MisFit Month - Studio Assembles

By Kevin Scott
July 5, 2005 - 10:15

Easy Cats :)

Did you all know something big is happening this month? No, I don’t mean San Diego or any exclusive contract announcement.

Right here, on the Bin, we’ve decided to not just shine the spotlight on a book.

We’re taking our game to the next level and we’re spotlighting the whole Studio/Company.

So, welcome to…………MisFit Month :)

OK, when cats think bout Comic Companies, there are two names that are synonymous with the game, those being Marvel and DC.

You then get the medium Companies doing their thing, Dark Horse, Image, Oni Press, etc.

But right now, there are a lot of smaller Studios forming. Looking to cut their teeth and fill a niche that the bigger companies aren’t offering.

One of these new ventures is MisFit Comics!

Now, we’ve had the likes of Valiant, Chaos, CrossGen and Dreamweaver all try and do their thing, but come up short. So what makes these MisFit cats any different, I hear you say!?!

Well, all you have to do is keep an open mind and read the following;

Fitting In!

We’ve invited the four founding members, Shannon Chenoweth, Alysha & Colin McK and Tessana Nemenski, of MisFit Studios down to talk bout their conception and what they have to offer.


(1) Koncise: So how do you all know each other?

Shannon Chenoweth: One night, I was minding my own business, writing on my computer when I heard this loud crash in my backyard.
Being the nosey person that I am, I decided to go check it out. As I arrived in my backyard, what I saw I won't soon forget. There was a shiney silver spacecraft. It was beautiful. Like nothing even Fox Mulder could imagine. As my excitement started to get the better of me, the craft's door opened. "Wow!" I thought, "little grey aliens are going to be flooding my yard!" Moments later my excitement turned to dismay when three humans exited the craft. "WTF?" I thought (ok, so I said it out loud, sue me), this was like some bad episode of "The Outer Limits" or something (was there ever a good episode of that show?).
And, that's how I met Tessana, Alysha and Colin. I still don't know why they were even in that craft in the first place.

Alysha McK: As you can tell from Shannon's response, she's obviously a laudanum addict; Tessana, Colin and myself are merely products of her fever dreams.

SC: In my fever dreams you look much taller....oh wait, you are. Nevermind. :)

AM: It's the platform sandals, most likely.

Colin McK: An alien sex farm chat room. I was nipple three of seven.

Tessana Nemenski: I love Shannon's imagination...but that story is so not true. The Alien spacecraft landed in Wizard World Chicago last year dork. At least get it right!

(2) K: So how did the idea of forming your own Studio come to mind?

SC: I seem to recall some sort of alien device being used to convince me that I wanted to form a studio. Seriously though, Tess came up with the initial idea, and mentioned to me during one of our late night rant and raving calls. We talked about it for awhile, then decided talking gets you nothing but a long phone bill for over usage charges. Heh. Then, we asked Alysha and Colin if they wanted to join us. Thus, the ball was rolling!

AM: Shannon shot me an e-mail one day, and I talked it over with Colin. We figured we didn't have anything to lose and everything to gain, so we decided to go for it. We really wanted to be part of something small and close-knit. Shannon and Tess are the two people we knew could deliver just that.

SC: We can also deliver your pizza in 30 minutes or it's free.
No one else touches that guarantee anymore baby! :)

CM: Out of the blue Shannon asked Alysha and me if we wanted to be part of the new studio she was forming with Tess. I've never been able to resist Shannon's wily charms, so I promptly clamped my e-hand over her e-mouth and asked, "Where do I sign?"

SC: That's e-rotic isn't it? :)

TN: phone bill was astronomical then. I mean....just bad. Real bad. I was getting upset with how some of the Independents were getting treated, and like Shannon said, in a rant and rave phone call the idea just kind of sprung out. Colin and Alysha are awesome people so we asked them to come on board (and thank god they did). I love all these people so much, and the best thing is I can send them a nasty email because I’m having a bad day and taking it out on them, and they forgive me for being a dork. Where else can you find people that put up with that AND like the same things you do?

AM: I hear the Navy's hiring, Tess. You might want to contact them.

