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AMA about making comic anthology and zine projects - My current project is a Guy Fieri zine.

Leo Johnson
Jan 12, 2018

My name is Leo Johnson and I've edited comic anthologies and zine projects, and used Kickstarter to expand the audience and fund them. Feel free to ask me anything about the process of putting together a zine/anthology, finding contributors, digging through submissions, designing the book, getting press, or anything else you might want to know. 

My current project, FlavorZine: A Guy Fieri Zine, is on Kickstarter now! 

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What are the difficulties you faced doing a comic anthology?

Jan 12, 8:51AM EST0

The biggest thing is balancing the different moving parts. Unless you're the rare person who can do it all, you're generally going to have one person doing each of the writing, line art, colors, and lettering. Not to mention the possibility of an editor, cover artist, designer, etc. Coordinating all that can often be a daunting task. 

Jan 12, 4:47PM EST0

What are your major influences in creating comic anthology and zine projects?

Jan 12, 5:26AM EST0

Honestly, that depends on the project. Each is a bit different. In general though, it helps to just be actively reading and consuming the kind of things you want to create, so you have plenty of ideas of what will and won't work when it's time to make something of your own. 

Jan 12, 5:12PM EST0

What has been the most rewarding project in your comic career?

Jan 12, 5:11AM EST0

Probably the most rewarding comic I've helped make has been the Transience anthology. It's comprised of seven stories set in a shared universe where large portions of the global population have developed anterograde amnesia - the inability to retain new memories past a sleep cycle. Each story is set in a different country and at least one creative member of each team from that country. So the Australia story is made by an Aussie writer and artist, the Spain story is drawn by a Spanish artist, etc. We had creators from three different continents working together to create something really special. 

Jan 12, 5:10PM EST0

First time I see that "Name Your Price" widget, pretty cool!

Jan 12, 6:22PM EST0

Did you study or take any class lessons relating to comics?

Jan 11, 7:34PM EST0

I haven't taken any classes or really studied anything related to comics. Any skills or knowledge I have when it comes to making them has been more or less self-taught. There's a ton of online resources out there that can help you get started. 

Jan 12, 5:13PM EST0

Where would you suggest to start?

Jan 12, 6:54PM EST0

What is your favorite part of your project, FlavorZine?

Jan 11, 4:46PM EST0

FlavorZine is all about celebrating the weird passion that is Guy Fieri, so it's been a treat to see that idea connect with different creators as they submit comics, art, and essays and also readers as they get excited about the zine. 

Jan 12, 5:19PM EST0

How many zine/anthology did you put together in order to come up with your current project, FlavorZine: A Guy Fieri Zine?

Jan 11, 2:58PM EST0

I edited and published 8 issues of a digital magazine that was part comics anthology/part essays, a 60+ page themed, anthology, and now FlavorZine. All together it's likely in the range of 400-500 pages worth of comics and essays and whatever else. FlavorZine is just using the skills I already had to make something a little less serious and a little more weird. 

Jan 12, 5:32PM EST0

You did a great job

Jan 13, 1:50PM EST0

What attracts you to this type of comics?

Jan 11, 10:54AM EST0

Making anthologies and zines is a lot of fun because it lets you work with a diverse and varied group of creators. Everyone brings something different to the project and makes it that much better by being part of it. 

Jan 12, 5:27PM EST0

Very true, the comics community is like no other.

Jan 12, 6:35PM EST0

Can you tell some background about the title of your project FlavoZine: A Guy Fieri Zine?

Jan 11, 8:46AM EST0

It all started with six fat guys watching Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives and thinking, "we should make a Guy Fieri comic." Then it ended up with us deciding to get as many people as possible involved and collect as many pieces of art, comics, essays, and whatever else that anyone wanted to submit about Guy Fieri and Flavortown. 

Jan 12, 5:45PM EST0

What are your basic and typical routine in starting until finishing a project?

Jan 11, 6:54AM EST0

I don't know if there is a typical routine for when I've made things. Each project, and the scope of each, has been a bit different. The one thing consistent across each project has been the beginning. Nailing down as tightly as possible what you want to accomplish, how to actually accomplish it, and any costs or the like associated with it, is a good place to start. It gives you an idea of the amount of work you realistically have to do and keeps you with a goal in mind. The scope of things may change some as you go, but having a solid idea of everything involved before you jump into it helps. 

