Today I am 'sitting down' with Ben Dunn. Ben was the publisher behind Antarctic Press as well as artist behind several titles including (thanks to Wikipedia):
Dynamo Joe (fill in art)
Swords of Texas
Ninja High School
Warrior Nun Areala
How to Draw Manga
How to Draw Steampunk
Ben was also an artist on Marvel Comic's Mangaverse as well as the 2006 movie Through a Scanner Darkly.
Your typical interview would be all about the above stuff but I have a different line of questioning to take as I am more interested in his business side of affairs as well as his convention going. That is where I run into Ben 3 times a year at the Dallas Comicon.
Hi Ben, thanks for taking the time to respond to this interview. I see you at each of the Dallas Comicon shows (3 a year, Fan Days, Scifi Expo, and Comicon)... do you hit just this convention or do you travel around the country to different conventions?
Well, I try to support local cons whenever I can. Dallas ComicCon is a show that I know the people and they are really nice. I was there from the very beginnings when they were a one day show at the Richardson community center. I do travel to other cons. I used to go to San Diego every year since 1991 but recently stopped due to expense and the crowds. I go to ANIME NORTH every year. I travel to various shows when they invite me. A couple of new shows I attend are AMACON, LAREDO COMIC CON, and the TEXAS COMIC CON in San Antonio.
You started Antarctic Press in 1984. How did you start it, did you get investment capital, personal loans, bank loans? Once started how did you get your comics out there, did you have to do business with distributors or was it a more 'gurella' effort?
I got $1000 start up by selling my comic collection in 1983
I am not familiar with the content of all the titles you produced before you sold Antarctic Press in 2003, but was there some point where you progressed beyond drawing to a more business-related position in the company (or where you always drawing)?
I have always been drawing for either AP or some other company. The business aspect was always a hassle for me and that is why I let others run the business once it started to grow.
From the information I have dug up online you started a new company called Sentai Studios. For some reason I can't find any newer info on it, is it still active? What's the scoop?
This was a company I started once I moved to Dallas. Once I sold the company I thought that I could run another comic company by myself. Needless to say it was too much and I folded the company and started work back at Antarctic Press.
Are you currently working on any projects? If so give us a rundown!
I just finished a 6 issue stint of SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERIES for Magic Wagon. I am currently working with Steve Ross on a revival of NINJA HIGH SCHOOL and working on a new series called WILD WORKS.
I am a big fan of Robotech and in 2006 your company did some comics based around it. Was it costly or difficult to get the rights to Robotech? Did Harmony Gold review the comics before publication or did you have cart blanche on their content (I can't imagine you had to answer to them when they let comics like Academy's Invid War: Aftermath get so far out there)?
They pretty much let us do what we wanted. There was some editorial control over how we presented it and what we could do in terms of how we presented the product but we pretty much did what we felt like.
Thanks so much for your time Ben!
Ben Dunn is a possible top pic for the art work for our next KickStart project (coming next year). This year Jason Chalker is our guy and we will be bringing you an interview with him next month so keep an eye out. Follow us on Twitter or our KickStarter Pre-launch page.