It’s an interesting time in the comics space, and certainly an interesting one to lunch a new publishing venture. There are challenges facing each level of the industry — especially on the direct market side of things — and it can be difficult for anyone to find the right answers from the menu of options available. That makes the decision-making process a particularly difficult one these days. What’s a person to do when faced with an array of choices that make you varying kinds of uneasy?
For comic book lifer (and Editor-in-Chief of TKO Studios) Sebastian Girner, the answer was simple: Come up with an entirely new solution that fits you.
That’s what Girner is doing with Goats Flying Press, a new publisher he’s launching with a creator-focused plan powered by crowdfunding. While the first Kickstarter campaign will be announced soon, deciding to do his own thing altogether is even more interesting to me, especially considering this initiative is emphasizing 100% creator-owned deals and the eventual addition of both new and established creators to the mix. For now, it’s going to be all about Girner’s own projects and trying to find a better way to build a comic book, which is fascinating to me in its own right. But it has the potential to expand in exciting ways.
With that in mind, I sat down with Girner on Zoom recently for an extended conversation about the origins of this idea, where it fits with his responsibilities at TKO, why he wanted to do this, the idea of extending beyond his own works, going the Kickstarter route, and a whole lot more. It’s an intriguing chat — and one that’s been edited for clarity — about an even more intriguing new endeavor. It’s also open to non-subscribers. Give it a read, and if you’re going to be at New York Comic Con next month, keep an eye out for Girner and Goats Flying Press. Oh, and if you enjoy this conversation, consider subscribing to SKTCHD for more like it — and to support the work.
Let’s start with the basics, Sebastian. What is Goats Flying Press?
Sebastian: Goats Flying Press is a new independent comic book publisher founded by myself that will be the aggregate of all the experience, passion, and creativity that I have built up over my 15 years in the comic book industry. And also, hopefully, will be a place for me to continue to wrestle with the exciting problem of comics for the next 15 years of my life. And I keep harping on that number because I feel old.
It’s a milestone.
Sebastian: It is a milestone. It’s a big one. The last couple of years…during that time, I became a dad and I crossed the threshold into my forties. So, I think that this publisher is me planting my flag very firmly in the hill of comics once again, and just saying, “I still love doing this.” And I believe you only live once. And I’ve been an editor for 15 years, and now I’m very excited to continue to do editing and writing, but also publishing.
I think the funny part about this is, as you say, you’re planting your flag in the hill of comics. You’ve already done that! You’re the Editor in Chief at a publisher in TKO Studios. Did you really need more work, Sebastian?
Sebastian: It’s a very good question.
But really, I guess this just comes down to…you have one flavor of comics in TKO. Goats Flying Press seems to be you exploring a different side that allows for…not that TKO doesn’t offer freedom, but it offers freedom within parameters. It seems like Goats Flying Press is your exploration of what total freedom looks like.
Sebastian: That’s a good way of putting it. As editor in chief of TKO Studios, and just a side note, the slate of TKO books we’re working on right now. I think it’s the most excited I’ve ever been about being editorially involved in something, both with established authors, and a lot of newcomers. My cup already runneth over.
But I think what excited me about Goats Flying Press is that when the idea popped into my head, I internally didn’t shunt it away. I played with it, and I was like, “Actually, there are things that I want to do.” And it is that complete freedom. If it’s 95- or 99-point something percent, it’s not 100 percent.
So, I talked to TKO about it, and they were supportive. They’re very supportive, and it’s something for which I am very grateful. Because like I said before, it’s very strange for me to feel this wind that really propels me forward. I’m usually a lot more, not cautious, but a little careful about my career steps. And I think that now, not that I’m throwing caution to the wind, but the fact that it hasn’t even been 12 months since I started thinking about this and that I’m about to announce the publisher with you, announce the first project, the campaign, the Kickstarter, I’ll be at Comic-Con with a table and some ashcans and merch. How much has happened in just one year gets me excited to think about how much more can happen in the next five or ten years.
