Name: C. Spike Trotman. Spike is fine!
Company: Iron Circus Comics, established 2007, Chicago’s largest comics publisher, alternative or otherwise!
Job Title & Description: Publisher, artist, writer, founder.
Jamie: How long have you been working in comics?
Spike: Since before I graduated college, so let’s say… since age 21? I’m 36, now.
Jamie: Tell us about your recent Kickstarter project with Jem’s Sophie Campbell called “Shadoweyes”?
Spike: Oh, this is ALL Sophie. I’ve been a fan of Sophie’s for awhile, and it’s a HUGE HONOR that she trusts me to publish Shadoweyes. I know she gets loads of attention for her mainstream and licensed stuff, Jem and Glory and so-on, but it’s been her personal work, like Mountain Girl and Shadoweyes, that’s always drawn me. She’s not just an incredible draftsperson with tons of technical skill, and it’s not just that she enjoys telling stories with the kind of characters the mainstream can’t bring themselves to write about with any frequency; it’s the quality of her storytelling. She’s just so underestimated and under-appreciated. Shadoweyes is where superhero comics need to go in general.
Jamie: Describe why you chose the comics industry and the path you took to get there (education, internships, etc.).
Spike: I’ve always loved comics, I grew up reading newspaper comics during the Last Big Hurrah of newspaper strips… Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, that sorta thing- and I watched my first anime and read my first black-and-white small press books (original recipe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!) at a cousin’s house. I got into mainstream superhero books in my teens… then promptly got OUT of them when Marvel pulled some goofy event where I would’ve had to buy five or six titles to follow the storyline. (I was a teenager, I couldn’t afford that nonsense.) Evan Dorkin’s “Fun with Milk and Cheese” drew me back in. I knew I wanted to work in comics since I was young, but I told my parents I wanted to be a doctor to keep the peace.
There was no internship, so specialized schooling, none of that for me. I graduated Spelman College in 2000 with a Studio art degree and was immediately thrown in the deep end of the pre-Kickstarter, pre-Patreon internet. I tried being part of a subscription site, I started my own webcomic, I did tons of cons. I did it the hard way. I did it back when it was career suicide.
Jamie: Highlights of your career/current job or project so far?
Spike: I take a lot of pride in the fact ICC was built from nothing, buy publishing the kind of books that “everybody knew” there was no demand for. Inclusive smut, classic horror, offbeat sci-fi and fantasy, DIY. I basically take a sick fascination in watching naysayers move the goalposts on me, these days; My sales aren’t real, my company isn’t real, none of it counts because REASONS. Stay mad, kids.
Jamie: Tell us more about your company Iron Circus Comics, how did you develop this comic publishing company and what has been the greatest reward for running it?
Spike: ICC is its own constant reward, honestly. Knowing I can do something to change what I don’t like about this industry, that I have the privilege of being proactive about the change i want to see on a production level? How can y’know love that?
And the weirdest part is, there was never really a plan from the first to become a publisher. Well, I mean, other than a SELF-publisher. but Kickstarter made that possible in ways I never anticipated. They get a LOT of the credit for what ICC has become.
Jamie: Any lessons learned you like to share about your time in the business so far?
Spike: Keep your promises. Answer your email. If you want it, ask for it. Get paid what you’re worth. Don’t wait to be noticed.
Jamie: Any links to past/upcoming projects or a portfolio you’d like to share?
Spike: After a MASSIVE delay, New World is finally off to the printer.
There’s Shadoweyes, of course.
And I’ll be publishing more smut in the beginning of 2016! A double-header, a smutty GN called “Yes, Roya” about a femdom threesome in 1960s California, and a FULL COLOR anthology called “Smut Peddler Presents: My Monster Boyfriend.” I previewed ten pages of one of the stories, “A Winged Man Flew Into the Shed” by Noora Heikkliä, here!
Jamie: Since this series does revolve around comics, what comic books are you currently reading?
Spike: Bitch Planet! Anything by Sophie Goldstein, Emily Carroll, Elanor Davis and Jillian Tamaki!
Jamie: Any advice you’d like to pass along to someone interested in the comics industry?
Persistence and tenacity will get you everywhere. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s no audience for what you do. keep your head down, keep putting out work, and let ’em figrue out how to walk back their shit-talk when you Make it Happen.
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