Q&A: Jim Munroe

“Therefore Repent!” is one of the coolest books you’ve never read. Set in the midst of the end times in Chicago, it’s about a few things – how to deal with the rapture, and what exactly is going on. Why is George Bush making appearances with Jesus Christ, and why are armed angels patrolling the streets? Well, you’ll just have to read the damn book, especially now that a follow-up, “Sword of my Mouth” is coming to your nerd store in May.

I got the chance to ask some questions of the writer, Jim Munroe, about where “Sword” fits in, why he can’t seem to sit still and the advantages he’s found in making his books free online …

Considering the ending of Therefore Repent!, how does Sword of my Mouth figure in?

It’s set a bit after the ending of TR!, but it’s set in Detroit rather than Chicago. There are rumours about what happened at the end of TR!, but magic still works and the world is still changed.

After writing a handful of novels, you penned Therefore Repent! What made you want to change literary forms?

I like reading prose novels, and so I write ’em. I like comics, so I write ’em. I like games, so I make ’em. I like movies, so I make ’em. To me it seems like a natural thing.

You like to work in many formats, including interactive games, etc. What others do you hope to tackle?

I’ve been thinking about that myself. I’m not sure — depends on what’s inspiring me lately. I don’t change mediums simply for the sake of medium-hopping. I dig the challenge in learning how to make something, and the freshness of being a creator in a different scene.

How did Time Management for Anarchists become a comic? What led from it being a presentation to being a multimedia arc?

It started as a seminar — that was OK. Then I made a Flash animation version of it — that was a big hit. Then I thought, maybe it’d make a good book, and because I was working in comics — so I tried it out in that form. I think it worked best as an animation, actually, but hey, every experiment can’t go perfectly.

After writing at Harper Collins, you decided to jump head first into self-publishing. What feelings went into your anarchist politics vs. publishing through Harper Collins?

It was more of going back to self-publishing, as I’d published books and zines since I was 17. I wasn’t comfortable with the Murdoch ownership – he’s a great example of what’s wrong with media consolidation, as a right winger happy to abuse his position and power. But I was interested
in seeing what it was like to work with a publisher. The experience was fine – the book did well, etc. etc., but when I had another book I was more excited about working with my own community to put out a book independently. It worked well, sold better than my first and got more attention, and so I’ve kept at it.

Your site encourages self-publishers along, and helps them in their quests. What is the importance of Do it Yourself media to you?

Regardless of your politics, it’s exciting to see less barriers to media making. I would rather wade through boring stuff and find something completely unique and interesting than depend on a third party to do it for me. As an anarchist it’s particularly important because it breaks down the power being concentrated in the hands of the media conglomerates.

What advantages were there to distributing Therefore Repent! through IDW vs. going the self-publishing route?

I did both — I self-published in Canada, my country, and IDW did it in the US, so there’s two editions. IDW has good distribution in comic stores, and I already had good distro in Canada to the book trade. With this next book we’re co-publishing one edition that will be branded as
both No Media Kings and IDW, which will save on printing costs.

Both Time Management for Anarchists and Therefore Repent! have been distributed on Archive.org under a Creative Commons license, in addition to some of your other projects. What thoughts went into making this decision?

CC licences allow artists to riff off what you’re doing, without being ripped off by big companies, which is ideal for my way of working. I like making the digital copy available for free because I see it as a great promotional tool. I’m more excited by an active readership than by sales numbers.

Want to get prepped for Sword of my Mouth? Read it’s predecessor, Therefore Repent! on Archive.org by clicking here. And of course, visit Jim Munroe’s site No Media Kings for more projects, comics and self-publishing tips.