INTERVIEW: The Art and Music of Joeseph Simon and Friends
Joeseph Simon asked to interview me about the Mighty Crusaders. As one thing leads to another, and he ended up joining us at First Comics News. Now I get to turn the tables on, Joeseph! Supporting one of our staff members, Joeseph has a Kickstarter campaign launching and I get to interview him about his project, along with his collaborators Roman Gubskii and Tylean Polley.
First Comics News: How did you get together with Roman Gubskii?
Joeseph Simon: The internet is the touchstone to many lives these days and indeed, it is how I would first see Romans art and get to know him.
I found that he has the unique ability to create art specific to the story and to still be idiomatic to his own art style. For example, his art is quite dynamic, readily identifiable and uniquely his own. Yet 10 Seconds In, Perhaps to Dream and Ghost are uniquely their own visually. At the same time, they are very Roman.
Joeseph: Cell Phone Novels are a type of literature that originated in Japan, where they are a popular literary genre (many with TV, movies and manga adaptations). Its popularity has also spread internationally, including China, North America, Germany, and South Africa. Chapters usually consist of about 70-100 words (200 words is the top limit) each due to character limitations on cell phones.
Rather than appearing on a printed page, cell phone novels are sent directly to the reader via email, and SMS text message, chapter by chapter.
I became friends with Takatsu, an award-winning Japanese creator living in Toronto who is known for creating the North American Cell Phone Novel Style.
His ideas utilize the white space of the screen (black being the text) as visual art and incorporate multimedia when applicable. Takatsu’s use of Cell Phone Novels has other subtle differences from Japans. Takatsu would say ” more philosophical, artistic and poetic at times, simple language, focusing on emotions, (and) incorporating visual elements.”
Takashi is a genius creator whose cell phone novels are a masterclass of the literary genre itself. We worked together for a while. During that time I wrote several cell phone stories. 2020 will see some of these getting released.
Cell Phone Novels is one of many styles of writing in my arsenal! There is something truly organic and powerful in creating Cell Phone Novels. I’m really looking forward to seeing the others I wrote published.
10 Seconds In originated as a Cell Phone Novel short story for a project that never saw published form. Like Perhaps to Dream, Roman selected it to do art too. It was interesting seeing the story adapted to a comic. Roman’s art gave it a new life and even added to its interpretation.
1st: Who are the characters?
Joeseph: Each person in the story is an everyman for the people represented in the story. More specifically, they are symbolic to customers, employees, police, and criminals to many situations I found myself in.
1st: What is the story about?
1st: This story is based on real-life events that happened to you?
Joeseph: It details a situation from my time as the door manager of a nightclub. I call it “a night of fun turned upside down”. I worked at this nightclub for 20 years. It had an amazing capacity of 2,400 people. I had a lot of fun, however, the fun was punctuated by the violence that, at times, resulted in shootings and people dying.
1st: What are the differences between your story and what happened to you?
Joeseph: 10 Seconds In mixes reality and fiction together. The first part of the story is 100% true. Reality diverges to fiction with the actions of an officer that the story focuses on. I witnessed many shootings there and rarely was any shooter caught. Most of the injured or dead were innocent bystanders. It’s a tragic thing to experience. The first time it happened I was compelled to write a book about creating a safer nightlife called Observations from the Door.
The real shooter in 10 Seconds In was about 12 feet away from me when he started shooting. He casually drove up to the front of the club, got out of his car and emptied his gun into a crowd of hundreds exiting the club during our closing hour. It was sheer chaos.
The club, being able to hold 2,400 people is really big and really loud. At that time, inside the club, past our lobby and up the stairs, they were encouraging / forcing people to leave. The bouncers inside could not hear the gunfire inside.
At the same time, people were trying to get into the club for safety and a dangerous bottleneck was forming. I struggled to get past that bottleneck to let the bouncers know to let everyone come into the club.
As I was attempting to resolve the bottleneck, our surveillance shows the shooter stepped back into his car and calmly drive away. Three people were injured that night from gunfire.
My job at the door required considerable patience, balance, and focus. I created the story as an exercise in talking about what happened there.
