Conversations with Comic Book Creators #4.1: Shane Heron & Ricky Lima

[Greetings, followers of all ages!! Here’s the latest installment of this semi-regular segment. This is Part 1 of a 2-part interview with GTA residents and Shane Heron & Ricky Lima!! This is a warm-up to the nitty gritty. Deliberately done by yours truly 😛  Click on the various links and hashtags. Tomorrow’s conclusion is far superior and will be worth the wait!!]

Ricky, I first came across you right here at Stadium Comics!! I can’t remember how long ago exactly but imagine my awe to discover you are the co-creator of BLACK HOLE HUNTERS CLUB!!!

RL: Yes.

BLACK HOLE HUNTERS CLUB alternate adHow long have you been employed at Stadium?

RL: I worked at Stadium since the New 52 launch, so I think that was September 2011. That’s when I started.

Stadium Comics big SHow did you meet Shane?

RL: It was Halloween Comic Fest 2012 at Stadium. And they were there for WEST and DEEP SEA. That’s basically where we met. And then the 24 Hour Comic Jam in January (2013). It’s where we talked about working together. Where did you meet me, Shane?

HCF 2012SH: Pretty much the same thing. I really got to know Ricky at the 24 Hour Comic Jam at the Comic Book Lounge and there was a bunch of people I knew there. I met Ricky once before at Stadium. He was like, “I don’t know how to draw” but he wanted to make a comic so he was doing like a collage comic, just cutting up pictures. I thought that was super-interesting and then we just got to talking and we decided we wanted to work together on something. Yeah.

Shane, I only recently met you (FANeXpo 2015) or maybe it was a bit earlier? Refresh my memory!

SH: Actually no, we met in Niagara briefly at the Big B Comics, was it? Very forgettable meeting, I think. And then once again at Fan Expo. I don’t know, what else should we say about that? It was lovely. It was kismet, as they say.

Forgettable, eh? Wasn’t it unforgettable? What else do you have in the works?

SH: I am working on the new issue of BLACK HOLE HUNTER’S CLUB which will be out within the next month. I think we’re going to be debuting at the Stadium Comics Halloween Fest. I think so. We generally try to release issues around events. Also, I’m working on a solo project of a character called MORRIS that I’m putting together right now. As soon I’m done BLACK HUNTERS issue #7. I’m going to be finishing that up as well. I’m going to try to do them both, simultaneously.

How long have you two been collaborating? I think you already answered my question 😉

RL: Yes, I think the Comic Jam was April 2013.

SH: Free Comic Book Day 2013.

RL: That’s when it (#1) was released.

FCBD 2013The official BHHC site. I noticed that there’s a combination of art from the published books as well as the webcomic. I’ve had some difficulty finding that even though you’ve provided two chapters: “Feral Quantum Rat” and “Hot Water Spider”.

RL: What do you mean you have some difficulty finding it?

You posted some art. Does that mean it’ll eventually be released as prints?

RL: No. It’s on the website. If you go on the website you can read the stories that way. I think right now we got like four or five stories up. Yeah, every week we post a new page. I think it’s like two a week. And then we’ll eventually put it in a trade and settle it.

Those stay like that? They’re not going to be in print?

RL: We’ll put them in a trade eventually.

For example, DC does digital first where you can purchase.

RL: That’s pretty much what we’re doing.

SH: Last year, when we were doing BLACK HOLE HUNTERS, right after issue four, I had taken on too many other projects: MONSTROSITY and I was doing some other stuff. I was really late doing the new issue. Ricky was getting frustrated. He decided to…in issue #3 of BLACK HOLE HUNTERS, the whole team is introduced. They talk about their biggest kills because they’re all bounty hunters. Basically, Ricky decided to get other artists on board to do web comics and each one is a story about each of the characters and their biggest kill. That’s what those web comics are. Each one has an artist. We have artists like Colton Gilson, Oliver Castañeda and Tina DeRuiter who each did one. Just really great artists. They’re a lot of fun. They’re all different artists, different feel. Right now they’re just web comics but eventually we’re figure out a way to collect and print them.

RL: When you mention the official website, are you talking about the Facebook page?

No. I’m talking about http://www.blackholehuntersclub.com/

RL: You didn’t see the webcomic? [laughs]

I saw! Underneath, there are captions like “Montreal Break”.

RL: Oh! You know what the problem is? The pics are too big. Give them some time to load. [laughs] It’s been problematic. [laughs] I don’t know how to format properly, thus giant-size images. They take a while to load. [laughs]

Whatever you posted, they date back to September. Correction: the most recent post is October 19, 2015. I told myself “This is from the webcomic.” Then I’d Google search and nothing would come up. I was confused.

RL: You’re literally looking at them. [laughs]

Alright. Those are just one-pagers?

RL: They’re nine-page stories. We post two a week.

As I said, I remember the caption “Montreal Break”. That was you specifically Ricky doodling.

RL: You noticed that one, eh? [laughs] The image is smaller for that one. [laughs]

SH: You gonna fix that Ricky, or what?

RL: Yeah, we’re almost done. [laughs]

I truly enjoyed what I read. I thought to myself: “YES! Extra goodness! Will they be available in print or remain that way?

SH: They will. They will. We’re just not sure when and how we’re going to do that. We have to talk to the artists and figure out royalties. Right now, exclusively on the web.

It shames me to admit that I didn’t catch on to your series until really recently. I’ll also confess that I had spotted the first few issues at Stadium and browsed through them but decided not to bother. How ironic that you were there, Ricky and I was completely clueless. Plus, I never inquired you about them, therefore…

RL: I’m glad you bought them then J [laughs]

All is forgiven??

RL: [laughs] It’s no big deal. I have friends who don’t even bother to buy them. [laughs] It’s all good.

I met Ricky at the Stadium Comics side store not realizing that this man has created something special.

Stadium Comics sidekick store logoRL: It is pretty special!!

SH: How many issues have you read?

I read everything now!

SH: And you love them?

Very much! I really do!!

SH: The greatest book in the world!

I have to say number six was last night. That’s when I got the advance copy.

RL: Don’t spoil it for anyone.

Sometimes you can. How cool is it to have all issues reviewed on YouTube? The Mac Phantom is a real hoot!!

RL: That guy really likes our stuff!! I don’t know how he found out. Maybe through Stadium. He’s a cool guy.

SH: Mac’s the greatest! He’s our biggest fan. He talks about our books all the time. His biggest complaint is that we don’t put out issues fast enough which is a great thing to hear.

Or that they’re too short ;-P

SH: Yeah! The first four issues are only twelve pages each. Now we’re going into regular-size issues. Mac Phantom is the best. We love him.

RL: He did an interview with us once. Remember that?

SH: That’s true! He sent the questions and we recorded ourselves.

I saw that on YouTube!!

SH: His YouTube show is great and he loves our stuff. Therefore, we love him.

RL: He posts a lot of sexy chicks on Facebook.

He’s actually from England?

RL: Yup! He gets the books since I sent them to him. I always feel bad because they’re so expensive but he doesn’t mind.

He wants to pay! Truly, that’s beyond complimentary for both of you especially since he’s not even local.

SH: We have a small fanbase in the U.K. I don’t know if it’s because of Mac Phantom. For some reason, those people really like BHHC.

RL: I think they like comics in general over there. Here in North America, there’s a love for and awareness of super-heroes but not many read comics.

I believe Europeans are more savvy and appreciative of the medium.

Shane, you’re an entrepreneur too. Your website is a veritable smörgåsbord!!

SH: I have a Facebook page that links to the BHHC page. I find that’s the best way because it turns up in the searches. We have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. I have a blog which I don’t really update as much anymore. I used to do that a lot but I find it much easier to post on FB. I don’t want to inundate my personal page with too much BHHC material. I’ll post sketches unrelated.

Your main page still linked to http://shaneheronart.storenvy.com/products/1666020-black-hole-hunters-club-issue-1 or are you now free of that?

SH: I do have an account on there. Google me, guys!! I never sold BHHC on there. You can find MONSTROSITY, my prints, etc.

Exploring it carefully leads to DeviantArt as well as Facebook and your own blog.

SH: The first site I used was the blogspot. My e-mail is prettygoodcomics. I was going to do that for FB but I figured more people would respond better to Shane Heron Art.

Keep it simple and accessible. Being the creative and innovative people you are, you don’t rest on your laurels!! Ricky, you’ve done a workshop on YouTube, been interviewed by some other rival site (Comic Related) and just launched your Kickstarter project: DEEP SEA!! Major props!

RL: Thanks! DEEP SEA was actually last year. [laughs] It’s alright. It was a year ago September.

DEEP SEAI read that wrong. I thought it’d be this September (2015).

SH: It was a raging success!!

RL: I didn’t make a hundred million bucks. Our goal was $5,000. We made $5,800. After the Kickstarter fees, we made five grand net profit. It’s all good. [laughs]

The Kickstarter fees aren’t that high.

RL: That, coupled with credit card fees. They steal all your money. [laughs]

[laughs] I noticed that it only took a month for it to be successful!! The launch date was Sept. 10th and by Oct. 10th, you had reached the goal.

RL: That was pretty sweet. We had the book done for quite some time before I even got the money from Kickstarter. I like to tell people we broke the world record for redeeming the rewards.

Who’s your co-conspirator on that?

RL: This guy David Bishop. He’s a really cool guy. He lives in Pickering. I met him before BHHC. DEEP SEA was my first written work. It took David two years to illustrate it. Hence, 2014. BHHC came in between that. David does OF STONE and STRANGER.

I’ve recently come across that. I’ll have to get around to him too.

RL: Oh! I haven’t even answered your question. Sorry. I did a workshop on YouTube. It’s been really cool. Sometimes you have to do different things to stay passionate. If you do the same thing too often, you get bored of it.

You told me before we started, you’re at Stadium every Tuesday. You do their web channel.

RL: We do the Unboxing Wednesday segment. I believe that’s where a lot of the success comes from. Stadium has almost 9,000 subscribers. We get at least 2,000 views a week. It’s pretty sweet.  

What do you have in the works, Shane? (You already answered this question). I see you contributed to MONSTROSITY…

 SH: [interrupts] Both Ricky and I worked on MONSTROSITY vol. 1 and vol. 2. Not together, though. I worked with two different writers. Ricky worked with two different artists. I don’t know if there’s another MONSTROSITY and if we’re featured. It’s just BHHC and MORRIS for me.

MONSTROSITY vol. 1MONSTROSITY vol. 2Were you at TCAF this year?

SH: I was, but mostly helping Ricky. He was solo. He ditched me. I was doing sketches. This was Ricky’s baby. To be honest, BHHC is not really a TCAF book but they responded really well to DEEP SEA. He sold more copies at TCAF.

Is it supposed to be PG-rated or is that implied?

RL: No. We do wacky space adventures, not super-hero fare but somewhat in the same vein. DEEP SEA has environmental issues, even a rape scene.

So, that’s approved by TCAF?!? But not your book?!?

TCAF logoSH: I guess it’s more artsy. I don’t know their criteria.

RL: This year for TCAF, one of the main draws was this hardcore gay porn comic.

Who did that?

RL: Some Japanese guy. I forgot. I’ll send you the link.

SH: The guy who made those shirts?

RL: Yeah. It’s really intense! [laughs] It’s drawn really well. TCAF is not family-friendly. It is of course but it doesn’t have to be. As Shane stated, I guess BHHC didn’t fit into their vision. When I went in, I felt nervous about selling books there. TCAF in the big city is a major deal. It creates excitement among the masses. I could’ve sold more copies but whatever.

SH: You did good there, right?

RL: We sell more at FANeXpo.

I’m late coming in to this and I was saying to Ricky before recording that only a few months ago I started realizing how much local talent there is. Now, I truly want to pursue, investigate, talk to all these creators. The same applies to TCAF. It never fell into my radar until after the fact. I hit the store late August, etc. etc. Interestingly enough, Ricky was telling me that they don’t allow consecutive visits to creators? This was the second year for you, Ricky?

RL: I don’t think you can exhibit twice in a row unless you’re a big name. That’s my understanding of it.

For you, you haven’t shown your work there, Shane?

SH: I never applied to be at TCAF. I like going there for the event. I live a block north of there. Me and Brian Evinou, one of the editors of MONSTROSITY has exhibited there. He and I hit the after parties and have a blast! I imagine I will in the future.

I like to be very thorough in everything I do, especially in terms of using the world wide web for searches. Ricky, your name comes up on Comic Book Database.

RL: Yeah, that’s weird! I don’t even know how that exists. Who puts people’s names on there?

But you’re there! Shane, aside from that one, I found your name on Comic Vine. As a result, I learned you did the fourth issue of UNDERTOW published by 7th Wave Comics. How long has that been around?

SH: Actually, no, I didn’t do the fourth issue. The only thing I did was ink the cover by Gibson Quarter. Half the art is by Adam Gorham, the other half by Gibson Quarter. It’s written by Luke Donkersloot who is the publisher. They paid me to ink the wraparound cover. That’s the only reason why I’m in there. I shouldn’t be credited very much. I love UNDERTOW, Gibson, Luke, Adam. They’re all great friends and creators. I appreciate their work. That’s their baby!

Your name is on the cover of #4. Comic Vine credits you as ‘inker’ and ‘cover’.

SH: It’s a great book. You should get it 😉

UNDERTOW #4

Like I said, your name is on that site regardless. I’m astounded by all the hidden domestic geniuses!!

[Thus ends part one. Hope you enjoyed 🙂  The more interesting portion is reserved for tomorrow >_<]

[Appreciation extended to Austin Chuck-Yin who assisted with the first five minutes of the transcription. He is an extremely hard-working fellow at my local comic shop. Look below!]

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