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THREE CREATORS, AN INTERVIEWER, the PIANO MAN,

CIGARETTES AND RASPBERRY SODA

ORIGINALLY FEATURED IN 1996- by Andrew Goletz

Iíve known Patty Breen and Karl Christian since before I began putting Gray Haven together ages ago. I discovered their work by walking into Showcase Comics on South Street in Philadelphia where Karl turned me onto Pattyís fabulous Kiss and Tell (and also managed a few plugs for his own Angst Boy. They also informed me about a great little mini-comic called Mad Curry by another local Philly guy, Robert Wertz. Recently, I met with all three of them for an interview in a little cafť on South Street known as the Rhino. We sat at our familiar table where we could watch the people on the streets and get inspirations for more stories good. Our glasses were filled with raspberry soda, ears taken by the sounds of our own piano man, and hands occupied with cigarettes.

AG: We might as well start by having you guys introduce yourselves.

PB: Hi, Iím Patty Breen.

KC: Iím Karl Christian. I do Angst Boy.

RW: Iím Robert Wertz, publisher of the mini-comic Mad Curry.

AG: Who was the first to get into all this?
PB: Karl and I both really wanted to do a comic for the longest time.

 

AG: How long ago was this?
PB: About a year ago. Kiss and Tell #1 came out last June.

KC: In fact, Rhino appears in the first issue.

AG: And Rob, you had the idea for your book before collaborating with Patty?

RW: I was doing Mad Curry before Kiss and Tell, but I hadnít printed any of it yet. I decided that I was either going to do the comic or best working in a restaurant my entire life.

AG: And self publishing was always the preferred way to go? No desire to send out to a major company?

PB: Oh, no. I was trying to send material to publishers, but readers seemed to be giving me more of a response than the companies. While the rejection letters came from the companies, I was building up my own little fan base. Dave Sim sort of forced me into self publishing.

AG: Howís that?
PB: He gave Kiss and Tell a preview in Cerebus, which was more than anyone else ever gave me. He gave me the go ahead to get into self publishing.

As Patty continues to tell her story, the piano player ends his first set and the place goes wild with clapping and cheering; well, mainly from our table.

PB: (to the piano player) Your music is immortalized on this interview tape!

Piano Player: Whatís going on over there?

PB: Weíre doing an interview.

KC: And now youíre a part of it.

AG: Introduce yourself.

PP: My name is Kenny Gates!

KC: And remember that the 10 oíclock show is different from the 8 oíclock one.

AG: So, PattyÖyou were pushed into this by Dave?
PB: Yeah. I printed up 75 over-expensive mock up copies to send out to publishers, creators and magazines. The creators jumped on it before anyone else. It was really a matter of seeing who was interested in it.

AG: What is Kiss and Tell about?

PB: Itís a collection of stories, semi autobiographical in nature. I try to include different narration and subject matter to keep the story interesting. I didnít want to cover mundane things like ĎI walk down the street and get a burgerí. I also refuse to cover anything to do with relationships because I think itís been overdone.  I want to get a niche outside of the comic industry, so women pick it up. I realize though, that the majority of the people who are going to read the book are comic readers and 99% of those are men.

AG: But you just did an interview with Sassy, right?
PB: Yeah. I was my first big outside move from the comic industry. It was the first time they ever interviewed someone from the comic industry.

AG: What do you the three of you think about the industry right now?
PB: They tell me itís picking up, but people are still emphasizing the wrong things. They are trying to exploit the people who are reading comics and thatís not going to do any good. The core audience is expected to buy like 400 books a month and no one can do that.

KC: Most people think that comic books are for kids. You have to do something to get people into stores and reading books like Cerebus and Sandman and let them realize that there is other stuff out there.

PB: People arenít encouraged to read in general and thatís a problem. Book sales are down, not just comics, and that has a big effect.

KC: A lot of times, this is what will happen. A couple will come into the store. The boyfriend gets his X-Men fix and the girlfriend is waiting inside, totally lost.  So what we do is give her an issue of Sandman or Strangers in Paradise to look through. They become totally hooked, never realizing that comic books could be like that.

AG: Rob, tell us about Mad Curry.

RW: Ghouls, cannibals, the whole flesh eating thing, but itís done in a humorous way. Itís really a fractured version on my personality. There are events in my life that will be part of the book, and weird things that go through my head.

Just then, Kenny finishes a few more songs and takes a look over at us. A waitress is clearing our huge mound of ashes from the tables and giving us a clean ashtray.

PB: Still interviewing here.

KG: You have to interview the waitress, too.

PB: We already have enough voices in this.

KG: What are you all talking about?
PB: Comic books.

KG: I see. Are you all fans of comic books?
KC: Creators.

KG: So you all make comic books?

RW: Write, draw, publish.

PB: Thereís a lot of talent here.

Kenny comes over, inspects the work of Patty, Karl and Rob and takes some complimentary copies. He then asks for an autograph on his new books, which seems more difficult than it should be.

PB: All these writers and no one has a pen?

We finally come up with a pen for Kenny and the creators autograph his books. He manages to bum a couple a cigarettes and one of the raspberry sodas while heís at it, before going back to the piano.

AG: And KarlÖwhatís your story?
KC: I knew Patty and Rob from the store (Showcase Comics on South Street in Philadelphia, PAÖ.thanks for the plug) and I had the idea for Angst Boy in my head for some time. It started off as an inside joke in the store and then we just started throwing ideas around.

KC (cont): Itís the story of a guy working in a comic store and how he deals with customers and the dark horror of his own life.

AG: The third semi-autobiographical work at this table.

KC: Like Robís book; a fractured version of my life. Patty gave the book a preview in the second issue of Kiss and Tell and that was the kick in the ass to really get out and do this.

AG: Itís safe to say that your books are not the typical super hero saving the world type stories. Which type of readers do you think would enjoy your books the most, if you were to stereotype?

PB: People who read Peepshow or Drawn and Quarterly.

KC: Slave Labor or Vertigo fans. People who like Evan Dorkan or Kyle Baker.

RW: Pretty much sick people.

AG: What advice would you give to other, aspiring creators out there?

KC: Be prepared to do a lot of drawing.

PB: Be prepared to spend a lot of time honing what you are doing.

RW: You have to be critical of your work.

KC: And donít be afraid to be critiqued yourself. Do your own stories, donít rehash other peopleís ideas.

RW: Donít take it personally.

The evening ends with Kenny playing us off into the night as we debate issues ranging from Boba Fett to Spider-Clone and Karl accurately predicts both the death of Ben Reilly and the return of Norman Osborn in the Spider-Man books by the time all is said and done.

Copyright©2000 Andrew Goletz