And then a whole different side of it is that I am seeing a lot of things in the comic book industry that I feel like even a small publisher like Goats Playing Press might be able to assist with. If it’s even just about improving the quality of life for some creators, or answering a lot of questions for new creators, or honestly, who knows?
Even just in the time that I’ve been working in the entertainment and comic industry, it has changed so dramatically on the peripheries, while the core always remains the same. The core always being here are people who are excited, who are passionate, who love comics, who love art, who are an amazing community, that is incredibly nourishing for ourselves and each other. And that’s just a community I want to continue to exist in, and help flourish in whatever way I can. And that’s where I just feel like being the publisher of a small comic book press shop will allow me to do great work, both for myself and for others.
You’ve only been doing this for 12 months. It reminds me of something that the designer Tom Mueller told me, where he told me that Marvel and DC are like oil tanker. It takes them forever to turn and adapt to situations. And the smaller you are, the faster you can turn, and you’re basically a speedboat the smaller you get. And that’s the situation for you where you can have a year where you’re brainstorming ideas, you already have ideas for comics you want to make. If you set up the structure for it, the idea for it, you can build that out quickly, especially with crowdfunding.
But I did want to touch on something else you said, you aren’t just going to be publishing your own work. You will be Kickstarting your own project. We’re not going to get into that, because that’s for later. But there’s going to be a mix of projects from newcomers looking to get their work out there, and learn from someone like yourself, as well as experienced creators looking for a new option. This being a, I don’t mean this in a mean way, a vanity project for Sebastian Girner, comic creator, would be one thing, but the fact that you are interested in making this slightly bigger is very interesting. Why did you want to make it more than a spot for your own projects?
Sebastian: The honest answer is, I don’t really know.
At the start I was thinking, “Well, I could just Kickstart some of the books I want to write, or the ideas that I’ve had that have artists attached, and we’ve been excited for it. And I could just Kickstart it under my own name.” And then I was just like, “But I could do more.”
And I think that that more speaks to my genuine love of the actual editing work, and working with creators, writers, and artists. Helping someone else fulfill their vision is incredibly satisfying in a way that even writing your own work, and working with an artist on a story that you love, is not. So, I wanted to, as long as I’m going through the motions of putting all this work into another comic book endeavor, build myself a place where I can do both, where I can do everything.
Where having a publisher…I still really get a kick out of saying it. I have the newspaper somewhere where in New York you have to announce your LLC. This is ridiculously old school. But step into that world, and I think in my time as an editor for various publications, I’ve identified stories, or art, or creators, or voices that I really think are interesting. And just wanted to just blow a little air into that fire, and see what comes out. And for whatever reason, because I was never the publisher, I was always an employee of someone or another, you can’t go all the way there. Now I’m in a position where I feel confident both in my ability to identify interesting voices or ideas and I’m capable both in my skill set and just where I am in my life, where I can put a little bit of weight behind it.
Obviously, I’m crowdfunding. I think that that’s a viable path forward. But my hope is that a year or two from now, I’ll be in a position to maybe be a contender even outside of that ecosystem. And in that position be able to maybe place new creators in a better starting spot than they would be by watering down one of their projects. Making a creator-owned comic just to make a creator-owned comic, I think, is a dangerous path. Because it puts you in a position where any support system, any payment expectations, any quality of life while you’re creating, is always the first thing to get ground under. And I don’t think that’s how it should be.
So ideally, this would be a very personal process. With each creator, with each creative team, the goal is to just get them to understand, “Hey, at the end of this, we want you to have your comic. Goats Flying Press will publish it. But also, if after a certain amount of time, you want to take that and go to another publisher, that’s also totally fine.” Because with Goats Flying Press, I just want to try out some things that I’ve always wanted to see if they might work, both creatively and from a marketing perspective. I’m not expecting any creators to jump off any cliffs with me. But if I do find some good cliffs to jump off I’m more than happy to share that knowledge and experience and put some of my own money into financing a parachute.
