Comicpalooza 2: Dale Maccanti Interview

Melbourne is the champion of serial comic launches and Saturday November 8th brings the second installment of Comicpalooza at the Queensberry Hotel, 593 Swanston Street, in Carlton. The best comic shop in the world, All Star Comics, are generous sponsors of the event.

Fresh from it's debut at this years SPX, Pikitia Press will be launching The Fuglies by Antoinette Rydyr and Steve Carter. Other comics launching on the day are Very Quiet, Very Still by Chris Gooch, System Earth 5 by Tom Garden and The Misadventures of Peter Pumpkinhead
by Dale Maccanti & Tennille Owens + various artists from the webcomic.

Michael Lombardi's take on Peter Pumpkinhead

I asked White Cat Press publisher Dale Maccanti a few questions about the forthcoming The Misadventures of Peter Pumpkinhead collaborative comic and other comic related generalities.

Matt Emery: You mentioned to me in conversation recently that you were a reluctant publisher, ideally you would have someone else take over those responsibilities. What are some of the challenging parts of publishing you've experienced and do you see benefits in being a publisher and the freedoms that might afford you?

Dale Maccanti: I’m a reluctant publisher because that’s never been my primary goal. I, like so many others, want to be a published writer but have had to self-publish to make it happen. It would be great if a notable publisher picked up my book, leaving me just to do the fun and creative parts but that hasn’t been the case.

I'm only new to the publishing world and have no doubt experienced some of the challenges even the largest publishers have come across. The obvious challenges are raising capital, enforcing deadlines and marketing. Personally, the most surprising challenge has been coping with wearing many, many hats. As the editor of an indie publishing house, you're expected to be the master in every aspect of publishing; writing, art, inking, lettering, layouts, marketing and the list goes on. 

When I released my first book Ink Tales, I had no experience in publishing but I did know what I liked and had the ability to make it happen. That’s the beauty in self-publishing, you can tell any story you want. Whether it be an anthology about tattoos or a tale about a mischievous pumpkin-headed boy. At the very least, I know I'm making it a bit easier for other writers and artists to be published.

  Pat Sullivan and his wife Marjorie judge a "Draw Felix" competition.   

Emery: You have a Felix the Cat tattoo, what do you think about Australian animator/cartoonist Pat Sullivan's claims to creating the character?

Maccanti: For those that are playing at home, Pat Sullivan's New York animation studio produced a short called Feine Follies in 1919, featuring a black cat named Master Tom (a Felix prototype). Animation historians are split over whom exactly created Felix the Cat. Was it Pat Sullivan or lead animator Otto Messmer? 

Personally I think it was Sullivan because he created a short called The Tail of Thomas the Kat in 1917, where a black cat has his tail removed, a classic trademark of the early Felix the Cat shorts. It's a shame to think that a creator can lose ownership of something they created but I take solace in the fact that it wasn't disputed until after his death. 

I've been a big fan of Felix since the 90s show The Twisted Tales of Felix. Hopefully with DreamWorks purchasing the rights this year, we can look forward to more Felix on our TV screens. 

Rob O'Connor contribution to Peter Pumpkinhead

Emery: What inspired doing a webcomic via multiple artists, The Misadventures of Peter Pumpkinhead'?

Maccanti: After launching Ink Tales late last year, my publishing slate was pretty empty and I was keen to get started onto something new. I didn't necessarily want to jump back into another 2-year project, so I looked over some of my old projects. Sitting in my Mac, collecting virtual dust was a completed 10-page comic called The Misadventures of Peter Pumpkinhead'. It was scheduled for a graphic anthology 3-years ago but was knocked back very late in production. I felt bad that the artist, Tennille Owens had done so much beautiful work and no one was going to see it. 

Coincidentally around that time, I had seen some interesting online comic jams, where an artist would continue on from the previous artists work. I thought it'd be interesting to use my character Peter Pumpkinhead and see if it could gain some interest online. Thankfully it has gained some traction and we've had about 30 different artists contribute to the webcomic over at the White Cat Press website. Not only that, but I'll be launching volume 1 of The Misadventures of Peter Pumpkinhead at Comicpalooza 2 on the 8th of November. Finally Tennille's pages will see print along with the artists from the webcomic.    

Tangible Evidence by Jason Paulos from Ink Tales anthology

Emery: What has been a highlight for you so far in your time making and publishing comics?

Maccanti: A few things immediately come to mind. The first is getting my writing into the public eye. I spend a lot of my free time sitting in my small, dark office/spare bedroom hitting buttons on a keyboard. It's incredibly satisfying to finally see my work enter the physical world and have people pick it up. That's why I enjoy conventions so much, I get to speak to supporters of my work and thank them. It still blows my mind that people other than my friends and family like what I write, it's very humbling. 

The other major highlight is publishing other artists work. It's not always easy to get your art out there and if I can make that more accessible, then I've done my job as a publisher.  

Emery: I've heard mention that some Australian Comic creators believe Australia could support a "Comics Industry", what are your thoughts on that?

Maccanti: I personally would love to see that happen and it's definitely a possibility. A few key factors would be the Marvel and DC movies putting superheroes back on the map. The growth of pop culture conventions   allowing Australian Comic creators to sell directly to our key demographic. The international market has also opened up with online platforms like Comixology Submit. 

A long-term sustainable industry is still going to be difficult to achieve but we're moving in the right direction. The fact that Australian Comic creators believe it's possible means we'll be striving to achieve that very goal. And who knows what will happen once Paul Bedford's 'The List' is made into a movie. Hopefully it'll show the film industry that it isn't only Marvel and DC that have good stories to tell.  

Emery: What do you have planned for White Cat Press in 2015?

Maccanti: 2015 is going to be twice as big for us! We're going to publish not one but TWO books. The Misadventures of Peter Pumpkinhead Volumes 2 and 3 are scheduled for the end of 2015 (hopefully at Comicpalooza 3). You'll get to see more exploits from the pumpkin-headed boy, along with the amazing artists of the webcomic over at the White Cat Press site.

Our other big announcement is that artist Trevor Wood will start penciling our first graphic novel After the Snow.  The script has been in development for a couple of years and Trevor has been working hard on the art style and characters. We'll have plenty of previews for all of our upcoming projects over on the White Cat Press Facebook page.

You can also follow Trevor Wood's work at on his FB page.