According to The Comic Book Data Base website, Erica J. Heflin has bounced between the fields of animal care and comics all her life. She has worked as a screenwriter and producer for independent films, and in 2011 joined Grayhaven Comics as a writer and editor for their comic series THE GATHERING (with Amanda Rachels on art). She is also the writer, editor and publisher at Felinx Publications (www.readwebcomics.com). She most recently completed THE ENVY for Aazurn Publishing, to be released in August (available through the June Previews catalog). A review of THE ENVY was posted on the BC Refugees website (see archives for June 14, 2013). We had a short conversation with Erica recently regarding THE ENVY and her works . . . . . . . .
ABOVE PHOTO: THE GATHERING creative team. Amanda Rachels on the left. Erica J. Heflin on the right
BC REFUGEES: After doing a little research, I see that you have quite a hand in the indie comics business. Is this a full-time endeavor for you, a part-time income producer, or just a hobby/dream?
ERICA J HEFLIN: I would consider work on my own indie comics as a part-time endeavor. I love the collaborative process of comic creation, but also have a deep love for my main career which is rooted in animal care and rehabilitation. With comics I've been graced with the ability to not just work on my own material, but to assist other indie creators with their projects. Playing a part in helping make someone's dream become a reality can turn comic work into a full-time process, but the end rewards are undeniable.
BCR: Anyone who wants to sample your work has several outlets to choose from - - your web site for Felinx, Alterna Comics through Comixology (digital) , and Chronographer through Grayhaven Comics (print). Understanding that Beatty's (Gary Scott Beatty of Indie Comics) business model involves having the creators pay for the printing costs, etc. - - what were the reasons that led you to publish THE ENVY through Aazurn? (Beatty’s company) It seems like you had other options.
EJH: I really enjoy getting my work out through different publishers. In order to create a dynamic fan base, I think it's important to move to assorted publishers who employ different means of promotion, have different contacts, and so forth. Additionally, I've published a story in ICM previous to publishing THE ENVY and had great success.
BCR: I'm guessing that your favorite genre to work in is horror/dark fantasy. Where did the idea for the story of THE ENVY come from?
EJH: Actually the concept for THE ENVY evolved from the concept of the monster. The monster is rooted in classical mythology. I'm a long-time classics fan I often revisit the masters, and thus a single line description of a monster was the spark behind the concept.
BCR: Did you consider or try shopping THE ENVY around to various comics publishers before going the "semi-self publishing route" through Aazurn?
EJH: I did not. THE ENVY was produced to be published through Aazurn alone. When Gary Beatty sent out the information regarding one-shot production I decided that if I had a solid concept that I would love to publish through Aazurn. Our previous business relationship really encouraged me to take on the project.
BCR: Who do you consider your major influences on your work?
EJH: On this particular piece I would have to say that I was influenced by one of my favorite artists, Amanda Rachels, and some previous unrelated discussions we've had about the horror genre. I'm also heavily influences by Japanese and Korean horror.
BCR: Do you read any mainstream comics? Any favorites?
EJH: I read entirely too many comics, but as of late I've been enjoying publications outside of the Big Two the most. Terry Moore's RACHEL RISING is my current favorite book, while Image is pushing out a big pile of incredibly fascinating books. I'm always willing to take a gamble on new and unusual titles that Image releases.
BCR: What are you presently working on?
EJH: I've had to dial back my efforts due to some medical complications, but I continue to work on assorted projects for Grayhaven Comics. I've also recently seen the successful funding of FLESH OF WHITE Issue #2 via a Kickstarter campaign.
BCR: Do you have any advice to give aspiring comics creators?
EJH: I often see writers distressed that they have a grand idea that artists cannot tackle for back end payment. My suggestion is that you start smaller. Work on assorted anthology projects and get to know your collaborators. You have to build relationships before you can build a comic, and you need to demonstrate that you have the drive and talent to tackle something on a greater scale.
BCR: Is there a question you are waiting and hoping an interviewer would ask you? Here's your chance to reveal both question and answer.
EJH: I like to talk about other people's work more than my own, so I'd love to be asked "What other up-and-coming comic writers should we keep an eye on?"
I've had the pleasure of working with entirely too many talented men and women since stepping up to work in indie comics. There are two writers, however, whose work continues to blow me away. They're the writers whose names I'd stick on a pull list and say "anything written by them."
Their names are Travis M. Holyfield and Sean Leonard. Both have one-shots that will be released through Grayhaven in the next year, but I am certain you'll see their names attached to a variety of fascinating projects through other companies soon.