Time to chat to the writer of many awesome books including the Word Smith series and expert letterer, Es Kay. A fountain of knowledge comin’ at ya… be prepared. Let’s find out more about the great story of the man behind such great stories, which happen to be in many libraries around Australia.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION (text may contain errors)

Voice Over (00:00:00):
It was sponsored by the ComX Shop. We hope you enjoy the show.

Leigh Chalker (00:00:21):
<inaudible>, welcome to episode nine of Tuesday, chinwag. I’m Lee Chaka, creator of Battle for Bustle. Chinwag is on the come network and we’ve got a guest tonight that we’re gonna bring to the table. Sk, how are you mate?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:00:37):
I’m good. Good. Thanks for having me on. I’m really excited to be here.

Leigh Chalker (00:00:42):
Yeah, no, that’s okay mate. That’s all good. I’m excited to have you here, man. So it’s like even though, I guess, what do we got? Nick May. Good evening, Jens happy talking. Thank you, mate. Even though I said to Shane the other day that you and I have run into each other on a few different live streams over I guess the last two years, weirdly enough paths have intersected, but I’ve never had the opportunity to get to know you, man. So tonight’s gonna be good. Yeah, just for anyone out there shows based on six prompting words, questions, who, what, where, when, why, and how. Everything’s discussed in between. So we’ll see how we go. And Sk mate, the first one, Peter Lane. Thanks buddy. Who?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:01:32):
<laugh>. Oh look I’m from Sydney, so nothing too exciting about that. Yeah, no, the main thing is look, I watch, look, I’ve been reading comics for forever a Day. I think my first one was a Batman. It was I can’t quite remember the issue number, but it got me hooked. And about seven years ago I decided, you know what? I procrastinated way too long and I just made, I’ve got all this half written scripts, half things, half done. So I thought, you know what, I’m just gonna sit down and finish one. I don’t care what it is to sit down and get one thing done. And unfortunately or fortunately, depending which way, look, that one thing became the second thing became a third thing. And here I am now. Really? Yeah, it’s been a weird couple of years actually. Had to say,

Leigh Chalker (00:02:28):
Yeah, whole life changer. Hey, not doing comics and then into comics mate and being successful at them from all sea. We’ll talk little while

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:02:39):

Leigh Chalker (00:02:40):
Of your book from libraries and stuff, mate. That’s a huge achievement. So congratulations on that. What are your thoughts on that?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:02:50):
Oh look, the library one look, I’m happy to give a shout out to, there’s a librarian in Sydney, her name is Karen Dwa and she’s sensational. She’s one of the biggest advocates for Australian graphic novels. She got hold of one of my first graphic novel called Tabby Tabby’s. Basically rolled me on Juliet Cats. But unlike the Shakespearean tragedy, all the cats live, I didn’t kill any cats off, just in case anybody’s worried about a whole bunch of cats dying at the end. They all live spoiler. But no, she was absolutely fantastic. So she bought one and she said, look, I need to get this into my libraries. And honestly it just snowball from there. It was one library and it was the second and then it was the third. And honestly speaking, I kind of lost track. I think I’m in close to 500 different public libraries now.

And not just Australia I’m also in New Zealand, Singapore, some UK libraries, and Canada. So I’m in about, oh my God, last few was about 50 Canadian libraries. So all the library systems, if a lot of people don’t know, they’re actually all very interconnected. And I’m gonna mince his name. So I’m going to say, sorry before I mince his name. There’s a guy called a Melbourne librarian, his name is Yuri. And again, I’m really sorry, I probably butcher his name, but he works for he actually created a group, I dunno, but there’s a lot of different auto groups in Australia. So he created a L I A, which is basically a huge advocate for Australian graphic novel content. And him himself being a librarian, Hey Dave was really, really good because then he started to Karen’s really much based in Sydney and he’s very much based in Victoria and the two of them are huge advocates for Stratographic novels and look to be right?

No, both of them support all my work. And basically they tell everybody else, which is the bigger thing. And just been really lucky. Word of mouth has just been one thing, next thing. And after a while it really does snowball. And after a while, oh my god you lose track of how many libraries that you’re in. And it’s always awesome to walk into the library and know, hey, I’ve got something in there. And it’s an amazing, and what’s even better is when you google yourself and you check your own name in the catalog and you see the books out alone. And that’s the happiest thing I get knowing somebody’s borrowed, borrow one of my books and it’s actually reading it. So

Leigh Chalker (00:05:42):
I bet you never would’ve seen yourself seven years ago when you started on the journey. No. Being able to say that,

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:05:49):
Not at all. And look, it’s fantastic. And the whole step back, that’s kind of why we do it and why. And despite everything, and I know you are creating yourself, why we do this absolute crazy thing.

Leigh Chalker (00:06:05):
Well there you go. Es Kate, why? That’s one of the prompting words. So why do you do it to yourself?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:06:12):
Not for the money <laugh> before anybody says it’s the big bucks. It’s not. It really isn’t to be read, it’s to tell stories. It’s to tell stories for people to read it. And the thing is to be really fair, I don’t mind if people don’t like it. Hey Hayden, oh, if you want a haven, if want a copy of Tabby, you know how to reach out to me, I will send you the digital copy. So three digital copy to Hayden, or if anybody wants any books, digital copies, reach out to me, happy to send you the link. So Hayden, I’ll reach out to you later. I’ve got your details. Why you do this to be read and to be really fair, it’s not even the case of being read and being light. It’s to be read and you wanna get some sort of emotion. Now the worst comment you can get from somebody is, yeah, it was okay.

It didn’t move you one way or the other. I would rather someone partially hated and go, oh this is because at least you’ve stirred something up and then you can go, what about it really up to you? Oh it’s this and it opens that conversation. A quick story actually one about my happiest memories. I was doing a library workshop, I was doing a reading actually in a north library up in North Sydney. We we’re just doing a reading and I think there were about 40 people turned up. It was really cool. I really enjoyed it. One of the dads afterwards came up to me and goes, what? Thanks for all this, but I hate you. I’m going, I’m really, really sorry. What did I do? It was in. And he actually

Leigh Chalker (00:07:59):
Said, one would hope

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:08:00):
<laugh>, my daughter, loved your book so much when she found out you were doing a talk. We live I don’t know if, but Sydney is very, very sprawling. If you wanna go from one end of Sydney to the end of Sydney, it’s close to a four hour drive from the coast to the last part of Sydney still within Sydney you can, it’s about four hours. So he said it’s about 90 minute drive here and she made me come just to see you talk for an hour and that’s it. And now we’re gonna have another 90 minute drive back. So I’ll be on the road now for about four hours out just for this. But he said, look, by the way, thank you very much. I’m really glad she enjoyed it. She bought her book along, I signed it. Seriously. That’s why we do it. Exactly the reason we do it for somebody I should say, Hey look what you wrote resonated with me that much that I’m gonna convince my dad to be on the road for three hours just to come and meet you.

