The Lance Fensterman Interview PART ONE
By Park Cooper
Lance Fensterman is the guy who makes sure the New York Comic Con runs on time, as well as Book Expo America, which happens yearly, alternating between NYC and L.A. I interviewed him recently about his life and stuff. I kept it informal so as to trick him into giving his opinions about the publishing industry, books, comics, and stuff like that. Let's see if it worked, shall we?
Park Cooper: Hello!
Lance Fensterman: Hey dude. Sorry I'm running late, my internet is sloooooow tonight.
PC: Did you just walk in? Do you need a few minutes to do any further home-arrival activities?
LF: Nah, I'm good. I'm trying to make an iTunes mic for our party in Chicago on Thursday. This is awesome!
PC: Not a big g-chatter, eh?
LF: Not often at all, oddly enough.
PC: But the default is SAVE EVERYTHING ALWAYS FOREVER. It’s the proverbial bomb.
LF: You sir are the proverbial bomb
PC: Because I type so fast? Or because of my use of proverbial?
LF: Many reasons
PC: Are you following me on twitter or something?
PC: Or are you referring to my status as head of the fine line of Wicker Man Studios' works
LF: Wicker Man, man about town, twit about the web, all of the above
PC: No seriously I am on twitter... parkcooper
So it looks like I am going to the Book Expo
LF: You do type fast
The show is massive. The problem with the trade publishing biz is that it’s gotten so insular.....
PC: So how long have you been doing this stuff? ...I could just like go find you on linked in but then you couldn't get to inform me... and our studio audience
LF: I was an indy bookseller and took over running BEA 3 years ago almost to the day. I think got a VP title and they gave me a portfolio of all the cool stuff - publishing and pop culture. Three years... sometimes it feels like 3 days. Then again, sometimes it feels like three decades...
I have a conference call at 745, think we can make it?
PC: Uh... we could always come back to each other and continue it later if not? How’s that sound?
LF: Yes... Don’t mean to rush. I leave for Chicago at 4:30 tomorrow morning then London, so I'm trying to get everything pending done today!
PC: My my. Why must you go to these places? I saw you went to Barthelona too... when you show up do you do a PowerPoint on how there's this great stuff now called the internet and faxing and Skype?
How long do you think the call will last? Can you say whom it's with?
LF: It'll be an hourish....Oddly, I can't say! It's with a big company on the West Coast that we are working on a JV with, so I have signed all kinds of NDA's
PC: What's a JV? I asked my brain but it guessed it's "junior varsity"
LF: Joint Venture..... As for travelling to in-person meetings, I do well when I'm in the room with people. I'm actually very charming!
PC: Dude no lie I was there at Dave and Busters for the NYCC get together, remember
PC: I’m good in person but here I am particularly a viking
LF: Viking indeed dude!
PC: So who’re these Reed people you work for, anyway? I gather they do more than put on cons and expoes...?
LF: Reed is a massive company and part of Reed Elsevier. Reed Expo is the event arm of the company. In North America we are about 325 people, but Reed Expo has offices in 40 countries.
PC: Yes but what does the non-event part do? publish things? (I could go review the internets but then you wouldn't get to tell me)
LF: RBI is Reed Business Information, that's the publishing arm. The owned Harcourt (just sold it) but mostly its trade journals. Variety, Publishers Weekly, Plywood today, that kinda crap.
PC: Oh so THAT's the link to Publishers Weekly and so on.
LF: They also won Lexus Nexus and Elsevier of course. However where I work is feels like a small business and even more so because I run my businesses like very small businesses are run, it's great
PC: So okay, more about you. Married? I think everyone should be married, since I like it myself.
LF: Married in deed and 2 cats
PC: Ahhh. How long? The spouse, not the cats
LF: 4 or 5 years. I can't remember!!!
PC: Tch. I hope you brought home flowers...
LF: Hmmmm, I think I did.
PC: So clearly you don't try to give paper on the 1st anniversary and brass on the 2nd or whatever...
LF: Nah, we are pretty non traditional. Plus it was 3 weeks before NYCC.
PC: ooh, I should remind myself what the 10th is; the round numbers are bound to be something good
Okay new question-- musical tastes. What you got for me? Go!
LF: Lots of Minneapolis music. Oddly I am making the C2E2 party playlist.....The replacements, Dillinger Four, Hold Steady, etc, etc
PC: (hmm, 10 is tin or aluminum under the old system, diamond jewelry under the new. how materialistic! I liked last year-- leather.)
PC: the mats? by which I mean the replacements?
LF: The Mats in deed. Favorite band
PC: Wife is from MN, are you? You do sort of have that look.
LF: Both are. I've been away more than there the last decade or so but the Mrs. has never been away since I dragged her out here
PC: wow. Most Texans think that's like the North Pole.
LF: It kinda is
PC: yeah well. So... I have passed the MN music test thanks to wifey... how about TV? You watch anything? We just swore off of politics for a while, so now we watch nothing. Just anime from Netflix and stuff. Let The Right One In. Which... isn't a show...
My mom loves Big Bang Theory because it reminds her of her son and daughter in law
LF: I watch almost no TV. Don't tell. 30 Rock, Colbert, Simpsons reruns, No Reservations. That's about it!
I tried to watch Big Bang one time and couldn’t do it. I was on a plane and tried to watch and I had to turn away
PC: Too geeky? Too much self-identification? Too much geek stereotype perpetuation?
