BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
Bob Corby has been making comics for over twenty years. His collection, Ohio, Comics! or Oh, Comics! as most people might know it, has published over 100 comic creators including folks like David Mack, Matt Faezell, Scott Mills, Todd Webb, Teri S. Wood and Max Ink, to name a few. The newest volume of Oh, Comics! usually appears annually at the popular Mid-Ohio-Con. Since the seventh issue, Corby's been having contributors stories match a particular theme. Although he's been in the comics game for decades, a lot of PULSE readers might not know much about the man behind Oh, Comics!, so we thought it was the perfect time to get to know more about this creative comicker.

THE PULSE: A lot of our readers might not know a lot about Oh, Comics, so please give them some details on the series and its origins!

BOB CORBY:
Oh,Comics! premiered at Mid-Ohio Con in 1988 with a 40 page mini comic including the work of 12 small press artists from Ohio. Since then Oh,Comics! has published the work of over 100 creators ranging in age from 10 to 60. The total run exists in 19 issues (including issues 8-1/2 and 10-1/2) and has been published annually for the Mid-Ohio Con except for a brief hiatus in the mid-2000’s. Each issue, starting with issue #7, has had a theme. Themes have included Letters, Luck, Down but Not Out, 10, Science Fiction, Dreams, Nature, Music and Food. Contributors have included Matt Dembicki, Matt Feazell, Allen Freeman, Marcel Guldemond, Jennifer Hachigan, Max Ink, David Mack, Joe Martin, Bill McKay, Scott Mills, Michael R. Neno, Todd Webb, Tom Williams, Teri S. Wood and Randy Zimmerman.

THE PULSE: Wow, so you've been at this for 20 years! What was the independent scene like when you began Oh, Comics!?

CORBY:
I started sending mini-comics out in the late 80's to anybody willing to trade with me. Mostly to small pressers with reviews in Tim Corrigan's Small Press Comics Explosion. It was a pretty isolated experience back then. I did finally start to see some local guys with listings after awhile. Local people like Michael N. Neno, Mike Toth and also regional people like Jim Pack, Larry Blake, Larry Nibert, Ian Shires and Allen Freeman. That's one of the reasons I started Oh,Comics (or Ohio Comics) was because there seemed to be so many people doing the same thing I was attempting alone.

THE PULSE: What was it like getting to meet other comics creators and seeing other mini-comics and wares?

CORBY:
Oh, Comics! #1 was actually put together through the mail so I didn't really meet anybody except Mike Toth until the Mid-Ohio Con debut in 1988. Mike and I had traded a few books in the mail and it turned out he was taking the same computer animation class as my brother, Ron, at Ohio State. So the very first Oh, Comics! Fold and Staple party consisted of Ron, Mike and myself at my house on a Saturday afternoon where we folded, stapled and trimmed 500 copies. Since then the F&S party is a yearly tradition. Since my kitchen was under construction this year we didn't have the party yet but I'm hoping to do it this winter. As you can probably tell that since the book is already out we don't actually fold and staple anymore.

When I got to Mid-Ohio Con that year I think I meet about 12-15 Small Pressers that I only knew through the mail before. (Don't forget this was prehistoric times before the internet). I meet Ian Shires, Aaron Tracy, Matt Feazell, Paul Curtis and a ton of guys that I can't remember anymore. Somewhere in one of the piles in my basement studio/workshop/comics depository there is a photo of about 12 of them. Also there's a video on Youtube shot by Matt Feazell at here.


Matt showed up with the first camcorder I'd ever seen and we were all amazed. So you can see the core team behind Oh,Comics! #1 at least. My daughter who will be graduating from the Columbus College of Art and Design with a degree in fashion design couldn't stop laughing at my "mustard" colored jacket. (Actually it was tan the video didn't pick up the real color). The following year at Mid-Ohio Con I met a lot of the Oh,Comics! mainstays like Max Ink, Mike Carroll and Pam Bliss.


THE PULSE: What's it like now having this great body of work in front of you and working with so many creators for over 20 years?

