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Joey Esposito Talks 'Footprints,' IGN and Monster Boinking

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Writer Joey Esposito called in to talk with Broken Frontier about his debut comic book  Footprints published by 215 Ink. In this interview he gives some details about the noir/supernatural comic, discusses monsters getting it on, and sheds some light on the trials and tribulations of small press comics. In the interest of transparency, it should be noted that he is the comics editor at IGN.com and that I do freelance writing for IGN, making him my editor. However, that doesn’t mean I went easy on him...

BROKEN FRONTIER: Give us a synopsis of Footprints for those that don’t know about the book.

JOEY ESPOSITO: Footprints is a crime noir supernatural mystery. It stars Bigfoot as a hardboiled private detective. His brother the Yeti is murdered in the arctic, and they are estranged, they haven’t talked to each other in a long time, so he gathers the whole team back together to find out what happened.

BF: When I read the first issue, the first thing I thought was “Fables pistol whipped by 100 Bullets,” so I want to know what sort of titles you read and what was the inspiration behind this story?

ESPOSITO: Everything you just mentioned I really enjoy. I like the crime stories and noir comics and noir movies and everything, it’s just a genre I’ve always been into. As far as the supernatural/mythological creature aspect, Fables I am definitely a fan of. I just saw all of these interesting connections between someone like Bigfoot, most specifically Motheresa. The idea of the Mothman has a lot of parallels with the femme fatale archetype. They only bring bad luck to the main character. It’s interesting to make these parallels between these cryptid creatures and what we know of noir and crime comics.

BF: It’s funny that you bring up the femme fatale because that leads right into my next question. Noir is always known for the crime elements, but it’s also known for the romances that usually go sour for the protagonist. I read a review of Footprints #1 and the thing the guy took away above all else was that these cryptids were sleeping with each other.

ESPOSITO: Of course.

BF: [Laughs] The reviewer really just wanted to know who was going to boink next.

ESPOSITO: [Laughs] That’s funny because I have actually have thought about that quite a bit in terms of the inter-team relationships they’ve had in the past. You get some of it. Nessy and Don are clearly a thing. There’s kind of hints that Bigfoot and Nessy have hooked up at one point, and obviously Motheresa is key, which you’ll see. In issue #2 you’ll see how Motheresa came between Bigfoot and Yeti and everything, and that develops even further in issue #3. I definitely thought about their relationships that way, probably further than I ever expected.

BF: [Laughs] There’s a lot of imagery that goes along with the physical act of two of these monsters going at it.

ESPOSITO: Yeah, and then obviously some have relationships with human beings, so it’s kind of this weird place. I feel like the emotions behind it all are very real, but it’s essentially bestiality, which is a little weird.

BF: [Laughs] Are we going to see any children? Any offspring?

JE: No, but that’s a great idea. I would love to do that. The first human-cryptid baby. Well, in a way you see some offspring. Not in the way that you’re thinking, but in the final issue you’ll see something that combines a human with a cryptid.

BF: Oh interesting. Sounds cool. So how long is the series scheduled for?

JE: It’s just four issues. We are sort of taking the Hellboy approach where we want to do individual stories that all connect on a grander level. Right now we are just doing the four that we did through Kickstarter, which is coming out in a trade in February, so hopefully we’ll get to do more at some point. At this point it’s just these four issues.

BF: You mentioned Kickstarter. Go ahead and talk about your experience using Kickstarter and what it was like considering that you are the comics editor at IGN. Did that help you get the word out?

ESPOSITO: To some degree in the terms of people that follow me on Twitter, or name value in terms of, instead of some dude doing a Kickstarter project, it’s IGN’s comics editor doing a Kickstarter project. I did not use IGN to advertise myself or anything. I posted it on my blog, but in terms of directly marketing myself at my work, I didn’t do that. I think to some degree, having my name out there helped a little bit.

BF: So how did you come across your artist, Jonathan Moore? How did you meet? How did he wind up on the book?

ESPOSITO: We actually met on Digital Webbing, it’s sort of a creator forum. It’s a giant comic book forum, but they have a specific section for creators. Before Zuda had gone down at the beginning of 2010ish, I was looking to do a pitch and so I was looking for an artist. I sifted through hundreds of emails from various people and then I found Jonathan, who was doing his web comic called New Holland Days which is a hardboiled detective story about a hardboiled egg.