I’ve always tried to not just do the one thing, be an editor, but I also wanted to be a writer. So I started doing that. Now I want to be a publisher, but also an editor in chief, and the freedom is there. And I feel for the first time in my life, I’m not only aware of the vast possibilities and opportunities that I have, but also feel compelled to take them. And that again, is a wind that I’ve never really felt blown to my sails, and I want to ride it out, and see where it takes me.
Just to be clear, there are a lot of ideas as to what creator-owned means. There’s creator-owned with a wink, there’s creator-owned where it’s really a rights reversion after a couple of years, there’s creator-owned where it’s really an eternal rights share. Yours is, according to your website, always 100% creator-owned.
Is that the idea? It’s just basically if you publish at Goats Flying Press, they own the work?
Sebastian: Correct. Goats Flying Press will offer editorial, production, print, and marketing services, but never own any of the rights. So in that vein Goats Flying Press is one of the only publisher in comics that I’m aware of, though there might be a lot of smaller ones that I’m unaware of-
Panel Syndicate. But they’re digital, and I know it’s different.
Sebastian: Yeah. But, for me, creator-owned is what Image does. It’s the only one that does it where you do the work, you have a contract with Image where they publish it, they get paid for obviously print and production and some money changes hands. But at the end of the day, you walk away with full creator ownership of your work. That is, a majority of my 15 years were spent editing projects for creators who published through Image. I had two Image titles myself, so that is a big part of my comic creator DNA that I wanted to carry through into the foundation of Goats Flying Press.
And I also think that work-for-hire, we’re still living in the world where…basically, how Marvel and DC treated their greatest creators. All of us are still trying to scrub away the stink of that. I think that work-for-hire offers a lot of benefits for creators, a page rate, editorial support, production assistance, but I think creator-owned should also be viable and less of a ‘all or nothing’ risk. I think that ideally every creator should know going into a project, “What can I get out of this?”
And those can be different things for work-for-hire, and those can be different things for creator-owned. One is not inherently better than the other, but you need to be sure of what you’re getting into, what is expected of you and what you, in turn can expect from the other side. And the discrepancy between those levels of expectations is where I see a lot of the conflict in our industry stemming from. With publishers not being willing or able to make those expectations clear and transparent, and creators often not knowing what exactly is being asked of them, or how much power they have to say no to something.
At TKO we always say we want to be the most transparent comic book publisher out there, and that experience has also shaped what I want Goats Flying Press to be greatly.
So, it’s a fully creator-owned company. That’s the only way it makes sense for me. And also, like we said before, there aren’t that many publishers that are actually doing fully creator-owned and I think it might benefit our industry if there was more than one port that creator owned ships could steers towards. I just want to experience that and offer it to other creators.
I do think it’s interesting how you’re using Kickstarter as part of the creator-owned structure. I don’t know how closely people have been paying attention to it, but it’s there’s been a number of Image books dating back to I think Rocket Girl from Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare that basically crowdfunded their own page rate to make it viable for them to execute an Image book. So, your method of using crowdfunding as either the totality of funding, or the stepping stone, it’s already been vetted, right?
Sebastian: Absolutely. I wish I could say I’m the genius who dreamed this up, but this is a tried-and-true method. I think that taking a step further and creating a publishing identity around it might be a step that not everyone has taken. And I have been supporting Kickstarter projects for many years now, and I’ve always been interested in experiencing it because it’s become a viable arm of comic book publishing.
But also, I think that within that, you get a huge discrepancy in terms of kinds of projects, and the quality and print production. And there’s still a lot of room for growth and for the level of expectation of quality across the board that I’m hoping that I can help bring to it with, obviously not just myself, but the people I work with.
And this might be, that’s not speaking out of turn, but Kickstarters have also become…obviously there’s still a lot of first timers and a lot of indie publications. But it’s also clearly become a kind of free money pool for bigger, established publishers with investor money that you would think have money to spend on their own projects and don’t need to crowdfund stuff.
