by Jamison Ashley
A comic book industry veteran since 1996, Pussycats creator/writer Vince Brusio is widely recognized as the Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com , where he produces monthly written interviews with comic book writers and artists and conducts video interviews with comics professionals and celebrities regularly at Baltimore, New York, and San Diego Comic Con conventions.
In 2012 he formed E-Comix with the purpose of publishing comic books that would give him complete creative control. In the late spring/early summer of that year E-Comix’s first book was released and bundled as licensed merchandise for the death metal band Dying Fetus. The publicized success of that comic quickly led to E-Comix’s second licensed book for another death metal band Autopsy in 2012. That second comic, Autopsy: Feast for a Funeral, was heavily promoted by the band’s label, Peaceville Records, and led to critical reviews by the metal industry’s biggest news site (Blabbermouth), as well as major music magazines such as Decibel, Revolver, and Metal Hammer.
Eventually Vince turned to his own creation, ‘Pussycats’ which is E-Comix’s first property for the direct comic market. The series features colorful characters such as Cowgirl Cathy, Schoolgirl Suzie, Nurse Nancy, Powerhouse Pam, and Mother Superior. It’s an action/thriller all-female team book that mixes Sons of Anarchy with Jennifer Blood and Stray Bullets telling pulp tales of ass-kicking dames going up against gangsters and world governments.
A trade paperback edition, Pussycats Volume 1 TPB, was released in September 2015, collecting issues #0 and the #1-4 mini-series and is currently available digitally from Comixology. Two mini-series have since been released, “Sex, Drugs, & The Impossible” and “The End of Everything,” both of which have now been collected in the Pussycats Volume 2: Impossible Sex On Drugs TPB.
“Its ‘Pulp Fiction’ meets ‘12 Monkeys’ with drama, zombies, and an ugly space monster.”
Vince was cool enough to do an interview with us to tell us what’s happening with the Pussycats these days and tell us how E-Comix has been able to keep doing the independent comic thing.
BF: The latest mini-series, Pussycats: The End of Everything #1 just came out in March, what can we expect from this series?
VB: You can expect a short pause of the ongoing Pussycats storyline to see into the future where soldiers are eaten by zombies, and two patriotic paramilitary fighters try to show that it’s all happening by design. They’re trying to expose political corruption that’s responsible for decimating the planet in 2034. If you read the previous series, “Sex, Drugs, & The Impossible,” this apocalypse was predicted by Mother Superior in issue #2. Now we see what her prediction looks like, and what it means for lesbian lovers Viper and Foxglove, which were new characters first introduced in the “Sex….” series. In “The End of Everything,” besides the threat of a zombie apocalypse, we’ll learn more about Viper and Foxglove’s romantic relationship, as well as their personal connection to Mother Superior. Its ‘Pulp Fiction’ meets ‘12 Monkeys’ with drama, zombies, and an ugly space monster.
BF: You first got into comic publishing doing comics about death metal bands, and now you’re doing titillating spy thrillers with adult film stars. What kind of stories do you want to see E-Comix doing in another 5 years?
VB: Pussycats is my pride and joy. I plan to publish the series as long as there’s air to breathe. I’d like to point out, too, that while the series was launched with a marketing campaign that included adult film stars Karen Summer, Priya Anjali Rai, and Tanya Tate, Pussycats having real adult film stars as characters in the story was just the first act. Those ladies I just mentioned are only in the #0 issue.
The ongoing main characters in the story are my own, and made up of mercenaries, grifters, special ops, and paramilitary fighters. Tough women that don’t quit, and handle any firearm with ease. Mother Superior, Cowgirl Cathy, Schoolgirl Suzie, Nurse Nancy, and Powerhouse Pam bring a lot of history with them to this all-female team book. So much, in fact, that one-shots to explore more about their past lives would be part of that 5-year equation.
But beyond what stories E-Comix will publish, I’m thinking more about how we’ll publish so that Pussycats becomes more of a recognizable brand in comics. That kind of conversation will also have more of a direct bearing on those one-shots I just mentioned. Starting with the “Sex…” series, we started getting our cover models to do some short downloadable videos for us as “DVD Extras” material we offered in the back of the books. It gives readers the chance to see the cover models say a few things about themselves, and point readers to their social sites.
“I’m Italian, so I guess you can say the Godfather has decided it’s time to start his own family.”
Aside from the soundtrack we did for “The End of Everything,” those videos have been the most popular feature in our editorial section. So I want to expand on it, and take it to the next level. I want fans to have more access to those models, and have more of an interactive experience with them. I want to do more of these videos, and I want to feature personalized merchandise from these models as their respective Pussycats characters. I’m convinced that this is the way to go, because the issues signed by the models which I offered on Kickstarter were the most popular rewards in the campaigns. So I’ve stopped using a subcontractor for the photo covers, and I’m producing them in-house. We’re using models in my home state, or nearby, as this gives us more opportunity to produce signed merchandise with the ladies more easily, and it allows them to be more involved in future conventions and store signings. I’m Italian, so I guess you can say the Godfather has decided it’s time to start his own family.
