RED SPIKE'S Jeff Cahn "Yes This Is Me With a Full Bottle, Yes - This Is Happening!" It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere...
- Jeff Cahn’s RED SPIKE “Nothing Can Stop An Idea’s Whose Time Has Come!”
Hello, Hello, Hello Comic Natives once again like a modern day Indiana Jones I’ve searched through the grottos of the comic industry to bring to you another prime “Diamond in the Rough” comic native, his name is Jeff Cahn… and he is the creator of what is anticipated to be this summers “runaway BLOCKBUSTER” smash hit – RED SPIKE…With TopTalent (such as artist Mark Texeira) to help support the sheer weight and magnitude of his creation, Jeff is poised to set the comic world a blaze. Now, as a writer Jeff maybe new to comic book genre, however he is by no means a novice when it comes to the entertainment industry.
He currently works for Benaroya Pictures as a screen writer; here he has worked with such A-list talents as Katie Holmes, The Usual Suspects (Kevin Spacey), The Transformers (Shia LaBeouF), True Blood (Anna Paquin), THOR (Natalie Portman), Stanley Tucci, Priest (Paul Bettany), and last but not least The Dark Knight (Gary Oldman).
Jeff’s foray into the comic world is riddled with insights from both that of an outsider as well as an insider (so get ready to sink your teeth into some very thick and juicy meat)…as such I feel the following interview has the potential to be the mystical key that opens the “Mysteriously – laced” lock that has kept many aspiring artist, writers, and publishers locked behind the impregnable door of the comic and entertainment world. I hope you find this interview not only entertaining but informative as well…I look forward to comments.
***THAT BEING SAID; to Help insure that you play (Comments, Comments, Comments) along, I have convinced Alex Rodrik (Jeff Cahn’s Head of Publicity) to Give me THREE EXCLUSIVELY SIGNED Copies of RED SPIKE #1; Which I will Raffle off at the end of the month (May 31st, 2011) Live on the net to THREE Lucky Winners…
So I guess what I am saying is that I am “shamelessly” BRIBING you to Read, Play and Participate in this article. The rules are simple…write a comment regarding your thoughts about the article and Jeff’s views as to the direction the comic book industry is headed…you are then entered as a contestant to win in the Raffle…Simple – RIGHT?!
ComicPrivy: Can you tell us a little about how your fascination with comics began, and how you became involved in the comic book industry?
Jeff: Well, like most little boys, I would read comics and watch cartoons based on them when I was growing up. My grandmother used to get me subscriptions to Spider-man as Christmas presents. And I remember when I was around ten, my family had to do construction on our house for a few months, so we rented another house and lived there and right around the corner from this new house was a comic shop, so I would walk there and spend a lot of time there when I was a kid. Gold Mine comics, I think was the name. We were only in the rental house for a few months, but it was right when the “Death of Superman” issues were coming out, so that was a big deal and I remember that time pretty well and the posters they had around the shop and all that. And once the construction was done and we moved back to our old house, the comics just sort of followed.
As far as becoming involved in the comic industry, basically I got a job writing a few months out of college. I had written a spec script and Michael [Benaroya] read it and liked it and he hired me onto the development team at the company he had just started. This was early 2007. And it was here that the idea for RED SPIKE was born. So we had the idea, which we felt really lent itself to the comic medium, and we had a few connections into the comic industry with artists and editors and so we figured we might as well just go for it and try to produce a comic based off this idea.
ComicPrivy: How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Red Spike cover Issue #1
Jeff: We’d been playing around with the idea of an adrenalized super soldier for a while. It’s just a cool idea, a self-contained superhero that uses this magic chemical that we all possess. And at first it was just one guy, Matt, but as we began to build the world, we realized that having two of these guys allows us to do a lot more character work because we can play the two soldiers off of each other and use each of them as a foil for the other one. And once that decision was made, we just went to work trying to figure out what was the best story. We wanted it to be an origin story of sorts, not for Matt or for Greg, but for Red Spike as a whole, for the entire Red Spike universe and we wanted it to have legs so should we want to continue building and expanding the world in later issues or a series, we’d be able to. But it was a fairly long and intense process, like whittling a sculpture from a hunk of marble until it looks the way you want. So I wouldn’t say we came up with the idea for the book so much as we constructed the book based on the idea that we wanted to create a universe of interesting characters and situations based around adrenalized super soldiers.
