"I’M SHOWING PEOPLE THAT THROUGH MY DETERMINATION AND HARD WORK THINGS CAN HAPPEN. I’M HAPPY TO BE ABLE TO INSPIRE, LIKE OTHERS HAVE INSPIRED ME."
Kalani Caraballo is a writer based out of Kearny, New Jersey. He has been producing and writing comic books since early 2016. Titles such as Home, Manifesto, Pistol Grip, and the newly released title Messenger. Along with his Editor/Fiancee Chrissy Torres, they operate their own publishing company Dummie Comics Inc.
Where are your from?
I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Both my parents are from the greatest island on Earth, Puerto Rico. My family left Hawaii for Newark, New Jersey when I was three years old. My Dad and Mom divorced when I was four, and my Mom moved my brother and I to Kearny, New Jersey where I still currently reside.
Where did you grow up?
My beginning years I started out in Hawaii, Newark, and my formative years I was in Kearny.
How did your experiences affect your writing?
In general, my life is in my writing. Through my writing you can see my vision and sometimes my opinion on certain things. I know my experiences definitely helped me write Home. At the same time some of my father’s experiences made it into Manifesto. So nothing is spared honestly. I’m growing in life through my writing.
You and your partner run your own publishing company Dummie Comics Inc. What inspired you to start your own business?
I have to say it started with the idea of just wanting to write and publish a comic. Originally the idea was just to do one. My first comic I wrote was this Hip Hop, Alien story, titled Last of a Dying Breed. After commissioning an artist to illustrate Last of a Dying Breed, I had started writing Home.
I ended up losing interest in Last of a Dying Breed, and solely focused on Home. I completed the full series of Home in a span of two weeks. While I was finishing Home, the idea of Manifesto came to me. After completing Home, I immediately started writing Manifesto. I realized I had two comic series on my hand. At that moment it became about Dummie Comics the brand, not me.
The mission for Dummie Comics Inc to inspire others to do things that other people might have told them that they could not ever accomplish.
Please share why you feel this is an important mission and how your comics fulfill this mission.
When I originally told people about me wanting to get into the comic business everyone I knew laughed at me. They said things like, “You can’t draw”, “How are you going to compete with characters that have a 75 year legacy?”, we heard it all. I want to inspire people to give themselves a chance.
I knew if I didn’t trust my gut feeling, and listened to those people, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. Everyday I wake up, and push this brand as hard as I can, and the results show.
This isn’t a little comic thing or a hobby. Slowly but surely things are happening. I’m showing people that through my determination and hard work things can happen. I’m happy to be able to inspire, like others have inspired me. Keep going! And only listen to yourself.
What type of stories do you like to make comics about?
To be honest it depends on my mood when I pick up the pen to write. It also depends on the character I am writing for at that moment. I tend to enjoy writing stuff with a lot of grittiness to it.
What’s your process? Elaborate on how you work through your projects. How do you break up your time for your projects at different stages?
My process is simple. Usually when I come up with an idea for a comic I like to know how I’m going to end it, so I usually write the ending first. From there everything comes naturally.
I’ll envision the entire story, and flesh out what I want to see on each page. Then I’ll begin my dialogue.
Once I complete the script, and we green light the script to be illustrated, I’ll go through the entire script one more time, and make any corrections, then I’ll send it to my Editor and partner Chrissy Torres. She’ll make her corrections, and then send it back to me for my approval. Once completed, we send it to our illustrator Frank Castro, and then play the waiting game.
While an issue is being illustrated, I’ll start working on another script. Sometimes for the same character, other times for another. It’s all about balance, and lucky for me, each of our characters have different universes, so there’s never a loss of creativity, because they’re all different.
What do you recommend to aspiring writers/creators that you wish you had known much earlier? What would you tell yourself 20 years ago?
Have fun. Remember you’re creating a comic book. It’s a source of entertainment. Your imagination will take you as far as you let it. Just keep creating, and don’t stop. 20 years ago I was 11 years old, I would probably tell myself not to worry so much, and to have fun.
As long as you have your imagination you’ll be alright, and nobody can take that away from you.
What do you love best about making comics?
My favorite part about making comics, is being able to express myself, and seeing my vision come to life. But also, its the reaction we get from our readers.
Being able to see people react to something you saw in your head is always a good thing, whether positive or negative. Every time we’re about to release a new issue it’s an exciting time. Sometimes the feeling of seeing the finished product can be better than sex.
What do you wish was different about the comics industry?
I wish consumers/retailers were more open minded, and that people got out of their comfort zones and to give more things a chance. I know a lot of consumers and shops that won’t buy anything that doesn’t bare a DC or Marvel logo. I'll tell you right now, some of the best comics in the world aren’t even produced by those two. People don’t know what they’re missing out on.
Which books do you recommend artists should have in their reference library? Favorite instructional material?
To be honest, I’ve never picked up anything as instructional material. When I began writing, I kind of just dove in head first, and hoped for the best.
I believe I looked up a few articles on writing comic scripts on Google, mainly they all said, “Comic book scripts are instructional manuals for what the artist is going to draw on the page”. Once I heard that it was go time.
The best references to me are comic books themselves. You have to be a fan of the medium to know what you want to see out of your comics, and what you don’t want to see in your comic books. My teachers were Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Kevin Eastman, etc. I mean how could I fail going to the college of those guys?
Top 5 Favorite Artists?
In no order:
Frank Castro (Artist of Home and Manifesto)
Top Favorite Comic characters?
In no order:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Guardians of The Galaxy (Early team)
NFL Super Pro
Top 5 Favorite comics, graphic novels?
Frank Miller’s Daredevil run
Jim Valentino’s Guardians of the Galaxy run
Stan Lee & Jack Kirby’s run on Fantastic Four
Secret Wars Volume 1
Steve Gerber’s Foolkiller run
Michel Fiffe’s Copra
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Dwayne McDuffie’s Hardware
What type of work are you interested in doing? Now? In the future?
Right now I’m really excited about everything Dummie Comics Inc. In 2019, I’m looking to finally completing all issues of Home and Manifesto. Manifesto #3 is on the way, and Home #3 should be completed shortly there after.
As far as the future, I’m looking forward to introducing two new series. I consider these to be my dream projects, and ultimately, my best work. I can’t wait to see these projects come to life.
How can others find/ purchase your work? Website, social media link, etc
You can follow Dummie Comics on these social networks:
Our work can be purchased on www.Gumroad.com/DummieComicsInc
Works available from Dummie Comics Inc