Travis Gibb and CBY contributor Jimmy Gaspero chat about Gibb's latest Kickstarter campaign, the current state of the indie comics community and the secret of his success. Plus, they bond over a shared love of the vocal talents of Meatloaf and songwriting prowess of Jim Steinman.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Travis, thank you so much for joining me here in the Yeti Cave to talk about Granite State Punk, currently funding on Kickstarter. How have you been doing?
TRAVIS GIBB: I have been doing great!! I have big plans for 2022 and this book is me swinging big!! I couldn't be prouder of the response we have been getting.
CBY: Let’s start with your origin story as a comics creator. Have comics always been a part of your life, and what made you want to make comics?
TG: [Yeah], I am a huge comic book fan. I read basically all Marvel, 25% of DC and most of the indies that come out each month from all the publishers and Kickstarter! I have been doing that for as long as I have been reading and that was in the late '90s/early 2000s. I was born and raised in NH and indie comics is kind of the DNA of my local area. I lived very close to Dover, NH, the original home of the NINJA TURTLES, plus THE TICK was huge in the state. So, growing up, it's what everyone was talking about, buying and reading indie comics.
What made me want to make them is that I had tons of stories. My degree was in film, but I got the bug to write some shorts for a couple of different publishers after going to MEGACON one year that really helped me gain the confidence to break out on my own and start writing my own stuff.
"This book is written like it's the last thing I will ever write. It's so raw and intimate."
CBY: What do you do when not writing comics?
TG: Mostly, I try to be a good father and husband. However, when I'm not doing that, I own a webdesign company and help clients with marketing.
CBY: That's awesome.
Directly from the Kickstarter campaign page, “Granite State Punk is a rare, gritty look at the history of New Hampshire's most historic landmark, THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN.” You’re originally from New Hampshire, as you've said. What’s your relationship to NH’s most famous rock formation that unfortunately collapsed in 2003, and how did it spark the inspiration for this story?
TG: So, I have no formal relationship with the old man but if you are from NH, you know what it is and you take some form of ownership to it. This landmark is so important to the state and I was shocked when they didn't rebuild it. So, as I was developing a story and decided to write something for my hometown, I had to include the state's largest landmark.
This book is kind of my gift to NH. My parents never got to read any of my long-form comics, and this is me basically giving some love to my hometown and making it as epic and as awesome as possible.
CBY: You’ve written comics like Broke Down & 4 Dead Bodies and Cthulhu Invades Oz, but this feels like a much more personal story. As a writer, how much of yourself do you pour into your characters?
TG: All of me is in the book. I pour my heart out. I deal with some of my anger with the way I was raised and also deal with the reality of the death of my parents. The character of Zeke is the closest to any character that thinks like I do. (Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.) This book is written like it's the last thing I will ever write. It's so raw and intimate.
CBY: When you put “Punk” in the title, I think it creates an expectation of connection to the music. Is that where your own musical tastes lie? Is there a soundtrack that you have in mind for Granite State Punk?
TG: You know, you would think that I was deeply in the punk scene writing a book like this but sadly, I never was. I never let myself get identified by a genre of music. No idea why, it just wasn't how I viewed myself. It however was a group that I always ran with as an outsider. This book is more of the punk mentality of trying to figure the world out and point out what's wrong with it. I love the punk culture and I love having deep discussions with people who want to fight the system. (Whatever that system may be.) If you were looking for a soundtrack for this, I would recommend The Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Queers, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and Black Flag. Those are my favorite bands in the punk music scene.
CBY: Patrick Buermeyer provides the artwork for the story and he has a distinct and unique style that works well with this story from all the pages I have seen. Have you ever worked with Patrick before, and how did he become involved in this project?
TG: So, I kind of worked with Patrick before. He did a couple of pages in the upcoming CTHULHU INVADES WONDERLAND. I loved his pages and I knew he would be right for this book. So, I spoke to him and he found time to get this book out in between [working on] his creator owned book, DISCORDIA. He has been amazing to work with and I expect you will see us do more projects together.
CBY: Are there any favorite pages or panels you can talk about without spoiling anything? Was there anything that surprised or shocked you about how Patrick interpreted your script?
TG: My favorite page is on the Kickstarter preview. It's a page looking at his [Zeke's] house and telling his story and he realizes that the audience is getting bored, so he breaks the 4th wall and gets them interested again. I like my dialogue in this page and it kind of shows you my creative process. I am always writing and think…OK, we need something to excite our audience!! So, it is super meta for me and the reader. Also, the dragon and Zeke laying in it smoking is such a punk rock panel that Patrick put together. It mixed my dialogue and Patrick’s art perfectly.
