"This probably isn’t very well known but after the shit hit the fan, as they say, with Richardson, I shut down the production of STORYTELLER after issue nine. Ten was completed; we’d already sent it into them, but Alex and I had realized that the nightmare just couldn’t continue. I don’t know how to describe it in any other way. We’d worked on all of those issues non-stop for a year and the frustrations with Dark Horse’s [lack of] promotion of STORYTELLER were growing greater all of the time. The situation went from suspicious to outright obvious, you know? I would continuously fax . . . who was that jerk?!” Windsor-Smith waves his hand, trying to remember. He looks over at Alex Bialy.

“ What was that marketing--?” “ Lou Bank.” Alex answers with disdain.

“ Yeah, Lou no-can-do Bank! I’d write ‘Lou, why haven’t you done this?’ ‘Lou, why haven’t you done that?’ It even came down in the end that we had to write our own fucking ad copy because nobody at Dark Horse was capable of doing the job right. Bank would send us these faxes of his solicitations for Previews and every word was appallingly thick-headed and stupid. Dark Horse treated STORYTELLER like it was just their regular bollocks stuff, like their garbage movie adaptations and that sort of utterly fucking dead-from-the-soul-up shit.

“ So we were doing everything other than paying the bills for the printing, and Richardson had the gall to refer to my book as his ‘special project’. I’m rattling on . . . what was the point? What was the question? Oh, we were talking about self publishing.”

 

With problems like those Windsor-Smith claims he had with Dark Horse (see a response from publisher Mike Richardson in this issue), why not do it himself?

“ [After I cancelled STORYTELLER] I went into a deep depression. I was seeing a shrink, taking antidepressants. There were times when I didn’t even leave my house [for weeks on end]. But, all that time I kept the studio running [by phone], I continued to pay Alex, although I dropped his salary by a little bit. I continued to pay the letterer even though she had nothing whatsoever to do. I couldn’t have them suffer [financially] just because I became incapable [of working]. They’ve got lives too."

“So a lot of money was lost over eleven months with me just keeping the studio running. Paying all the bills, the taxes; [what was left of the] money went in maintenance of the studio and its staff. You see, it would have been fiscally sensible to dissolve the [studio] after STORYTELLER got shot [because that’s why I created the place], but dissolving my studio would be dissolving my reality. And I couldn’t do that.”

We stop briefly to try the excellent sourdough bread, and take a breather. Another sip of wine and Windsor-Smith catches up with my question.

“ Yeah, so it is hard to not be bitter.”

I wonder what keeps him going. If comics sucks as an industry, and Windsor-Smith has surely been through most of the existent and past companies with dour results, why do it? Does he even like comics?