Coffee Strong Enough for the Elder Gods – An Interview w/ LYNSEY G. & JAYEL DRACO from ONESHI PRESS
Interview Content Editor Jimmy Gaspero makes room in the Yeti Cave to welcome in Lynsey G. and Jayel Draco from Oneshi Press for another exciting installment of Cryptid-Bits to talk about their exciting new project TarMucks: Cthulhu Corporate Coffee and Comic and teaming up with Comics on Coffee.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Hello, Lynsey & Jayel, and welcome to the Yeti Cave. We’re here today to talk about the Kickstarter campaign for TarMucks: Cthulhu Corporate Coffee and Comic. The project is funded but will be on Kickstarter until July 21st so folks can still back it.
TarMucks Corporate Coffee has shown up in a few of Oneshi Press’ ongoing series. Who came up with the idea to have TarMucks Coffee pop up in different series and did you ever think that would lead to a project like this?
LYNSEY G. & JAYEL DRACO: TarMucks corporate coffee started when two of our characters from our comic book series PACK needed a place to meet up and talk. (A masked vigilante who puts bad guys under the fang with 6 stray dogs was having a not-too-clandestine meeting with a beat cop who’s sympathetic to his cause. You know, NBD.)
Part of the overarching story of PACK is how gentrification affects a neighborhood, so we thought it would be fun to riff on a certain, very ubiquitous coffee chain that most people are familiar with…which just happens to rhyme with “TarMucks.” Jayel got to work on a logo that would get the creeping-monster-invading-every-street-corner feeling of corporate coffee chains. So, naturally, Cthulhu seemed like the way to go. And voila! TarMucks was born! Soon, the logo was all over PACK, and most of the characters were drinking their daily Fappalappachino.
The idea of a corporation so huge that it appears in multiple series, and even different worlds, appealed to us from a storytelling angle. So, when we were working on Tracy Queen, our comic series about a love warrior who battles the forces of evil with her cyborg-clone army, we decided Tracy would develop an intense addiction to TarMucks Fappalappachinos.
From there, it was a hop, skip, and a jump to put it in the background of as many things as we could, including the separate-but-connected world of Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter, our K.F. Kat Fish adventures, and our one-off shorts. After all, Cthulhu would want a tentacle in each reality, right?
"One of the core values of our company is “collaboration over competition.” As creative people, we’ve been conditioned to believe that there’s not enough to go around—audience, fame, money to support ourselves. We’re sort of taught to battle for supremacy instead of helping each other out. But we don’t believe that’s accurate or necessary. We think there’s plenty of room for us all to create together, support each other, and help this rising tide raise all ships."
CBY: The comic that is part of this project is TarMucks: Origins, a 16-page comic about, and is it about the origin of the in-world coffee company?
LG & JD: The comics TarMucks: Origins is the tale of how TarMucks came to be. However, it’s important to note that the Oneshiverse is like an everlasting gobstopper of fiction. There are fictions within fictions. Someone in Tracy Queen or PACK could be reading a Mr. Guy comic, who in turn could be reading a K.F. Kat Fish comic. In the PACK and Tracy Queen layer, TarMucks: Origins may be simply a fun story that the TarMucks corporation invented about their fictional mascot… Then again, maybe it’s true. Whereas, in the Mr. Guy layer of the Oneshiverse, which is a bit pulpier in its fiction, this origin story is quite literal. When we go super deep into our layers of fiction, such as K.F. Kat Fish’s team, anything is possible and the truth there might be even weirder than what we say it is in TarMucks: Origins.
CBY: The two of you have worked together on many different projects, does collaborating to co-write become easier over time and how do you work together as co-writers?
LG & JD: When we met, both of us had comic projects under way. But Lynsey needed an artist, and Jayel needed a writer. Of course we decided right away to work together, but as any creative person knows, learning how to collaborate can be difficult. Luckily for us both, Jayel had been collaborating on creative projects with his friends since he was a kid, so he was able to bring a lot of experience to the experience for Lynsey, who’s more of a reclusive writer type.
Over the past ten years, we’ve developed a back-and-forth style that brings a lot of trust to the process. We both trust that the other has the project’s best interest at heart, no matter whether we agree on every detail or not. And, to be honest, we usually do agree about the details, so it works!
