When Joey Esposito receives a rejection from a publisher after pitching a comic, he’ll re-write and try again, with a multitude of publishers on the table. He acknowledges his flaws, laughs off the unpleasant feelings, and resolves to get better. For him, it’s another day on the job of writing comics.
Ex-IGN Comics Editor Joey Esposito spends his days doing what he loves: creating all sorts of comic books through amiable relationships with artists and other creators.
“I love spending my days writing… but it’s hard,” said Esposito via Skype interview.
After spending a few years at IGN doing reporting and criticism of almost entirely comic books, Esposito delved into comic book writing, dropping his former career completely in October of 2013. Before leaving IGN, Joey had already made a bit of a name for himself in the realm of comic book creation with work like the first volume of Footprints, a detective comic starring Big Foot along with other cryptozoology creatures, and Captain Ultimate, an ongoing all-ages superhero comic.
He is happy with this decision and has experienced nothing but total support from friends and family, he said.
“[My father] will pitch my books to anyone who will listen!” he said, laughing.
Those comics are primed to receive continuations. Footprints: Bad Luck Charm is a double-sized one-shot that features two stories, one a prequel and the other a sequel to the first volume. This comic was successively funded on Kickstarter, receiving $7,410 by June 1.
The book is in color, as opposed to the black and white presentation of past Footprints work; this is because Esposito couldn’t imagine the setting of Las Vegas being portrayed without color, he said. He was prepared when asked what excited him most about working on more of Footprints.
“I just love these characters,” said Esposito, referring to creations such as a seductive Loch Ness Monster and a sleuthing Big Foot.
Multiple new issues of Captain Ultimate are completely done, but the creative team is waiting for the right moment to release them, said Esposito.
Boy Akkerman, the artist for the series, finds Esposito a joy to work with, he said via Skype interview. “He doesn’t detail every part of the page,” which “gives a lot of leeway.” Large armies and groups of people are especially enjoyable for Akkerman to draw, which he says there are a lot of within coming issues.
Issue #1 of this series, which is published digitally from publisher Monkeybrain on ComiXology for $0.99, released in July of 2013, followed by #2 in September, #3 and #4 in October, #5 in March of 2014 and #6 in August, representing an odd release schedule. This was identified as a problem when I spoke with Esposito, who explained a new strategy to get the book on track.
Although the creative team has “some issues in the can,” their primary focus at the moment is getting the first six collected into a physical copy, said Esposito. Once that is taken care of, the team plans to put out issues digitally on a regular schedule, get those published physically, and so on and so forth.
“I think it’s important to get it in front of kids at book stores,” said Esposito.
It hasn’t been easy for Esposito to find a publisher; in fact, the pitching process is one of his biggest struggles as a creator, he said. He has pitched work to all sorts of publishers, all of which want their pitches done a certain, unique way, he explained.
Two upcoming projects he is writing pitches for are Ends of Olympus and Speakeasy. The first is a superhero comic inspired by Superman and his friend Jimmy Olson, predicated on the following scenario: What if Olson abused his friendship with Superman and became a greedy reality star obsessed with fame? An official description as well as a black-and-white preview is available here.
“This is the mature, gritty side of superheroes I love,” said Esposito,
The artist on the book, Drew Zucker, had nothing but good things to say about the project and Esposito.
“Joey pretty much gives me the freedom to do what I need to do visually,” said Zucker via Skype interview.
Joe Badon, the artist who does Speakeasy, said the same kind of stuff as the other artists.
“He’s a very agreeable guy and he likes to collaborate,” said Badon via Skype interview.
Speakeasy is something Esposito has only teased publicly as “Bladerunner meets Cheers,” along with the occasional panel. He is tightlipped on details despite two issues already being completely finished, because he doesn’t want to excite people for a book that doesn’t yet have a publisher, he explained.
He did provide me with these completed issues and, for what it’s worth, I found them to be very, very good. Esposito is playing with tried-and-true archetypes and clichés, but has put enough of a spin on things to make for a warm, easy read. I was initially concerned that Badon’s art wouldn’t work as sequentials, because the images Esposito teased on his Twitter seemed like the kind of well-produced, static images one usually finds on a cover. Thankfully, I found the finished work to be stupendous; the quality of art work is something I’d expect out of something from Image Comics.
Badon doesn’t like when he opens a comic to find art that looks much worse than the cover, he explained.
“I’ve always tried to make interior art as beautiful as I can,” he said.
Esposito allowed me to run some pages as a preview, which can be viewed at the bottom of this piece.
Thus far, neither book has found a publisher. These failings can frustrate Esposito, but he keeps positive.
“I think I’m getting better. I’m working on it!” he said with a laugh.
After all, it’s not all bad. Esposito told me that his 2014 comic Pawn Shop has found a publisher, which will allow it to be sold physically in stores. This is a “slice-of-life” comic that tells the tale of four city-dwellers, all indirectly connected by a little pawn shop.
Pawn Shop is Esposito’s favorite work of his so far, even though “it’s definitely the black sheep,” he said. “It’s the kind of story that made me want to tell stories in the first place.”
Esposito seems to keep his head up and look forward. When I asked him what he’d ideally love to do, whether it be creator-owned projects or books for large publishers about established properties, he told me he “wants to do it all.”
Check out Matt’s online portfolio here
Exclusive Speakeasy Preview: