Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Interview: Jordan Shiveley, editor of "HIVE"

Grass-roots movement (boom boom): HIVE editor Jordan Shiveley 

One of the most passionate people you'll find in the world of small press comics, Jordan Shiveley helms Grimalkin Press, the small publishing outfit responsible for the HIVE series of anthologies. Very much the "little engine that could" of comics publishing, Grimalkin continues to grow bigger and brighter, with HIVE  featuring such indie comics talent as Jeffrey Brown, Noah Van Sciver, and up-and-coming Jess Smart Smiley (who, a little birdie tells me, has gone on to secure a deal with a major indie comics publisher). With the 4th edition of its flagship publication on the way, we invited Jordan to take part in an interview with us. 

For those not in the know, please describe the HIVE anthology as you see it.

HIVE started out as an anthology built out of the work from members of a local drawing group I started in Springfield, MO. I loved making it so much that I realized that this was what I wanted to do forever and immediately opened it up to anyone, anywhere, and it has gone from there. I see HIVE as being more interested in the intent and merit of comics than their marketability, which of course makes us not everyone’s cup of tea.

I choose artists from as wide a range of topics and styles as possible. I don’t want it to be a book of just perfect immaculate illustrations;  I’m amazed by artists who work like that, and we do have people in HIVE who are crazy awesome ink technicians, but I want it to have a much wider base representation. You don’t have to be the next Woodring or Thompson to get into HIVE. I see it as a vehicle to get all those great comics that are sitting in sketchbooks or seldom-frequented blogs into wider circulation.

An extract from "Please",  part of the upcoming HIVE #4

HIVE, has published work from a pretty impressive list of independent comic creators. What was the impetus behind the formation of Grimalkin Press? 

Me and a friend Jon Freihofer started Grimalkin Press as an umbrella under which to publish our own minicomics and the anthology. We were planning on pooling our monetary resources together as we wanted to have a unified imprint for the results; however, it rapidly changed, in my mind, to something with a much broader goal than just the fun of making zines and minis. I feel like GP has as much of a nonprofit vibe to it as does that of a licensed business. Yes, I would love one day to be able to quit the day job and just print comics for a living, but more important to me is to have Grimalkin Press be there as a foundation of sorts  (albeit a very loose, laid back one) that exists to help fledgling artists that have been toiling in obscurity for a while to get a leg up. We never want GP to be a publishing house that only has the dollar signs as our goal, I’d be happy with just recouping costs and making enough to float the next project.

"Same Story, Different Day", from Jordan's blog

As editor of HIVE, as well as a comic creator in your own right, I'm interested to know more about your personal relationship with the medium. Which comics have influenced you most, as a reader and as a writer/ artist?

As a reader I have been highly influenced by the likes of Craig Thompson, Guy Davis, Neil Gaiman, Mike Mignola, Daniel Clowes, Mike Carey, David B. and a host of others that I can’t even begin to list. It is a rare occasion that I read something that doesn’t influence me in some way. Okay, there may be some super hero comics that I grab at the library that really have a nil effect, but then again I’ve been blown away by a super hero rag or two in my day. I think if I had to choose a favorite artist it would be Alphonse Mucha. Him or Guy Davis.

As a kid, it was all about Spider-man and I totally wanted to be Mark Bagley when I grew up! But I went through the classic “oh man so many people are better than me" bullshit, and I didn’t really draw again 'til my early twenties when I somehow started making concert posters (I think I was trying to impress a girl in a band) and it clicked. I couldn’t believe I had wasted all those years not drawing; I couldn’t believe I had two useless degrees! I wanted to draw for a living! So, I did posters and CD covers for a few years, and I really find design stuff, old engravings and the cover of Pedro the Lion’s “Winners Never Quit” to be big influences with where I want my work to go. I’m not saying you can see the influences yet, but I have goals.

I rediscovered comics during that time through webcomics like White Ninja, Beaver and Steve and a slew of others. I even did a short-lived horribly executed webcomic myself called We Have No Necks Comics... Some things are best dead and buried.

As far as comics influencing the way I make comics, I think Eleanor Davis’ stuff has done that a lot. I remember one of her pieces - I think it’s called “The Island” - that blew my fucking mind! There are a few panels of horizon, with like only three lines on the page but it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen! I try to have an economy of lines and also work with heavy black fills and stuff like that. I think the heavy black comes from reading so many Mignola comics, although our styles couldn’t be more different. I’m really trying to think of a comic that I can draw direct references to as far as what my stuff looks like as a result of reading that comic, I’m kinda drawing a blank. I’m not trying to say my stuff is so fuckin’ original or anything just that everything I see as influences look nothing like the product they influenced. Maybe too close to the work to see it?

The original Hive

Hypothetically speaking, what would be your "dream anthology". You have absolutely no limitations in budget and you can pick any creators alive or dead to be contributors. Go! 

Oh! It would definitely have a “pop up book” section! And the cover would have some sort of paper engineered clockwork mechanism that made a grumpy cat on the cover open its mouth and a scrolling piece of paper would come out that said "HIVE NUMBER 934!". It would have everyone from Sammy Harkin (whom I adore but for some reason intimidates me) to Dustin Harbin to Mike Mignola to Malachi Ward and Noah Van Sciver! It would be a boxed 3 volume set and each one would hold the promise of finding your true love! And the third volume would be hollowed out! For secrets!

Or it might just be a full colour, nice weight paper edition bound with that really cool pebbly “library rebinding” material. I think it is like acrylic coated book cloth but I’m not sure.

I hear that things are changing pretty dramatically within Grimalkin Press. What are your upcoming projects and plans for the future? 

Yeah, I’ve taken a full time job traveling around the world and catering for movie sets. I did this so I can better subsidize Grimalkin Press. We have a full schedule planned! There may be a small lag as we get used to me traveling and having limited communication time, and as the new editor Ingrid Bohnenkamp gets used to the job, but we are going ahead and moving beyond just putting out HIVE.

A few of the things we have for this year are: A minicomic by the wonderfully understated O’Shell; a comic as of yet untitled "Best of Blammo" by Noah Van Sciver; a stand alone anthology about working in Food Service; and of course the continuing of HIVE: A Somewhat Quarterly Comics Anthology of which Issue 4 comes out early May.

We'd like to thank Jordan for taking the time to answer our questions. Readers can expect a review of HIVE 4 as soon as we get our grubby comic blogging mits on a copy. Featuring a strip by the editor himself, as well as strips from the aforementioned Van Sciver, Smiley and the mighty Lord Hurk, we're very excited, as should you be.


1 comment:

  1. awesome. i love HIVE and Jordan is a great friend of mine. He did an edition of my bands EP album art. it was very cool stuff.
    I loved the interview. excited for Grimalkin Press and the future of HIVE.

    i hope i get to see that pop up book with the grumpy cat cover with the paper coming out its mouth.