Leigh Chalker (00:09:05):
Yeah, yeah. Pretty cool mate.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:09:09):
Yeah, that’s why we do it. <laugh>

Leigh Chalker (00:09:11):
You smile and tell him the story, mate. So that’s the main thing you you’re happy mate. And that’s, it’s a good thing when you’re creating too mate. When you first started and you started jotting down your ideas and going through your process and things like that now you started, cause you’ve done a few things. You’ve got stigma to studios, you’ve got involvement with comics to movies, a letterer out there in the world with ethereal and stuff like that, bearing other places so well with Tabby You, that was your first book through your publishing housemate?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:09:56):
Yep. Yep.

Leigh Chalker (00:09:57):
And did you do that? Did you go through the Kickstarter method?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:10:02):
I did to

Leigh Chalker (00:10:03):
Do of those things.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:10:04):
I did. So what happened originally when I finished Tabby I went up for work, it was all done and dust it and look as a first book. Yeah, I thought it was really sweet. It’s Romeo and Juliet, there were cats and I really liked it. It’s one of the stories which I really wanted to tell. And what happened with that was it went kick stardom and a lot of family and friends look and I appreciate all of them and thank you very much you guys. You’ve always got my internal thanks. The camera supported it and it was done. But one thing I did find once it was done is when you’re trying to get it to, and that’s where I think what me call it, Karen, the librarian from the first thing, she’s the one who actually backed it and she bought a copy and she was going, I need this in my library.

And so that actually started the whole journey. So that’s why I’m always very almost eternally grateful to Tabby because without that, nothing would’ve happened. It would’ve just, and even before Tabby I would say is look, and this might make other creators a lot happier. I procrastinated for years. You’re talking a decade or so. You know what, I’ll get round to it. You’ve got all these ideas and most people don’t do anything. And that’s where and I’m hoping a lot of creators actually do get reached out to by loved creators and no name, not naming names, but on about every two or three days I’ll get a new creator actually do reach out to me saying, Hey look, I’ve saw your stuff. I wanna do this. What do I do? And I would say out of in a year, say like 50, 60 people who do approach me, I would say maybe one of those 50, if I come back, if I do reach out to them after a while, would actually say I finished the script, maybe one of that 50 and out of that one of the 50, you then get maybe one of 50 chance of that one person, Hey Sean who actually goes, I’m doing the next step.

I’m doing that. It’s very, very rare. And I know to be fair as well, it is tough because everybody’s got their life to live. Everybody, everybody’s doing this as almost their side hustle. But if it’s something that is important to you, I would just say, look I would always say finish things. And the reason, and actually this is armchair psychologists, it’s actually very difficult for people to actually finish things and especially on the creative endeavors is actually very, very difficult to finish. And I is actually a really good psychological reason why it is the idea that especially with creative books or creative things, you’ve got this idea in your head of what it is. Imagine if you had your idea in head of the next law of the rings epic in your head. You’ve got this awesome fight scenes, you’ve got all these awesome moments of tension or drama and all the rest of it.

And that’s in your head. Now if you actually put it down honestly, and by the way, all first drafts will suck. Let’s just put it out there. Your first draft will be a horrible, don’t pretend it’s gonna be a mastery, it will be bad and that’s a good thing. But when they actually do it and they finish it and that first draft comes up and it is in your head, it was this magnificent masterpiece. And when it’s down, it’s this, oh gosh, it’s not that good and I need to work on it a lot more. That’s the point where a lot of people step back and go, you know what, it’s not for me. And they walk away and it is tough. And don’t get me wrong, it is really tough to push beyond that one point where you’ve got this brilliant magical idea in your head and now seeing on a paper and seeing it’s not where you need it to be and trying and to get it to where it needs to be. And a lot of times you will never get it as great as it was in your head. And that’s because you yourself idolize your own project so much that no matter what you put down, it’s never gonna be as fantastic as it was in your head.

Leigh Chalker (00:14:30):
How close do you get to it being in your head when you finish your

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:14:34):
Scripts and ideas? Work I cr and most things I cringe when I look back my stuff I just like it was actually really interesting. I actually had one of my earlier lettering jobs he was actually going back onto Kindle and Kindle has different bleed. I don’t know if you know much about page formats, but depending on your printer and whatever, you had different bleeds and different sizes. So Kindle, slightly different bleed and there were I think five pages that were affected because the word bubbles were too close. It was okay for the print because the blade was different, but it wasn’t good enough for Kindles. So about five pages were identified as problems. I looked back on it and I was going, oh gosh I tell you what, I’m not gonna fix the five pages for you. I’m gonna fix the whole lot for you.

And <laugh> what was meant to be a 20 minute job, I spent a good five, six hours on it because again, but that’s actually a really good thing because you’ll never, whatever you do will never be as good as it’s in your head. But there’s always the one comment, some it’s better done than it’s better done and completed than continually works. So it’s some, at a certain point you call it, it’s tough. And especially for creative, at a certain point you go, you know what, no more pencil strokes or no more ink, no more colors. I’m not touching the dialogue anymore. And you move on and it’s actually a rare opportunity that you get. And for me, I make it a point that I will not go and I will never say never because things change. But I try my best not to go back and remaster stuff.

And I know some creators for example, have gone back and remastered your works over and over and over again and in my head I’m going, you know what you got, you should just be putting out these stories and you are gonna look back and you’re gonna go, you know what that, and that’s where tab is a bit cringe to me. Now if I read it because I was going, oh I could have done this better, I could have changed this could have changed this <affirmative>. But there’s also that, hey, I’ve done and it’s led on to all these other things. Thank you very much tab for starting the journey and giving me the opportunity so I can still see the joy in that and the joy in actually getting it for the first time. The joy in holding it, the joy in getting comments and feedback back. You get all that joy it kind of overrides the, oh my god, if I did the same thing seven years ago, I would’ve done it totally different. I would’ve changed all these things. But you needed that to get to where you are.

Leigh Chalker (00:17:23):
Indeed. Do you, like you’ve got several ongoing series happening, don’t you like Kickstarters coming up, wordsmith and bearing things. When you get to those, do you see those as singular stories or are they a continuity over several issues mate, with an ending in sight? Have you thought that far ahead with your series of stuff?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:17:47):
Usually I do and what I tend to do is, and is my volume one tends to be very self-contained mainly because it’s one of those things I don’t know how it’s gonna go. So if you notice most of my volume ones, I sometimes don’t even call it volume one, I’ll just go new series <affirmative>. Mainly because they are times sree just cause you know what, I don’t feel it anymore or it’s not quite what I expected it to be. And then you can go, you know what, it’s a complete story, you finish it off. Now if I ever go back to do a volume two, that’s where I tend to extend it a little bit more. The cliff hanger tends to be in volume two and I try to add get volume three to be at least the conclusion of the cliff handler and volume two.

