Blue Juice Comics is one of the newer kids on the small publisher block. Their first comic, “The Accelerators” #1, debuted May 2013. As a new book, by new talent, from a new publisher, it flew under just about everybody’s radar. In an effort to give them some much needed attention, they’re taking center stage for the newest installment of Small Press Spotlight.
When Thomas Mumme, Adam Miller, Michael Misconi, and Jeremy Schneider formed Blue Juice Films, Inc in 2005, their plans for the company didn’t include making comics. The four had freelance experience in television and film when they set up their own shop in Orlando, Florida with the intention of creating short films, music videos, and feature films. They succeeded with the first two, but hit roadblock after roadblock when they tried to get funding for their feature films. According to Mumme, their biggest hurdle was getting their scripts in front of the people with money.
In the meantime, the quartet were still getting work outside of BJF. In 2011, Mumme and Schneider were hired to work on AMC’s Comic Book Men show with Kevin Smith. An old friend and fellow Orlandian Ronnie Porto was also part of the production. Working on the show revived the three’s dormant love for comics, and Mumme was struck with inspiration. Instead of dumping cash into expensive short films and using them as proof-of-concepts to get financing for longer films, why not try building a comparatively cheap comic franchise?
The guys at BJF asked Porto to submit some of his screenplay ideas. When they reviewed them, a science fiction story called “The Accelerators” stood out as a great concept for a comic. They committed to the idea in January of 2012 without doing any preliminary investigation into what comic publishing entailed. Mumme researched the industry, and the more he learned the more excited he became. He would talk about his progress with Schneider and Porto while working on Comic Book Men, which drew the attention of the hosts. Two of them, Mike Zapcic and Ming Chen , invited the group onto their podcast to give weekly updates on their progress. They shared experiences with two others, Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson, who had previously made their own comics (“Cryptozoic Man”, “War of the Undead”).
The BJF quartet discovered an unexpected passion for publishing and has been moving forward with their print division, Blue Juice Comics, ever since.
There was more than a year between the decision to publish comics and the release of “Accelerators” #1. In addition to learning how to publish a comic, there was the important task of assembling the rest of the creative team. And after the book was made, there was also the time required to get set up with Diamond and Comixology. According to Porto, solving these logistic problems took much longer than any of them expected, but the delay turned out to be a blessing. The year gave him and Gavin Smith, the artist, plenty of lead time to get ahead of the publishing schedule. In May of 2013, Blue Juice’s first comic hit the stands. It came out bimonthly through issue six, at which time Porto and Smith’s head start had nearly run out. The book went on hiatus for the release of the first trade, and the second volume is currently in production.
Around the time “Accelerators” was winding down, Blue Juice’s second title, “Anne Bonnie”, was released. This time, the book was written and drawn by Tim Yates, the colorist from “Accelerators.” Like its predecessor, this pirate fantasy came out without much coverage. Nevertheless, it did garner a few headlines when the first issue sold out at the distributor level. Three issues of “Anne Bonnie” came out on a bimonthly schedule before it, too, was put on hiatus. The next three issue are currently in production and will round out the series’ first volume.
No specific release dates for the return of these books have been announced, but both are set to return sometime this year. Blue Juice also has plans to debut two new titles in 2015. The first is a children’s book, “Dudley and the Toy Keeper’s Chest”, which is due out sometime in the second quarter. The second is a horror anthology by Kris Triana that you can expect in the summer or fall. In the meantime, you can follow updates from the publisher here.