Lifelong comic book fan Ken Eppstein started Nix Comics, Columbus’ independent comic publisher, two years ago because he wasn’t interested in available mass-market products. As the lead writer and editor-in-chief of Nix, Eppstein makes sure the stories maintain a fast-paced, compelling arc and are as subversive as they are appealing.
The overarching theme of Nix Comics is modern fables. All of the stories are very much geared toward — “morality plays” would be a little heavy-handed, but that’s basically what they are. Nix Comics Quarterly, which is my flagship book, is an anthology which … is all in the spirit of the “Tales from the Crypt” [books], which were basically morality plays.
Recently I’ve gotten into some longer stuff. I did a full 20-page kids comic with one basic story arc. The western I just put out is a single 28-page story, but still has the same kind of cautionary tale aspect to it.
Nix Comics is a modern mythology, a modern set of fables. It runs a little contrary to the mainstream character-driven books of today, but I don’t think Aesop ever worried about the fox’s upbringing or origin story. If you’re playing to a smart audience, they can fill in for themselves and probably much better than I ever could.
I take a take-the-mountain-to-Muhammad point of view on it all. I’m selling at coffee shops, independent book stores and boutiques like What the Rock?! as well as Laughing Ogre and conventional comic bookstores. I very much tailor the books to be popular with record store crowds. They’re in Spoonful, Lost Weekend, Used Kids and Elizabeth’s Records.
I like to put in stuff for my record store friends, a lot of musical and pop culture references. I’m an old “Star Trek” guy, so I like putting in “Star Trek” references that only some people get. It’s important to have those outside touchstones to modern culture because modern comics have become so insular.
The X-Men was the first comic book that was kind of my own. When I was a kid, usually my older brothers would quickly lay claim to whatever I brought into the house. X-Men was the first one that I brought home where they’d go, “What the hell is this?” It’s not the Flash or Superman, so they left it alone.
I’ve always been a big Superman over Batman booster. One’s a rich boy with mommy issues who buys expensive cars to save the world instead of sinking it into education; the other is what we aspire to be. He’s the son of a farmer and a scientist and a crusading journalist.