And then after that it’s how far can I stretch it? So there’s a lot of what I usually do, I don’t know if this is the right terminology, I drop a lot what they call plot seeds in volume one. So in volume one I have a whole bunch of directions of where I wanted take things. So I would casually just mention something. If you think back in Star Wars, star Wars days what happened to my father, he was lost in the clone wars never mentioned again for the entire first trilogy except they took that one line and basically they built the prequel and all the rest out of it. So similarly, I drop a lot of these plot seats, which are a little bit whoa building ish. And what I tend to do is it then gives you the opportunity to explore down certain things and also explore different characters and different things.

And what you find is that it’s really good to have all these little bits and pieces which just explained and then you can expand on it. So that’s how I usually do my volume once self-contained by law plots. And I tend to look at stories in terms of most of what, right, in terms of arcs. So I like the tv most of the TV formats, which is basically you have an overarching arc that ties first episode to the last episode. But each individual episodes could be kind of taken by itself and at least tell that little bit of self-contained story. But if you have been invested in entire theories, oh my god, it’ll be a lot more for you and it’ll be a lot more exciting for you. So I like that format of writing because it allows you to people who haven’t been involved to jump in and also gives rewards to people who have been, who’ve come for long for the entire ride basically.

Leigh Chalker (00:20:22):
What’s your optimum page length then for a first one of these, not the intro, we’ll call it the introduction issue. What do you think of pages of that? Mate,

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:20:35):
I don’t follow standard comic sizes, maybe because I don’t put out that much. I don’t do 22 pages a month, the production, whatever, it’s not something I can sustain. So when I do wanna put something out, I want it to be a decent size. You’re looking about at least 60 page 60 pages, 48, a good decent size. I like to think of it as two or three issues of a comic jump into one. So that’s the type of size I like to deal with. Saying that though, I usually let things slide across two different volumes. So when I’m writing saying an issue one and there’s too much in it, I’ll just push a lot of it down. I’m going to, I’ll save all this so nothing’s kind of wasted. It’s kind of just put on hold a little bit. And so if volume one is well accepted, then I can go back and go, you know what, I’m gonna take up all the stuff which I didn’t fit in and start a new volume audit.

Leigh Chalker (00:21:35):
Okay, so fairly chunky. First issues really mate, just introduction, get it out there, see how people go have moving from your own stuff ever so slightly. Sean Goodday mate, I didn’t say hello to you before but I’m bringing him up in the conversation. You well met Sean comics to movies, your Sunday night show. What was your flow and what happened there mate, to bring all that together?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:22:02):
So one of the things that we’ve noticed and this has been discussion with Sean is it’s as much as you want, a lot of what you do when especially as a creator is passion. Look, we are not the big two, we don’t have people who would get things just like when we don’t have some, we’re not Star Wars for example, where you just buy because it’s Star Wars or you buy because it’s the MCU and things like that. You don’t have that type of backing behind you. But one thing that a lot of people resonate with I always say is passion. So if we talk about our works and I hope it’s coming out, even when I talk about Tab, I’m passionate about it. I love my first book again, like I say, if you look back, I would change a lot, but there’s a lot of it I do love and it has brought so much joy to me and

Leigh Chalker (00:23:04):
And comics to movies does the same. Cause you, you heavily involved in that, like you and Sean basically what just met through the comics industry conventions and stuff.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:23:16):
And one of the things that with Sean is that it, and it’s great to work with because, and he is number one, he’s a great guy, but it allows you to do more things. And that’s why I say Sean’s absolutely fantastic because what happens is that what you say, one plus one does not always equal two. One plus one sometimes is more than two. Because if you can start getting different economies into play and start going, okay, if we do this, I can focus on this, you can focus on this and we can then get something out together faster and it allows that potential churn to happen and it also builds your audience a lot quicker. It also, you know what, it’s really good to bounce ideas off because if you’re by yourself a lot of things you don’t look at objectively. So a lot of things you just go, oh that’s the best idea.

It’s gonna be brilliant. And having someone go, you know what, no <laugh> advocate here. It’s not gonna work the way you think it’s gonna work, haven’t that. And more importantly, I respect how he thinks and I respect a lot of his not just his creative acumen in terms of what works on creatively, but also his business acumen on what he understands works in terms of appeal for the comic. Sean’s great. And having that to bounce off what it makes the world of difference absolutely makes the world of difference. It makes the journey just that little bit not so lonely. It gets pretty lonely sometimes when it’s just you and you and the screen and you’re either you are, I’m lettering the next page or typing up the next story. It does get a little bit lonely. So how that puts a bounce off and give feedback and comments, it makes the world of difference.

Leigh Chalker (00:25:14):
Yeah, yeah. Well you’re both productive. When you said earlier before you weren’t super productive and couldn’t keep up with certain things, I was thinking sk wow man, you’re writing and lettering all over the place. So I’d hate to see you in full speed mate. So it’s like you’re a machine, but with I guess were you doing your lettering during obviously you did your comics lettering and what is your involvement with, how did you push off your lettering further into the US and stuff like that?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:25:50):
Look so with lettering, look, I enjoy it to be really, I know look, <laugh> one of my other friends who does colors, he hates lettering, he hates it. The passion’s like, ah, I hate doing it. It’s fun actually. It’s one of the technical skills that’s actually very, very creative and I’ve actually learned a lot of the journey. So one of the things which I’ve always usually employed a letter to do my earlier works and I’ve just been practicing and the one thing and you’re practicing your own stuff. But the one thing I’ve always been afraid of is what you get the imposter syndrome. At what point do you think you’re good enough? At what point do you think it’s good enough to go forward? I think it was Transhuman was my own first comic. I thought if it’s bad, it’s good, I’ve gotta do it because, and by that time I had already led two other books for somebody else and after that it kind of snowballs because it is like everything. I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the videos where I talk about lettering. It’s actually something I’m really passionate about. I actually think mainly because bad lettering hurts like nothing else. It is, you have the most beautiful artwork, you have the most gorgeous colors and you have the most horrible letter sitting on top of it and you just go, guys killed it, you’ve got this.

Leigh Chalker (00:27:29):
Well the perfect lettering is an invisible type of lettering that doesn’t stop the motion And storytelling itself, isn’t it mate?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:27:37):
That’s correct. So that’s a lot in lettering, which I, I’ve learned and there’s a lot as well if you wanna go down the lettering pathway, it is fantastic. It’s not just emotion, it’s also where you draw your attention to it. And I tend to put up a lot of tips and hints when I’m doing lettering as well. Mainly because if nobody told you, you wouldn’t notice it. And I think that’s the absolute best part of it. If somebody goes, oh wait, I didn’t notice the lettering, you’ve done a good job. But what I find is that a lot of in creators on the hall absolutely neglected and it break absolutely breaks my heart. It really does because you’ve got this they spent all the time on really gorgeous artwork, really gorgeous colors and then it’s wasted on lettering. What I’m gonna do is I wanna chuck in the comments, I don’t know if you can pop up this link. Yeah. So you use Match with the internet link come up, link

Leigh Chalker (00:28:46):
<laugh>. Sure. It’ll appear soon enough. Hey Dave Dye just had a question that popped up a second ago if that comes up now. He mentioned Tabby Tara, Olympus wordsmith, he asked if you had any others mate that were available out there.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:29:05):
Quite a few actually. So I’ve been very, very lucky. There’s a one called Transhuman. So what I’ll do is, and I’ll send it to the magic of the internet, I will send and I send a link across and I’ll be more than happy to tell you all the stuff I’ve created. Give me one sec.

