Jeremy Holt is the perfect example of a grinder. Over the years, he’s forged connections and written good comics to write for Challenger Comics (the under appreciated home of great indy comics), Monkeybrain (the digital-first and quality-driven publisher) and now the new Heavy Metal comics imprint. I interviewed him about the “music as time travel” series he’s doing for Heavy Metal with artists Alex Diotto and Renzo Podesta, and was even more excited about it than I was after I read the first issue. Read on to learn more about the homage to grunge that reminds you of how music is magic.
What makes comics an effective way to share a story about music?
Honestly? It’s not really that effective! It was increasingly difficult for me to figure out–early on–how I was going to capture the transportive property particular songs have for each and every one of us. But with enough time (and dozens of re-writes) I finally figured out a way to engage the reader by incorporating a song that supported the narrative of Skip To The End. Whether I pulled this off successfully is yet to be seen, but I feel confident that the combination of featuring a fictionalized version of one of the most influential rock bands of all-time with some cool time travel elements will resonate with readers.
Was it intimidating, writing lyrics for an homage to your favorite band?
1000% yes. I didn’t even try to make an attempt. Instead, I reached out to a good friend of mine from college who–other than being a very talented filmmaker–is a very talented musician. When I pitched him the idea, he was immediately on board and sent me the lyrics the very next day. I have to give a lot of credit to him because without his contribution, I don’t think STTE would have worked as well as it does within the visual narrative medium. My friend’s lyrics are the glue of this project.
How did Skipped to the End come together?
STTE came together because of my obsession with two things. 1. Music as a form of time travel. 2. The band Nirvana. I often think about the grunge rock explosion of the early 90’s and the life and times of Kurt Cobain, so I think it was inevitable that I was going to stumble upon the idea, “What if someone could go back in time to save Kurt Cobain?” This naturally led to me to researching the history of the band, and through that process, I started to develop the narrative foundation for what would become STTE. Taking it a step further, I wanted to examine addiction and began attending AA meetings to better understand the mindset of an addict. There are a variety of meeting formats so I chose to attend “OD” or Open Discussion meetings as a respectful observer. These experiences were extremely informative and helped shaped the protagonist of STTE.
How did it end up in Heavy Metal?
It was somewhat serendipitous timing. My good friend Kurtis Wiebe was kind enough to introduce me to Heavy Metal CEO Jeff Krelitz, but after a few months without hearing back, I sort of gave up on the idea of landing STTE at Heavy Metal. Around this time, I learned that Tim Daniel got hired as HM’s Production Editor. Tim happens to be my co-writer on our Monkeybrain series SKINNED, and when I mentioned STTE to him, he told me that he had already discussed it with Jeff. A week later, I received an email from Jeff saying that the entire team loved the pitch and would love to publish it.
What have they said about why they’re venturing into publishing comics?
I honestly haven’t discussed any of that with the publisher. All of my correspondences have stuck to the production details of STTE.
How has your experience been with Heavy Metal?
It’s been fantastic! Everyone has been extremely supportive, and Tim and I go way back, so working with him is always an absolute blast.
How is the process of making and/or marketing the book different because it’s with Heavy Metal?
As far as production goes, it’s been extremely smooth and familiar because Tim Daniel has designed almost all of my pitches, so I sometimes have to remind myself that we’re collaborating under the Heavy Metal umbrella. As far as marketing goes, it has been a welcomed change to be able to successfully connect with big name news outlets thanks to HM’s established brand.
Have you had any contact with Grant Morrison?
I have not. Heavy Metal’s comic book imprint is–as far as I understand–completely separate from the magazine. Has Grant Morrison seen my comic? No idea but a guy can dream, right?
You’ve worked for a variety of publishers. How have you built relationships with them?
The relationships that I’ve built with various editors at just about every publisher has been something that I’ve cultivated over 7+ years. First and foremost, I had to produce work to show. By building relationships with artists, I was able to demonstrate to editors that I knew how to put a pitch together. Over the years, I’ve made the commitment to attend as many conventions as my budget can allow to meet artists, writers, and editors. Being receptive to criticism, improving my craft, and being present are the most effective ways that I’ve fortified my relationships with publishers. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to share these experiences in great detail at Multiversity Comics. Feel free to check out my column Strange Love here.
Where do you see this long and windy road ending up for you as a comic book creator?
Ultimately, I’d love to be writing full-time but for someone that is married with a mortgage, this is easier said than done. I currently have a day job as an Apple Computer Technician that I’d love to eventually leave behind. I’ve come to terms with the fact that this may never happen, but I’m hoping that with each new series that I can get published, it’ll incrementally elevate my visibility within the industry. With enough exposure, I hope to gain interest from publishers to allow me to write for some licensed properties. As much as I love creator-owned comics, it’ll be the consistent work-for-hire gigs that will justify me quitting the day job.