Hey there, Emo Boy

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Emo Boy may use his super-human sensitivity to sabotage his own happiness, but creator Steve Emond is having the time of his life torturing his creation (in a good hearted, loving manner, of course). Steve stops by the Broken Frontier to talk about Emo Boy and what makes this loveable loser so much fun. 

Broken Frontier: Could you give a little background on whom Steve Emond is?

Steve Emond: Steve Emond is about as much of a normal guy as you can get. I'm thrilled to actually be doing this comic, as I've been drawing since I was a kid and it's always been my goal to have a comic book of my own. It started with wanting to do a Marvel comic, to an Image comic; lots of superhero stuff; but where I ended up is so much cooler than that, I get to create, write, draw, and just build my own little universe from the ground up. 

I've been trying to get something published since about 1997 after graduating high school. I had some success with a comic strip, but I continuously fell just short of a syndication deal.
I'm just a kid from CT though. The only thing that makes me think I deserve a book more than anyone else on the planet is the amount of work I've put into getting here. But if I can do it, anyone can! 

BF: How did you get involved with Slave Labor Graphics?

SE: I have books full of ideas, book ideas, screenplay ideas, comic strips, comic books, etc. I thought up the idea of an Emo Boy superhero, and emailed my girlfriend about it, never taking it too seriously. She loved the idea though, so I cranked out a mini comic in a few days, and sent it off to SLG. I think I sent it to James Kochalka for some weird reason as well, figuring maybe he'd talk about it or have some advice, but I really only could see it being published by SLG. I had so much fun doing it, though, that I kept on and figured I might self publish it. I had done a few issues more, when Dan Vado of SLG had sent me an email. 

He liked the mini a lot, more than the newer issues I had done, where Emo Boy was just a kid with no powers. We had a few brief but meaningful conversations on what makes Emo Boy work for him that totally changed how I looked at writing it. I sent him a ton of ideas I had, and even drew up new pages and tossing them at him until he finally cracked and sent me a contract. 

The first issue is basically a remake of the mini - the art and writing had improved so much since the initial mini that I wanted to redo it. 

BF: For those that might not be familiar with the term – what is “emo?” Extending from that, who is Emo Boy and what exactly are “emo powers”?

SE: Defining Emo is like telling people what's in Heaven; you're just bound to piss someone off. For me, it's the obvious - it's short for 'emotional'. His highs are real high, and his lows are real low. He over analyzes and just feels too damn much. As you'll see in the comic, there's a constant monologue running in his head, the world is a bad poem. 

The powers are emotional powers. There's no real limit to what he can do. When he feels larger than life, he might grow to be a giant, and when he's lonely and neglected he can turn invisible. When he's angry he can be very strong and when he's a nervous wreck he'll projectile vomit someone into a wall. 

BF: What is it about Emo Boy (the character) that you think would appeal to readers?

SE: I think Emo Boy, despite his total whininess, is easy to relate to, because we're always in his head. We know why he does what he does, we know how he feels, and exaggerated as it may be, we've all felt the way he does. And the few times he smiles, you just want to pinch his cheeks. 

BF: What can someone who picks up a copy of Emo Boy expect from the book?

SE: I think with Emo Boy, people can expect the unexpected. One of the things Dan really liked about the series is that you'll never know what's on the next page. He's a normal kid in a normal school, but he's so not normal. Nobody knows when his powers will come out and what they will do. I've made it a point to make a lot of sharp turns and to build a story, and to not be afraid of taking leaps to get where I want to be. 

It's also very character driven. A common misconception is that it's going to be a bunch of stabs at Emo kids, and a long line of jokes, but that's not why I'm here; I love comics and I love to draw and to tell stories. This is a story, and it's a world, and it's about self expression and storytelling, not throwing a culture under the bus. So I hope people are really pulled into my world with this book. 

BF: Is the title an ongoing or finite series?

SE: As far as I'm concerned, this is ongoing. I have way too many ideas. I'm wrapping up the 5th issue right now, and that doesn't ship until February! It's going to be a bimonthly schedule, so issue 2 will be out in August, and it will NOT be late!

BF: Can you share a few teasers as to what you have planned for future issues of Emo Boy? 

SE: Yes, definitely. There's going to be some larger stories, and more short ones. Issue 2 will be one 28 page story, where Emo Boy goes to a concert and finally meets a girl he's longed for since the 2nd grade. In issues after that, he'll play some dodgeball, attempt suicide, confront some old demons, consider bisexuality, and do an autobio comic book, all kinds of fun stuff. And prom!

BF: As the credits somewhat sarcastically point out, there’s no music for this story.  If the book did have a soundtrack to it, who would be on the album?

SE: There would definitely be a Weezer song on there, some Jimmy Eat World, some Elliot Smith, Iron & Wine, and a little Justin Timberlake. That kid's hella emo. 

