Join us as we chat with Georges Jeanty from KabaLounge. Georges has worked on tons of projects for clients including DC Comics and Marvel. In this episode we chat about the business of being a commercial illustrator, how to work with different types of creative people, Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and how technology affects creative industries.
Luis: Hello, and welcome to the Sendlio podcast. My name is Luis.
Brandon: And I'm Brandon.
Luis: And today we have Georges Jeanty of KabaLounge, tremendous illustrator. How
you doing today, Georges?
Georges: I'm doing well. Thank you guys for the invite.
Luis: Oh no problem. I t's good to have you glad to have you. So where are you coming to us from?
Georges: I am in the lovely, sunny city of Atlanta, Georgia...
Luis: Well sunny today.
Luis: So, you know we're also kind of displaced. Brandon's up in Vermont. I'm also, as you know, out in Atlanta. So, we thought it would be really interesting to have you on today especially because we really talk to a lot of business people and I think the idea of artistry and business really, uh, it's such an important crossroads that doesn't really get touched upon. You either touch one or the other, you know, but finding out about both and how they kind of work in conjunction with each other so...
Georges: Yeah. I think any business, really, or any profession, really, there's a business side to it. And I think more so with the entertainment side, which is probably where I fall into, a lot of people don't see that as clearly. Because you're being entertained, you don't realize, like show business, there is a business to that show you're doing. Same with illustrator and, you know whatever you do, there is that business element to it. So yeah,it's always good to talk about it not just, like, oh how cool, did you ever meet this celebrity or whatever, but actual you know, what's the... what do you do on your taxes and things like that.
Brandon: So much fun.
Luis: But that's, like, that's that's the most important thing. Taxes are fun though.
Georges: I don’t know what taxes you’ve been doing.
Brandon: Yeah, I don’t know if I'd say fun.
Luis: So tell us a little bit about being an illustrator. So, I know you've spent so many years doing this, so what does it take to be an illustrator? Like, how did you get into that?
Georges: Uh, some people will say it takes a little bit of talent, and a lot of perseverance, which, apparently I have a lot of one and not so much of the other. It's just really… I think, again, anything in the arts, f you're an actor, if you're a dancer, if you're an illustrator, whatever you do it's something where that creativity flows from you and it's by.... a lot of cases it's a talent, yes, but it's a talent that you definitely have to work at. It's not just, whereas I'm an artist, yes I don't just sit around, or sit at the beginning of the day take a pencil in my hand and then put it on the paper and say here this is my art that rivals Michelangelo or something like that. That’s never the case. I t's, I think, most people who are creative and and, I know, Luis, you could speak to this, um, it's just something you sort of got to find it, and then force it out. A lot of the times it comes out willingly, but then sometimes you really have to force it, and find that particular groove with it, and that's the same with being an illustrator. That you just kind of have to… yeah I think if you do something every day the ability gets a lot easier, but when you just do it every now and again calling upon that ability, to me, is a little more difficult.
Brandon: That makes a lot of sense. Actually, you know, Luis and I met through playing music together…
Brandon: So, yeah, I'm seeing a lot of parallels here. Like I know when I'm writing a song and I sit down sometimes it just flows naturally and sometimes I sit down to write a song and it's just… there's nothing. And I'm just like, okay I have to be more programmatic about it, right? Like start making lists of things that I could... you know, topics that I could write about and things like that. Do you have, like, a process when you sit down to, you know? I mean I guess a lot of your work, like, people expect certain things to be coming out of it. It's not just total creative freedom, right?
Georges: Right, right.
Brandon: Yeah, do you have a process to kind of force that out?
Georges: Especially when you work for other people because a lot of the art that I do, I have clients, you know. Right now it so happens I have marvel comics as a client, and I have to actually perform for them or put work out. And I think as musicians you guys can attest to this probably, one of the worst feelings in the world is when you have to perform and you just don't feel it. Like, there is no creativity flowing from you. But, you know, in my case, or you guys you might have to lay down some tracks today and it has to be today whether or not you feel in it, and it's flowing. That doesn't matter, you actually have to do that. And to me that's always been the worst feeling in the world, to have to draw when you don't want to. Because then you're forcing that thing that's usually there and you're like, oh this is something I'd do for free, but when you have to do it, man, it's always awful.
Luis: Yeah it's funny, because I find, like, whenever I've had to do something forced like that, I'll feel terrible about it. And like in in the sense of like... a connection sense, you know, and the idea of fun and whatever... performance. But then like the actual execution, just because you've been doing it for so long, you don't realize that the execution is still pretty good. And then really like you're having a sentiment about a situation more than what it is and you're kind of projecting this ill feeling about it.
Luis: Does that, like, with your stuff… so you're a commercial artist, so really you have strict parameters but what kind of freedom do you have within those parameters? Because, you know, you can be a studio guy and all that kind of stuff, but you there is a certain way... like, they're coming to you for a reason. There's a way that you draw things or a way that you have a perspective on things that they see. Is there that kind of freedom for you in that?