ComicPrivy: The story seems to touch on every man’s desire to be a superman…more than just a man, how are you going to cater to the female audience?
Jeff Cahn: You mean girls don’t dream about being supermen too? Lol. Well, there are some female characters in RED SPIKE, and an especially strong one is Doctor Downey. She might be the most intelligent character in the story and she’s definitely one of the most humane and also one of the most brave. She does a thankless job because she thinks it’s the best way she can help people and the country. As the story progresses, we begin to see how Greg survives because of her, or because he knows she’s out there and wants to get back to her. And we see how much she is willing to sacrifice for him. So while on its face it may seem that RED SPIKE is just a testosterone driven action story, there are definitely elements of heart balancing out the action, and she is one of the primary counterweights. She’s a very complex, self made woman, who has earned the respect of these very ‘manly’ men, so I think having elements like that in the story should appeal to everyone, not just men and not just women.
ComicPrivy: Jeff, what were some of the most challenging aspects regarding the creation process of RED SPIKE?
Jeff: Learning comic structure and the language of the form was the hardest part for me. By that I mean that all good stories have similarities as far as their story structure, but each form — film, novels, TV, comics — have their own idiosyncrasies that a writer must master, or at least have an understanding of, in order to be effective. And despite liking and reading comics, I was fairly new to writing them when this process began so I had to begin thinking about them in terms of being a practitioner of the craft, as opposed to just a consumer. So for me it was learning the nuances of the comic form, like how to efficiently convey action and movement, what specific moments make for the best images, and how pages are supposed to flow. As a writer, comics are a much more visual medium than most. You’re essentially the director, meaning, you are the one in charge of assembling the imagery. For me figuring out what images best convey the story and then figuring out how to effectively communicate that to the artist was probably the most challenging aspect.
ComicPrivy: How did you come up with the genius marketing idea to run a contest that involved the fans as well as the store owners?
Jeff: Haha, I wish I could take credit for that idea. That was an idea of Dave [Elliott] (our Editor-in-Chief ) and Alex [Rodrik] (our Head-of-Publicity), so props to them on a great idea!
RED SPIKE issue #1 - Win a Mark Texteira Original Work Of Art.
A chance at a Mark Texeira original cover for a buck? Pretty sweet.
ComicPrivy: Marketing is essential to succeeding in this businessor any other, what are your plans for promoting and marketing RED SPIKE, aside from social networking?
Jeff: As you said, we’ve been using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to get the word out. We’ve also been pounding the virtual pavement and trying to talk to as many people in the industry that we can about the comic and the various promotions for it. We have a contest that people can enter to win Mark Texeira’s original cover artwork and an interior page for their local comic store. Details are here:
Red Spike Fan proudly shows his support.
But basically, you go to your local store, buy the comic, take a picture of yourself with it outside the store, or somewhere identifiable, and then post the photo to Red Spike’s Facebook pagewhere we’ll randomly draw a winner.
Red Spike Contest - Girls Get In On The Action Too! I hope Whole Foods Gives you a Free Wheat Grass Smoothie For This:-)
So for $1 you buy yourself a chance at an original “ONE OF A KIND” piece of art and your store will love you because they’ll win something too. Hopefully this will also generate interest because Mark is a well known artist who’s done really great work that people like.
ComicPrivy: What do you enjoy most about creating comic book?
Jeff: There are a lot of elements that I enjoy but seeing what the artist has done might be the most fun. Getting back inked and colored versions of the artwork is really exciting and usually they’ve done something a little different than you pictured it, but in a good way, in a better way than you imagined, and you go “wow, that’s cool.”
Red Spike- The Dream Comes Alive.
