If you are a comic lover looking for a publisher with style and substance, look no further than Bluewater Productions.
This Washington-based company specializes in producing comics from all walks of life, with a mission to entertain all of their readers.
Owner Darren Davis sat down and talked to Indie Reader to discuss his company, its growth over the past thirteen years, and plans for the future.
IR: For those who don’t know tell us about your Bluewater Productions publishing company?
Darren Davis: Bluewater Productions brings forth a diverse library of titles and talent to the table, with stories that range from classic myths, science fiction and superheroes to Hollywood legends such as William Shatner, Roger Corman, Adam West, Julie Newmar, Ray Harryhausen and Vincent Price.
We also re-imagine classic titles like “Logan’s Run”, ” SE Hinton’s Puppy Sister”, “Lionsgate’s Leprechaun” and more.
Bluewater is a fresh voice in comic publishing. We have now broken into biography comics with our titles “Fame”, “Female Force”, “15 Minutes” and “Political Power”.
IR: How did your company start out?
DD: Since college, I have worked in the entertainment industry. From E! Entertainment Television to Lionsgate. It is what I wanted to do with my career until DC Comics decided to double my salary. From there I started working as a sales person for their custom publishing department. I left after a couple years and formed my own company representing the top comic book artist like Joe Mad, Andy Park, Adam Hughes, Randy Green and a ton more. I was lucky to get to work with these amazing talented people. I saw these people create these amazing projects and thought I would throw my hat into the ring.
I am great at marketing and art direction. I came up with the 10th Muse and it launched at the 6th highest selling comic book. I hired, Marv Wolfman to write it for me and hired a Top Cow artist to do the art. We also used Rena Mero from the WWE to be the photo model. We made sure that the book was solid with or without the photo model. From there I created more like “Legend of Isis” and “Judo Girl”. I started publishing my titles at Image Comics and went to Alias after that. When Alias went under, I took the plunge and decided to self publish. We have been doing this for about 6 years now and loving it still – sometimes!
IR: What services do you provide and what products are you most proud of?
DD: I will always be proud of the “10th Muse” because she is the flagship of my creations. We work with a lot of licensed titles – but we make sure never to do adaptations. With “Logan’s Run” we showed and told the story closer to the novel rather than the film. The creator William F. Nolan is pretty vocal about not loving the film and we brought it to life in his vision. We also did the same thing with William Shatner. We make sure that the people we work with are part of the creative process, because not only is it fun to work with them – but the fans can see the bit of extra in it. We did a lot of this with Ray Harryhausen and loved my experience working with him on the titles.”
DD: It’s funny, I have been doing comic books for the last 13 years on my own and now people only recognize us for the biography comic books we do. It seems like they overshadow or forget that we do tons of fiction. When you do a Hillary Clinton comic book – the national press covers it. I know how to market a book to the masses. But sometimes, these hurt us – because people view us as sellouts – when actually they saved our company. Comic sales for fiction books were dwindling and we needed something – so we did a Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton comic book. That one did really well, not only because of who they were but the type of story we told. We took a female empowerment angle to them and developed the “Female Force” line of comic books. These feature women that have made a difference in the world. You might not like them, but we show them all with respect. Because of my background in entertainment, I knew the power of celebrity – so yes we do comic books on Justin Bieber and the cast of Twilight.
I was a huge fan of Teen Beat magazine growing up and these are fun. They also are a tool to get kids reading. Some of these titles are taught in schools for reluctant readers (which I was one of them). We also do a ton fun fiction stuff like and updated version of Dorian Gray, Juliet and more. We have had a couple things optioned as film like “Nanny & Hank” & “Insane Jane”.
IR: Who are some of the creators you have signed to your company and where did you find them?
DD: We work with William Shatner, Roger Corman, William F. Nolan, Bill Mumy, SE Hinton, John Saul, Adam West, Julie Newmar, the Vincent Price estate and more. We contacted most of these people and asked to work with them – they were excited to be a part of the comic book world. You would be surprised that we just asked them and they said yes. We also work with a huge amount of freelancers who are amazing talents.
DD: We just started our first campaign with Indiegogo (it’s similar to Kickstarter). It is my first time doing crowd funding and my last. I do not think I have the patience to do another one. It is a lot of work and reminds me of when I was a kid going door to door selling magazines. I honestly lost one friend from doing this. You think working with a bestselling novelist, an amazing artist and writer would be a slam dunk – but it is hard work getting people to fund it. The project is based off Julie Kagawa’s best selling YA novel – “the Iron King”.
DD: The digital world is taking over and we embraced this over a year ago – so we are a little ahead of the curve. We hope to keep growing that way too – we have over 700 back catalog titles, we are trying to get out. It is a lot of work getting them onto different platforms. We will continue to do unique titles and biographies. I work really hard and promote all our titles. I am always tweeting or doing some sort of social media. That is a big thing now to get the word out about your books.
IR: Anything else you would like to add?
DD: Being an indie has its struggles and I have had an opportunity to do books for the majors and turned it down. I love the little niche world I have created and really would not change much. It’s a fun world to be creative it at the end of the day it is a business. Sometimes, I take things too personal because we are a small company. When we do get attacked by people on the internet—there is so much false info out there on us, like us being sued by Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber—I have learned not to fight back anymore. It just fuels the fire and I also have learned that everything I read is not always the truth. I am very passionate and frank about who I am and people sometimes take that as odd. I am HIV positive and did a book about my experiences about it called “Lost Raven” – so I tend to tell it like it is in my world. Sometimes I am a little blunt and tell too much – but at the end of the day – that is me.