Georges: Well usually, and I'm sure it's similar with you guys, people will come to me because they can't draw, for one thing. So they are like, hey I want this illustration for my business… uh which I've done a couple of storefront signs back in the day and I did one for an ice cream company once, and they were like, well, we want this image, and of course the guy asking was the proprietor and the owner and whatnot and he was not an artist. So he kept saying... yeah and they give you, like, I'm sure with music, they give you these keywords: I want it to be fun, and catchy, and this... and that's how with the illustration. It's the same way so you're supposed to take these, really, these feelings... they're not really visible in any sense, and I have to create that, and take that, and make it visible. And with this ice cream storefront, it was just that, where they were asking, hey you know we want it to look festive, and we want it to look happy, and we want people to want to buy ice cream. So, I try and take that, and I, personally, I kind of get what you're saying, and I try to give you back a couple of examples like. here, this is from what you were telling me, these are the key words, and I visually give back… this is what I think visually you were saying to me. And I'm sure with you guys it's like, here this is musically what I think you were telling me. Um, so usually that's always a good starting point to go from. Like, okay so now that they have an idea of what something could potentially look like, and it's never going to be the thing you do at first. It's always something where you see this, and go okay I like this I like that, I don't like that, and then you build upon it. And it's the same with art, you just go through a lot of drafts, like people who write scripts, they go through a lot of drafts when they do that. So you refine what you're doing for the client who, in many cases is… it always kills me when somebody says I don't know what I want, but I'll know it when I see it, right? And you're going, okay, so I don't know how I'm supposed to...
Luis: What does that mean?
Brandon: I hope they pay hourly.
Georges: Well then that's the business side of it. You have to ask yourself how long does that take to give you something that you don't know what you want? And hopefully you'll see this…
Georges: You'll understand that, hey if we keep doing this then, yeah, I'm going to keep charging you because, you know usually the business angle is, you know, you pay me for the initial and then anything more that's just an added expense.
Brandon: So I guess, um, you know, this is kind of like when we're building software for people and stuff, you know, setting expectations and keeping people in the loop through every stage is so important, because when you're working on a big project the last thing you want to do is get to the end and they go, well that that wasn't what I was talking about.
Georges: Exactly. Especially when they're spending their money. You don't want people to feel like, oh you're just screwing me over because, you know, you led me on for the last week and this is nothing what I thought was going to be. Well, I'm keeping you in the loop every step of the way and that's where it can be very rewarding and very much a headache because some people who I also get that, well you know I don't know how to draw but I think this should look a little more like this or this should look a little more like this, and you're like, honestly yeah you don't know what you're saying because making it look like that is something totally different than what we were talking about initially. So, yeah, you kind of have to wrestle with a lot of personalities.
Luis: Yeah, everybody wants to put their own spin on it, you know. That's really what it comes down to. And then even, like, I can imagine even working with major companies right I'm sure there's still that kind of element too, right, because there's some sort of expectation for… Like, let's say you're you're fleshing out a character for them, right, that they sent to you. I mean and from what I understand about comic books is that, you know, there's so many iterations of of characters, like, over the years there's different versions of these things, so, like, has there ever been a situation where you felt something... like you, know okay they gave you this model, you built it, you gave it back to them, and they were like, ah we need to, you know hit it again.
Georges: Yeah, yeah.
Luis: How does that work for you? How do you take that? How do you work that into your time?
Georges: Well this is a case because it... I think it does become more important, because as an artist what you're drawing, in theory, is going to go on to looking like that for years to come. An example: a couple of years ago, or some years ago, I worked for DC, and they were creating, in the Wonder Woman camp, they had this little girl who was slowly becoming more like a Wonder Woman. She was being given powers by the greek gods and she, kind of, needed a costume, but she didn't want a costume that was, kind of, Wonder Woman. They wanted more a costume that looked like it was every day because she was today, I guess back then she was a 2000 girl, and they wanted to reflect that. Whereas Wonder Woman's costume was made back in the 30s. So, and you can definitely see how that might look dated. So, it's one of those things where they don't mind telling you yes or no, or even the littlest thing like, well no the zippers on the jacket need to be a little higher, or stupid little things like that... you wouldn't think, because this is something where they know once we've locked it down, you know, it's almost like building a car. This is what that model is going to look like and everybody who's going to draw it after me, or for years to come is going to have to go from this particular model. And, yeah, they can get very picky and however long it takes, it will take, and you're sitting there going, really we're gonna do this just because there are five buttons instead of four buttons, you know. It's those little subtleties where you're kind of like…
Brandon: So in that sort of direction, I guess, you know how do characters, like, how do they evolve over time? Because you know I look back at, man, when I was a kid, you know, collecting x-men comics and stuff like that, and, you know, all of the all of the characters, they didn't really look the same in, you know, back then as they would now, as in 20 years before that. Is that just different artists interpretation of that model or is that something that actually evolves over time?
Georges: Yeah there was an odd shift maybe 25 years ago, 30, almost 30 years ago now, a lot of what art, and certainly in comic books, were very much a writer's medium. I mean, it's a visual medium ultimately because you can't tell how good a book is until you read it, but you can tell whether or not you like the art by just looking at it, right? So about 30 years ago there was this, what they call the image invasion, and it was a bunch of artists who started to really interpret things in their own style. And those styles, multiple styles, became very very popular. And the comic book business sort of shifted from a writer's business into an artist's business, so a lot of those artists, just in their own style, they were just utilizing their own style, and interpreting it the way they wanted to. And everybody in the companies were okay, because they were selling massive amounts of books because of these particular styles of artists. Of course ironically a lot of the artists that came after them started drawing in the very same style. So it quickly became that particular style that you were looking at rather than a mishmash of styles coming into the medium.So yeah, I think a little bit after that it then became, again, another writer's medium, and I think the renaissance that we're in now is very much an artist's medium, where people are interpreting their style. Like, everybody knows what Superman looks like, and you can draw Superman, and there used to be a very strict way about doing that, and now it's really very much a free-for-all, because one artist's style might look a little different than the other artist, and they're okay with it. I think, I hate to say it, the idea of selling a book, and the force of the almighty dollar has really persevered in comics, and anything that sells right now is what people will do. So if somebody's drawing Superman in a particular way where you're like, wow that looks kind of weird, I don't know that I would have done that, now it's okay because if that guy is popular and that book is probably selling a tremendous amount of copies. So they've left that, the template of a style, and now it's very much the artist’s style today.
Luis: It's interesting that seems to be, like, the major force in all art today, you know. Really, I think Brandon and I have talked about this especially because, you know, we're doing the marketing thing and we have our platform, so we really get into these conversations with that. But the idea that people are data driven when it comes to art right now. Everything is, like, really focused on that idea that it's market sales, and it's the branding, and all these kinds of things that are driving the artistry. It's weird because I feel that new creativity doesn't really exist. It feels like so many things are just recycled over and over again.
Georges: Yeah, well with the multimedia the way it is, you know with instagram and facebook and all of these outlets, the thing that hasn't really changed is that they're all visual. Yeah, I mean, you can have a podcast, sure, but even in your podcast you have some sort of a visual sign or an artwork that says, hey come see our podcast and this is why, because we have this, whatever, cute emoji or a funny face or something. So everything is still very much visually driven, and I think that, more so than anything, exploded in the 2000s with all of these, um, these elements coming out... things people can do: podcasts, and you know little movies. God, you can make a movie from your iphone right now. All of these things you can do that you didn't have the luxury to do 20 years ago.
Luis: It's true and, what do they call it, the democratization of the artistic process or whatever it is.
Georges: Oh, no, yeah, I didn't know that.
Luis: Well I heard that once, that there was that, you know, in the music realm, I mean I'm sure there's there's aspect of this when it comes to the art realm, like the drawing, but like in the music realm they started creating these programs that you didn't have to have any kind of musical background really in order to be able to create really good sounding, high quality songs. You know, it just became like this kind of algorithm that you would be able to put elements in. And so this whole idea of democratizing a process, you know, it kind of seemed to me that like you're taking the the classic artistry, the classic craft work that you have, I mean, as a craftsman you're working on your artistry for years and years and years and it's never over, and same thing in music, and same thing in software. There's always this build, there's always this, like, pushing towards the next place, you know, pushing the envelope and growing
Georges: No, I see what you’re saying.
Luis: I feel like it's missing a little bit now. Like there's not artists because, well there are, because there's independent artists because of the capabilities of the internet and the connectivity, but on the grand commercial scale it's just this monolithic... I don't know.
Georges: You're absolutely right, you know.
Luis: It's soulless.
Georges: And if it's been happening in music, which I agree with you, it's been happening in music for a while now, it's definitely happening in art. Yeah, no more so than looking on your phone. Like we can create little emojis of ourselves now, right? And you can have something rendered… there's an app where you can render something like a photograph, and render it in an artistic style or have it just, basically, a line art. Little things like that. So yeah I think we are quickly coming on the heels of how they're treating music, that as long as you have some really great programs you don't necessarily need to have talent.
Brandon: Yeah, I mean, look at graphic design and marketing, right? Like back in the 50s, you know, the whole madmen type of agency, you know, they had artists on staff. They were cutting things out of paper and taping them together, and now it's like you fire up Illustrator, you get a Wacom tablet, and
you just go to town, you know.
Georges: That’s it.
Brandon: So, I mean yeah, I think it's probably hitting most creative industries, and so...
Brandon: Technology's changed a lot over the past decade.
Georges: Well look at what we're doing now with movies, and the imaging, a lot of people... uh, well you know like Lucas and Zemeckis have said in another 40 years or so we won't need actors, right? Because the graphics of the illustration are so good that we can… you know um who is this, Disney with their... um… you know the Toy Story and all that... they are rendering people more and more realistic. You're like is that real or is that...
Brandon: Like Forrest Gump.
Georges: Yeah, like that…
Luis: Or the recent one. Did you guys watch the Irishman? The one where they did…
Georges: Yeah, right…
Luis: ...with De Niro and all those guys and they, like, de-aged them. I mean you still see, like, if you look at it.
Brandon: You can tell, still.
Luis: But I mean like video games and everything, I mean, how far have they come along? Eventually it's going to become, you know, it's going to look like a normal person.
Georges: No, no and it was totally there in that Star Wars Rogue One. Where at the end you saw Princess
Leia, a very young Princess Leia and you're like, she's not even alive.
Georges: I mean look at this they actually put her in a movie. So it's scary, but that's that's the way things are going.