CORBY:
I kind of wonder how it all flew by so fast. I remember contacting the original contributors about the first issue like it was yesterday. It's been something of a humbling experience. My criteria for contributors has jokingly been that they need to draw better than me, but I never expected to see how much better. The quality of the work that's been contributed over the year has been incredible.


THE PULSE: Yeah, there are a lot of great comics inside Oh, Comics! Which are you surprised haven't gained a wider audience?

CORBY:
Just looking at issue #17 there are a few. Matt Feazell has a pretty good following although he deserves way more. There are a few others like Pam Bliss, Max Ink and Craig Bogart who have local/regional followings, who could break out further if they put the effort into it. I think those three and most of the rest of us a pretty satisfied with just putting our thoughts on paper and getting a little feed back.


THE PULSE: Which contributors from any issue have "hit" the big time? Do you have anyone who got his or her start with Oh, Comics!?

CORBY:
The biggest break out was David Mack who inked a story in Oh,Comics! #4. I don't think we did anything to contribute to his success. It was fun to have him sign a copy of #4 at a Mid-Ohio Con a few years back. Then there was Teri S. Wood who did Wandering Star which was a successful series back in the 90's. Todd Webb was also in a few issues. Todd has gone on to work for publications like Nickelodeon Magazine and has also worked on some licensed properties including Dennis the Menace.

THE PULSE: How do you decide when you're putting together a new edition what creators to include if a new one approaches you? Is this kind of by invitation only now or are you open for new contributors?

CORBY:
I usually send info out to the 20 or so people who have contributed in the past few years and any new people who have shown interest. Seems to work out that we get somewhere between 80 and 120 pages in recent years. I don't think I've every turned anybody away.


THE PULSE: What do you enjoy the most about working on a collection like this every year?

CORBY:
Originally it was kind of nice to know there were others out there with the same passion for the medium. More recently it's been fun to see how each of the contributors has their own take on the theme. Even when they were a bad word in comics, I loved anthologies because of the variety.


THE PULSE: How do you come up with your themes?

CORBY:
Usually they just happen. The first theme for issue #7 was letters which was inspired by the "Juliet Letters" by Elvis Costello. Issue 8 was Luck because of the 8 ball thing. Issue 8-1/2 was the "Down but not Out" issue because I had just decided to quit when I found out my printer had increased his prices and then changed my mind about 2 weeks later. I was e-mailing back and forth with Kevin Carrier about it and I think we both quit the whole small press thing there for about two weeks. So they all pretty much were based on things that were happening around me or something the number of the issue suggested. A few have been suggested by my daughter, Megan, like the Music issue. The Food issue was suggested by Pam Bliss who won the "name the theme contest" I held. Pam got a complete collection of Oh,Comics! as a prize which I believe she contributed back as a door prize at the next SPACE. 17 is the Water issue and I talked to Meg about doing the rest of the 4 elements and doing "Earth" next.

Before I made it final she mentioned it to her fiancé and he started working on something. (Meg got engaged over the holidays). So to keep peace in the family I guess it's going to be "Earth".

THE PULSE: Have you considered making some of the Oh, Comics! catalogue available online in webcomics format?

CORBY:
A lot of my Bunny Blues strips has been up at onetime or another and there are previews of issues 16 and 17 up on ComicSpace. I don't think I've thought about it beyond that since I don't own the work and only asked the contributors permission to print it in the book. I guess I could but I would need to contact all of them and get their permission. There are a lot of the strips up on each of the contributors sites. I usually ask them to give me one year before they reproduce them anywhere else as a courtesy. I've been busy uploading "Test!" up on ComicSpace which coincidently finished up on January 8th with page 86.



THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?

CORBY:
Well, There's the life long Bunny Blues/Leaves project. Issue #5 is underway. I'm hoping to get it ready for SPACE in April. There's SPACE in April. We just awarded the first annual SPACE Prize to Bill Knapp for his graphic novel "Thorn in the Side". You can see more about that at the SPACE website. I'll be working on the award presentations for that. We also hope to have an anthology comic by the Art Explorer Post 407 ready for SPACE. We have a great bunch of student this year. Their pretty talented and already have the "Lump of Coal" book under their belts so I'm hoping we can top that.

Thanks for giving me the chance to tell everybody about Oh,Comics!