TN: The navy hiring? I didn't know they were even working considering how much time they spend in the mall i work at.... :)

(3) K: Where did the name MisFit come from?

SC: We all suggested names, but it was Colin who came up with the one we all liked. Now, I can't see us as anything but Misfit Comics.

AM: We were tossing around lots and lots of names one night, and that seemed to be the one that stuck. I really kind of see us as a bunch of outsiders. Plus there's the fact that one of us has white hair, one black, one blue, and one lime green, much like Jem and the Holograms' rivals.

CM: I suggested it off the top of my head. I mean, we're all a little bit of a misfit inside, what some might consider the "inner misfit". So I thought it only appropriate we should express the culmination of our misfitness in the studio name. I thought the name was misfitting. Apparently everyone else liked it too.

AM: Punniest thing I've heard all day.

TN: Um.This is hard. I remember the four of us throwing around ideas between email and phone calls trying to come up with something
that fit all of our attitudes. I don't remember who said "misfits" but it worked so well explaining not only the four of us, but the fact that the books we wanted to put out were completely different then the big publishers.

(4) K: Was the process daunting, I mean, it must be a big investment?

SC: Anything worth doing is an investment. Financially, emotionally, and time-wise. But, we all have very similar goals, so things are working out well. None of us are rich by any means (hey, I've been eating a lot of cereal and noodle meals lately!), but if you want something bad enough, you find a way.

AM: For me, it's mostly been time and emotion. It's really a good thing that the four of us get on so well because there have been times when we've been at each other's throats. Then we all realize that we're tired, stressed, and working towards the same goal. In the end, we manage to work things out.

CM: To me, the biggest investment thus far has been time.
Sure, there's money involved, but that could be said for almost anything. Really, the caterers are the biggest investment. None of us want some half-assed deli tray with mundane cheeses and luncheon
meats. Why else would one get into comics but to sample the finest cuisine the business has to offer? Yes, I like my tuna salad with little bits of onion in it.

TN: Time. That's the most.Huge phone bills. Printing the book, paying for the website space. What lucked out was that we could all do a little of each thing and between the four of us, everything was covered. There are some independent studios that are being run by one person, and there are 80 different titles involved. I have no clue how they do it, but I do have alot of respect for them to put so much effort into what most people consider a hobby.

(5) K: There have been many Studios that have come before you, but found too many hurdles and folded. What sort of safe guards have you put in place to ensure your survival?

SC: Ha! Nothing is a certainty, in life or business. We just wake up everyday with a passion to succeed and support one another any way we can. I think that love for what we are doing, and the
admiration for one another is what's going to help us in the long run.

AM: I am Italian and I have connections. You know...connections. *winks and cracks knuckles*

SC: Did I ever tell you have much respect I have for the Mob? I keep hoping when I die I come back as a mobster. Great life, well less for getting killed part of course.

AM: Mob-schmob. We're talking easy access to cannoli!

CM: Yes.

TN: Shannon hit the nail on the head. From a business standpoint we decided to keep things as small as possible. We learned from other people that starting out at your first artist alley with 20 different books (and all the teams that come with them) is not the best plan in the world. Misfits in my eyes (and someone correct me if I am wrong) is a family analogy like the Cleavers to some of the independents' families in "my big fat greek wedding".

(6) K: Recently, Alias Enterprises had a problem shipping their initial first wave of books. Did you see this as a potential warning to yourselves?

As retailers could possible loss faith and low order your products.

SC: Warning? Nah, everyone has struggles along the way. That was just one of theirs. What we can do is learn from what others have and have not been successful at. Or, what not to do. But, while there are guidelines on how to do things, there are no set rules on how to succeed in this Industry.

AM: I'm sure we're going to make tons of mistakes, and I'm okay with that. It's not really learning if you don't do it for yourself to find out.

CM: Well, part of the learning process is making mistakes. I think as long as we are consistent in our quality, the little bumps in the road won't seem so... bumply.

