This weekend was Staple! and I was able to interview Chris Staros, publisher with Top Shelf Productions. You can follow Chris on Twitter at @chrisstaros, Top Shelf on Twitter at @topshelfcomix or check out the Facebook page of Top Shelf at www.facebook.com/topshelfcomix. Top Shelf produces some of the best kids' comics on the market and I was really happy he took time out of his busy expo schedule to chat with me. Do yourself a favor and head over to www.topshelfcomix.com and sign your child up for their kids' club. Chris will talk about it later, but Henry is signed up and it is great. You get a free poster and more!
Could you tell me how Staple has been for you so far and how it has treated you in the past?
Staple has been an ongoing independent press comic’s convention that I am happy to support. Austin is a great town and has always had a great comic legacy. There are some great stores here, especially Austin Books (www.austinbooks.com) which is a great comic shop in town. Top Shelf has always had a very long relationship with the con and with the community here so we are always happy to support Staple and we are having a great time this weekend.
Great, I want to say that my son was introduced to your line of kids’ comics through the Free Comic Book Day (www.freecomicbookday.com) book and I saw a picture of the cover for the upcoming one for this year. Could you tell me a little about how you have expanded that and how you are using it to draw in new readers?
Yeah, the Free Comic Book day book is a fantastic thing, not only for Free Comic Book Day itself, but past that. When a library calls or when somebody calls and they are doing an event at their school, we always support that by sending them a bunch of free comic books to hand out to their kids and so forth. We’ve had such success and we enjoy doing the kids stuff so much, as well as our mature line which is our main focus, but the kids stuff as well, that we’ve gone from 3 series, Owly, Korgi and Johnny Boo, to six for this summer. We’ve added Okie Dokie Donuts, Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken and a book called Upside Down, which is a vampire story about a little vampire who eats so much candy his teeth rot out (laughs). So we are having a really good time expanding it. This year’s Free Comic Day Book has stories from all six of those series and has a list of all of the books in the back and it will be helpful for those who want to get into all of them.
Could you tell me a little bit about the upcoming releases you have. It seems to me y’all have a bunch of books, in terms of your kids’ line, do you know when we can expect to see those hit the shelf?
Yeah, Okie Dokie Donuts, which is Chris Eliopoulos’ (http://www.eliohouse.com/ ) book about a big momma who runs a donut shop full of love. Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken by Ray Friesen (http://www.donteatanybugs.net/) is about a penguin and a chicken who aren’t particularly piratey or ninja-ey (laughs), but they think they are and they get in a lot of fights and, you know, are very Tom and Jerry-esque. Ray’s sense of humor is very funny. Those are coming out in June, Upside Down by Jess Smart Smiley (http://jess-smiley.com/) will come out in the fall and even next year, we’ve signed a couple big projects. Austin’s own Rob Harrell (http://www.robharrell.com/) is doing a book for us called Monster on the Hill which is one of the coolest stories I have read in a long, long time and that is going to come out in 2012. And then a book called Maddy Kettle by Eric Orchard (http://ericorchard.blogspot.com/) will be coming out. And if you go to www.topshelfcomix.com and look at the kids’ club section, or even at the home page, there is a little window that if you sign up for the kids’ club newsletter you can get a free poster, and get involved in our kids’ community and we will target email messages specifically for kids’ stuff to that little group. You can find out what Andy Runton (www.AndyRunton.com) is doing or Christian Slade (http://www.christianslade.com/) is doing with Korgi or where they are going to be or little how-to’s or pdfs that you can print and color. That kind of stuff. We are really trying to play to kids more.
Great, thanks for your time and best of luck at the expo!