CBR: "Punk Rock Jesus" isn't the first comic you've written, but I'm curious whether you want to write more going forward or whether that's something you see yourself doing only occasionally like you've done.
SGM: I think it will depend on how well "Punk Rock Jesus" does. I enjoy doing a comic by myself, but it's hard to justify the insane amount of extra labor if people don't read it. So I'm hoping for the best.
I used to look down on artists who spent decades in comics and ended up owning nothing -- entire careers spent perpetuating someone else's IPs instead of their own. I used to think it was irresponsible and lazy to run a career that way, and maybe it still is, but after a few issues of "Punk Rock Jesus" I started to understand why most people don't bother with something like OGNs: it's just too damn hard.
. . .CBR: How did working with editor Karen Berger help shape the book?
SGM: Not only did she get me my [DC exclusive] contract, but she helped streamline the plot by pointing out the unnecessary details in my scripts. We butted heads here and there, but I think we have a great relationship and a lot of respect for each other. Karen is exactly what an editor is supposed to be: firm but fair. And she gets away with being demanding because she's equally demanding on herself. By far the most engaged editor I've ever had -- I think she understands "Punk Rock Jesus" better than I do.
. . .CBR: I'm curious, because you recently posted some thoughts on inking and why we might see inkers out of a job in comics in the near future, how putting together a B&W book played a role in how you articulated those thoughts.
SGM: I was scanning my inks one day and I remember thinking, "How much longer are publishers going to go along with paying for inks?" As much as I love inking, I'm a pragmatic guy and started to think about all the reasons why inking could be obsolete. Check out my journal if you're interested.
I came to that opinion mainly because part of my paychecks are inking fees, and those numbers add up. Meanwhile, publishers are always looking ways to cut cost. I'm not sure if doing "Punk Rock Jesus" had anything to do with it, but who knows.
. . .CBR: "Punk Rock Jesus" is about religion and the media in America. Were you trying to address two of the most contentious topics of the day? In an election year, no less.
SGM: Sarah Palin scared the shit out of me in 2007 -- I was floored that someone that ignorant could come so close to being President. And a lot of her comments were about religion, politics, and the media. It made me want to take action, but I was just a comic book artist and I wasn't sure what I could do.
So I started addressing my concerns about these three topics in "Punk Rock Jesus." And I felt I really had something, but then Obama was elected and suddenly the need for "Punk Rock Jesus" was gone. I was an Obama fan, and I'm glad that Palin isn't anywhere near the nuclear codes, but I felt that I'd missed a window where "Punk Rock Jesus" would be most relevant.
But this election has brought up all my old concerns, so suddenly "Punk Rock Jesus" feels relevant again.
. . .CBR: You've written up some great posts on your deviantart page over the past year or so and you've had some great thoughts on needing to think of comics as business, and how some people take advantage of artists and writers -- and they let themselves be taken advantage of -- because they love comics. Is this something you've seen a lot of?
SGM: Thanks! I try to write mostly for students. A few miffed creators aside, most of the feedback has been great. A few times I've met artists who've changed their process or their outlook because of something I'd written, and that's what makes it worthwhile.
To answer your question -- yes, I do see a lot of creators being taken advantage of. Most newbies who approach this business do so in a very timid demeanor, something I'm trying to stop. And by pulling back the curtain and showing the actual process behind the magic tricks, I'm hoping it helps them see comics as a business and not as a hobby for celebrity artists.
Full interview can be found here