The following is an interview with Scott Larson, writer, letterer, and illustrator of his own comic book series, Visitations. This interview takes place at Baltimore Comic-Con 2018, where Senior Contributor S.T. Lakata sits down with Scott to discuss the convention and his comic.
S.T. Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor: Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me, Scott. Are you returning to Baltimore Comic-Con, or is this your first visit to BCC?
Scott Larson: This is the first visit I’ve had here. There is a writer that I know from Michigan named Kasey Danielle. She’s here at the Source Point Press booth, I believe. I reached out to her and asked, “What cons do you like?” She mentioned the ones in Chicago I usually go to and, and then said Baltimore was one of the best cons that’s in the country. So, I made arrangements to do it this year.
STL: I always follow up with local or out of state, so you’re from Illinois?
SL: I’m from Chicago, Illinois. I’m a fourth generation Chicagoan. Before that, my family was from Sweden. They came over to the United States during this big wave of immigrants in 1869. They sailed in through New York. I don’t know why they came to Chicago, but that’s where they settled. My great-great-grandmother was pregnant at the time. They had the baby and then she was pregnant a second time when the Great Chicago Fire broke out and burned down the entire city. My relatives went into Lake Michigan in the cold of October in 1871. My great-grandfather who was born about a week later.
STL: Whenever I think about people that lived generations ago, I compare it to the accommodations that we have now. I try to imagine living your life without heating, air conditioning, and things like a toaster, and all of this other stuff. So, it’s fascinating to hear trying to survive the great fire of Chicago.
SL: Well, I would have agreed with you, except that when I grew up in the 1980s, we did not have the technology we do now. Today, everybody’s got cell phones and these things are attached to our hip. We can’t live without them or without the internet. I remember pre-internet stuff and I didn’t think life was that hard back then. I think that people who didn’t live without conveniences like refrigerators or air conditioners or telephones were the same way. They didn’t know the difference.
During our conversations this weekend, you mentioned Star Trek: The Next Generation. There’s an episode with Picard’s family where they refuse to have any modern devices. His brother and his wife and his nephew live in this house and I think they’re doing it by candlelight. Sometimes, I wonder if that simple life is the way to go.
STL: Is there anyone or a panel you’re interested in checking out or that you’ve already checked out?
SL: I very seldom go to panels at conventions now. And it’s mostly because I’m on this side of the table where I have product and I’m not able to get away. I didn’t even look to see what was here. The last panel I was interested in, at a convention, was Max Allan Collins’ “Windy City Crime.” It wasn’t here, but at C2E2. He did a panel on Chicago gangsters. I think he’s a really interesting guy. He wrote a couple of Eliot Ness books. He used to write Batman. He used to do the Dick Tracy comic strip. I was actually really sad that I didn’t get to see him.
I generally don’t look, because if I looked, then I’m going to want to leave the table. If I leave the table, then it kind of defeats the purpose of me being here.
STL: Moving onto other comic works, what are you promoting today at Baltimore Comic-Con?
SL: My book is called Visitations. It is the history of the 20th century as seen through the eyes of the residents of an old Victorian cemetery. I’ve actually changed that tag line a lot, especially during this convention, because the environment is Chicago, I’m from Chicago, but people here in Baltimore might be interested in Chicago, but I think if you’re going to have a product it should be geared toward the person reading.
The characters are all based on different monuments throughout the world. They’re kind of a ghost Justice League. They have adventures and the world kind of grows behind them as the adventures go. It starts off at the turn of the century and then go to present day or however long I live, whichever ending comes first I’m not sure, although I think I know.
My plan is to have a number of different series. The first series I have now is the turn of the century. The second series will be the 1920s. The third series will be the 1940s. Then, we’ll see how far I get after that. I’d like to have this story reach present day. My plan was to get them out at least two or three a year and so far it’s been about one a year. I’m going a lot slower than I wish I was, but I’m also writing, drawing, coloring, lettering, and all of that stuff.
Part of the timing issue is that I’m an artist. In fact, I’m more of an artist than a writer. Some of the stuff I’m working on, the stories are sort of writing themselves. Anyone who reads them will be like, “Oh, he had a plan.” Much like Stan Lee back at the beginning of the Marvel universe, I have no plan.
