Conducted by Nick Defina
The Comic Jobs Interview Series is an ongoing feature that has been put together for comic creators and fans who want to get some real insights and tips about working in comics. Do you want to have a job in comics? Are you already working in a particular area of comic creation and want to climb the ladder to the ultimate comics career? These interviews will give you great ideas on how to get started and how to deal with the ups and downs of working in comics. Full interviews will be posted weekly on the Work In Comics Blog and the Septagon Studios Comic Blog.
In this series, we will be talking with comic creators in all areas of comic development both professional and independent from comic artists, to comic writers, to comic publishers, to comic editors, to comic bloggers, to comic journalists, and more. These people are the real comic superheroes, doing what they love and helping to spread good comics for the world to enjoy. We will dig deep to gain insights and we might even get a little “up close and personal” with our interviewees to find out what kind of stuff they are into. Be sure to check back with us weekly for your dose of Comic Jobs Interviews.
For this inaugural interview, we have handpicked someone whom we have been following for quite some time now. We are happy to kick off this first Comic Jobs Interview Series with the President and Publisher of Radical Publishing, Barry Levine. Just a few years ago, you would have probably called Radical Publishing a sleeping giant because of the sheer potential and quality of their comics, but when you look at Radical Publishing today, you will see that the giant has woken up, and it’s on an ass-kicking rampage! Beyond continuing to have some of the coolest art and stories in the comic industry, Radical has expanded into gaming with Radical Interactive and movies with Radical Pictures. They have some really cool stuff going on which we will be talking about at the end of this post, but NOW, it’s time to jump into this interview here with Barry Levine to find out more about him and Radical and his comic job. Here we go…
WorkInComics.com: Tell us a little bit about how you got started in comics and what interested you in the medium?
Barry Levine: I started about 14 years ago as an independent film producer looking for high concepts. I’ve always been an avid reader of comic books, be it made Silver or Golden age, whatever. I just love great stories. I was introduced to a company called Acclaim that had just bought Valiant and the editor at the time was Fabian Nicieza. He was extremely kind to me and allowed me to represent Magnus, Robot Fighter and Shadowman. I eventually set up Shadowman at New Line and then later on at Dimension. We almost set up Magnus with John Davis and Goldman at Warner Brothers, but they couldn’t make the deal. That was my real entrance into the publishing industry.
WorkInComics.com: What kinds of other jobs have you worked at besides comics?
Barry Levine: Prior to this, I was a music supervisor/producer for soundtracks. I did everything from the Academy Award-winning Driving Miss Daisy to Street Fighter to Judge Dredd. Prior to that, I was one of the top photographers in the world in the field of rock ‘n’ roll. I shot everybody from KISS, Motley Crüe, and Aerosmith. I worked in England for four years for New Musical Express as one of their staff photographers, where I shot everybody involved in the punk era…from The Clash, to The Sex Pistols, to Generation X, etc. Both media were always visual, which helped my sense of design in working at Radical. I’ve mentored a designer named Jeremy Berger, who is probably one of the best art directors in the business right now, if not the best.
WorkInComics.com: Publishing comics is not an easy business these days, but we believe there is still a lot of opportunity out there for the indie publisher and creator. After being involved in comics for a long time and operating a successful comic publishing company, what would you say, based on your experience, is the most essential factor in making a comic publishing company stand out in today’s market?
Barry Levine: Story, art, delivering on time, and viral marketing. Also, maintaining great relationships with the creators so a level of trust exists beyond just the comic book.
WorkInComics.com: What would you attribute Radical’s success to? Originality, your team, quality of properties, marketing…?
Barry Levine: I would say originality in our concepts and definitely our painted style of artwork. Also, a secret weapon called Renae Geerlings who is one of the best editors I’ve ever worked with. Also, our ability to do grass-roots marketing. Every two months, we call almost every comic book store in America and we maintain close relationships with these people. Whether they sell one comic or one-hundred comics, it’s irrelevant to us.
WorkInComics.com: What is a typical day at the office like for Barry Levine, if there is even such thing as a “typical day?”
