Mr. Guy Creator Jayel Draco on Collaboration, Art-thologies, and Indie Comics

mr guy variety of artists art-thology jayel draco interview

We’re counting down the to the end of the Kickstarter campaign for Mr. Guy, Act 1 and the Origins Anthology! So we had our pal DeusNova42 talk to Mr. Guy’s creator, Jayel Draco, about both collections! They also chatted about why Oneshi Press values collaboration over competition, how we select submission for our anthologies, and what’s coming next for Mr. Guy!


What inspired you to publish comics anthologies that feature the work of other creators alongside your own?

Well, originally we were hoping to get our projects, like PACK and Tracy Queen, published by one of the larger traditional companies. After a lot of shopping them around and talking to people in the industry, we realized that coming in hot like that with projects that don’t fit the mainstream wasn’t really feasible. We also realized that there are a lot of fantastic creators out there whose work breaks the mold, but doesn’t fit the heavily gated shelves of the industry. Not being easily discouraged, we decided to build our own platform for our properties and share it with others who have stories that we believe need to be told and don’t fit with what’s being sold.

Jayel Draco makes magic lightning words

What is it about “collaboration over competition” that means so much to you, and why?

As far as the anthologies are concerned, the idea of working together with other creators to fill a worthy collection is a co-op model. As such, it requires a collaborative spirit. The thing is, we can tear each other down to beg for scraps from giant empires who are stuck in their ways from times of old…or we can join forces on these creative endeavors and together be big enough to pull our own weight and carve out a space for ourselves on those shelves. As far as the ideas of larger ongoing team projects like Children of Gaia, for example, I’ve always believed that together we can create far more than the sum of what we can create on our own.

Can you tell us more about Oneshi Press Comics Anthology (OPCA) #10—the Origins Anthology?

OPCA #10 is what we’re calling the Origins Anthology. The loose themes that we play with are often interpreted in pretty fun ways. For example, a story that tells about how something literally began could fit the theme just as well as a story that explores the cyclical [nature] of the greater universe. I don’t want to give too many spoilers about OPCA 10, but there are 13 shorts altogether, featuring a complement of over 2 dozen creators, which provide quite a good mix of takes on the concept of origins. Some are ongoing stories that have been in previous anthologies of ours already, and some are one-off shorts.

What are the most rewarding and the most challenging parts of working with other creators to bring these anthologies into the world?

The most rewarding part of working with so many different creators on these projects is knowing that we helped these creators all grow their audiences by sharing ours with them, as well as them all sharing each other’s audiences with one another and with us. The fact that our contributors keep the rights to their contributions and Oneshi Press foots the cost of printing, giving contributors a chance to buy printed copies wholesale and sell them full price, is a sort of vicarious wish fulfillment. When we started off, we wished someone could have done that for us, but no one did… “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” right?

The most challenging part is honestly administrative tasks, keeping track of what’s coming and going, getting creator bios from everyone for crediting everyone appropriately. Making sure that every page from over a dozen different stories all conform to the same standards for printing. Keeping track of sales versus cost of goods sold. This isn’t our forte, nor is it something we ever wanted to do. It’s just necessary for us to do this for now until we can get some magical unicorn to do it for us one day… Long story short, it’s just so much administrative work.

oneshi press origins anthology variety of comics jayel draco interview

What do you look for in submissions to the anthologies?

What we look for in submissions to our comics anthologies, aside from the obvious skill in technique from the creator(s), [is] the heart of a contribution and [whether] it feels like it matches our tone. That said, we’re looking for progressive stories that tell things from a different angle than the common tropes. We love stories that aren’t just clever, but also try to give the audience a meaningful takeaway. Expanding one’s perspective is a path to inner peace and peace with others; art has that power. Sometimes that means exploring kindness and compassion; sometimes it means exploring pain and even the concept of wrath. It’s not always what you’re used to or what you like; we’re not providing lip service for the masses. We’re exploring ourselves together. We’re providing catharsis for the masses.

