Comics Interview: Chasen Grieshop – Particle9 Productions

Chasen Grieshop is the founder of Particle9 Productions. The company was formed by Chasen after graduated with a B.A. in communications and advertising. Upon graduation Particle9 Productions was created...

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Chasen Grieshop is the founder of Particle9 Productions. The company was formed by Chasen after graduated with a B.A. in communications and advertising. Upon graduation Particle9 Productions was created as a creative outlet for Chasen’s many creative and technical skills.

Nicholas Yanes: Before delving into the birth of Particle9, I’d like to know what your interests in comic books and media production were while growing up. Was there an artist or a video game that has continued to influence your artistic vision?

Chasen Grieshop: Well really all of my interests have influenced everything I do no matter what field it’s in. One of my stories called Ecru is a combination of Dune, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and Farscape. There are elements I like in all of those that ended up helping to flesh out the story. Of course there are quite a few things in Ecru I’ve never seen anywhere else either, but those were definitely inspirations. Comics honestly never played a huge part in where I wanted my life to end up going. I wasn’t really interested in comics, I was only interested in one title when I was a kid and that was Sonic the Hedgehog. I was OBSESSED with Sonic haha. I watched the cartoons, played the games, and read the comics. I only wished they had action figures when I was a kid haha. And yes now that they DO have a couple for old times sake. So I started out drawing Sonic because of my obsession. I did start to really like one artist’s work on the title in particular, his name was Pat Spaziante. I always thought his work was so detailed, so I started to really fall in love with little what I called particle details. They looked like little dots and particles everywhere on the page. Eventually I started to grow out of the “Sonic phase” and I started to want to draw people and that’s when I went to my local comic shop. I’d never stepped foot in there before, and went looking for comic art that I liked to use for reference. No one told me to do this; it just seemed like the thing I’d need to do in order to learn. On the shelf in front of me I found Fathom issue #5 created by Michael Turner. From that point on I was hooked on the man’s work. It had sea life, it had dolphins, hot women, and lots of water. I come from a coastal town. I’ve always lived 5 minutes from the beach, and I’ve always loved Dolphins. So his work really spoke to me, and I began to learn how to draw based off of his style.

Yanes: Your bio mentions that you got a “B.A. in communications and advertising.” Did the classes you took change how you approached films and comic books?

Grieshop: Not really. I only went to college because my Mom wanted me to haha. She wanted me to go, and it was all fine and good, a major inconvenience and a lot of time too, but I didn’t really learn anything there I had not already figured out on my own concerning art and film.

Yanes: I’ve always been fascinated by the origins of comic book companies. What inspired you to create your own comic book and film company? Moreover, it seems that there are easier ways to break into the comic book business. After all, producing and publishing your own work seems to a difficult challenge. Have you considered having your creator owned material published by Image (similar to Christopher Yost and his series Killer of Demons) or getting help from the Xeric Foundation (similar to what Fred Van Lente did for Action Philosophers)?

Grieshop: Particle9 was something I had been thinking of for years. I started out learning graphic design and pencil work at the same time. One of my favorite practices was making techy looking desktop wallpapers. You know those super abstract technical looking wallpapers that were really popular back in the late 90’s early 2000’s. It was common for the wallpapers to have a cool abstract word and a number. So I wanted a name that had meaning for me. When I thought about what I did, I moved around pixels, or dots of light on a computer screen to make whatever I wanted. I could fashion these dots into any order I wanted them to be in, and I wanted a word that was cooler than dot or pixel. Granted pixel is a cool word but it was taken. I was in Earth Science class and we began to learn about Alpha particles, and the word particle hit me like a ton of bricks. I was like “YES!!!” that’s my word. I reorder particles of light. Now I need a number. And 9 fit the best at the end. Plus design wise it looked cooler than most of the other numbers. So everything I designed started to have particle9 on it. It became my digital signature and screen names that everyone knew me by.

While I was in school I ran the convention circuit for a while. I wanted to work with a couple companies in particular, namely Top Cow and then Aspen. Mostly I just wanted to work with Michael Turner because I felt like I could learn a lot from him because I admired his work in particular. But when that journey ended badly, I just continued to do school feeling lost for a good long while, like I really didn’t know what to do. Than I realized I had always done stuff with the name Particle9, and I thought, you know I think its time I do more with it. I think I can turn it into a name that more people will recognize. So right before I graduated college I legally started P9P. I had saved up enough money to buy equipment that I would need and then a book shipment. I did actually try to apply for a Xeric grant, but nothing ever came of it.

Yanes: Particle9 has a pretty small staff. How did you all come together? Was it like a Captain Planet moment in which you all merged your powers and Particle9 Productions came into being?

Grieshop: Haha not exactly we all had these symbols on our tummies and we’d say Care Bear Stare! haha kidding. No we’re all friends. They say water seeks its own level, so I guess I naturally just found other creative people to make friends with. On occasion I take on a photoshop student whom I teach coloring to. But we’re all just friends.

Yanes: In an interview with Justin Murphy (http://www.scifipulse.co/?p=2009) – cofounder of Rampart Press and creator of Cleburne – I asked him a question similar to the following. The main comic book industry is clearly located in New York City. Yet, the South and Florida have several independent comic book publishers – yours, Particle 9 Productions (Navarre, FL.); Rampart Press (Jacksonville, FL.); Strawberry Comics (Norcross, GA.); and the now defunct CrossGen Comics (Tampa, FL.). Do you think the number of independent comic book companies reflect a national trend or something unique to Florida and the South? Why do you think people who want to break into the comic book business would live somewhere other than New York or California?

