Full Disclaimer: I consider both of these guys to be friends and colleagues. Having worked alongside them creating comics for TheComicJam.com
One’s a sentient monster truck, and the other’s his label-laden driver, John and Casey have been friends for awhile and together have become a force to be reckoned with. Especially if you’re a mud ramp that’s in need of an excellent air born back-flip. What? Oh, I’m being told I’m completely wrong on all of this. John and Casey are actually just two blokes trying to make the coolest damn monster hunter anthology comic the world has ever seen? Nice.
John Horsley: I was birthed in a lab that specialized in illegal cough syrup. From the tender age of…wait, no, I mean I was born in the year of our lord 1518, but I didn’t become immortal until 1536 when I fought The Kurgan. That is when I learned the most immortal rule of my life; there can be only one. Oh crap, that’s Highlander. Such a good film. Dropped off after the second one, I mean The Quickening? Aliens? LAME!
I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. My dad got me into comics when I was a kid and it was the thing that got me into reading. Prior to my dad handing me a copy of a Batman comic I had zero interest in reading. It felt like cheating because so much of the pages were pictures, so I didn’t need to read as much! Then all of a sudden, I was reading 5 issues a day.
I started writing and drawing comics at a young age, around 12 or so. I was going to take the super-hero genre by storm! Be the next Jim Lee! Then I discovered music around 14 and thought “wait, musicians get way more girls!” and put down the pencil and picked up the guitar. I played music for around 6 or so years and after several failed bands that didn’t really go anywhere I decided to open an online comic book store. This re-ignited my love for comics and art and got me wanting to get back into drawing again.
In late 2002/early 2003 I started working on what would clearly become the greatest independent comic ever created called “y2christ”. You’ve probably never heard of it, cause well, it was never published. I wrote the whole thing then realized it was complete garbage. Well, I realized that after I drew out the first half of the book. I then turned to web-comics and wrote/drew them for the next 13 years.
After that I “retired” from the web-comic game and decided to do something small to dip my toes into the world of print comics. So I created a world with 250 unique characters, brought over a few dozen people to write/draw stories, made sure all the stories worked together to tell a larger narrative and wrote 4 books around it. You know, baby steps.
Casey Allen: My name is Casey Allen. By day I work in a lab for a medical equipment company. When I get off I take care of my two kids and wife because they’re amazing. At night, after everyone is in bed, I write comics and help to maintain The Comic Jam.
2. Now tell me something about one another? It could be anything.
JH: Casey LOVES himself some fur…wait, no, this isn’t the right place for that. I should let Casey come to terms with that first before we publicly out him. I’ll tell you this about Casey, I don’t know how he isn’t writing comics professionally. This man is full of ideas and writes some impressing scripts. I’m thankful to have him working with me on this until the day he gets discovered and is too busy for me.
CA: John is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met when it comes to seeing his projects through. He is relentless. His passion for comics is only exceeded by his passion for Sasquatch erotica.
3. Let me start with the question that’s been bugging me the most, why “Eynes” anthology? Every time I read the title I want to call it the “Eyes” anthology but that’s not what it is.
JH: Well this is a little bit of a secret, but I did talk about it on a podcast so I guess I can say it here. Before I started working on this I was working on a story set in the future that I lovingly called “Sci-Fi Anxiety Story”. It was going to be a way for me to talk about things that give me anxiety in a futuristic setting. I was going to base the main cast on me and my family, which is large as I have 5 kids.
I wanted this family to have some representation to my family, but not be obvious. You may not know this but my real name is just the letter J and my middle name is the letter N. So because of this I thought I can make a play on this. If I call the main character Jay, I can give him a last name of Eynes so when you say his name it’s Jay Eynes, or JN. Also, it sounds cool.
CA: It all came from an idea John where he wanted to make a comic that, very subtly, incorporated his family experience in the background. I don’t know that he has any monsters in his lineage, I mean…we all do, but none that are the true embodiment of the devil. Anyway, he wanted the story to be based around them and their world, so we decided to give it an eponymous title.
JH: I’ve always loved horror. Growing up my go to thing to draw was something gross, demonic, bloody or scary. Even now if you give me a pencil I’ll start drawing either a superhero or a monster. Or both. When I decided to make a book the choice was obvious, lean into my love of all things messed up. That and I love working with people.
CA: We love horror as a genre. There’s so much you can say about the human experience through it that you couldn’t with other types of fiction. John got the ball rolling on this and I came on much later in the game. He told me about his idea and it really struck me. I wanted to get involved in any way that I could.
5. I find the narrative format, following a single family through time, to be quite unique. What brought you to the decision to follow that structure, and how easy or difficult has it been to keep the timeline orderly so that no story overlaps?
JH: Family has always been an important part of my life, and I’m a big fan of the show Supernatural. I’ve always loved stories that were told generationally and have always wanted to try my hand at that. Making this all work was quit the task for sure. I had to work with each writer on what time period they wanted to work with and then to make sure what they were writing didn’t mess up anything someone else was writing. Then I had to make sure the overall story I was working on could be told through these stories.
CA: We have agonizingly planned this entire series out like a mixtape. We didn’t get into shouting matches or anything, but we were very adamant about how things were to be placed here. We didn’t really play around. The stories that were submitted were all based around a different point in time during the Eynes family’s lives, though we aren’t going to necessarily follow the chronological format. The fact that we are in this book is only coincidental.
We needed to introduce some key players off the bat and get them firmly placed in the action. Each story is it’s own tale, but the whole book shows a larger picture.
6. What’s it been like working with such a large number of creators on this project?
JH: It’s been amazing. I’ve made some great friends along the way and found some people that I will happily never work with again.
CA: It’s really been invigorating and humbling. I need to up my game, man!