Brandon: Yeah, so do you lean on technology at all? Like, I mean,you go pencil and paper, or?
Georges: I mean, I hate to say it. I'm old school. I mean I do color in the computer but and this is this
is the debate I seem to have more and more with the, I hate to say how old I'm getting, but with the young kids coming into this business, they all wonder why I don't use, like you're saying, a Wacom tablet or Illustrator a lot more to actually render. And I'm like, well the talent I feel comes from from within you know. You can have a great program but I would assume being talented and creating something still comes from within. And I always thought, isn't that the fun part? Like, you know, as in when you draw and… certainly you can see it when you have kids. You see your kids sitting down and they're just drawing Spongebob Squarepants or something, and you're sitting there you're not sitting there going, you know, if you had an Illustrator application you can make that spongebob look a lot better.
Georges: You do it because you... for the sheer love of it. You love what you're doing. You're not trying to make it like, hey I'm not trying to get a job here, I'm just trying to get out that creativity that I have from within.
Georges: And I think that's what's being homogenized very much today with art for sure. Maybe with music too, I think you guys see that as well.
Luis: I think everything across the board, I mean anything that has some sort of, you know, creative aspect to it, they're trying to create some sort of technology gap that's going to fill that so that it can get a wider group of people. Like photographers now, I mean, look at the pictures you can take on an iphone right now you know.
Georges: That too, yeah…
Luis: You know stuff like that just all across the board. I wanted to ask you something because I don't know the difference between it, so forgive me for my ignorance, so in comic books, right, you pencil, right, and then you have somebody do, like, the color. Why do you separate those two actions?
Georges: Well in comic books and, like, any publication like newspapers or magazines, which of course all are becoming antiques, it is more of a conveyor belt. Think of comic books like creating a car. Like everything is on a conveyor belt and everything goes to a certain person to do a thing just to get the car done quicker. Theoretically, yes, I could draw pencil, and that... I think the process is you write, you pencil, you ink, and then you color, and then you letter and that... look at that as a conveyor belt like one person, in theory, just to make it easier because a lot of people sort of do a lot of things but if you look at one person doing one thing... so you have about five people doing one comic book and you get that book out in a monthly fashion. Usually if it's just one person doing, maybe, more than two of those things you're probably not going to get that book out every month and...
Luis: That makes sense.
Georges: Comic books are a publication. They have a schedule to come out every month.
Luis: Right, so okay, so I see what you're saying, So it's like, you know, you still have this… I didn't realize that because I didn't think of it as a subscription kind of thing, because people are constantly going month to month, right there wanting the new editions. That makes sense.
Georges: Well yeah, they're contractually obligated. Like if the Spider-Man comes out you'll see in the little disclaimer, if you open up the book, that this is a monthly publication that is published every month, and you're basically legally bound to that sort of thing. And that just means the retail shop that's selling your book, if that book doesn't come in then the retail shop is not obligated to keep the book, because the commitment has not been honored if the book is late, or something. Or if the book is late the retail shop can say, well we can return this book because it was not... the agreement was not honored.
Luis: Wow I never knew that.
Brandon: I guess you have some pretty hard deadlines then.
Georges: And because of that... exactly that's why deadlines exist, because they, uh, Marvel is very... and but then that's also why you work a few months in advance, like I'm doing. I just finished a Captain America story for Marvel, and I was, maybe, three months ahead. So, that book that I just finished it's a five issue book and the first issue is, out but the last issue won't come out for another three months, so if there is, god forbid, anything that happens, like maybe I break my arm or something happens, the company in this case, Marvel, at least has the the knowledge of okay we've got three months before this book has to come out, let's see what we have to do. Because Georges just broke his arm he's not going to be able to do it, can we go to so and so real quick and they can do it in a quick fashion and hopefully we can get Georges back on the book afterwards. So you kind of want to do it, and that's with really any publication, you want to make sure you have enough stuff to publish before you actually go to press because you never know what's going to happen.
Brandon: So, they're not just calling you up being like, hey we need 10 pages by Saturday.
Georges: They could. I'm sure they would love that, but I personally won't do it, no, no.
Brandon: Nice, nice. So, I mean, you've worked on so many projects. I was checking you out on on wikipedia, talking to Luis, and it sounds like, man, so many cool heroes and stories, like, when you're going through and doing this stuff do you feel attachment towards the characters that you're drawing or is it kind of like going through the motions and more of a sort of, um, procedural thing?
Georges: Maybe not so much attachment to the characters, but I personally feel attached to the artwork, yeah. I'm very much, I do feel like what you see represents me. Like you may not know me but I do feel you will know what I could do. aAd if you are a constant reader and you're always buying and coming back I think you get an idea of who that person is, and you may like the style, you may not like the style but, yeah ,i personally feel the art represents me. So just like music you don't want, you know, like this song that's out there where you're like, oh god that song is awful because I really did not put enough time into it. I did not put enough, you know, whatever into it. And that's how I feel about art. I want everything that comes out that represents me, where people can go oh wow that's really good. That doesn't mean it's always going to be that way, but my commitment to what I do is always that this is the best I could do at the time, and it's never, like, well no, I just kind of crapped that out because they said they needed 10 pages by saturday or something like that.