Leigh Chalker (00:29:28):
You’re right man. Yeah, no, I’m a busy little dude man. So while you are doing that question our mate, Dustin from Ethereal, how did you come across Dustin? Was that just one of those people you meet in the social comic networks and stuff like that? Because you’ve been missing for a long time, since maybe second comic book he published I think.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:29:55):
Yeah. So look, dust Dustin was one of the cases where honestly and he knows this, so I’m being very, very nice, the original and I know who the original letter is, he’s actually a guy from New Zealand and he freely admitted to me I’m the artist I love and his name is Eric Viola. He guys want look him up. His

Leigh Chalker (00:30:19):

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:30:20):
Artwork is, I cannot talk. I agree. And I had this chat with Eric, so again, not disparaging him on anything, but he really admitted my letter’s not outta scratch, I’m doing it because I’ve been tasked with doing the entire project. His artwork’s brilliant, his color’s brilliant. Oh gosh, I’ll do it to get it through the project, but I’m not the guy. So I was brought in and it was like, I can take this, I can you, and this is where you mentioned with Sean, you focus on what you’re good at, don’t stretch yourself to be something you’re not. Because if something that you are not passionate about, it’s something that you’re not that excited about it’s an absolute shame if you know what I mean. It’s you, what you do, what makes it do, what brings you joy <laugh>. And for me,

Leigh Chalker (00:31:27):
I’m 100% happy with you mate or peace, love, prosperity and harmony and happiness for me man. So

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:31:35):
Letter ring brings me joy. So magic can you there’s, I’ve shared, I screen the back, I dunno if you can guys can pop it up. So I wanna show you this one. So look, I love this. This is one of Dustin’s stuff, so I’ve got permission for Dustin to share this. So I’ll run you a couple of things just in terms of lettering and I’ll show you actually a lot of thought processes that go behind something like this. And by the time I’ve gone through this, yeah I think you probably will see how much actually goes into it. Okay, <affirmative>. So people tend to read from left to right. So normally that speech bubble there should go here because you start on the left the normal convention. So if you were not just lettering to the rule of law, you would put speech bubble there. That’s a reason I moved it right here because I don’t know if you can kind of see here, and it’s a small figure, it was designed to be in be something that you blink, you miss it, you see that lady there running, I dunno if you can see it.

And because it’s a blink and you miss a scenario, you wanna draw attention to it. So rather than put it to the left where okay, logically that’s where it sits, I put it to the right so that you draw attention to it straight away. And then the next thing you do, because you’re in left to right, you go straight away and you then see her, it says, don’t go in there, I can’t get there fast enough. And then why you split it out here as well is because then you wanna draw attention to the shooter. So you want the eye to kind of go up and then down. And that’s how the speech bubbles work for you. And that logically pulls your eye from that circle. Now if you were just lettering per the script, you would’ve put it there and then you put the words here, which would’ve gone across this way, which would not help the story. So

Leigh Chalker (00:33:35):
When you were writing a script, mate do, cause I I’ve, I’ve never seen one a script, but the way you’re talking and your focus is on motion and lettering boxes and bubbles and stuff like that. When you are writing a script in your mind, have you thumbnails or do you do really descriptive things to get the artist right? Do you make him go back and do heaps of edits? How do you get around that?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:34:04):
I, I’m actually good with that and I look, it takes me a while to get an artist on board. Look, the people I’ve worked with, I’ve worked with for quite a while now. So there’s a lot of artists who I’ve got into do a bit, didn’t quite work out. And again, it’s not nasty, shake hands, you know what didn’t work out, shake hands, we move on with our lives because it’s a little bit that you’ve gotta trust them because it is a collaborative effort. So you’ve gotta trust that they can see what you are seeing and in most cases they can see better than you can as well. So I don’t tend to go over crazy with the thumbnails I do sometimes where it’s important to put certain thumbnails there. I’ll show you my scripts, most of the things I do is important notes. This needs to be included, this needs to be done. And so I do tend to do a lot of that and that’s why it’s for me, it’s trust the artist a lot. Like I said, you gotta trust the people who know what you’re doing can help you out. Similar, how

Leigh Chalker (00:35:07):
Do you find your artists mate? Like oh gosh. And what’s your process of working them through it? Do you give them a couple of splash pages, one page of your script and then you go, oh that person’s cool.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:35:20):
I can tell you my cabin story, which is the one I absolutely love. So Tab the guy who worked on Tabby has worked on five Seconds with Me, has worked on Wordsmith. So I’ll show you guys after all the stuff I’ve done and you’ll see how much of stuff he’s actually worked on with me. And we’ve been working for quite a while now together. So in the much earlier days Facebook wasn’t the huge awesome repository now to find artists. It used to be Dion Art and it used to be various other sources. So what I did, and again because Facebook, the groups and stuff, just they didn’t have that critical mass to be able to put a post out there and get a hundred different replies. I went to a site called Freelancer and it’s a defunct site now, but it was really big at the time. I posted up, look here, this one front of do pay job, blah blah blah. You’ll be required to do one page as a trial. It’s the same page. So I’m not basically, I’m not trying to convince 50 people do my one book. It is the same page. I’m posting up the script for the page here. Part of the submission will be doing that one page.

I think I got close to 150 different people replied to me and I made it point to what you replied to me, I’m gonna reply back to every single one of them. And I did. So I replied to 150 people back, I shortlisted down to 10 talked to them, and I came down to the one person in the end who are hire, which was peer. And I’ve stuck with him for the entire time. Other people which, so for him that was his journey to get to me. Other stuff, like for example Chris, I saw his work and I was going, I love it. And I was lucky enough also to get a when I first worked with Chris I got an arts grant. So it was brilliant because I got an arts grant going, where can I spend the money? I can spend it on Chris. And it was fantastic. So I got him on board for Transhuman. And that’s probably the other thing that probably doesn’t get mentioned much in

Leigh Chalker (00:37:42):
Yeah go like with grants and stuff. I was just gonna say, what sort of grant did you go for, mate? In case there’s other people out there may look for the same thing?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:37:52):
Oh man, if you knew me basically you would see, I sent grants notices out to everybody. The first grant I ever got was what they call a greater partnership grant. And anybody interested reach out to me, reach out to Lay, I’ll send the details through, which was what they call a Match grant, which is basically every dollar you raise, they will match a dollar as well. It’s based in Victoria. And it was actually really cool because they flew me down for a whole workshop and it was a lot of fun. It really was a lot of fun. And I got to meet all this other bunch of creatives and we got to have all this chat and it was fantastic. It was a great opportunity.

