Imminent Press may be new to the comic book world, but with a host of projects lined up for 2017 and beyond, the collective of independent comic creators is ready to make their mark. Kicking things off for Imminent is an anthology entitled Terminal, a loose collection of stories with a sci-fi/noir bent that is in the process of reaching its funding goal on Kickstarter..
Spearheading Terminal is Imminent Press co-founder Steve Ekstrom, who along with his cohorts (and fellow journalists-turned-creators) Troy Brownfield and Matt Brady are bringing back a format that, in their words, allows them to experiment with their big ideas while also bringing some lesser known creators to the masses.
Newsarama spoke to Ekstrom, Brady, and Brownfield in the midst of their Kickstarter campaign, uncovering the goals and aspirations the trio have, not just for Terminal, but for Imminent Press.
Newsarama: Troy, Matt, and Steve, what is Terminal, and how did it come together?
Troy Brownfield: Steve and Matt will have their own parts of this, obviously, but the real genesis of it came from Steve. We've all talked about projects and collaborating for a long time, but he had the strong vision of doing this particular project.
Steve Ekstrom: I think Terminal started as a way of venting about my lack of projects to Troy [Laughs].
A lot of people struggle to get work out in the independent scene. It's not easy as a writer to get projects done, especially if you work a job or have kids or you just live a regular life with a lofty goal like making it as an artist or a writer.
I'd been bugging these two for a few years about working collectively.
Matt Brady: I have to echo Troy – it was all Steve’s baby. Troy and I have worked together, and Steve had been talking about the group of us doing something together, and he took that seed, watered it, and here we are with Terminal.
Nrama: Aside from yourselves, who have you lined up to throw in for Terminal?
Ekstrom: We're working with a ton of talent. We have guys who are on-the-verge like CW Cooke and Vito Delsante (who, honestly, are pros) and I want to see them on projects at the Big Two. We have the experienced veteran in Justin Gray; he's a great guy - and he's incredibly talented. We have people from all over the world; Matt's artist, Nikola Cizmesij, is from Croatia. António Brandão is a long-time friend and collaborator of mine from Portugal.
Troy was actually very helpful in bringing creators to the project.
Nrama: What can you tell me about your individual stories and the people you’re collaborating with?
Brady: I’m working with Nikola Cizmesij, who is brand new on the scene, and is going to be snapped up for something big any minute. He’s so good, and we’re together thanks to Steve just casting a net out there and looking for people. I’m so lucky to have him working with me – it’s a thrill to be working with someone who’s pushing himself more and more with each page and panel.
My story, “Gemini XIV” – is just about that. The 14th Gemini mission – which, as far as we know, didn’t happen in 1967. Or did it? And maybe, just maybe, in 2017, the pilot of the mission calls to Houston and picks up with the rest of the sentence he was saying before the capsule disappeared in ’67. From there, we’ve got bigger mysteries, and a rescue. Sometimes, friends that you had in ’67 can still help you out in 2017, especially if they age slow, have a couple of kids, and have all kinds of high-tech gear. It’s definitely got a “weird science” vibe. Plus some real science.
Ekstrom: My story is a mash-up; it's a hard boiled romance about a really scummy confidence man going on an e-date with a female serial killer called the Unicorn Killer. They wind up picking a poor spot to go on a date and calamity ensues. I'm working with a buddy of mine, Bob Rivard. Bob's been on a little hiatus from the scene for several years but I think his work on this project is going to turn a lot of heads.
Brownfield: My story is a called "A Touch of the Past." The title, which came after the fact, is a combo of a couple of my favorite noir titles, "A Touch of Evil" and "Out of the Past". The actual story is inspired by the likes of D.O.A., where you have a protagonist trying to solve a crime of which they themselves are the victim. My lead's name is Mitchum Ryan (another combo platter, being a hybrid of Roberts Mitchum and Ryan), and he finds himself de-aged. It goes from a more comedic space to a darker place, which is pretty appropriate, considering. The artist Justin "J.C." Washburn is a real talent that works in a bunch of different styles. He was really supportive of the story that I wanted to do and he's going to bring a unique feel to it.
Nrama: Anthology comic books used to be a lot more common among large publishers, but in recent years have become a staple of independent creators. Aside from the obvious benefit of working with so many creators, what are the advantages of the format?