BF: [Laughs]

ESPOSITO: You can see even there we were destined to do something with a ridiculous main character and a detective. It was really stark black and white, classic noir imagery, which actually wasn’t what our Zuda pitch was at all. We started on the Zuda pitch and then it went under, so that project just exists in limbo now and will probably never get finished. Then we started talking about doing something else and I remembered New Holland Days and how good that looked and so we moved on to Footprints.

BF: Can you speak some about his style and what he brings to the book?

ESPOSITO: What’s great about Jonathan is such an accomplished artist in different styles. If you look at his portfolio, he has very realistic portraits and landscapes – he’s a great painter. He can literally do everything. He’s very into realism and making sure anatomy is correct, really basic fundamentals of artwork. In that respect, I think his style brings a lot to the book because he is so focused on the realism of it all, but meanwhile he’s drawing a character that is a dinosaur. He lends this realism to it that helps ground it in a noir setting.

BF: And it’s an unexpected bonus that you have Moore on the cover of your comic book, as in Alan Moore.

ESPOSITO: Yeah, maybe we can trick some people. That would be nice.

BF: [Laughs]

ESPOSITO: He’s sort of like a cryptid himself. You rarely see him, and when he comes out it’s a big deal.

BF: Now I’m totally off track. Where were we? We already talked about monster boinking.

ESPOSITO: Which is key, really. It’s the highlight of this interview. Just scrap the rest of it and put the part about boinking. That’s totally cool.

BF: [Laughs] That’ll be the headline we use to pull people in. But back on track. I read an interview you did a little while back and you mentioned that how you decide to write your own comic books is based on what you like when you read other comics. What do you like about comics that you put into your work?

ESPOSITO: I meant it in a very general sense. I’ve obviously reviewed a few comic books in my day, and I find that the things I enjoy the most are the things that focus on character and the interaction of the characters with each other. Not necessarily plot driven. That’s important, but I’d rather have a plot that serves to showcase and their interactions with one another than the other way around. In this case, we have the plot of Yeti’s murder and trying to figure out who is involved and how it plays into their past and the team. But really that is more servicing their history together as friends or lovers or whatever. That kind of thing is what I find myself drawn towards and are the kind of comics I would prefer to create. I am really adamant about character. You hear writers say good stories center on character, and I think that’s one-hundred percent true. If you’re using characters just to forward some plot point then it’s so uninteresting to me.

BF: Cool. So after Footprints, do you have anything else coming up?

ESPOSITO: I have plenty in the works, but nothing definitive yet. Jonathan and I are working on a graphic novel next, which is a 180 degree turn from Footprints. He’s going to be doing a completely different art style for it. Hopefully that’ll see the light of day in 2012. I’ve also got another series I’ve been working on for a while with a different artist, but I don’t really have much to say about that at the moment.

BF: Sounds thrilling.

ESPOSITO: Yeah, yeah. I will also have some short comics that will be appearing in different places, which is really exciting. When I get closer to announcing that stuff, I’d definitely love to talk to you again.

BF: You bet. So last question. Marvel and DC are out there. They read this stuff, so is there any special character that you would love to write given the chance?

ESPOSITO: Oh man, of course. I love all of those characters, but I’m not sure I would want to handle someone like Batman or Superman. I feel like I would rather observe from a distance and watch their stories unfold. Obviously there are cool stories I’d like to tell with them, but – and I’ve been saying this a long time on Twitter – I’d rather tell a story about Night Nurse from Marvel. I think she would make for such a kick-ass at least mini-series.

BF: Night Nurse?

ESPOSITO: She’s the person that superheroes go to when they get messed up in battle. If Spider-Man gets pummeled in a fight with Doc Ock, he goes to Night Nurse to help patch him up. At the same time, super villains go to her, too. She has this unique position in the Marvel Universe where she basically gets the goods on both the good guys and the bad guys. So what would happen if somebody exploited that? I think she’s a really interesting character that has never seen her full potential realized. Kind of obscure, but those are the kinds of characters I’m most interested in.

BF: I can see it now: Night Nurse by Joey Esposito. It would be great.

ESPOSITO: I hope so.

BF: Anything you’d like to add before we wrap it up?

ESPOSITO: Just that independent comics rely on preorders. We are in previews right now for the Footprints trade paperback, which we will be releasing at the end of February. But the order cutoff date is, I believe, before Christmas. So if anyone is at all interested in anything I said, or if they like the preview pages in this interview, then please go to your local comic shop and them to order a few copies of Footprints. It retails for $11.99. With any sort of smaller press publisher that you really enjoy their product, always preorder because those are the unfortunate way the industry works right now. It’s what makes or breaks a smaller title.

Footprints is published by 215ink. The collected edition is available for pre-order here.

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