When I see stuff like that, where clearly these companies have licenses, they have IP, they have characters that people love, why wouldn’t they Kickstart a nice big project on that? But a part of me, because I’m a bit of a contrarian wants to be like, “Well, I thought this was supposed to be first timers and for independent stuff.” And it’s like, “Well, I’ll just throw my hat in the ring, and see what I can do.”
Again, it’s a tried and tested system, and of course I want to see if I can benefit from it, but also if I can use it to build something different. Because again, if you Kickstart your first page rate and then you can go through Image and then you are in that system, then you go into the direct market, and then you’re locked into that system.
But what I’m actually also interested in doing is re-approaching every problem in comics from point zero and seeing where that can lead. Because I don’t think we know.
You said that this is going to help you try new things. This going to allow you to try things that you think might work better. I’m curious as to what exactly that might entail. Is that you trying out different formats? You trying out “not marketable ideas” to see if they would actually draw an audience? What does that mean in terms of how you’re going to execute that? Or is that TBD for us to find out later?
Sebastian: It’s a little TBD, obviously, until I have a thing to show.
Tell me everything, Sebastian.
Sebastian: Yeah. I wish I could. And one of the exciting things is that I don’t know everything, and how much I’ve already had to learn just for myself to get this far. And to have what I hope when it’s all revealed will be head turning and eye-catching ideas, and the way that they’ve approached this. But just as an opportunity for myself to grow, and all the stuff I had to teach myself, even just to be like, “Alright, time to reach out to a dozen printers everywhere and do ROIs and even just teaching myself how to use Excel.” Just to calculate all the management and the nickel and dimming stuff of it but then also distribution and fulfillment…am I going to sit here and lick stamps for X number of fulfillment services? I’ll do that, but also if I can get this funded, then I could get someone to help me.
And then I just started talking to people here. There’s a post office around the corner where they’re like, “We can do fulfillment. Just bring us your stuff, and we’ll stuff envelopes for you.” I was like, “This is awesome.”
And all of that is an energy that I get from doing this, that I’m very excited by…I want to take that energy further. To your specific points, I think formats are completely open. I love the idea of, especially with Kickstarter and especially because its creator owned. Let’s say you do a series. Three or four or five issues, whatever it is. It doesn’t have to be 22 pages. Maybe instead of doing five x 22-page comics or whatever it is now, why don’t you just do three 50-page comics or whatever denomination of pages per issue. And then those will be Kickstarter exclusive.
And when you have the full story done, after the original Goats Flying Press publishing agreement is done and go to Image and say, “I’ve got a full graphic novel. I would love to publish it. We don’t need any advance anymore.”
Sebastian: It’s done. And I have zero problem with that. I actually will be very proud of that because I know that short-term any title published through Image would probably still put you in a better position financially with higher sales and more industry pedigree. That is until maybe a few years down the line when Goats Flying Press can compete on those grounds? I’d love that! I think that would be very exciting.
But also just giving creators out there more opportunities to talk to someone as they’re working on their own book. To offer the editorial support system to creator-owned comics, because that is one thing that I really do find is both generally lacking and universally desired. And I really just love this job so much, just talking to people and being like, “Hey, we all love comics. We’re already in the madhouse. Can we share some stories about what got us here?”
And it’s just a wonderful way to get to make your living. I think that having a publisher where I can lean into that even more, and ideally put someone in a position where, “Hey, none of us are getting rich off of this right now. But I do think that there’s a wealth of just lived experience, and a shared joy of this art form. That if at the end of the day you’re not $50,000 in the hole and live off of credit card debt and you have a piece of work that you’re really proud of that you might still have the opportunity to leverage into an IP deal, or a movie, or what have you.” That’s something I feel very confident in dedicating whatever is left of my free time to make happen.
I’m not saying that you’re completely unique in this. But you’re one of the few people who have one foot on the creator’s side, and another foot, to use the restaurant term, in the back of house aspect of it, where you’ve worked on a lot of sides of that. There have been a number of people who have done that. But that type of expertise is helpful because you can advise people on those things, and you can help guide them.
