Spike Trotman got into this game as a webcartoonist with her serial Templar, Arizona, but has transformed into one of the most successful small publishers around. Literally the busiest person in comics, Spike sat down at C2E2 for a pleasant midday chat.
Greg: You're a successful publisher of your own work, anthologies, and you've even branched out to begin publishing books by other creators, including the award-winning TJ and Amal. So tell us: what did you have for lunch today?
Spike: (Laughs) Actually I have it right here! I made scallion pork sung scallion pancakes–pork sung if you don't know is dried sweetened and shredded pork that's usually used as a rice topping–I mixed it in with the scallion pancake and fried it. I'm having with that some rice with furukake which is Japanese-style rice seasoning. That, topped with kimchi–which is homemade, thank you–and the accompanying vegetable is just a dressed simple tossed salad.
Greg: You have a bunch of books out (gestures to the sweeping array of Iron Circus books surrounding Spike like a panopticon,) what's your most recent release?
Spike: My most recent book is Letters for Lucardo. It is by a Finnish cartoonist named Nora Heikkila. She's a dream to work with and her art is amazing. It is a four-book series, the first book just came out, about a vampire–eternally young, eternally beautiful, blood drinking–who falls in love with a 60-year old man. The setting for the story is nebulous historical European setting where 60 years is pushing it. He's in his way out, he's not got long. The vampire loves him and he loves the vampire, but there's a lot of angst in this relationship because the vampire will definitely outlive his boyfriend. At best they've got 5-10 years, and he doesn't want to leave him in that kind of pain.
Greg: You started out as a web cartoonist doing all your own stuff. Now, the bulk of what you're putting out is either anthologies, collaborations with other artists, or work by other creators entirely. How has your perspective on your own work changed? How do you view an anthology you curated in relation to a book that's entirely your own work?
Spike: Books that contain work by other people I prioritize over books that I make myself, because I am beholden to other people who are relying on me to represent them and sell their work. People like Sophie Campbell, E. K. Weaver, I'm going to be publishing a book by Mel Gilman in a few months; these are people who signed on with me because they believed in my ability to represent them fairly and with a certain amount of enthusiasm. So they get priority over my own work. It's kind of one of the sacrifices you make when you shift into a more administrative role, and I'm totally comfortable with that. But at the same kind I have kind of a personal rule that I don't run an anthology that I don't have a story in. That's been the case for everything: New Worlds, Sleep of Reason, all of the Smut Peddlers; I have a story in all of those. I don't want to put out a book that I don't have some kind of creative hand in. I'm not interested in going fully administrative. I'm a cartoonist at heart.
Greg Baldino packed a handful of ALDI's granola bars and some Powerade for lunch, so clearly he's losing that battle. Hey, did you know he covered the very first C2E2? It's true!