7. How did you two meet and start working on this project together?
JH: Instagram. I was just starting my podcast Spoiler Country and he was promoting The Comic Jam and I think he messaged me or commented on something talking about an episode and then he slid into my DM’s and got me to do some work on The Comic Jam. Then fast forward a year and a half and I asked Casey to co-edit this book with me.
CA: I met John via Instagram, believe it or not. Rumors of us having met on an online forum discussing erotic Sasquatch fiction are unfounded. Our passions for ‘squatchin’ only came about after the book was in development.
8. I see that it’s being considered Book One, can we expect more in the future?
JH: We already have book 2 halfway done, book three has been started and book 4 is in the planning stages. We may already have our first “spin off” in the works, an artist has signed on to draw it a full 48 page single story within this world. Our plan is to release a book every 3-4 months.
CA: Oh, hell yeah. We’ve got plans, man. Book two is nearly complete as we speak. You’re gonna love it.
9. You both write and draw comics, John I know you do it more so when it comes to drawing. Is creating comics something you want to do more professionally and to make a more central part of your lives?
JH: I would love to make this something I do professionally. I have a good job working in the software industry that pays the bills, but if I could replace that with being creative I would in a heart-beat. I’ve always dreamed of my job being something where I get to create things that I love, whether that is writing, drawing, podcasting, recording, or something.
CA: Creating comics came about as an accident for me. I’ve always loved comics, but I didn’t know it was a possibility for me. I came across a group called The Comic Jam via Reddit and was invited to join. After a while I started helping run the day to day of it and doing their social media as well. I’ve met a lot of amazing and talented folks doing that, and John is proof of that. If I have an opportunity to make comics a bigger part of my life, I would gladly jump at the chance.
I don’t have any aspirations for the big two (though there is that one Adam Strange story I have bouncing around), but I would love to do as many indie projects as possible.
10. What other interests do you both have? What inspire you both on a day-to-day basis, not just creatively?
JH: I love music. I play guitar, bass and drums. I also love going to events with my wife and kids. I love musicals or anything I can go “experience”. The biggest thing that pushes me is my wife and kids. I’ve been married for 12 years and that has brought me 5 kids, and it’s been the greatest, most stressful 12 years of my life.
CA: I have always been a huge music fan. I used to play music in clubs around town. I really enjoyed it, but eventually I lost the passion I had for it. Now I have two girls and I want to try and be present for them. I didn’t have a dad around as a kid, so I want to be the dad that I didn’t have. I’m definitely inspired by my kids. Music is a big part of my writing as is my love of history (I don’t know if there’s any way I could have said that sentence and not sounded like a giant douche.
It sounds like I’m sitting around listening to Brahms while reading The Rise and Fall of The Roman Empire or some shit. Truth of the matter is that I like listening to indie rock or stoner metal as I write and I like to read books about history).
11. Are their any other creators you look up to that you find resonates in your work? Something people might catch onto that makes them go “This reminds me of…”
JH: This is a great question. I have no idea. What I can tell you is a list of creators (in no order) that inspire me. Ron Randall, Karl Kesel, Neil Gaiman, David Mack, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kurt Busiek, George Perez, Ben Templesmith, Bernie Wrightson, Jim Lee, Stan Lee, Steven Ditko, and the list goes on.
CA: Hooboy. I don’t even know. I like Neil Gaiman a lot. He was a huge influence for me, but I don’t know if you’ll see that in my writing. I think I’m too dumb or that comparison. I’ve really enjoyed the writing of Joe Hill and David Wong lately. As a kid I was a huge Bradbury fan (as all kids should be), but My bread and butter was the old Creepy and Eerie Magazines I’d pick up at flea malls and antique shops. My dad had a sizable collection already and I added to them. As I got older I got really into beat era stuff. A lot of that is really bad, so I guess that shows in my work. Haha. Bukowski really lit me up.
So did Harlan Ellison. Most of my writing inspiration comes from prose stuff and people like Hunter S. Thompson. I don’t know if there’s a comic equivalent to him, though Chip Zdarsky is living his best life and should be everyone’s role model.
12. Finally, how easy or difficult has it been to run a Kickstarter, and what words of advice could you give to anyone out there wishing to raise funds for a book of their own through the platform?
JH: There is nothing easy about running a Kickstarter. For this one it took over 2 years to get it on the site. I’ve spent the last two months doing interviews on podcasts and websites in the amounts of 1-3 a day. I’ve sacrificed sleep, food, and more to make this a reality. It’s a grind and you have to be in it to the end. You have to truly believe in what you are doing and get over any shyness you have about talking about yourself and the thing you are trying to sell. I’m not a very good salesperson but I’ve learned to talk about this book in great detail and hopefully have sold you in choosing to back it.
CA: Get organized. The work starts far before you post it to KS. John has been a workhorse on getting this thing going. He set us up a One Note to organize all of the book down to the very last detail. That’s very important.
Leave no stone unturned. PLAN EVERYTHING. You have to have a game plan.
Talk to as many folks as you can about your project because as a new creator you have no fan base to demand a product. You have to build the relationship from scratch and you have to make it stick. I feel overwhelmed already that so many people that we don’t know have taken a chance on us to deliver this book, and we are going to make sure it’s the best damn thing they’ll hold in their hands this year.
We aren’t here to play, and you shouldn’t be either. We have fun talking and we joke a lot, but We are here to sell a book that you will love, and after that we are gonna sell you another. We have four books planned in this series and other ideas down the road. We aren’t going to be done with the Eynes family for a long time.
Editor’s Note: You can throw your money at The Eynes Anthology and support these two humans-in-lizard-outfits at their Kickstarter right here! The Eynes Anthology is currently at 3,108 dollars of its 4,500 dollar goal with 19 days left to go. Pledge today to help support this awesome project!
Interview by: Derrick Crow