I was an alumni for there, so I actually met different people and they invited me back a few times to chat and I loved it, absolutely loved it. There’s a whole stack of grants out there depending on what you’re trying to do. And I would say, and I love it, the Australian government, if you will as a whole is actually really supportive. The next one grant I got was a, cause the third grant, it’s now defunct, but basically that was a popularity grant. You put your project up you got people to vote for it. If you got the most of votes, you got a thousand dollars grant. It was fantastic. That’s actually the first thousand dollars that Tara Olympus ever earned. So it was me and Sean. We were like, we wanna win this. So we were pushing it crazy to get this one grant through.

So Dave, it depends. My go-to font is called Wildwood, which is the same font used by Wild Storm Studios. There is also a font, which I like to use for if it’s a fantasy type fantasy type thing where bit more the rings, longer rings if that you will that’s one called Secret Agent. What I do is then it’s probably no big secret every cyber Monday there’s huge sales on front. You’re talking about 50, 60, 70% off. So I basically went to the sales and I go crazy. I just buy that’s the notices because mainly because a lot of people are letter phone, they come back to me a lots of times. So I do this every year. I’ll go look at all these new toys I have and then basically I just show them all the fonts. I have <laugh>, but I tend to wait to the cyber sales. So when the cyber sales come up, because fonts can, I think for example, the one my go-to font, the Wild Stone font it’s $150 to dollar font. It is expensive. So I just wait and

Leigh Chalker (00:40:41):
They have Easter specials and stuff mate, like buy two fonts, get one free or something.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:40:48):
Sometimes they do. But Cyber Monday, cyber Mondays where everything is half price, that’s the way you just grab all the, you can bargain

Leigh Chalker (00:40:59):
Hunting for fonts.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:41:00):
Exactly. Onto Dave’s other question, I’m gonna share another page.

Leigh Chalker (00:41:05):
So yeah, that was his question about how many comics you got out there

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:41:09):
For. And this is just me doing it individually by the way. So yeah, I don’t let me know when it’s up. So magic share screen works.

Leigh Chalker (00:41:18):
There you go. And it’s there.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:41:21):
So there’s wordsmith. So four of them to that. This is with Chris, which yep, Wolf Carbs, you’ve got Tara Limps, you’ve got Wordsmith Transhuman, Tara Limps. Five Seconds is finished. So I’m actually really happy. I love this story and I’m actually really glad to actually be able to finish it. And I know a lot of people say it’s a dream to actually finish the story. Like Tara Olympus, I’m still probably about four or five volumes away from finishing. What’s Smith Blue was just a once off. And then you have Tabby and this one’s the one that’s coming up. I haven’t launched this one yet, but it’s something that just the second volume of Transhuman, which is,

Leigh Chalker (00:42:03):
It’s huge. That’s not too far away my understanding mate.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:42:07):
Yes and no. So a little bit about Kickstarter, and again, if you are a creator, you don’t have to have your project finished to pre-launch. Like volume two of Transhuman has probably been pre-launch for close to nine months now. Wordsmith fall four and voluntary were in pre-launch for close to a year before I launched it. Mainly because I think pre-launch are very important because basically you’re building up the audience be you’ve got 30 days when you launched a project to try to convince people to back to support it.

Leigh Chalker (00:42:46):

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:42:48):
Wouldn’t be great if you could convince people to be interested in it prior to the launch. So for me it’s all about getting people to hit the notified button, to get interested in the project before you launch it so that when you hit your 30 days, which isn’t a long time, you’ve done a lot of the hard yards for the last nine months, last 10 months. And I think that’s important. If you do all that, it’s time and preparation. The more time you put in the back end, the more successful you be in the front end. And I think a lot of creators, and don’t go to that whole modeling aspect of it, you gotta put the time in, you gotta keep getting the interest up, you gotta keep appealing and it is a hustle. And that’s why everybody who ever backs my things, I am so, so grateful because you guys are basically what makes this all happen. So yeah, like I said, well

Leigh Chalker (00:43:48):
You’re say, well is it the Australian Comics Kickstarter awards? So I’ve watched a lot of your Kickstarters over time and all that. So I would say you’re very well on a level with a successful Kickstarter other than that step there with taking time to promote it and get it out there and get the idea into people’s minds and stuff. For anyone out there that does a Kickstarter hasn’t done a Kickstarter, what are a few steps that you take during the campaign and stuff pre and at after the campaign that makes it so successful?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:44:34):
Number one, you need to have, and this is something which unfortunately some creators don’t. Look, you can create whatever you wanna create and I’m never gonna be grudged at you. It’s your choice. It’s doing something that most people don’t do. So if you have an idea, absolutely go for it. But understand audiences because if your idea is a bit too niche, you gotta find, either you find that niche or people who would what you’re making or you make it a bit more mass appeal. I remember I was reading Sawing one <inaudible>, the artwork is great, everything was fine, but it was a horror comic in regards about amputation. Basically it’s a dystopian future where you basically pay with your body parts. It’s a really scary concept.

Leigh Chalker (00:45:31):
I only <laugh>. Yeah,

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:45:33):
Well no, no. And again it sounded is a great hook and whatever, but I’m, man, I’m squeamish about that things. I’m actually very squeamish about a lot of medicals. For example, in Exorcist, if I’ve, if you ever seen the full uncut version, the parts which when she goes crazy, the Spider Walk and all that, that didn’t scare me at all. That was like, you know what man? Because it is supernatural and it’s a bit over the top, but there’s a whole sequence in Exorcist for about 20 minutes where they run a battery on test on the little girl to see what’s wrong with her because she was just possessed. But is it something, is it supernatural or is it so medical? And they show her getting injected with needles, they show her getting a spinal tap, they show all the stuff. And I lose admit that part was horrible to me because I know it’s not real. I know it’s probably fake skin or whatever, but man, seeing that and seeing her cry when they did those medical procedures on her where kids trying to be brave and doing these medical procedures, that part of it was the, oh my God, that’s the part of Exorcist I cannot watch again. I can watch the end, I can watch it for a while. I can watch all that, whatever. When they went through the medical procedures with her, oh gosh, no that, that’s again,

Leigh Chalker (00:47:02):
I like the exorcist too mate. So do you remember

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:47:06):
That part? Do you remember the part where they

Leigh Chalker (00:47:07):
Know the one you’re talking about?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:47:09):
Oh, when they put the needle into her spine to

Leigh Chalker (00:47:14):
Yeah, <laugh>. And back to step two, the successful Kickstarter <laugh>,

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:47:21):
Oh sorry. So come back in, know your audience now if you did something like that, that you alienate a whole child copy audience, don’t get me wrong, guys like me would never touch that book. Not because it’s bad or it was bad actually I’d say it’s a awesome concept, it’s just not for me. So understand that what you wanna appeal to and what you’re trying to build that’s probably the first thing. And there are a lot of times where you’re gonna go, your idea doesn’t have that appeal. And that’s where having the second person to actually say that sometimes is the right thing to say. Now if you understand that, you go, okay, now that you’ve got this, how do I push it up? What gets at the appeal? If it’s an all ages fantasy, who am I trying to talk to? Because for example, an all ages fantasy, you’re not appealing to the kids, you’re not absolutely not appealing to the kids because unfortunately most kids don’t have credit cards and this is a bit more into the marketing part of it.