But in general, just having something that you’ve written get published and hopefully enjoyed by other people is very gratifying.
ComicPrivy: I am told that you have another project (REDEEMER) coming down the pipe…can you release one detail about this book that will make it highly anticipated by readers of this article?
Jeff: We’re going to have a great artist on it. I’m going to hold off on telling you his name, but suffice it to say that anyone reading this will know him and will be excited to see what he does.
ComicPrivy: Now Jeff you have to come a little heavier than that… Tell us a little about the book; what’s it all about?
Jeff: Ok, well since you asked nicely… Redeemer is set in the old west and I would classify it as a supernatural western. A stranger enters a small, isolated frontier town and claims to have found gold in the hills around it. Most of the town is all for turning the place into a full on mining camp but the preacher and a few of his followers see the pitfalls of this—gambling, prostitution, general moral decay—and attempt to stop, or at least slow down, the mining process. The stranger and some of his greedy allies take matters into their own hands and this results in the preacher’s death. Then the preacher is raised from the dead to exact revenge on his killers. I’d say it’s like The Crow set in the world of There Will be Blood.
ComicPrivy: Like having a first crush, we never forget them, What is your favorite comic title of all time?
Jeff: Oh wow, that’s a tough one. There are so many that I think are really great. As far as more mainstream titles, I really like Batman, especially Arkham Asylum. I’m also a big fan of Warren Ellis, particularly Transmetropolitan and No Hero. And lately I’ve been reading a lot of The Boys, which is really funny and twisted and irreverent, as well as a lot of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, specifically Criminal and Incognito. I just preordered Incognito #2 so I’m pumped about that one coming out.
ComicPrivy: What is the best advice you can give to aspiring Artist?
Jeff: I would say a few things. The first is to take it very seriously and work hard at it because that’s the only way you’ll become successful. If you’re a writer, try to always be writing. You need to establish a routine and stick to it and that means writing a lot. Not every day, necessarily, but at least 4 days a week, and 5 or 6 is even better. You need to try to condition your brain to function as a writer’s brain even if you aren’t actively writing. If you’re a visual artist, try to see the world through those eyes. But it’s a tough industry that a lot of people want to break into. Whenever I get lazy, I just remember that there is someone else working harder than me at that moment and that usually helps refocus me.
It’s also important to be able to accept and implement constructive criticism. This can be tricky, but you need to find people who you trust to give you accurate and honest feedback on your work and you need to listen carefully. Nobody wants to hear that something that they spent dozens or even hundreds of hours on is wrong or needs more work, but that’s often, if not always, the case, and believe me, it’s better to get good feedback and fix the mistakes than it is to not. Other than that, just don’t give up. If the work is good enough someone will find it.
***Community Question: What changes do you see happening in the comic industry, and how do you see it affecting the independent creator.
Jeff: I think the comic industry is at an interesting juncture. In some ways it’s shrinking. Year-over-year sales are declining and have dropped fairly significantly since 1997. However, never have comics been more in the zeitgeist. Almost every summer blockbuster that comes out is based on a comic. Just look at this year: Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America. And artists from other mediums who you might not think would be involved with comics, like Ziggy Marley or Rashida Jones, are becoming involved. So in some aspects I feel like the comic industry is expanding in ways it never has before.
I honestly think that it’s just going to keep expanding and that once people make the move to digital comics, things will really take off because that will democratize distribution. You won’t need a printing press to pay for hard copies or a convince store to carry your comic. You’ll just need to upload the file. I think that will really help independent and smaller companies. I also think the general public is finally starting to realize what fans have known for a while now: that there can be a lot to comics, that they aren’t just superheros and bad guys, but that you can tell complex and gritty stories in the comic medium. I think as more people get more and more exposure to some of the independent or lesser known comics out there, the demand will rise. And most of these changes I view as positive for independent creators because the cheaper it is to produce and distribute comics, the easier it becomes to get your work out.
P.S. Do not forget to leave a comment…This is your FREE opportunity to WIN one of only THREE Exclusively SIGNED Copies of RED SPIKE #1