10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Arcadio Bolaños

We continue our interview series with members of The Gathering and GrayHaven Comics. We’ve put out the same questions to numerous individuals and can compare their responses. A hopefully intriguing interview series.

Check out our previous interviews.

George AmaruErica J. Heflin
Elena AndrewsTravis M. Holyfield
Marc DeschampsMarc Lombardi
Andrew GoletzGlenn Matchett
Doug HahnerJames O’Callaghan

Up next is writer and artist Arcadio Bolaños!

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic book industry?

Arcadio Bolaños: The Gathering Vol. 1! I’ll never be able to forget how excited I felt when I held up a comic book with my name on it.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

AB: I learned how to read thanks to my father’s wonderful comic book collection (classic Roy Thomas & Barry Windsor-Smith’s Conan comics, plus old 2000AD progs and some European comics as well). When I was around 12 I discovered John Byrne’s Superman, and I slowly but surely started to get into the DC Universe, then the Marvel Universe, and then a whole bunch of other universes.

GP: Do you read comics now? If so, what are some of your current picks?

AB: Maybe I could live without films, TV or Internet, but I could never survive without comic books. I think right now we can find amazing titles outside the usual “big two” such as The Boys (the perfect blend of politics, violence and sex), Morning Glories (teenage angst surrounded by an unequivocal halo of mystery), Hit-Girl (the most lethal and yet lovely 8-year old girl from the Kick-Ass universe), The Unwritten (metafiction, literary idols and pop culture icons under the same roof). I’ve also enjoyed a lot of truly extraordinary miniseries from Image (The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, America’s Got Powers, Severed, Witch Doctor, etc.).

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

AB: I remember one day Andrew Goletz said in the Bendis board “hey, let’s do a comic book anthology!”. And against all odds we did. Not only that, since 2010 GrayHaven has published a lot -and I mean a lot- of comic books. So whenever someone tells you that a comic book message board is 100% unproductive tell them that’s a lie.

GP: Each issue of The Gathering has a theme, how did that factor into the comic creation?

AB: I was lucky enough to collaborate for 7 of the first 8 volumes, either as a writer or an artist. That means that somehow I learned to go from romance to horror to sci-fi and so on. Versatility is the key here, and I think good writers are capable of creating different worlds, with different atmospheres, so it seems to me that if I can adapt to different genres I’m on the right track.

GP: What advice would you give to independent creators just breaking into the business?

AB: Be online. It may sound too obvious but sometimes good opportunities can be found in the internet. Not only that, if you are a writer looking for an artist you can come across literally hundreds or thousands of artist in DeviantArt or blogs or what have you. Another advice: patience plus tolerance. Not everything goes according to your plans, and more often than not, your pitches will get rejected. You just have to be resilient. And keep trying. Patience plus tolerance is your secret formula for success.

GP: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned through your experiences?

AB: Marketing. I’m not a sales guy, but when the first package of Gathering comics arrived I realized that now I had to sell them. I asked my friends who would be interested in buying a comic in which I had participated, but their reaction was warm at best. I was hoping they would tear my door down, like a hysteric band of groupies demanding more and more Gathering issues. But the truth is, if you don’t learn how to promote yourself or your work, well, sales might be a bit slow. I think since 2010 I’ve learned a trick or two about shameless self-promotion (I even got Robert Kirkman to publish my letter on The Walking Dead, a rather “shameless self-promotion” piece… and he even included a link to GrayHaven so that people could buy The Gathering. How cool is that?).

GP: Do you think it’s easier today for creators to get published?

AB: I think pages like Kickstarter or the possibility to “print on demand” somehow make it easier, but because more people have the opportunity to get published that also means more competition (which, in the end, is good, because it forces you to be even more creative).

GP: How do you think technology like social networking or crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter are impacting comic book publishing?

AB: The Gathering has had very positive experiences with Kickstarter, and I am particularly fascinated by the wide array of products you can find there. For instance, I pre ordered Michael Zulli’s Fracture of the Universal Boy, a book that wouldn’t have been possible without this crowdfunding model.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

AB: Pretty soon you’ll see part 1 of The Outsider, a story built around one question: Are children always innocent? Sure, we find comfort in thinking they are, but sometimes moral ambiguity or mere ambition can create a very special kind of little monsters… In The Outsider three seemingly harmless kids find a woman trapped inside an abandoned well. Instead of reporting their finding to the police, two of them find out she’s a fugitive -a bank robber- and without even knowing for sure if she has the money she stole, they contemplate the idea of letting her starve to death. They are coward enough not to kill her for the money but at the same time ambition takes the best out of them. Part 2 will appear on our full color Tales of the Abyss # 1. And after that there’s my story for the erotica issue. To do justice to all these great ideas I knew I needed a great artist, and after months of searching for one I run into Juan Alarcón, a wonderful artist from Spain. Thanks to him my comics look like a masterpiece. I’m thinking about a more ambitious project with him but it’s still too soon to tell.

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