I have a general plan. With the issues that come out, like the second issue when I started it, I had no clue how the issue was going to end, and the characters had to tell me. With the fourth issue I’m working on now, I actually have had to lay it out. I had to lay it out a couple different times and the characters have told me where that story is going to. They’re telling the story, I’m just kind of writing it all down.
The story itself popped in my head when I was asleep and it evolved from there. One of the things that will happen, I’ll be walking down the street and get a feeling to turn a certain way, and then I’ll see something and I’m like, “Oh, that belongs in the story.”
I had lunch with some people from my day job. I work in advertising during the day. One of the people was an illustrator and she was talking about this show she’s a part of. The show deals with a couple of medium sisters that live in Chicago around the turn of the century. They were fortune tellers. What would happen was they would have blank canvases and then pictures would appear on the canvas, and then they would tell the future of the person. I heard that and I’m like, “Okay, that’s in the story now.”
I went and did research on them and they ended up being a major part of the story. That hadn’t been the case before because they weren’t originally included. In real life, they had been jailed a number of times. Fortune telling, especially back then, was seen as a scam. Even today, some people believe it and some people don’t. Houdini used to run around the country, and he was actually in Chicago as well, debunking spiritualists. He was very close to his mother and when she died, he tried to contact her through spiritualists. He came to the conclusion that all these people he was going to were pulling a scam on him. He used to actually go to people who were doing these fortune telling shows and debunk them right there on the spot in front of their customers.
That’s all information that has come to me within the past four months, and it’s all stuff that has found its way into issue four.
STL: Is Visitations available online?
SL: It is. There are ways to get a hold of me. I do have a website. It’s vistationscomicbook.com. There is a contact page, and I’ve got an Indiegogo store. When I did issue #2, I crowdfunded it.
Indiegogo had a great deal. I exceeded the amount that I had set for myself. At the time, Indiegogo will let the person keep the store open after their project had been completed. I don’t think they are doing this anymore. Because I ran my campaign before they changed it, people can still go there and buy the book, which I think is really cool. So, I sell it through Indiegogo, and if anyone really wants to buy it, they can PayPal me or I’ve got one of those Square readers.
I have had it in comic shops and what I find is that nobody sees it, because you’re competing with Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and everything else. I like it better coming to conventions like this, because I can talk to people. What I find is that if people like you, they generally like your book. I enjoy meeting the people who are buying it. For that matter, I enjoy meeting people who aren’t buying it, too. I enjoy hearing opinions of it. For right now, I’m happy doing it like this.
STL: With being busy with a job in advertising and you doing all of this other creative work and promoting it, when you have downtime, what are you a fan of recently?
SL: I like Spider-Man, actually. I like just about everything. When you get older, you tend to go through this thing where you’ve seen a lot of this stuff before. For example, I love the Marvel movies, but I’m worried that I’m getting tired of them and I don’t want to get tired of them. I like the Marvel movies. I like the DC movies. I love Star Wars.
[Special Note: This point of the interview was splendidly put on hold for a couple of Star Trek cosplayers who stopped by the booth to buy his books, after talking with Scott the previous day. There was a great follow-up conversation about running into Q. I loved being able to sit back and watch their interaction – people who formed a bond after a conversation, and then came back to share their experiences and purchase Scott’s comic books.]
STL: I will wrap up, because we’re at the last question anyway. Is there a way for people to find you online?
SL: There’s a million ways. I’ve got a website, visitationscomicbook.com. I have a Facebook illustrations page, and it’s Scott Larson Illustration. I’m on Twitter, but I don’t go to Twitter often. It’s too much work. It’s turned into this mudslinging thing, too. I am on Instagram. Anyone is more than welcome to follow me on any of this stuff.
My email, which is another important thing, is visitationscomicbook (at) gmail (dot) com.
I definitely want to share a big thank you to Scott for being very generous with his time to sit down with me at Baltimore Comic-Con, as well as chat with me each day of the convention. Also, I definitely dug the Steampunk goggles he was sporting.