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Kevin Bramer from Optical Sloth.com on mini comics

Kevin Bramer whose website Optical Sloth.com reviews thousands of mini comics mentions a few stand-out mini comics...

READERSVOICE.COM: Could you recommend a few mini comics anthologies that you feel give a good representation of what the medium is capable of?

KEVIN BRAMER: The folks at I Know Joe Kimpel have put out a couple of fantastic anthologies that I know of. SPACE is a local anthology, usually done at the same time as our local small press convention, and it should really be seen by everybody. Good Minnesotan is the same sort of thing, a regional anthology, and it’s something I wish more towns would do.

My favorite of all time may very well by Bogus Dead, edited by Jerome Gaynor and containing pretty much everybody I “grew up” reading.

RV: What would be some of the all-time great mini comics you’ve come across out of the thousands you’ve read?

KB: Let’s see, I’ve been doing the site for eight years, with about one review a day, so that’s about 3000 to choose from. Jamie Tanner’s work always stuck with me, every King Cat by John Porcellino is a treat, It Lives! by Ted May, I’ve been really impressed by Only Skin by Sean Ford… really, there are too many to narrow it down much.

RV: How is the mini comics industry, if I can put it like that, going in the U.S.? Is it a pretty well-known medium that’s growing or is it a fringey type medium?

KB: Fringe, definitely. I always thought the internet would help it more than it has, but at least it’s been good for artists seeing the work of other artists.

At least a few collaborations have been made by people who saw the art of the other person on my website, so at least the site has helped out that way.

RV: What kinds of print runs of mini comics do people usually do?

KB: Usually between 50-1000, generally speaking. It depends on the person, whether or not they already have an audience and how well they think they can get their book out.

RV: If you could recommend a format for creating a mini comic that balanced production values, aesthetic appeal and cheapness, what would be a good format in your recommendation?

KB: I don’t know a thing about the technical side of this. There are other small press sites that help, here’s a good synopsis from Tom Spurgeon’s excellent site: [See wwwcomicsreporter, in the all about comics section.]
RV: How do people distribute mini comics apart from sending them to your site for review and sale?

KB: People have to either sell them store by store, rely on traffic from their website or count on trade from other creators. Poopsheet is also a great site to find mini comics.

RV: What are some irritating things for you in mini comics you’ve seen? I read in one review that you didn’t like comics that were incomprehensible, but any other turn offs?

KB: Grammar and easily fixed errors. Finding out the difference between “they’re” and “their” takes a few seconds, and most spelling errors that I’ve seen could have been easily fixed.

Trying to get people to read mini comics can be tough enough, when little silly things like that are wrong it’s easy to dismiss the whole effort. Major printing problems bug me too, but I’ve dealt with [….] and places like that, so it’s hard to get too annoyed with the creator.

RV: Is the story the most important thing for you in a mini comic and what do you look for in a story?

KB: Originality, or a new take on an old theme. Sometimes simple honesty is enough.

RV: What mini comics expos and other expos have you been to?

KB: I try to get to SPACE here in Columbus every year, they always have an excellent selection. I went to SPX [Small Press Expo] once and had a great time, that seems to be the “big one”. One of these years I’m just going to find a way to travel to all sorts of them, but it hasn’t happened yet!

RV: Are you still surprised sometimes by mini comics?

KB: Yes, all the time. The main reason there’s no end in sight for this website is that I still open packages from strangers and am amazed by what people are doing. As long as that still happens, I’ll keep doing the site.
RV: What are some of your plans?

KB: I have a few ideas on expanding the website, but I’m still working out all the details and shouldn’t announce anything until I know if they’re possible. Other than that I’m happy to just keep doing what I’m doing!

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