They don’t care. You’re appealing to the parents who want the kids to like the book. So you have to use the words along the lines of your kid will love this because it has this, it’s got a moral message and it’s exciting. You’ve gotta know you’re not marketing to the kids, you’re marketing to the kids, your markets or the parents of the kids. That’s the paradigm shift. Understand who you’re actually marketing to because a lot of people say, oh it’s all ages. I want kids to read this and all the rest of it. Great. Why aren’t you talking to the adults? Because the kids, they don’t want the credit cards. It’s the adults of the credit cards. You’ve gotta convince the adults, your kid will love this very, very different power shift. And then once you’ve got that part all done there’s an awesome thing you need what is it all marketing.

And again, I’ve probably got the number you need to see something seven times before you will take an action. So if you need to see something seven times for you, take action. Hey bud. Hey what does that mean? It means God, you gotta keep pushing it out. And in the wall of social media, unfortunately you’re gonna get a lot of trolls come back and go, you know what? This sucks. You suck. Why are you doing this? And it’s tough. So you gotta kind of push back there and try to find the people who go, you know what, this actually doesn’t look too bad. This actually looks really good. And you kind of then build from there. And what I always hope with each kick start and or each town Olympus for each wordsmith, my main goal is for the next one to be better than the last one. To just do that little bit better. I’m not asking for it to go if it goes gangbuster, thank you very much, I appreciate it. But all you really want is that next step, that sense of progress. Talking about AERs though, if I jump back a topic mm-hmm. Shared some things, I’m hope, I’m hoping you guys can bring it up.

Leigh Chalker (00:50:32):
Yep. How did that come about while we’re talking about the AERs mate, what was the thought processes there?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:50:39):
So I was, again, a lot of things that happened, I have to say I’ve just been lucky. Think

Leigh Chalker (00:50:49):
I get it, I get it. It lack thing.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:50:52):
That’s also one thing about they say it’s like if there’s a little the secret, it’s a little bit the universe things, but I do believe in it a little bit. If you push for something and you say this is what you want and you’re constantly pushing direction, luck tends to find you a little bit, which I’m always eternally grateful for. And that’s where the whole secret, the universe, you read that that whole trend of books came through. But what the universe that secret book doesn’t emphasizes is the hard work behind getting the luck to work for you. It’s like they said, every overnight success takes 10 years because most people don’t see that 10 years behind. Look for example, use Justin B for example. You think, oh gosh he posted that one YouTube video up, they loved him and suddenly now he’s this absolute superstar.

How much time did he practice to sing? How many times did he do get the words? You know, no times in the shower was he singing to get his the head space? No. All that passion behind it. And it was that one YouTube video which launched stardom, but how much practice did he do to get that? And so for me as a lot of it is what I’m really totally grateful with things that work out. But if you want things to work out, God, just do it. And what you tend to find is luck tends to follow you a lot. Sorry, quick aside, that’s okay. But in terms of with the Australian Kickstarter, so what was really, really good because what we found out is I was talking to and I’m gonna get her title, the director of publishing and comics outreach, Ariana <affirmative>. So Kickstarter has been very, very good to me.

I freely admit that they’ve been absolutely fantastic to me. And so one of the things that I wanted to do to as a liberal give back was hey look, there’s so many good Australian comics, let’s start recognizing them. And one of the things that was great about the platform is it was all numbers based. So it is very easy for us to go who did the best? Here’s the numbers. So when I was talking to Ariana and we were she’s absolutely fantastic. So we had a couple of chats before this and we’re just talking about stuff that we could improve in the platform, things that we could change, things that she could help with. And the one that really stated to her was that Australian not having all that conventions that the US has, it relies on Kickstarter a lot more than a US creator because if you’re a US creator, there’s basically a common commission on every weekend somewhere in United States.

And I know a lot of people even do the full circuit, they plan it, okay, this weekend I’m here next weekend I’m here. We don’t have that luxury in Sydney, there’s like two every year in the entire year. And so we were talking that we need to recognize things that happened. So what we then did was we decided because Australia, it’s different to the rest of the world. We work off financial years, which is not December to January to December. So we worked off the financial year, which is fine. And the first year was fantastic because Infer Gold red was a hundred thousand dollars plus campaign, I think more than 1000 backers and it the Grow who worked huge. It’s a great guy. And I have to admit half the fun for me to help organize this with Sean, with Kick and Ariana, with Kickstarter to put all this together is I get to talk to all this really, really cool people. I got to talk to the artist for in <inaudible>, her name is Erica there, alsoso really sorry, I got the sur name. Old spelling, I mean the pronunciation. She’s fantastic. And having her, you know can talk and say Hey what do you do about this? I love it. And for example, doorman is a Melbourne creator, mark Dico, just to hear his passion behind the project and it’s fantastic.

So this was the first year we ran it and I have to admit, the first year we ran it, we were a little bit disorganize it disorganized, it was covid year as well. So you can see its 2020. So it was pandemic year. So we had all this ideas in place about trophies and all these things happen. A kickstart said, yeah, we’ll send everybody a swag bag and all the rest of it. Unfortunately it didn’t all work out mainly because I don’t know if you remember, they actually shut the borders down for all mail at one stage from the US if you wanted mail from the US it had to go Korea. I don’t know if you remember it was, yes I do three month period where you just goes, you know what, all meal bottles are shut down <affirmative>. Just when we were trying to organize all the <laugh> prizes

Leigh Chalker (00:56:16):
Right then and there.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:56:18):
So anyway, we let it slide for one year and so I’m really happy. So for this year we actually got, I have say I love how these look so, and this one is hard struck. This is Cody and this is actually his istic startup campaign and he raised the most funds and yeah,

Awesome is there are people who do great comics who aren’t plugged into, and for example, there’s different groups within Australia. You’ve got like you’ve got Gary D and you’ve got people just doing your own thing, which is absolutely cool. But running something like this, it allows me to look through everybody’s campaign and it allows me to talk to all these people. So for me it’s like, I have to admit it’s a huge networking thing for me because I get to meet this really awesome people and talk about their projects with them. So I got to reach out to Cody, we, he’s absolutely fantastic guy. You’re gonna talk about his project, you’re gotta talk about how awesome it was and all the rest of it. And I’m really, really proud. He got the most fund for this year and this year, the first year I said we even got a sponsor, which I was really, really happy with. Thank you. Shout out to comic books and demand for sponsoring and we got to offer everybody a hundred dollar printing voucher as well. So

Leigh Chalker (00:57:48):
Dougie’s a good feller.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:57:50):
Oh, Doug’s fantastic. I love Doug. He is Doug’s the best and the ability to do all these things makes it worthwhile. And I’m really, really glad to be able to recognize some really, really awesome projects. And for me that’s half the fun of it to really see what’s out there. And the great thing about it is, and I’ve talked to Arianna about this, is we automatically consider all your projects. So for me, you don’t need to apply cuz if you want to be considered, basically start a Kickstarter, put it in the comics gallery and make sure your location’s in Australia.