I want to talk about the Kickstarter part of it because I think one of the things that’s interesting, you brought up maybe five or six years down the line, things will be rolling. And that’s one of the beauties of crowdfunding, particularly through Kickstarter. It’s part of the reason why somebody like Spike Trotman was so good with Iron Circus Comics. When you have one successful campaign, you can immediately message all the people who previously backed you when you’re onto the second one. And that is a powerful retention tool in terms of bringing those donors back. You retain, and you build, and you retain, and you build, and you keep going and going and going, and that can be really powerful in terms of growing your audience. Is that part of the reason why you wanted to use Kickstarter? Or is that really just one flavor of it?
Sebastian: I spoke to a couple of creators who’ve done Kickstarters, and it was interesting because coming from comics in the direct market, your first issue is always going to be the highest selling, and then your number two is half that.
Sebastian: Yeah. The algorithm is like, “Well, if you can stay above 10,000 (copies ordered) by issue three, then you’ll have enough to coast through to issue five or six.” Or whatever it was, where I’m just like, “Now it becomes math. This isn’t fun.” And then everyone I talked to who had a successful Kickstarter, they say, “Yeah, the second and third ones were actually easier.” And I think that’s where the idea was like, “If I’m going to generate that trust and goodwill, and hopefully a good rapport with backers and readers, I want to do that under the umbrella of a publishing entity.”
Not just Sebastian Girner myself, because I just think that…it’s playful. It’s actually very difficult for me to put myself out there like this. I think having the goat as a smokescreen, it’s literally a mask. It allows me to be more confident and playful in a way which I’m hoping will clearly trickle through and create an interesting dynamic.
But yeah, I’m in a position where whatever I make happen at Goats Flying Press people are getting paid, I’m covering bills. I’ve created an LLC for Goats Flying Press and took out a whole new round of credit cards and all that stuff. I can make this work. No one’s working for free or good will. People are getting paid competitive rates for creator-owned books. The Kickstarter will hopefully reimburse me for some of that, depending on how well it goes. But even if it only meets its original mark, the book is going to come out, and people will read it. I think it’s going to be great, because qualitatively, I feel I can measure up with anyone else doing this.
And that’s all I want from it right now. I keep testing myself, I keep pushing all my internal buttons, and being like, “Does this hurt? Are you sure? Are you insecure? Are you doubting yourself?” And I’m like, “Yeah. Of course. But, not enough to stop me.” And again, it’s just me moving forward with this project, and being like, “This is awesome. I love this so much.” All these little details that I can’t speak to quite yet, where I’m just looking over my shoulder being like, “Oh, I don’t need to ask anyone for permission.”
I think I can do this. And I can do it in a way that isn’t me writing blank checks to people they are never going to get cash. I’ll only take this as far as I can fairly pay people. If the publisher grows, so does my ability to scale up production, rates, projects. If it stays modest, so do I. But that modesty isn’t coming out of the quality of the work or the commitment to creators. Long-term sustainability and not over-promising is my goal here.”
It’s fair, I think it’s good, I’ve got paperwork lined up, all the crossed i’s and dotted t’s. And I’m sure that I’ll get a wrecking ball at some point over the course of the first Kickstarter, because Kickstarters are famously…
Sebastian: Yeah, very stressful. But who knows? We’ll talk again in a month or two. But I’m just excited for it. And even if it is stressful, my kid is two and a half right now and he was born in the middle of the pandemic, so dealing with stress is such a big part of this job already. Fingers crossed, this publisher is not the thing that puts me in the ground.
Have you heard of the video game NieR: Automata?
Sebastian: Yeah. I love that game.
Your mention of wearing a goat mask just reminds me of the guy who made that game, Yoko Taro, and how he always wears a mask.
Sebastian: The big moon mask, yeah.
I just imagine you at every single convention wearing a goat mask, and that’s just a thing.
Sebastian: 100%. I have five tabs open for eBay goat masks. The problem is that A, they look uncomfortable, B, they’re expensive, and C, none of them have the full flair. They’re either too satanic or too cartoony. I want a little bit of both.
