[Each week, Complex columnist Percy Carey a.k.a. MF Grimm dives into the world of comic books with industry interviews, reviews and more. All MF Grimm music can be purchased on Itunes]
O.K. Complex readers, I finally got a chance to sit down with world famous celebrity web series producer Casey McKinnon. Casey is one of the hottest women on the web today—she's beautiful, intelligent, funny and every geek's fantasy. If you're ever blessed to be interviewed by her, she will turn you into a web series rockstar. Meeting Casey changed my life and if you pay attention, she can change yours too. Enjoy...
Percy Carey: Where were you born and when did you get into comics?
Casey McKinnon: I was born in Montreal, Canada, and raised in the suburbs. The first comic book I ever read was a Richie Rich comic I borrowed from a boy on my street, but it wasn't until I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, when I was 19 that I really got into comics as an adult. I started with uber-geeky comics by Evan Dorkin and Kevin Smith, and then my boyfriend Rudy Jahchan introduced me to more mature indie works by Brian Wood and Brian K. Vaughan. I've dabbled with the idea of writing comics, and have made a few comic strips in the past, but it's Rudy who's dreamed of working in the comic book industry... and I have no doubt that someday he'll do it.
Percy Carey: How long has A Comicbook Orange been around and what inspired you to create it?
Casey McKinnon: Rudy and I started A Comicbook Orange at the same time as we started our web series Galacticast, in May 2006. When we started Galacticast, it was meant to be a network of web series with shows like A Comicbook Orange (comic reviews), News of the Worlds (genre movie news), Sci-Fi Night Live (sketch comedy show), etc. Though we started developing a great audience for A Comicbook Orange, we realized we were being a little too ambitious creating a "network" on our own and decided to change Galacticast into simply a sketch comedy show. But in June 2007, with the encouragement of a fan and founder at Next New Networks, we relaunched A Comicbook Orange licensing our content exclusively to their newly-founded comic book network Pulp Secret.
Percy Carey: Were you involved with any other web series other than A Comicbook Orange?
Casey McKinnon: I started making web series in 2005, just before the launch of the first video iPod. As a result, my first show Kitkast - "sex news and sexy interviews" - became one of the top subscribed podcasts on iTunes. In time, I got tired of the show and wanted to make something more me (ie. geeky). So, channeling our geekiness, Rudy and I launched Galacticast.
Percy Carey: What are the pros and cons of running your own show?
Casey McKinnon: I would imagine that making a web series is a lot like making an indie comic. Working a day job... staying up late... awful pay... etc.
- You publish your won work, there are no Hollywood-types to turn you down.
- If you make something awesome, you can build your audience all on your own.
- If you're able to develop your own significant audience, you can use that popularity to make deals (selling/licensing content, developing new funded projects, etc.).
- Chances are you're not getting paid much, if anything.
- Chances are you're probably not getting much sleep either.
When it comes down to it, you need to be passionate and willing to work for nothing. I find that most of the real payment comes in form of positive feedback from fans and the press.
Percy Carey: There's the Oscars, the Grammy's, the Eisner... what's the name of the awards for web series? When is the next one?
Casey McKinnon: There have been a few awards shows for web series. In fact, my partner and I won 5 Vloggies in 2006 for our work on Galacticast. Most recently, however, was The Streamy Awards... but since we didn't produce any shows in 2008 we weren't eligible for nominations. No worries, we are gonna kick ass next year!
Percy Carey: Do you have an all time favorite comic book or Graphic novel? If so, which one?
Casey McKinnon: Channel Zero by Brian Wood. I read it at a time when America really seemed to be turning into a Theocracy, and as an atheist, I was sincerely worried that freedom of religious/non-religious beliefs were being pushed aside. I'm so grateful now that America has elected a president who embodies the spirit of multiculturalism and tolerance... I can only hope that the nation stays the course on being open-minded.
Percy Carey: Would you mind naming a few independent comic book titles and publishing companies you're following?
