Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
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BAKER'S DOZEN for 03/09/2005
Sign of the Times
Rich Watson on The Glyph newsletter
I first met Rich Watson a number of years ago, and was duly impressed both by the man and his work. I've since followed his endeavors, be they offered in the rough-and-tumble small/indy press arena or via one of his excellent online columns, such as "Chicks and Romance" over at http://www.comicworldnews.com/. His latest project, an ongoing newsletter, The Glyph, provides the focus of today's discussion, one which by turns out offers enlightenment and provocative thoughts to go with its highly entertaining contents...as well as a chance for each and every one of us to both learn from, and directly participate in, the process.
Now there's an offer that doesn't come along every day.
Bill Baker: So what, exactly, is The Glyph, and what lead to its creation?
Rich Watson: The short answer is that The Glyph is my attempt to give the black comics community a collective voice. It's a monthly e-newsletter, in which I gather news and assorted information about comics with either black themes or creators or both. I chose to start The Glyph because I felt there was a niche that needed to be filled by it. Last spring I attended the East Coast Black Age of Comics Expo in Philadelphia for the first time, and being around so many other creators of color and seeing the support system in place for black comics was what first got me thinking about what more I could do. Through my column at Comic World News, I write about black comics from time to time, but by doing this e-zine I can bring a sharper focus to them.
BB: Why use the newsletter format rather than create a website or even a magazine? After all, there must be a lot of ground, new and old, to cover.
RW: Well, at some point I do hope to put together a website and some kind of hard copy version. Part of the reason I chose to do it this way at the outset was to gauge exactly how much interest I could generate; to establish a foundation of regular readers who choose to subscribe (for free, I should add) and build from there. To tell the truth, this is fairly new to me, so I'm learning as I go, but at this stage it's important to me that I know that this is something fans of all colors want.
BB: So, what can readers expect to find in a typical Glyph?
RW: I gather news items from around the Web - the usual comics news sites, plus blogs, message boards and websites of black creators. I also gather reviews, write articles and interviews, recommend certain titles, preview others, and I gather threads from message boards about issues pertaining to black comics, with the intent to widen the discussion and to show exactly what the fans are talking about. At the moment the only other person I'm working with on this is my new columnist, Erick Hogan.
BB: Now I know that Glyph's intended for a mutli-ethnic audience, which leads me to wonder how it might ideally serve those different audience members it reaches...and how the same text can serve all these different needs simultaneously?
RW: Well, first of all I feel I should point out that my mailing list does include black and white people. Everyone chose to subscribe to The Glyph, I believe, because they sense that comics in general needs to be more inclusive and less insular if it is to survive, and to do that, we need to pay some attention to the things being said on other sides. I focus on black comics and creators, but I try not to go overboard with the Afrocentricity if it's not required. For instance, when I interviewed Firestorm artist Jamal Igle, we talked about the issues pertaining directly to the book itself; I didn't ask him questions like "How do you deal with being a black man in a white man's industry" or anything like that because in this particular case, it wasn't necessary. Nothing in Jamal's body of work, past or present, suggests a particular bent towards Afrocentricity. If I were to interview someone like, for instance, Lance Tooks, whose work is very Afrocentric, that would be different. My point is that I try to present the creators I write about as creators who happen to be black, not as black creators - the difference being that their ethnicity does not and should not define them. I believe that would do these men and women a disservice and I won't do that.
BB: From what you've said and written, I've gotten the distinct impression that The Glyph is intended to evolve over time. What are some of the various features that you'd like to see added, temporarily or otherwise, what might those new features offer readers they're not getting anywhere else right now, and how will you decide what and when to add them?
RW: I'd like to add some pictures to go with the text eventually, in particular advance previews of upcoming books. Once I'm able to devote the right amount of time to launch a website, that will, of course, be a priority, but right now, I'm juggling this along with my column and my job.
BB: Well, how can folks get involved with Glyph, be it as a reader or perhaps a contributor of some sort?
E-mail me - email@example.com. Regarding contributors, I could really use some reviewers and another "beat reporter" or two.
BB: You're also a gifted comics creator in your own right. So, does your work on The Glyph signal that it's unlikely that we'll to be seeing anything new from you soon, or did you just add the newsletter chores on top of your existing projects?
RW: I recently got back into cartooning with a 2-page story I illustrated for my pal Scott Roberts' book Patty Cake. Beyond that, though, I have no other immediate plans. I am undisputedly a writer for now.
BB: What do you get from creating comics? How about writing about comics, what does that give you?
RW: Making comics lets me indulge in my favorite fantasies and stretch my imagination. Writing does the same, only in a different way. I've always wanted to write almost as much as I've wanted to draw, and after doing the one for so long, I've decided I want to pursue the other as well and see where it takes me.
BB: What do you hope readers will get from your work on The Glyph? How about your comics?
RW: When all is said and done, I consider Glyph an outgrowth and a natural extension of what I've been doing with my columns for the past four years - talking about and promoting comics and creators who don't get as much attention as others. And I hope it encourages fans of all colors to give these books a try, because I think there's a lot of good stuff to be found here. As for my comics, I naturally hope people like them and that they find something of themselves or someone they know in them. I drew the Patty Cake story because I was Keith growing up, and this story means that much more to me because of that.
BB: What are your hopes for this new enterprise, short and long term? What would you like Glyph to become in the next five, ten, twenty five years?
RW: My goal is for Glyph to be as important to the black comics community as Friends of Lulu is to the women in the industry. I'd like to see it bring in more black readers and creators, and I'd like it to get people talking about the ways we can make the industry a better one overall, for everyone involved.
BB: Anything else to add before I let you go?
RW: Just wanna add that anyone who wants to subscribe or contribute, or to send me press releases or review copies, should e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and that I hope people will give this a chance because there are lots of creators doing good comics that deserve your support.
For more of Rich Watson's insightful commentary on comics and the industry at large, be sure to not only subscribe to the excellent and always thoughtful The Glyph, as well as check out his "Chicks and Romance" review column over at http://www.comicworldnews.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi?column=chicksandromance. And don't forget to tell Rich who sent ya.
<< 02/16/2005 | 03/09/2005 | 03/23/2005 >>
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