Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your comic book anthology, The 4th Monkey: An Anthology for Awareness! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the anthology’s premise, and what inspired the genesis of this collection?
James E. Roche: The 4th Monkey: An Anthology for Awareness is a 100-page book featuring 8 short comics about environmental and social issues. It includes subjects like ocean pollution, suicide, harmful pesticides, poaching, alcoholism, and more. The creators involved all tell amazing, story-driven tales that are far from preachy.
Co-creator Daniel Farrand and I wanted to put out a book that would, in the end, allow us to give back somehow. Between collaborators tackling subjects that we don’t often see discussed, and a portion of proceeds going to charity, we’re very proud to be able to bring this book to life and think that readers are going to love it.
BD: How would you describe the process of bringing together the writers and artists involved with The 4th Monkey, and what can you tell us about their shared creative process?
JER: Daniel had approached many of the writers first and let them pick their ideal artists, all whose work we were very familiar with. We’d then spoke with the artists and solidified the creative teams.
As far as the process of working with the writers and artists, we had the writers complete their scripts first, followed by the artists doing their thing. We funded the book through Kickstarter, so initially we only had the first pages of each story completed by the artists and letterer. Once successful, it became a matter of working with the individual artists and their schedules to set and keep everyone on deadline. Throughout that entire process HDE, the official letterer and book designer, played an intricate role. It was a long, difficult, and insightful process that I wouldn’t change for anything!
BD: The stories within the collection often portray various styles and genres, given that over 30 creators came together to work on the project. How do you feel that the divergent characteristics complemented one another?
JER: Much of the beauty in an anthology is having completely unique looks and stories set against a single theme, so the last thing we wanted was a particular “look” to the book. To help them best complement one another, I believe it comes down to laying out the different stories in an order that flows nicely, isn’t overwhelming in any way, and takes the reader on an entertaining ride. That’s something I was conscious of and hope that we achieved.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from the collection?
JER: I truly believe that one of the greatest ways to a person’s heart is through story. Hopefully, the narratives in the book will shine some light on issues that people may not think of very often and aren’t in the forefront in their everyday lives.
BD: One of the incredible takeaways that I had from your collection is that you are donation 25% of the sales to the Ronald McDonald House Charity. What made you choose this non-profit organization to donate you proceeds?
JER: Two of my three children were born premature. We were fortunate enough to be able to stay at a Ronald McDonald House for almost a total of 10 weeks while each of them was kept in the hospital. They give families of sick children a place to sleep within walking distance of the hospital, supply food, have local groups or families come cook dinner, and even have a playroom loaded with donated toys for siblings of the children. All of these things add up immensely and it was a massive weight off of our shoulders to be able to stay here. That being said, the RMH has a place near and dear to my heart, and it’s an honor to be able to give back to the organization in any way we can. I made a post on my website about this including pictures and more if anyone is interested!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
JER: I’m writing two creator-owned series at the moment which will be available late 2019 and early 2020. I can’t say much yet, but one is through Action Lab and the other through Scout Comics.
I also have a bunch of short comics up on my website that people can check out. If you sign up for my mailing list through the pop-up, you’ll get a free PDF download of issue #1 of my sci-fi series, Wretches.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The 4th Monkey: An Anthology for Awareness?
JER: You can read all about the project and check out a preview of the stories and pin-up artwork on my website.
For a limited time you can even download a PDF of The 4th Monkey for free when you sign up for my Mailing List. The book is also available on Amazon, and you can check out the successful Kickstarter campaign page at The4thMonkeyComic.com.