It’s been too long since I’ve done one of these and I have to get back into the swing of doing at least one of these a week
I’ve been working on a bunch of things mostly Oswald related but there’s also some Tall Tails news on the horizon. But for now here’s an interview I did with Donovan Goines for his magazine/website a few years back. I updated some of the info so it’s current.
I’m also putting in some images for future Oswald stories, enjoy
Please let me know what you think and support the site by voting for it on Top Web Comics.
Now on to the interview
The Oswald Chronicles and Tall Tails are published by the creative team of Dream Weaver Press. These stories have that feel of Mouse Guard, The Never Ending Story, Tellos, and many more fantastic characters. One of the men behind Oswald Chronicles is JD Calderon who is the writer of this and many more. We are going to into the mind of what it takes to create a graphic novel and also discover what Dream Weaver is all about.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
JD: It was early on probably around the age of 8.
Q: How did you come into this field?
JD: I started self-publishing in the early 90’s. I was a huge fan of the indy boom (which eventually became the black and white glut) of the mid 80’s and it was due to this explosion of indy books that made me want to create my own books.
Q: What were the motivations you were creating Oswald Chronicles for Dream Weaver Press?
JD: The impetus to create Oswald happened when I was working professionally as a writer in the mid-nineties. I was writing anywhere from 3-4 books a month but I worked fast and would have a great deal of down time, so I needed and wanted something to fill that time with and Oswald became that thing, but at the time the series was in prose and wouldn’t be seen as a comic until about 2005.
Q: Knowing your books are a far cry from what is out there on the market, why not just create superhero style?
JD: Are you saying Oswald is not a super hero? I’m joking of course, but the main reason is that the market is over saturated with them. Don’t get me wrong I love a great super hero comic from time to time but when you’re looking at the big two specifically it becomes one big messy soap opera for middle aged men. The only real difference is that these soap opera characters drop cars on one another regularly. I also feel that much of what’s done in the mass market is done with little or no heart. There’s plenty of testosterone in those books but very little heart and one without the other leaves me listless and wanting more. I love seeing guys bash each other over the head now and again but give me books like Sandman, Fables, Unwritten and Lock & Key and I’ll leave those costumed kids behind every time.
Q: DWP has been in the market for some time now but I have noticed you have gone from print to Digital Reader; why is that?
JD: It’s an experiment. When I first started we were all print, because that’s all there was at the time and we loved it and we still do. All of our books do eventually end up in print and I’ve worked on two successful Kickstarter campaigns to get the first and second Oswald trades in print. A few years ago I saw the rise of the webcomic and just like the indy boom of the 80’s I said yea that’s something I want to participate in.
Q: Coming across these titles is remarkable on how creative you can become as a writer, but you’re doing just more than one title correct?
JD: Currently I’m working on The Oswald Chronicles and Tall Tails. Those two projects are taking up all of my time at the moment but I have about a dozen other ideas screaming in the back of my mind that wish to get worked on. If things go well maybe we’ll see some of those sooner rather than later, but rest assured they will come.
Q: With Oswald Chronicles you have created a collective of really unique characters from Oswald, Diane, Ordith, Dofon, and etc... How long did it take you to conceive each one?
JD: Minutes, and I hate putting it like that but it’s true. When I first came up with Oswald he wasn’t supposed to be the main emphasis of the story he was just supposed to be some enigmatic little mouse in the center of Manhattan telling these strange stories. The first story I wrote with Oswald in it, The Park Avenue Mall War, is the story about Diane who only comes out during the day has a war with Ordith who only comes out at night and the strange dichotomy it makes in Oswald’s life since he’s friends to both of them. As far as the conception of each character I’m the type of writer that just jumps into a story and whatever happens, happens. I needed a troll, I needed a warrior fairy and I created them they happened to be Diane and Ordith and I liked them enough that I kept them around. Now at that point it’s my job to continue and build on them and their mythology, who are they, where are they from, what motivates them etc. So that’s it I don’t really take a long time to carefully construct each character instead I give them all stories or rather I let those characters whisper their stories in my ear and I allow them to build themselves.
Q: Who is the artist right now that is working on Oswald Chronicles, for those who are not familiar?
JD: The artist is the awesome Jade Gonzalez, but there have been others like my good friend Matt Lundsford and the greatest artist I know because I sleep next to her every night Daphne Lage
Q: It’s amazing the detail you constructed in your writing for this world in turn where do you find the time?
JD: It’s been done over several years, one painstaking line at a time, but to be honest with you it’s an illusion a grand one. I always try to write my stories with a sense of history, even if they don’t have one at the time, but it’s always there and if you tell the story and you let it guide you you’ll find it. At least that’s how it works for me.
Q: Did you realize that the market was changing with the success of more indie publishers such as IDW, Image, Fantagraphics?
JD: It’s something I’ve seen and been hoping for, for a long time. And for someone who’s never sought work at either of the big two it’s gratifying.
Q: It seems there are many more options for self-publishing through digital means these days, but do you see the digital taking over the paper press?
JD: I think it will one day overtake a majority of the sales in the market. While print will be relegated to high end collectables to show off to friends and family and only be for the true hard cores within the fan base.
Q: What was your reaction to going digital?
JD: It’s interesting being so close to the people who are actually consuming my work. Before I would get the odd letter from a fan here and there or at a show people would come up to me and say how much they like my work, but now they can just let me know if they approve or disapprove right on the spot and I love it.
