Interview with Eric Roesner of Yeti Press

Last month I had the pleasure of getting to talk to one of the co-founders of Chicago’s Yeti Press, Eric Roesner, for a while. Through Yeti Press, Eric has published some of my favorite indie comics, including Kevin Budnik’s Dust Motes and Kat Leyh’s Bird Witch.

Naturally, we jump right into discussion. 

Guy Thomas: Now that RJ [Casey] is across the country, what problems are you having with Yeti Press?

Eric Roesner: None really. I mean, probably the only problem now is he has to do conventions without me carrying boxes with him. That’s about the only hard part about it. Everything else we got down. We’re on the phone a lot more. We planned 2 new books coming out for CAKE, after he moved.

Thomas: What did you do for CAKE?

Roesner: Kat Leyh’s SuperCakes trade paperback. We had her first issue of SuperCakes as an 8 page mini. This is going to be 56 pages. It’s a superhero story, but it’s more about the characters. It’s very family oriented, very character driven. Second book is David Alvarado’s Dirty Hands collection. He’s been putting out these zines, called Dirty Hands, which have comics, illustrations, drawings. We collected these all into a nice paperback that’s going to be about 120 pages.

Thomas: What’s going to happen after CAKE?

Roesner: A month or two after CAKE, RJ and I will be launching our webcomic, Rise Above. All ages, that should be fun.

Thomas: Can you talk about that?

Roesner: Yeah! Actually, it’s the first story RJ and I started to work on when we met. It kept growing and growing, but we hadn’t made a comic together yet. So we made Pecos, and that kind of took on its own thing. Now we feel like it’s time, we can handle that large of a story. We’re doing it online just to see if that can be a way for Yeti Press to go, having a webcomic. So it’s kind of a test thing. After it’s done we’ll probably end up collecting it and printing it.

Thomas: I know you got a couple of books planned for the rest of the year. Anything you can or want to talk about for later, later?

Roesner: Later, later. What we have planned is this New York – I guess you could call him a fine artist, like a gallery artist, he was talking to RJ and he would put out little zine comics, he has this little heart character. We’re going to do his first official comic with this character. We’re pretty excited about that

Thomas: What kind of problems, trials, and tribulations did you have trying to start being a publisher?

Roesner: For the longest time Yeti Press was the name we put ourselves under. Once we started printing other people’s stuff, then we had to figure out how we’re going to pay them. I mean, it’s not a hard thing to do. But it’s a thing that if you don’t do it everything goes south real quick. You do it in baby steps. It’s kind of like, we had this big grand story to tell at first, then we got some advice from our peers and they said you guys should start small, work your way up. So for the first couple years we just had floppies, minis, zines, and now that we’ve been around for a while we’ve asked other people – asking other people advice is like, the greatest thing ever. Cause we wouldn’t know how to do anything if it wasn’t for the kindness of the comic community. Definitely keeping records, that’s always good.

One of our things that I feel like we kind of missed the boat on a little bit that we should, I think our social media kind of lacks. We’re not good at updates or posting a lot or often. We could be more visible, I guess. RJ  and I, we’re not real good at that stuff. For a while we were getting some emails from like people wanting to intern and we were like, what would they do? It’s in RJ’s apartment and I’m in Aurora. But we were thinking about some sort of marketing internship if someone ever asked. So maybe we can put that out there.

Roesner: I read your comic sitting at the table, and it reminded me a lot of Eric Nebel’s book, Well Come. That style, wordless. It flows, it reads real well.

Thomas: Thank you. Was that Her I handed you?

Roesner: Yes.

Thomas: That was a 24 hour comic. I had never done that before. It was neat.

Roesner: I have never even attempted. It’s scary.

Thomas: It was really intense, but halfway through you’re like yeah I got this! Then towards the end you’re like, this is a hand, I guess. You stop caring eventually. It was a really cool thing. Thank you.

So, how do you go about finding other people to publish?

Roesner: So far, it’s been people we know. They talk online or we talk personally and they say I’m thinking about doing this or I’m thinking about printing this and if it fits in our schedule and our budget then we offer them- “oh, if you’d like do it through us we’d be more than happy to.” You get your cut and we get ours. Some people submit, but a lot of people who submit… I don’t think they’re researching who they’re submitting to. We’ll get emails like “check out our zombie apocalypse comic!” and we’re like “have you even looked at our website?”

Thomas: That’s kind of a big part of the submitting process.

Roesner: Yeah. It all started from trying to help out our friends, y’know, and it just kind of year by year grows a little.

Thomas: You do stuff besides Yeti Press.

Roesner: Yeah.

Thomas: What else do you do?

Roesner: I’ve been an artist my whole life. This is actually the first time I’ve ever tabled by myself. It’s been a learning experience. I’ve done little projects, like before Yeti Press I was doing minis and one page comics and illustrations, stuff for friends or whatever. I met up with RJ right out of college, it was my senior year, it was right at the end I met RJ. So kind of right out of college until last year it’s been Yeti Press nonstop. I can still focus on that, but I’m getting a little more time to focus on personal work. I think after the webcomic I’m going to really sit down and do solo book.

After this convention I’m going to disappear to the world for a while to try to pump out that webcomic. It’s gonna be weekly, full color. I have this new process I want to try out, doing pencils on the computer printing those out on Bristol board, inking them, then scanning back in to color. Which when I say sounds like a really long process. I’m excited to get started.

Thomas: I’m excited to see it. What’s your favorite dinosaur?

Roesner: Dimetrodon. 

You can find Eric’s work with Yeti Press at their website, as well as on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.