As you all know the purpose of You've Never Heard Of… is to shine a spotlight on self-published creators who release their work in print or digital and creators who work for publishers that don't rank in the top 10.
We're in a golden age of comics right now and in an age of geek none of us could have ever imagined, but with the good comes the bad. As our geek news sites become more corporate they tend to focus less on comics and in some cases less on independent creators. Which is why this series was created. As you all know Bleeding Cool is a popular site and has never shied away from giving a soap box to those starting out and trying to carve a niche for themselves.
With that out of the way let's get on with the show. Today I'm going to be interviewing Eddie deAngelini. He is the writer and artist of the hilarious webcomic strip Collectors.
What is the strip about? Well, I'm glad you guys asked. Collectors is the love story of a husband, a wife, and a comic book collection. Collectors is a Sunday-style color comic strip about Eddie, a comic book collector who loves his wife and his comic collection…but not always in that order!
Written and drawn by Eddie deAngelini and loosely based on his own marriage, Collectors is a love letter to the pop culture phenomenon of comic books and to all the wives who trip over long boxes all over the house!
Besides releasing Collectors every Sunday Eddie also manages a comic book store called Hi De Ho Comics that he co-owns with his wife and two other partners. And before all that Eddie helped Stranger Comics with their marketing. You know the people who put out that sweet Vampire Hunter D comic book. He helped to build and update their website, run their social media and was behind their graphic design.
All of which we will find out in the interview below. So, let's get on with the show.
Marco: I ask this question every single time and it's always going to be the first question I ask because without the love none of us would be reading, creating, or working in comics. So, tell all of Bleeding Cool what made you fall in love with comics and how did you get your start in the biz with your own webcomic and with Stranger Comics.
Eddie: My love of comics starting when I was young, probably around seven or eight. Whenever I was home sick from school, my dad would bring home a few comic books from the corner store to help me feel better. It became a kind of comfort food for me back then. Plus, as an only child, I spent most of my time reading when I was younger which led to trying to draw the characters I started falling in love with. When I reached my twenties, comics and drawing kind of fell away and I focused on what I thought were more 'adult' pursuits. Years later, comics started drawing me back in and I found myself visiting comic shops here and there. I began to remember how much I loved the characters, the art and the thrill of the hunt that came with collecting.
Around this time is when I met Sebastian Jones, the top guy at Stranger Comics. Stranger was small and unknown at that time and they were looking for someone to help with their graphic design and website updates, which is what my day job was back then. Sebastian's enthusiasm for comics and storytelling was very infectious and I became part of his team for about three years.
During my time at Stranger Comics is when I came up with the idea of my comic strip Collectors. Sebastian was toying with the idea of a weekly webcomic component for the company and that sparked my own creative idea that I pitched to him to be a part of his plans. That webcomic component ended up not happening at the time, but my ideas were already too far along to stop. I dusted off my art supplies and took a crack at writing and drawing my own comic strip. That was almost five years ago and I still continue to publish Collectors as a weekly webcomic and have also self-published three collected print volumes.
Marco: It's interesting that you started as wanting to be a comic book artist. I was the same until my last two years in High School and then I switched gears and started writing more. I was reading some more of Collectors as I was waiting your response to the first question and to me and maybe this won't be the same for you and others but it has a Dilbert feel to it. I loved that comic strip in High School and the animated series that followed in the early 2000's.
Was that an influence on your strip and what are the influences? Also and of course the strip is an exaggeration of your life but how much of it is based on real events and or situations?
Eddie: It sounds like we followed a similar path. I also switched gears later on and focused mainly on writing. While at Stranger, I worked on developing a few original comic ideas and also wrote a couple of film scripts. In fact, the seed for Collectors came from a half written film script about a husband who spends his and his wife's nest egg on a high-grade copy of Spider-Man number one. She walks out on him and agrees to come back only if he sells the book and gets their money back. But the book is stolen and he goes on a wild chase to retrieve it and win his wife back. Somehow the kernel of that morphed into a comic strip, mainly because I wanted the more immediate satisfaction of getting my work in front of eyeballs right away instead of going years before ever seeing something I wrote get made into something people could see.
As for what influenced my art style, at the time I started drawing Collectors my main concern was to not suck. It had been way too long since I last drew anything and I didn't think I was up for the task. I even sat on the idea for a while because I thought I should find an artist that could do it in my place. Impatience got the best of me and I decided to give it a go myself. That first strip was crude but effective. I posted it online and got a pleasantly positive response. That was enough to inspire me forward. I look at that first comic strip once in a while to remind me where I started.
