Bill Duncan Interviews Comixpedia’s EiC, that Damonk guy

He’s a man of small words. Big ones too. He’s a man of words. And pictures. He’s a man of words and pictures. Oh, and he’s married. He also happens to the editor-in-chief of Comixpedia. Pretty cool, huh?

I wrote a better introduction than this, but my dog ate it. Now I’m sad.

Just read on already.

First of all, for the kids at home, what is your real name (please don’t omit any ridiculous middle initials we might use against you in the future), and how did you come by the curious nick-name of ‘Damonk’?
The name’s François John Cormier, and the nickname comes from my college days in Ottawa. See, I had this crazy dream of being a “good student” when I first moved to Ottawa, so my plan was to lock myself up in my bachelor apartment and study study study.

And I would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

By meddling kids, I mean my best buddy Mike, and Derek, and Allison (yes, the same folks who are the inspiration for my comic characters), and a few others – even though they hardly knew me at the time, they kept knocking on my door and inviting me out. Of course, wanting to follow my dream of “good studenthood”, I’d tell them I couldn’t go because I had to study. Unfortunately for me, they always knew the magic words to get me to open my door: “First round of beer’s on us!”

For months, we went through the same ritual almost nightly – “Come out with us, Frank!” “No, I have to be a good student and study!” “There’ll be beer in it for you!” “I’ll be out in two minutes!”

They started making fun of me for my feeble attempts to resist the call of clubbing by locking myself in my room, calling me “wannabe hermit”, and “da monk”. The last name stuck, and here I am, now with three degrees under my belt, a weird nickname, and still unable to resist the siren song of “I’ll buy the first pitcher!”

Not the *best* nickname origin story, but what can you do, huh? Wanna go out for a beer?

What is the super secret origin of the man we know as Damonk? Where are you from, and what the heck is an Acadian anyway?
Oh Geez… if you thought my nickname story was dull, then my life story will be coma-inducing. Can I just make something up instead?

Fine, fine… I’m a French-Maritimer from Southeastern New Brunswick, and I’m addicted to learning stuff. Which can be a little harder than you’d think when you’re diagnosed with severe ADD. All I can say is that I’m VERY grateful that my parents said no when the doctor offered to put me on Ritalin. I think I turned out pretty damned good, even if I still need to work at being able to focus on one thing for any length of… ooh! Shiny thing!

*comes back a day later, after having been led halfway across the world from one shiny thing to the next*

Ahem, yes… So anyway, my life was and is pretty simple. I grew up with great friends and an incredible family. I’ve prolly broken more bones than most small villages combined, and like any country boy, I’ve been in apple fights, jellyfish fights (you don’t appreciate the severity of the “head shot” in gaming until you’ve been smacked across the face with a jellyfish, let me tell you), acorn fights, and even a few rock fights, and lord knows how many treehouses I tried to build in my youth. I’m 31 years old now, but I’m prolly more childish and immature than 99% of our readership – I’m one of those folks who just never outgrows their childhood. Sometimes I pity my wife for having to put up with such an overgrown kid.

As for Acadians, well, the uber-short answer: we’re descendants of French peasants who lived in Canada long before it was Canada, didn’t fight in the big French-English wars of the 18th century, and were given a “free” boat trip to “elsewhere” because of it in 1755 (the English didn’t trust us ’cause we were French, and the French hated us for not fighting). But we all literally walked back up to Canada, except for some who decided that Louisiana was a pretty cool place to live, too. Yep, there’s a reason they’re called ‘Cajuns, folks, and it’s not just cause they like spicy or burnt stuff. Oh, and we had our own pirate ship, too.