Luis: Right, right. I can understand that. So let me ask you, so, I mean when you were young in the business, right, and you were crafting and you were getting into it, I'm sure there were some sort of hurdles that you had to overcome. Coming into a business perspective what was probably, like, your biggest hurdle in a transition from an artist to, now, a commercial artist who actually has, you know, deadlines and structure? I mean, what was a really big hurdle for you starting in that realm?
Georges: Well that, and I'm sure it's a lot like music, it's one of those things you're not a professional until somebody pays you, type of thing. Because everything you do, that you're giving away, you're still an amateur and it’s… and I think this is the hardest thing you can teach somebody. You can teach somebody, here this is what to expect from the job, once you get this job, in this case, art, commercial art, you know, you have to be a professional. But I've always felt you can't really teach professionalism. You have to learn professionalism, because that's something where, hey I'm playing the guitar and I love it, and I would play guitar every day, if I want to. And I draw because I love it, and I'll do it every day, but when you have a client, now you're not playing the guitar for yourself, now you're playing the guitar for the client. And in this case now I'm drawing for the client, and if you don't have that professionalism, like if you're saying to the client, hey I'll I'll get you a couple of pages by friday, and you know maybe four or five pages by friday, and then we can talk about this, and friday comes and you're like, uh well yeah I only got one page done. You know, I'm sorry, whatever. That is very unprofessional regardless of who you are or what you do. And that sort of thing, I think, is something you have to learn. I t's not something that's inherent but it's something if you want to be in any business you have to learn how to be a professional above all else. And that just simply means, you know, delivering on what you said you were going to deliver on, and if if not, keep it. I can't tell you how many artists don't keep in touch with the client, and on the deadline day they're, like oh no I didn't do anything. I t's like, well dude, you had a whole month to do this. Why didn't you at least tell me, I don't know, on day 15, that hey I'm not going to be able to finish this sort of thing. That is unprofessional and a professional person would have at least said, here I'm embarrassed, whatever happened, or what but I'm going to be, you know, honest with you and tell you, hey I'm not going to have what I promised you. And that is a thing, believe it or not, in so many cases with comics that I see, a lot of people do not learn professionalism. They just kind of, because you love to draw so much, you just think it's always going to be there, and I'm always going to be putting it out, and that's not the case. There will be times you don't want to draw. You have to put this out, and there will be things and, I'm sure like you guys, there will be types of music that you don't care to play at all. Like I really don't care about this type of music, but this is what they're paying me for so I am going to be as professional as possible. And same with me. This is what they are paying me to draw. I don't necessarily like drawing it, whatever it is, but as a client I'm going to give them my best work, and that can be such a hard thing to learn for people. Like, well no I just like drawing superheroes so if it's not superheroes, I don't really want to do it. You're like, well, but you may not have work as a superhero artist so you have to make sure you can be very versatile. And that's another thing you have to make sure you can be versatile. if all you do is like manga artwork, great, you'll get a lot of mango work but there'll be times where people are looking at it going, can you do anything else though? We don't really publish manga so I don't think we can do work unless you could draw in a certain style.
Brandon: Right, so do you get to choose the other people you work with? Like, you know, in the vein of professionalism, right, you don't want to make art you're really proud of, that you feel connected to and then hand it off to get colored and, you know, somebody just does it completely different than you would imagine.
Georges: That's always the case, yeah. I've been very fortunate to work with people that I know and I've also been, like you guys been, fortunate to recommend people to a job where if I've got it I will say, hey this is so and so we work well together I would look into hiring him as well. But there have been many a job that I've come in where I'm the last component to that particular element, so I'm pretty much under the mercy of everybody else. So I don't necessarily get to pick the inker or the colorist or anything like that, unfortunately. And that, again, comes... I could very easily say no, but, yeah, you're sitting here going all right if I want to work for the month of march I probably am just going to have to do what they tell me and, unfortunately, I won't have as much control over it as I like, but, you know, once again, when you're freelance, man, it's feast or famine.
Georges: If you've got the money coming in you don't say no to it.
Luis: Yeah, you're just a sword fighter out there. Just do it, you know, that's all it is. So, has that ever come up as an issue? Like, you know, where you've gotten into a group of people and one element of the group has kind of dropped the ball and then the whole process…? Or do you find that, at the level that you're at, that the people are just really on point and skilled and really organized?
Georges: Well, yes and no, and I think it goes back to that professionalism conversation. Yeah, I've worked with people who I'm like, really this is what you're gonna do? Man, if I had a choice I would never work with you again. And you sort of catalog that in your head.
Georges: I know to myself never to work with this guy again because I do not like...
Luis: Or recommend...
Georges: Or recommend at all, and that's even worse. When you recommend somebody to somebody if they screw them, then it comes back to you going, dude, that was my reputation. You just screwed, not just yourself. So that happens across the board every now and again. That's why when you do find somebody, you know, like you guys, if you've got a band or something and you want them to come in, when you do find somebody who can play and is reliable and professional, you like hang on to them going, okay next time something happens I'm going to call you. That's good. You're less likely to try somebody new, because you know you got the guy you really want.