Leigh Chalker (00:58:31):
Yeah. Do we find that Kickstarters booming? Is there a lot of stuff on there for you? Do you think that’s the market in the future?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:58:41):
I will give you numbers. Just pure, pure straight numbers. So Kickstarter in terms of revenue sells more than Marvel and DC in publishing they do. They make more revenue than Marvel n dc It’s crazy. Absolutely crazy numbers. You have Brandon Sanderson, who is a published author raising 41 million for his books, 41 million. You know what I mean? It’s a great platform. And not just that, it allows you to tell stories the way you want to tell stories. And like I said before, you’re trying to find your audience. Audience and like I said, if you went to a publish and things like that and you have an idea that’s important to you, a publisher, go, no, no, no, you gotta tone that down because we are trying to, if you can find your own audience, do whatever story makes you happy. Yeah,

Leigh Chalker (00:59:42):
Yeah. Kickstarter, I suppose with pure creative freedom, is that what you’re saying mate?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (00:59:48):

Leigh Chalker (00:59:49):
Wanna put out there and Yeah, no that’s, that’s good info mate. For people that don’t know anything about Kickstarter or maybe interested in stuff, cause I assume there’s an awful lot of people that do try it for varying reasons and it seems to be a popular commodity. When you say figures like that, I can totally 100% see why, mate, it’s but look, congratulations to the do you call them the AKAs or do you like the Actors

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:00:22):
<laugh>. So it’s Australian, so you know what, that’s go <laugh>. It was intentional <laugh>, it was intentional. We were bucking around with the name a little bit and I going, oh gosh, we have to put Kickstarter there somewhere. Better put comics in there somewhere. And it kind of just fell in place because there were certain keywords we wanted was Australian there, we wanted the comics in there, we wanna kick started there and we just go, what a it is. And we love it and I’m really happy for these guys who free Paul Comics look

Leigh Chalker (01:01:03):
Free Four,

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:01:04):
And I keep saying this, my absolute, absolute favorite award from the AERs and is the newcomer award because the award’s given out to the best performing comic project, which has only one project to its name. So it, it’s what I mean, it’s knew someone new to the platform last year. Went to two guys as well for Awaken and they did a fantastic, fantastic job. But I’m really, really happy it’s gone to Lucas and Brian. They both great guys. And Lucas and Brian and I’ve talked to them for a while, they’ve been trying to build this one C up four ages and they’ve done it and just to get it finished and get it out there. Look guys, and to be the best performing newcomer dude, all props to them

Leigh Chalker (01:02:01):
Purely you’d have, do you, would you to take things I guess cuz you’ve come a long way in seven years from what you’re saying and you’ve learned a hell of a lot. Where do you envision yourself in the next seven years? Do you see the act as being bigger? Do you see your comic books get not just in the libraries but getting into anime and all that sort of stuff? What’s your overarching goal mate?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:02:33):
I want it all to be, was a look in terms of the a and I am very cognizant of what it is mainly because it’s kickstart and I think last year there was 60 projects in consideration so that a, that’s a sizeable amount of projects, about 60 <affirmative>. So imagine if there was 60 competitors. I think you knows a decent amount. The one thing which I would love to see and talking to Kickstarter with trying to do this, we wanna get it for next year to be a hundred projects because we wanna show the viability of the platform for you guys to bring ideas up. It’s such a good platform to show legitimacy in terms of if you can prove, for example my words, we have had 500 people back in I, I’m blown away, I don’t have 500 friends, you know what I mean? And to have 500 people,

Leigh Chalker (01:03:38):
Your Facebook page says different sk

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:03:41):
<laugh>, oh no <laugh>, your numbers

Leigh Chalker (01:03:45):
Are well above that.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:03:47):
I add everybody I I’m going, you know what? Accept, accept, accept, accept. But I mean it’s like to be able to get that, I love it. And in terms of building that platform, it is fantastic. So I would like to see it grow. One of the things which would be an absolute pipe dream and I’ve talked to, I’m trying to make this happen is to get somebody from Oriental or someone who kicks out to fly down to Australia at a Super Nova and os ComicCon and actually do the presentation in one of those things, that would be my absolute highlight. And then we could live stream it. We could have cameras or that would be, that’s where I wanna see it go. And I wanna see reach a point where it becomes a viable publishing tool where it becomes, you know what, this is how you get your stories up.

And I want that to reach that stage where, you know what it, it’s real no longer just, there are a sense that it’s not a value project, it’s a viable platform for us to tell stories. And that’s where I wanna see it. In terms of my own work, oh gosh sky’s the limit man. I would love a movie option. I would love an animated option. I love anything and it’s a tough journey and I’ve start enrolled into quite a bit of that and I just got all the fingers crossed and I just hope for that what it is. You get the a hundred nos that they don’t matter, it’s the one yes. That’s what I’m hoping for and I really just hoping for that one yes to come along and go, you know what, let’s do it. And that’s all I want to hear that let’s do it. Yeah. So

Leigh Chalker (01:05:41):
You’re a hard working man. I’ve got a quick question for you too. Going all the way back to little sk and you were saying you know like your Batman comic books and stuff. What other frame of comic books were you reading as a young fellow mate and what do you even read up to now

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:06:05):
I, when I was a kid, I read everything. You named it, I read it I read Neil Sad Man, I read a lot of the really puy amazing. I read the original Stanley Lee ones, I loved it. I don’t know, but Betty Brand was his first loved interest and they never, ever, everybody goes Gwe, Stacy or Betty Brand was the first one. Been a trivia look, I read it all and it, it’s fantastic. Quick aside, the Sandman Netflix adaptation, I loved it. I thought it was really, really good and the comics are fantastic and just to see how they built on the story and how they develop stuff, it’s fantastic and it’s the love of that storytelling and understanding that you know what, not everything has to be high literature. You could have your poppy fun stories as well. And that’s why I suppose if you look at the stuff I do, the genre rage is so big because there are books which I write, which what? Don’t think about it. Come along for the ride, don’t think too much about it. There are some stuff I ride, which goes what? Have a think about it, have a consideration and I wanna be able to do both. And it’s absolutely fantastic that I’ve had the opportunity to do multiple things. I’ve had the opportunity to ghost for people, I’ve had the opportunity to do different writing assignments. You know what wouldn’t change, it just, it’s fantastic.