I don't think any particular comic strip inspired my style. I think it came indirectly from several places. I loved Calvin and Hobbes and Far Side as a kid and maybe some of that crept into what I do. I'm sure I see a bit of The Simpsons in my style as well. I think animation absolutely influenced how I draw. In fact, one year at WonderCon Sergio Aragones gave me a bit of guff on how I draw my characters with four fingers on their hands instead of five. That's clearly something from animation that makes no sense in a comic strip, but it's too late to change it now!
Marco: Let's side step for a moment with this next question. Because what I love about your story is that you own a comic book shop. So not only are you hustling as a creator but you're also hustling as a store owner and selling possibly the greatest form of entertainment and merchandise on the planet. What lead to you wanting to own your own shop beside the obvious I love comics and how as a creator has it affected you now being on the other side as the person who also sells comics and in terms of being a retailer who is also on the other end of creating comics.
Eddie: Prior to owning Hi De Ho Comics, I was working at Geoffrey's Comics in Gardena running their online store. I didn't seek out the opportunity to own a shop, it literally fell into my lap. Geoffrey Patterson, the owner of Geoffrey's Comics, confided in me that Hi De Ho was for sale and would I like to be a co-owner with him and a third partner. I only needed a day to decide. I spent years working hard for someone else and I saw this as a chance to work hard for myself.
People always say to me "You're living the dream!" I suspect that they think owning a comic shop means hanging out all day reading and debating comics. I rarely have time to do either. Owning and running a business is a lot of work and I went into this with realistic expectations. It can be frustrating and challenging, but also enjoyable and satisfying. A huge reason for my success is my wife Kristen, who switched careers to manage the shop with me. People say you shouldn't work so close with your significant other, but there's no way I could do it all without her. We're the Dynamic Duo of comic shop ownership.
By far the biggest challenge has been balancing running a shop and being a creator. They're completely different worlds and I'm constantly switching gears from business to creative and back again. It can be mentally exhausting sometimes and the days usually end before the work does. Somehow, I've managed to hold it all together and make it all work for over two years.
Marco: With collectors does the comic have an end goal in sight? Or is this a situation of as long as I keep having humorous and great experiences I can exaggerate on then this comic strip will keep coming out? And since you own a shop and are a creator I figure that's a lot of material for several decades worth of comics. HA HA.
Eddie: I never considered an end goal. I patterned Collectors after the Sunday newspaper funnies, which always seemed to be a constant. Plus, I'm sure I do and say enough brainless things to turn into comic strips for several years to come. I started it and continue to do it because it's fun. Part of the fun is trying different things. I started delivering it solely as a webcomic, then in printed volumes and eventually, I'd like to create some Collectors animated webisodes. This goes back to the problem of the day ending before the work does…
Marco: Okay, this being the last question I want you to tell the comic book fans out there why they should check out your comic strip Collectors. This is basically the pimp yourself section. Tell the fans why you rock and why they should check out the book and your comic shop. Have at it, man.
Eddie: Scientific research has shown that reading my comic strip Collectors will make you financially successful, help you lose those last nagging ten pounds and make you irresistible to the opposite sex. Seriously, any comic fan will appreciate the humor and their significant others will also get a laugh out of and identify with the geeky headache that can come with living with a collector. You can read the comic strip every Sunday morning, plus archived comic strips, for free at my website. http://collectorscomic.com/
If that's not enough, I regularly host raffle giveaways on my website and social media to give fans a chance to win actual comic books from my personal collection. And who doesn't like free stuff?!! If you're a super fan of my comic strip, you can pick up one or all of the three Collectors annuals that are on sale online at my site or in my shop, Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica. If you stop in to visit us, be sure to check out our event calendar for any of our exciting upcoming events. Not only are we the oldest comic shop in Los Angeles, but we're also the largest. We've hosted creator signings, swanky after-hours parties and even an entire comic-con under our roof. Plus, you never know which famous celeb will walk in our door. But I won't name drop…especially when you can check out our social media and see pictures for yourself!
And that's a wrap! I just want to thank Eddie deAngelini for taking the time out of his busy schedule to let me interview him about his hilarious comic and fantastic store. If you like what you read here and the images you see then take a minute out of your schedule to check out Collectors itself, the Facebook page, Twitter account, Tumblr page and the Hi De Ho comic shop website.
Marco Lopez is the co-owner of the website Atomic Rex Entertainment. Where you can find the recently wrapped webcomic Massively Effective, that Marco describes as Bill and Ted in tights. Also hosted on the site is Marco's web strip series Orion's Belt that follows a family of adventurers in space and his anthology series A Shot of Whiskey. Marco has also written for Zenescope Entertainment, Lion Forge Comics and is part of Imminent Press and the Terminal Pulp Anthology currently on Kickstarter.