Eli Schwab interview by Anthony Andujar jr 5/10/22
Interviewer: Anthony Andujar Jr
Interviewee: Eli Schwab
- What started you on the path to making comics as a career profession?
ES: Well, what started me on the path to wanting to make Comics a career, because it isn’t really my current career just yet, is wanting to take on more in the comics field and not just make my own comics. Trying to publish and trying to help others get published for the first time, that got me started wanting to see if I could make this my full-time job. I’m not there yet but I really hope to get there soon.
- You’ve spearheaded and cultivated many projects within the last few years, most recently, you’ve worked on projects such as Wizerd: The Comix Magazine, and Image: Grand Design/ Image: Grand Disaster to name a few. What was the process like when developing those projects? What was the inspiration for bringing those projects to fruition?
ES: Well I’ve done a ton of group projects that I’ve started in Facebook groups. Whether it be for the TMNT, for the band Ween, for Cartoonist Kayfabe or for whatever else is next, it all just starts from seeing how much and how many other extremely talented people were in these Facebook groups. I knew that we had to find some way to harness these amazing talents. Coming out of these big fan projects and these amazing Zines I’ve made, I’m looking to move forward in creating new properties, new comic characters and steering away from the fan projects. I found some trouble going in and around the copyright laws and it was stressful and I just don’t want to deal with that anymore. I want to work with new creators with new ideas who have something interesting and fresh to say. Something cool and fun and something that I would like to read myself.
- What were the challenges that came with developing those projects and how did you find balance between those projects and your podcasts such as The Devil In Detail, a podcast dedicated to the works of Matt Wagner’s Grendel, and Can I Thwip It?
ES: Some of the biggest challenges with those fan projects was just navigating the copyrights, deciding who to give credit to, and really finding the right people to work with and put in these positions of leadership who can help me to guide and to steer the ship right. While I may have spearheaded many of these projects they would never have been completed without the amazing people that I work with. People like Craig CK, Rocko Jerome, or Rick Lopez and the whole crew that has been cultivated out of Image Grand Design.
Being able to work with a very talented team who I could trust to handle their jobs to the fullest allowed me the time to work on other projects like the Podcasts and keep them going without really missing too many weeks. Being able to trust your team allows you to get more done.
- When working on a comic project, how do you decide what goes into development? Do you set a list of ideas ahead of time? Or is it the spur of the moment?
ES: When I’m working on a comic project, usually it means that it was already developed by an independent creator or it’s an idea that I’ve had rattling around in my head for quite some time. I like to just create and just make and not necessarily have an exact reason or place for it. I’ll just make Comix or one pagers or start creating or writing a story just because it’s in my head and I have to get it out and then once those things are out I’ll put them to use in some certain way. However, when I’m working with an independent creator and they bring me an idea we’ll usually hash it out or talk about it or they may just come to me with the idea fully formed and I’m like, “That’s amazing let’s go for it !”
- You’re a huge fan of the band, Ween. How did their music and discography impact your comics work?
ES: It is true I do love Ween very much. Their music just has the feeling of spontaneity. It feels like these are just two people who have fun creating together and they just get together and whatever comes out they find a need for it. They would record all these weird songs on the backs of tapes, you know record over tapes they bought and they would just record everything and anything and then make these amazing and messed up and crazy and wild and weird and fun and classic tapes and albums for their fans. Their DIY ethic as well really affected me because they just did it with what they had and as they got bigger and bigger they got more stuff and more stuff. They started with just the two of them and a DAT player and then they started a band and they got better and bigger and did more and it’s just amazing. Ween as a band is a true grassroots community of people that came up from a small town and just made something humongous. That’s how I feel, I came from a small town and I worked my way up! I made Comix as long and as hard as I could and you know I’m just starting to see some fruits from it.
- When producing books, what platforms did you feel worked successfully for you and why?
