Home Blog Interview Behind the Scenes With the Creator of Indie Upstart GOLD ARROW COMICS
Behind the Scenes With the Creator of Indie Upstart GOLD ARROW COMICS

Behind the Scenes With the Creator of Indie Upstart GOLD ARROW COMICS

I connected with the mind behind GOLD ARROW COMICS on Instagram, and asked if we could do an interview. Marcel Bedard’s comic books were doing something different and unexpected. The style is retro but the edge is hard, and his stories don’t hold back. I asked Marcel tough questions about how and why he quit his job to start GOLD ARROW COMICS, and his advice on others who want to jump into the industry as well.

Marcel also shared his love for Dell, EC, and Gold Key Comics, and we talked about some of the inspirations for his titles — “Thrilling Picto-Fiction” and “Pop Art Heroes.”

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
Tell us a little bit about yourself…

MARCEL BEDARD:
I was born in Detroit and grew up on the east side, which means among other things that I correctly refer to “soda” as pop. Dispensing with most of the fascinating details of my roller coaster-ish misspent youth, I fell in love with comics when I was twelve and aside from a few creative side hustles, my work for GOLD ARROW COMICS is now my full-time career.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
How did you get into comics?

MARCEL BEDARD:
Comics were always on the periphery of my early childhood. “Spider-Man,” “Moon Knight,” the occasional “Green Lantern,” a random “Uncle Scrooge,” the odd “Little Lulu” digest. I read “Asterix” whenever I found myself in the waiting room of the ophthalmologist, or a random Star Trek at the old-fashioned barbershop patronized by my dad. But it was all very sporadic.

One day, during the summer before I turned twelve, my older brother came home with a reprint of the first issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man” that John Romita drew. There was something so vibrant and dramatic and perfect about that magazine; I was transfixed. We walked back to the drugstore to buy more comics, and we started going every week. I became wonderfully, completely, deliriously obsessed with comics.

GOLDEN ARROW COMICS creator Marcel Bedard is a huge fan of the classic EC horror and suspense titles.
GOLD ARROW COMICS creator Marcel Bedard is a huge fan of the classic EC horror and suspense titles.

I started haunting comic shops and used book stores, and that is where my comics education really began. The crucial epiphany, though, was when I discovered EC. The “New Trend” and especially the “New Direction” titles knocked me out.

I was fascinated, utterly astonished that something written in the 1950s could possess a literary quality so superior to so much of contemporary graphic fiction. “Shock SuspenStories,” “Piracy,” “Impact,” “Valor,” “Aces High”… those trenchant, beautifully crafted scripts, those laceratingly tragic twists . And “Psychoanalysis,” which is still so crazily ambitious, so utterly different from everything before it, or since. I wanted to write comics like that.

In the beginning…

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
Tell us why you started GOLD ARROW COMICS…

MARCEL BEDARD:
I started GOLD ARROW COMICS because I love the medium, because I believe in its power, its potential, its unparalleled versatility, because I have artistic and literary ambitions that demanded it.

I started GOLD ARROW COMICS because I had to.

There are moments in life when you realize you are slowly being swallowed up by things you never really wanted, and you know you can either continue going that way, or you can acknowledge your heart’s true desire, and take a chance on something extraordinary.

A couple of years ago, despite being successful and comfortable, I felt like I was drifting in a kind of professional miasma. I was possessed by this irresistible need to finally fulfill the dream I had deferred longer than I should have. So I quit my nine-to-five job and went all-in on comics. I was fortunate to find amazing collaborators with visions and styles as idiosyncratic as mine.

We want to build something of our own, something in which we can take pride, and pass on. We want to create a new “house of ideas”, where diverse talents can take bold chances and create something different, and — we hope, better — than anything else on the shelves.

This is a new vision, and a new vision requires a new company.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
On your site, you say that:

“We are not daunted by the economics of the industry. We believe that when someone creates a high-quality product, people will want to buy it.”

What do you mean? Are you saying that making comics is hard… or that making “high-quality” comic titles are hard, and that is something which is not widely available from Marvel/DC?

MARCEL BEDARD:
When I first told people that I was quitting a full-time job with benefits so that I could devote my time to creating comic books, the cautionary response I invariably received was “don’t you know the industry is on a downturn?”, or “you know that comics are dying, right?” or sometimes just “I’ll pray for you, you are throwing your life away.” The argument was “if the majors are losing sales, how can smaller presses succeed?” None of that ever fazed me, not for a moment.

I think the major companies may be slowly dying from a thousand self-inflicted wounds, but the medium itself is stronger and more vibrant and filled with more possibilities than it has ever been, here and around the world.

A few panels from “Thrilling Picto-Fiction,” Issue #1
A few panels from “Thrilling Picto-Fiction,” Issue #1

I have faith in capitalism. I’m guided by the simple inescapable parcel of axiomatic wisdom which holds that people will buy things they like. The mode by which an audience is found may evolve, the means by which comics are distributed may change, but the fundamental transactional reality remains. People love comics, and if you can reach them, and your work and your attitude merits their trust, they will be inclined to support you.

