GREG ANDERSON ELYSÉE
Words of Wisdom
What inspired you to create your comic/graphic novel?
I grew up being a huge fan of Greek mythology and European fairy tales. I still love them. Around high school and in college, I started learning about Black folktales, mythology, and Black spiritual figures. I didn’t like that Greek myths were required learning while African diaspora or stories were electives. I would also ask a lot of people, Black folks especially, if they knew who Anansi the Spider was, and many didn’t. So I wanted to change that narrative and use this as an introduction to various figures and lore Black folks have, Black folks of many different backgrounds. Which is why every story showcases someone different. So far we’ve had figures from West African stories, Haitian stories and spirituality, Black American South folklore and horror, South African, etc. There is more to come!
What is your writing/drawing process like? How many hours a day do you write/draw?
I actually don’t write as often as I should but I always carry a notebook with me everywhere I go that way I can jot something down that comes to mind. If I’m working on a particular story, I don’t write in order. First I’ll write a general plot outline. I write the scene that’s in my head at that moment or whatever excites me. Over time I’ll start to put those scenes together like a puzzle, figure out the order and pacing. I also try to have moments where I can develop and flesh out characters. I’m usually involved with a lot of things, so finding hours to write can be difficult, but it's a case by case thing. When I’m in that zone, though, I don’t want to be interrupted and just want to be left alone.
What does success look like to you?
Hmm. To me, being able to continue to tell my stories, inspire and entertain my readers, and live off of it financially. As well as seeing people take an interest in the characters and figures showcased in the books and do research of their own.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Most difficult? A range of things, actually. Finding time, sometimes finding the right mental mind frame. Sometimes you're crippled mentally and just need to decompress. That’s me, though. But finances are huge parts of difficulty, trying to find ways to get the books into people’s eyes and hands. When you’re a one man army, it can be very difficult, but word of mouth and social media helps, especially when fans also push to showcase you.
Does doing this work energize or exhaust you?
Mainly energizes. I’m always excited about Is’nana the Were-Spider. The parts that can be exhausting again is money, and sometimes production can be at a slow point, but that’s the nature of the beast and you sorta get used to it. Things will come along in time, as long as there’s a nice pace. But when you’re going through lull periods of not being able to really push and sell… it can be exhausting. But when there’s traction, there’s nothing else I want to do.
If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
I’d tell him to save as much money as possible and not to spend it on all them Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh cards, that they’ll help pay for comic book productions, haha. Also, that life gets better. No need to beat yourself up and hate yourself due to people’s ignorance.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a comic/graphic novel?
I’m always online searching and reading up on figures from stories and spirituality of the Black diaspora. I’m also searching for books. I prefer going to bookstores and finding books on Black myths, folklore, etc. A week doesn’t go by where I don’t look for something in the realm. I could do research on this for hours or whole days and be pretty content. I also love finding other comic books where creators do their own spin on Black myths and spirituality. They’re always so much fun, especially when there’s love and respect and it’s not some offensive bastardization.
What advice do you have for other Black comic creators?
Don’t be an fucking asshole or screw people over. The circle/industry when it comes to Black comic community is small… Be a professional. Don’t settle. Look at your peers and see what is working and not working. We have to work twice as hard. Hire a letterer and beta readers/editors. Don’t give up. Breathe. Take your mental breaks. Have fun.
Website: Webway Store (ecwid.com)