Joshua W. Cotter, Barnard, has self-published a new comic, “Thee Infinite©,” a satire dealing with current world issues.
Cotter took a new approach to this comic. His earlier graphic novels, “nod away, volume one and two,” “Driven by Lemons” and “Skyscrapers of the Midwest,” have been hard cover books. He carefully plotted and edited the books before starting to draw.
On “Thee Infinite©,” Cotter just started to draw his story panel by panel taking in his thoughts of the last few years of social and political unrest, along with the pandemic situation. Cotter took a break from volume three of “nod away,” his current work-in-progress, which wasn’t processing his worries.
“Satire is one of my favorites,” Cotter said. “Satire can deal with heavy topics. The first few panels were very serious but then it turned to satire. We deal with the heavy things in our lives. Satire allows us to look at our worries from a different angle and observe.”
Cotter printed the graphic novel on newsprint, which allowed him to keep costs down and brought the comic to print faster than a published book which would have taken at least a year. The publishing of the comic was assisted by the Nodaway News Leader’s publisher, Kay Wilson.
“The problem with self-publishing is you have to do the distribution yourself,” Cotter said. “After 20 years of doing comics, I have contacts which makes it much easier to get the comic out.”
As a child, Cotter did not have a lot of access to comics, although he found the Sunday funnies and the few comics he came across fascinating. Knowing that he wanted a career in art, Cotter attended the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, for illustration.
While at college, he became acquainted with independent comics and enjoyed the variety of styles and voices used to tell stories through illustrations. He also saw the Robert Crumb documentary, “Crumb,” which is about the noted underground cartoonist.
After college, Cotter worked in Kansas City as a graphic designer. He began to frequent comic stores including Friendly Frank’s Comic Cavern, Kansas City. There, Cotter found self-published mini comics. He decided this was something he could do to discover his voice as a cartoonist.
This was the beginning of “FUN,” a three-issue mini comic, totalling 72 pages. He would make 50 copies of each issue and take them to different stores to sell in the Kansas City area.
In 2001, the Sam Raimi “Spiderman” movie was released and led to the Kansas City Star doing a story on local artists. Along with a recommendation from Friendly Frank’s, this led Cotter to doing a weekly strip in the Star, named “Send Help” from 2002-07. Cotter honed his skills and determined what worked and what didn’t.
It takes five years for Cotter to complete a hardback graphic novel. It is labor intensive. Cotter has been working on “nod away” for 12 years and decided he needed a break from volume three.
“It’s good to get out of your comfort zone as an artist and to be spontaneous,” Cotter said about his break to work on “Thee Infinite©.”
“I have an obligation to my readers,” he said. “There still will be seven volumes of ‘nod away.’ Each takes five years but I plan to work on some side projects to push myself in other directions.”
His first two graphic novels, “Driven by Lemons” and “Skyscrapers of the Midwest” are currently out of print. Cotter plans to reissue the volumes with supplemental material in the future.
Cotter, his wife, Momoko, and their two young children live in a house they built themselves east of Barnard.
“nod away volumes one and two,” $25 each, can be purchased directly from him at his online store: jwcotter.bigcartel.com. Cotter will do a drawing in the book and sign a dedication if purchased from his store. The books are also available at amazon.com and other booksellers.
“Thee Infinite©” is available at the Nodaway News Leader for $2.