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Baker's Dozen
Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.

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BAKER'S DOZEN for 08/06/2003
Welcome to the first installment of Baker's Dozen, a series of original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked figures from comics or the larger entertainment field conducted by Bill Baker. It's a bit like listening in on a conversation between Bill and someone he thinks you should know more about.

With the arrival of the first Fade From Blue trade collection due to hit the racks of your local comic shop today, I thought we'd start off the column with a short talk with Myatt Murphy, the man behind Second 2 Some Studios. And, yeah, I know it's a little dated in some sense; however, we discuss a number of topics other than S2S's wonderful offering for FCBD '03 -- which is a fine read still -- and due to the simple fact that it's never been published before. Intended as the inaugural offering of a magazine column that, sadly, appears to have gone the way of all flesh. -BB

Baker's Dozen #1: Myatt Murphy and Second 2 Some Studios

Myatt's still a relative newcomer to the scene, essentially having only self-published two series over the course of the past few years. Yet he's begun to garner some real notice across the field, drawing both critical accolades and attention from a growing legion of fans and professionals alike. Join Bill as he gets to know this highly original thinker a bit better.

Out of the Blue
Myatt Murphy and Second 2 Some Studios

While he's still a relative newcomer to the field, Myatt Murphy has a list of publishing credits that most pros would kill for. After spending a couple years as a researcher for Men's Health magazine, he became one of only three folks writing the entire mag, often using multiple pseudonyms in a single issue. Since he decided to go freelance in 1997, he's written over 400 articles for 35 plus national magazines, including the likes of Cosmopolitan, Details, Esquire, Glamour, GQ, Maxim, New York Times, People, Penthouse, Self, and Sports Illustrated.

Fade from Blue Not content with that success, recently he opened his own comic book publishing house, Second 2 Some Studios. While his first series, Two Over Ten, did garner a lot of critical attention and raves from readers, it wasn't until Myatt and artist Scott Dalrymple began telling the story of four very different half sisters with Fade From Blue that the general comics crowd caught on to this exciting new vision of comics. With Myatt poised on the brink of real success in yet another notoriously tough industry, it seemed the perfect time to pick his brain concerning Second 2 Some's future plans.

Bill Baker: You've been incredibly successful as a writer in the mainstream magazine marketplace for some time now. What prompted you to enter comics, both as a creator and publisher, and why now?

Myatt Murphy: Well, I've always believed that if you're into comics, period, you always have a dream to do one yourself. I can't think of a time in my life where I didn't want to do one and I haven't met a single comic book fan that wouldn't want to be a part of the process. And why not? If you're into comics, then you love comics ... and who wouldn't want to make a living doing what they love?

As for why I decided to publish these books myself, I really didn't have a choice. We really didn't see many publishers out there at the time that were doing the type of material we were about to do or many that would give us a shot. I've always equated my experience in comics to being a runner with no race to compete in. I wanted to run a race, but I realized that to wait around for someone to pick you was a waste of time. So I organized my own race to run in. The only problem with that analogy is that by the time you've created the race, set up the Gatorade cups, alerted the media and hung the finish line, you're probably too tired to run! I'm a publisher by default, but that's why I decided that if I have to publish my own books, then we'll try a few things that other publishers weren't trying -- like lowering the cost of comics to $1.50 and such.

And why now? It was really a matter of "Well, I finally have some cash to try this thing, so let's do it." It would have been nice to have started in, let's say 1991, but I was too young, stupid and broke then. But, despite the fact that we've entered at a time when comic sales are remarkably low compared to the glory day of old, I'm glad we've stepped in at this time of the industry's life cycle. Anyone that's doing comic books today are genuinely in it because they love the art form. You can see that sacrifice on the page and it shows in the stories that are being told today. I think right now is the start of another evolution in comic books and to be a part of that experience is something that makes me feel that the best is yet to come in comics. I think the next five-ten years are going to breed something that comic books have never had entirely in the eyes of the general public ... and that's respect.

BB: Did your previous experience as a journalist and writer help you in this new endeavor, hinder you, or has it not affected things at all as far as you can tell?