That said, we’re not into shock for the sake of it, we are not into punching down, and we will never accept bigotry of any kind. We’re sex-positive feminists who believe love is equal, black lives matter, trans rights are human rights, and being a jerk isn’t cool. If all that fits with you, you’re who we’re looking for—let’s share our stories together.

Oneshi Pressprogressive Comics Anthologies 1 - 10

How can creators apply to be featured in your anthologies, and what is the selection process like?

Everything you need to know about submitting a contribution to our comics anthologies has been carefully curated and posted on our submission page here. Lynsey and I both receive mail from the contact page and are happy to answer any additional questions.

The selection process is done in three columns:

  1. We consider the skill level in techniques employed both for writing and visuals, and for our preferences there, for column one.
  2. The second column is the heart of the story, how important do we feel the story is, are we going to feel right knowing that we chose to include this story over that one? The heart of the story is broad and difficult to quantify in simple terms: Does it portray an underrepresented character? Does it convey a moral that fits with our values? Does it explore something that is often neglected in the mainstream?
  3. The third column is the theme of our anthology. How well does the submission fit the overall collection? We do always try to round this out and not be too redundant. However, we also try to avoid being too far-reaching.

At the end, the projects that are highest in all three columns are prioritized over the projects that are lowest in all three columns. Sometimes we might have a project that’s high in the first two but really just doesn’t fit the theme we’re going for as well as some of the other submissions, in which case we may consider it for future anthologies.

You mentioned in your last interview that your latest venture, Mr. Guy, is an “art-thology.” Can you explain what that is and how it differs from an anthology?

Typically, a comics anthology is a collection of short comics from multiple series and often from various creators, which are generally bound together under the common theme. For example, our 10th Oneshi Press Comics Anthology is the Origins-themed anthology. Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter, however, is one continuous narrative all written by myself, but each chapter (or arc) is illustrated by a different artist. So it’s really only an anthology where the art is concerned. Hence the word art-thology!

Did you always envision Mr. Guy as an art-thology? What influenced that decision?

If you’d have asked me 20 years ago, I’d have said that one day I’d illustrate the whole thing myself. I made some early attempts and, having no idea what I was doing, put them on ice. About 10 years ago, I was toying around with the idea of Kickstarting a pilot episode for a Mr. Guy cartoon. Chris Covelli, my long-time creative partner and co-founder on Children of Gaia, even did some CGI of Mr. Guy walking around and toon-shaded. At the time, though, even the workload for a pilot was a bit beyond our scope, and the more we looked into Kickstarter, the more we realized we didn’t quite have the internet reach we would need, nor the understanding of how to run an enticing campaign.

All these years later, as co-founder of Oneshi Press, I’ve helped put out 9 anthologies, and the 10th one is on its way. Mr. Guy was already written in 8-page arcs, each one with a different vibe. It just felt right to want to see each arc done by a different artist. Sort of like a DTIYS (draw this in your style), but for a whole chapter.

How did you approach creators about working on Mr. Guy, and will there be opportunities for other creators to participate in similar projects in the future?

So, the first artist for Mr. Guy, Act 1 is me! That was easy. I just turned to myself and said yes. The next 3—Walter Ostlie, Diana Camero, Jacey Chase—were already on our roster of people we’ve worked with in the past for the Oneshi Press Comics Anthologies. Depending on how well the campaign for Act 1 goes, we’ll decide when to start nailing down the details for who will be working on Act 2, and then eventually Act 3. We do have some artists tentatively penciled in for Acts 2 & 3, but those may change depending on availability as we get closer, and there are still a few open anyway. For most future projects where I need to hire artists in general, I’ll probably start with asking people who have already contributed to our anthologies before doing an open call.

Where can people find Oneshi Press anthologies and other publications?

Oh, I know this one! People can find Oneshi Press Comics Anthologies and our other works right at oneshipress.com.


Visit the Kickstarter campaign to support our creators and Jayel Draco with a pledge or a share! 

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