Thursday, June 01, 2006

An Interview with me (Kenn Minter)


A local paper (the Wildcat Weekly) here in Lexington, Ky., recently conducted an interview with me about my comic book series, "the Experts," and comics in general. It was conducted via email. Here's the unedited version:

> How old are you?

I am 36 years old. I was born in 1970.

> What was the first comic piece of yours that was
> printed? What was it called and what was it about?

The first comic strip I did professionally was called
"the Doggy Bag." That and other comics of mine ran in
UK's Kentucky Kernel from 1990 to 1995. I had several
characters who popped up every now and then... but the
comic was mostly socially satirical... whatever I felt
like pointing out and ridiculing.


> Describe the challenges that you face on a daily
> basis in the comic art world.

My biggest challenge is managing time. I work a forty
hour work week as an Art Director for the University
of Kentucky. Finding the time and energy to get my
"extracurricular" comic work done is tricky. I try to
do a little bit every day or every other day.

> What about you (personality, training) has prepared
> you for the comic business?

I don't think you ever stop preparing when it comes to
business... no matter what business it is. I'm always
working on something... if my hands aren't occupied
with drawing, writing, or inking... then my mind is
occupied with creating story ideas or promoting the
comic somehow. I'm rarely bored... because I can
always find something to work on.

> Where do you work from?

I mainly work from home. I have an art studio upstairs
where I do most of my drawing and inking. I have an
office downstairs with a computer and scanner. I do
all the toning, coloring, and lettering on the
computer.


> Many see the comic book world as a dying art. Do you
> agree?

I do not agree that comics are dying as an art form.
Maybe comics are dying as a product... they get so
much more expensive each year due to paper costs. The
mainstream public seems to view comics as kids'
stuff... but the average lowest age of comic book
readers is probably around 30. Comics have such
amazing story-telling possibilities. There's no limit
that one can achieve in comics. They deserve a larger
part in the mainstream's entertainment menu.


> Why comics?

Honestly, it's what I do best and what I love to do
the most. Plus, as long as I have a sketchbook and a
pencil... I can literaly work anywhere.


> How long did it take for you to finish "the
> Experts?"

Clarence and I are currently working on the third
issue of "the Experts." We would be probably further
along with the series, but we've taken some production
breaks while pitching the series to various
publishers. I'd say we've been at this series off and
on for about four years or so. It wasn't until I
decided to simply start my own publishing company,
"Near Mint Press," that we really got the ball
rolling.

> What, if anything at all, was your inspirational or
> purpose for bringing this series to life?

I love superheroes. I'm shameless about it. I knew I
had some good, zany superhero stories rattling around
my skull. I had written the script for the first issue
and was attempting to pencil and ink the series
myself. Being a big fan of 1960's Silver Age DC
Comics... I had a definite look in mind... and I just
wasn't achieving it on my own. That's when I came
across Clarence Pruitt's comics work on an internet
chat-forum for cartoonists. He has a very distinctive
style that is very inspired by 1950's and 1960's
comics. It was just the style I was looking for. I had
begun commenting on the forum about his work and he
commented on mine. I quickly told him about the
scripts I had written and asked if he'd be interested
in pencilling them... with me inking and lettering
over his pencils. We tried a few pages at first, and
quickly discovered that we made a pretty good comics
team.

> Clarence Pruit is the illustartor of your comics,
> but he lives in California. Explian the process of
> developing a comic peice with an illustrator that
> lives so far away.

Well, Clarence is very easy to work with... we have a
simple system. I write the scripts, design the
characters... and e-mail it all to him. He, in turn,
pencils the pages, mails them to me (via the US Postal
System) , then I ink them, scan them and letter them
on the computer. We do most of our discussions via
e-mail and occasionally over the phone. We've probably
known each for over fours years now... and have still
never actually met in person. I love seeing those big
packages of pencilled pages sitting by my back door.

> "the Experts" plays on the woman super hero and uses
> hilarious subjects as "mind controlling" as a basis
> of the woman's ability to control men. While there
> are some men, like Naked Man, the dominant figures
> are women. This is something that we don't see very
> often. Why did you choose this route?

Women make much more interesting characters. Women are
strong and perservering... and they can also be very
petty, catty, and over-emotional. They are much more
fun to write for. And Clarence loves drawing women
too.


>
> Were you a big comic fan as a kid?

I have always read comics. I come from a big family of
mostly boys. Comic books were in the house when I
"showed up." There has never been a time in my life
when there wasn't stacks or boxes of comics somewhere
in the home. To this day, I still spend way too much
of my expendable income on comic books.

>
> In your opinion, do you believe that Lexington is
> supportive of the comic book business? What more can
> be done to bring comic books back to the mainstream?

There are four or five comic book stores in Lexington.
That's not bad for a town this size. I do wish there
were more avenues and opportunities for cartoonists in
Lexington to find freelance work... but, regrettably
there aren't. All of my freelance illustration work
comes from out-of-state.

The Japanese create comic books for every
walk-of-life. There are comics catered to housewives,
businessmen, children, sci-fans, romance lovers... and
many comics are presented in inexpensive, phone-book
sized volumes. In the states, If more publishers took
more chances with their products, and more retail
environments pushed the comic as a viable
entertainment product in the U.S.A., comics might
stand a chance.


> Where can one get a copy of "the Experts" and see
> the comic strip "I'm Not Here"?

In Lexington, "the Experts" are available at Sqecial
Media on S. Limestone, Collectibles Etc on Richmond
Rd., and A+ Comics on Southland Drive. Copies of "the
Experts" are also available for purchase online at:
http://www.comixpress.com

My somewhat embellished autobiographical comic, "I'm
not from here," can be viewed online at:
http://www.kennminter.com

1 comment:

  1. Nice interview Ken. Yeah, it's a shame that all the stores we have in this town don't really cater to any of the creators we have locally. I think it's be great if a store sponsored a 24-hour comic day or a live art show, but alas, I'm afraid that'll never happen.

    -Justin

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