LF: I really wanted to like it. I'm a geek, I need to see role models on TV, but maybe role models that are given better writing to work with
PC: Okay then HOW BIG OF A GEEK ARE YOU?
LF: On a scale of 1-10, probably a 6, but a diverse 6. I'm not crazy in any one area.
PC: Comic book? Do you know what BSG stands for? Tardis? Do you know who N.Tesla is? Hmmmm... Gamer? thac0? keyblade? d20?
LF: Tardis, N Tesla yes, BSG no.
PC: Me neither! I guessed it was the Big Scary Gnome and I was all set to pitch his adventures when I found out it stood for BattleStar Galactica. I still say there's a place for the Big Scary Gnome in the hearts of readers.
LF: AHHHH, I did know that actually
Theatre, NPR, great non fiction of the last 10 years, etc, that's what I mean by well rounded.
Gamer, yes. Comics, yes. TV pop culture, yes
Also-- Legos! I love ‘em. I won thousands of bucks worth
PC: what did you do to win them
LF: Sorry, own. I own thousands
PC: Awwww I wanted to hear about the big contest where you made a giant set of legos out of regular sized legos in under 12 hours
LF: I wish!!!!
PC: Yeah my life is super fun because I kinda rewrite reality as I go along … today I am realizing that is even more true than I normally realize
LF: That should be on a bumper somewhere
PC: It should be on my bumper, I’m the one saying it. And, like, more importantly, doing it...
Next: The experiment to trick Lance into having an actual interview concludes.
Say, fellows and girls:
Remember when everything you needed to know about Wicker Man Studios was at this site?
Well, now there's another site that's just as important! That's right, it's:
Yes, it's true: Gun Street Girl now has its own site, just to fool those readers who sayeth in their hearts, "I love webcomics-- but I hate studios!"
Now, Gun Street Girl comes to you in a manner free from the confines of its role as a webcomic brought to you by people-- now it's almost as if it just appears on the internet spontaneously! But wait, there's more! GSG has also broken free of the confines of a regular ol' computer screen-- now it's ALSO on your iPhone or iPod Touch, thanks to Apple's iTunes App Store! Read the following press release for the nifty keen details!
Wicker Man Studios Launches Gun Street Girl on the iPhone App Store
Wicker Man Studios is proud to announce the launch of a new website specifically for flagship title Gun Street Girl, www.gun-street-girl.com, from which WMS is already offering its latest Gun Street Girl story, “The Jealous Dead,” on the iPhone App Store. “The Jealous Dead” will cost 99 cents to download (in the US and Canada–other stores may vary), and can easily be read on the iPhone and the iPod touch with Wicker Man Studios’ own brand-new application, a comics reader which will allow readers using these devices to easily read stories panel-by-panel, simply by touching the screen and dragging the panels from right to left; tapping the screen will show thumbnails of all panels in a story so that one can, for example, easily pick up where one left off during a previous interrupted session.
In addition to the brand-new, never-before-seen story “The Jealous Dead,” WMS also offers another GSG story, “Where It All Began,” for free on the iPhone App Store, for new readers to try out the Gun Street Girl experience free of charge, featuring the secret origin of GSG’s main characters, bodyguard Liz Pendragon and down-on-his-luck magician Eddie Caution. All one needs to do is visit the iPhone App Store and search under “applications” for Wicker Man Studios, and then download the stories– “Where It All Began” is free, and all others are 99 cents.
For those who do not own either of these devices, regular PDFs of each respective story are also being offered, to be purchased, in the case of “The Jealous Dead,” using PayPal to pay the 99 cents.
Gun Street Girl’s archives will still be mirrored at the main Wicker Man Studios site of www.wickermanstudios.com.
With a high concept that feels like La Femme Nikita meets Grosse Pointe Blank with a little dash of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Gun Street Girl has won praise from a variety of reviewers, such as Curve Magazine: “Our current rave [for digital graphic novels] has to be Gun Street Girl . . . Sassy, smart, and socially subversive…”
When Gun Street Girl’s Eddie Caution, a heavyset magician and supernatural investigator, meets tough-girl Liz Pendragon while she’s getting herself in trouble defending her girlfriend from the roving hands of some relations of the local mob, he offers her a job as his bodyguard and muscle, and she accepts, having wanted all her life for there to be a way to encounter magic on a regular basis. The two of them investigate ghosts, rescue those kidnapped by monsters, try to stay out of trouble (often difficult), and generally enjoy life.
Barbara Lien-Cooper and Park Cooper, the creators of Gun Street Girl and owners of Wicker Man Studios, have a column on popular culture at the website Comics Bulletin, found at www.comicsbulletin.com/pb. Barbara has written for many websites, and served a one-year stint as Managing Editor of the multiple-Eisner-award-winning print magazine Comic Book Artist. Park is the Editor-in-Chief of indie comics company Septagon Studios, and of the website MangaLife. Together, they also co-wrote the graphic novel Half Dead, published by Dabel Brothers Productions and Marvel Comics, and later picked up again by Desperado Publishing, and the New Media project The Hidden for manga publisher Tokyopop. They both also adapt manga and edit manga and comics for various companies.
Ryan Howe is the illustrator of Gun Street Girl, and the Art Director for Wicker Man Studios. He is also currently drawing the third of his three issues of the political comics project Female Force for BlueWater Productions. The previous two issues he drew both sold out and went to multiple printings.
The new application was created by Dale Zak, a mobile software developer living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. His website can be found at: http://www.dalezak.ca
For all inquiries write to: Park Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org
Apple, the Apple logo, iPod, and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc.