By Jason Strangis
Terry Cronin is an inspiration to independent creators looking to self-publish comics and novels. He helped start the cult comic book series Students of the Unusual and has delved into writing books through his detective novels. A fixture of the Florida comic book scene, Cronin also has regularly attended the San Diego Comic-Con. Recently, Bleeding Cool caught up with Terry for an exclusive interview.
Jason Strangis: When did you create Students of the Unusual and is that comic book series still ongoing today?
Terry Cronin: Students of the Unusual was an idea we had in 2004 but really came to fruition in 2006. We brought it to Orlando's Megacon as our first show and did really well. We were subsequently in the top 200 of Diamond orders for our very first issue. Students of the Unusual is a horror adventure series and follows a community as they're infiltrated by evil forces and the children who decide to do something about this problem. It's an anthology of interconnected short stories told over six regular issues and six special issues.
We recently had a special collection of our stories featured at an art museum and we published a new adventure of Recalcitrant Jones and the Dead Beats!
JS: What was the inspiration behind Students of the Unusual?
TC: I've always liked comics like the original EC anthologies like Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and the DC House of Mysteries and House of Secrets. I like stories that are sort of spooky, funny, and strange over the gory ones and like most writers I felt compelled to tell my own.
JS: Since you live in Florida, you've been a regular fixture at the annual Megacon in Orlando. How has that comic book convention grown and evolved over the years?
TC: Well it's huge now but it has always been awesome. The promoters of that show have always been so good to me. It really transformed under Beth and Christine's leadership into a true destination convention and I understand it's only going to get bigger. Next year will be a Memorial Day Weekend show. I'm also appreciative of the good people at another awesome show Florida Supercon (Miami) who never miss an opportunity to make my comic promotion experience better. It's always lots of fun!
JS: You also regularly attend the San Diego Comic-Con and you were at a booth again this year. What's your reaction to how insanely gigantic that event has become?
TC: I think of San Diego as the "Big Dance" where you really have to rock to generate interest for an indie when you are competing against the big publishers and television and movie studios for eyeballs. Getting attention is so important and building a great network of fans, industry insiders, and IP hunters makes so much fun.
JS: What can you tell fans about your latest comic book project, Horse Power G?
TC: Horse Power G is a new all-ages adventure that has a real gimmick in how the story is told. If you read it from the front it tells an equestrian adventure from the human perspective. However when you read it backwards it tells a distinctly different story from the horses' perspective. It's a method that can really only be done well in comics and it makes reading it very fun and entertaining and people seem to really enjoy it.
JS: Do you feel there need to be more comics aimed toward younger readers?
TC: Of course. These are the fans of the future!
On a personal note, as a horror writer I used to have some awkward moments where parents weren't sure if my Students of the Unusual stories would be good for their children. With Horse Power G there are no worries- it's great for readers of any age.
JS: Horse Power G is published by your company, 3 Boys Productions. What's it like trying to self-publish a comic book, and what advice would you have for aspiring creators trying to break into the field?
TC: It's a lot of fun publishing your own stuff but ultimately you do want to show you can work with other publishers. I write stories for Aazurn publishing and their Indie Comics Magazine and my Skinvestigator: Tramp Stamp detective novels are published by Atlas Books.
As far as advice, I think the best thing I could tell an aspiring creator is to never get discouraged. Lots of people will tell you that you can't do this but once you jump in you will meet many supportive fans and collegial creators who will keep you motivated. Stay away from negative folks and follow your inspiration. (Make sure your product is as professional as possible, too)
Jason Strangis is a freelance writer who enjoys superheroes, sci-fi, and attending comic book conventions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org