Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of the first issue of your webcomic, Unprofessional! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Josh Greathouse: Unprofessional is the story of two mercenaries taking on a job to protect an aquatic Alien prince as he tries to save his species from being farmed out as a hallucinatory drug source. The mercenary job is a set-up situation for the protagonists to be framed for the prince’s death and make sure he can’t speak on behalf of his species’ rights. Unable to survive outside of water, the prince and his species need to attach themselves to human hosts to breathe. When frightened, the aliens release a toxin that acts as a hallucinogenic drug to their host they are attached to—enjoyable to some, but a death sentence to our hero.
BD: How would you describe your creative process of balancing the writing and illustrative duties, and what have been some of your creative influences?
JG: Here’s a simple truth, it’s not about balancing writing and art, it’s about balancing an idea. Okay, what do I mean by that? Okay, we can all agree the final product is the comic page. So, why view the process as two different things to get there? I view making a comic page the same way I was taught to write a paper in high school.
Okay, it’s coming up with the idea (hardest part I believe) then it’s letting them site for a while. I like to forget ideas, if it’s strong, I’ll remember it or maybe a ghost of it. Then I will look at it again, different angles and see if it holds up. Also, I’m talking scenes out when I’m alone or picturing them in my head. Do I want, over headshot, low angel, is it important to show the whole action or just a quick flash? Once I feel I have a good grasp on where to go, I write my script. I write a simple one, enough to describe the action and the dialog. Here’s been my goal of late, get rid of dialog as much as possible. It’s better to show than tell. Also, I have somewhat confident in my artist to show my ideas.
Here is the most important part for me, doing the thumbnails. I use to hate doing them, ugh they were the worst until someone gave me the practice to help produce a better product. TV studies and film studies based on old black and white films such as The Big Combo. Doing those changed the game. Now, why is this the most important? It’s seeing the panel layout, the flow and action on the page. Does this action read easily? Should I change this angle? Am I leaving enough room for the word balloons? Do I need to cut dialog or break it up? I have never said, “Man, I need to add more dialog here.” Truth is, you would be surprised how some of the best comics don’t say that much. You can tell, I love to talk and easy for me to keep going on and on.
After that, it’s cleaning up the art and adding detail. Which also includes the color. Something I can talk about later but we are only on question two. Let’s move on.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Unprofessional’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
JG: Unprofessional is my solution to dealing with not being where I want to be in life. So many of us get hired to do a job and quickly find out we have to deal with a jerk of a boss or take on hidden responsibilities with no extra pay. Often, I would come home after being turned down for a job or after being yelled at all day at my 9-5 job and realize, “I can bottle these emotions up or draw them.” That’s when I started to create Unprofessional.
These aren’t new concepts or worries, these are feelings that my ancestors dealt with and feelings future generations will have to deal with. It’s easy to go into a situation, thinking this will change everything, just this job and I’ll be able to pay that off or get more time to relax. Then turns into a new nightmare, a new struggle to deal with.
Okay, now Why do I felt this important to tell? One, this is the only story I have ever written that made me cry. We are in the first chapter of five, I don’t want to give the farm away but this has some turns that I hope people connect with. The big reason why these are two characters who are better than their current circumstance.
If that doesn’t do it for you, there are gunfights with aliens too.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the series into subsequent story arcs or even into other entertainment mediums, if given the opportunity?
JG: This is a mini-series, five issues, 22 pages for each issue except issue five. Five is 26 pages. Why 26? It’s the climax and I feel like every comic is worried about Issue one and by the time you to the end it’s like “OH? You are actually here? Why?”
I do plan on doing a couple of other mini-series with theses Knuckleheads but at that finding the ideas right now. My goal is to create the best I can, so that takes time.
Other mediums? I’m a weirdo but I love comics and right now. That’s all I want from these two. Yeah, I would love to see them on the silver screen but more important do right by them then rush into other projects.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
JG: As I said, this is an issue one of the mini-series, I got four more issues coming out. I’m halfway through issue two as of writing this. You can read all these for free at the site www.unprocomic.com. Right now I’m on a break but when it returns it will be updated every Wednesday. Come check it out.
Also, I have a kung-fu fantasy battle manga, with all my free time. You can read the first chapter for free here.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Unprofessional?
JG: Twitter is @Greathouseart and Instagram is @greathouseart my best. I also have a mail list.