Jesse Grillo is the Head and founder of independent comic book publisher Bleeding Ink Comics, who have so far produced six cult comic books with more due to come. He also has a Novel, Gold-Lined Storm under his belt, and a big background in film. Jesse utilizes the nifty website Kickstarter to promote and get backing for his comic book creations which is going well so far. Kickstarter itself is building up a cult status of its own due to its useful creative resources to up and coming writers/artists. Now with his new Comic book Blackwood, Jesse is back using Kickstarter to get backing and promotion for what is sure to be another artistic and imaginative mix of action, horror and physiological thrills. Geeks Unleashed have spoken to Jesse before about his first novel and about his comic book Patriot, this time we caught up to him to chat about Blackwood, it’s Kickstarter campaign, and Bleeding Ink’s future.
Geeks Unleashed: So last time Geeks spoke to you, you were promoting your novel Gold Lined Storm. With most of your time dedicated to that, is it a slight relief to be changing it up a bit and getting back to Comics?
Jesse Grillo: Yes, Gold-Lined Storms has taken up most of my time but I always have several projects in the works. I just really love writing and try to attack it from any angle I can. When I haven’t been working on Gold-Lined Storms I’ve been working on several comic book projects, a few short stories and I tend to write a poem every few days. When I’m not writing I’m trying to market Bleeding Ink Productions. The response to the comics has been amazing and the support people have given me is truly daunting. I know I would write no matter what, but the support I’ve been given allows me to work on projects without questioning myself as a writer or the material I’m producing.
GU: Can you give us a little description of what your latest comic creation Blackwood is about?
JG: Within the Blackwood universe there are boundaries between heaven, hell and earth that are slowly breaking apart. Now creatures from these other worlds are beginning to invade ours. This invasion has been happening for decades but, like a crack in a dam, the breaks in these boundaries are becoming larger and more creatures are coming though.
On Earth, there are a handful of people that are able to see the invading creatures or have powers that can be used against the invaders. In Blackwood’s case, he has always been able to see the creatures that live in the dimension next to our own but as these breaks become larger, Blackwood is seeing more and more of them.
Jacobson is an angel that possesses the body of a human and has the unwanted task of saving the human race. His first mission is to save Blackwood from being killed my a demon possessed human. They must then find the others that hold the power to stop the oncoming invasion and gather the artifacts that can be used against the invading soldiers of the dark.
GU: In your past projects you chose to use Methodism to place yourself in your characters shoes and become them a little in order to be able to write for them. Now with another new project like Blackwood did you continue this and methodize for it any way?
JG: Um, yeah… I’m still doing the method thing. Can you tell?
GU: Being a writer and creator I’m sure you have a general idea of what you want to produce, so is it refreshing to be working with an artist like Kavika, who’s artwork and design look like they can really compliment and do justice to those ideas?
JG: It is an honour to be working with Kavika, but I am also honoured to be working with any of my artists. Finding the artist with the right style is very important and working with one that doesn’t fit the style of the story seems like a waste of time and money. Personally I would rather not produce a comic then have it turn out sub-par. I wrote the first issue of Blackwood over a year ago and have talked to several artists about working on the project but none were the right fit. Blackwood was one on my over 25 un-produced scripts that was waiting for just the right artist to bring it to life. Kavika is that artist.
For me, creating comics is a passion, not a 9-5. I would like to do it for a living one day but it will always be an art form for me. It will never simply be a way to pay the rent. I know Kavika feels the same way and his passion is one of the many reasons he is working on Blackwood.
GU: Bleeding Ink’s output in genre has varied so far. Chapel was part noir /part sci-fi, Demi-Gods and Patriot were very different superhero tales, and Warzone dealt with the social zeitgeist of a drug addicted Iraq veteran. Now you have Sensory Distortion and Blackwood, two horror tales. Was it the plan to be so varied, and is it important for a comic book publishing company to have variation?
JG: While marketing and creating many different types of comics is a very important thing, I don’t take that into consideration when writing. When I was writing the screenplay for Blood-Moon, now a comic book script I’m trying to produce, I was talking to a film producer that was developing it with me. I asked him about the special effect budget in the film. If I should change the location in the script so it could be filmed somewhere that was more cost effective. Should I write the characters so they fit actors that were interested in the script?
“Let me ask you something.” He said. “Are you a film producer or a location scout or a casting director?”
“No I’m not.”
“That’s right, you’re not. You’re a writer. That’s your job so do your job and let other people worry about theirs.”
I will always remember that. When I’m writing I don’t take into consideration if people are going to like it, if the work is going to sell of how much it will cost to produce. I simply do my job and write.
GU: Now with six original Comics produced under Bleeding Ink (and I’m sure more to come) do you think it’s building up a strong enough repertoire to be a more prominent draw in the independent circle?