Next off, if you don’t mind, maybe you could elaborate a little on what exactly it is that you do for Comixpedia. I think that most regular readers know that you’re the mysterious man behind the Damonkey Business column, and that you are the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, but what exactly does an EIC do (besides nag the rest of us jobbers over deadlines)?
What does an EiC do? Maybe it’s easier to ask what an EiC doesn’t do sometimes…

I suppose that the best way to put it is that while Xerexes takes care of a lot of the “public” and webmastering admin stuff to keep this thing in one piece, I’m the secret Phantom that keeps the place oiled and greased behind the scenes, particularly content-wise. Like any good editor, the less you notice me, the better I must be at doing my job. Having worked in a newspublication and editorial environment before, I did my best to set up the copy chain, standards, and workflow for the ‘Pedia. So far, it’s worked quite well – no mutinies yet. *looks around nervously*

Everything that is published on the site has to go through me first (with the exception of press releases and headlines, which are reader-submitted). In the beginning, being EiC was quite a bit of work, as a lot of our passionate and dedicated contributors had great ideas, but needed to learn how to improve their technical writing and editing skills – focus, flow, approach, and so on. However, the staff has proven to be a bunch of keeners, learning quickly and becoming damn dirty apes decent writers. Nowadays, I usually only have to fix up minor things like syntax or grammar when I once used to have to really dissect and overhaul a piece to get all the good stuff written by the writers to really shine.

On top of straight editing, I have to play the wrangling game, too. I do my best to keep the editorial staff on their toes and on schedule with their sections, and as section editor for columns and reviews, I have to wrangle those two teams monthly, too. All in all, lots of logistics work.

Someone, and I wish I could remember who, once referred to Xerexes and I as the MacCartney and Lennon of the ‘Pedia. In a way, I find that to be eerily accurate – Xerexes is very much a business-savvy fellah, and he’s got a bit of the showman inside, which is great when you have to be the PR front man for any group, right? Me, I’m the loopy introverted theorist – all fascinated by the blood and guts of webcomics and journalism, and not interested whatsoever in the shiny apple side of it. We’re two very different people with a very different approach to running this news beast, and to be honest, I don’t think that either one could have made this thing a success without the other. I’m glad that he and I teamed up last year — for all of our (occasional) headbutting, we’re actually a perfect team to head this ship. And having such a great staff helps a lot, too.

Now if only we got paid to work on this like we do.

What do you do in real life?
Fantasize about free time?

Currently, I’m actually working as a Project Coordinator for a non-profit organization, something that has nothing to do with my Engligh Lit background or my aspirations for professional art, writing, or editing jobs. Interestingly enough, being a Project Coordinator is a LOT like being the EiC of this publication – lots of people wrangling, task prioritizing, and actual writing and editing of stuff… proposals, contracts, RFPs, you name it.

Aside from that, I am currently not doing much else but try to get my wife up here; we’ve been fighting bureaucracy and red tape for the last thirteen months, and that’s taken up practically all of my free time. Thankfully, though, there’s a light at the end of this dismal tunnel – now that I’ve gotten myself a “real” job, she’ll be moving up in two months (mid-April is the target), as soon as she’s finished up her work contract.

Once she’s up here again, and after she’s gotten sick of my sloppy kisses and horny pawings, I’m hoping to get back into a lot of the other stuff I’m into. Hockey, Tae Kwon Do, hockey, and prolly submitting some more poetry to lit mags and stuff. Yeah, you heard right. I write poetry. But I get published here and there (just got published again last week, in fact), so I don’t feel so bad about this not-so-secret shame.

A number of people on the Comixpedia staff have webcomics of their own. Please take a moment to plug yours.
Nope, I’d rather not. See, one of the weird things about me is that my whole comic thing is just an experiment, and I’m very aware that I’m currently NOT at the comicking level I’d like to be, quality-wise. So that webcomic I’ve been drawing for the last few years, well, it’s just a fun learning tool, see? It’s NOT something I’m proud of yet, or that I’m trying to “make it” with.

That’s why I’ve never really tried to pimp it out, and that’s why I won’t do it now. I figure if people are really that curious, they can look at my bio or Google my name or something.

One day, though – I expect to start working on something REAL. Then you’ll hear me screaming about it from the rooftops, I’m sure.

Why do you do it?
Scream from rooftops? My doctor says it’s a “condition.”

Why do I draw? I started drawing my webcomic a few years ago after reading Jeff Darlington‘s and Josh Phillips‘ statements that it was easy to do. I also did it for the women. (My wife is proof of this)

What first got you interested in comics? How did that eventually translate into an interest in webcomics (or, are they the same thing)?
I’ve loved comics ever since my dad first brought them in the house when I was a kid. Here’s a poem (toldja I was that kinda fellah) I wrote about it once. Webcomics was just another medium, a new canvas to play with, so of course I’d transition over, right?