Yeah, best of both worlds, satanic and cartoony. I do like the fact that your FAQ has a, “What’s with the goat?” section. That’s pretty good.
Sebastian: I’m assuming people are going to want to know, but the answer on there is also way too short. I edited it down to, “You know what, no one wants to know all of the reasons.” I was like, “Did you know that in folklore, the Goat symbolizes…” But no, I think if you’re interested, I’m happy to gnaw your ear off, if you’re not, it’s a fun creature.
Gnawing your ear off would be a totally goat thing to do.
Sebastian: That is true. They would do that.
I did want to say about Kickstarter, we talked about the recurring nature and how you can keep building, and building, and building. One of the nice things about it too, though, is you either get funded or you don’t. So, the floor is nice because you don’t get burned for something that doesn’t get funded. You just have to rework it. But it does seem like it’s a nice mix of all the things you want to do. Did you consider any other routes, or was it just always Kickstarter from the jump?
Sebastian: It was pretty much always Kickstarter. I looked into other crowdfunding services. There’s GoFundMe, and there’s Zoop, but Zoop is a different beast altogether. Because they also…
Do fulfillment and everything.
Sebastian: Yeah, exactly. So again, I think I shied away from anything at the start that would take decision-making out of my own hands. Which seems odd because it’s so many decisions that’ll have to be made all of a sudden.
It’s your baby.
Sebastian: Yeah. I wanted to embrace that. And also, I just wanted to learn, I’m like a dude building an aircraft carrier from the ground up. I need to know how every part of this works, and I need to know how to sail it, and I need to know where all the pieces go. Because the floor, like I said, I calculated if I only get this much, and I need to, obviously everyone is getting paid, except for me. If I do self-fulfillment, literally sit in my office licking stamps, stuffing envelopes the way a lot of Kickstarters are, and if it turns to that, this is how much I need to ask for. And then everything beyond that obviously is gravy that will allow me to scale up, dream a little bigger.
So, we’ve built a nice campaign that has some scalability, but that was the key point for me. It’s if it stays small, I’ll fulfill it, pack, mail it all on my own. That way it’s also something that won’t grow so fast that it becomes unmanageable. I do just have a cap that if I do hit it, that’s a problem I will gladly figure out when the time comes.
Your stretch goal is you get paid?
Sebastian: No. Actually, I will never get paid.
Sebastian: Me, Sebastian Girner, as publisher of Goats Flying Press, no. I’m not going into this expecting to walk out with any more than I originally invested. I want to replenish that original investment and keep investing it further. Basically any money will pretty much just go right back into the publisher. It’s how I want it to grow.
You want to make things.
Sebastian: Yeah, I want to make things. I have five or six books more or less ready to be announced, technically through Goats Flying Press. But I want to start…I say small. I think the first book when it’s announced will be like, “Oh, this is not small at all. This is massive, and weird, and big, and awesome.” But that’s the energy I want to bring to it. “Nothing is impossible. We’ll figure it out.”
There’s an anarchic force that has always nourished me in comics, where every publisher to some extent or another is trying to harness the storm. But to box it into nice little cuboids. “It’s going to launch with this many issues, and then it’ll go on to do this many numbers.” And I always reject that because it feels like you’re turning art into a product. Into math. And of course, comics are art and a product, and they always have been. I think that the dichotomy of those two diametrically opposed forces is very fascinating. I am just welcoming the entire storm into my life and seeing what happens.
It’s funny. You are talking to the person who is at the epicenter of the Venn diagram of math and art.
I don’t know why that’s become my niche, but that is a thing.
We can’t talk about the first project, but I did want to ask about what you’re doing. You have five projects in some level of activity. Most publishers come out just from a positioning standpoint, and they’re like, “We are these two genres,” or “We are these three genres.” Do you have a lean, or is it, “These are things that Sebastian’s interested in”?
Sebastian: All the projects that I’m involved in personally are projects that I’m obviously very interested in. But looking at them from far away, they’re pretty diverse in terms of tone, age rating, genre, art style.
The first one looks very you. I’m not going to say anything, but it feels very you.