Luis: You know Brandon and I started off as friends playing music, right. And we were playing in this band, and each respectively we've done our own thing with music, but really all of the things that we're talking about; professionalism, you know, ways to be, you know having a good group of people around you, I feel like now that we're in the software realm, I mean I'm brandon's been building for, you know, decades and I'm just jumping into it, we got some new products that we're working on, but all of this is so relevant to it. I t really does, kind of... these core ideas of how to function in a business sense, or just in a communication sense, it really goes across the board in everything that you do. Because I find the same thing with us, you know, if we don't have something that we need, and we look out for somebody and then they recommend somebody to us that's just, like, horrible for that, we're never going to use them again. And we're always going to remember. And then we're going to associate that recommendation with that person now. So, it's like there's a double danger there, you know, and then that's that's on that side. Then on the opposite side you know if you're recommending somebody also, you know, and this guy screws you over, now you're associated, and that could possibly mess you up in the future which is...
Georges: And I don't know about you guys, but comics is still a very small pool, so inevitably you're going to run into these guys who you don't ever want to work with again. And you kind of have to be, like, nice. Like, hey... hey how's it going?
Georges: And then some of them are just so oblivious. I have this one guy, I worked with him once and did not like what he did, but every time I see him at a show he's like, hey George's, hey man I'd love to work with you again, you know. You got my number, right?
Luis: You're just like uhhh...
Georges: Well yeah, not to his face. You're like, but in your head you're going, dude I wouldn't... I would leave the business before I worked with you again, okay?
Luis: That's crazy.
Brandon: Yeah, man. So it's funny, you know, Luis was talking about those parallels between the software business and music and art and, you know the business aspects of all of those. The one thing I found when I started developing software, because it is a very creative outlet, too. You're creating something out of nothing.
Brandon: And I started building software for other people, you know, their specs, their requirements and while I felt proud of the things that I built, I didn't have that sort of attachment to it. And one day I realized I could build my own software, right. Have you ever, kind of... have you gone and tried to do the whole process start to finish? Like all aspects of it, and, like, come out with your own comic?
Georges: Yeah that seems to be the popular bent right now is, uh, what they call creator-owned.
Georges: That's exactly what you're saying. It's called creator-owned, or in Hollywood they call it IP, intellectual property. Where this is your thing that you've created and you own it, for all intents and
purposes, and then from there you go out and you try to push it, or you do whatever you want...
Brandon: Find distribution and…
Georges: Find distribution all of that stuff and, yeah, that's very much the popular way right now within, I would say within the last 10 years because a lot of that can lend itself to movies, and merchandise, and other things. And of course if you have a stake in the ownership. You have a much wider piece of that particular pie once it does go out towards merchandise, or wherever. It goes to movies, and music, and whatever else you do with it. So, yeah, that's… I won't say necessarily that's the goal, but, potentially, that is definitely what you do side by side with working with Marvel. Or, you know, saying, hey I always wanted to draw spider-man, so I love doing that, but then I have my own stuff to do as well. So, yeah, that type of art is basically something you... when you get into this business, now... and of course now with you doing all the online stuff, you realize how much easier it is to distribute what you do, because no longer do you need a big publication like Simon and Schuster, or a newspaper publication. You can just post something and, right there, you know, it's out there. If you get a hundred thousand hits all of a sudden, you know, if it's on Youtube, and you've got over eleven thousand hits Youtube will actually give you some money because they want to advertise with you, now. So the idea of getting your stuff out there has changed drastically with the computer these days, because you don't necessarily need a large-scale publication to get your stuff out there.
Luis: Yeah, you don't need a huge infrastructure anymore.
Georges: Not anymore, no. If you have a computer and you can post. I've seen people make millions of dollars just on saying, hey… well right there, Billie Eilish. Remember when she started, all they did was, you know, had whatever they had on their phone and they posted it to Youtube and, boom, all of a sudden the record company's like, yeah, we want to sign you up.
Luis: Yeah let me ask you this. So, and Brandon you can help me, i
was reading about... what is it... NFTs, that whole new trend of investing, yeah. So, but Brandon you
explain that a little bit to me. I know, you know, more better... mo better.
Brandon: Yeah, it's basically a new thing that, basically, um, loosely related to crypto where you, basically, have a digital asset on the blockchain. The whole idea being that it denotes the original copy ever made. So, I don't know if you've seen, like, the nyan cat; little pop-tart cat with the rainbow shooting out of its butt. It was on the internet for several years, and um… but like I mean people are buying these things for, like, millions of dollars and it's basically just a jpeg on the blockchain.
Luis: Right, but it's the original... it's the original one, right? That's the whole idea.
Brandon: The original.
Luis: Right now, the reason why I was asking about that is because I'm wondering how that's gonna, like, affect the comic industry too, right. Because if it's, like, if that's something that you've heard about, going into that, because there's going to be these assets now that people are just, like, paying millions of dollars for. So is that first drawing gonna be worth something or, you know, I'm curious if you've heard about that kind of stuff yet.
