Kabooooom has been lucky enough to speak with Justin Peterson, independent writer and artist, about his creator-owned title Very Near Mint. He’s funded two volumes of the book through Kickstarter, and recently funded the third the same way. At the time of the interview the Kickstarter was still amidst it’s funding.
Hello Justin Peterson! Welcome to Kaboooom! I guess we should start off with an introduction of sorts. Why don’t you tell us who you are, what you do… your origin story so to speak?
Hey! Thanks for having me. My origin is pretty much the same as most, one day I was given a copy of X-Men, it blew my mind, I was never the same since. I’ve been drawing since I was about 2 or 3 and just haven’t stopped! I paint huge murals for a large restaurant company based out of Orlando, and when I’m not doing that, I write and draw my graphic novel series, Very Near Mint.
Speaking of Very Near Mint (VNM) congrats on your third SUCCESSFUL Kickstarter. You already raised a staggering $8,000 on the third volume, and it’s only the first week. What do you think makes Very Near Mint so unique and special to have raised 3 successful Kickstarters?
It’s pretty mind blowing to have people throw their support behind the books like they have. I think VNM speaks to a lot of people. It’s funny. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a lot of dark comics out there in the world, so maybe readers just want something fun? Or maybe they just like to look at the art! Clearly, I’m an artist first and a writer second… I write what I want to draw! I want to have fun drawing. I think you can see that from the books.
Once this arc is done, you have any plans for other personal projects?
I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve for other graphic novels. An all-ages road trip book about a summer vacation gone awry, a book about baseball… I can’t really say any more about them without spoiling the books! And I always have more ideas for future VNM books!
So as an indie creator, what has been the hardest struggle producing your own content?
There’s no problem with the content itself, it’s just DOING the work. When you work from home, you have all the distractions of home. Sitting down to draw is the hardest thing, especially when you live in a tourist destination! I don’t think I’m alone, I think most artists struggle with the same problem, focusing, procrastination. I know I live with the comics in my head, I can “see” them, so the hard part is to drag it from my brain onto the paper. Who wants to work? Nobody!
Any words of wisdom to fellow creators?
Don’t procrastinate. I’ve done enough of it for all of us.
You also do custom mural art for most if not all the Tijuana Flats restaurants in the United States. What is the process you go into creating such massive layouts for restaurant decor?
It all starts off with a small sketch. I’m pretty much given carte blanche to come up with whatever I want… zombie rock bands, huge robots destroying cities, or mad hot sauce scientists! Once I have the idea, I sketch it, send it off to my bosses. Once approved, it’s time to get down to work. Most of the murals are 10 feet tall by 30 feet wide, so it’s a lot of wall to cover. It used to take me a week to finish a mural, but after nearly 5 years, I have it down to about 18 hours of work. TOUGH work, but pretty rewarding work! Working at a large scale as helped me become a much better artist over the past few years. I also do “fill-in” artwork and painting in the restaurants, which includes painting slogans around the location (like “It Only Burns… for a little while”!) or goofy little things on the bathroom doors. It’s a fun job for sure.
Last but not least, anything else you want to share with your new fans and long time readers?
If you’re into funny comics about comic books and pop culture, check out VNM. If you’ve already read VNM, well, get ready for VNM 3, because the ending is a doozy!
Thanks to Justin Peterson for talking with us here at Kabooooom. The Kickstarter is over, but be sure to check out Very Near Mint Volume 3! You can find Justin at justinpeterson.tumblr.com and on Twitter at @justinpeterson.