Tales From a Crusty Comics Curmudgeon
Why in the hell do you want to read this?!?
Well Indie Volt readers, I’m an old “coot”(I guess, especially now that I’ve been asked to think and “yap” about it to you), that’s been reading, buying, collecting, selling, studying, writing, drawing, publishing, watching, teaching, breathing, sleeping in, and probably farting “comics” likely before you were born! If that was the slightest exaggeration, except maybe the farting part, I wouldn’t have been asked to write this damn column for you!
No, I’ve never worked directly for those “big guys”, and it hasn’t been for lack of trying sometimes, or being offered to work for them at really bad times. Still a lot of times I just don’t want to put up with the idiots that make them! I’ve burned more than my fair share of professional bridges and pissed more people off in this industry then you probably even care to know.
I used to have to drive an hour, sometimes uphill, in raging snow, in order to get to my “local” comic shop (no lie!). I was there at the start of those Star Wars, those “New” X-Men, and those damn Turtles. I saw the Direct Market be born. I co-owned and helped run the very first comic shop in my county. I worked my butt off through the black and white boom and bust, helped others sell comics at shops and shows, and have seen conventions be born and killed. I have worked inside the Independent “Small Press” Comics Market for the last three decades and have self-published a crazy number of books and comics, in every genre that you can think of except romance and sports. I lost my first wife because I HAD to work in comics, well, mostly, and I met my current wife of 25 + years by working in a comic shop . I’ve seen the start, the evolution and the erosion of comic fandom and have probably read more comics in my life than your local comic shop owns.
Currently I stay busy still doing comics and cartoon work, but outside of the direct comics market. I have a book I wrote currently being offered by Caliber Press (War Of The Worlds: Infestation) through Diamond and the comic shops. It’s the first product that has been offered for sale throughout the whole direct market in the last 10 years or so. I currently do sequential art/commercial work for a few clients, some of which I have won awards from, mostly in advertising or instructional. I have also produced a comics newspaper that I distribute mostly monthly throughout my county, and a little beyond, for the last eight + years entitled Flint Comix and Entertainment. That product is quickly closing in on its 100th issue.
So far this year (towards the end of July) I have had work displayed on a Treehouse Masters episode on Animal Planet, received the TOP awards in Association promotional campaigns for a team of superheroes I did for the National Recreation and Parks Association, did the artwork for an entire “Superhero Trail” at our local For-Mar Nature Preserve, gone back to press on the first issue of The Preservers (the team that the superhero trail is about) and produced and oversaw the printing of the second issue, produced four issues (We were bi-monthly for the first half of this year because I’ve been kinda busy) of Flint Comix. and have produced and gone to press with 2 comic collections that I self-published, and had that above mentioned War Of The Worlds GN re-released. All this on top of producing/co-ordinating the 8th Annual Downtown Flint ComiXcon, beginning promotions for our first annual Fall Fest (on September 2nd), attended a half dozen conventions, and done an incredibly large amount of commercial work (my best year in about 15 years – my accountant is going to kill me). And on top of ALL that, I’ve been asked to write this column, one of which will certainly address the thought about the rewards of being productive.
You’re going to see in future columns the full extent of my experience and I’m going to share as many “tales” as I can remember about those times, some of them are going to be freaky to you, some of them take place during the time when there were only 4 free channels on the TV, and you had to pick up the phone at your house when it rang, even when sometimes it wasn’t even for you. When discovering the Direct Market Comics meant you got books three weeks ahead of the drug stores and all your other comic reading buddies and living at a time when I was THAT nerd kid in school and did anything that I could to enjoy an art form that I came to give a deep passion and love for.
I’m going to try not to sound too much like a crotchety old man (That’s going to be rough!), because a lot of my experiences and tales might actually help you, especially if you want to become a professional in this business, or to enjoy the art form of comics more, or just give you an entertaining laugh at an old “Crusty Curmudgeon” who still wants you to stay the hell off his lawn, but understand and appreciate his work and the art form he has an undying passion for.
My experiences in comics probably goes back farther than most of you were born, and I’ve seen a hell of a lot more than you have, and have had to go through a hell of a lot more than you have, so shut the hell up and keep reading my column! Hope you stick around. I’ve even asked for a comment section at the end of each column just in case you have any questions about anything I’m telling you.
We’ll talk again soon. I don’t want to be too long-winded this time, especially on my first contribution. Let’s just say I got a LOT to tell you, especially if you want to hear it, about a lot of comic sssstuff, and leave it at that.
Thanks for being here.
Randy ZimmJuly 24, 2017
I also forgot that I did the art for a great local Hip-Hop artist Brady Gozza: Scorpion Dragon 76, just released and available on iTunes.