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Timothy Lim is one of the most interesting creators in the indie comic scene. Mostly known for his co-creation with Mark Pellegrini, titled Kamen America, the two have managed to build their own niche in the industry and have created a following that they have shown respect and appreciation to due to their professionalism and consistency in terms of quality and regular output.
I had the opportunity of doing an interview with Tim and we discussed a lot of different things regarding his career as an independent creator, Kamen America, his creative process, and a lot more. I hope you enjoy it.
Kevin: First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to do this, Tim. I know you’re a busy man. How are things going for you during these crazy times we’re living in?
Timothy: -Pretty good, all things considered.
How much of an impact did the pandemic have on your projects?
-It made us more productive. We re-calibrated quickly and used a lot of our downtime to work on projects that we had as only “blue sky” concepts a year previously.
For those readers that perhaps are not familiar with you and your work, what can you tell them about yourself?
-I’ve worked for almost a decade doing freelance work for various properties, including comic book covers for IDW, illustrations for Street Fighter, and various merchandising/promo art for other licenses such as Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Hasbro. We went almost 99% independent 4 years ago and started working on our own books, though occasionally I’ll take on some freelance stuff for former clients.
How did you get into comics when you were younger?
-I don’t remember exactly when, but my parents always encouraged me to read anything and everything. Comics were part of that educational/academic experience. The earliest comic that I can recall reading was the movie adaptation for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We had a local comic book store that was only about 3 miles from my house, and I’d use my allowance to buy weekly books… but back then I also got my comics from bookstores, spinner racks, and checkout lines at grocery stores.
Which creators were your biggest influences?
-Artistically, I love Joe Madureira, Ashley Wood, Gabriele Dell’Otto, Shunya Yamashita, Genzoman, Matthew Weldon, Frank Miller, Luigi Teruel, and KaFun.
You have many indie properties of your own, but I would like to focus on perhaps your most famous, Kamen America. How did that project get started?
-Kamen America was a spinoff from our political parody comic, Wall-Might. We had modest success with our ‘Black Hops’ book, so we figured we’d try a superhero/tokusatsu comic at some point. People loved the Warhen character in Wall-Might, so that was our starting point for developing the character into her own title. We pretty much throw into that book all the stuff we love about comics, movies, TV, and manga.
I’m curious: Did Kamen America ever have a major evolution when you were developing the concept or did you have a clear notion of what you wanted to do?
-It was clear from the moment we decided we’d do a book with a heroine as the lead. Mark and I are enamored with “girl next door” types, and a lot of the manga and anime we are familiar with treat their female protagonists with a different touch than a lot of western books — but having grown up with western comics, we knew we could inject both influences into our work.
One thing that I find quite interesting about this comic is that it plays a lot on the many tropes we see on the medium these days regarding female superheroes, but you guys give it a fun and fascinating twist. Are you commenting on some of the tropes we see these days?
-We are, but as it is a non-political book I think the most important thing about the work is what people see in it. We’d like to think that it’s an example of how you can have a girl protagonist and sell it without using the marketing-by-committee buzzword phrases. If we successfully avoid the pitfalls that a lot of western comics make and the reader enjoys the work without knowing what we consciously did, then we consider the story to be a success.
Of course, your partner in crime is Mark Pellegrini. How did you and Mark get together?
-We used to work together for an online movie review blog. I liked his humor and style of writing, and we got along very well from the get-go.
How is your writing process together?
-It’s complimentary. We brainstorm the wider, overarching story and then Mark breaks it down into 3 steps: the general outline, the page breakdown of the outline, and then the script. He has the final say on edits as far as text goes, and I have the final say on edits as far as art goes.
As a fellow writer, I have to admit that I have a bit of jealously about how funny your writing can be at times. What is your secret to making humor in this series and the others you do?
-Mark has the first 3 seasons of the Simpsons memorized, so he has a natural knack for humor. We are always telling sophomoric jokes to each other and trying to make each other laugh, but he’s definitely the funniest one in our group.
Doing research for this interview, I read that the third volume of Kamen America, ‘Homeland Insecurity’, is the third part of the ‘Stars and Strife’ Saga. I’m saying this because I’m curious to know if you guys plan long-term with your books or if you write as you go along?
-We have KA planned at least up to 12 volumes, but we can extend it as far as we need to. We always plan for long-term, bookended stories.
As indie creators, you have gone all-in with your own creations. What are the biggest lessons you have learned in the indie market throughout the years?
-Trust outsiders to the industry with a good head on their shoulders, find people who are good at business.
And in terms of marketing, what do you usually do to promote your books? What has worked for you?
-We use a shotgun-style approach to marketing, using what we can at our disposal– Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Iconic Comics also has a mailing list that we use to reach regular readers.
As the years go by, you guys have been branching out, with more books such as Wall-Might or Black Hops at Iconic Comics. What other ambitions do you have in the long term?
-We really can’t reveal our ambitions, but they’re definitely out there and we’ll start slowly implementing them going into 2022.
What would you suggest to people starting out in comics?
-Do as much of the work on your own as possible. Research the nuts and bolts of printing and fulfillment, and put your trust in people with a track record of competence. Quality is important, but so is time.
Thank you for taking the time to do this, Tim. I appreciate it. Any last words for our readers? Where can we follow you on social and buy your comics?