Q: So is Oswald Chronicles going to be an ongoing series?
JD: The Oswald Chronicles just like Tall Tails has an ending but it’s just getting there is going to take some time because there are a bunch of aspects to Oswald’s life that I’ve only barely touched upon. Like his second and third lives and how they impact his current one. Currently I’m making an effort to connect the dots in his life. Many of my readers have mentioned how there are huge gaps between the stories so I’m beginning to fill in those gaps. I’m beginning with “My First Day” and filling in all of the stories that lead up to “I was There and I Remember” the stories are important obviously “My First Day” is Oswald’s beginning but “I was There and I Remember” is the story where Oswald first steps into his second life which happens in dream.
Q: With the understanding of the market today there are some who would say that there should be more books geared towards children. Others might say otherwise where do you stand on this as a writer and/or publisher?
JD: I read plenty of books when I was a child and I think there’s plenty of material there for everyone you just have to look for it. Now if we’re talking exclusively about comics I may be the wrong person to ask since as a kid I was reading Son of Satan, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, and Frank Miller’s Daredevil. So the whole Archie Veronica, Micky Mouse comics always left me a little cold. But I feel there’s plenty of room for everything at all levels and so long as it’s done with honesty and care.
Q: How long does the process take for the book set up to for the printers?
JD: Once the actual work is done and lettered it typically takes anywhere from a month to a few days to get quotes and another month or so to set everything up to move out to the printers. Working as I do now mainly digital and doing my own printing, when I can, which is often, it can take up to a week to get everything together and printed up. It all depends on what I’m looking to do and what type of printing I’m aiming for. Offset printing will take longer and digital will take less time.
Q: Who was your biggest influence ?
JD: I have a bunch of them and I can’t honestly say that any one is bigger than the others so here are the top guys on my list in no particular order.
For writing prose: Roger Zelazny, H.P. Lovecraft, Frank Herburt, Dennis L. Mckernian, Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Fritz Leiber, Clive Barker and many, many more.
For comics: Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Bill Mantlo, Walter Simonson, Dave Sim, Matt Wagner, Bill Willingham, Neal Gaiman, Roy Thomas, JM DeMatias and again many more that are slipping my mind.
Q: Right on. How about video games? While I’m not eager to date myself, I’ve got to say that the first time I laid eyes on your anthropomorphic characters I experienced a 16-bit Breath of Fire II flashback from those halcyon days of yore when Super Nintendo reigned supreme.
JD: No, I can’t say that I was influenced by any video games. The Diablo series of games I would say would be the only line of games that I can say interested me enough to stick around and it’s because of that series of games I don’t play video games any more. I can be obsessive at times and I was with Diablo II and I had to make the hard decision to give up on video games to have more time to write.
Q: Many years ago, Dreamweaver Press was known as Golden Realm Unlimited. What brought about the change?
JD: GRU was our genesis, it’s where we learned how to create comics and Dream Weaver Press is myself and my partner in crime Daphne Lage moving on. When we were GRU we were working with a bunch of close friends many of whom moved on to other fields within the art world, while Daphne and I kept on with comics and graphic storytelling.
Q: You’ve been publishing steadily for a long time. What was the toughest year you can remember, and why?
JD: Probably the year we came to the conclusion Golden Realm Unlimited had to be shut down, and that had more to do with all of us growing up and realizing that it was tough to make a buck as indy guys and how we wanted to make something of ourselves. Now that means different things for different people for me I wanted to create comics and I continued, the others moved on to TV broadcasting, CG effects for Hollywood films, architecture, advertising, and medical illustration.
Q: While the title “self-publisher” surely describes you well, you have also spent some time working for others in a professional capacity. You’ve worked on some adult comics, and also on manga projects like Tenchi Muyo! Could you briefly describe a day in the adult comic industry?
JD: There really wasn’t much to it to be honest with you. I would get up write and send it in for approval. That was about it. What’s more interesting was how I got the job. Now at the time GRU had been dissolved, Daphne and I had promised to keep Tall Tails going while the others went on their way. Now the intrepid Matt Lundsford went off and got a job illustrating a book for another indy press which he wasn’t happy doing because the pay wasn’t steady and the story wasn’t something he was enjoying, so he was looking for more work and he was approached by CPM to illustrate an adult book. I remember when he first told me about it I looked down my nose at him with a sneer and said adult comics, the nerve! I look back at that time and laugh at how naïve I was, because a few months later he approached me and told me they were looking for a writer to produce original stories for the line, and at the time I was thinking of getting a real job, oh the dread. I thought about it for about 3 seconds and I told him to through my name in the hat, I got the interview and on the strength of the work we did at GRU they gave me the job. Now all of that may sound pretty pedestrian but what I find interesting about the whole thing is that I got the job for some prior work, but I really got the job because I was brought in, which is how I think many positions are filled on company owned books.
Q: And lastly, are you truly the king of one dollar poker tables?
JD: I was for about two years, I have to take that down, because I haven’t played a round in a few years. I stopped because it was eating away at my promotion and writing time, but the real nail in the coffin was the US government coming in and shutting down those sites. It’s a shame really because I was able to fund some of the books from my winnings. I just hope someday they legalize it and maybe I’ll start playing again. We’ll see.
Thank you for your time.