MM: Yes to all three. Having to answer to dozens of different editors on a yearly basis has definitely kept me disciplined in the art of making a deadline, which seems to be a common problem in the comics medium. If you can't produce on-time in comics, people get upset but it usually takes a

while to affect sales. If you can't produce on-time in mainstream magazines, you don't get another assignment ... it's that simple. I'm still schooled in that principle since magazines are my day job, so I think that work ethic has helped me stay on top of all the projects we've released in just one year. I think writing for both women's magazines as well as men's magazines all these years also made me feel a little more confident that a guy could write a book with four strong female leads.

If it's hindered me, it may be in thinking it would be easier to execute.

With magazines, you bang out the piece and someone else decides how it will lay out, when it will ship, what spelling mistakes you've made, etc. After eight years of that comfort, you forget that when you self-publish, it's your job to tackle all that crap now. I don't think anything could have prepared me for how hard the other areas of comic book publishing are.

Writing's the easy part ... it's the men and women that take those words and make them a 32-page book that's a bear ... and we're a two-man team. If I've gained anything from creating Fade From Blue, it's hands-down a respect for those that make their own books solely by themselves.

As for it not affecting things at all, I still think that's true too. Comic book writing is entirely a different gorilla than magazines, so to be good at one doesn't mean you'll be good at another. I have to sit down with an entirely different mind-set when I'm writing an article or writing a page of Fade From Blue.

BB: What are some of the things that the books from Second 2 Some offer readers that they might not find elsewhere?

MM: The first is probably the obvious low price of our titles. When retailers first noticed we were "half" of most indies (Second 2 Some prices their books at $1.50), I think their initial thought was that our books would also be half the quality, which they obviously aren't. We just wanted to bring the price down to a more believable point. Since then, we've had a steady flow of amazing reviews, been 'Certified Cool' 4 times by Diamond and had the honor of being called a must-buy book in every July issue of CrossGen, so I think the word is finally out that the only reason it's cheaper is because we wanted to offer a top dollar product at half the cost.

I think the other obvious qualities we share throughout all our titles (Fade From Blue, Two Over Ten and Far From Saints) is uniqueness. We wanted to do stories that no one else was doing instead of adding yet another example to the types of stories that have already been done -- angst-ridden teen book, Goth, young kid gets super powers and tries to handle them responsibly, etc. Two Over Ten is realistic dark fiction that's secretly a spin on how all religions were created. Far From Saints is a fictional historical comedy that's very "Twilight Zone-esque" and just plain quirky. And Fade From Blue was our attempt to create a WB TV show version of a comic that was gender-neutral -- meaning, men and women can enjoy it equally just like any prime time TV show out there. Watching all the attention and rising sales of Fade, plus knowing what kind of attention awaits in the next year -- see why below -- I guess we succeeded.

BB: What are your plans for the future?

100% Guaranteed How-To Manual for getting ANYONE to read comic books MM: The first surprise of 2003 is our offering for Free Comic Book Day called 'Christa Shermot's 100% Guaranteed How-To Manual for Getting ANYONE to read comic books.' Unlike every other free book offered for FCBD, we decided not to produce a teaser or 32-page advertisement and instead, create something that genuinely promotes the whole industry ... and not just us. This will be a guide that if you're into comics, you'll want to read because it'll give you ammunition to use on non-comic book readers to get them to realize they already are influenced by comics and don't want to admit it. If you're not into comics, this book will actually speak 'your' language so you don't feel lost about getting into them in the first place. It's being written specifically towards the non-comic book reader, even though if you read comics, you'll love the info it's going to give you to win arguments against people -- trust me!

We'll be finishing the first story arc of Fade From Blue with #10, then writing the series more as one-shots that will still add to the story, but be more accessible to new readers, much like manga. We'll also be producing trade paperbacks of Fade From Blue -- called Fade Trades -- that will also be dollars less than your average black and white trade paperback. The trade for our first comic series Two Over Ten is only $8.99 at 160 pages. We're also currently negotiating something that's completely out of the comics stream that I wish I could talk about, but let's just say it involves one of our characters in Fade and a major book publisher. It'll hopefully be an opportunity to get another character into the general public's eye without them realizing they are being entertained by a comic book character ... until I tell them, of course.

Check out www.secondtosomestudios.com for more information on what Myatt's got planned for the rest of 2003.

- Bill

The First >> 08/06/2003 | 08/13/2003 >>

Discuss this column with me in World Famous Comics' General Forum.
Read my weekly blog, Speculative Friction, on my website BloodintheGutters.com.


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