It’s anniversary week for TRIP CITY, the Brooklyn-filtered literary arts salon that launched digitally one year ago in November 2011 under the guidance of founding members and curators Dean Haspiel (BILLY DOGMA, BORED TO DEATH), Seth Kushner (CulturePOP, LEAPING TALL BUILDINGS, SCHMUCK), Chris Miskiewicz (EVERYWHERE), and Jeffrey Burandt (AMERICANS UK). TRIP CITY has also chosen their anniversary week to launch and release information about a wide range of new content, so this was a timely opportunity to ask them about what’s coming up next.
The four founders and curators of the original content, creator-owned website agreed to be interviewed by The Beat about their original goals and aspirations for their ambitious project and the ways in which the site continues to fire their imagination. Today we’re talking with Chris Miskiewicz, writer, actor, renaissance man, and Jeffrey Burandt, aka Jef UK, writer, artist, and front man for the “post-punk apocalyptic rock” band AMERICANS UK.
Together, Miskiewicz and Burandt form two areas of intense activity and growth for TRIP CITY as they push the boundaries of the digital arts, bringing both music and video content to the site, as well as interacting with other TRIP CITY creators through a common love of the comics medium. Many of the goals that they are realizing currently on TRIP CITY were present from the very beginning of the site, but are only now hitting their stride: to make TRIP CITY fully multimedia and set up a dialogue between comics, literature, and other visual arts. The curators make no bones about the difficulties they’ve faced, however, in a startup non-profit venture based on the need for community building to create a fan base. Here are some thoughts on where TRIP CITY came from and some of the intriguing content lying ahead for the site courtesy of Miskiewicz and Burandt:
What was your initial vision for what TRIP CITY would be or hopefully accomplish?
[Chris Miskiewicz, photo by Seth Kushner]
Chris Miskiewicz: TRIP CITY started up from conversations between Seth Kushner, Dean Haspiel and myself in our former studio, Hang Dai Studios. Dean was looking to stretch his muscles outside of just doing comics. Seth was looking to continue creating and showcasing photocomix. And I wanted a forum where I could post an ample amount of my own short story writing, which I’ve done in my spoken word Signals Collection, as well as start some sort of a hub for short films and web series. Then Jef UK showed up wanting to do music and comics, which basically rounded up what TRIP CITY would try to hit, Prose, Comics, a Podcast Series, News Stories, Music, and a pending Webseries Channel, where the four of us would curate content that we found exciting, interesting, different. Dean’s original charter was “For us Bias,” which is basically what we’ve done.
Running a free site full of free content for a full year was a good, and sometimes tough experiment. I always felt like we’d take a year to figure out what this whole thing was about. At the end of that year I’m proud of everyone’s work, time and efforts. I feel like TRIP CITY is still a work in progress and I’m curious to see what happens, and how we refine what we’re doing, as well as monetizing parts of the site and it’s already ample amount of existing content. If you look at the site, you can get lost there. We managed to publish more content then any of us thought we would in a year’s time.
[Jeffrey Burandt, aka Jef UK, photo by Seth Kushner]
Jeffrey Burandt (aka Jef UK): My vision for TRIP CITY was to release daily content, featuring music, art, fiction, web comics and podcast interviews, and we’re doing that, and we’re finally hitting the right amount of content per day or week, which is to say about 4 to 5 new pieces during the work week. I’d like to see TRIP CITY move to more tablet-friendly platforms next, and I hope to get more of my talented friends involved in the next year. It’s been fun trying to think of ways to tell stories that maximizes the way TRIP CITY works, because I like experimenting, and I think I’ve figured out for the most part what works best on TRIP CITY and what doesn’t.
What’s up and coming this year that interests or excites you about TRIP CITY?
CM: I’m looking forward to the launch of TRIP CITY’s Youtube station where we’ll be hosting original shorts and webseries. This is going to be my new corner of the site, and I’m stoked for what’s coming.
We’re starting off with Secret Identity, a nine-minute short film, which was directed by Christopher Piazza and written by me, where we meet Tommy (Zachariah Durr) the newest hire at an office where everything is slightly off. Tommy finds himself constantly taunted by his cubical mate, Ted (Chris Miskiewicz) while having to endure awkward conversations with his Boss (Paul Coughlan) and the rest of the staff.
And then in January we launch our first original ongoing original webseries, Justice & Control: Cop City Blues, a police parody that pokes fun at prime time cop shows. It stars myself, Paul Coughlan, Alexander Martin Jones, Paul Bosche and Jake Declement. I’ve been working with this group of actors for the last year and we’ve come up with a really unorthodox brand of humor that I think people will enjoy.
And then as far as the rest of Trip City goes, we’ll be publishing a new ongoing comic series, MENU by Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon in December. It’s got a different artist every episode, in an anthology format, and I’m a big fan of anthologies. And Matt’s pretty cool too.
JB: I’m excited about the end of Time Bum, the series of single-panel comix that artist Paul Ahern and I make together. We have a plot twist coming up, if you can imagine what a plot twist might look like in a single-panel comic miniseries. Once we get to December, I hope readers will go back through and see how we foreshadowed the end.
I’m also excited about the new episodes of Just Super I have coming up. Just Super is artist ZeeS’s and my comic that imagines a world where superheroes are just another wave of gentrification in formerly poor neighborhoods. We’ve got some other surprise artists on board to tell some of our stories, so we should have a few come out next year.
[JUST SUPER: BIBBIN'S BODEGA, art by Zees]
Also, my band Americans UK, who performs the above-mentioned “Time Bum” punk rock song, has a new album coming out next year titled Where Giants Walk, so TRIP CITY will have some exclusive tie-ins to that release, including an all-new comic-book-music-video for our song “Titans of Tyranny,” from said album. Artist and AM/UK bassist John “Johnny Flagday” Mathias is working on that with us.
[Art for TITANS OF TYRANNY, by John Mathias]
Also, graphic novelist Laura Lee Gulledge is going to start a new series of art and essays that will show off some of her single-image cartoons and paintings and the like. They are amazing! So much heart and character in a single image! They are each like really poignant New Yorker cartoons, and so she’ll have several grouped together into themes, and talk about said themes and stuff. We’re still working out exactly what it will be, but it should debut in January, we hope.
Thanks for the insight into TRIP CITY’s inception, Chris and Jef, and for the sneak-peek at what’s coming our way! The Beat will continue its series of TRIP CITY interviews this week with Dean Haspiel and Seth Kushner. Stay tuned!
Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.