At this point, when we co-write together, as we did on TarMucks: Origins, most of our new ideas come together pretty organically and collaboratively.
CBY: Michel Abstracto (illustrator) and Cardinal Rae (letterer) are also part of the comic creative team. How did they become involved in the project?
LG & JD: Cardinal Rae has been part of our team since before the Great Old Ones began their current age-old slumber. She’s lettered most of our publications since before we were officially Oneshi Press. Michel Abstracto has also been part of Oneshi for quite some time. While our working relationship with him might be less than cosmically old, it’s still nearly an ancient connection. Twenties Radio Guy, the narrator of TarMucks: Origins, first appeared in Enter the Oneshiverse, which was also co-written by Lynsey and Jayel, illustrated by Michel Abstracto, and lettered by Cardinal Rae (and is available for free to anyone on our mailing list).
Similar to how Twenties Radio Guy continues his job as the narrator in TarMucks: Origins, our Cthulhu depicted here continues in the chapter of Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter #2 that Michel Abstracto will be illustrating (every chapter of Mr. Guy has a different illustrator). Cardinal Rae is lettering that as well.
CBY: For this project you are using coffee beans “Sourced directly from organically operated farms in Copan, Honduras”, roasted by the folks at Comics on Coffee, and you’ve also teamed with onetreeplanted.org to plant a tree for every backer. How much research and planning went into a project like this pre-launch?
LG & JD: The short answer is: a lot. All in all, we’ve been planning this campaign for at least a year, with the six months leading up to it being the most intense part of the planning process.
Ever since we conceptualized TarMucks corporate coffee chain, we’ve wanted to find ways to bring the logo and the idea to life, so we’ve been mulling over the idea of Kickstarting a TarMucks coffee mug for several years. We spent quite a while finding just the right mug—we wanted it to look like a single-use, disposable coffee cup you’d get from nearly any coffee shop, but since we’re extremely dedicated to ecological friendliness, we kept searching till we found a reusable mug that looks disposable…and which is biodegradable, BPA-free, and dishwasher safe. As soon as we found the right mug, we started planning the campaign.
Working together on the TarMucks: Origins comic was a blast, because we had already put Cthulhu on the logo. Now we had to figure out what the heck Cthulhu had to do with corporate coffee, and how to get that story told in a fun and engaging way. Suffice it to say, we think we did bang-up job, and that Michel Abstracto really nailed it out of the park with making a fun, readable, tongue-in-cheek, visually delicious comic to go with the mug.
We were talking to fellow indie comics creator Travis Gibb about our idea, and he dropped the bomb that Comics On Coffee exists! Incidentally, the very next time we spoke with our marketer, Joey Galvez, he also brought up Comics On Coffee with equally high praise. They make top-shelf coffee for comic book creators! We got in touch with Tanya there, and it turned out that she shares our values about eco-friendliness, ethical sourcing, and high quality. Thus, TarMucks coffee itself became a reality!
In the lead-up to the campaign, we reached out to other creators who have Cthulhu-based properties, and connected with two of our favorites: Russell Nohelty at Wannabe Press, who created and edits the Cthulhu Is Hard to Spell series, and Tyler James Vogel, the publisher at ComixTribe, which handles the C Is for Cthulhu kids book series. They were both open to having beverages made to pair with their series, so we worked with Comics on Coffee to make it happen—now we’ve got decaf and cocoa, too!
"Over the past ten years, we’ve developed a back-and-forth style that brings a lot of trust to the process. We both trust that the other has the project’s best interest at heart, no matter whether we agree on every detail or not. And, to be honest, we usually do agree about the details, so it works!"
And then, the pièce de résistance…the tree planting! We were beginning to structure the TarMucks campaign around the idea of “saving the world” from Cthulhu, but we’d already put in a ton of work to make the campaign green and sustainable, so we realized we were actually saving the world with it. Lynsey has been a big fan of One Tree Planted for years, buying tree plantings for friends and family at every opportunity. So we thought, Why not take this to the next level and make saving the world with trees part of what we do on this campaign? The folks at One Tree Planted were really helpful in setting things up to make us official partners, so we are planning on planting a tree for every backer for all of our upcoming campaigns, as well.
CBY: For anyone that might not know, you are the co-founders of Oneshi Press, which you founded in 2015. It seems like the past few years have seen changes to the industry, maybe accelerated by the pandemic. What do you think have been the biggest changes in the comics industry since you first founded Oneshi Press?
