Trash Mutant Interviews (TMI): Joey Esposito
- by Ninja Ross, 13 May 2012
We just recently posted a review of Joey Esposito & Jonathan Moore's "Footprints" #1, published by 215ink. Now Ninja Ross had a chance to talk to Joey for our TMI feature.
Where did the idea for a Noir, Pulp and cryptozoology mash up come from? What is it about these creatures that made you want to write about them?
I’ve just always loved the cryptid characters, as I have the crime genre. There’s a certain amount of mystique that is inherent to both that I thought would just go well together, and thankfully, I was right. I think there’s a natural correlation there, as a lot of the traits of these cryptid characters correlate pretty well to the noir archetypes.
Since you’re IGN’s resident comic book guy, this must have been a dream come true. How does it feel, knowing Footprints will be on shelves in comic book shops all around the world?
Oh, it’s great. I’ve been making comics longer than I’ve been writing about them, honestly, so it’s incredibly rewarding to finally see my name on the shelves alongside creators I respect. At the same time, it helps inform the way that I cover comics from a press angle, in a way, because I can fully appreciate how difficult it is to launch a small book amongst a sea of superhero comics. It’s no secret that comics distribution is broken, so having gone through that experience of trying to get people to pre-order a book – which indie comics live or die on, so ALWAYS PRE-ORDER INDIE BOOKS – it’s given me insight on how important helping the smaller press books way ahead of release is.
To get this book off the ground, you used kickstarter. Do you think Kickstarter will play a big part in the future of creator owned comic books?
Without a doubt. You’re already seeing it. More and more established creators are turning to Kickstarter to fund their passion projects, and it’s great. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, Paul Jenkins, Tony Harris, Brian Buccellato, Tyler Kirkham, and many more… they’ve all got Kickstarters going as I type this. Some fans may not realize that creator-owned passion projects usually come not only from the creators’ hearts but their wallets as well. Comics are freaking expensive, man. Printing costs are outrageous, nevermind if you’re paying an artist, colorist, inker, letter, production designer, etc. It’s costly. So taking the cost out of the hands of creators – who, by the way, don’t make a whole lot of money as some people seem to believe – allows them to focus on what’s important: the work.
What was it like using kickstarter? You must have been pretty pleased with it!
Yeah, it was great. I can’t wait to use it again. Admittedly, I miscalculated some costs on my end, so I’m still paying a lot of money out of pocket for Footprints. But the $8000 we raised was obviously an enormous chunk of change that helped make the book possible.
Out of all the Cryptids, why did you make the Loch Ness Monster the character that sleeps with people for information? Did you just want to see her in lingerie?
I did, I did. I’m pervy. No, I just think she’s the sexiest; she’s the most elegant creature of them all, just from a visual standpoint. The curves and everything. It sounds weird, and maybe creepy, but in an abstract sense that’s how I see her.
How much research did you have to do for Footprints?
Most of the research came for the historical context – the bridge collapse in Point Pleasant, for example. But in terms of the actual cryptids, I wanted to keep it based mostly on the sort of peripheral knowledge of these creatures that pop culture has a whole has of them. And of course, I’m a student of film and the noir elements played heavily to that side of me.
(I want to avoid giving anything away here, so if you haven’t read Footprints yet, skip this question)
Global Warming features in Footprints, as well as a shady government. Are these subjects you feel strongly about?
I wouldn’t say that it was the ultimate point of the series or anything, but yeah I’ve got opinions. I’d rather let the work speak for itself, but I do think human beings are their own worst enemies, and in a way that’s what the big picture of Footprints is about. I love the idea that these creatures we think are savage are oftentimes much less so than us. And that’s not fiction; that’s something we’ve seen throughout history.
How did you meet Jonathan Moore? Did you seek him out? How did he end up on the book?
I met Jonathan on DigitalWebbing when I was looking for an artist to do a Zuda pitch with me, before DC’s Zuda imprint went under. We did that, and by the time we had finished, Zuda was dead. So after floundering with some ideas, we decided to do Footprints together. He’s my partner in crime with these characters, and it’s really his art that makes it work. He’s a very technically driven artist – he’s a former anatomy teacher – and so I think that his determination to stay “realistic” and accurate really helps ground this series in the weird sort of reality that Footprints exists in.
Will you be working on anything else with him?
We have an original graphic novel that we’ve plotted out that we’ll hopefully make at some point. Jonathan is doing a lot more straight up illustration these days and I’ve taken on some freelance comics gigs while working on my next creator-owned projects, so scheduling isn’t in our favor right now. But yes, we plan to work together again on something at some point.
The Jersey Devil is easily one of my favourite characters in Footprints. Did you write him to be so slimy and slightly perverted yet loveable? Or am I a bad judge of character?
Thanks a lot! And no, you’re a perfect judge of character haha. If I did him right, he should be sort of hapless; he’s that lovable douchebag. You like him BECAUSE he’s a douche.
Any plans for a Jersey Devil miniseries?
I would love to. What I really want to do is a series of one-shot “origins,” telling how each character came out of the woods to follow Foot’s lead into society.
What about a sequel to Footprints?
Not at this time, unfortunately. As I mentioned, Footprints was a huge financial burden, and it’s certainly not going to make us any money. And that’s not a detriment to the work, that’s simply the case of most creator-owned work (see Kickstarter talk above). However, Jonathan and I have discussed future stories, and the possibilities are endless. We were working on a short comic story that was going to be in the 215 Ink anthology that’s coming out, but it got shelved because Jonathan’s schedule got nuts and I absolutely don’t want to do Footprints without him. But it’s pretty great; it’s Jersey Devil dragging Motheresa to Vegas in the early 60’s, before all the shit hits the fan with the team, and using her luck powers to win at gambling. Or try to, at least.
Do you have anything else planned?
Yeah man, tons. As I mentioned briefly, I’ve got a couple of work-for-hire gigs that I’m working on that I can’t announce yet. I’m working on a few new pitches for some creator-owned stuff that will hopefully see the light of day. I’ve got a short comic story coming up in Image’s Grim Leaper #1 (on sale May 30), I’ve got a short in the next volume of FUBAR, and I co-wrote a horror story with my friend Erik Norris for a new horror anthology with some truly awesome people. So lots of stuff coming up; hopefully I can talk about it more soon.
The dream for nearly every comic book writer is to leave their mark on a famous character from the Big Two. Who do you most want to write?
That’s a tough one. I guess the end-all be-all for me would be Catwoman. Aside from Superman, she’s my favorite superhero character. But I’m honestly more interested in doing the more obscure characters. I’d kill to write a Night Nurse mini-series at Marvel or a Ragman story at DC. Yum.
What comic books are you reading now?
Everything! My job demands it, so I’m literally reading everything. That said, I’m not caught up on everything, but I am reading it all. But some of my favorites are Daredevil, Batman, Rachel Rising, American Vampire, Wolverine and the X-Men, Foster, Punisher, Memorial. So much great stuff out right now.
What comic books are you looking forward to?
I’m really excited for Brian Wood’s The Massive and his continuing work in the Marvel U. He’s one of the writers I admire most.