The police and bouncers that we had working at the club did the best they could do. You would not believe some of the stories I could tell. My life was saved literally dozens of times during the course of 20 years by their actions.
Joeseph: During my time working on Cell Phone Novels with Takatsu, Taka was going to college. He knew this woman filmmaker who inquired about writers that might want to submit stories about Dreams. She planned to create film sets for each story and take still photographs for each story. A book containing the story and photos.
1st: Who was the photographer?
Joeseph: Sadly, due to the passage of time, I honestly can’t remember.
1st: Roman Gubskii art replaces the photos?
Joeseph: No, actually I never even saw what the filmmaker did.
Roman read the same script the filmmaker was given and added his Roman magic to it. He came up with the layout and visuals solely based on his imagination.
I sent Roman a collection of stories to look at to potentially do the art for. He selected 10 Seconds In and Perhaps to Dream.
1st: Do you have reoccurring dreams?
Joeseph: Not as much as dreams that are in the same location.
For example, there was a bookstore near me called Baluks. It had sliding shelves. You could slide a shelf down an area to reveal other shelves. I would purchase books, magazines, and of course, comics from here. It closed and long after I had dreams with those shelves in it. Due to the length of time since the store closed I forgot the name of the store. Until recently no one remembered the store at all or recalled the unique shelving. This was one of the things that helped create Perhaps to Dream.
There I was, having dreams of this store with unique shelving and thinking perhaps this was a product of my dream. Then I related the dream to my girlfriend. She remembered the name (and thus why I do now. We are both unsure of the spelling though.) and through her, I confirmed the store and its shelves existence.
1st: Have you ever had an imaginary girlfriend?
Joeseph: Thankfully not. That idea is interesting. It’s part of something I like to explore further. Imagined histories. Long before alternative facts, comics had alternative Earths. It’s interesting seeing these concepts cross over into the real world.
Paradox to an imaginary girlfriend my girlfriend fulfills my every dream!
Joeseph: A great band. Blixa and gang opened my mind to new and interesting ideas in music, execution of ideas, concepts in music, instrumentation, words, and visuals.
The band’s name means collapsing buildings. Ende Neu is the name of an album signaling a change to their music. It’s also a play on their name EinstürzENDE NEUbauten.
1st: What is Ende Neu about?
Joeseph: I took the bands use of Ende Neu literally as end new. I defined Ende Neu as cleaning the slate. Every beginning starts with an ending.
This Kickstarter is a celebration of the short story. Every issue of my magazine Ende Neu is a continued tribute to the short story. Each short story has an ending in the issue they appear in. Each issue is clearing the slate for new stories to be told in the next.
1st: On this project, you provide the art as well as the story?
Joeseph: I’m a graphic designer for a music manufacturer during the day. Bands, filmmakers and others who need cassettes, CDs or DVDs come to us at A to Z Audio Services, Inc. and we take what you have and make into a store ready product. From Polka to Death Metal, the variety in our clientele is vast. As you can imagine that lends to creating a very diverse graphic design for our clients.
I’m not an Illustrator. I can’t draw well. A total lack of drawn symmetrical sensibility. But I do make a living as a graphic designer.
With Ende Neu One I took public domain artwork and redesigned it for the purposes of each story.
Each story informs me what I’ll do visually in how it speaks to me. In the same way, a blues band will inform me differently than a metal band at my day job. How I approach things graphically from story to story issue to issue will change. At other times, I’ll invite a guest to do art.
Roman Gubskii: I’m not good at Spanish at all. The comic was made in Russian for Kommissia comic contest and then translated to English recently.
Roman: No, if we are talking about messaging. My speaking is a bit spotty, because I haven’t had a lot of practice in it, but we are getting there eventually.
1st: Did you produce Russian and/or Spanish versions of this story as well?
Roman: For the last 1,5 years I’m working only as an artist. But I’m working on my own project in my spare time in English, to practice it more.
1st: The Ghost that haunts the house, what is its connection to the home?
Roman: I really didn’t think it through that far. It is just a short story and the origin of the ghost wasn’t the focal point of it.
1st: Why terrorize just the child?
