Why did you decide to distribute your comic on the Web? And why for FREE?? (Not that I’m complaining)

I found that with the first series, reviews were stellar, but it was still a huge struggle to get the book into stores. Comic stores have a lot of books to choose from each month and can’t order everything, so, understandably, many of them stick to known sellers. While that makes good business sense, it also makes it incredibly hard for small press books to break through.

My hope is that by offering the series online for free, I can reach a much bigger audience and expose a lot more readers to the RUNNERS universe. My firm belief is that if more people can actually check out a series online and enjoy it, many of those people will also want to purchase the collected volume when it comes out in print. I know I prefer actual books to reading things online, but then maybe I’m just old school.

Anyway, if the series has much more exposure and an established audience, stores can then order the graphic novels without bearing so much risk. Ideally, they won’t have to “take a chance” on the book since it will have already built its audience by then.

How often do you post new pages?

Volume 1, Bad Goods, will post 5 days a week. Volume 2, The Big Snow Job, will either continue at 5 pages a week or go to 3 pages a week (depending on how far ahead I am at that point!).

When will the second story arc be posted?

For fans of the series, I know it’s been a long wait for the new story, RUNNERS: The Big Snow Job. I often joked that at least I’d get it out before Guns N’ Roses released “Chinese Democracy,” but I guess the joke’s on me now. Damn you, Axl. Anyway, for those readers, I apologize for making you wait until the entire first story is posted online, but I think the new story arc to be worth the wait, especially since it will be in color! As of now, the Bad Goods story is slated to finish posting around Aug 31, so The Big Snow Job should begin posting around Sept 1, 2009.

But even if you’ve already read the first volume, you might want to check it out again here on RUNNERSUNIVERSE, since most pages will be posted along with random notes, trivia, and behind-the-scenes info.

I thought the new series, RUNNERS: The Big Snow Job, was going to be published in 2008 by Archaia Studios Press. What happened?

The first issue of the second story was set to come out in May 2008, with subsequent issues following every other month. Unfortunately, that very month, ASP informed me that they were undergoing some company restructuring that would delay all their publications. They eventually got things up and running again, but at that point, I had decided to try the experiment of online distribution instead. FYI, I’m still on great terms with the ASP bunch and I hope you’ll support them by checking out their excellent catalog of titles.

Will The Big Snow Job be collected in graphic novel form?

Yes! Once the story has finished posting online, the material will also be collected and published in print form for those of you who, like me, prefer their comics in physical form. And it’ll be chockful of bonus material like concept sketches, pinups, and maybe even a new short story that won’t be available online.

I don’t want to read a story one page a day. Is there a better way?

Unlike a lot of webcomics, RUNNERS isn’t necessarily meant to be read as a daily strip, although you can certainly choose to read it that way to get your daily fix! As a narrative story, it reads best in larger chunks like a regular comic book. To make things easier, you can sign up for my Newsletter updates (to the right). As each chapter is finished posting , you will receive an email letting you know that chapter is available in its entirety. That way, you’ll get a reminder each time a new full chapter is up. Of course, if you’re really anxious to read the entire story now, you can order the graphic novel today from your local comic shop or my Store.

I liked the concept better, back when it was called FIREFLY.

While that’s not technically a question, it does deserve some addressing, especially since that show has loomed large for me since it first premiered. First and foremost, I absolutely LOVE that show, and I’m actually one of the few people (apparently) who watched each episode on TV when it originally aired, partly because I loved Joss Whedon’s work on BUFFY and was psyched for a new sci-fi series from that particular think tank. But the other reason was because I had already developed my own space smuggler series, so I was antsy to see just how similar it was going to be.

As it turns out, it was actually quite similar. Conceptually, RUNNERS is a sci-fi action-adventure about a group of smugglers whose unethical line of work often conflicts with their consciences, with the series relying on a healthy dose of comedy and fun character banter thrown in to boot. And the similarity goes one further: my first issue was about smugglers in space who find a girl in a container named Sky. You can imagine how freaked I was when the pilot of FIREFLY was about smugglers in space who find a girl in a container named River. Ack.

Anyway, I conceived RUNNERS way back in 1994 and wrote the entire first story arc, Bad Goods, in 1995. In 1996, I got a little sidetracked working on the Tick comic series, but eventually got back to RUNNERS in 2000. I finished issue #1 in Spring of 2002 and got it listed in the Sept 2002 issue of Previews (the big monthly comic catalog). FIREFLY premiered Sept 20, 2002.

Eventually the show got canceled, which, professionally, was a big relief for me, but personally, was a huge disappointment since it was THE show I would’ve most loved to watch. Since then, RUNNERS has gotten a lot of favorable comparisons to FIREFLY from various critics. So hopefully, people who liked that series will find something to enjoy in RUNNERS as well. At the very least, it’ll give you something to do at the office instead of actual work.

What are your influences?

Obviously, the original STAR WARS trilogy was a big influence as an amazing space opera that focused less on hard-sci-fi concepts and more on action, adventure, and cool visuals and characters. Plus, bounty hunters! THE LORD OF THE RINGS and STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE were huge influences for their epic war stories, much of which dealt with great world-building and complex relationships and politicking between different factions. Of the less obvious influences, there are THE GODFATHER movies (for the underworld power struggles and mob politics), MIDNIGHT RUN (since bounty hunters are awesome), THE UNFORGIVEN (for its complex and blurred depictions of “good” and “evil”), and BONE (for the way it used a fun premise and entertaining characters to slowly build up a huge story that was ultimately much bigger than anyone would have suspected).

Have a question you’d like to ask? Feel free to send me your questions and I’ll try to answer them regularly in my blog!