CBY: That's a great page! I found the lettering and SFX by Jerome Gagnon to be excellent, especially in some of the more dialogue-heavy panels. You’ve worked with Jerome before, but when you don’t have a long working relationship with someone, what qualities do you look for in the creators you want to work with?
TG: [Yeah], Jerome is my letterer. I do everything with him, but this book is very challenging because of my long windedness. I wrote this way to show some of the anxiety and over-thinking that this character is dealing with. Jerome kills it and hits it out of the park. When I look to work with creators, I look for people who love the medium and just want to create comics. If you love comics and want to talk about the craft for hours than you will vibe with me.
CBY: Your bio page for Broke Down & 4 Dead Bodies lists one of your hobbies as “Meatloaf,” is that the food or the recently deceased recording artist (RIP Meatloaf)? I am a big fan of both.
TG: Yes, I love Meatloaf and I am devastated that he has passed on. He is my favorite of all time. If you look at Broke Down & 4 Dead Bodies you will notice that each issue is named after a Meatloaf song. His song writer Jim Steinman (also RIP) had a way to speak to my soul. He taught me that the way I love people isn't wrong and if you love someone and it's not all engines go, then you don't know what love means. (Or at least the way Jim & Meat view it.) Most of the world is quick to say “I Love You,” however, if you listen to any Meatloaf love song, those words mean a hell of a lot more than something you just say. So, he speaks heavily into my soul and the way I want to view the world.
CBY: So great to meet another huge Meatloaf and Jim Steinman fan! I'm so glad I was able to see Meatloaf perform live in Philly in the mid to late '90s.
This is the 11th Kickstarter campaign for Orange Cone Productions, so congratulations on another successful campaign, and you have backed 592 campaigns on Kickstarter, which shows a deep passion and love for the indie comics community. What excites you about the current state of indie comics?
TG: Well indie is killing it!! Since we got hit by COVID, indie has been taking a much larger share of the pie and we have so many great indie publishers that take a low-level Image approach that is really helping creators go. Also, anyone who is a name right now in the Big Two also has a indie book. It's a great time to be a indie fan and it's killing. That is something that has never happened before. Substack also just added a couple dozen more books to the indie scene. It's so great to find very cool original stories that are really taking the world by storm.
Also, if the Diamond route is not for you, people can go to crowdfunding and build a strong rabid fanbase. It's a wonderful time to be in Indie Comics and it's just getting better. The walls are coming down and we have a lot of awesome voices that are killing it.
CBY: What do you think has contributed the most to your and Orange Cone Productions’ Kickstarter success?
TG: Jerome Gagnon and Heather Gibb. I am a really good salesman and I can sell these books because I believe in them. I have been writing a long time and I believe in my ability, but it's those two who make sure that the books look amazing, handle horrible grammar, and make sure the fans get a quality product each and every time. I always want to get more things out and tell more stories but these two are my rock and slow me down and make sure it's perfect. That's what helps each of our campaigns feel special and our products are such high quality. We make sure the fans always come first and we put out the best books we can each and every time.
CBY: Are there any comic creators working today whose work inspires/influences you?
TG: [Yeah], I love Donny Cates, Neil Gaiman, Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Jeff Lemire, and Brian K Vaughn. They all have a deep impact on what I do as a comic writer.
CBY: If you were the curator for a comics museum, which 3 books do you want to make absolutely sure are included?
TG: So, this is MY LIST, not a list for everyone. However, for me you would need to have the following single issues: Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel), Crimson #7 (Image) and TMNT: LEONARDO (Mirage). Now if you are talking complete stories: Y: THE LAST MAN, WATCHMEN, and MIDNIGHT NATION.
CBY: I love that you broke it down by single issues and complete stories. Nice. Any other projects CBY readers should check out?
TG: So, if we are talking Kickstater, here are a couple of recommended books: Pocus Hocus was one of the best book I read last year:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pocushocus1/pocus-hocus-1-3-a-dark-humorous-comic-series The Adept is Charlie [Stickney]. If you don't know Charlie, you should meet Charlie:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theadept2/the-adept-2 Caleb is the man and he has a recent love for VAMPIRES that I am totally digging:
CBY: Thank you so much, Travis. TG: Thank You!! These were some great questions!