe you compliancy as well, that will open some minds or if not them, their kids. And, and if not, that's called who cuz you don't have to fucking teach everybody. Huh. And who the fuck am I to teach anyway. So that's always comes back to like, who the fuck am I anyway? So
R. Alan Brooks (42:54):
By the way, I love that as the pull quote for this interview. Like you don't have to fucking teach everybody Sebastian James
Sebastian Jones (43:02):
R. Alan Brooks (43:05):
All right. My man. So in the last couple years you've made some moves and I know that some of them, you could talk about some of 'em you're not ready to talk about. So talk about the one you're ready to talk about.
Sebastian Jones (43:17):
Okay. Yeah, for sure. For sure. So the stuff that I can talk about is there's there's a TV show on HBO called insecure and I met the, the show runner apprentice, penny working in development on our fantasy stuff at HBO. That's the stuff I can't talk about. <Laugh> the stuff I can talk about is apprentice. And I formed a company end of last year, a, a publishing company slash I guess, kind of production type company, but a publishing company that will work primarily with you know, bipo, if that's how you say it, I'm terrible with shit like that, but, but you know, people of color and indigenous and black, and so all the, all the good things, you know, all the, all the things, you know the creators and creations in a very kind of honest and rooted kind of way.
And so that's been, that's been a huge blessing to work with him. He's, he's fantastic. Super humbling to work with. Someone has successful and prolific and nice cuz I've had a, quite a few Hollywood experiences over the years and not everyone's nice. Some are, they think they are, or they try to be but, but can't help themselves and some are lovely and some are just, yeah, some <laugh> to focus on the good. So yeah. And with we have a great company and starting very, very small, very like, you know, he's super busy and our bandwidth isn't, you know, we're, we're an independent, so the product, the con the comics and stuff that we're in development on it the same way I'm I approach everything at stranger comics is how we approach in this company. It's always, it's all about the intention of the qu intention of quality for, for us as creators and for, but more important.
The creation intention of quality for the creation, whatever is best for the project is is that, and then hopefully that dictates as usual dictates our audience and our audience comes, goes, yeah, that's fucking great. I'm in. Or I hate to cool. I, I really care dictate your audience. Yeah. I'll, I'll leave with, I'll say this. When I was young, I would, I would go to a club and the DJ would play what he wanted to play. And so we came, we're like, oh cool. That's nothing but nineties hip hop, jazz funk, OG shit like raw fucking heavy Spanky funk that most people like go. I think I heard that in a sample. I was in heaven. That for me was everything. Yeah. The older DJ got, I went to a club and he was playing bit reggae, but a jazz bit, a funk bit, a hiphop bit, a contemporary modern hip.
Well, I wouldn't say hiphop contemporary, modern stuff that has wrapping in it. <Laugh> and and I was like, I was like, dude, what, why what's going on? And he's like, oh, you know, well, look at the club. It's diverse. I gotta play a little bit. So everyone's happy. Yeah. And I thought that reminds me of a lot of artists that want to make sure they stay with the times versus, and, and no knock on that. No, knock on what he is doing. That's a job. It's a gig. You pay your bills. I don't not the selling hour. Shit. I never knock anyone. I just don't believe in it. You don't know what the fuck is going through family, kids paying your bills, eating food basics. It's easy to again, judge, but for, for me, I was like, I, I hope that I am my mind or spirit never plays in that kind of way that I'd like to maintain the purity of intention with the shit and dicta. I just wanna dictate my audience rather than try and please everybody. I, to me, there's no fucking way. That's, that's who I am as a person. Huh.
R. Alan Brooks (47:29):
I love it. I love it. Okay. So in terms of wrapping up, man. Yeah. couple weeks ago, I discovered that Lonnie Anderson and Linda Carter had a TV show in the eighties where they played detectives. Yeah. And I was like, what? It's called partners in crime and it's all on YouTube. And I've been watching the hell outta that.
Sebastian Jones (47:48):
Holy shit. Yeah. Send me, send me that link. That's how fascinating I'm I'm right. I'm there.
R. Alan Brooks (47:55):
So what is what's your geeky pleasure right now? Like you were talking about how you would decompress to old British mysteries and stuff like that.
