Two years ago, I ran into Chuck Collins at a Comic Con. His freshly-minted copies of the Bounce! Comic anthology were dwindling before my very eyes as passerbys gobbled up copy after copy. This year I ran into him again at New York Comic Con. As popular as his book was then, it has now increased even more.
I sat down with him for a conversation with him to get caught up.
The Shadow League: Whats the ride been like from the time you started up until now?
Chuck Collins: The difference between doing the comic now compared to two years ago is theres so much content to go over. This world has changed so much since then. The difficulty with doing Bounce is keeping track of how the world is shifting and the shenanigans that are going on with the Bouncer and everyone at the bar. Thats what Im dealing with as far as production is concerned.
The other aspect is animation. My vision has always been animation. Its a process. Im doing it by myself with a group of people helping me.
TSL: Some time ago, I heard rumors about a possible sniff from Adult Swim. Was there any validity to those rumors?
CC: I know people who work in those circles, but the world has shifted and the business has shifted. Theres a lot of backlash as far as diversity and representation. Its getting a little crazy out there. The book is on a level where were not just trying to be the black version of a mainstream superhero.
TSL: There seems to be a proliferation of attempts to create black versions of white characters in order to give the appearance of diversity. Do you feel that black indie creativity is too closely connected to mainstream characters and sensibilities?
CC: Ive worked too hard, and tried to hone my skills enough for me to be original. Theres so many stories out there that people have told before that are magnificent, theyre great, theyre inspiring. Im trying to create a legacy. Im trying to build my own. Legacy is everything to me. Something may happen to me when I walk out of this Con; I could be hit by a car, I could have a heart attack. Whats going to happen is going to happen. Id know that, before that happened, I left something behind.
To me, thats worth more than any kind of money, fame, or anything else. The whole point about me picking up a pencil in the first place and becoming an artist is to create my own.
Dont get me wrong, its really hard to keep up with that. Were in this confrontational system where everybody is trying to one-up one another. They see someone draw a black version of Naruto and they get 10,000 likes.
TSL: As has been the case in the past, diversity has been a major point of contention here at NYCC.
CC: Really quick, Ill explain to you why we have these diversity problems in comic books. Its on various fronts; the companys end, the fans end and on the opposite end are the fans that actually want this to happen. Most corporations are major businesses in a capitalist system. Their whole point is to gain capital. They pay attention to trends. They see that diversity is now a trending thing. They capitalize on it. Everything they do isnt REALLY real. Its just to go with the times that were in.
Now, we have a bunch of people sitting in boardrooms scrambling for marketing campaigns to take advantage of diversity. At the same time, you have other people scrambling to come up with things too. But theres only so much you can do with 75-year-old characters.
TSL: I love indie works. Many are outstanding and are creatively and thematically light years ahead of works from the major publishers. However, thats not to say that the majors are clueless when it comes to creating characters of color these days. I love Marvels Moongirl and Devil Dinosaur, and the relationship between Iron Man and Ironheart was done quite well.
CC: Thats just a progression of storytelling. Other characters have no way of doing that. How old is Peter Parker? Hes supposed to be in his 30’s? Hes been 30 years old for the past 30 years! There is no progression in the characters themselves. A lot of that gets lost. The reason why I focused on Bounce Comics is its not a black superhero. Hes just a dude.
All of his experiences are the way that I live my life and if anybody knows me, they know it comes from a genuine place. Thats how its supposed to be. Even if youre creating a superhero. If you have a superhero thats been through something and has been inspired by something, but is coming from a genuine space. Just be yourself. Thats all you need to be dope. You dont need to be latching on to other properties because these stories have already been told. You become a secondhand creator at that point.
You can find out more information regarding this very smart piece of work that explores societal issues deftly and with sincerity at bouncecomics.tumblr.com.