Roman: Because I think if it’d terrorize the parents they’d immediately move out of the house.
1st: Are there Ghost dogs?
Roman: Yeah. As for every living being.
Joeseph: This depends on the pledge.
Everyone has a different taste when it comes to music format. I took this into consideration. It’s all up to the pledger!
Even better, there is no price difference. I think of the audiobook as a bonus to the Kickstarter. I did not want to have a dozen pledge levels representing every different tweak.
1st: Tylean Polley, is the reader on the audiobook, who is Tylean Polley for people unfamiliar with the name?
Joeseph: Tylean is an internationally known avant-garde vocalist and composer who has six CDs of her own released as well as doing vocals for other projects.
The most known of these is the band Attrition. This is quite an accomplishment. Attrition is a well-known band from Coventry, England. Starting in 1980. Martin Bowes, the mastermind behind the band, was part of the experimental post-punk scene of the early 1980s and, along with other groups such as Throbbing Gristle, Coil, Einstürzende Neubauten, Legendary Pink Dots, Nurse with Wound and In the Nursery. All, including Attrition, greatly contributed to the development of industrial music.
Not only that, she is an actress having done work in the UK and the States. Tylean is an amazing woman and I’m fortunate to have her on board.
Much like sending Roman a selection of stories, I sent Tylean a selection of stories to potentially read. From her selection (while including Perhaps to Dream was different than Romans) she chose Perhaps to Dream (I’m honored that the filmmaker, Roman, and Tylean all accepted Perhaps to Dream! That should say something about the story!), two stories that appear in Ende Neu One plus a story unrelated to this Kickstarter that I am in releasing in 2020.
Joeseph: Lure of the Unknown is my music project.
For me, Lure of the Unknown is another form of creative expression. More so, I enjoy the idea of doing soundscapes for another creative medium. I create music for you to imagine to. A theater for your mind and ear to escape to. My goal is to interact with your imagination and other senses.
My evolution from jamming and fooling around with music to Lure of the Unknown is influenced by two others.
Robert Banks, Jr., the internationally known underground filmmaker and I are friends. Rob helped with one of my first music festivals (the Without Fear Concert Series) and the two of us have jammed together. Watching Robert self-finance the majority of his great films and seeing the dedication he puts into every aspect of each film, including the film’s sound, helped me re-evaluate what I wanted to do with my music while encouraging my enthusiasm for film scores and soundtracks.
The very talented Textbeak released his Cleopatra debut album “Sick for Songs A Season Eats“. On this release, Textbeak collaborates with John Fryer, Mark Stewart, Janine Rainforth, Peter Hope, Bestial Mouths, Searmanus, Bestial Mouths, and others. All well-known talents.
The last track is called The (W)hole and features guests Jeff Central with Robert Disaro and myself sharing vocals, lyrics and vocal manipulations complete with John Fryer’s production.
Much like working with Robert Banks, I learned a lot working with Mike. The value of being true to your music is one lesson of many.
1st: How did it end up on Hungarian compilation of Cleveland experimental music?
Joeseph: This is an interesting and odd story.
In addition to guesting on Textbeak’s Cleopatra debut, we co-curated a music festival together called Decay in Response. Experimental, electronic and industrial bands, DJs and artists all in the same events throughout Cleveland.
Decay in Response combined with my prior festival, Without Fear Concert Series, I was somewhat known for my efforts.
Due to these festivals, a label owner approached me to curate a compilation of experimental music for his Hungarian label.
More specific, why would a Hungarian label focus on Cleveland’s experimental bands? Aside from my living here, Cleveland has a well known experimental scene.
Here’s the odd part: Remember when I mentioned my day job does cassettes? Some readers likely thought “they still do those?” (Yep and an amazing amount of bands do cassettes!).
One of those bands is Lure of the Unknown with the track Eternal Scream in a Grain of Sand. As it so happens, I decided to start Lure of the Unknown with this track.
This track was noticed by Silber Media, a great label here in the states. Brian from Silber invited me to his 5in5 series. 5 songs in 5 minutes. I released Day of Endings as part of the 5in5.
Earlier I mentioned my enjoyment of doing scores. Day of Endings is scored for microstories that I wrote.
