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The Indie Index - Interview with Theodore Riddle

I'm just putting it out there that this is the most in-depth interview that I've ever been a part of. Theodore Riddle is a person who clearly knows what he wants and goes for it, tooth and nail. Here's the interview, please enjoy!

 
cover2002Hey Theodore! First things first those those who may not know you, tell us a little about yourself.
A misconception about Monolith Comics is that I am a Publisher which I am, but I am mainly a self published artist. Monolith Comics is just the imprint under which I have established my business for tax reasons to self publish my creation entitled Compu-M.E.C.H., Mechanically Engineered and Computerized Hero® and the universe which surrounds the story. I have done all the writing, penciling, inking and lettering of all of my twenty-seven 128 page black and white graphic novels. This has been the effort of twenty years worth of work and more. I am basically a one man army. I received my formal narrative art training at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. I was a graduate of the 1988 class. After graduating from the school, Joe Kubert hired me to run Tell-A-Graphics, (A Joe Kubert Enterprise). I ran Tell-A-Graphics until the early 1990’s when we had one of our first recessions. After that, all the clients I had acquired could no longer keep us going. So Joe and I agreed to close down Tell-A-Graphic temporarily. I do believe it has been revived serval times since then. 
After working there for so long I had acquire, quite a few contacts of my own and was able to go freelance for several years. I was published in several monthly magazines  for over three years. I ran creator owned scripts in Black Belt Magazine, Inside Kung Fu, Four Wheeler, and lastly Computer Gaming World. It was in the magazine, Computer Gaming World in which Compu-M.E.C.H. was given birth. It started out as a 3 page strip called "Reality One." At that time in my life the magazines where paying 10 times the going rate of a Marvel and DC page rate. I was making a lot of money for three years. Thats when Marvel had it’s first bankruptcy within three months I lost all of my magazine jobs. Comics were no longer the in thing. "What do I do now?”, I thought. The answer was simple, what I’ve always wanted to do, Self Publish my own comic character. The “Reality One" series seemed to be the biggest hit of all my magazines so I chose that character rename It to Compu-M.E.C.H.®  started was is now Monolith Comics.
 
How did the idea come about to expand beyond writing and branch into publishing?
There was never and idea to expand beyond writing and branch into publishing. I always wanted to draw comics from age of 3 when I read my first comic. I knew this (comics) was something incredible. I am a very big thinker. I don’t do things half way. If I have an idea, it's usually a big one. It is a desire that burnings in my heart. There is nothing that is going to stop me from doing it. In seventh grade I knew I was going to draw my own comics. I just didn’t know what character or how to do it. When I came home from my first day in high school and my Art Teacher told me about the Joe Kubert School after seeing my super hero drawings. I went home and told my parents, I wasn’t going to college. I was going to The Joe Kubert School. The Art Teacher had given me pamphlets and flyers from the school and I showed them to my parents. To be honest, they weren’t very happy. 
Like I said, when I’m say I’m going to do something, I do it. After taking several Saturday Cartoon Classes, I now had a better idea of how to draw a comic book page, better anatomy, story telling, and proportions. Perspective and all that other stuff, drawing trees, animals, buildings, etc. all came naturally to me because I always excelled in my art classes all throughout grade school. Then finally I graduated from high school; went to the Joe Kubert School Full Time Courses; having worked with Joe personally at Tell-A-Graphic; then with my free-lance work at the magazines; I now had all the knowledge I needed to run a business and my own self publishing comic book company.
 
With the leap into publishing, what planning was there? How long did things take and what was the most difficult thing about it? What was the initial reaction from people when they started hearing about Monolith Comics?
Well with any business it best to write a viable business plan, which I did. Early in 1994 I looked into getting distributed by Diamond Distributors and I found out that that was a quick way for an independent publisher, at that time, to go into bankruptcy. So I looked into just printing and as many black and white 26 page comics as I could afford. I found out through "Cerebis" which was a nationally know comic that he Artist/Author had his comics printed in Canada and what printer he used. I found out that I could get 2000 black and white comics with a color cover printed there for the same price of just printing only a 1000 color covers  here in the US. So I decided to take the plunge and printed the first three comics with 2000 print runs each in Canada one about every 3 months. Now way before this I made sure the artwork was a already finished for 5 books before I even started to print the first book. The art work for these books was started in 1994. So by the time I printed the books in 1998, I was more than ready to do this. Then I took out ads in the Comic Buyer's Guide which was very prevalent at the time and sold them through mail order. In some impossible dream I thought I could sell them all. After printing and advertising the first book I found that this was going to be a harder than I thought. Looking back, I think I was crazy. Then in 2001, I started to attend comic conventions in New York City. Prior to this time I constantly kept drawing and writing my books. Even though I had only published and printed three 26 page comics, I had enough material for six 64 page graphic novels. But no money to print them until I sold what I already had. I when I went to my first Con in the City right after the 911 event. In one of the other question you asked what was the reaction from people when they first started to hear about Monolith Comics? Well the answer is here as well. When I went to the convention people were still shell shocked from the 911 event. 

