Interview with John Helmer about the Defiant Comics Fanzine
Defiant Comics was a small publishing company created by Jim Shooter in 1993-1994 after he was forced out by the owners of Valiant Comics. Though short lived, it has had an interesting impact on the comic book world producing amazing stories and fantastic characters. Lucky Comics is celebrating that era with a fanzine and a Kickstarter campaign now under way. I spoke with Lucky Comics publisher John Michael Helmer about the fanzine and how it was created…
Peter Breau: Tell us how this project came about?
John Michael Helmer: Thank you for the interview, Peter. The fanzine has been many years in production and was first envisioned by Golden Era Comics publisher and writer Mark F Davis. It’s his brainchild. Mark and I have been old friends and we’ve collaborated on many projects. He discussed it with me one day and we put the ball in motion.
Peter: What is Mark’s contribution?
John: He designed the theme of the fanzine, contacted several contributors, and coordinated the interviews, checklists, and the article. He was also the main contact with Defiant veteran JC Vaughn.
Peter: Interesting. And your contributions?
John: I compiled all the resources into one central working hub, formatted the interviews and designed the actual page layout.
Peter: You mentioned JC Vaughn…
John: Yes. He has been instrumental in acquiring most of the interviews as he has been in contact over the years with the principle creators from that time. Without JC, the fanzine would be quite thin.
Peter: Tell the readers what’s in the fanzine…
John: The fanzine features 11 interviews of DEFIANT creators and key employees, including Mr. Jim Shooter, JJ Jackson, JC Vaughn, and other greats, as well as a comprehensive Schism article, 2 comic book issue reviews, and probably the most comprehensive DEFIANT COMICS checklist ever put to page. Also, lots of rare pictures and background on the company with detailed descriptions of how the company was formed and what the daily creative process was there. It’s a remarkable historical record of a wonderful time in comics. The Fanzine runs 60 pages and is printed in comic book size format.
Peter: A comprehensive checklist?
John: Yes, comprehensive. Defiant Comics superfan and mega collector Jim Hollister has what we believe to be the greatest and most breathtaking Defiant collection in existence. Mark worked with Jim to catalog all his items, comics, variants, and even rare documents, photographing them and I was able to create a checklist with pictures. It’s astounding the collection Jim has assembled, simply astounding.
Peter: Why Kickstarter?
John: Mark and I really wanted to get this project to print but we were not sure of the fanbase or what the reception would be, so we launched a low threshold Kickstarter campaign with the hopes it will succeed.
Peter: Your funding goal is quite low.
John: This isn’t a project to “make money”. This project is a labor of love. We are fans first and we want other fans to be able to enjoy the rich history and details that this fanzine offers. Basically, we want this funded so everyone who wants a copy can get one and read the book.
Peter: Will there be a Defiant Fanzine 2021?
John: Ha! Only time will tell. This book doesn’t have fan drawings or fanfiction, it’s a historical document with interviews, articles, reviews of Defiant comics, and an up to date price guide. If veteran Defiant creators have more stories to tell, then there could be a subsequent issue.
Peter: How can fans get the book?
John: The Kickstarter for the one and only DEFIANT COMICS fanzine is now live! Please support the book; it has two covers: Cover A is the classic Defiant tower and Cover B is a montage scene of many of the Defiant characters and was drawn by Luis Rivera. He’s an unbelievable artist. Luckycomics.com has more information but you can click on over to Kickstarter to pledge.
Peter: Thanks, John, for your time and the great information.
John: Thank you, Peter.