What is a micro-story? A micro story is a story told in 6 words. Each of the five tracks are titled after a microstory and each piece is a score for the story.
The opportunity would never have happened without Specimen. Just as Specimen led to the 5in5, the 5in5 led to my guesting on Textbeak’s release.
Around the same, Textbeak and I were working on a concert featuring Tylean. That would lead to her reading for the audiobook stories. All of this came to be because of a Hungarian release of Cleveland experimental bands on a floppy disk!
Tylean Polley: From the organization itself:
“The Ehlers-Danlos Support Group UK is an international non-profit self-help organization dedicated to informing, encouraging, and assisting those with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and their family members. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a group of rare inherited connective tissue disorders characterized by abnormalities of the skin, ligaments, and internal organs.”
Tylean Polley: “I’ve had dislocations and subluxations since birth. No one in the 1980s had ever heard of any rare condition that might be causing such musculoskeletal havoc, so I was labeled “just weird,” and spent my life until now unaware how truly delicate my body is. Until… at the age of 36… I became quite disabled and was finally diagnosed with the condition that had plagued me my whole life: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
If it wasn’t for Ehlers-Danlos Support UK, I would be in a quagmire of hopelessness trying to wade through a health system that is ill-equipped for Ehlers-Danlos recognition or management.”
Joeseph: I was stunned to hear about this from Tylean and hope that this Kickstarter can cast some light on a relatively unknown but horrible syndrome. It gives a duel purpose to the Kickstarter that I think has importance.
1st: When does the Kickstarter go live?
Joeseph: The fun starts Sunday, November 16th. You can find it here.
1st: How much of this project is already completed?
Joeseph: Aside from a few last-minute edits, it is camera ready and waiting to go public! I encourage feedback and look forward to finding out what people think.
1st: Are the short stories all in one book or are there four defend physical items? What is the format?
Joeseph: Each title (10 Seconds In, Perhaps to Dream, Ghost, Ende Neu One) and the audiobook make up 4 different publications and the audiobook. Five completely different products. Each publication is magazine-sized, full color and stapled. Perhaps to Dream, 10 Seconds In and Ghost are 12 pages. Ende Neu is 8 pages.
1st: What is the minimum pledge for a digital copy of this project?
Joeseph: $10 for PDFs of the 4 publications and an mp3 of the audiobook.
1st: What is the minimum pledge for a physical copy?
Joeseph: $20 plus shipping. This is for the 4 publications and your choice, a CD or download code of the audiobook.
1st: What type of rewards do you have planned?
Joeseph: Besides the three comics, one magazine and audiobook? There will be surprise announcements and stretch rewards. This Kickstarter is the start of other things to come!
A little over five years ago, I discovered I had genetic heart disease. It has been a wild learning experience. In a way, working at First Comic News was my re-entry into the comic industry.
Healthwise, changes had to be made. But, that’s a good thing. All of these changes are good things. Even if I didn’t have heart disease, they’re changes that would still do good things for me. In that regard, I can’t really complain.
There was one bad thing from it all. Due to heart disease and recovery, I did have to put a delay on a lot of creative adventures until I felt more confident in my ability to carry through on any promise to the public.
At the same time, my mind didn’t stop creating during my recovery time. And now that I’m better, I can move forward with more creative adventures. The surprise announcements and stretch rewards, in part, have to do with these!
1st: What makes this project so cool no one should pass it up?
Joeseph: My love of short stories is due to their ability to ignite the imagination.
These are all self-contained short stories. I hope each ignites your imagination in a way that you take something from the stories and it stays with you for a long time to come. How you interpret the story becomes part of the weave of your thoughts.
The best stories are ones that reverberate and echo in your memory to become part of who you are. That’s the goal. What makes this exciting is you. The reader is the only one who can arm my stories to do that. Your minds are the catalysts. In that way, we are celebrating the short story together!
For anyone who is interested in finding out more information on some of the above people and subjects, I brought up, take a click away at the links below!
Ehlers-Dalos Support Group UK
Cell Phone Novels
This link will take you to Wattpadd, where a lot of current Cell Phone Novels can be found.