TN: I think we should just let Shannon answer everything since she keeps stealing everyone's answers. (I'm joking). We watch everyone else, and try not to go down that path. As far as retailers are concerned- I never understood why they were so easy to drop an independent book, but when Marvel or DC have a book that takes forever to get out (an example- the Spiderman/Black Cat mini, or Daredevil Target) they will wait and wait and moan...but they will still order it.

(7) K: One thing that pisses off fans, is late books. Is there anything you plan to do, to eliminate this?

Or do you have special books (in said series) to fill any potential gaps?

SC: I would like to be able to follow through on a promised release date whenever possible. But, sometimes things happen that make
that impossible. We all work other jobs in order to fulfil the passion we have to make comics. Those jobs could put a delay on things at times, as well as numerous other real-life events and occurrences.
That said, we will be doing whatever we can to get the books out when promised. But, people need to understand, while Misfit Comics is a huge priority in our lives, it's not the only one. That's just being realistic about things.

AM: I think people will tolerate a certain degree of lateness -- just not the now clichéd Kevin Smith, Spider-Man/Black Cat type of lateness. I'd really like to have several issues completed or near completion before we start releasing stuff on a major scale. Right now, we're small, we have real jobs and such, so it's a little more tolerated.

It better be anyway!

CM: Well, I think we're going to work very hard to insure books will be ready before they're solicited. I'm sure there's a magic formula of just how long before a book is set to hit the stores where
a solicit will insure maximum anticipation by our readers, but I just do the drawings.

I think we'll be adding more Anthologies and a few other projects to keep our readers sated. I'm committed to maintaining quality, even if it takes a little longer to produce.

TN: I can tell you that shortly after Wizard Chicago that the books that Kayla and I do (there are two more series we are doing besides The Distance) will have a schedule that is made public and short of death will be out on time. I am the same way, I hate books that take forever to finish, so we decided that we will adhere to the schedule we make.

(8) K: So what type of products are you putting out there?

What I mean is on-going series, mini series, one-shots, original graphic novels.

SC: Probably a little of everything. It's up to the individual creators what they want to do.

AM: I'm open to publishing just about anything. One person I'm really excited about having in the studio eventually is Colin's father, who has relatively little interaction with the format except reading Hellblazer a few years back. I can't wait to see what he has in store script-wise.

CM: It's pretty much going to be a mixed bag. I like to think we put the awry in variety.

TN: There is the studio Anthology. That one is probably the book that is permanent outside of the series from each creative team.
Ideas are being thrown around for other books, but we are waiting until everyone feels comfortable before taking on another project.

(9) K: If the Studio was a radio station and you were all DJ’s. What type of sound would each book represent?

SC: Ha, this is a great question. Oddly enough, when I've been writing "The Line," I mostly listen to the group, "Go West." They were popular back in the 90s. While a few of their songs actually work out well for the book, I'd have to toss "The White Stripes" and "Nickelback" in there as well. Oh, and don't forget the sound of sirens in the background. :)

AM: Full Figure Porn would have a very eclectic sound, kind of like a Quentin Tarantino movie. Ska and punk for main character Jamie...definitely the likes of Reel Big Fish or Goldfinger, 80s metal masters AC/DC and Iron Maiden for loudmouth Angus, J-Pop Puffy Ami Yumi and Shonen Knife for Japanophile Devi, and Ole Blue Eyes or Dino for Jacqui. Throw some Johnny Cash in there for colour and we're set.

I base my characters around their musical interests because it means a lot to me. I was almost a composition major in college.

CM: Full Figure Porn is a little bit Punk, a little bit Ska, and a little bit poorly planned eight-year old birthday party hosted by the weird guy three houses down whom you occasionally catch looking in your windows with binoculars... music. Whatever that is.

TN: AH... this is easy. ( I know that there will be some groans out there now, particularly from Shannon). Bon Jovi, Five For Fighting and some oldies music (Beach Boys, Stephenwolf, and Chicago).
That is all the music and then some (particularly Bon Jovi) that influence The Distance.

(10) K: Are you keeping the line of books small to start off with. Or are you playing it by ear?

SC: Not so much the amount of books, but the amount of creators working with us will be limited. We want to keep that small atmosphere.

