Welcome back to another creator spotlight! If you haven’t read last week’s interview with Coleton Mastick be sure to go check that out, but for this week I had the pleasure of chatting with Marcus Jimenez. A man of many hats, Marcus is a writer, artist, publisher, editor-in-chief, and founder of Dauntless Stories. We talk about some of his creative inspirations, his journey from trying to get books published to being the publisher, and more, check out the full conversation below:
Alex: So my first question is two-fold, how were you first drawn to comics as a reader, and then when did you realize they were something you wanted to pursue as a creator?
Marcus: So as a kid I loved Batman due to the animated series, so that was always an interest. Then my uncle bought me my first comic ever, which was an issue of Tim Drake’s Robin solo about 20 years ago. I was about 4-5 at the time and remember devouring that book. Since then I still believe Tim is the best robin.
In high school, I had a best friend named Stevan, he was probably one of the most creative people I had ever met. He grew up watching tv shows and cartoons like I did but he would create these amazing characters and stories and we always dreamed of making them into shows and comics. As I got into art I started making short strips on Tumblr and stuff then took a break as I pursued a commercial filmmaking college degree and career. It wasn’t until a few years later that I came back with a hunger to just make one book to put in my hands. I at the time put together an amazing team and sent out pitches. As usual, you wait months to hear back but then the pandemic happened and it went down to a zero of a chance. So then I decided to screw waiting for someone else to give me a chance and tossed it on Kickstarter 8 months later. From there once you have that first book, you never want to stop.
Alex: A fellow B:TAS lover! I would also agree that Tim is the best Robin, though I don’t think he’s my favorite of the bunch.
It’s amazing that you took the situation completely into your hands and got it done. When you first started creating was it driven more by the writing, and art, or was it a fairly even combination of the two?
Marcus: Tim for me is the best robin but Dick Grayson is the best member of the bat fam. [laughs].
So like I mentioned in my past when I was younger it was driven by wanting to tell the best story that I could so I would draw and write. I think after a while I developed this initial fear that my art wasn’t good enough so that’s why I made my debut as a creator through my writing. Once that got some success, I kind of got over that fear and I wanted to show my art and I’ve done a few projects in the last two years that I think have only made me better as a creator. I think surrounding myself with amazing talent as a publisher pushed me to become better all around because you have these constant influences that you want to strive to be like.
Alex: I think having that fear that your work, whatever it may be, isn’t good enough in some way is something every creator can relate to and I love hearing how everyone pushes through that.
What are some of the differences between the writing and drawing process that you like?
And you mentioned being a publisher which is something I’d love to dive into; how did the evolution into that role come about?
Marcus: So as an artist I usually read it over and start doing layouts and talk to the writer of the book, were partners so usually we go back and forth and make changes to where I can advise or where we think it could be better collectively. On the writing side, there are two different paths, if I am writing for someone else I write a pretty tight script so that I can explain what I am envisioning but if the artist has another thing in mind I let them run with it because I can always rewrite after. I will also lay each page quickly myself to make sure I am not pushing them too hard.
If I am writing myself, I always start with character designing, that way I can visualize them as I write, then I go full marvel style for myself, with dialogue I know I want on the page already written. It may not always be the complete dialogue but it's enough for me to push through the script
Now as a publisher the role kind of evolved from necessity. Once I decided that I wasn't going to pitch stories anymore and I was going to use my own outlet to create and showcase them I knew two things needed to happen. I needed to step into this editor/producer type role to learn the behind-the-scenes and function as a publisher and the second thing was I needed to build the brand. The only way to build the brand was by surrounding the company with people who have stories that deserved to be told, and helping as many as I can tell those stories.
Alex: That back and forth is probably my favorite part about making comics. I’m also jealous of being able to layout the pages you write, I try to just do that mentally haha.
That makes sense as you know enough where the story is going and can always revise and fill it out later.
How has learning that backend publishing side of comics changed your creative process, if at all?
I’ve got to say you successfully built the brand! Dauntless immediately caught my attention and was something I wanted to learn more about.
Marcus: I think more strategically now based on the projects I take on. being the editor-in-chief/ publisher I often have even less time to do the projects I want to do. this year I have already drawn a novella, and two shorts, with a single issue and another novella, that I'm drawing this year as well, but what should take me 2-3 months per book takes even longer due to my publishing duties. So when I think of books or take on projects I aim for stuff in the novella range that give me that flexibility vs a long-form series.
Dauntless is growing and changing, I think the base of the brand is there now we just have to explode outwards and reach more of an audience which takes patience.
Alex: That’s still quite an impressive amount of output alongside your publishing duties!
What would you say is the mission statement of Dauntless and what has been your philosophy in your approach to publishing?
Marcus: We live by Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Dauntless. We strive to tell stories that allow our creators to express themselves in any way that is inclusive and respectful while pushing the boundaries of storytelling. If you look at our library over the last year books like ghosts of the carousel, EMFDMB (Eat My Flesh, Drink My Blood.) and more all tell deeply personal stories in genres that excel expectations.
My approach to publishing has been to think of ourselves as a small publishing house/film studio. We will put out 4-7 novellas a year with the hope of telling great self-contained stories. Eventually branching out to create our own in-house IP universe.
Alex: That ability to push boundaries is something I think that’s super important to the medium and is something that a place like Dauntless can help nurture.
As the last question, inspired by a recent trend I’ve seen floating around, what genre cliches are you absolutely on board for every time?
Marcus: My favorite is probably a legend in the making. Basically, the entire story is barreling turning this ordinary individual to become the champion of the world. Think Superman/ Deku from MHA academia etc.
About the author: Alex Batts is a writer with a lifelong passion for comics and storytelling. If he’s not writing about comics, he’s likely writing or reading them. You can follow him on Twitter @apbattman.
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