// you’re reading...


Shawn Hoke on mini-comics

READERSVOICE.COM aims to give people a few good reading tips.This issue is all about do-it-yourself publishing.I interviewed Paul Davis who publishes Raised Eyebrows, which is a free A3-size sheet of his drawings, and other stories, he distributes around Melbourne each month.Also I interviewed Shawn Hoke who has a blog about mini-comics called Size Matters.Mini-comics are a great option for people wanting to get exposure and experience in drawing comics, and are an interesting medium in their own right.I picked up some interesting reading suggestions, too, so read on.

READERSVOICE.COM: First up, where are you going overseas and what for?

SHAWN HOKE: It’s a pleasure trip.

My wife and I are going to St Barts in the French West Indies.

We rented a villa there for our honeymoon last year, and loved it so much that we are returning this year for another week.

RV: Where do you live and what’s your daily routine?

SH: I live in Indianapolis, Indiana and my routine is not very exciting.

I get up early and go to the gym. Then it’s off to a day job where I work as a project manager for a non-profit healthcare research group.

In the evenings I catch up on email and either work on the SIZE MATTERS blog or relax with a book.

RV: What gave you the idea of starting a blog about mini-comics?

SH: For the last few years I’ve written a weekly column about comics, mostly art comics and small press projects that receive less attention from other websites, and I’ve always sprinkled in some mini-comics coverage.

I guess the idea of a blog about mini-comics could be traced to Alan David Doane of Comic Book Galaxy.

He invited me to write a column over at his site last year.

When I told him that I would want the freedom to cover mini-comics, he came back with the idea of a column entirely on mini-comics.

That column was called SIZE MATTERS and it lasted for a couple of months.

I had some problems including all of the images that I wanted to in the CBG format, so I just decided to turn the column into a blog instead.

I think it’s worked out well, and almost every day a new mini-comic lands in the mailbox to be reviewed.

RV: Can you describe what mini-comics are?

SH: Not in 1000 words or less, unfortunately. Kurt Wolfgang did a hilarious issue of “Low Jinx” on that very subject.

He would define what mini-comics are or aren’t only to have another character trot out to demolish the definitions.

Mini-comics can encompass so many formats, sizes, and subject matters that it’s almost impossible to create a definition.
The traditional mini-comic started out by taking a sheet of 8 1/2” x 11” paper and quartering it.

Now you can have oversized mini-comics that are bigger than your typical comic book, or even mini-comics with fold out centerfold pages.

You’ll also see accordion-type minis that unfold from one long continuous sheet of paper (Fay Ryu’s Hello is 20ft long) or mini-comics that come in their own homemade boxes.

Peter Conrad made a mini-comic out of a Rubik’s Cube, where you had to solve the cube by color hints to read the mini-comic.

And the guys at Global Hobo made a mini-comic in the shape of a pyramid that you have to unfold before reading it.

A lot of mini-comics covers are made using a screen printing process that allows the artist to use color in a way that’s cheaper than a traditional color printer.

This process is hard work though, and it takes some skill and materials to make it work effectively.

All of these things help to make a mini-comic feel more like art and less like product.

I guess the one thing that mini-comics have in common is their lower print runs.

Minis are usually cranked out on a copy machine, then hand stapled on someone’s kitchen table or living room floor.

Mini-comics have that craft appeal and a DIY attitude that I think makes them very special.

RV: When did you first become interested in mini-comics?

SH: I didn’t even return to comics until 1998, so probably in the year 2000.

I think a Comics Journal review of a Jennifer Daydreamer mini-comic was what caught my eye initially.

RV: Did you ever draw any yourself, or know people who did? If so, what were they about?

SH: I’ve drawn about a dozen minis myself.

I usually draw them for my wife on her birthday or other special occasions.

Now if I were to get her a nice gift, but no mini-comic, I’d be in trouble.

It’s kind of our little thing. She drew a great mini-comic for me this month on our first anniversary.

Our comics are little inside jokes about our lives, usually starring our cats.

I did a mini-comic for her and our friends about her addiction to fashion.

It culminated in the purchase of a pricey Marc Jacobs purse. I’m working on a mini-comic right now that looks at the relationship of wood and environment in making whisky.

I’m fascinated with the thought of how much work and time goes into a glass of whisky that you or I might drink today.

-continued next page