Leigh Chalker (01:07:50):
I’ll tell you what, you have had a busy seven years mate. My God. The thing that I’ve always noticed about you mate is your passion for creativity and all the things that you’ve involved in. That’s definitely clear tonight. There’s no doubt about that. And I’ve, yeah, been lucky enough to see that in the past. So you must have a huge fire pit burning in there. But to keep yourself all fired up and stuff, stuff cuz it’s great to see you doing it mate. What I always like to, as we start winding down a show, the one question I always like to ask creatives and everyone involved in comic books, it’s been on the show so far. What is the one or two pieces of information that you would give to the world that’s listening or may listen further down the track? What’s your one, the sage piece of advice that you’ve learnt in your time on

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:08:55):
Number one time is short. So do what brings you joy? And it sounds the most cliche lady, but seriously do what especially on the creative journey, the creative journey as a whole. You’re doing this to get some enjoyment out of it. If you’re not and I’ll give the example about the Eric Villa lettering. If that’s not your passion, why are you doing that part of it? Do what part of it makes you happy and do what and give the part of the thing to somebody else that makes them happy. I’ll be really honest with you, if you probably, I don’t know you’ve seen, I actually done a lot of videos talking just specifically about letter. I show full examples and why I do certain things and full in depth explanations. I love it. I absolutely love, I think it’s one of the most underrated art forms and it’s the most, and I love it when people don’t notice it cuz I’ve done the absolute perfect job.

If you don’t my letter saying that though, it’s something I’m passionate about. So I actually have people come and ask me how do I get started? And the first thing I say to them is, do you really wanna know this? Or you trying to and it sounds a bit bad, but are you trying to save some money by doing it by yourself or are you interested in it? And if somebody says, I just can’t afford a letter, you knows, just do say so. I said, that’s absolutely fine. Absolutely no problem with that. Do what everybody can do what they need to do. But I always say to them, look, if you are I, it’s actually better for you to go and work do it a part-time job and get a couple of hours down under your belt and pay a letter that actually enjoys what they do than for you to try to do it yourself and hate it.

And the problem is when you hate something, it does show up in your creative work. Because I’ve seen a lot of people who have letter and you can tell there’s no love there. And it’s not that they don’t love the comic that they make. It’s not that they don’t love the creative thing, they have no passion for lettering and you see it, okay, what’s the fastest way I can do it? Oh, empty space here Chuck. Oh do I split the sentence up to make it look good, not one big blob. And you see it and straight away that they were going doing it the most efficient way they could and they’re doing it to get the job done. How told there’s different rules left to right, don’t cover people’s spaces, there’s wholesale rules and you’re doing not to break any rules, but you’re just doing as quickly as you can and you can tell, you can hundred percent tell that that’s the case. And so my one basic thing is do what makes, gives you joy. And the creative process is large enough in terms of chronic creating. For example I do a lot of life drawing. So in all younger Steve’s day I went to lot life drawing classes and I loved it. I absolutely love I don’t have you done life drawing before

Leigh Chalker (01:12:03):
Myself? Yeah, no I I’ve not done it. No, no.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:12:07):
Go find a course and do it. It is one of the best things is where they’re going, okay, you have two minutes pose, you go crazy. Two minutes pose. That brings me a lot of joy. You ask me to draw a page and I’ll go, oh God no. Absolutely not. God no, please don’t make me do that because I find it, and again this is just me, I find it very stiff. I find it, oh gosh, this is not fun. I couldn’t read this crap. I gotta think about poses, I gotta think about, oh no, but when are I’m drawing? Drawing The person there is real. When you can interact with that person and the instructor say, okay guys, do you want him left? Do you want him walking? What do you want me to do? And having that old interaction, that type of drawing brings me a lot joy. So I will do that. I will not draw a comic page because it number one, I’ll just hate it. And not just that when you hate it, you look at mean, I’ve tried drawing comic when I look at it and you know what, I hate this. I drew it. Yuck. Didn’t have fun doing it. And absolutely hate the result doesn’t bring you joy. So if in terms of creating, do what brings you joy and that will make you happy.

Leigh Chalker (01:13:22):
Well that’s great advice mate. I think for anyone, just always be happy mate. What we like is positivity. Nas Kate, before we head off mate and wrap it up, where can anyone out there that’s listening find your comic books to be able to buy, mate? Where can they get ’em from?

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:13:39):
Okay, look, I’m really, really lucky. So look I use Kickstarter if to basically crowdfund the initial always pay your artist <laugh>, pay your creatives number one. So I

Leigh Chalker (01:13:53):

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:13:55):
Absolutely pay if you use them, pay them just that’s it.

Leigh Chalker (01:13:59):
A hundred percent

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:14:00):
Done. Yeah. Anyway, so I use crowd funding to basically offset a lot my things, but I’m actually really lucky if you are in Australia, go to any library you should be able to find any of my books there without too much trouble. Facebook it’s Sick Mate studio. And I’ll put that in the private chat and then you guys can share it out. But it’s on my website, just check it out. Everything is there and I usually stand out this. Then if you guys wanna reach out to me, anybody you ask questions, absolutely reach out. I will do my best to answer. I’ll do my best to have a chat with you. And I’m on the notion that a rising tide raises all boats. Like I said, I wanna see a hundred or more different Kickstarters for next year. We had 60 last year. If you have a good idea, let’s bring it on. Let’s bring that 60 to a hundred, let’s get the a hundred to 200. I wanted to reach a point where an Australian Kickstarter as a platform raises more money, more revenue, then some publishes here. That would be my absolute dream. Like Kickstarter raises more money than Marvel and dc.

Leigh Chalker (01:15:14):
Yeah, yeah.

Stephen ‘Es Kay’ Kok (01:15:15):
How amazing is that, that you have all these people making more revenues. Yeah, I love it. So come on to Kickstarter and I know I’ve been advocating them a lot, but they are absolutely fantastic platform.

Leigh Chalker (01:15:30):
Oh mate, you’re you are one of the head hon. Shows of the hackers, mate. So kickstart is the thing. All right, well s Kate, thank you very much mate for being on this evening. Awesome. It’s lovely to talk to you. Haven’t seen you in a while, so I’m glad that we’re caught up again and to have this chinwag. So look I’m Lee, don’t forget that. Chinwag through the comics network and thank you very much for Shane. Monday night Aussie verse Tuesday night, chinwag, Wednesday night coming up will be the return of the Oz Comics show and Friday night is drink and draw and this week is the Joker. So make sure you get your drawings into the links and into the come site. So be involved and thank you everyone for watching, listening, and we’ll see you next Tuesday with Mr. Danny Nolan and excellent guys community as Unity. Thank you.

Voice Over (01:16:29):
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