Stan is the writer of the critically acclaimed horror graphic novel series The Rejected. Stan, also known as "The Warrior Poet", has been nominated twice for “The Spacey Award” for Best Indie Comic Writer (2016 & 2017). He is currently nominated for two more "Spacey Awards" for "Best Current Writer" & "Best Current Series". Stan's own "Mr. Teeth" is also nominated this year for "Best Comic Character".
Chris Hall: How did you first get into comics? What was the first book that you can remember that sparked your passion for comics?
Stan Konopka: I was reading comics in the '70s at my father’s small grocery store and I believe it was a Disney book or maybe Spider-Man. I loved the Sunday comic strips as well. I saw that there was a local comic con in 2010 called The Great Allentown Comic Con, and I went to see what it was all about. That is where I met JK Woodward he gave me the best advice I’ve ever been given. I asked him what the best way to break into Comics was. He looked at me stone faced and said “Get your shit together and make your comic.” I have referred to him as my Yoda since.
CH: Who have been some of the biggest influences on you writing style, and how has their influence impacted your style?
SK: To be completely honest I believe I draw a lot from Hunter S Thompson and Clive Barker. Their styles have influenced me to write the unbelievable while keeping it somehow believable and psychologically relatable, which is key to keeping readers.
CH: How did you get started creating your own comics, and is there a certain atmosphere/place that you have to be in to get the creative juices flowing?
"The Rejected #1" cover art
SK: I decided to start making comics shortly before my first son was born. I thought it would be an easy transition from screenwriting. I was completely wrong; it was an entirely different animal, and then I had to learn from the bottom up. So I bought Andy Schmidt's The Insider's Guide to Creating Comics and Graphic Novels, and I set out to do just that. I finally self-published my own comic for the first time in 2013, called The Man With No Horse; it took me four years to sell/give away roughly 500 copies. However, I was doing it all wrong. Once I was signed by Source Point Press, I learned very quickly how it’s done. When the Rejected #1 premiered at Motor City Comic Con 2017, I sold all 100 copies by Sunday morning. #BestFeelingEver I only accomplished this because of the great team I am a part of. If I’m in a cool environment and have the chance to write, I always do. Having a smart phone these days makes it much easier to write on the go.
CH: What kind of experience do you want the reader to have when they are reading your stories?
SK: I try to weasel a message into each story as much as I can without throwing it down your throat. I hope the experience they have while reading my work provides not only entertainment but perhaps a little to think about as well. Or just for a real fun dark-as-hell horror story.
CH: Where did the inspiration for The Rejected come from, and who came up with the concept design for Mr. Teeth?
SK: The Rejected started out as a five page warm-up script that I was going to use to pitch to several independent comic book publishers. Once I heard that Source Point Press was looking for horror stories, they were the first people I wanted to pitch. Mr. Teeth is an amalgam of several characters in dark pop culture. Mr. Teeth’s concept design was created on the script page and then brought to life by the first artist, and then now by the amazing Shawn Langley.
CH: When you were creating Mr. Teeth, whom or what were your influences for this character?
SK: He’s sort of a demon, cursed to bring 100 souls to buy his way back into hell by the devil himself. I wanted him to be a blend of the creepy bastard from The Tall Man and the dude from Poltergeist in the black hat and suit. That bastard scared me as a kid.
"The Rejected #2" cover
CH: Are there going to be more issues of The Rejected in the future? Do you have any other projects that you are working on that we can know about?
SK: There is definitely one more volume of The Rejected coming your way. The deadline is August, so it won’t be too long before it’s in your hands. I was talking about a small issue run based in the world of The Rejected somehow, but we will see how that pans out. Right now I’m working with an artist on a new script for another trilogy, this time a little more "creature feature" than last. Also they will be floppy comics which is pretty cool. I plan on turning in all three at once so my publisher doesn’t have to wait on my flaky ass... again.
CH: What has been the most influential experience of your career so far, and how has it impacted you?
SK: Frankly it’s everything, from the other creators, readers, and con attendees. It’s instant validation every time you sell a book with honesty and spirit; you really can’t beat that feeling.
CH: If you can tell the fans anything what would it be?
SK: Thank you for all the support and don’t worry, I’ll be dead soon and those books will be worth something!