An Interview with Comixpedia's Publisher Xaviar Xerexes
Xavier Xerexes (which isn't his real name, by the way) is the publisher and driving force behind Comixpedia. He also has a real job, and a real life, which he doesn't talk about on the Internet. Actually, none of the staff know what he actually does, except that he's a lawyer.
Interviews editor Leah Fitzgerald kicks off the staff interviews with a talk with our illustrious publisher.
How did you first get interested in comics?
I read some comic books as a kid: superheroes and Disney stuff. Random three packs from the drug store (when they actually used to sell comics that way). I read the newspaper comic strips all the time. I can still remember that Garfield *was* funny for about a year before Jim Davis got more interested in merchandizing than comic strip making.
I loved Doonesbury, Bloom County, The Far Side, Calvin & Hobbes. I started reading weekly strips in the alternative newspaper rags later on: This Modern World, Life in Hell, Troubletown, Tom the Dancing Bug, The City. So I've always been a fan of some aspect of it, but it wasn't really until the webcomic phenonomen that I put it together in my head that I was really interested in this medium of pictures and words and not just isolated individual efforts.
I drew a rather unremarkable comic for my lawschool newspaper entitled where the hell are the singing cats? and after gradutation started putting some new comics up on a Geocities website. That started somewhere in 1996, I think. Like I said, a rather unremarkable comic, so don't expect too much if you go google for it. In 1999 I discovered a whole bunch of comics on the web that really captured my imagination and led me to rediscover my enthusiasm for comics: Sluggy Freelance, Goats, Bobbins, Superosity, When I Grow Up, Argon Zark, and PVP come to mind. Plus there were lots of others that weren't nearly as good.
I thought to myself this was a lot like what happened in music around the punk/new wave eras when all kinds of new people decided they were going to be creators rather just consumers. Some of it's good, some of it's bad, but definitely lots of interesting things happening.
What made you decide to start a webcomics magazine?
I actually started a little review site really early on - at first called "Link-o-pedia" and later I switched the name to Comixpedia because I discovered another search site was already using the name Linkopedia. That incarnation of the site lasted somewhere roughly from 1999 to 2001.
I was basically just trying to share my impressions of webcomics with others, there were so many fewer webcomics at that time that it almost seemed feasible for one person to review all of them, eventually.
I dropped much of that effort because I got involved with a group of comic artists (Brad Guigar, Boxjam, Lee Adam Herold, burke, Case Yorke, Bob Roberds) to start a website called Altbrand. If my memory isn't completely shot Altbrand was really alive and kicking from 2001 to mid-2002. It's still around although it's basically just a forum for the seven of us now. While it lasted, Altbrand was a lot of fun.
Mid-2002 I realized that a really good effort at a webcomics magazine could be a worthwhile project. It took a good 3 or 4 months to find the right folks to make a new Comixpedia take off. And then Joey Manley issued his challenge, so that was like the final kick in the pants to make it really happen.
What do you do outside comics online?
I'm a huge futbol fan (I mean soccer, not American football). I do still mess around with my own comics a bit. I tinker with computers and whatnot. Comixpedia takes up a lot of my time though.
What's your favourite color? movie? song? band? comic?
What is this, People magazine?
Alright, let's see. Color is probably red or purple. Movie is a hard one. I love movies and I hate to compare different types of movies. I like Aliens, Shallow Grave, and Smoke a lot but I couldn't tell you which one was my favorite. Music used to be a much bigger passion for me than it is right now. I'm kind of on a nostalgia kick lately - early eighties bands like Oingo Boingo, Madness and The Human League.
I'm a big book reader though - my favorite authors are Paul Austin and Neil Stephenson. As for comics, it's a lot like movies. I don't know how to compare them against each other. I'm sure I could if I had to but for the most part I don't even try. Lately I've been really impressed by Scary Go Round, just because it looks so good and the storylines have been fairly engaging.
Where did you grow up?
Mostly California, but spent some time in Texas as well.
Do you say the pledge of allegiance often?
Every morning while brushing my teeth.
Do you blog? Where?
Comixpedia soaks up most of that energy. I would blog in other places if I had the kind of time that some of those bloggers seem to have!
What's your favorite thing on Comixpedia? on the Internet?
I'm pretty proud of almost everything we've done with Comixpedia. The articles have been great - I've discovered some great comics I hadn't heard of before. It's been interesting to have online conversations with the artists who make up "webcomics" today.
I wish we were further along with the Most Read project and the Directory of Webcomics project but I do most of the website and "business" related activities for Comixpedia so I haven't had as much time to devote to those other efforts as I would like. This year though! :)
How did you find all the other editors?
Mostly online. Leah, you did a great website with some interviews and some features - I emailed you in the fall of 2002. Roughly the same time I had talked to T Campbell online (and at SPXPo in Maryland) and Damonk online about Comixpedia. Luckily for us, you helped alert us all to your talented fiancee, Bill Duncan who came onboard. Matt Shepherd is a busy guy, so it took awhile to convince him to join up with us. And Kelly I didn't meet until after she was writing features for us. It would be impossible to do this without the Internet!
Have you met any in real life?
I've talked with T Campbell (a former editor for Features) a couple times at conventions. But no one else. More than half the editors are in Canada, which is really cold from what I've heard.