No Joke – Two Lynn residence write a comic book history on Boston

January 13, 2010
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The Lynn Journal had a chance to sit down with both of the Lynn residents involved in the Boston Comics Roundtable’s anthology, Inbound 4: A Comic Book History Of Boston. Ron LeBrasseur was featured for his Lost Pirate Treasure of Dungeon Rock of Lynn, and Joshua Santa Cruz created his narrative of the Boston busing crisis, called American Confusion. Here’s what they had to say about growing up in Lynn, buying comics at Cole’s off of Boston Street and their big publication break.

LJ: Tell me about your background.

RL: I grew up in Lynn. I attended St. Jean’s elementary, and was a member of the parish until it closed down in the 90s. I attended English High School, class of 1988, and had my first comic strip published, a gag panel called “Void If Removed” that was co-created by Peter Phelan, and ran in the Daily Evening Item through 1985-1986. When I attended Stonehill College, I continued the strip at the Summit, the school paper. It ran every week for four years.

JSC: I went to public schools in Lynn – Cobbet Elementary- then later at Sewell Anderson, Breed Middle School, Lynn Classical. I then went on to Salem State College. I would go over to this tiny comic shop off of Boston Street called Cole’s Comics and buy X-Men and Spawn comics when I was in high school. He always had great deals and since I had no money it was amazing to walk out with a bag of comics that I only spent ten bucks on!

LJ: How did you become a cartoonist?

RL: I was a big fan of comic books and animation growing up and always liked drawing. At one point I had a conversation with someone who pointed out how much of our everyday conversation is made up of pop culture quotations. That set me to thinking about how much of our folklore has been replaced by corporate media. I resolved to start telling stories for the sake of telling the stories, and not just to make a buck selling ad time. Soon after, I discovered that there was a whole indie comics community that felt the same way; I became a part of that world.
JSC:  My older brother would collect comics once in a while from the super market, but he would never follow a storyline. I would find these random issues laying around the house and wonder how simple pictures of heroes could excite me so much. I started to create my own heroes; I continued to draw right through high school and found myself wondering what I would do with it. My senior year of high school I received a small scholarship from the Greater Lynn Arts Foundation. I owe Mrs. Langone of Lynn Classical a great deal for that opportunity. In college I continued to pursue my dreams while studying Graphic Design. Under Professor Haig Demarjian I found great encouragement and fellowship. I made a short comic under his direction for a semester project. I also had a short comic published in a philosophy department brochure at SSC.

LJ: How did you get involved with Boston Comics Roundtable?

RL: The Boston Comics Roundtable was started by Cambridge resident Dave Kender in 2006 as a resource for local comic creators to share resources and information. I knew Dave from my time working as a printer for Emerson College – his Master’s Thesis was the script for his graphic novel, The Ragbox. I first became aware of the group when I attended the 2007 Boston Zine Fair – one of the things the group does a lot is table at local comic shows and DIY-type festivals. The roundtable meets up in Harvard Square every week and we share what we’re working on, plan upcoming events and activities, and just generally geek out amongst ourselves.

JSC:  I met with the Roundtable at the Boston Comic Con in April 2009. Dan Mazur was at a table with a few other Roundtable members. I gave him a copy of my latest work at the time – a 15 page adaptation of James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues. He gave it a read and contacted me three months later to do a story for the next Inbound. I was ecstatic that he wanted me to participate and so we brainstormed a bit about a story that he thought would be appropriate, The Soiling of Old Glory.

LJ: What was involved in creating your story?

RL: (For Lost Pirate Treasure of Dungeon Rock), I got some reference material from the Lynn Public Library and sketched up a rough idea of the story beats I wanted to cover. Once I visited the actual site in Lynn Woods, things started to gel. The Lynn Historical Society was invaluable in their assistance with visual reference materials.

JSC:  (For American Confusion), I had to do a lot of research for my story since it was very new to me. I knew nothing about the main characters, Joseph Rakes and Ted Landsmark. I bought a book by Louis P. Masur called the The Soiling of Old Glory: The Story of a Photograph That Shocked America and used his research as a guide. On the internet I was able to find the actual clip of Ted Landsmark as he attends a press conference a few days after the beating. To see him speaking with the bandages over his face was something else. My only regret about the story is that it was four pages! I wish that it could have been 100!

LJ: How do you feel about being published?

RL: Sales have been absolutely phenomenal! I guess the “local history” idea has a lot of appeal. I’ve had stories in several anthologies, but nothing has even come close to the sale of Inbound 4. Releasing just before Christmas seems to have been a good idea as well.

JSC:  It’s my first time being published in a series art publication. I have self-published before. This is so much more relaxing! I didn’t have to stand at a Canon copier at Kinkos this time. When I got my copy, I was floored! The past three Inbound issues were staddle stitch stapled. This one is in a prestige format and it looks beautiful! The design and organization of the stories is extremely professional. It’s one for the resume!

LJ: What promotional events will be coming up?

RL: We’ve got a few things going in January: Original artwork is on display until the end of the month at the Atomic Bean Coffeehouse on Mass Ave in Cambridge. Also, there will be a couple of presentations where creators talk about their stories: Beverly resident Dirk Tiede will be giving a talk about his Inbound contribution at the annual sci-fi show Arisia, and a larger group will be doing a talk/signing at Porter Square Books in Cambridge at 7:00 pm January 21. Finally, I will be helping to coordinate an exhibition of BCR members’ work at the Marblehead Arts Association in March.
LJ: What is the next project you will be working on?

RL: I’ve got a couple of really cool sci-fi-inspired projects coming up that are a little early to talk about. I also have a short story I’m creating for the next Potlatch anthology, and on the long term I have a graphic novel project percolating.
JSC: Currently, I am working on my personal website. After that I’m going to prepare for April’s Boston Comic Con. I will be there selling posters with my brother. I’m hoping to start a new comic very soon. I don’t know what it will be, but it’s exciting, looking ahead!

For more information on where to buy Boston Comics Roundtable’s Inbound 4: A Comic Book History Of Boston, please visit http://www.bostoncomicsroundtable.com/.

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