Georges: It all depends on whether or not it's original. In the case of art people are still very much into what is original. I think what you're talking about, maybe, goes more into the level of copyright. Like if somebody, like... you can... I'm saying, I'm sure you guys have seen Superman symbols on tons of stuff. A lot of that isn't necessarily copyrighted, but I think a lot of people take it for granted to say, I'm going to take... or Batman... I'm going to take that Batman symbol and put it on the side of my car, or put it as part of my building, or whatever, and they don't necessarily have the trademark to do that. But, yeah, I think in this day and age unless you're policing and, I think a lot of the bigger companies have a whole department that polices that sort of thing, you're at the mercy of whatever it is that somebody's doing. You can send a cease and desist, but yeah I think things are becoming so rampant with the computer. You don't know who originated it, I mean, you see, you know, Batman you know where it's from, but to say that as an example of something where you don't know where it came from, or who it came from. I think that's a great idea to have, sort of, I guess what you're saying is more of… like a watermark to say where this originated.
Luis: It's, essentially, it's the file, right. It's the original file of what that photo is.
Brandon: Yeah, so, there was like a guy who spent, I think, like 2.8 million dollars or something to be able to own a 10 second clip of, I think it was Lebron James making a dunk in a basketball game, or something, and it's not like he owns the rights to the footage. He can't, like, re-air it. It's kind of a novelty sort of thing, like, that on the blockchain he is the owner of this digital asset right and so um…
Luis: That's so strange to me, man.
Brandon: Yeah, so it's like the... I guess, is it the VeVe, is that how you say the collectible company that does the dc stuff…
Georges: Oh yeah, yeah, okay.
Brandon: I guess they're getting into nfts and trying to start to release some, like DC related NFTs, but yeah these things are all the talk of the town, and people are paying millions of dollars for them. So I think it's probably going to have some sort of, you know, impact on your industry and what you're doing.
Georges: Wow, yeah, right now I guess the flavor of it all, and a lot of people do things digitally, so technically there is no original art. Like I still draw it by hand, you know, so when, at the end of the day. um...
Brandon: Like, let me show you what original art is.
Georges: Exactly, here let me show you what this is, and you can see it. Yeah, and that to me is where I can understand wealth, but in this age of digital… I can totally get what you're saying I don't understand it, because I'm probably not as digitally savvy. But I understand that given all of this digital access, where people are going to try and make some money some way. So if you give something a title saying; here this is the only digital market I'll ever have, I can see somebody saying, all right yeah I'll give you a million dollars for it.
Luis: It's crazy, but yeah, like and I never realized that, like, because it's just another way... because art has always been, like a vehicle for wealth, right. Like wealthy people buying pieces. you know. It's been kind of like a defensive measure, because it has value, and then it grows over time, especially...
Georges: The status, yeah, like giving it a status.
Luis: Yeah, well, no no also like from wealth protection. So for instance, like, if you're... you know art over the last I don't know ten, twenty years, the growth in that industry has been tremendous. Like, so if you're buying a piece for, like $15,000, the insurance will value it, I don't know… you know, at $80,000 after a certain number of years just because of the scarcity of it. So I find that, when I'm reading on all these financial blogs and stuff, like, that they talk about art as a real defense for wealth. And so I'm seeing how this is kind of transferring into this NFT sector which is so weird to me, because it's so weird that somebody paid, you know, millions of dollars for just, uh...
Brandon: Something that's intangible
Luis: ...a pop tart with a rainbow coming out of its butt. Like, what is that? Like, you know, why didn't I draw that?
Georges: I agree with you but probably there's a smaller percentage of that, because I would think that the only things that would be really successful are the art that you get, maybe from… like hey I've got a Van Gogh original, or I've got a Norman Rockwell original. These things, and I hate to borrow from a line from Raiders of the Lost Ark, but we are merely passing through history. All of these things are history, right, and they are going to be here longer than we are. Once we're gone. So that I understand being so much money. As opposed to you know some sort of a digital mark you can say. hey I own this 20 seconds, or something, right. This tangible piece of art I get, because this art was here before me and it's probably going to be here long after me.
Luis: Yeah, sure. So, what do you got going now? What are you working on currently?
Georges: Well, like I said I just finished a Captain America story. It's called the U.S. Agent, who is a Captain America. To understand the history, back in the 80s Steve Rogers, who was Captain America, he retired a little while in the comic books, so they got another guy named John Walker to come in and replace him, because, like, in the movies, you see, Captain America is a government agent. He's an entity that you know, technically he works for the government. And when he left they wanted to fill that role with this other character, and he has a five issue mini-series that's coming out now in conjunction with the Marvel, Disney movie, or little webisodes they're doing right now, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, that they're showing now on Disney. This character, John Walker makes an appearance in that series, so Marvel, of course being very savvy, saying well maybe we should have some sort of a publication so that when people watch the tv show they will go to the comic shop, hopefully, and say hey do you have that John Walker, U.S. Agent guy, I'm curious to see what his story is.
Luis: Like a spin-off.
Georges: ...so I just finished that. Well it's like in addition to, yeah, because it doesn't have anything to do with the tv show, it's just if you're interested in the character you can probably read up on them with this new adventure that he's having. I just recently got a gig where I'm going to be doing some Star Wars stuff.
Luis: Oh nice.
