Welcome to Self-Published Spotlight, a regular interview column where I will be highlighting self-published comics and the creators and small print publishers who make them.
I met Eli Schwab, the man behind Cosmic Lion Productions, on Cartoonist Kayfabe Ringside Seats ( the Facebook community created by fans of Jim Rugg’s and Ed Piskor’s fantastic podcast Cartoonist Kayfabe). Eli immediately was engaging, and friendly and one of the reasons that the community grew. It’s no surprise then that Eli has also been making and publishing his own stuff (and other people’s too) for years through Cosmic Lion Productions. Eli and I sat down to chat a bit about CL Productions, his comics history, and even Phish and Grateful Dead get a mention!
Monkeys Fighting Robots: What’s your comic book origin story. How did you get into comics? And how when did you get into MAKING comics?
Eli Schwab: I was really born into it. My dad read Mad Magazine and The Freak Brothers and started me off early on Mad and TMNT Adventures and Marvel comics. It’s really hard for me to remember a time when comics and action figures and science-fiction weren’t a part of my creative life and weren’t a part of play or creation. As early as third grade I published my own Star Trek comic with my friend Levi and made a ninja turtles sketchbook with my friends of all different, basically, action figure pitches is what it looks like now. So, creation was an early part of the creative process that never left for me.
MFR: So a lifetime fan! Awesome! When did you make the leap to actually publish your own comic as an adult?
ES: Publishing as an adult came as a result of trying to plan events at a LIVE venue I was working at in Burlington Vermont called Nectars, of course, it’s where Phish got their start. So I was planning live events, I would plan these Cosmic Lion nights and I wanted to have live art. I wanted to have local bands and I wanted to have a comic book release at each event. So, I started harvesting my notebooks and my short stories and I would go to the Kinko’s across the street from Nectars and I would “publish” my comics on 8 1/2 x 11 paper and I would just staple them together like a book If you consider that self-publishing which I do then that was the start of that as an adult I even would also play drums with some of the bands, I was a percussion player at the time still am I guess.
MFR: That’s awesome. I love hearing stories about photocopying and ‘zines. I wish there was still more of that. So aside from publishing, you also have a bunch of podcasts. When did you first figure out you wanted to start a podcast?
ES: I was always fascinated by radio and radio DJs and the way they spoke in their wordplay and so when I first went to college in 2003, I was in New Hampshire, and they had a radio station there that would only go out on the campus TV stations. So, if you wanted to hear my radio show then, you would have to watch it on, like, a closed-circuit TV channel. So I learned there how to mix and use crossfaders and work a board and I tried to have fun and mix Phish and Grateful Dead songs together and had a ton of fun with it. Then, when I moved to Burlington Vermont they had a local college radio station there called 90.1 WRUV and I always wanted to get a show on that. I loved the shows they had and the way people talked and the cool music that they played but I never got to have a show, which was a big regret for me. So then I moved to Florida probably 10 years later and a hero of mine Jim Mahfood started his podcast the Beat Bee sessions with Jane dope and I just listened to it and I was like this is awesome they talked about how they made it and I was like, “I can do this, I want to do this,” and so I just put my money where my mouth was and I started up a Podcast, Cosmic Lion Radio. I combined everything I loved from WRUV from local radio when I was a kid from Jim Mahfood‘s podcast, the mixtape idea, and putting in the music I loved. I was always so big into music and I was always someone people looked to for new music and awesome, cool, weird stuff. So I was just like I can combine all this into Cosmic Lion Radio and then the more I listen to podcasts, the more I was like oh man I should be interviewing people I like and musicians that I’ve worked with previously. So I combined all of that stuff into Cosmic Lion Radio. Then In my last episode for a while I interviewed Manus who then became a cohost for a brand new podcast, Can I Thwipp It, then when I met Ben Granoff I was like, “We both love Grendel we’ve got a make a new podcast (The Devil In The Detail -ed). !” I’m even open to starting more podcasts. I’ve got a few more ideas in the can, so, we’ll see what happens.
MFR: What are some of the projects Cosmic Lion is working on now? I know Wizerd #2 is about to drop, which I am infinitely stoked about.
ES: Cosmic Lion Productions is always looking for new comics to publish new people to work with and new voices to help be heard. I’m also looking to finish my book monkey lien which I started almost 10 years ago I really just have one more issue and I’m really looking forward to getting that done. Also a new anthology book I’m looking to do in the place of Wizerd looking to move up and beyond the confines of the Wizerd name. I’m also always looking for new projects and I’m excited about the possibilities of finding new artists who are amazing and looking to be published and looking for some help to do so so if you’re one of those types of people hit me up.
MFR: What’s the best way for folks to hit up? And any final comments?
ES: You can hit me at eli@CosmicLionProductions.com My final thoughts are if you want to make Comics do it! There’s nothing standing in between you because the restrictions of comics are nothing or are only your own mind. So get out there and create, whether you’re drawing a stick figure or rendering like Alex Ross, your idea can get across. If you’ve got an idea, make it happen. If you wanna work with someone, find them, email them. You can do it! There are lots of avenues, there are lots of ways. There are 1 million ways to succeed and only one to fail and that’s not even trying, so get out there and don’t just read more comics BE MORE COMICS!!