Bleeding Ink Productions is new indie comic book publisher based in Hollywood, CA and founded by writer and creator Jesse Grillo who is right now pushing his latest project through the crowd funding site; Kickstarter, I caught up with Jesse to find more this project as well as the background Bleeding Ink Productions and the man himself.
JESSE: It was formed about 3 years ago by a dork that likes to write anything he can, me. I was working in film and had a sci-fi story I wanted to write but wasn’t sure how it would play out as a screenplay. I hired a storyboard artist to draw it and that became my first comic.
Of course, it looked terrible. I didn’t know anything about making a comic and just jumped right in. It was a great learning experience and it gave me my first taste of something I loved.
MARK: What inspired you to go down the self publishing route?
JESSE: Making comics was a fun thing I wanted to try. I never really thought about getting distribution or making money from them and to be honest, I still don’t. I just like telling stories and if people buy enough for me to cover the cost of producing my next comic that’s good enough for me. I’m fine with the idea of being poor but the idea of not being able to make comics is terrifying.
MARK: Bleeding Ink Productions has 5 comics either available or in the works? Can you summaries these for us, we’ll get to Patriot later?
JESSE: They’re all over the place as far as genres go. Here are the log lines for each one.
War Zone is a dark graphic novel that follows a Iraq war veteran, Johnny, that is now a meth addict. He’s forced into a battle between drug dealers and the local police in a small desert town. As His post traumatic stress becomes worse will he be able to keep his sanity while he fights for his life?
Demigods takes aspects of what it means to be a superhero and mixes it with heavy sci-fi elements. In a future where superheroes are designed there’s a compound that houses teenagers with super powers. Once the teens discover they are nothing more than weapons being trained to enforce a police state they turn on the ones that raised them and are forced to fight for their very lives.
Sensory distortion within this 88 page horror graphic novel, a group of college kids in New Mexico that take a Native American drug that unlocks the persons deepest fears. Each of the college students must face their fear or else it will consume them. Can a teenager and his grandfather from the local Indian reservation find and save them in time? Or will their fear consume them?
Chapel’s a cop that is good at one thing, Killing Robots. In this noir style comic, Chapel does whatever he has to do to find and dismantle machines that may harm humanity.
MARK: How are these being distributed and what are you doing to promote these and get them into the hands of the reader?
JESSE: Any and every way I can. I have the comics on a few print to order sites but am changing the web site so you’ll be able to place orders directly with us.
The promoting part has taken up most of my life for the past 6 months. Facebook has been the hub where I post constant updates on the comics, myself and my writing. I started it back in February and I currently have over 23,000 followers. Between my 2 Twitter accounts I have about 17,000. One Twitter account is for comics and the other is for my novel and poetry.
I’ve spent a little bit on marketing but it hasn’t been more than $1,000 for the last 6 months. I’ve made up for the lack of funds by spending a LOT of time online promoting the comics and my other works. 4-6 hours a day, 6 days a week. That might seem like a lot but I love talking to my fans about comics and getting their options on my work.
This fan base is amazing and the way it makes me feel is undesirable. It’s really a community of people who help each other. I try to promote other people’s projects and they promote mine. I used to give free ads in my comics to other creators but with printing costs being what they are I can’t really afford to do that anymore. I talk to aspiring writers on the phone and give them input on the writing process. I do whatever I can to help my fan base because the stronger they are the stronger we all become.
MARK: You have a book – Gold Lined Storms – can you tell us more about this and when it will be available?
JESSE: Gold-Lined Storms is a book I wrote the first edition of back in February. The main character is a man who finds out he has schizophrenia so he goes on a road trip to find himself before his condition becomes worse. I’m a very method writer so for research I went on the road for 2 months and drove to Canada. While the book is fiction and I do not have schizophrenia I tried to keep the mind-set of the character. What is kind of cool about the book is that as it progresses the writing style changes as the main character’s condition becomes worse.
I’m just finishing up the second draft and plan on going back on the road within the next month while I add the finishing touches to the novel.
MARK: Describe Jesse Grillo to us? What makes you tick and what inspires you to create comics and books?
JESSE: How does one even begin to answer a question like that? 🙂
I guess the inspiration comes from my childhood and having an overactive imagination. I grew up in a place near Joshua Tree, California and my nearest neighbor was a few miles away. For those of you that don’t know the area, it’s desert. Nothing but desert. It’s a nice place to visit for a weekend but I wouldn’t recommend anything beyond that.
Because I was so isolated I created my own little worlds. I was often jumping from rock to rock battling ninjas or shooting fire balls from my palms. (I was really into street fighter and ninja turtles.) Now I use that same overactive imagination in my writing and I feel comics is the best medium for it.
JESSE: Patriot is a project I was working on back in December when I lost my job. We were about an issue and a half in and had to put everything on hold because I wasn’t able to pay my creative team. Since that time I’ve had a few writing jobs and a few very random gigs but for the most part I’ve been unemployed. I tried to get a small loan but I wasn’t suprised to find out that there are not a lot of banks willing to give money to independent comic book companies.
Crowd funding seemed like the best route to take and it has helped me out a lot. I’m lucky enough to have found people who enjoy my stories and want to support my work.
MARK: Give us the breakdown on Patriot?
JESSE: Patriot is my baby and I really feel like it will have a great impact on the comic book world. The comic tells the personal and emotional story of a super-hero that attempts to tie up all of his loose ends before a brain tumor takes his life. These include his obligations to protecting the world as well as those he has with his family.
MARK: For those that haven’t backed this project yet what kind of incentives can we look forward to?
JESSE: The incentives range from a PDF of the first issue of Patriot to getting yourself drawn into the next issue. There are also shirts, sweatshirts, special editions of Patriot and copies of the other comics and books I’ve written.
MARK: What kind of promotion are you using to get this project out there?
JESSE: Mainly doing the Face Book and Twitter thing. I’ve also been sending people a free sample comic that has the first 14 pages of Patriot.
I always think making a great comic is the best way to promote it. I really think this story is one of the best I’ve ever written.
MARK: Is there anything that you can tease us about your future projects?
JESSE: I just started working on a 4 issue horror series with Jon Leford penciling and inking. It’s about a delinquent teen that is sent to a summer camp for troubled youth. He quickly discovers that the people who are running the camp are actually werewolves training the teenagers to be hunted on the next lunar event.
I’ve always been a fan of horror but I have a lot of projects I want to do. My mind is always thinking up stories. Crowd funding is really helping me out a lot when it comes to getting these projects funded but it doesn’t cover all of it. Hopefully one day I’ll get to a point where I can just write and make comics but I just don’t have enough people who know about my work yet.
I have about 20 un-produced comic book scripts. For the rest of my life I’m going to try to get those, and any new ideas, made into comics.
Details of Jesse’s Kickstarter can be found here, where Jesse is close to reaching his target.