Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of artist Jeff Johnson’s work in the form of coloring books! What inspired this collaboration with Johnson and Pilot Studios?
Ben Ferrari: Thanks! We’re very proud of The Art of Jeff Johnson: A Pilot Studios Coloring Book Volume 1 & 2! It’s a pretty big milestone for Pilot Studios! Jeff has been around the comics industry for decades, having made a name for himself on Wonder Man, then moved on to work on most major titles for Marvel and DC. I ended up running The Jeff Johnson Archive on Facebook with him, where we basically gather as much of his art as possible, both from his days in comics as well as his years spent doing animation. We also have a section for his sketchbook and pinup work! It’s fun.
I ended up pitching him on doing these coloring books for the simple reason that we had all this great black-and-white artwork, combined with the fact that sales of coloring books are exploding! I think the #1 book on Amazon for a minute was a coloring book! Millions of copies are selling, so we naturally had to get in on that cash cow.
BD: For our readers who may be unfamiliar with Pilot Studios, what initiated the production company and what defines a Pilot Studios book?
BF: I had started Earthbound Productions in 2009 with some good friends of mine. After putting out over 15 comic books, I went on my own and relaunched as Pilot Studios. We’ve done over 10 comic books and graphic novels since then, as well as 4 coloring books. (The coloring books are available on Amazon!) You can find my name in the Editor-in-Chief column, Production Manager… occasional penciller and Pilot Studios Founder!
We’ve always focused on trying to be original as well as only putting out the highest quality we can. We don’t put out a book if the art is sub-standard, and all of our stories are written by serious writers. I try not to do work with just anyone who sends a script, and I think it shows in our output. Our properties, such as Son Chasers (the son of Hitler!), Carriers (warrior pigeons!), The Longhunters (frontier genre!), Stars (superheroes with a twist!), and Kurt Belcher’s WORLD (an anthology series written and produced by indie-comics superstar Kurt Belcher!) are some of the best looking comic books you can find. I put them up against any Marvel or DC book. I know that’s a big claim, but if you look at our products, I think you’ll see why I say that.
BD: What can you share with us about the creators with whom you have worked and Pilot’s previous publications?
BF: Our writers are top notch. Kurt Belcher (KBW, Stars), Erica J. Heflin (Zenescope), Jay Huwer (Carriers), Buck Weiss (Longhunters), John Arnold (Carriers, Action Lab) and Mike Luoma (Alibi Jones, Glow in the Dark Radio Comics). These are the most professional, easy to work with, serious-about-their-craft people you could want to work with.
BF: Our pencillers, inkers, and colorists are some of the best industry professionals, as well as the best of the future of the industry. Kurt Belcher, Martin Montiel, Jeff Johnson, Luis Rivera, Silas Dixon, Jim O’Riley, Vic Moya, Ben Hansen, Jay Stinson, Elias Martin, Kevin Leverett, Bill Williams, Warren Montgomery, Chuck Michael Obach, Sebastian Valencia… it’s a very long list of collaborators I am honored to work with. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some people. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention house letterer Micah Myers, design guy Ken Lateer, and Press Guy Buck Weiss.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your projects?
BF: These are big ideas. The Carriers needs to be a cartoon, the Animated Pitch Bible is written and ready for a green light. Son Chasers is a BIG, violent action movie with a deep story, asks serious questions, and is actually something people haven’t seen before. We deal in things that deserve to be on a bigger stage. When you see what we’re doing, you’ll agree. Hopefully.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are currently working that you are able to share with our readers?
BF: Pilot Studios has many more coloring books in the works. Besides The Art of Jeff Johnson coloring books, we also have The Pilot Studios Coloring Book and Son Chasers: Hitler’s America: The Coloring Book Files available on Amazon. Son Chasers is a fully lettered comic book story that you can color! Originality!
We also have many new properties in production. Divebomb will be a 70-page OGN early next year. Look for Saturn & Orion #1, best described as a sci-fi Daredevil book…. Many more Carriers one shots, like Carriers: Watchers in the Night, Carriers: The Croc King, more Stars and a Stars Trade Paperback, more Kurt Belcher’s WORLD and a KBW trade Ppperback, a futuristic space opera called Polaris #1… as well as a Pilot Studios one shot called The Zion Wars, which will feature all of our best characters!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Pilot Studios?
BF: You can find me at many shows around the Bay Area in California. I hang out on Facebook from time to time as well at www.facebook.com/pilotstudios. We have a neat website too at www.pilotcomics.com. I’m happy to chat at benferrari44 (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks for talking to me!