BF: Slave Labor is doing a little contest tied to Emo Boy. Can you explain it for us?

SE: I think you're talking about the livejournal contest - on the SLG News LJ, we're asking people to post their most 'emo' pictures. Frowns and tears and staring blanky into a camera you're holding yourself. Show us your emo and get a free copy of Emo Boy #1!

[Interviewer’s note – check out http://www.livejournal.com/users/slg_news/ for more details.  The last day to post pictures is Wednesday, June 8th, with the winner announced June 10th] 

BF: What was the feeling like to see the finished product of Emo Boy #1 in print? 

SE: This is my first professional book; it was so exciting to get that box delivered. My girlfriend (who did the back cover) and I sat and pored over each page. I've read it a bunch of times now, but I haven't seen it on a rack in a store yet. I should get someone to send me a picture or something. That'll be another great experience. I'm so psyched I can do this every 2 months now. 

You can draw and print and read your work, but nothing is like seeing a printed copy of the finished product. Maybe some day I'll just grow tired of that and stop reading my own books, but I can't imagine it.

BF: Would you consider yourself a “tortured outsider,” if so, why? 

SE: I suppose I have the tortured outsider syndrome. I think a lot of people who are comic artists are. If you've had the time to develop your skills enough for a publisher to spend a lot of money on you, you've likely spent a few weekends in your room alone. 
I'm definitely a quiet guy, but that's how I like it, what can I say? 

BF: You and your book have taken a few shots from people (most of which admit to actually having not read the comic). What seems to be drawing this ire?

SE: I think there's a lot of misconceptions that I'm some MTV hired hack (MTV News ran part of the press release, and some people have tied me to them. I wish I was getting MTV money!), sent to commercialize the emo scene in a sucky comic book, but that's just so wrong. 

When I started the book, I figured the indie kids would love it because of the subject matter, and the comics crowd wouldn't get it; but instead the emo kids are trashing it without reading it, and comics people totally get it, because it's a good comic. 

I've just heard so many people saying 'who cares about emo kids', 'he must work for MTV', 'this is so played out already', but I really don't care, because none of them have read it for what it is, a story; a comic book. 

BF: The people who have actually read the book seem to be giving it largely positive feedback. What would Emo Boy’s take on this success be?

SE: Emo Boy would not take success well. In an earlier scrapped issue, he becomes the school's newspaper cartoonist, and he's afraid to take on the job because if 100 kids read his cartoon, he'd be a complete sell out. So I imagine he'd have a tough time with success. He'd love to be a part of SLG, though.

BF: I understand you’re going to be at the  MOCCA Arts Festival– When can people meet the man behind Emo Boy?  

SE: Yep, shy little ol' me will be at MOCCA in NY on the 11th and 12th , I've got a box of comics to sell, and some posters to give out.

BF: Are you planning to attend any other cons this summer?

SE: I'll also be at Comicon in July and I might have 100, 8 page behind the scenes comics, about myself and the comic that I'll be giving away for free (suggesting it gets printed on time). I'm just so excited to be out there and a part of this community, I want to do whatever I can to get my comic in front of people. I just want to open up and share with everyone. I love getting email and hearing from everyone, it's all so great. What a great community. I'm so excited to meet everyone at the conventions.

BF: If someone was waffling on buying Emo Boy #1, what would you say to convince them?

SE: I'd say read it, flip through it, I promise it's not the cliché you're fearing. I know exactly what I like in a comic, and I pour so much of myself into each issue. There's just a lot in there, I really think you'll find something to like. Plus, it's bimonthly, so if you like it, there's a lot more coming!

BF: And, of course I have to ask this – could you do an emo monologue for me? 

SE: But of course. 

I couldn't believe it when I got the email; I mean, an interview? Me? What could I possibly say? Words, a bunch of words. I could give him words, a series of letters and spaces and periods and commas, but could I really say anything? A day becomes night and a thought becomes noise and eventually it's all forgotten; it's all for nothing. But to forget the past, and to look to the future is to know the pointlessness of life. So what can we do? We live in the now.  

I will speak my words, and I will answer his questions. And maybe some kid out there will say "You know what? That was pretty emo, but who cares? I'm going to buy that comic."

And the words will be forgotten, but that comic will live on. That comic will survive the ages, and a couple words that were quickly forgotten, for that one instant, they made a difference. They made that kid buy that book, and it's going to grow, just a little bit. It will grow and it will live. 

Unless the kid doesn't bag and board it. Then it just dies.

Emo Boy #1 is now available.  Issue #2 is listed in the June Previews catalogue, solicited for an August 2005 release.  For more on Steve Emond, Emo Boy and Slave Labor Graphics, be sure to visit www.stephenemond.com  and www.slavelabor.com

- Fletch Adams

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