ES: I make my personal comics in a way that is very DIY. I sometimes will just make sketches and ideas and do super loose thumbnails and then I’ll just kinda go right in and start drawing with blue line and then ink. These days I’ve started to do a lot more with procreate for my Next Panel Press work. I do think, though, in the future when I’ll be making more of my sequential work I will stick with pen and ink and maybe just do colors and lettering on Procreate. When I’m laying a book out or getting something big together like Wizerd 2 or the Ween Zine I will use InDesign to lay out all the pages and what I like to do is, pages that are going to be edited I’ll lay the Photoshop file right in, not a PNG or not a JPEG because then as you work on the Photoshop file you can just save it and it will update the contents of that file in InDesign, which is super helpful.
- You currently run a comic page called Next Panel Press, which can be found on instagram and other social media. What inspired that publication to be?
ES: Actually I didn’t start Next Panel Press. It was started by Rick Lopez Craig CK with help from David Grom. They just brought me on in the early stages because they were looking to grow the group of creators. Next Panel Press is in the spirit of the Sunday comics section that you used to get from the newspaper. The Sunday section, which was always full of all the best comics and it was a full newspaper section of comics. And so Next Panel Press became a digital Sunday section where a growing number of creators could create a weekly or biweekly comic for us to get out our creative juices. For me, I was able to create a world of characters and just create it around that world. I can break the fourth wall then break that fourth wall and kind of create it in a stream of consciousness to the point where, to my own detriment, I lost track of the narrative. I had to take a break from Next Panel Press to get Wizerd and GHOST Agents 2 shipped out but I’m hoping to get back to it very soon because it’s really great and it’s a super awesome creative way to keep going towards attainable deadlines.
- You also contributed work for the book G.H.O.S.T. Agents. What is the book about? What makes the developmental process for this project different from your previous projects that you’ve helped develop and contribute to?
ES: GHOST Agents is a book that I publish but do not have any creative input in. The only creative input I do have goes into layout and printing and that sort of thing. GHOST Agents is created and written by Rocko Jerome and has a revolving cast of insane and amazing creators that get Rocco stories out. It is a Spi-Fi action adventure anthology comic that I am super excited about getting deeper and deeper into. Rocco‘s creativity is endless and he’s able to keep making these amazing stories and amazing characters by really distilling his love into this super potent mash of the greatest tenants of pop culture and pop art. This book is unlike anything you’ve ever seen and I’m super excited about where it’s going and where it has already gone.
- What do you feel you’ve learned about your journey as a creative within this industry and field?
ES: The biggest lesson I’ve learned about being creative in the field of creativity is to just never stop, never stopping. Yes, I know it’s The Lonely Island movie title but it’s also really good advice and something fun that I like to say that’s still true. You just Gotta keep going. I do a lot of podcasts now but my first podcast Cosmic Lion Radio, in the early days it only reached a few listeners but it didn’t matter. The more I did and the more I worked and the more interviews I got it just kept getting better with each one. So each project you do, each comic you make, each thing you put out there into the world creatively it has that possibility of connecting so deeply with one person that they have to tell all their friends they have to tell all their family members and they start becoming an advocate for you. The more stuff you create and the more advocates you create and the more peoples hearts and minds you touch the bigger your crew gets. And so you just have to keep going and never stop, it doesn’t matter your age, doesn’t matter your skill level, all that matters is your enthusiasm because as you keep doing it, you get better, you grow, you become a better artist, a better podcaster. Your voice smooths out, your line smoothes out and your panel composition gets better. The more you can be involved in the creative community you’re trying to be in, the more you can learn and the more you can affect those around you positively.
- What other projects do you have in the pipeline for readers to keep an eye out for?
ES: My projects are ongoing including my three podcasts. I still do Cosmic Lion Radio the next one is called Can I Thwipp It which is a podcast about Comix with my friend hip-hop MC Manus. Then my Grendel read-through podcast where we’re reading all the issues of the Grendel Comix with Ben Granoff. It’s called the Devil in Detail. Comics are always going and GHOST Agents is continuing for as long as we can do it. We have Arcane number three with Steele Filipek and Ben Granoff coming out as well as brand new Comics from Me including Monkelion Do What’cha Like part three which should be coming out this year. I’ve also got some conventions booked for the summer. I’m gonna be at TCAF in Toronto as well as I’ll be working at the San Diego Comic Con which is gonna be super fun. I’m looking forward to doing other signings and hey if you’ve got a podcast out there and you want to chat, hit me up could be fun !!