Brownfield: For me, the coolest thing is that you get a sampling of a whole collection of talent. Everyone just gets to let loose and show off what they can do in a more unfettered way. You're not thinking long-term and you're really only answering to yourself. It's sort of the distillation of the writer and artist working together to a singular effect for one short story.
Brady: I’m loving it, because I can road-test a concept that I’ve been playing with for a long time in my head – the Science Organization - and the project doesn’t live or die based on me alone. It’s a great place to play and experiment a little.
Nrama: Where does the name "Terminal" for this anthology come from? Is there an overall theme or ethos behind the stories being collected?
Ekstrom: It actually came from a different story I was going to work on called "Terminal 4" but I came up with a better title for that story. Again, middle of the night phone calls with Troy sort of lead to us starting the anthology idea called "Terminal 7" because we were going to have a book with seven stories by seven creative teams...but then we expanded...and then we expanded again and "Terminal 10" just didn't sound good.
Nrama: You’ve organized Terminal under the wing of Imminent Press. What’s next for that imprint?
Brownfield: A few of us that have other projects in progress already are going to slide some things over to Imminent. I think it's incredibly fair to say that certain webcomics might get collected with that banner.
Brady: As Troy said, some of us are looking to slide some of our own things over to Imminent, and I’m with them. With this little taste of telling a story with my characters, I want to plot out bigger stuff, and since Imminent is about taking risks and doing our own things while getting some cool stuff out there, it seems like a home for what I’ve got in mind with the Science Organization.
Ekstrom: Imminent is going to be our collective brand for DIY Comic projects. I think that there is a strategy for independent creators that hasn't become a "well-worn path" yet but I think the scope of something with a long endgame keeps people from pursuing it.
Making web comics and harnessing your online base via social media is hard work and, once you monetize that audience, you have to pivot towards digital sales and an eventual limited print for your base to build.
We have several small things planned by individual creators. I know that Vito Delsante already has something in mind. That guy is an absolute monster in terms of work ethic and drive. He inspires me a great deal.
Nrama: The three of you are hardly new to the comic industry. After Terminal, what have you got coming up?
Ekstrom: I'm going to be focusing on the relaunch of my webcomic, Cannibal Island. I also have some plans for a Western project that I might pursue later in the year. Right now, I'm so focused on reaching our funding goals that I can't even think straight. After getting Terminal funded - then I have to get pages processed, get estimates from printers, get everything organized to fulfill the rewards. It's going to be a busy next several months, for sure.
Brownfield: I'll be continuing Sparkshooter (with artist Enkaru) at www.sparkshooter.com; our 200th page dropped on January 18. And I wrote the second issue of volume 3 of Grimm Tales of Terror, dropping soon.
Brady: Right now, I’m light on comics, but I keep my toe in with TheScienceOf.org. My wife and I run the site, with me writing about pulling science out of pop culture. We traveled to four comic cons and three science teacher meetings in 2016, and plan to do the same in 2017, talking about reaching science classes through pop culture.
And hopefully some comics, as some time – between teaching and The Science Of - allows…
Nrama: Aside from the obvious goal of reaching funding, what are your aspirations for Terminal? Where would you like to see this anthology go?
Brady: I’m good where I’m at, writing a few things here and there, but as with Nikola and a bunch of the others, I really hope this gets their work out in front of a wider audience. We’ve got top grade artists and writers working here, and this is a perfect vehicle to get all of our work out in front of a wider audience.
Brownfield: I would like some of these deserving creators to get more attention. And I would like to see this collection get into the hands of readers, first and foremost. One of the best things about being in an anthology like this is that you can attract new readers that might have checked it out for one set of creators, but end up enjoying things by people that they've never seen before. And when creators build up new readers, it only helps their overall and continued efforts.
Ekstrom: A part of me just wants to know that we can do this and make something people can hold in their hands. There's a lot of comfort in that to me. We've definitely already tossed the idea around about making a second one. I know that I definitely want to revisit GRRzly & K!nX as you'll be able to see from the open ending of my story.
I think the anthology market is pretty light these days... I think it'd be an amazing thing if we made something that people thought was worthy of some sort of praise, certainly. I'd be over the moon just to have people tell me they liked the book and wanted more.