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.
Funded in under a week and the subject of massive buzz, G.H.O.S.T. Agents has made the scene. Written by Rocko Jerome, the spy-fi action comic is an anthology designed to showcase some killer up-and-coming comic talent, and this is issue one of an ongoing series that includes artists Chris Anderson, Ben Perkins, Sam J. Royale, Barry Tan and will be published by Eli Schwab via COSMICLION Press. I had the chance to chat with this crew, and much like the G.H.O.S.T. Agents, they are all badasses themselves. But time’s almost up! So if you were meaning to get around to getting in, grab it now!
Monkeys Fighting Robots: So Rocko, where and how did you conceive the concept for G.H.O.S.T. Agents?
Rocko Jerome: It’s a way that I can write stories in a genre that I enjoy without having to get someone’s permission or aspire to work for one of the two mammoth corporations that lord over the world of comics. I don’t suppose it’s really difficult for anyone to see what kinds of comics I’m into just by glancing at what we’ve cooked up, here. I was inspired by Michel Fiffe and the ballsiness of Copra, where he’s making the best Suicide Squad comic of this century, but doing it in a total DIY way and sort of daring anyone to stop him.
MFR: And this is also an ongoing series, right? I don’t know if I have seen a lot of Kickstarters for an ongoing. What made you want to make it a series and not a graphic novel or limited series?
Rocko: It is intended to be ongoing, yeah. With one major exception in the works, it will all be made up of short stories by a whole host of artists that all stand alone and, if I get my part right, also lean into a bigger narrative if the reader pays attention. I feel like here in the 21st century, the biggest adversary to overcome for every creator of every kind of art is our collective attention deficit. I feel like it’s not even a “disorder” at this point and more a collective state of being. We’re all busy. We all have literally hundreds if not thousands of things competing for our attention when we go on the internet. So I ask the artists that I collaborate with to commit to illustrating short, punchy stories, and I ask absolutely anyone in the public to spend a quick few minutes to read any of them. Kickstarter, was Chris Anderson’s idea and, although Eli and I were initially reluctant to go that route because we never had before, I’m glad we got over that and tried it. Because it’s gone very well, and I don’t think our more established conventional methods would have gone nearly as well as this has. We were fully funded within just six days, and that sixth day happened to be my birthday. It’s all very exciting. If I have my way and continue to be this lucky, I want to keep making G.H.O.S.T. Agents comics for the rest of my life. These guys all have scripts for future stories, and there are a lot more out there with other artists. I don’t feel like there’s any limit to what can be done with this concept. It’s wide open.
MFR: Alright, so this question goes to the artists. How did each of you get involved with the project?
Chris Anderson: We were just wrapping up Image Grand Design, and I was brainstorming something to do for WIZERD 2. Rocko and I were talking about what a great experience it was working together, and he asked me to do a G.H.O.S.T. Story for the ‘Zerd. That led to asking me to do the story in this issue and so on.
Ben Perkins: My story is really short and sweet. Rocko liked my work, he asked me to do a story, and I said yes.
Sam J. Royale: On May 2nd, 2021, Rocko said, “Hey bro, would doing a cover featuring a Mod-era Wonder Woman expy on a motorcycle be something exciting for you?” I agreed immediately but then realized how difficult that could be, so I cried and bought more time by insisting on designing the logo first.
Barry Tan: Rocko originally approached me about collaborating on a story for Darkest Image after seeing a Kirby-inspired pin-up I posted. Midway into it, he had the idea to include it in G.H.O.S.T. Agents, and we agreed it would be a good fit with some art and dialogue revisions. And so here I am amongst the company of these exceptional artists.
MFR: Eli Schwab, you’re publishing this through Cosmiclion Press. How did GHOST Agents end up in your headquarters?
Eli Schwab: After Image Gand Design, Rocko and I were looking for another time to do something together. I had such a fun time working with Rocko laying out that book that I was excited to get creative with him again. The cool thing about working with Rocko is that we both have similar strengths, and we also fill in the places where the other may lack. What I mean by that is we’re a great team that picks up where the other isn’t focusing. So like when Rocko is wondering about how to print on newsprint, I can go find out how we can do it and if it’s cost-effective. Also, after a wild project like IGD, you really learn about people and about their work ethic. I would be down to work with almost any of the creators from Image Grand Design/Disaster. There are a lot more great books coming from the crew, too! Some published by me and some not.
The G.H.O.S.T. Agents Kickstarter ends shortly.