I had the extreme pleasure of meeting J. M. Desantis at NYCC this year, where we able to chat for a bit while he did a wonderful Poison Ivy sketch for me. We managed to catch up with him last week, and he was kind enough to give us an interview before he closed out a busy year.
1: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, to start with I’m a writer and illustrator born in and based out of New Jersey. I usually work in the fantasy and horror genres, and I love to blend them together when possible. Though I also write articles, reviews and create artwork for the humorous video game news and review site, Game-Flush.com. So, for your readers, check that out if you’re a gamer, casual or hardcore.
I got my professional start in the comic book industry by penciling a story for The Comicbook Artists Guild’s Anthology #7 (Recollections of a Commander) and since then have been writing and illustrating my own stories as well as occasionally illustrating other writers’ work for CAG, Planet Lovecraft Magazine (now Strange Aeons), Atlas Unleashed, and Heavy Metal Magazine.
I’ve also worked on some other projects outside the comic industry, such as contributing art to The Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated. And just this year, my first published prose short story, The People from Beyond the Stars, appeared in the Comicbook Artist Guild’s Worlds Beyond, a science fiction story collection. Right now I think that’s the publication I’m happiest with, because, though I love comics, I really want to be doing more prose work and book illustrations. Then there’s also my pet-project, which I’ve gotten away from the latter half of this year: the Figmunds (www.figmunds.com).
2: Talk to us about figmunds, and how they came about.
I’m happy you asked about that, as I haven’t gotten the Figmund question publicly yet.
Figmunds are an old idea that started back in high school and are actually part of a much larger “mythology” I’ve been working on from around the same time. It hasn’t always been constant, but I’ve done a large amount of work on it over the years as it continues to develop and grow. But I promised myself by the time I was thirty I was going to be publishing work relating to that project. What’s more, I think Figmunds are probably the most broadly marketable part of that, and so, tossing ideas around in my head for a couple of years, I decided they were the place to start.
As for Figmunds themselves, they’re a simple folk, likely some evolved form of rabbits that disappeared from the world long ago (or so it’s said). They love stories of adventure and romance, though are often too timid themselves to go out and have adventures of their own. Of course there are a few individuals in Figmund history that did have great adventures and those are mainly the ones I wish to write about.
Now what I’m going to do with Figmunds has been difficult for me to pin down. [Laughs] Stories (children’s books, comics, novels, etc) for sure, but greeting cards were always a thought, as were clothing (like t-shirts and hats). I’d also like to run a web-comic on the site (figmunds.com) for them, but it’s been a bit difficult coming up with an idea that I can keep up with long term. I’ve always had a strong belief that the best stories have a beginning, middle, and end, even if the characters go on living very noteworthy lives, thus the concept is a bit difficult for me. So, unfortunately, as much as I’m trying to promote Figmunds and get work done on them, there is still a good amount of developing going on. I think the website shows that, for good or ill.
3: You also dabble in video game news and reviews, what was the catalyst for your foray into that medium?
Dabble is a bit unfair, though I guess Game-Flush (game-flush.com) is still fairly new. Honestly, though I love writing fiction, I’ve always had an interest in writing opinion articles and the like. Stephen King’s The Pop of King feature in Entertainment Weekly is one of my guilty reading pleasures. What’s more, video games have been an interest of mine since my parents introduced me to the Atari. So, there’s always been the potential there.
As for how it all came together, a friend of mine (Mike – Koz on the website) came up with the idea for Game-Flush and approached the other Mike (The Farr) and myself with the idea. It was one of those things that nearly didn’t make it off the ground. I mean Koz has been trying to get me in on one of his ideas for years now, and for the first time I thought this one was absolute gold. We had a few meetings and then the whole thing nearly fizzled out until my brother, Brian (Teach), and Koz’s brother, Steve (Kosh), asked us almost a year later what ever happened to the idea. Then we were suddenly getting prepared for a launch (in August of this year) and with five of us as equal partners and doing an equal amount of work, it was fairly easy to do and maintain.
I still think the idea is great, and it’s a fun project to work on. I’m hoping Game-Flush really catches on and has staying power. We’re working out a few kinks and new ideas for 2011. We already had an interview with Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII translator Alexander O. Smith this year and hopefully more surprises coming next year.
4: What can we look forward to in 2011?
Hopefully more reviews, articles and comics on Game-Flush.com, amongst other things. Also I’d like to finally get back to the Figmunds and get them and their website (figmunds.com) into a more finalized and publicly available form. Other than that, I’ve planned to start penning the first draft of a novel early next year. The idea’s been growing in my head for a year or two now, and I think it’s finally time to start writing it. I’m also working on a horror short story, the synopsis for which was accepted by the editors for Worlds Beyond volume 2 (which, obviously, will be a horror story collection this time).
5: Finally, what titles are you reading now and what are you playing currently?
Honestly, I’m not reading anything comic related. The last comic I read was Hellboy: Strange Places (volume 6) about a month ago. I love Hellboy, mind you; especially the shorter tales, but typically I read a lot of classic literature, mythology, medieval texts, and some philosophy. Right now I’m finishing up a second read through The Tolkien Reader which is nice because I haven’t read any Tolkien in about four years now. I’m about halfway through Farmer Giles of Ham. Then I thought I’d tackle a collection of Charles Dickens’s Christmas stories, which includes A Christmas Carol.
As far as what I’m playing, I just finished Resident Evil 5, which has been sitting on my shelf for too long, and I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Little Big Planet (any of you LBP fans can check out my levels, by Ethanbrec) and the X-Men Arcade Game here and there. I want to see what Santa brings me for Christmas before I dive full into the next title.
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