Georges: Which is good. So it's also with Marvel and Disney, but that should be coming up next month. And I'm doing this little story for a smaller company, something called Shadow Doctor about a guy whose great grandfather used to work for Al Capone, and was an African-American doctor back in the 30s, which was almost non-existent and this type of person could never really get a job in the commercial circuit, so he had to end up getting work with Al Capone, and doing stuff for him. And this was all a true story and this great grandson now is writing about his great-grandfather's exploits doing that. So that's another five issue mini series that I'm doing right now.
Brandon: So that's awesome.
Georges: And, again, you guys are freelance so you know how the gig is. It's whenever something comes around you, if you've got the time for it you're like, yeah I can do it. So I look at my career... I've always looked at my career in terms of months,so I've got another three or four months of work so I should be good. Ask me in another couple of months, right.
Luis: That's stressful.
Georges: That has been the last 25 years of my life where, yes, I've never had security in a job. I've always had the... oh okay you've got a whole year, okay that's good, or here you've only got two months so that's, unfortunately, you know, a freelance artist. That's how you work.
Brandon: At least you have a window of time to, like, land the next three months after, and the next.
Georges: You should. That's also the business aspect of it you should always understand that when this job runs out you should have your next job lined up, or, you know, there's not going to be any money coming in.
Brandon: Yeah, yeah. So, awesome, man. Well, Georges, I just really appreciate you being with us today. do you want...
Georges: Any time.
Brandon: Do you want to drop your website link and stuff like that?
Georges: Yeah, please. I am on all of the social media. I have a website called The Kaba Lounge, kabalounge.com, and from there there are links to Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, and all of the good stuff that we're supposed to be doing these days. So, I always say it's very easy to find me, so when somebody says, I wasn't able to find you, I always wonder about their methods.
Luis: All right, I got one last question on this, and this is probably a question for the ages. And I think this suits you Georges, because I know you; Prince or Michael Jackson, I want to know the truth.
Georges: Man, you can't do that to me.
Luis: No I want to know. I want to know. I want to know. I know who you... Brandon what you don't
know about Georges, is that he is a huge Prince fan. I mean, like I'm talking about for real, for real
all right. so, I'm putting him to the fire.
Georges: Right now I am technically, but back in the day, man, Michael was on fire. I was in high school when thriller came out, so Michael was on fire, and while Prince well… and it's funny because while I look at Michael Jackson and Prince I always feel the thing that's most in my heart probably the thing I'm taking to that island, that cd I'm taking to that island is something from Stevie Wonder, because Stevie Wonder speaks to my soul, whereas Michael and Prince speak to me as a person. I would have told you
back in the 80s it was definitely Michael, probably now, yeah, more Prince. Only because Prince, funny enough, is still coming out with music, so yeah.
Luis: He's gonna come out forever. He's got that vault. He's got so much of a catalog.
Georges: Exactly. So that essence is keeping him alive. So I would just barely say Prince
because there is still stuff coming out whereas Michael, of course you know, only had a finite set of stuff.
Luis: I don't know.
Georges: We really don't hear about it...
Luis: Well you know the family they took charge of his catalogue, right, recently, and I think he has... he's got a vault
Georges: For Michael or Prince?
Luis: No, no, for Michael. Like, I thought they had like a vault also of like a bunch of recordings and stuff.
Georges: I mean they're… a couple of years ago they put out something called the ultimate fan thing where it was a download of over a hundred songs that were you know either re-released or not released or whatever, but I mean his catalog does not even touch Prince’s. So Prince will have stuff coming out literally, and I am not joking when I say this, if they are on what they do, Prince will have stuff coming out for the next 40 years if they just release an album or, you know, release music every year like in an album format, they have enough to come out with stuff for the next, at least, 40 years.
Luis: That's crazy.
Brandon: We are living through the history of Prince.
Georges: And it's funny, if he were alive he would never have stood for this sort of thing. He's like well I put out the music that I wanted you to listen to. This is the stuff I never wanted you to listen to.
Luis: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Prince was big time about that. There was... there we would have never seen the light of day of anything that he had...
Georges: You know unless he really wanted it, yeah.
Luis: It's funny that you mentioned Stevie Wonder. I feel the same way about Stevie Wonder though, you know, Stevie Wonder is like some people who...
Georges: It's funny because I'm sure if you asked Michael Jackson and Prince they would say the same about Stevie as well. There's just some… there are those Mozarts in the world and I do believe Prince was very much a Mozart where he didn't write music, he took dictation, because it was coming from somewhere. But, I mean, Stevie would speak to your soul if you really get into him, this guy. And once somebody touches your soul, man, that's like being married to the woman of your dreams or something. That's something you never let go.
Luis: Yeah that's very true. Thank you so much.
Georges: You guys are very welcome. Brandon, Luis, it's my pleasure.
Brandon: I guess we'd love to have you back again some other time and catch up in a few months.
Georges: Feel free I might be out of work then, so I might need…
Brandon: Well, hopefully not. So, all right, so everybody check out Georges at, you said kabalounge.com, right?
Brandon: All right, so we appreciate all our listeners for tuning in and you can find all of our episodes
at sendlio.com or wherever you get your podcasts, and we'll see you next time.
Luis: All right thanks a lot.
Georges: My pleasure. Take it easy. See ya.