Interview: Lora Innes: The Trade Paperback Milestone
by Jeff Ritter
Published: October 12, 2009
The first six issues of The Dreamer, the comic book labor of love by Lora Innes, has recently been collected into trade paperback format. I interviewed Lora to celebrate the milestone.
First off, congratulations on your first trade paperback! The cover is fantastic--very eye catching. When you launched The Dreamer as a web-based publication, did you ever think you'd see the day when your story would be available in a printed collection from a major publisher like IDW?
I certainly hoped so! A lot of people start webcomics as a hobby--they’re aspiring artists and want to get their feet wet and are brave enough to put it on the internet to see if anyone cares. But I was at a later point in my career than that. I had done freelance work in comics, and had worked professionally for several years as a commercial illustrator. When I decided to do The Dreamer as a webcomic it was with one goal in mind: to get it published. I had actually never read a webcomic before I decided to make a webcomic. And initially I was opposed to the idea. But after I really got into the developmental phase of the story I knew that it wasn’t what comic book publishers were typically looking for. That being said, I’d heard a lot of talk within the comic book industry about wanting to pull in more female readers. I personally think that the way to do that is to tell a story that women want to read. I was writing what I hoped was such a story. I figured if I could build an online following of readers, a publisher looking to expand into more female-friendly books might see mine, see it doing well, and think there was less risk involved and give it a try. That’s actually how it happened for me.
How has working for IDW been for you? Have there been any significant changes to your process as opposed to when you were self-publishing on the web?
They’ve been working out great! When I knew IDW was interested in the book I couldn’t be happier because they just put out great looking comic books. They’re on beautiful paper and the story is ad free, and their graphic novels are just gorgeous. I love the way mine turned out--it’s a beautiful book. As for my creative process, not much has changed. I still retain all rights to my story, so they publish everything but don’t interfere with the project creatively at all. I still update two pages on my website every Friday as always, and complete one issue every three months.
Do you view this release as a milestone? I imagine this gets The Dreamer into a few stores it might not have been sold in as single issues, such as the mass market book retailers?
Absolutely! I’m very excited about that. It’s a milestone for the book and it’s a milestone for me personally. At the time I started The Dreamer I had never even penciled one complete issue of a comic, let alone write it, color it and letter it! Knowing this about myself, I decided to write a long format story anyway. It was sort of stupid, really, in retrospect, but it turns out that I love drawing comics even more than I thought I did. And now I’ve just finished the seventh issue online, and my second straight year on the project, so there was nothing to fear after all.
How did Jenny Frison come on board as your alternate cover artist? Did you know her before signing on with IDW, or were you matched up by the company?
Her work is gorgeous! I didn’t know her work before I found out she was to do the variants on my book. IDW assigned her to The Dreamer, and told me she was a freelancer they had been looking to use again and thought my title would be a good fit. My sister decided to get to the bottom of who this Jenny Frison girl was, and so we went to her portfolio website. She recognized Jenny’s Voltron cover and gave me the thumbs up of approval after that. IDW was kind enough to let me work with Jenny directly, so I sort of played an art director role on the covers, and Jenny was kind enough to indulge me. I emphasize “kind” because I know I’m one of those creators who is emotionally invested in their story, and she put up with me graciously.
Do you still find the time to get to conventions? Where have you been so far this year? And where might folks find you for an autograph or sketch (as her time allows, folks - don't say "Well, Jeff said you would!") on the remaining 2009 event calendar?
I do go to conventions, but not as many as I’d like. Some of my friends are at every show and I just don’t know how they manage that financially or emotionally. I’m not a social person. After a three day convention I go home and lock myself in my house for a week and don’t even answer my phone. But they’re great, despite being exhausting. I love meeting my readers! And it’s nice to socialize with fellow creators. This year I was at SPACE in Ohio and Heroes Con in Charlotte. I’m doing Mid Ohio Con in October as well as Baltimore Con that same month.
What's next for The Dreamer? Will you pursue an alternate history angle at some point? Could Bea's presence result in the Redcoats winning the war? An alternate history angle? Like... a boy goes to sleep and dreams about the War of 1812? I doubt it. Will Bea’s presence allow the Redcoats to win? You give that girl too much credit! What’s next? Hopefully another graphic novel, and then another, and another...it’s a long story and I just want to be able to tell it all, beginning to end. I’m also working on a few new short stories. I sell those on my website and they give unrevealed back stories to some of your favorite characters. I’m tossing around the idea of doing a Boston Tea Party story next for release in December.
Any chance of seeing The Dreamer cross into other media? Your art style would seem a natural fit for an animated series. Some people say it would be a great cartoon, others a fantastic TV series, others a movie. Personally, I’ve already drawn it, and I’ve drawn it the way I want it. So if we were going to translate it, I’d want to see it as a live action film, not an animation. That being said, the more I hear about dealing with Hollywood, the more content I grow to just make books. I’m not-so-secretly afraid they’ll cast Ben as a white guy and change the setting to the Civil War.