What heroes do you have? (don’t be afraid to let them know how much you admire me)
Heh, now THAT’s an easy one. I have two main heroes, one flesh and blood real, and the other very much real in our imaginations: my dad, and Don Quixote. I leave it to you to decide who’s who.

Why my dad? Well, check out these two recent LiveJournal entries of mine, and you’ll see why. My father is one of those genuine living saints – a man who does good not because it’s fashionable to do so, not because it’s what is “expected”, not because it’ll get him something in the end. Nope, my pop does good because he IS goodness personnified. He doesn’t even REALIZE half the stuff he does, which makes it all that much more incredible to me.

Why Don Quixote? Because he BELIEVES. Because he wants to be GOOD, too. And he shows us that if you choose to believe in something enough, it WILL be a reality. He is proof that the Universe IS what we ourselves CHOOSE it to be.

I strive each day to be like these two great men.

And while I may not admire you as much as I admire those listed above, Bill, you’ll always be my Bittercup Buttercup.

Few people know that you are a prime example of what comics can do for a relationship. Tell us about your wife, and how comics brought you together, though the Man tried to keep you down. Possibly throw in some of the juicy details of your last encounter (just joshing you sir… she’ll be here soon right?)
Well, I’ve already told the world the story in a previous Damonkey Business, but maybe I can give a quick recap?

Meaghan and I met through each other’s webcomics, and after a nice friendly relationship was established, we happened to accidentally fall in love at first sight at the 2001 San Diego Comic-Con. I say accidentally, because we honestly were NOT interested in each other prior to meeting live – we were just casual online friends who happened to have a lot of respect for each other’s work and words.

We spent the first year of our relationship apart, as I had to finish my Master’s degree in New Brunswick first (my thesis consisted of me writing a book of poetry, go figure. Suffice it to say that I’d never written steamy LOVE poems before I met her, but the thesis seems to be oozing with them. Coincidence?). Then in June 2002, I got to live with her in Atlanta for three months. Then Visa laws stated that I had to return, so I did. We hated being apart so much during this short time that we decided to get married that Fall. I visited again, and we got married (my GOD, but how she looked like an ANGEL in her wedding dress. It was so hard for me not to cry during the entire ceremony, I was so struck by her beauty).

Then in December, we made the mistake of coming up to Canada again, so that she could meet MY side of the family. On January 8, 2003, on our way back to Atlanta, I was refused at the border, and I’ve been stranded in Ottawa ever since. In a weird twist, the first leg of our flight (Halifax-Toronto) was wonderful, as we were given a Honeymoon bump-up to first class. We certainly never expected that such a wonderful start to our trip would end so horribly when the Border Folk told us we had to be separated.

Let’s just say that it’s been a VERY difficult last thirteen months for the two of us.

What do you do for fun? (assuming you have some when you are not editing)
Currently, not much. Like I said earlier, most of my time is currently spent on trying to get my wife up here. Once that’s over and done with, though, I hope to become a normal Damonk again, and get back into sports, the poetry scene here in Ottawa, more reading, and of course, Soulcalibur II. And beyond all that, I hope to be having a great time just being with my darling wife.

We have a lot of fun to catch up with, dontcha know.

If you were a comic character in the print or webcomic world, who would you be?
I already *am* a webcomic character. Of course, you’d only know that if you read my webcomic, right? The, umm, webcomic I don’t tell anyone about? Heh. *cough*

I’ll have to say Don Quixote. Big surprise, huh?

And before you go telling me that there are no comics with Don Quixote in it, note that I beg to differ.

Why should we vote for you in the next election?
Oh god, no. Please don’t vote for me. The last thing I need is more work. My wife’s into world domination, though, so I’d say ask her. Besides, she’s already promised me a cabinet post as Minister of Being Her Concubine, and I’d rather go for that position, if that’s alright with you.

I hear the perks are amazing.

Bill Duncan is the Art Editor for the site.

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