Sebastian: It’s very me, and very the artist who’s involved. I think we’ve both wanted to work on a book like this our whole lives. We’re both really stoked. But that’s the energy I want: “This needs to happen! I’m going to go through the trouble of setting up a whole publisher just to make this comic happen.” That’s the energy we need.
Very often I read pitches or I read stories that people send me, and I’m just like, “This sounds awesome.” And I don’t know how to express why, because again, as part of my job, I need to quantify that awesomeness in some language, or like, “Oh, this genre, it has this readership baked in.” You’re trying to disassemble something beautiful and infinite into something manageable and finite.
It’s pitch-ifying it.
Sebastian: If you can do both?
Sebastian: I guess I don’t have the answer to all the questions. I’m just not afraid of running around asking questions and finding answers for myself and hopefully for others.
I feel like TKO is a pretty good reflection of…I’m not saying you’re the only person making decisions there. But it’s like if you look at Goodnight Paradise and you look at Sara and you look at Sentient and then you look at the upcoming Mobilis from Juni Ba. You look at all those different projects, and those are way different than one another. And that makes it interesting because, it seems to me, this is just me reading between the lines of what you’re saying. It seems like Goats Flying Press, it’s like you don’t want people to aim for a box, you want them to aim for whatever moves them the most.
Sebastian: Yes. In every way TKO is clearly a publisher where over the course of five years, I think creatively, I feel extremely proud and very connected to all the projects there. I can’t say enough good things about working there and how excited I am. And also, how much freedom they’ve given me as editor in chief to spearhead creative ventures and brought pitches and books to their attention that I genuinely thought would be like long shots.
So, a lot of that confidence that I’m now trying to explore further with Goats Flying Press comes from my ability to have been able to shape TKOs. But still occasionally I’ll be like, “I can’t quantify a story or an idea in any way that has to make sense for a publisher that is hiring me.”
That’s where I’m coming from with Goats Flying Press. I’m not going to get paid for Goats Flying Press. Of course, I can build a brand and all this froo-froo stuff on the side. But I think what I’m going to get “paid” in is the ability to have a platform where I can…identify something that I want to see exist, and then make it happen, and the buck stops with me. And I know the risks involved in terms of financial and organizational and production and what have you. But that’s the only quantifiable thing I want to be aware of when making decisions.
It’s like, “Okay, if I approach this creator and make them an offer. What is that offer going to be? What is the most I can promise that I can 100% deliver to them to make this the best it can be?”
Everything after that is up to that chaotic beauty that I keep talking about. The only thing I can control is my desire to see something done, and my ability to see it done well and done right. What happens after that with Goats Flying Press, not that I don’t care, but I can acknowledge that I have no control over it.
The last question I have for you is, you have a motto. Most publishers don’t have a motto. Yours is, “Comics Against All Odds.” I like it a lot. But what makes that the right pick? Why is that the defining statement for Goats Flying Press?
Sebastian: It’s the motto that encompasses this energy that I keep referring to, and it’s also a motto that keeps me going when I’m doubting myself, or when I’m a little like, “Oh, my God. What have I done to myself?” I was like, “No, it’s comics against all odds.” And those odds include my own doubts, my own fears. Like, the first natural one was “What if the Kickstarter fails?” And then I remembered my motto and said “You know what? If the Kickstarter doesn’t make it the first time around, I’ll try it again a different way. It’s going to happen.” And that’s why “Comics Against All Odds,” is my rallying cry.
It also speaks to the incredible difficulty of making a comic that I think all comic book creators experience, whether they’re established or green or bigger, small, or wanting to break in, or needing to break out. Everyone knows how hard it is to make a comic. And yet!
Once again, 15 years later, I’m still here, and I’m still doing it, and I think I love it now more than ever. And I just want to have a phrase that I can put forth, and this is something we all know already exists in comics. People put themselves through a lot to get their comics made, and the feeling is indescribable. And I just really like it. I’m excited to make it, hopefully the rallying cry of a new generation of comic books.
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