In this final part of our conversation with the Storeyville artist, we discuss the downside of being a cartoonist/critic, pen pals, and whether blogs are the new mini-comics.
Does having published comics make it more difficult to be critical of someone else’s work?
Oh, totally. It’s like I have less of a license to attack something. “How dare you say Alex Ross sucks, Frank? You suck. You can’t draw. Look at your work, Frank. You suck.” But the person that’s saying that is some schlub who has never picked up a pencil. That’s really tough. I’m not saying that that person has less of a critical eye than I do, or anything. A lot of this is just opinions. But it’s tough. I’m so used to people just telling me, in terms of comics, that I don’t have what it takes. I’m so—I’m okay with that. I’ve been hearing that my entire life. “You suck, Santoro.”
You seem to have a dozen or so blogs to your name.
Um, yeah. There’s Comics Comics, and I have the Cold Heat blog, and then there’s the Cold Heat site that has the first six issues of the comic. And then I have Frank Santoro Comics, which is where I sell old back issues, if I have doubles, or something. And then I took Graphic Novels Graphic Novels, because there’s that site Graphic Novels Reporter. Is that legal? Comics Reporter, Graphic Novels Reporter? That’s highly controversial.
Again it’s like that’s the form now. More people see my comic on a blog now, than they do buying it at stores. You post something on a blog or a review on Comics Comics, and then I’ll run into someone and they’ll say “I love that thing.” But if I had taken the time to print it and mail it out, they probably wouldn’t have seen it. that’s part of it. in the last few years it’s changed.
Forgive the NPR question, but are blogs the new mini-comics?
It’s an interesting thought.
You’re actually posting tw- page spreads of your books on your blog. It’s the most literal interpretation of that concept I’ve seen.
Hm. Thanks. I was thinking about this the other day. There are a lot of Webcomics that are extremely popular that I’ve never read. I know that I can click over and read it, but because I’ve never seen it in a store or on a bookshelf—now I’ve seen Perry Bible Fellowship, and I’ve seen Achewood written about enough that I’ve read a few. But I’ve never really read it. the same as Dash Shaw’s Body World. It’s been a year since it’s been completed, but whent hat book hits stores, people are really going to be talking about it, and that’s because they’re gonna see this object, and it will be a different incarnation of this thing.
It’s a way of engaging the readers and one’s audience and the “community,” but is it the new mini-comic? Sure, you can say that, but I still thing that there’s something about being on a shelf and being in a store and being that will take a while to wear off.
I read an earlier interview with you, where you mentioned that one of the things that really helped you become engaged with the comics community was this idea of being penpals with artists like Chris Ware.
You haven’t eschewed the idea of carrying on similar conversations via e-mail. Are you still writing physical letters, at all?
No. it’s changed in that way. I mean, Dash Shaw read Storeyville and sent me an e-mail. We began corresponding and we became friends. That still happens, but it’s different. There were so few of us back then. You would come across a mini-comic or Acme Novelty Library, and that would really strike you. The only way you could engage that person was by sending a postcard. I used to send zines to Paul Pope, and he’d send me early issues of THB, and that was great. Now we’re pals, but I had never Pope until 2004. It’s one of those things. I mean, I never met John Porcellino until this year. That stuff is funny.
But the thing that I find interesting with the blogs is that’s how outsiders begin engaging you. If you have some work online or on a blog, you give your business card to somebody with your Website on it. At this point, 10 years on, it’s not that big of a deal anymore. You can check it out first, and if you like it, you can go buy the book. That’s way different. But I like that. it’s good, but it can be strange. Sometimes I get more out of posting something on the blog than I do making a mini-comic, just because of the number of people that are going to come across it. If I want to make something really private, I can make a mini-comic.
Do you still engage fans the same way when they send you an e-mail?
Yeah. I try. For the most part. It’s tougher now. Honestly, I’ve gotten more requests to give critical feedback, which I think it fair. But I find that it’s harder now. Not because I don’t want to give that feedback it’s just…
Well, yeah, time. But I think the nature of the back and forths can change. In the past, you could write a letter that said, “I loved your books for these reasons.” Weeks would go by. But you send that now and there’s a back and forth with more questions. That can be tough. I want to engage fans and everyone like that. It’s not like I’m inundated with that stuff, but I want to be honest, and it can be tough when you’re just trying to be encourage.
The last thing I’ll say is Storeyville is getting published in France, and I’m going to Angoulême.
Have you been to the show before.
Nope. I’m super excited.