I sat down with indie comics writer and publisher Alverne Ball recently for an interview. I first met Alverne at San Diego Comic Con back in 2006. I was at The Antidote Trust booth slinging Force Galaxia when this smart young man approached and began asking questions. Immediately I knew this cat was going places. Several years later he’s become one of the fastest moving writers in Indie publishing.
First, tell me who you are and where do you live?
I’m Alverne Ball and I reside in Plainfield, IL, about an hour right outside chicago
How did you become a writer? School? Self taught?
I went to Columbia College Chicago to study writing. I have a B.A. Fiction writing and a MFA in creative writing.
But I’ve been writing since I can remember.
Who are your major influences as a writer?
Alexandre Dumas, Mario Puzo, Flannery O’Conner, Walter Mosley, Michael Connelly, Garth Ennis, Charles Johnson, just to name a few.
Were you always focused on just writing comics or do you write in other fields?
I started out writing literature, and show how along the road I found comics and fell in love with it. That love somehow lead me to wanting to write crime novels. I’ve written TV pilots and feature films also. So I like to think i’m a jack of all trades. I’ll try to write just about anything at least once.
How did you decide to start self publishing your own creations?
I got into publishing because I wanted to know everything that there was to know about how to make comics. As I was looking to break into the industry I noticed that at the time there weren’t as many doors open to young writers want to write comics, but there were for artist. I felt i had some good ideas but no one was listening and so I decided I’ll do it myself. I’ll reach the audience and tell the stories I want to read.
What was your first creation that came to fruition? And how did you feel when seeing that first artwork returned to you?
It was a book called R-squared, which was an action/espionage story about a secret government assassin seeking vengeance against the agency that betrayed him only to learn he was part of a bigger conspiracy to start WWIII. The first time I saw the artist pages I was so giddy that I started to write the next issue. Seeing artwork motivates me. It was like, wow, these are my words made real. Now I really gotta start taking the writing of this thing more seriously.
When did R-Squared debut?
I believe it was 2006 or 2007, those younger days get a little blurry.
looking it up to be sure
sorry it was 2004. just found the very first floppy copy
How was it received?
It was received well. I started off doing mini-comics which I sold at conventions and our first time out we sold out of like 300 copies. each going for I believe at the time $3
After you created R-Squared you became super prolific, what are some of your other titles?
Yeah, I guess you can say. I caught the publishing comics bug. I’ve written and produced a series that I’m hoping to officially release this year called Geddeon. It’s a story I’ve been working on since High school. My next big book to hit the stands via Silver Phoenix entertainment is my 8 issue historical horror/action series, Virgin Wolf. I’m also working on a choose your own destiny Graphic novel called, Dime. And i’m midway through the second issue of 4 part mini series entitled Zulu. Lastly I’m also in production on an action/assassin story called, Palm.
Those are just to name a few
sorry if that was long winded
not sure if you wanted mini-synopsis of those books
I understand that you are using Kickstarter to finance Dime. Tell me a little bit about that process and where folks can go to help out.
Sure, Kickstarter is a crowd-funding company that allows supporters to pledge money towards a project and in return teh creator, such as I, promises to give the consumer something for their pledge. In my case it’s Dime and readers can go here http://kck.st/GGc4wn and be a part of a story in which they can actually determine how it’s shaped.
Since you’ve been in the indie comics scene for quite a while what are your general thoughts about small publishing?
I think it’s where the real creators are and where one’s imagination has a chance to grow. It’s also a good training ground for all artistic people because you learn from your comrades in arms as you fight the good fight of putting your idea out to the world. I also think that now more than ever is the time when indy creators need to come together, build a brand, and demand more from their creations, whether that be royalties, copyrights, or just the growth of one’s readership. Now is the time t be bold and to pave one’s path
Being a creator who happens to be Black, what are your experiences in the indie scene?
I’ve found that at some level of being indy you’ll find that supporters: readers and creators are more receptive and more supporting of a black creator in the industry. But I can also say that at a certain level in the indy sector publishers are not so receptive. Now i’m not crying racism or anything of that nature because if the project doesn’t fit the publishers needs it doesn’t fit. But I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been told “This pitch is great and the story is awesome, but at this time we’re looking to do more in house things,” which is fine, but at the same time don’t waste my time by agreeing to a sit down knowing nothing will come of it. I’ve heard some horror stores from other black creators, but I always try to believe that this industry isn’t that cruel and that my work will find it’s audience if I continue to put it out there.
I should also note that I know of a few black creators who have signed away their copyrights to be published. Never give your work away, especially if you work hard on it and believe in it.
Thats sound advice. Where can the fans contact you and buy your books?
www.alverneball.com You can read scripts, preview upcoming books, and get a taste of some of the projects I’m bring to the world.
Well, thanks,it was great chatting with you.
Yeah, this was fun.