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Interview

Brendan Burford, creator of the Syncopated comics anthology

READERSVOICE.COM aims to give people a few good reading tips. See the article list for even more reading suggestions.For this issue I interviewed Brendan Burford, creator of Syncopated which is an anthology of first person reportage comics. Syncopated Volume 3 was being prepared at the time of the interview. Also I interviewed another New York-based artist Hiro Kurata, who creates comics and illustrations. His work has been exhibited around the world.

Brendan Burford received a nasty injury when he and Glenn Mott were exploring a tugboat graveyard in Staten Island, New York, recently.

They were taking photos for spot illustrations for a prose piece for Syncopated Volume 3 when Brendan Burford stood on a rusty spike.

He was hospitalised and was recovering at the time of this interview.

Syncopated features first person reportage comics.

Basically, people draw a comic about a topic the same way a feature writer might write about an experience, or research and write about a topic.

Brendan Burford has also published Brendan Comics, which was a collection of his previously published mini-comics which he had sold at places like comics conventions.

See www.syncopatedcomics.com

READERSVOICE.COM: Can you list a few of your favorite books and say a bit about why you liked them?

BRENDAN BURFORD: I don’t know if I can say which of the books in my comics collection I like best – I’m fond of so many of them.

But if it were a desert island sort of situation, I’d probably have to bring some collections of the early pre-war comics.

As far as providing a good general overview, the Smithsonian Collection of American Comic Strips, edited by Bill Blackbeard would have to be on the list.

I’d also have to include my Roy Crane WASH TUBBS & CAPT. EASY collections, the E.C. Segar THIMBLE THEATER collections, and probably the George Herriman KRAZY KAT collections.

RV: What’s your daily routine since your accident at Staten Island, and how is your injury going?

BB: Since the accident, I don’t really have a daily routine – things have been a bit chaotic (and painful).

RV: Where have you lived in your life and what does Sunnyside, New York, look like?
BB: I spent most of my childhood growing up in Long Island, NY.

After high school I moved to New York City.

I’ve lived in several apartments in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Sunnyside is a really pleasant little garden pocket in Western Queens.

My wife and I live in a lovely little 1928 red brick row house in a mews off the street.

RV: Syncopated has had some pretty big names like Ivan Brunetti and James Kacholka. How did you meet them or get them on board?

BB: I basically had the audacity to ask them, and they obliged.

I didn’t really know them.

Their contributions were for SYNCOPATED Vol. 1, which I don’t think was as fully formed and thought through as Vol. 2 and the forthcoming Vol. 3.

RV: Which comics creators do you like the most?

BB: This is a hard one, because I think it changes depending on my mood.

Most of my favorite cartoonists are dead, but I’m very fond of quite a few contemporary cartoonists as well.

If I had to name one cartoonist, though, I think I might say Roy Crane (although, it really is unfair to just name one), particularly his pre-war material.

RV: I read one interview where you said you disliked the distribution and marketing aspects of producing the Syncopated comics anthologies. How do you distribute the comic?

BB: It’s true, I’d rather focus on the creative end of things when it comes to producing SYNCOPATED.

The business end of things is exhausting and not all that fun. I’m glad I’ve had to suffer through it, though, because I’ve learned a lot about how things work.

My books are currently distributed through Diamond, Cold Cut, FM International (assuming they’re still in business), and a couple of independent sellers.

Hand-selling at conventions is a big part of getting the books out there, too.

RV: What steps do you take to market Syncopated?

BB: Nothing all that out of the ordinary. Placing a few ads, talking it up at shows, word of mouth, etc.

RV: What sorts of people were involved in putting the book together, apart from contributors?

BB: Really nobody, unless you include the printers and distributors.

I pretty much handle everything else.

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