Sebastian Jones (48:03):
Yeah. Yeah. There's a Canadian one called Murdoch mysteries. It's like 16 seasons of that. Shit's on Amazon prime. Okay. Love it. 16 seasons Canadian murder, mystery set. Turn of the century, not this one, of course the one before fucking gold. But obviously, you know, like other shit that's contemporary, like the boys of course is gold prey. I saw that. That was really fun. Made sure my kid is like, okay, watch predator. Wouldn't see the first one. Now we watch play. Of course we've gotta go back to Danny. We've gotta do Danny Glover still. Cool. Right. Watch top gun, the sequel, the other night fucking in was back to being at school again was great. All the tropes were right in the perfect place for me to feel, oh my God, I felt it was coming, but I wanted it to be there. Right. And it was fun. I watched something which was just, I hadn't seen it before. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>
But a friend of mine's in it and I can't say too much more, but there will be some news in relation in some kind of adjacent, I watched underground railroad the Barry that fucked me up completely that the, that you D you've seen it as you nodding your head, if you, yeah. That, you know, don't watch it for like, oh, I'm just gonna chill out. I'm coming back. Every freaking pan, every panel, every frame, yeah. Is a, is a painting. Wow. Every performance is a masterpiece. That shit is incredible. Barry Jenkins is a beast. Hmm. so that, that is, is incredible. If you wanna watch the best, my opinion, the best like British cop show Uhhuh watch in the line of duty, huh? Six seasons is real as shit. It's brutal in the line of duty. And my favorite murder mystery currently is probably the first couple of seasons of endeavor. Okay. On prime set in the sixties. Fucking great. I know, I can't even think of what else. Yeah.
R. Alan Brooks (50:17):
I mean, it's a good list, man. So people know things to check out a man. I wanna say I appreciate you being on seeing you do all your stuff, like the, the level of dedication you have and integrity. And the fact that we can have like realized conversations, you know, like all of that to me is constantly inspiring. I'm always happy to see whatever success, like any success that comes your way. I'm like that dude deserves it. You know what I'm saying? Mm-Hmm <affirmative> yeah. So I it's really, it's really great to be able to sit and talk to you during this time.
Sebastian Jones (50:50):
Thank you. I, I appreciate it. Well, you know, you mentioned one thing earlier and of course, you know, me with the marketing, I'll have to say it like how we made money. A lot of it came through also understanding Kickstarters and crowd funding. So we started a Patreon for folks that if they, if they like, or, you know, want to hear me talk more shit yeah. And learn and whatever, and get exclusives. We started a Patreon maybe four or five months ago. And for five bucks a month, you can join and have access to all our shit. You can read everything digitally for free. You have 20% off the website. So if you think you might spend more than $60 a year on our website buying books, you are already ahead of the game. Higher levels gives you actually exclusives. We do. If you're a collector, we do very rare collectible comics that are exclusive to you.
So if you think we might end up having a TV show, our collector shit will actually worth a bit of dough. Right? It's it's. So my goal is to kind of give value for people that come to our Patreon, to our Patreon. So it's real easy, got a stranger comics.com. You'll find us there. You'll find got a patreon.com look up stranger comics. But so there's that check out the Patreon be part of the stranger family. And we really feel like we're a, a movement of personalities and from all walks of life you know we celebrate culture and we use comic as our art form and how we do that. So that's, the Patreon is dope as shit. We have a disor. Now I learned what that word means, started one up, fucking getting into the, you know, the modern day. So there's that. And then there's the last thing I'll leave you to is with this. And, and you can find firstname.lastname@example.org at stranger comics and all the socials and all that shit. I do an Instagram live. I
R. Alan Brooks (52:38):
Was just about to say the weekly Instagram. I was just about to say that, yes,
Sebastian Jones (52:41):
The weekly Instagram live is fantastic. Now you see this one, I was holding up here that this, what we're gonna do with this one, we have a, a foil exclusive this Thursday, cause it was just my birthday and it's gonna be my birthday exclusive on Thursday, every Thursday, Instagram six o'clock Pacific nine, o'clock Eastern. I play music, read some poetry, sell some comics, talk a lot of shit. And I have a British accent, so fucking show up, you know? Right.
So that, that one, one last thing I brought is there. So a dear friend of mine, dear, dear friend of mine is the creator who we co-publish brown sugar fairies, brown sugar fairies. It is absolutely beautiful reader. If you've got kids early learning to young readers, absolutely magical, magical book. Brett got a Brad fairies.com. Now the creators, one of my oldest oldest friends of a couple of decades or more, she just got stage four cancer. I just set up, we just set up with her daughter, a GoFundMe page for her. So you can go to go fund me and look up Aisha Sinclair, go fund me. That's the thing that I'm most kind of supporting right now. Yeah, so yeah, that's, that's, that's, what's going on. That's stranger comments
R. Alan Brooks (54:03):
Right on. And I encourage everybody to check all that stuff out especially that GoFundMe, thanks to our listeners. Please be sure to subscribe to how art is born, wherever you get your podcast for more episodes. And if you can leave a review, it really helps us out. Check out MCA Denver on YouTube and subscribe there too for behind the scenes clips from today's episode. Thank you all for listening.