“If you’re offended, then it’s not for you.”
BF: While the Pussycats series has been heavy on women’s empowerment, it’s definitely not politically correct. How has that been received in today’s climate and how do you respond to criticism?
VB: The book’s biggest fans have been women. I have the pictures to prove it. Women have said to me at shows, in person, and online that they love how my characters are badasses. Many of them have the same story to tell: they say, “I saw your cover, and I was like…OK. Not sure if I’m going to like this book. Then I read it, and I saw that your book doesn’t degrade women, it actually empowers them. I love it!” Which is the point of the title. You think these ladies are pushovers. They’re “pussycats.” Then before you know it, they kick your ass.
Moral of the story: judge a book by the cover, and you’ll lose. Every time. Because you didn’t even read the book. In short, if I can explain this book’s premise verbatim at any given time, and people still want to say that my book is “sexist,” well, let them. They can think what they want. What I’m out to do is to tell a good story. I’m out to make a good comic book about tough women that kick ass. If you’re offended, then it’s not for you.
“You think these ladies are pushovers. They’re “pussycats.” Then before you know it, they kick your ass.”
BF: You’re also the editor of PREVIEWSworld, which has to be a lot of work. How do you find time to create?
VB: I don’t sleep much. I’m very “Type A” personality,and keep busy all the time. I work night and day. But I’m doing what I love, so it’s a win-win for me.
BF: What have you learned as a comics publisher since you started out?
VB: Great question! First, don’t solicit ANYTHING until you have it in your hands and it’s finished. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Second, your job as a publisher is to deliver product to a retailer ON TIME. Integrity is everything. That’s why we delivered a reprinted issue of “The End of Everything” #1 to stores in the same month after we learned of the misprint. Retailers have invested their money in your product, and fans expect you as a publisher to honor your ship date. Don’t let them down. Your publishing schedule is your bond. Honor it.
BF: You’re the sole creator/writer of Pussycats. Do you ever entertain the idea of letting other creators take a crack at these stories?
VB: Yeah, it could happen. If I could find someone as dedicated as me, maybe, when it came to the book’s characters. But that’s a tall order to fill. Just ask my wife. I’m a perfectionist. I don’t waste time. I don’t tolerate fools. The proof has to be in the pudding. Always. No posers allowed.
BF: It must be a heavy burden hanging out with so many beautiful women at the comic conventions… how do suffer through it? 🙂
VB: Yeah, amazing what life can look like when you treat people with dignity and respect. You get what you give. So be a good moral person. When people see they can trust you, doors open. One of those doors can be your wife who doesn’t mind you hanging out with beautiful women at a comic convention. Another door is Playboy Playmate Kristy Ann (Powerhouse Pam) who will be with me at the E-Comix booth signing autographs and taking pictures on September 28 at Baltimore Comic Con. Show honor and loyalty to those you love and work with, and watch the chips fall your way.
BF: Pussycats looks like it could be adult-only fare and outside of the mainstream. Do you ever feel any urge to create something for all-audiences?
VB: Well, as far as Pussycats being “adult only” fare, let me say that Pussycats is a “Mature Readers” title. It’s not labeled “Adult Material” in the PREVIEWS catalog like you would see from books solicited from publishers like Eros Comix. Outside of the mainstream, though? Yeah. That’s safe to say. I march to the beat of my own drum.
Now, me making stuff for a general audience? Oh, yeah. Of course. That’s on my bucket list. My daughter has autism, and I would love to be able to grow as a writer and produce some type of book for kids with that disability. My daughter is a big, big, big part of my life, and the fact that she can play the piano like she’s Elton John is proof that kids with disabilities have much more to show us than what we would ever think is possible. So, yeah, I’d love to be able to raise that bar some day. I have a lot of respect for creators that make a product for younger readers. It takes a special kind of mind to make all-audiences entertainment, and I admire those people.
It’s the same industry since when I was a kid. It’s still all about the stories.
BF: What is your favorite thing about working in today’s comics industry?
VB: It hasn’t changed. It’s the same industry since when I was a kid. It’s still all about the stories. So I’ve got a job that I love. For 22 years, I’ve been paid to help people tell their stories, and now I get paid to tell my own. In the words of James Cagney in White Heat, “Made it, Ma. Top of the world.”
BF: What else can we look forward to from Vince Brusio and E-Comix in the coming year?
VB: Dedication. More characters. More shows. And more crowdfunding. The latter being the lifeblood for an independent publisher. I’m going to be making variants for the 4-issue 2019 series that are exclusive to their respective crowdfunding campaigns. So we’re talking micro-press numbers. That’s a good thing, though. It gives collectors a higher resale value when they put them on Ebay or sell them through Facebook. Tweet us at @e_comix_net and tell us how you made out.
BF: Thanks for your time, Vince. We wish you all the very best of luck on this endeavor and we’re rooting for you.
VB: Thanks buddy.