I was stoked when Charles Glaubitz reached out to me a few years ago. He asked me about the magazine I used to edit, and my response was that it had run its course but the self-published and signed copy of Crystal Sigil I bought from him at Comic-Con in 2010 was a prized possession that left a lasting impression on me. (Number 8 in an edition of 70!) We kept in touch and, more recently, he asked for my address and proceeded to send me his first release by Fantagraphics.
On the title page he jotted a note thanking me for reviewing his indie comic, adding that it had a role in the brand-new book I was holding. Wow. Sometimes I’ll jokingly say that Giant Robot magazine came and left like a fart in the wind, but a statement like that makes the waft smell pretty special!
I should mention that Starseeds is an incredible read. Cracking it open reminded me of being a teenager and having my mind blown by VHS tapes of psychedelic movies like Eraserhead, Zardoz, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, not to mention surreal Krazy Kat comix or Jack Kirby’s pop-art forays into the Negative Zone. How could I not ask Charles a few questions about it?
How did you go from self-published comics to Fantagraphics?
My friend Jacob Covey is a designer and art director for them. I sent him my finished book asking him if he would be interested in designing it to self publish, and he forwarded everything to an editor friend who he loved it. I think he called it “a tour de force of visual imagination.” From there we planned of doing a 500-page first volume, but that made the book very expensive so we decided to do smaller books. The whole story is about 1,400 pages in five volumes.
The plot is wild, pitting otherworldly Illuminati against the universe and reality itself. Do you trip yourself out when you read the first published volume?
I have only read parts of it since it has been published, but I do trip out when I read it. I kinda get sucked into the experience of the art and words.
Did you know how the story was going to unfold or did it just flow out if your head and hands?
The story started with ideas I wanted to narrate, a beginning, and an end. From there, I developed the in-between stuff and let the characters and plot develop to reach the end. Starseeds was two separate stories that I blended together–the first being the Crystal Sigil and the second, Secret Societer.
Are you into weird movies like Heavy Metal, El Topo, and Zardoz? Because I feel like I am in that sort of world when I read your comics.
Yes, absolutely. I love Jodorowsky’s work. It is very enigmatic, mystical, and transcendent. I haven’t watched Heavy Metal or Zardoz in a long time, but I watch a lot anime. I love Kaiba from Masaaki Yuasa as well as Ping Pong. I find them very magical.
Do you listen to music when you draw? I was thinking the Heavy Metal soundtrack, Fucking Champs, or Earthless…
Yeah, I do listen to music when I work: Tommy Guerrero, Daft Punk, Girlpool, Massive attack, Stereolab, Chicano Batman, Ramona and Jardín (Tijuana bands)… Kavinsky Nightcall seems to repeat a lot. When I work late at night, I listen to Coast to Coast AM.
I am gonna check out the bands you mentioned.
Does drawing and storytelling come easily to you? Have you been making comics for fun since you were a little kid or is it an art that you have been torturing yourself with for your entire lifetime?
It is something that is natural. I drew comics as a kid, and I have always told stories in my art work. Each series that I produce is a part of the narrative, may it be painting, drawings, etc., in a gallery setting. I thought that the audience would gravitate toward the narrative as it unfolded in my art and shows, and started making comics in 2010 with all the narrative from my gallery work.
I know a little bit about Tijuana bibles, lucha libre comics, and translated Marvel and D.C. comics in Mexico, but is there an underground, indie, or art school burnout scene too?
Growing up in Rosarito, I was pretty isolated from anything underground and read mainstream superhero comics–mostly Marvel. My mother had a pharmacy and I would read the translated comics from the stand. My father worked in San Diego, so every Friday he would stop by a comic shop and get me a bunch of books every week for years.
So when do we get to read the next volume of Starseed? Is there a schedule for the remaining books?
I am hoping to get the next chapter out around the same time next year, if not early summer. All I gotta do is keep on schedule and we should have a book every year…