10 Years of Alterna Comics – an interview with Peter Simeti

On February 2, 2016 Alterna Comics will celebrate 10 years of bringing the world great indie comics.  While the creator of Alterna, Peter Simeti, was too busy for a live interview, he did agree to talk with me over email.

Everyone knows groundhogs day for two reasons; the classic movie starring Bill Murray, and that spring is just around the corner.  This groundhogs day however, brings with it something new to remember it by – Alterna Comics‘ 10 year anniversary.

For those who don’t know, Alterna Comics is an indie publisher that came into this world in 2005 after head honcho, Peter Simeti, had created his own comic and wanted to share it with the world.  According to Simeti, the name Alterna Comics came into being just because it was his best idea at the time.  “It sounded better and less self-serving than Simeti Publishing or whatever else I could think of at the time,” said Simeti.

Despite launching Alterna, Simeti never actually expected to receive any submissions for comics.  It took several people contacting him about submissions before Simeti even legitimized Alterna as a business.  “People came to me in the beginning and after about a year or so, there was a lot of word of mouth due to creators recommending the company to other creators,” said Simeti.

A list of Alterna's top ten best sellers (Care of Alterna Comics)
A list of Alterna’s top ten best sellers (Care of Alterna Comics)

Alterna grew steadily over the years, from jumping into physical distribution in 2008 to the company’s first Free Comic Book Day release in 2009, but it wasn’t immune to the recession.  In 2010 Alterna was staring down the barrel of bankruptcy, and Simeti was forced to turn to crowdfunding to keep Alterna alive.  “We just didn’t have the credit to see us through and I had to restructure and turn to crowdfunding to try and make a go of it,” explained Simeti.  “I tried getting loans from banks, but the tricky thing about loans is that everyone wants to give you one when you don’t need it.  Needless to say, we had a lot of trouble at that time and I’m grateful that we were fortunate enough to be given the chance to turn things around.”  While the first attempt at crowdfunding failed, Simeti refused to give up and launched another which succeeded where the other did not.

According to Alterna’s official timeline, the company currently sports more than 60 different titles such as Mother Russia (from FUBAR Press), Complex, Lilith Dark, and Simeti’s own The Chair, which is currently in production to become a movie.  In addition, Alterna is picking up a list of great new titles for the coming year: All My Ghosts, Cannons in the Clouds, Clusterf@#k, Trespasser, Raygun, Corktown, and many more.

The cover of Mother Russia by Jeff McComsey (Care of Alterna Comics)
A list of Alterna’s top ten best sellers (Care of Alterna Comics)

Simeti has also just made a big announcement about Alterna’s shiny new distribution deal with IPG – meaning this year for Alterna will not just have more comics, but more comics in more places as well.  “Alterna Comics titles will be available in libraries, schools, big box stores, and retail chains across the world within the next two years,” said Simeti.

On February 2, Simeti plans to launch a 14-day kickstarter campaign to fund a full-color character guide of Alterna’s best in celebration of 10 great years.  The book will come with the option of having a regular cover or a variant blank cover for artist sketches and will be 40 pages long.  In addition to the character guide, the kickstarter will also fund an Alterna AnniverSERIES anthology with previews from most of the series’ under the Alterna label, some of which have never been physically printed before.

Simeti urged readers and fans to follow Alterna Comics on Twitter for more information, and as for words of wisdom?  He said simply this:
“Keep reading and keep creating! An imagination is a terrible thing to waste.”

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