Today, Barry Miller, another Santa Barbara-based comics creator, took time out of his busy schedule to talk with the Comic Book Examiner. Barry’s the writer of Billy Banes: Sidekick for Hire, a fresh take on the old Batman + Robin dynamic that answers “What happens to a sidekick when his hero retires?”
Issue number three of the series is going to be available in time for San Diego Comic-Con, and Barry will be there, selling and promoting it. Check out his thoughts on life as a comics creator — not to mention a link to a movie he directed that readers can watch for free!
Examiner: How long have you lived in Santa Barbara?
Barry Miller: I came here in 1987 to attend UCSB, and (with the exception of one year) I’ve lived here ever since.
Examiner: Does it have much of an effect on your writing, or would ” be essentially the same regardless of where it was created?
Miller: I think it would be pretty much the same. The comic is really inspired by stories and themes I enjoy in television, movies, comics, politics, etc; it’s not so much driven by my location.
Examiner: What was the impetus to create the comic?
Miller: The biggest impetus was probably the San Diego Comic-Con itself. I’ve attended every year since 1999, and I started to develop this strong desire to be a participant rather than simply remain an attendee. I’ve also done some screen writing and directing in the past, and writing a comic book seemed like a natural extension of that skill set. Plus, I just really love comics!
Examiner: How did you put together the creative team?
Miller: I started by placing an ad in Digital Webbing, looking for an artist to draw a six-page Billy Banes short story I had written. I probably received around 25 responses, and I quickly whittled it down to three people (based on the samples they submitted). After some communication back and forth with those folks, I eventually decided to go with Alberto Madrigal. He did an awesome job on that short, and his art gets better and better with every issue.
From the beginning, I knew that I wanted the book to be in color, so I asked Alberto if he could recommend someone. So, he put me in touch with his friend, Zaratus, who colored a sample sketch for me. Based only on that one sketch, I knew instantly that he was the right guy for my book.
For lettering and design, a buddy of mine (who works in the comics industry) put me in touch with Kris Black. He’s done a killer job for me on every issue.
I love working with these guys. We’ve done three books together now, and they are just incredibly talented and professional.
Examiner: What’s the output been like since launch?
Miller: To be honest, it’s been pretty tough to break through. As you can imagine, this is a very competitive field, and there are many people like myself trying to get noticed. My goal right now is not to try and make a bunch of money but, rather, to get the book into as many hands as possible.
Examiner: Where can people purchase it?
Miller: Locally, Metro Entertainment has been really great about carrying and promoting my book. Outside of that, people can buy it at http://www.indyplanet.com/store/
Examiner: What are your plans for San Diego con this year? New product? Any expectations?
Miller: My goal has been to produce a new issue of Billy Banes in time for San Diego every year, and so far, I’ve been able to achieve that. This year, my new book will be issue number three, titled NO FEAR! …
This will be the fourth year that I’ve had something to promote at the con. I’m a member of Dial R Studios, and we all share a booth there. It’s a lot of fun, but the event is so big, it’s difficult to get noticed. So, I think of it as more of a networking gig than a sales gig.
Examiner: Any other projects you’d care to mention?
Miller: A few years ago, I wrote and co-directed a short film called BEING IN SYNC; you can watch it for free here.
Be sure to check out our interview with Miller’s fellow Dial R Studios member, and fellow Santa Barbaran, James Andrew Clark — and be sure to stop by the Dial R table and say “hi” if you visit Comic-Con this year!