A graphic novel has become Exhibit A in the latest Obamacare controversy.
Box Brown (“Belen!”, “Love is a Peculiar Kind of Thing”) is a fixture at indie comics shows, tirelessly producing his own bold and appealing short comics on a regular basis, but also, in 2011, launching an experiment in the return of the “floppy” or mini-comic via branding in the form of Retrofit Comics. Retrofit consists of a fleet of remarkable names in creator-driven independent comics banding together under an imprint to gain brand-visibility and reinforce a sense of production quality for their volumes. Retrofit’s goals were to be a presence in local comic shops, so that readers could actually visit a shop on new comic book day and look forward to floppies alongside mainstream works. The result was both beautiful, varied, and compelling for readers, particularly impressive when spread out over a table at SPX or the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. Creators published in Retrofit’s first 18 months have included James Kolchaka, Corinne Mucha, Josh Bayer, Nathan Schreiber, Noah Van Sciver, and many more. Meanwhile, Box Brown was continuing with his own comics as part of the Retrofit line-up, and turning to a long form work for First Second on Andre the Giant. Retrofit was originally launched with 16 books in mind, but they’ve since moved past that goal, posing the question, what’s going to be the future of Retrofit? When I got in touch with Box Brown to talk about it, unusually good timing also brought with the interview some breaking news about this very question. Read on to find out what leaps and bounds Retrofit has made not only throughout 2011 and 2012, but this very week!
Hannah Means-Shannon: So, Retrofit Kickstartered in July 2011 with a goal to publish 16 books between then and January 2013. What was your experience like following that plan? Did it change at all along the way?
Box Brown: I followed that plan to a T. It was a lot of leg-work but ultimately it was a worthwhile endeavor.
HMS: Do you feel that you’ve made headway raising awareness about the value of “floppies” as an experimental tool for creators via Retrofit?
BB: I think there is a a greater focus on the format now than when I got started. I think Retrofit played some part in that. I think it’s a great, versatile format for comics and I’m glad people are still making them.