LG & JD: While there have been many small, tentative changes, perhaps the most steadily developing change is that crowdfunding through platforms like Kickstarter has become increasingly more viable and increasingly more seen as a legitimate presales mechanism for funding production. The attitude of the casual observer seems to have shifted from, “Well, if you don’t have the money for that project, why are you making it?” to something more like, “Oh yeah, I heard kickstarter is a great way to get your numbers worked out and your costs covered up front.” It’s no longer so niche that the average person needs it completely explained to them.
CBY: At the top of the Oneshi Press website, right under the name, it reads “We Build Worlds…You’re Invited.” I absolutely love that as a motto, slogan, mission statement, but as co-founders and creators, what does that mean to you that you made it so key to the Oneshi Press identity?
LG & JD: One of the core values of our company is “collaboration over competition.” As creative people, we’ve been conditioned to believe that there’s not enough to go around—audience, fame, money to support ourselves. We’re sort of taught to battle for supremacy instead of helping each other out. But we don’t believe that’s accurate or necessary. We think there’s plenty of room for us all to create together, support each other, and help this rising tide raise all ships. Honestly, Kickstarter is a great place to see that this is true; the collaborative and supportive nature of the whole indie comics category on that platform is heartwarming…and it’s thriving!
In line with that tagline, we seek to invite other creators into our worlds—as collaborators on our projects, contributors to our anthologies, and members of the larger creative community. We’re always growing our community and our company and looking for ways to make any successes we achieve into opportunities to extend those successes to others in our creative space.
Just as importantly, all of our publications are invitations to readers to enter the worlds we’ve created for them to enjoy. The TarMucks campaign is actually a great example—we’re bringing pieces of worlds we created for our comics into your world so that you can feel more like a part of what we’ve made…and this is just the beginning!
CBY: I’m a coffee drinker. I drink it black. I typically will have a few cups in a day. I’m assuming you both are coffee drinkers with a project like this, and if so, how do you take your coffee? Any particular memories of a really great cup of coffee?
LG & JD: While Jayel drinks coffee daily, Lynsey did step away from coffee a few years back and has since gotten really, really into tea.
That said, Jayel and Lynsey have shared many cups of coffee over the last decade. Jayel typically takes his morning coffee with a little bit of unsweetened coconut milk and a half teaspoon of turbinado sugar; however, he’ll make do with what’s available when out and about. Jayel’s favorite two coffee experiences are a toss-up between a homemade Turkish coffee, and a homemade Cuban coffee.
Lynsey fondly recalls the simplicity of grabbing an average NYC bodega coffee from the nearest mom-and-pop convenience store on the way to work.
Sure, we can go fancy, but there's something to be said about the wholesome simplicity of homemade and mom-and-pop. We’re going the distance in getting our TarMucks coffee direct trade, so it’s homemade and mom-and-pop from the source.
CBY: What are the comics, books, tv shows, and movies that you are currently enjoying?
LG & JD: We’re currently between comics binges, but recent favorites have included the White Ash series, SFSX, Pet Human, and Unicorn: Vampire Hunter. As far as TV shows, we’re deeply enmeshed in catching up on Stranger Things and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, after which we’re excited to watch the new seasons of The Boys and Umbrella Academy. On the movies front, we are always way behind, so we’re looking forward to eventually watching the new Jurassic World and Thor, all the fun new popcorn fare.
CBY: Tell me about any upcoming projects or friends’ projects that CBY readers should check out.
LG & JD: Dovetailing directly off of the TarMucks campaign, we’ll be launching Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter #2 once TarMucks is in fulfillment. The origin story of TarMucks is canon in Mr. Guy’s world, Dearth—a modern-day high-fantasy world that’s now experiencing a zombie apocalypse. There will be plenty of tie-ins and Easter eggs between TarMucks and Mr. Guy, which are always a fun time.
Find out more about our cursed, half-goblin reluctant hero at mrguycomic.com.
CBY: Where can you be found online?
LG & JD: The TarMucks Kickstarter campaign can be found at kickstarter.oneshipress.com! Folks can find out more about us at oneshipress.com, and at @oneshipress on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
CBY: Thank you so much, Lynsey & Jayel, and good luck with the rest of the campaign.