Casey McKinnon: Aside from your own book Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm, which made me cry on the second page, the most recent indie titles I've read are Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe and The Walking Dead (Books I & II). I tend to read a lot of titles from Oni Press, Image Comics and Vertigo.
Percy Carey: What's your opinion on comic book based movies? Do you think they live up to the hype?
Casey McKinnon: I'm all for it, but I try to go in with low expectations. My favorite movie last year was Wanted... it may not have been much like the comic, but it surprised me. That, and I've had a soft spot for James McAvoy ever since he was in the Children of Dune miniseries on the Sci Fi Channel. Leto II FTW!
Percy Carey: What's your opinion on the Watchmen movie?
Casey McKinnon: I was a little disappointed at first because I had seen way too many trailers and previews online. And, since I already read the graphic novel, the film didn't add anything to my previous enjoyment of the Watchmen brand. Visually I thought the movie was perfect, but I was underwhelmed by the actor playing Adrian Veidt... who I felt should've been more Thor-like. Still, I haven't lost all hope... I look forward to watching it again someday when I'm not completely saturated with hype.
Percy Carey: What's your opinion on people who enter the comic book industry from other mediums?
Casey McKinnon: Content is content. If you're a writer, you should do what you love no matter what the medium. In the end, it's the readers that'll decide what they enjoy.
Percy Carey: I feel the majority of comic book publishing companies are stuck in the past and not creative ...
Casey McKinnon: I would like to see less message boards and more blogs... less registering, more commenting. Two-way communication should be important to all companies, so making it easy should be equally important. I was really happy when a lot of comic creators finally adopted Twitter at Comic Con last year... we're living in a world where individuals are their own brand, and accessibility is king.
Percy Carey: How does it feel to be one of the sexiest geeks in America?
Casey McKinnon: Zod bless America! ;)
Percy Carey: Can you sing? Dance? Play guitar? Do martial arts?
Casey McKinnon: All of the above. I can pretty much do anything... to the extent that I feel I need to cut a lot out when I write my talent resume. Most notably, I'm a two-time UK gold-medalist in martial art Kuk Sool Won, and a two-time Canadian gold-medalist in synchronized swimming. Performing is my passion.
Percy Carey: I'm noticing more women entering comic book stores and buying comics, do you feel publishing companies are focusing more on women readers now? And do you feel the female audience will continue to increase? If so, why?
Casey McKinnon: I can't speak for all women, but I'm only comfortable at certain comic shops. If the employees are friendly and personable, I think they have a better chance of attracting female clientele. In fact, I shop at Meltdown Comics in West Hollywood for that very reason... they've always made me feel comfortable and welcome.
As for the comics, I'm not sure much has changed recently. There's still a lot of superhero comics with gynormous breasts... and there are still great indie comics with strong, realistic female characters. There's a variety to choose from, you just have to figure out what your preference is.
Percy Carey: You're one of the people who introduced me to Twitter. How important are social websites like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace today when it comes to spreading the word about your shows?
Casey McKinnon: Over the past two years, Twitter has become so important to me and my web presence. When I was producing shows full time I used it to promote new episodes, but now that I'm on haitus I use it to post similarly interesting links to maintain my brand. Someday soon, when I do have a new episode to post, I'll have a perfect built-in audience looking forward to new content.
Percy Carey: Name a person that you would love to interview on A Comicbook Orange.
Casey McKinnon: There are so many, but Evan Dorkin comes to mind since it was Dork! that really got me back into comics in the late '90s.
Percy Carey: Are you working on a creator owned comic book or graphic novel?
Casey McKinnon: No. Since my passion in performing, I'm concentrating on continuing to create web series... whether it be acting or hosting.
Percy Carey: Can you turn someone like me into a Web rockstar?
Casey McKinnon: What, you're not already a rockstar?! Well, you will be soon...
Percy Carey: How can the readers get in contact you?
Casey McKinnon: You can always reach me at casey at caseymckinnon dot com, or you can connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.
Percy Carey: Thank you for your time Casey.
Casey McKinnon: Thank YOU, Percy!
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