Barry Levine: There isn’t a typical day because I’m involved in our motion picture division and so many different aspects of what Radical does and where Radical is going. I work closely with my art director, Jeremy Berger, and the head of production, John Zopfi. I strive to maintain the consistency in our quality of art and our covers and I talk to talent in the film industry or creators in the publishing industry. A single day runs a pretty wide spectrum, but I don’t really have a specific agenda. The first thing I do when I get into the office in the morning is roll calls with my executive assistant, Amanda Mortlock.
WorkInComics.com: What do you like best about your job?
Barry Levine: That I’m able to interact with talent, listen to a pitch and give them an answer before they leave the room as opposed to waiting a month or two for someone to hear back from me… that’s something that has happened to me in the past at various independent publishers. Myself and my team are able to create our own content based on iconic characters and reinvent them. Bottom line is that I’m able to green light what I want to green light, which is something that I could never do my whole life.
WorkInComics.com: How does Radical manage to stay fresh and on the cutting edge of comics?
Barry Levine: Again, it’s contingent upon the quality of the writer and the story that we’re developing. If we do crime, it has to have a twist to it. If it’s iconic, like Hercules, it has to be more Seven Samurai/mercenaries opposed to the basic premise of Greek mythology and it’s mythical entities like three-headed hydras and cyclopes.
WorkInComics.com: Name one book and one comic that you are reading or have read recently?
Barry Levine: I love The Boys by Garth Ennis. I’m head over heels over The Last Days of American Crime by Rick Remender. His characters and dialogue are just so edgy and grounded and the story is a lot of fun to read.
WorkInComics.com: Radical Publishing has some of the best artwork in comics today. Why do you have such a strong focus on artwork?
Barry Levine: It’s my background as a designer photographer that allowed me to be very specific with color palette, perspectives and depth. If you look at our books, not one book looks the same. Every book has its own design definition and it’s extremely important. Dealing with a medium of one dimension, it’s always been a priority for me to create art that doesn’t just accompany the story, but allows one to go back once again or spend more than a second or two looking at the art ’cause there is so much detail in the foreground and background. I think this is the main reason that we do this.
WorkInComics.com: What are some of the projects that readers should look out for from Radical Publishing this year?
Barry Levine: Oblivion, created by Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski and written by Arvid Nelson of Rex Mundi Film. After Dark, created by Antoine Fuqua. Time Bomb, written and created by legendary team Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with remarkable artwork by Paul Gulacy. Earp: Saints for Sinners, Driver for the Dead, and Mata Hari. Also, Ryder on the Storm by David Hine, The Rising, and graphic novel Legends: The Enchanted, by Nick Percival. These are some of the projects that one should look out for.
WorkInComics.com: It looks like Radical Publishing is on a serious tear. These are all really great projects. We also noticed that Radical Publishing has also been popping up in the news lately with some BIG TIME Headlines:
Joseph Kosinski’s ‘Oblivion snapped up by Disney“Oblivion,” the upcoming Radical graphic novel from “Tron Legacy” director Joseph Kosinski, has found a home with Disney.
Sam Worthington To Produce And Star In The Last Days Of American Crime
Radical Publishing is excited to announce that Sam Worthington has signed on as both star and producer for the film adaptation of The Last Days of American Crime, based off of Radical Publishing’s comic book series, The Last Days of American Crime, created and written by critically acclaimed author Rick Remender (Punisher, Fear Agent). Sam Worthington will be a producer along with producing partner, Michael Schwarz, and Radical’s president and publisher, Barry Levine.
Radical And Dogtown To Develop Interactive Games
Dogtown Studios and Radical Publishing, under the Radical Interactive banner, are proud to announce a partnership to jointly produce a brand new iDevice (iPhone, iTouch,iPad) game that will offer exceptional quality and excitement for the casual, as well as the experienced, gamer.
For more Radical news click here.
Those are some pretty great accomplishments for just starting out a few years ago. Well, it’s time to wrap this baby up. Thanks, Barry, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to provide us with some great responses and insights. You are definitely living the ultimate comic job. Best of luck with your future projects. If you want to learn more about Barry Levine and Radical Publishing, please visit: Radicalpublishing.com .
To read the full article at the Work In Comics Blog, click here.