Jim Balent and Holly G Interview
Category: Comic Book Interviews
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jim Balent and Holly G from Broadsword Comics about Jim’s Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, Holly’s School Bites and everything in between. After visiting their website it looks like Holly has been busy working on the overhaul and it’s looking great! With their down to earth demeanors and loyal fans, it’s no surprise that they are nominated for more of the Project Fanboy Awards this year.
Scott Williams: Jim & Holly, thanks for taking the time to talk to Project Fanboy once again. So let’s start out with Tarot. It’s been going strong for about ten years now and will soon be hitting its sixtieth issue. Looking back over the years, would you have done anything different with Tarot?
Jim Balent: March 2010 will be our ten year anniversary for BROADSWORD COMICS and Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose. I don’t think I would do anything different. The characters and stories took a natural evolution as the years went on.
I’m pleased how the books are turning out and I look forward to future issue to see how they grow. Both in story and art.
Scott: Jim, you write and draw the title yourself and are noted for having a specific flair for penciling your female characters scantily clad, with larger than life proportions. What do you say to those who dismiss the title as just another “T&A book”?
Jim: If all they see is T and A then they are missing a lot! Also, let’s not forget. There are women out there who do have these proportions. To pretend they don’t exist or that they are only here on this planet to drool over is very insulting. The comic deals with issues that many women, no matter what their breast size is, face when their sexuality or body becomes the focus . I received a lot of positive mail from women of every breast size , but especially from larger size breast women, who have thanked me for showing a strong female character who has a voluptuous body and is smart. I received these letters for my work on Catwoman and for my work on Tarot. I’m very proud of each and every one of them.
Holly: Being a woman and a comicbook reader, I myself am drawn to sensual images of women and men for that matter. Even as a teen I read Frank Thorne’s Red Sonja and Jose Gonzalez’s Vampirella! Even younger I gravitated towards fantasy, fairytales and adventure stories so it’s only nature that I’d like my entertainment as a grown woman, to be enriched with these themes but include a more mature landscape of experiences. I believe there are many other woman such as myself that are not at odds with their sexuality and want to see that reflected in their Tv shows, movies and if they enjoy comicbooks-there too! Hey- you don’t see a gal in a turtleneck on the cover of Victoria’s Secret…it all about celebrating the inner Goddess.
I noticed that in our culture that nudity and sexuality is tolerated and even celebrated in art when everyone is miserable! Like in Monster Ball or the Reader.
It’s such a shame that we can’t enjoy a joyful, happy and adventurous sensual story unburdened by uber crassness, sorrow & shame!
Scott: Holly was kind enough to send me a stack of the trades for my own collection and after reading them in full I noticed that you were careful to never “cross that line” that Hustler magazine leaped across in the seventies. The title also seems to convey the teachings prominent in the Wiccan religion and that nudity and sex are just a natural part of that theology. Would I be correct in saying that it’s about more than just the arousing female form? Are you both practicing Wiccans?
Jim: Tarot Witch of the Black Rose reflects the views and beliefs of Witches and those who practice the Craft. I try very hard not to state which tradition Tarot and her family practice because I want her to be a voice for ALL Witches not just a particular coven. Yes there is nudity in the book. Yes there is a strong vision of sexuality in the book. Nudity and sex are not frowned on by the Witch community. Sure some Witches do not practice Skyclad, that’s fine. But to leave that part out of my comic, the nudity and sexuality, would just water down the message I intend each story to have. Do not compare Tarot with any adult magazine or comic. She is much different and stands on her own.
Holly: Jim calls himself a “Jimist” and I am a Witch, not Wiccan. I have read the Tarot (Deck) since I was 8 years old and my path is more Eclectic . I also fancy myself a Jr Buddhist.
Scott: Jim, Holly is known as the model for Tarot, but Jon Webb bares a striking resemblance to you as well. I’ve wondered before if Tarot might be a daydream for you where you and Holly play the roles of Jon and Tarot. Did you model him after yourself?
Jim: I did model Jon Webb, The Skeleton Man after me. Long ago I worked in a cemetery and had a dog that died in my arms. I had the idea for Tarot for many years. It didn’t take the shape I wanted till I met Holly. So yes she is a big influence both in my art/stories and my life. This is no Daydream. This is our lives.
Scott: Holly, you’ve been working on your own title “School Bites” which is currently on it’s third issue, that you describe as kind of a “Degrassi High with fangs or Harry Potter meets Anne Rice”. Can you give our readers a taste of what’s in store for them in this title?
Holly: School Bites focuses on the adventures of Cherri Creeper and her pals. In vol 4 there will be more romances, some will work some will not, more cuteness, comedy and carbs!