Grieshop: Well Florida has a lot of entertainment industry value because of Disney and Universal Studios in Orlando. I think it may have something to do with it. I know for me I just want to bring more attention to this area in the pan handle of Florida. There is a LOT of potential here but no one is really doing anything with it.

Yanes: Particle9 does a lot of different things – comic book publication, film production, photography, and web design. Why so much? Is there one aspect that is privileged above the others?

Grieshop: Haha yeah because I gotta eat! Being that I do mostly freelance work, it doesn’t seem like any one particular field has steady year round work. I learned to do other things so when there’s no comic art work, I can find a web site to code and design to bring in more money. The comic production and film production aspect of the company is where I need the most help with though because it takes multiple people to do that. But it also costs money. So the freelance work pays for the production work. But because I’m doing both production and freelance, production is slow going. The good thing about production is that once I have the product I can sell it, and that also brings in money, just in smaller amounts but more frequently. I can’t really say there is any one in particular that is more privileged. I do really like the photography aspect though. It’s the easiest and takes the least amount of time to produce.

Yanes: Something I found interesting about Particle9 is where the company is advertised. Particle9 has a profile on ComicSpace and MySpace, but there is no facebook group/fan page, no Wikipedia entry, and no company profile listed on Linkedin.com. What’s the reason behind using some social networking sites, but not others?

Grieshop: Well I do have a personal facebook page, but honestly I don’t like facebook as much. I’m really not sure what linkedin.com is, but I’ve been getting a number of requests from people to join lately so I might just check that out. I tried to put an entry into wikipedia a few years ago. I was flogged for advertising something not even worthy of a wikipedia entry. So I haven’t gone back since haha. I figure its best not to anger the powers that be lest they come for my first born that I don’t even have.

Yanes: The comic books that Particle9 is planning on producing seem fantastic. What is your vision for each title and how do you want them to relate to one another?

Grieshop: That’s a simple question with a big answer, so I’ll try to condense it. Basically in all of the titles there is a crystal that ties them all together. Chronologically, you would begin with Ménél which is a story about the beginning of recorded time and the peoples and creatures that inhabited the world during that time. We focus on an elf named Esta who ends up being put in charge of the safety of the world called Ménél. She is given a crystal necklace by Adonai that is basically a manifestation of his power. It is a shard from an even larger crystal that is the known as the light of the world. She uses this to fight the darkness in the world named Abbadon who can take many forms. At the end of the story the light of the world is broken into several smaller but still rather large crystals and hurled into the cosmos. Esta then passes down her crystal pendant to her daughter.

Eventually the crystal pendant is passed down to a girl named Lydia Scorpéo who ends up leading a life of piracy on the high seas in the mid 1700s. Lydia soon discovers that this crystal is special, and that it gives her special abilities that give her an edge on the high seas. While she doesn’t always use the crystal for good, she’s not a completely heartless pirate either, so it’s not like she’s out to end the world with it.

Finally, the crystal of Esta and Lydia Scorpéo is passed down to a female soldier in the EMOD military named Aria Cheylon. Aria’s crystal lays dormant without her knowing its significance until she is marooned on a planet called Ecru. She discovers this world had been hit with a crystalline meteor thousands of years earlier and that this crystal had created two species on the planet. One made of Sand and one made of Stone. The sands and stones of Ecru had battled since that day and neither one prevailed. While Aria doesn’t know it, her crystal that had been passed down for all those generations would soon be used to heal it, and return it to its rightful home on Earth bringing peace light and prosperity to the galaxy! haha.

So really they are all stories connected to and largely about this crystal, but each story is a different theme, with different characters that we get to follow through playing their part in God’s overall plan. These aren’t really religious stories though. They just acknowledge that there is a force at work for good in the universe and a force at work in opposition of that good.

Yanes: The artwork that is displayed on Particle9’s website seems to have a Michael Turner vibe. Did your style come about from studying his work or did you develop it on your own?

Grieshop: Absolutely! I studied his work in great detail. I did look at other artist’s work, and while they were good artists, Michael’s style was the most interesting to me and was the most challenging to try work in.

Yanes: Where do you want see Particle9 in five to ten years? Any chance of an animated series?

Grieshop: I’m not much into animated series of things unless there’s already live action material. I’ve always seen these stories as being live action films, and for the time being I have to settle for making them comics.

Yanes: Finally, if you wanted your fans to add false information to one Wikipedia entry, what entry and what information would you want added?

Grieshop: A Donald Trump entry…. Donald Trump has pledged to donate 2.5 million dollars to Particle9 Productions by September 09 of 2009 because he believes in their potential, hard work, and excellence…. 🙂 It’s just his little way of helping to stimulate the US market 🙂 He’s a very nice man when he’s not angry at you.

For more information about Particle9 Productions check out the following sites:

  • Nicholas Yanes is a comic book academic who has written two theses focused on graphic literature: “X-Men as a Reflection of Civil Rights in America” and “Graphic Imagery – Jewish American Comic Book Creators’ Depictions of Class, Race, and Patriotism.” Additionally, he was privileged enough to create and teach “American Comic Book History”; a junior level course in the American Studies Program at Florida State University. His first publication is the essay, “The Super Patriot: World War II Warriors and the Birth of Captain America,” and will be published in Captain America and the Struggle of the Superhero: Critical Essays. He is currently working on two projects: 1) Editing an essay that has been accepted for publication in an anthology – this essay looks at African Religion in mainstream American Comic Books, 2) Putting together a collection of essays that look at Obama in Popular Culture: http://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/node/32305
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