There are so many awesome comics being made right now, and they are being made by the independents, supported by a fanbase that is increasingly unimpressed by the major companies. Some of the best visions that are being brought to life, and funded, and purchased, are way too idiosyncratic and iconoclastic to ever receive the imprimatur of Marvel or DC.

That is not to say that the majors don’t employ some amazingly talented people occasionally doing very interesting things. But the creative process at that level has become so corporatized and politicized that it has resulted in a vitiated product, dramatically compromised and alienating.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
I can’t help but think the name GOLD ARROW COMICS is an homage to Gold Key Comics… is it?

MARCEL BEDARD:
We chose the name “GOLD ARROW” for a variety of reasons, and one of them is definitely our desire to pay homage to Gold Key. I love Gold Key Comics, like crazy! “Magnus, Robot Fighter 4000 AD” and “Turok, Son of Stone” are two of the best titles in the history of American comics.

The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor“ remains a hidden gem, and I also adore the lesser known titles, books like “Jet Dream and her Stunt-Girl Counterspies,” and “The Close Shaves of Pauline Peril,” and even “The Owl,” as over-the-top as it is. Ridiculously fun.

The movie and TV tie-ins (as hit-and-miss as they were) are especially fascinating, and I have always considered their “Star Trek” (1967-1979) to be better than any subsequent iteration of that franchise. It may be the most underrated comic book of all time.

Most important, though, is the fact that every time I saw the Gold Key in the upper left hand corner of a comic book, I knew I was about to read something literate and interesting and fun. I want people to look at the GOLD ARROW and see that same guarantee.

Retro with An Edge

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
The art and tone of your “Pop Art Heroes” titles looks like it is absolutely designed to be “retro.” Was it tough to create a comic book which is meant to look like something from yesteryear?

MARCEL BEDARD:
I very much wanted a retro aesthetic for “Pop Art Heroes,” and to employ the verbose, purple prose-ish silver age vernacular that I associate with [Stan] Lee and [Jack] Kirby, but the credit for creating the perfect vintage look belongs to the brilliant Giorgio Galli, (and also to Pablo Alcalde, who drew the first few pages before having to move on to another assignment).

I wrote the script hoping that the book would read like something that could have been on the newsstands in 1962, but Giorgio Galli gave it form and fury, power and passion. When I first saw his illustration of Dr. James January being bombarded by anti-proton radiation I was stunned. His pen has something of the magic of Kirby and Romita, but a quality utterly unique at the same time.

Just a small taste of the action featured in “Pop Art Heroes,” Issue #1
Just a small taste of the action featured in “Pop Art Heroes,” Issue #1

I am looking forward to many years of collaborating with him. In addition to our plans for upcoming issues of “Pop Art Heroes,” and the next installment of “The Space Crusades,” we have discussed the possibility of doing a western comic in the near future.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
The video on your Indiegogo page features a model using a camera, and narrating the story of “Picto-Fiction.” And it appears that she is a character in your book… did this actress serve as a model for the comic, or did you create the book and find a model who would fit the role?

MARCEL BEDARD:
I created the character of Margo Capri prior to meeting the amazingly talented young lady who portrays her in the promotional film, but now I can’t think of one without thinking of the other. She is an awesome actress, model, and many other interesting things, and is also just the nicest and coolest person. We are going to be shooting a new promo soon, for the next Indiegogo campaign, and she is going to be at our table at next year’s Motor City Comic Con, in costume as Margo. Everyone who sees the film is fascinated by her, and understandably so.

Creator Advice and Printing Credits

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
How are you getting your book printed?

MARCEL BEDARD:
We have a partnership with an amazing family-owned business in Roseville, Michigan, called Skip Printing Company. From the first day, Rob and Ryan and the entire gang there have helped us, encouraged us, and even taken the time to teach us about the process of printing. There is no detail too small, no question too ridiculous, no concern too trivial, and they do beautiful work. They are just the best.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
What has been the hardest part of this entire process for you?

MARCEL BEDARD:
Making mistakes. Getting walloped by hidden expenses you should have anticipated. Being patient with yourself. Eating ramen noodles for breakfast every day for four months because you are spending every other cent on the business.

Waking up at 3 a.m., staring through the window at an empty street in the dark silence of your own doubts, wondering if you have let the rest of the team down, asking yourself if all of this is an exercise in hubris, if your wings will soon be unwaxed in the light of day.

When you want something so fervently, it is hard to be dispassionate; but you have to be, because it is a business, and quite honestly going back to sleep is more valuable on a cost-efficiency basis than indulging in recriminations.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
Any advice you’d give to folks who want to start their own imprint/comics?

MARCEL BEDARD:
Yes:

1. Recognize that you are involved in the trickiest marriage possible, the one between art and commerce. Stay true to your creative vision, do not compromise it, because the fact that it IS different, that it IS unique, is its selling point. Once you have done THAT, then be as shrewd and relentless and business-minded as you would be if you worked for DuPont or Coca-Cola.

2. Shipping costs. Understand them. When people warn you about overseas shipping expenses, take heed. I am haunted on a nightly basis by the ghosts of everyone who warned me to charge for shipping!

3. A package of Ramen Noodles costs 39 cents. Get used to it for a while.

Learn more about Bedard’s work and future GOLD ARROW COMICS at their official website, Instagram, and Twitter feeds.

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