Scott: School Bites also runs in a webcomic format over at HYPERLINK “http://www.schoolbites.net” www.schoolbites.net. Will this story be an online duplication of the printed works, or do you have plans to diverge this into its own set of stories?
Holly: This will replay the original manga but with some rewrites and new art!
Thanks to my pal, Giz’s (www.menagea3.net / www.eeriecuties.com) help building my site I’ve reached a larger audience by recreating SB as a webcomic . There are also extras, a forum and lots fun stuff to come. I really enjoy the webcomic experience, it’s more like doing Theatre with your audience’s reactions being so immeditate! I love that because my roots were in the theatre since I was a kid and to mix the two arts I love so much is just spectacular!
Scott: Admittedly, I am still very much a Fanboy and not so knowledgeable in how to go about publishing a comic book. I assume you work with a printing company? After reading the article “Why does my comic cost so much?” from Jeff Haas’ retired column Issues, I don’t see how any self publishers make enough money to survive, let alone grow as Broadsword has. What all goes into self publishing your titles?
Jim: In short, a lot of work and love. Holly and I love what we are doing. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be doing it. I think that’s one of the reasons we have been around for so long. The readers know we love drawing our comics. It’s not fake and they feel apart of the whole process.
Holly: MMmmm, I don’t think our comicbook costs so much!Our comicbook costs $2.95- A cup of coffee cost between $1 and up and that turns to peepee-while I’ve seen issues of Tarot going for $50 and up on ebay!
Scott: Jim, you’re also working on a project called 3 Little Kittens: Purrr-fect Weapons, as you describe it, sort of an amalgam of Catwoman and Charlie’s Angels. If I’m not mistaken, the 3 Little Kittens made their first appearance in “Witches and Kittens” in the pages of Tarot. Do you have plans for any other spin off titles?
Jim: The Three Little Kittens made their first appearance in their own mini series.
Scott: I stand corrected.
Jim: From time to time they have appeared in Tarot because they are such fan favorites. I do have plans for another mini series for them… I just have to find the time to get it out of my head and onto the paper.
Scott: Jim, you drew Catwoman back in the nineties for DC comics and decided to take what seems to be a pretty successful stab at starting your own company. While most other creators I’ve spoken with started out with smaller publishers and hoped to land a spot with the “big two”, you actually did the opposite. What were your reasons for wanting to start Broadsword Comics as opposed to riding it out as long as you could with DC?
Jim: I always wanted to start my own title and company since I was just a boy.
I actually did start my career creating my own stories and characters for smaller companies until I was picked up by DC. I will always have that kid inside me who loves to draw…whether it’s my characters or established characters. Batman, Spiderman, Red Sonja created who I am. To turn my back on those forces would be
Scott: Broadsword has quite possibly the most loyal fan base that I’ve ever seen. There’s an old adage that says, “You can keep some of the people happy all of the time; you can keep all of the people happy some of the time, but you can never keep all of the people happy all of the time.” This rule of thumb doesn’t seem to apply to you and your fans. How do you do it?
Jim: Right there is the problem. When Holly and I created this company we DID NOT sit down and say. “How can we make people happy?” or “How can we make these people happy?” We knew we had to be true to ourselves and that the readers would smell it if our art and stories were fake. We had to please ourselves first and also respect the readers at the same time. I think that’s why we have such a loyal base of readers.
Holly: I also think that Jim and I are such huge fans of comicbooks and we do not create them to have a movie made or any secondary reason. We create them because we love to draw and tell stories. When the readers visit us via email or conventions, we truly celebrate the time we get to chat with them and if you’ve seen our back pages, we continue celebrating them there…and even in the stories and art!
Scott: You’ve been nominated for several of the Project Fanboy Awards once again this year. Will we be seeing you two once again at MegaCon if you win? Do you have any other upcoming guest appearances our readers can find you at?
Jim: We will be at Mega Con to accept any award that our readers nominate us for. Our schedule is very tight and we normally don’t appear at all the cons we are invited to around the world. But If our readers went out of their way to vote for us and we win… Then I think we should honor their efforts and attend the award ceremonies and say thank you to all our readers. We are scheduled to appear at Pittsburgh con in April and the San Diego Comic con as well.
Holly: I hope we do make it for Megacon…I’ll have that info on our www.jimbalent.com when I know for sure. We will be at Pittsburgh comicon in April and San Diego Comic in July booth #1715.
Scott: It’s been great catching up with you two once again. You guys are probably the most down to earth people in the industry and I wish you guys the best with Broadsword Comics and good luck in the Project Fanboy Awards!
Holly: Well that’s very sweet of you Scott- most people who don’t know me, think I’m spacey- one psychic said I was from Mars-but I do like Earth a lot!
Scott: Any shout outs or plugs you’d like to give?
Holly: We also have a vinyl statue coming out in May through Diamond Select…
Scott: We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for that!
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