Seattle has always been a city synonymous with independent art. Whether it be the countless bands, visual artists, hip hop music, or comic book creators, it is a town rich with talent. When it comes to comics, few cities offer more outlets for creative minds to come together to showcase their abilities. Intruder Comics is one such place. It is a free comic book co-op that is funded by the artists and circulated by word of mouth and through the independent artist community. As part of our new ongoing series, Independent Jones, I sat down with the Editor / General Organizer Marc J Palm and Contributing Artist Mark Allender to talk about Intruder Comics and how they operate. .
What is Intruder Comics? .
Marc J. Palm: Intruder is a co-op comics newspaper with a heavy lean towards black humor, grossness, and general weirdness. .
Mark Allender: As just a contributor to Intruder it’s a great publication to do whatever you want and you get a large page to show what you can do. You really get to express who you are and what you like to do. It’s just really fun to do. Just do it.
How old is the publication and what possessed you to start it?
Marc J. Palm: We started it over two years ago with mostly a self satisfied mind about it. Individually we were making zines and making a paper sized anthology seemed like a fun challenge.
How large is the current readership?
Marc J. Palm: Well, we’ve now got about 20+/- subscribers all over the country. And this last issue we had a run of 3000 copies and those moved fast.
Wow! So just on a local level you’re able to move 3000 copies? Is that the same for the issues before it? How long did it take to get a local demand and ability to sell the books?
Marc J. Palm: It should be known that it’s a free publication. Each of us contributors pays for the printing. Then each of us are given 100 copies for each page that we have submitted. So 3000 copies were printed, but 2000 went to contributors to distribute however they can. It’s fuzzy to really determine how many actually make it to readers hands.
Mark, when did you first come to know about Intruder?
Mark Allender: I’ve been friends with Marc for several years and am a big fan of his drawings and comics. He told me about how he started Intruder with some of his other comic artist friends. I really liked what I saw in the paper and I thought it had tremendous potential. I knew I wanted to be a part of this right away. So began my long courting process of getting invited to contribute.
Ah, Mark your answer leads me to an obvious question for the both of you: how does one go about getting published through Intruder?
Mark Allender: Most comic artists are like abused puppies. It’s a very slow process of building trust.
Marc J. Palm: The paper started as something eleven people who hung out regularly decided to do. We weren’t thinking of opening it up to anyone else until we kept meeting and being impressed by other Seattle cartoonist. Now, I’ve sort of taken the responsibility of choosing who gets in. It’s invite only.
Now that is an interesting answer, Mark. What do you mean by that?
Mark Allender: You mainly just need to show that your work is good and consistent. You have to keep in mind also that this was started by a group of friends not a company. You need to be cool with everyone. I guess it’s sort of like being in a band.
So, Marc, you’re editor and curator? In that process, do you find that there are reoccurring themes that you like to publish? You said you focus on the weird and dark. Is that always the intention or does something overtly bubbly sometimes find its way in there, too?
Marc J. Palm: Yeah, I’m the general organizer. At first each contributor was making something that worked well with everyone else. When I’m interested in getting someone new, I am looking for someone who is unique. Who has an edge and a different take on what is seen in the mainstream. I want a consistent vibe or tone. Cute and bubbly could happen, but it’s probably more going to be like Gremlins: cute but dark inside. .
How do you promote the book?
Mark Allender: Social media and word of mouth mainly. I try to actually hand it to people a lot of times. If you get it in their hands they will actually look at it. I go through my copies really quick and usually ask for more. I drop them off at comic shops and book stores. Local businesses are very supportive and we like sending readers their way to pick up copies.
Marc J. Palm: Yeah, festivals and comic events help to put them in the right hands. .
From following the Intruder Comics FB page, it looks like you also do premieres of the books at live music and art shows? Is that right?
Mark Allender: Hell yeah. We even have a beer sponsor! First it was PBR then we got a great local brewer Hilliard’s. But we much prefer Hilliard’s now!
Marc J. Palm: Just by chance, we ended up getting a gallery show and launch party at Seattle’s COCA (center of contemporary art) and ever since we’ve made it a point to have release parties. Those are where we move a lot of issues and seriously get our name out. From comic shops to vintage clothing stores and breweries. At our last event we had the weirdo experimental band Funky Photos (Seattle) and Moldy Castles (Olympia) who just shredded. Out next release party is at the Fantagraphics Book store, which we are super excited about.
Hell, while we’re on it, you have a favorite brew of Hilliard’s you could recommend?
Marc J. Palm: They had a special brew for the Seahawks called 12 I think.
Mark Allender: I like their new brew, Chrome Satan. It’s available in cans now.
Ok, so after 9 issues, and the 10th on the way, are there fan favorite comics that have started to emerge? Do certain strips make return appearances, or does it change issue to issue?
Marc J. Palm: Oh yeah, Tom van Deusen created Scorched Earth. And it’s the one everyone flipped to immediately. We put it in the back page because we knew it would catch on. Unfortunately he’s ending it this issue. Most things however are not serialized. In case you get issue X you don’t “need” the other ones to know what’s going on.
Mark Allender: We try to keep every issue as unique as possible.
What does the future hold for Intruder Comics? Do you ever see your publication monetizing? Is there an end goal?
Marc J. Palm: I don’t see it going that route. I’ve sort of pushed for it to keep going the way it has; it works well as a promotional item for our individual talents—a gateway so to speak to our personal self published work. If you like my page in intruder, then buy my book. I would like to see a best of collection down the line. But we’ve got lots more papers to do before that happens. .
Well, alright! What are some of those titles that your creators make on their own and how can the masses get a hold of them?
Mark Allender: Our new website is a great place to start http://intrudercomics.com then the Facebook and tmblr (linked on the site).
Marc J. Palm: It would be too difficult to name them all. I guess we make you work for it. If you go to our website you can find contact info for each creator, contacting then directly would be best. A lot of us sell through the fantagraphics bookstore and other shops here in Seattle. .
Brilliant. Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time.
Marc J. Palm: Much appreciated, Mike.
Mark Allender: Thanks again, Mike!
You can find Intruder Comics online and be on the look out for their 10th issue, set to release through Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery in Seattle on April 10th, 2014.
Mike Sains is a Writer, Interviewer, and the Editor of the Reviews Department for Capeless Crusader as well as other outlets online. He is also a podcaster and an avid collector of vinyl records and collectibles.