Sunday, March 02, 2008

Interview with Martin Blanco of Pit Brothers Productions


Martin Blanco of Pit Brothers Production was kind enough to do an interview with us. In the interest of full disclosure I made a few minor corrections to his answers as English is not his first language, but left it intact.

Martin is a very generous person and has always been very giving of his time to our blog. I hope all of you take the time to check out their books and buy one as the work from these guys is really well done.


Martin is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Pit Brothers Production and is the artist on Henry and Butcher.

Onto the Interview:

Jim: Pit Brothers Productions was founded in 2005 by yourself and Gonzalo Ventura. What prompted you to take this step to start your own production
company?
Martin: We have always liked comics, and started collecting them lots of years ago.
So basically the idea of making comics was always in our minds, but we decided to start PBP and self-publishing our own stories because we wanted to have all the control of our stuff.
We wanted to be a part of each step in the creative process of our stories.
It is more difficult than just sending the stuff to other publishers, especially concerning all the marketing and publicity, that often takes a lot of time, but we really like it.

Jim: I assume you are based in Argentina. Has this made it harder to get people's attention or with the internet less of a barrier?
Martin: Actually, Gonzalo lives in Argentina, I live in Spain but it is basically the same. We work as two different companies, because we publish our comics in Argentina selling them in comic’s stores and for the rest of the world through internet, so it is easier in Argentina, especially because there is not so much competition in the market. Not living in USA makes some things a little more difficult. The internet has helped us a lot, but not having your book in a shelf and selling it online; it is not the same. Anyway, we work hard everyday to get people’s attention by sending bulletins in our pages on myspace and comicspace and being part in forums, putting add banners online and updating our main website as often as possible.

Jim: You have two titles currently (The Legend of Joe Moon and Henry & Butcher) and
both are written by Gonzalo Ventura. Rarely have I read two books that were easier to catch onto and draw me in that fast. Has he written any comics before? Does he write full scripts or collaborate with the artist on how the page will be laid out?
Martin: Well, he works as writer making scripts for television and movies, so he is very close to the storytelling process. And I think having read comics for lots of years can help when you need to make your own story, but anyway, it was a process since we decided to start making our stories when we were experimenting with short stories to get the best way to work. Gonzalo makes a detail script of each panel, but gives freedom to the artists to choose the camera angles and the final design of the page. But personally, being the artist of Henry & Butcher, I like his scripts because he helped me with lots of text and visual references in order to get what he wants to express as closer as possible.

Jim: It appears that you are selling your book via Indy Planet. This is a publish on demand company. At $3 are you making any money on these books that way or is it a way to just start building a word of mouth?
Martin: Both. We make some profit of each issue but we think Print on Demand service is the best way for indie companies to start, because you don’t have to risk your money in an initial printing and then see if you can sell the comics. And that way, you can be worldwide, because living in Argentina, sending the comics by mail and making people pay shipping costs, would be very difficult to us and very expensive for them because it is too far. People like to buy the comic and not paying shipping costs, and this way, these costs are less, because Indyplanet is a USA company.

Jim: Have you approached any publishers like Boom, Archaia or Image and presented your books to them?
Martin: We are working on that right now. We think the next step is making our stories be a part of a bigger publisher to get more exposure and become Pit Bros. Productions in a creative company more than just a publisher. We are contemplating starting in webcomics as well.

Jim: You are the artist on Henry & Butcher. How do you produce your work?
Straight from pencils, scanned and photoshopped?
Martin: No. I work 100% in photoshop from the sketch to the final layout. I used to make a rough sketch of the whole page, and dividing it in panels, and then start working on each one, and making several tests during the process to check how the page looks. And using a Wacom tablet, I don’t need to go with pencils and then scanning them, I go directly with photoshop.

Jim: Had you done any comic book work before Henry & Butcher?
Martin: Well, I was making some short stories I told you before, but just as tests.
But it was approximately a 2 years process since we decided to make comics until I started working in Henry & Butcher
. We founded PBP on 2005 but the process started 2 years before that, and I had to study storytelling and visual narration a lot. I have a bachelor of Fine Arts but it is not the same to make a drawing than telling a story with them, so I was learning more about that, and of course, reading again all the comics from my collection to study the different situations I could find and incorporating tools to work with.

Jim: Your work improved (in my opinion) from issue #1 to issue #2. What are you learning as you do the work? Have you made any changes in your approach?
Martin: Basically, I continue working in the same way, but fortunately, we had some reviews telling us the same thing, lol. I think when you go forward developing a story, it becomes a part of yourself, and now I can be more of a perfectionist when working, taking more in mind things like contrasts, shadows and lights and composition of each panel in the page layout, than thinking if Henry’s face looks the same in all the issue, and can have more control about some aspects than the beginning. Choosing the camera angles that fit better with the story and deciding what atmospheres go best with the situations.

Jim: What are the barriers to getting published and distributed in the US? How are you publishing in other markets (South America, Europe, etc.)?
Martin: The main barrier is the money, first because we are an indie company and second because it is not easy to be in direct market. Living outside USA makes all more difficult. Let’s see... we could print our comics in the traditional way and then sell them through Diamond, but for example, there is a storage problem, because we can’t have our comics at home since we sell them, so we should pay for storage. And adding costs to the printing cost, and knowing the 60% discount Diamond ask for selling the comics makes that way impossible. And we publish in Argentina in the traditional way, we printed our comics and sell them in comic stores, we work with the biggest distribution company in Argentina and put our comics in South America as well.

Jim: Are you doing any US conventions this year?
Martin:No, we will be doing conventions in Argentina and perhaps someone in Spain but we have not decided yet.

Jim: What are you plans for 2008? Long term?
Martin: Our plans are to finish the first arcs of these two stories ( Joe Moon and Henry & Butcher), compile them in a TPB and we are developing more stories for different formats like webcomics, graphic novels, etc. Long term, we are working to make PBP a creative company, by making stories and working with publishers to put our stories in the shelves and focus all the time in the creative process to be sure we have the best stuff we can produce. And incorporating new people to our staff will be a part of that process.

Jim: If Marvel or DC come knocking would you want to work for them?
Martin: Yes, absolutely. We will love to do “Wolverine meets Frankenstein” or “The Justice League vs. Monsters United!!” Hahahaha! We love comics, we really love super hero stuff, and actually started reading with superheroes so there is not a problem about that. We know our stories are not that kind but we think the most important thing is having a good stuff, good stories. Having that, there can a be place everywhere and actually Marvel and DC have lines of adult comics, so why not?

Thanks again to Martin for giving us so much of his time. Next week I hope to have reviews of Joe Moon #1 and Henry & Butcher #2.

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