Σάββατο, 20 Οκτωβρίου 2012

What I Think About Stuff-Interview with Stephen Egged



Familiar steel in my hands, unknown concrete all around me.


What I Think About Stuff-An Interview with Stephen Egged

I’ve mentioned before that the Internet is a wonderful place. Sure, it’s 50% porn and filled with all sorts of weird crap, but from time to time, it gives you the chance to meet new people, a few of them of the creative kind that you wouldn’t have had the chance to meet any other way.

Enter Stephen Egged, 

Pictured: Stephen pulling off a goatee better than most people.


A man who has not only managed to publish his own graphic novel, but also achieved it entirely on his own. Now, a lot of you might not consider self-publication to be a big deal (in fact, I’ve met a lot of people who consider this to be a much less impressive feat than, say, getting the attention of a publishing house), but trust me on this: that shit’s hard. Managing your books, arranging for print, publication, circulation and advertisement on your own, that takes some serious determination.

Now imagine that you meet a man who has not only pulled it off, but has also managed to make a bitchin’ Graphic Novel in the process, the end result of a very long road that he had to travel on his own. Now imagine that this man is a 3-year Army veteran and has a black belt in Japanese jiu-jitsu.

Yes, it is awesome. No, I could not think of any man more qualified to write a book about a haunted katana that possesses martial-artists of the 21st century, used by its wielder for the purpose of vigilante justice with real-world consequences.

Actually, wait a minute: here’s a much better presentation by Stephen Egged himself:

Gin-Ryu
A Saga of Life

Power. Survival. Pain. Justice. This is the story of the human condition. For some, life is a quest for power; for others, life is a struggle for survival; for many, life is endless pain; and for a few, life is justice. Defenselessness against external forces causes many to succumb to the pressures of others. Gin-Ryu shows how one life blends into another. It is ...

not a person but rather an ancient Katana, forged over a thousand years ago. The name is Japanese and it means silver dragon. As it passes from one hand to another, a story is told and a life is examined. At times the exchange is without fanfare, while others require a more extreme circumstance. Regardless of the stage of events, a human's life is experienced through the possession of the sword. Gin-Ryu is a saga of life.

This book tells the story of Nicholas Caval a martial arts instructor in the city of Detroit. A man torn between his need for justice and the civilized world's perception of right and wrong. Gin-Ryu comes into his life and he chooses to use it to dispense vigilante justice - only the world at large sees his actions in a different light. Caval becomes caught between law enforcement and the criminal element. A Vigilant Effort tells this story of his conflict and its consequences.

Brought to you in glorious monochromatic carnage.

So without further ado, let’s have a talk with the man himself, Mr. Stephen Egged!

Kostas: So, Stephen. I hear you're a certified killing machine, trained to snuff a man's life with your bare hands. Any comments on that? Also, how do you think this has affected your work?
Stephen: I served in the Army from 1985-1988. I'm a 5th degree black belt in ju jitsu.  The Japanese ju jitsu not the Brazilian ju jitsu which is a sport.  Mine is strictly self defense and if you have to take a life to defend yourself then you’re not trained correctly.  You can get by with just crippling your opponent.  My martial arts back ground has affected my work in many ways.  The most evident would be my books portrayal of the martial arts in a realistic manner rather than the superhero over the top variety of hand to hand combat in most of the other comic books.

An ass-whooping of Oriental proportions.

Kostas: Tell us a couple of words about your first steps in the comic book business.

Stephen: I started in 1994 working with several small press companies and even had a contract to write for a major comic book publisher but things fell through or in the case of the small companies they went bust for one reason or another.  

Kostas: At which point in your life did you decide to make comics, never mind attempt a feat as grand as getting into self-publishing?

Stephen: I have always enjoyed writing and have an associate’s degree in journalism.  I created and wrote the comic strip for my college newspaper and have even written articles for magazines and newsletters.  I worked for other companies and wasn't crazy about how they did business.  I was working as a federal investigator for the EEOC and decided to publish my own comic book so I could do things the way I thought they should be done. 

I.E: Bitchin', monochromatic and full of muted violence.

Kostas: Now, I know the current version of Gin Ryu is a revamped, retooled, revolutionized version of the original. What urged you to make so many drastic changes to your original work?

Stephen: The original books had several different artists and I wasn't happy with their work on some of the previous issues.  I got a great team of penciler Wes Simpson and inker Frank Parr starting with issues three through five which back in 1995.  I had them redraw issues one and two in plans of releasing a trade paperback with continuity of artwork. It took a lot longer than I planned, because I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Last year we started work on the book again and finally released it this year.  I retooled the script and the artwork was scanned and cleaned up for the new computer advances in the industry. 
Kostas: Gin Ryu was originally supposed to be an ongoing series. Do you feel that the fact that you needed to compress it into 5 issues hurt your original vision?
Stephen: The book still is an ongoing series.  The first graphic novel covers the first five books released.  I wrote it in such a manner that you can read the book and not need to read anything else.  If you like the story and are interested in what else happens then pick up the additional graphic novels.  We are currently working on volume II.

Goddamn, this needs an Italian Metal Band guitar solo ASAP.
Kostas: I am under the distinct impression that the script you delivered to your artists was a highly technical piece for prose, rife with martial arts terminology and jargon. Or am I sorely mistaken?

Stephen: You are correct except I am aware that my artists don't have my level of training so I provide them with visual documents in order for them to convey exactly what I intended. 

Kostas: Tell us a couple thing about your upcoming future projects.

Stephen: Currently we are working o Gin-Ryu volume II: Tortured Fate, and I'm also writing a story of a new start up magazine, and several independent comic companies.  I also signed a deal to have the original black and white material colored. 

Kostas: Now tell us a couple things about past projects that you had to give up but would gladly pick up, first chance you got.
Stephen: There are several projects that I wouldn't mind revisiting but I can't give you names of the projects due to legal reasons.   
Is that samurai kicking Black Dynamite's ass? Why yes, yes he is!

Kostas: You're a grizzled veteran of self-publishing. Any tips on aspiring comic book artists who want to break into the business?
Stephen: When I started things in the industry were different but there are a few concepts that remain true.  Be humble and remember that you will not be working for the big companies over night.  The competition is incredible and with the Internet the talent pool has increased to a world wide base.  You need to be willing to work for little or no pay in order to get your stuff out there.  If you have some money and want to publish your own stuff there are many printers on the Internet to pick from.  Be true to yourself.  It's hard work and not going to be easy but if you get a good team of friends together to work with it can be fun.

Kostas: You accidentally get sucked into a time vortex (because these things happen) and you end up in prehistory, where you meet a small group of proto-humans. They revere you as a god, after kicking the alpha-male’s ass. What other wisdom would you choose to bestow them?

Stephen: Treat others the way you want to be treated.  Never throw the first punch but always through the last.

And never, ever fuck with the guy holding the magic katana.

Stephen Egged dwells inside a simple house at the top of Mount Fuji built out of the bones of his enemies. When he is not busy fighting the good fight in the unforgiving realms of self-publishing, he writes articles for martial arts magazines and is generally occupied with being awesome. You can friend him on Facebook here  or you can like (and subsequently buy) his self-published graphic novel, Gin Ryu, her

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