Jan 12, 5:41PM EST0

What is the main plot of your comic project FlavorZine?

Jan 11, 6:27AM EST0

FlavorZine is a collection of various art, comics, essays, and more related to Guy Fieri. You've got everything from an essay on why Guy Fieri is the socialist food needs to a drawing of Guy Fieri as Jared Leto's Joker to a review of Guy's Times Square restaurant. 

Jan 12, 5:26PM EST0

Do you work alone for all your comic project?

Jan 11, 5:00AM EST0

I've yet to work on anything all by myself. Collaboration is a ton of fun and tends to make things better. Other people will have ideas that I don't, or be able to look at my ideas in a different way, making the whole thing that much better. 

Jan 12, 5:24PM EST0

Have you had any commercial success with your projects?

Jan 12, 7:29PM EST0

Hi Leo, do you have any social media accounts for us to follow and appreciate your work?

Jan 10, 9:26PM EST0

I'm most active on Twitter as @LFLJ and have a personal Gumroad account with a lot of Pay What You Want PDFs of most of the comics/zines/anthologies I've made over the last few years. Also my last anthology, Transience, is available here

Jan 12, 5:07PM EST0

Did you draw your own comic or you get help from someone/outsource?

Jan 10, 8:14PM EST0

I'm not much of an artist, so I leave that to other people, haha. Finding an artist to work with can sometimes be difficult, but offering payment tends to make that a whole lot easier. 

Jan 12, 5:23PM EST0

What was your inspiration for making FlavorZine?

Jan 10, 5:38PM EST0

During a comic convention weekend, a group of friends and myself were sitting in a hotel room watching TV when a run of Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives came on. Each of us loved Guy Fieri and how over the top and passionate he was about everything and it was during that night that the idea to collect a bunch of art and comics and essays about Guy and food sort of coalesced into what would become FlavorZine. 

Jan 12, 4:56PM EST0

What is the difficult part being a comic creator?

Jan 10, 2:54PM EST0

The most difficult part, for me at least, is keeping things on track. It's easy to let things slip away from you, especially when the people you're working with are in other parts of the country or world. It's really important to keep on top of things and keep momentum going. 

Jan 12, 5:53PM EST0

How many people do you collaborate with?

Jan 13, 2:11PM EST0

Do you think you will reach the pledged goal in Kickstarter?

Jan 10, 2:04PM EST0

Honestly, it's still up in the air. We're currently just over a third of the way to funded at about a third of the way through the campaign, so it's possible, but maybe not probably. Still, I highly encourage everyone to check out the project if they're interested! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lflj/flavorzine-a-guy-fieri-zine

Jan 12, 4:52PM EST0

Checking it out now, thanks & good luck!

Jan 12, 6:46PM EST0

At what age did you start making comics?

Jan 10, 1:44PM EST0

I think we all made comics as kids, right? I think that's a pretty universal experience. As an adult though, it was probably a few years back at 22 or 23. It was small things at first, but I've since gone more and more into it, making full sized anthologies and comics and everything else. 

Jan 12, 5:57PM EST0

I prefer to read comics. Maybe because of the lack of fantasy.

Jan 13, 7:09PM EST0

How long did it take you to complete the 30+ page comic anthology?

Jan 10, 1:40PM EST0

We jokingly came up with the idea back in March of 2017, but didn't seriously start working on it until August or so. There was a month long submission period, followed by another 6-8 weeks of getting the accepted pieces to a finished state. Then it's been another month or so of putting it all together and making it look halfway decent. Because it's a group effort of a dozen or so people, rather than just one or two, making all the timelines work and waiting on various the various things has made the process longer than if just a few people had decided to do it all on their own. 

Jan 12, 4:32PM EST0
Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on right now?
Jan 10, 1:32PM EST0

FlavorZine is currently wrapping up, then I'm going to start working on Animalia Paradoxa, an anthology I've been wanting to do all about cryptids - creatures like Bigfoot or Nessie that are widely attested to in first hand accounts and personal stories, but haven't been proven by science. 

Jan 12, 4:50PM EST0
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