AM: We don't need the craziness that a lot of books brings...yet. Keeping it small means keeping it easy to keep track.

CM: We like the way small makes things more manageable. One syllable and easy pronunciation helps too.

SC: Just because you said that, I'm going to make sure the name of my next book is complex and full of hard to pronounce words. :)

TN: Keeping the company small doesn't mean that we will only have 5 books. I know each team has other plans they are working on for
other series-mini or one shots for example. We didn't want to launch the studio with so much that retailers or fans feel overloaded in choosing.

(11) K: Is there a quality control filter or can any of you release a book when you feel like it?

SC: Once a creator is with Misfit Comics, they can put out a book as often as they can produce it. But yes, we will be looking over everything that has the Misfit logo imprinted on it.

AM: I like to think that only quality is in the studio, so only quality comes out. We're pretty discerning, so I think we can all decide for ourselves what will be coming out.

SC: Yeah, we won't be seeking out that bid to produce 'Garbage Pail Kids' books...although, I'm seeing a real winner there. :)

AM: What do you mean? I've been in talks with the Poochie people for ages now...

CM: We want everything that comes out of Misfit Studios to be quality. But we also think the best control is self-control. And when I say "we", I mean "me" with an upside down "m".

TN: We have seen some other books come out of other studios (both big and small) and say "what in god's name are they thinking?"
Of course, that is our opinion and there may be an audience for the books that we don't particularly like. I think Misfits is a studio of comics made for people who want to think after they are done reading- not just bag and board the books and move on with their lives.

(12) K: Are you looking to be innovative with your out-put?

What I mean is, are you looking to do more than the typical story, that we see on a regular basis?

SC: I like to think that any idea I come up with is innovative in some way. That it isn't just a rehashing of someone else's idea. Of course, everything is that to some extent, but I try to spice things up, or put some twists and turns in there that are out of the ordinary.

AM: I think Full Figure Porn is very different, and one thing Colin and I are big on is breaking out of the common mold. I mean we have superheroes living in a city that doesn't really have a need for superheroes.

Did I mention that the characters aren't even really superheroes? No one in the book actually even has any powers.

So superheroes who aren't so super.

CM: Anything goes, really. Full Figure Porn is such a complex recipe of different approaches, styles, techniques and small, fuzzy gremlins it's going to make the Kama Sutra look like a grade school play bill. With plus-sized models.

TN: I can't speak for the others, but The Distance is anything ANYTHING but the typical good guy vs. bad guy story. It may seem like it at first, but trust me...its so not.

(13) K: Have you thought about putting out, some stuff like Illustrated Poetry books, or Prose books, but with a heavy art content?

SC: Poetry has never been something I've enjoyed writing, so I doubt it. At least not from me. I think it takes a special person to bring that type of writing to life, and it's just not something I'm
good at. So, I'll leave that to those talented folks.

AM: Our Anthology is in storybook format. One page of text, one page of art. So that's pretty much exactly what you asked.
Thanks for the nice little plug for In Every Direction there, Kev!

I'd love to do this again sometime. It was a lot of fun and looks great.

CM: As a matter of fact, my father is a short story writer and I recently asked him if he would be interested in creating graphic novels illustrated by that guy you know as me. We're doing some preliminary work right now. No ideas as to when it might be finished since I have other priorities, but it's in the works, so to speak.

TN: It's funny you mentioned that. Kayla and I have a plan for a book that would be much like Oeming and Glass' Don Quioxte in design and setup. The Anthology is defiantly not a comic, but I'll leave Colin and Alysha to explain that.

AM: Well, that made it easy. Thanks, Tess.

(14) K: In a industry, where fans are hesitant to pick up all that is new. What is it that makes your voices different from the rest of the crowd?

SC: Well, I'm writing stories that I have a passion for.
Stories that are in my head, begging to be told. I write because I love doing it. I'm in it for the thrill and adventure of it all. From the moment I get an idea to the finished script, to getting the art
from the artist, to seeing the words and everything come together...the process of making a comic to me, is magical. I get an adrenaline rush from the ride, and it's just like nothing else. Bottom line is,
I wouldn't be making comics unless I loved it, and I think that passion will show in the work and through me. That's what's going to stand out, the love.

