Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations to you on the fourth year of release for your ongoing webcomic, Decades of (in)Experience! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the webcomic’s premise, and what inspired you to first tell this story?
Alex Schumacher: Much appreciated! Decades of (in)Experience follows the weekly misadventures of Luke Carlin, a thirty-something who hasn’t quite figured it out. Like a lot of us he lives on the paycheck-to-paycheck merry-go-round, searching for meaningful connections and numbing his emotions to avoid the mess that is his own existence. If he could simply break into the comics industry and get a handle on his chronic depression, everything would be coming up roses.
The series is loosely based on my own trials and tribulations of navigating my late 20s and early 30s. While another semi-autobiographical slice-of-life comic may initially sound somewhat blasé, I’d like to believe the weekly episodic nature and surrealist/metaphorical imagery accompanying each anecdote provides a fresh take to the genre.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in balancing the writing and artistic duties of the series, and what have been some of your creative influences?
AS: The most overwhelming obstacle for me when writing and drawing a series while concurrently working a full-time day job is simply finding the time to accomplish both tasks. Partnering with a publisher and editor has been invaluable for me in ensuring an anti-procrastination measure.
Francis Lombard (Antix Press editor-in-chief) and I do our utmost to have an outline in place before we launch each subsequent year, even if said outline only covers the first 6 months or so to start. I typically write the episodes in batches of 4 or 5 and send those off to Francis for review, which he tends to turn around fairly quickly with notes. Then, I’ll block off a couple of evenings or one full weekend day for the illustrations. We would love to stay 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule, but let’s just say most weeks involve some last-minute scrambling.
To get into the zone for Decades of (in)Experience specifically, I listened to a ton of punk and alternative/grunge from my youth (the '90s), read novels by authors like Leonard Gardner, Patrick deWitt and Tama Janowitz, and dove into my love for underground/slice-of-life comics from cartoonists such as Los Bros Hernandez, Gilbert Shelton, Alison Bechdel, Derf Backderf, Peter Bagge, and Jillian Tamaki.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
AS: My hope would be that people could find something relatable or thought-provoking. I venture to be honest in my communication and upfront about personal issues that some other creators may find uncomfortable to discuss. For me, creating is a way to exorcise my own anxieties, inner battles, and frustrations with the seemingly isolated and divided world around me. If even one reader out there who may feel utterly alone in their own similar struggles can find some small comfort in the comics I create, that would make all the time and effort worth it.
BD: What has made Antix Press the perfect home for Decades of (in)Experience, and what can you share with us about your work with the publisher in releasing this project?
AS: With the exception of suggesting revisions to enhance or tighten the story, the beauty of publishing through Antix Press is that I’ve essentially been given carte blanche to create and experiment. Francis has been a steady, guiding hand in the process and never moves to sanitize or water down anything I’m attempting to convey. He seemed to instinctively understand what I wanted to accomplish from the get-go. The fact that he wasn’t immediately put off by my dry sense of humor was an added bonus!
Finding an editor who is simultaneously a creative partner, friend, and champion of my work has been absolutely liberating. Francis and Antix Press were (and continue to be) a game changer for my career and development as a storyteller.
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your series into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
AS: I suppose that’s not really an aspect I actively think about. My focus tends to be on the comic and ensuring I’m producing the feature to the best of my capability. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t be ecstatic to find someone was interested in adapting the series. On the contrary, I would be honored if someone thought highly enough of Decades of (in)Experience to bring it to life in an entirely different medium!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
AS: Aside from Decades of (in)Experience, people interested in my work can check out my monthly satirical comic strip, Mr. Butterchips, published by the online magazine, Drunk Monkeys. I also have a collection of my literary magazine comics called Defiling the Literati available and am currently in the process of shopping my latest graphic novel. I can’t go into specific detail on the latter project, but I’ll be posting progress updates on my website and social media.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Decades of (in)Experience?
AS: The best way to keep up with Decades of (in)Experience is by visiting the constantly updated archive at here. For other works, I invite people to drop by my website, and to follow me on Instagram and Twitter, both @ajschumacherart.
Thank you so much for having me on Fanbase Press!