You see when I write my stories, I am always either getting the idea’s from dreams or almost premonition like ideas. I sit around all day and thinking about what might happen five to ten years from now. Because I know history repeats itself, I watch the current news events and make my own projections about the future. What I know about science, the planet and why things are really happening, not what the news wants you to hear. Even the entire concept of The Compu-M.E.C.H. Program, how it works, and its stories, modern science is finally catching up to the premises I made in 1994 when I created the series. Then I create a story how The Compu-M.E.C.H. Program would solve these problems. That's how I write my stories. Plus I have influences from the writings of Nostradamus. Well it was my conclusion that by the year 2000 there was no way that a foreign country would have Nuclear Weapons,that would really attack us, but Nostradamus saw something in his visions. A large explosion in what he called "The New City." So I wrote about a military man hi-jacking an airplane and running it straight into New York City, which would have caused a huge explosion large enough to change the world. In my story I tried to get the to The M.E.C.H. Unit to prevent this horrible disaster. It turns out that something very similar in our real lives happened in the same timeline I wrote the story about way back in 1994. I have found even now that with my studies of the news and the planet and science that a lot of the things I wrote about 5 10, and 15 years ago about are happening now or have already happened in some sort of uncanny way. Like I said I try to get the Compu-M.E.C.H. Program to try to stop these horrible events when they happen in my stories. I even wrote about what is happening with North Korea in Issue 24 which was published in 2016 and how to shut them down without firing a single missile.

page03Long story short when I went to the Con in New York City with my first book in 2001 people were blown away. "How could I write about such a  horrible thing and sell it here!,” they said. Even my logo of Monolith Comics people said looked too much like the Twin Towers and the explosion. When I pointed out the publication printed date of 1998 in the comic and I wrote the story in 1994 people bought them like hot cakes. So Monolith Comics and Compu-M.E.C.H. got its start. I now I had the money after selling so many issues over the next few years to start to print small runs of 64 page graphic novels instead of comics. I was able to sell them all, but i was just keeping my head above water. Then finally technology and the computer age evolved and On-Demand Printing became a more lucrative option. Then with Facebook and Twitter and all the other website media there was finally free advertising. I was finally making a living doing my dream. In hindsight I could have never known that it would work out this way. It was all lucky guesses that came true and I never gave up my dream to do self publishing. Joe Kubert said I was the most tenacious person he ever met. I guess he wasn’t kidding, but he never pulled any punches with me either. That why my first color comic is dedicated to him.

If Monolith Comics were to have one goal, what would it be and why?
Once again this is not an easy question for me to answer. I don’t think small. I will list them in order to give some assemblance of the entire plan.
1) To create the best comic universe I can possibly create and a story that has never been written before. It will encompass more than 100 full color issues by the time it’s finished. Then I'll move on to the next project. If time allows in my lifetime.
2) To take all twenty-seven 128 page graphic novels I’ve already written and republish them in color, while continuing to work on the black and white series to keep the story going until I can catch up to were I am with the coloring now.
3) To have my products licensed on many more products like T-Shirt for all sizes, for women, children and mens on all different colors of fabric. Mugs and other drinking paraphernalia, Tote Bags, Towels, Blankets, Magnets, Clocks and whatever other merchandise I can get approval for. This deal has already been acquired. Just keep watching my website at www.monolithcomics.com in the near future for all of these products because the arrangements are already being made.
4) I presently have a two figure toy line, which I wish to expand into many more. I can make these with a 3D printer, but I’d much rather have a licensing deal set up where they go world wide. I have already done the prototypes for well over 30 figures. But I have many more characters in the Compu-M.E.C.H. Universe than that. Hasbor Toys or Disney would be nice.
5) I would like to go world wide with an electronic publishing deal that will net me more money than I currently make printing the published series. I believe that are chilrden’s children will be the ones who will be the predominate consumer of this type of product. Comic books aren’t making any money anymore. They are just the little pamphlets for the Movie, Toys and other Merchandise. That is the wave of the future.
6) Last but not least an Animated Series and then a movie deal.

The why of all this, is because it’s who I am. I don’t think small. I think big. I am also a realistic thinking person. They may not happen in my lifetime. J.R.R. Tolkien never got to live to see his creations brought to the level they were brought to today, but the heirs of my living will may hopefully benefit from all my hard work. It is the dream of this that keeps me going. Not only that, but the failure that I won’t reach all of my goals as well.

 
page25I always hear stories from indie comic creators who are struggling to get their titles into the stores and out into the world. What advice would you give in relationship to distribution?
First of all, stop spending yours and other people’s money to publishing and printing your books. That will get so few of you so far. Go with the most cost effective way of doing things and reap the most benefit from your time. I use createspace.com *and amazon.com* for all of my work. It cost me nothing but the $6.00 for the proof. The rest is sales and profit. Then market yourself thoughout every single free Social Media Channel you can. Don’t count out LinkedIn either. Somehow, someway, someone is going to see your stuff more than at any convention you will ever attend and the you will hit it big.  Then every sales channel in the market will be open to you and you will have control all the rights to your concepts. This is what I have done and it is working. Try to get yourself a great Rep. Like I have. There are some things so big right now that I can’t even mention them, but they will happen to you if you never ever give up. I mean never! 
 
*  www.createspace.com , amazon.com , Barnes and Noble, or any other store that sells my products does not endorse my products or these statements. 
 

Anyone who wants to learn more about Compu-M.E.C.H., Mechanically Engineered and Computerized Hero® can find out more about the novel at these  following sites:

My website:www.monolithcomics.com
www.amazon.com Key words search “Theodore Raymond Riddle” under (Books)
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MonolithComics and a group on Facebook that I run for people who want to be in this business called “Learn How to Make Money Publishing Comics by Monolith Comics” anyone can join and will be accepted.
Twitter: @TheodoreRiddle
Plus keep watching my website for all the other things I mentioned in this article. They are on the verge of happening within weeks.

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