Here is another interview from this year’s GenCon, in which I spoke briefly with a number of self-published or independently-published authors in the authors’ alley. In this interview, I spoke with Lee Cherolis, writer and co-creator of a webcomic and graphic novel series called Little Guardians.
Me: Tell me about your books.
Lee: Little Guardians is a fantasy adventure graphic novel series; we’re also serializing online two pages a week. We put out a book whenever we have enough pages. This story arc will span 13 chapters and six books. We have Book One out now and Book Two coming out very shortly, in a few weeks. It follows two young people, Idem and Subira. Idem is training to be the next guardian, his father is the village protector, and Subira works in the local item shop, selling potions and magical items to adventurers that come by. The story kicks off with a demon attack on the village’s annual zucchini festival, and the kids are swept up in all the excitement and danger and demons.
Me: How did you get started doing this graphic novel?
Lee: My friend and I—from hanging out through our local cartoonist meetup group, we meet monthly and just hang out and talk comics. We decided after a while that we wanted to work together, and, you know, it’s like “What do you want to do?” “Well, how about a fantasy adventure thing?” We just came up with the idea, co-created it, wrote the backstory, and then he took over writing the scripts and I did the art.
Me: So you started it as a webcomic and put it out as graphic novels when you had enough?
Lee: Yeah. The webcomic side of it’s just for online promotion. I think any comic really needs to be online and in print. I mean, why do one and not the other?
Me: Are you self-published, small press published…?
Lee: You could say we’re our own small press. We do it all ourselves, our own promotional and marketing, our own distribution, our own printing. We work with a local printer. It’s all from us, do-it-yourself guys.
Me: The comic is basically complete online up to where it is in print form?
Lee: We’re up through Chapter Four right now. We’ll be taking a short break, and then we’ll be back with Chapter Five by the end of the year.
Me: Is there extra stuff in the books for people who buy the books?
Lee: The book is a totally different reading experience. I highly recommend the print, reading it all the way straight through in print, because most people don’t like coming back just for a page every other day or a couple pages a week. I don’t know what it is about print, but there’s still something awesome about having a book in your hands. You don’t get the same attention to detail, you don’t get the same immersion into the world that you do, reading it little bits at a time online. But yeah, we do have sometimes bonus stories, sometimes bonus illustrations that are only in the books. Check it out online if you like it; check out our store. Every book sale helps support us getting to conventions, promoting the book, putting out new merch and print and art.
Me: What do you get out of a convention like this?
Lee: We raise funds to print more books, that’s the main thing. Secondary, we get to network with other artists. I come to a show like this and I come away with a stack of business cards and they’re all people that maybe I’ll work with in the future; maybe we’ll just end up splitting a hotel room at a convention somewhere. You never know. You just come to meet people and sell your book.
Me: What advice would you have for a newcomer who was considering starting in graphic novels?
Lee: Do it! Get started right away; don’t wait. A lot of people are like, “Oh, I’m not ready, my art’s not there yet where I want it to be,” and I say you don’t have to start your thousand-page graphic novel right now, but do a short story. Just get started making comics and the more you do it, the better it will be, and the more you’ll be motivated to start that big project. Get some experience under your belt, get some pages done.
Me: Apart from the webcomic and convention, what other promotions have you been doing? Do you have a presence on social media?
Lee: Absolutely. I have a personal account, and a separate account for the comic on pretty much every social media web site you can think of. And I update them all several times a week.
Me: I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.