JG: Heck, I don’t know. That would certainly be nice. People that read our comics seem to like them. I guess it’s just a matter of getting people to read our work and that sometimes can be tough. It’s not like we’re in a ton of comic book stores or have websites that are selling thousands of dollars in our comics. We’ll just keep grinding away and do what we’ve been doing. We are certainly ready to take it to the next level. Lord knows we have the talent as far as artists go and there isn’t any shortage in scripted material.
GU: I noticed in WhatChaReading.com‘s review of Sensory Distortion they say that the Comic goes “toe to toe” with titles like Dark Horse’s Alabaster Wolves and Image’s No Place like Home. I was wondering is reading titles from other Publishers like these something you do, like to spur ideas of your own on and give you added inspiration, or do you have other ways to kindle new ideas?
JG: I’ve bought maybe… $200 in comics this year and about $150 of that was on Kickstarter projects. One reason is that I can’t afford them and the other is that I want to read comics that have a unique vision. I find more of those types of comics through Kickstarter than I do at my local comic book store.
GU: In the Blackwood Kickstarter, you mention paying homage to many horror films that fans of the genre will notice. Is there anything in particular you can tell us about here?
JG: Honestly, just about all of them. None of them are direct lifts but you see the influence. A hockey-mask that when worn makes you insanely strong and nearly impossible to kill. A set of blades that you wear along your forearm and when you cock your wrist back the blades flip and attach themselves to your hand, making it a Nightmare on Elm Street type glove. The Necronomicon from Evil Dead. Demons from The Gate. Weapons from Dead Alive. Items from Phantasm, Hellraiser. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre! With so many characters and weapons and with a writer that loves horror, you can bet you’ll see a lot of stuff you’ll love from horror films.
GU: In reading some of your other titles I’ve noticed a slight running theme of characters who suffer from addictive personalities and social afflictions: drugs, psychosis and mental illness play parts in a few of the stories. Are you a fan of these types of hard hitting themes and in particular mixing them with supernatural elements?
JG: You write what you know. For me, I grew up with a mother that was mentally ill and while I didn’t have a terrible childhood I developed an active imagination as a form of escaping. I created worlds were I was a super hero and battled everything from ninjas to dragons. Now I’m writing comics about super heroes and mental disorders. Go figure.
GU: With Blackwood’s theme of hallucinations becoming reality and given your personal and visual style of writing, is there any of your own nightmares or fears injected into this world of creatures bordering the lines of Heaven and Hell?
JG: “Find out what you’re afraid of and go live there.”- Chuck Palahniuk.
These monsters are not something I fear but something I’ve learned to embrace. Now I want to share my new friends with others.
GU: Do you think that the modern world of Kickstarter is really opening a whole new medium for fans to become more in touch with things that they love and would like to be a part of themselves, not only helping fund there favourite things but getting great perks in return?
JG: I do think it has that potential. Independent creators need to find any and all ways they can to get their work made. The hardest part about all of this, at least for me, is marketing. You can create a great comic or Kickstarter but if no one sees it how is it ever going to get bought or funded? I set up a blog awhile back where I post comic book crowdfunding projects every few days. I also made some Twitter accounts that post about crowdfunding comic book projects. There are a lot of amazing projects out there, you just have to get people to see them. I hope the blog and twitter accounts have helped a few people with their projects but no matter what, it’s tough to market yourself when you don’t have the funds to finish your project.
I’ve been playing around with an idea. (Not that I have any time to do something like this but with some help, who knows.) It would be awesome to make a website that posts articles about crowdfunding comic books. It could have a forum, articles about projects and crowdfunding in general and could help promote creators that really need help getting the word out. Again, just a thought.
GU: Given your background in Movies and the film-like flow of your comics, is there any of them you are thinking of adapting into films? Ideas like Chapel or Sensory Distortion would be great to see on the big screen?
JG: A lot of my comics actually started as screenplays and were later turned into comics. Sensory Distortion being one of them. I would be stoked if that were to happen but for right now I’m done with screenplays and I’m all about creating comics.
GU: Is there any pet projects you have right now, that you may have had for a while but are locked in the back of your mind just waiting for the right time, touch, and ideas to come into place before unleashing them onto readers?
JG: There is a script I wrote a while back called Sanctum that Kavika might be starting on in the next few weeks. Dude is super busy and he makes more money doing other forms of art but he loves creating comics. He is so jazzed on Blackwood and is turning out amazing work but when he read Sanctum he said he was blown away by the story and would like to start right away. Like me, Kavika enjoys working on several things at the same time. We’re going to finish up the first issue of Blackwood and see we can move forward on Sanctum. Sanctum is a Sci-fi/Drama that is unlike any of our other comics. Well, of course the main character suffers from a mental disorder, manic depression, but it still stands out from other comics in our catalog.