This is the first feature in a series of Creator Spotlights exploring the business and career side of being a comic book creator. Here I am honored to present one my favorite collaborators, Cee Raymond!
Please tell us who you are and what you do.
My name is Chris (Cee) Raymond. I’m a cartoonist and a writer. I also do freelance illustration.
How long have you been in the comic book business?
I’ve been working in cartooning and comics off and on for going on twenty years. It’s only been in the last six that I have been buckling down and trying to make a serious go out of it with self-publishing.
How did you first get you interested in comics?
Man, I can remember drawing things since I was kid. It’s been with me all my life. But I remember my old man handing me a stack of comics when I was 8 and saying HERE, draw something like this. I can remember looking at the words and pictures and thinking this is like the cartoons on the TV. Only one frame at a time. I got a solid sense of the sequential earlier on. It’s what caught my mind’s eye. Comics for me, like many others of my generation, were also responsible for getting me to want to read.
What are your favorite topics or genres to write for?
I don’t think my storytelling sensibilities are beholden to any one genre. I look at a character and story first and think, what genre would be best suited to carry this? But on the other side, I find myself wanting to be challenged, I think, okay I want to make this a horror story or a love story. Then comb my mental files and find a situation to write about and let it grow. Mix and matching genres is always a good way to go. If it’s one genre I favor over others it’s noir, crime fiction. The bent and a bit twisted characters and stories that push the boundaries of the human condition. I have a thing for the intrinsic good in characters.
How would you define success?
Enjoying the living you make while taking care of you and yours.
Can you describe what you would like to achieve in your wildest dreams? What would the ultimate ultimate success be like?
Ultimate success for me, career-wise would to have a collected trade of my work. Stephen King said that he knew he had arrived when Carrie went paperback. I kind of equate that to having a trade.
What titles have you worked on?
I have done mostly syndicated cartooning over the years. I shadow wrote and did inks on some established syndicated newspaper strips- John Deering’s STRANGE BREW and ZACK HILL. I’ve ran a lot of of my own work online. I’ve done self publishing print runs of my anthology OMINOUS SOFA. I’m currently working on my own title CRIME & SPACE, which is my baby.
Check out this Crime & Space preview
Can you tell us about your latest or favorite project?
I am about to start work on an AGENT SPARKY story for Ramon Gil which I’m rather excited about. It’s a spin-off of his book MEN FROM DARPA. It involves time-travel, the JFK assassination and lots of action. I’m full-speed on my own book CRIME & SPACE
Did you or do you have a strategy on how to achieve success?
Boy I wish. Indiana Jones said it best, “I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go.” No, I mean really the only way to do it is to keep at it. The industry, ANY entertainment industry can be a savage business. Get a clear vision of what you’re wanting to achieve and stay focused on it. But be ready to adapt and stay open minded along the way.
How did you come to decide to self-publish? What were the reasons?
Well, I figured I could continue sending off submissions that get buried under the business or I could just go to work on putting my own stuff out there. Self-publish is the best way to go in that you maintain a lot of control creatively and plus, you get enough people digging on your work then it’s only a matter of time before Marvel or DC come knocking on YOUR door.
What have been your biggest hurdles?
Myself. Seriously, I can be my own worse enemy at times.
Do you have any thoughts or opinions on the future of comic books as a medium?
I just don’t want print to die. There is nothing like that Wednesday new comic day feeling of getting a fat stack of comics and flopping down on your favorite chair or couch and getting lost for a while. I know digital is the way, but I can’t really get that same feeling holding something electronic.
What is your least favorite thing about the business/industry?
Lately, the over-abundance of every kind of medium at comic cons except for comics. There was an ad in one of the weekly papers here in town for the the big yearly convention and it was nothing but a listing of film and television celebrities. Not one mention of the comic creators. I mean sure, I love comic book films and television and such, but it’s getting a little out of hand.
Do you have any advice for other comic book creators, especially ones not as far along as you?
Suppose a color metaphor about lemons and squeezes would suffice, but all I can say is this, comics are rough. It’s a tough grind of a savage business, full of ups and downs and all sorts of madness. But if you want it, keep at it. And never stop having fun while you’re doing it. If you find yourself not having fun then take a minute and get back around to the fun.
Knowing how hard this business is, what is it you love about it that keeps you going?
Who have been instrumental in your career? Who would you like to thank?
Oh man, the list is endless. There’s been so many people that have influenced me over the years. Really comes down to anyone I’ve excited or seen smile while indulging in my work. You are the ones that keep me going. That and my Ma.
What is you favorite saying, mantra or catch-phrase in regards to your comic book career?
“You can’t spell Comics without the Cee.” Yeah that’s just ridiculous.