AM: I can't speak for everyone, but our voice is just DIFFERENT. It's not something we like to push, but the studio at this point is mostly female. That's not something you see every day.
We're not out to exploit that, but I think that's something very different from what people are used to seeing. Full Figure Porn is all about character advancement rather than plot, and I think that really stands out.

CM: One guy, three gals, and porn. You do the math.

TN: I think its because the fact that our books in general are just different from the mainstream (even the mainstream of independent
books if that makes sense). We got two cop books- one told by the partner and one told from the daughter of a cop, we got a superhero book that is anything but what most people think of a superhero book and then on top of that- an Anthology that is more of a book than a comic. It’s different, and from what I have been hearing, fans want something different as oppose to the same story retold five different ways.

AM: Superheroes that aren't superheroes!

(15) K: How did you go about finding other talent to work on your books?

SC: We look at sites like deviantart and digitalwebbing as well as online message boards and of course, some creators are just people we have met personally.

AM: So far, all mine comes from within the family, so it's pure nepotism.

CM: Well, there was this one guy who had passable ideas, but taught me how to play some White Stripes on my guitar, so that was pretty much a no brainer. Oh, and there was this very nice lady who really didn't have any good ideas but thought my long hair was sexy so I thought she would make a useful addition to the studio. Really, though, I think it comes down to meeting and talking to people who are interested in producing quality story and art. I'm interested in getting a feel for their personality. These are people I'm going to be working, creating and chasing my dreams with, after all. I want to know we all have the best interest of the studio in mind when we're doing the work, creation and dream chasing.

TN: Kayla Tepps (the artist for The Distance) I actually use to work with. I like the fact that so far, the studio is made up of people that I have met and like, and if we all lived closer that I would hang out with.


(16) K: Are you going to have a uniformed font and colour style across your books (similar to DC)?

SC: What works for one book doesn't necessarily work for another. At this point in time, we don't have our books coming out of the same "universe." If we did, a more uniform look might serve better, whereas right now, it doesn't.

AM: I don't think it's necessary, as we have very different books and styles. For example, what works for Full Figure Porn wouldn't necessarily work for The Line or The Distance. FFP is very silly and I think the color (without the "u," you silly Limey!) and font should have a very different tone.

CM: One of the best things about this world in which we live is diversity. Uniformity has its place: far away from us.

TN: We are all having the same thing? I mean when it comes to lettering it would be only uniformed if say, we had one person doing
all the lettering or we (the founders) decided "ok, everyone must use a comic sans font". I think that deters from each book. What the big guys do works for them, but I think it makes everything to uniformed.

(17) K: Have you thought about ways of increasing the view accessibility of your books?

What I mean is, there are cats out there with bad eye sight who are hindered in their comic reading. Are you going to try and find ways to reach them?

SC: You know? That's a great idea, but it's also really a whole new ballgame with new challenges. Would be something I would be interested in doing, but don't foresee it happening anytime soon. Though, you never know.

AM: I would love to do that. I would with disabled people for a living, and I'm always trying to find that way to connect with them on their level. I'm open to any and all ideas to make the books more accessible.

CM: Of course. If for no other reason than to open the doors for other creators to do the same. Audio books are always a consideration, but with Full Figure Porn, half of the story is visual.
We could always plaster it on local billboards. Nice and big like.

TN: They beat me to the jokes. This is one of those things that we are discussing about as we go.

(18) K: If you’re books are constantly getting panned. What step would you take, as this could jus be hate, but then again, the books could stink like fish on a hot day?

SC: One of the greatest things I have learned from the beginning is that if you are crafting a story to satisfy people, it will never happen. You have to do what makes you happy. I write stories that I would enjoy reading. Also, I write because I just love to write, period. I don't expect "The Line" for example, to be widely acclaimed or anything. Of course, that's awesome if it is, but that's not why I created the series.
People know what they want when they choose a book. There's an audience out there, and if you are creating stories for the right reasons, you'll find them. Or, them you.


