The following is an interview with Comic Art Professional Society (CAPS) President Christie Shinn. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Shinn about the evolution of the organization in light of COVID, the big plans and milestones in store for 2023, how interested artists can get involved, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the mission behind this organization?
Christie Shinn: CAPS is an organization of current and former comics professionals — artists, writers, colorists, letterers, and other creators in the non-animated cartoon arts. Without regard to style, genre, publication format, the nature of their publisher or the manner of their funding — CAPS seeks to provide camaraderie, education, information, and skill and career advancement for careers in the comics industry via gatherings and other mutual efforts.
BD: What do you feel have been some of the most important milestones for CAPS as an organization, and how do you see the group evolving under your leadership?
CS: One of the important milestones thus far in CAPS is recovering from COVID. Unfortunately, like many other social organizations, like the National Cartoonists Society, since cons and other events were curtailed, we had that to contend with. So, it’s essentially waking up from a long hibernation, which can be sluggish and full of missteps unless you take your time, yet move swiftly to establish footing. I knew we had to come out fully prepared for the rush of movement back into life. I established a social media group that handled both the website and general social media, became as active as I could in reaching out to conventions, and even getting good rates for some of them in terms of tabling and representation. ALL CAPS MEMBERS are represented whether it is through the free space at the booth we provide when we can, special rates for certain platforms and services thus far, and having guest speakers that are creators and distributors.
BD: An important aspect of any membership organization is staying current with the industry which it supports. Are there any areas that you feel have been targeted as needing updating to stay current with or ahead of the times?
CS: There was our structure of communication via social media and being a conduit for services necessary for the comic creator. Also, since we were “asleep” for a period of time, I wanted to add another level of vitality by offering discounts and deals (when we were able at conventions) to space at the booth we would get for people to sell their books and promote CAPS. We would often call to attention who was a member so people would associate the face and the name. For me, we weren’t able to meet in person with everyone, but even then it seemed routine. There are a lot of interesting people of varying backgrounds at CAPS, but considering we weren’t able to meet yet in person – I wanted to add more value to the membership dues we asked for. For me, I know everyone is in it to promote themselves. It doesn’t make people selfish, it’s just how we are in the world of Kickstarter and other crowdfunders – so we made it an easier platform to expand upon.
BD: Are there any particular initiatives or events that you are currently implementing to work towards your near-future of long-term goals?
CS: I plan to have CAPS somehow become nationwide to even international. Hopefully, that will be done sooner than later. Also, to be able to provide the services needed across the board and not just localized is better. I also want to be able for us to have a table at EVERY SINGLE CON. The further reach we have, the better our service and capabilities will be.
BD: If there are comic artists reading this interview who are interested in getting involved, are there any requirements for membership or steps to apply?
CS: Generally, we would like you to have a consistent body of work and quality. We do take people from sequential art, lettering, inking, pencilling, to even writing. As long as you can give us good examples in what you have done in a consistent manner, the Board judges it (including me) and we accept the person or not. We generally prefer it to be submitted and paid for electronically and the instructions are here.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
CS: Currently, we are working to set a legal team available to CAPS members at a discounted/adjusted rate. We do have ties to distribution at special rates and to GlobalComix.com which is free for a year for professionals. We are planning to add more and to continuously promote and expand our membership to hopefully make this a very active organization along with ties to platforms and other methods to help assist with the creative process/distribution/ and selling of books.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about CAPS?
CS: All the information is on the website: www.capscentral.org
People are welcome to contact any of us on the Board in regards to information on how to join, plus other miscellaneous questions.