AM: You know what? I really wouldn't care. I love the book that Colin and I are working on. If other people don't like it, they just don't get our sense of humour, or just don't like it. That's fine. People reading it is just a perk to me.

And you can't go wrong with stories about porn fluffers.

CM: I'm not doing this to please everyone and I know I'll never make everyone happy. Honestly, as long as I enjoy doing it, that's all that matters to me. There's always going to be haters.
They're like assholes: everyone knows one.

TN: I would like to take this moment to say I know for fact that Kayla and I are going to get hate mail starting with probably issue two, if not issue three. We are just waiting for it. I really don't care what people think, everyone could hate this story or any of the books from the studio and tell everyone not to read them. However, in my eyes, if people say how much a book is bad, people will want to read it regardless. Either way, it benefits each of the teams. Perfect example? Avengers Dissasembled. Sold tons and tons and tons of
copies, yet people were upset of who got killed off, but they would still buy it.

(19) K: How are you distributing your books?

Are you looking to try and push the envelope and step into realms of distribution other companies are ignoring?

SC: Conventions, retailers, online ordering, Previews...really whatever I can do to get the books out there I'd like to be doing whenever possible. I think, one of the greatest things a creator can do is to be out there as much as she/he can with their work.

AM: I'd love to try anything. For example, Full Figure Porn will be published in sections on a blog. The twist is, however, that the blog belongs to the main character, Jamie. He gets to put his thoughts into the book, not just mine or Colin's.

SC: Yeah, we're going to stand outside of the Rosemont Convention Centre with signs advertising the studio and our books. I can't wait to wear one of those sandwich boards. Going to be the talk of the show :)

CM: Just when you think you have us pegged, there's a twist!
Then you go that way and we twist again! Twisty twister twistly twistic twistonomy. But no shouting. There's no shouting in comics.

SC: Ah, but there is Colin :)


Oh wait I proved myself wrong, dammit.

TN: Whatever we think of will go. For example, "The Distance" will be available online and at cons......and at a coffee shop near where Kayla and I live :)

(20) K: What price are your books going to run at?

SC: It will vary, but saying the average for a single issue will be $3 would be about right, give or take.

AM: You mean people are going to BUY them? *looks shocked* I thought we would just throw the books at people and hope that they'd
read them.

CM: Probably around $3.00 to try, free to buy. Of course, such things are subject to change.

TN: The Distance is the same as every other 'mainstream' book- $2.99.

(21) K: So you’ve got all this stuff jumping off. How are you going to avoid burnout?

SC: Making comics isn't as stressful as say, a surgeon doing heart surgery. We're making comics because we simply love doing so.
That said, I don't foresee burnout as anything to even be remotely worried about.

AM: I like to work on other things if I feel burnt out. Too much FFP? Go work on another project that's just begging for some attention.

That, or I yell at Shannon and Tess.

CM: I've really got too much I want to work on to suffer from burnout. Alysha and I have other projects to cure any FFP woes.

TN: Burnout? Burnout? You are so funny. I think the difference between Misfits and other independent studios is that everyone involved wants to be in the industry some way or another. That desire is way too strong to suffer from a measly burnout.

(22) K: Well, jus be careful, get plenty of massages :)

OK, is there anything else you want to say, that we haven’t looked at yet?

SC: Well, there's that secret collection in Tessana's...oh wait, nevermind.

Seriously, if you are going to Wizard World Chicago next month, stop by our table in Artist Alley, #9162. We'll have "The Line," "The Distance," "In Every Direction," and a "Full Figure Porn Scrapbook" there.

AM: Colin will be doing free full body massages with optional release at Chicago. Come partake in his wondrously nimble fingers!

And a sketch wouldn't hurt.

CM: Soylent Green is people.

TN: Visit us in Chicago! or stop by the
our Message Boards!

K: Well I hope you all enjoyed the meet & greet :)

Stop by next week and we're going to talk to Shannon Chenoweth (& Eric Gravel) in more depth. And see if we can squeeze some information out of her, about her book The Line.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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