Find Ways to Amplify the People Around You: Ben Passmore Interview


interview by Chrissy Wilmes

 photo courtesy of Ben Passmore
photo courtesy of Ben Passmore

Tell us a little about yourself; what makes you tick as a creator?

I lived in the south for a long time where I drew a lot of comics about punks and anarchists to entertain myself and my friends. I’ve been luck more recently to have the opportunity to make comics for The Nib and produce some longer works that reach more people, but my comics are still and extension of what I’m trying to do in my life and conversations with my friends about our lives and politics. So my work is particularly prescriptive politically but I like to have a sense of humor about myself and what I believe because, like everyone else, I’m a huge hypocrite.     


What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?

Prioritize finishing projects and don’t be afraid to fail. 

What would you have told your younger self about what you are doing today? What do you hope your older self might tell you today?

I don’t think my younger self would have had any interesting in an old bald man’s advice, but I’d probably tell him to drop out of college after the second year and ride more freight trains. Also don’t spend some much time being thirsty bout Amy. What would older self say? I dunno, bury some gold and guns for retirement?

Other than your own projects, who are some other makers that inspire you to keep creating?

People need to be reading Richie Pope comics and everything on the Silver Sprocket label…except my own comics, you can miss those. I’m out of my mind.


How can makers “pass the stapler” to others to build community and promote inclusivity in their spaces?

I’ve been in a lot of rooms of mostly white (all white except for me) punk, political, and comics spaces where people are asking themselves how to have more “types” of people there, it strikes me as the wrong way to propose the problem. A scene is gonna be really white if it’s comprised of people that only exists in predominantly white spaces and have predominantly white friends. If you want to have a more diverse scene you gotta have more types of friends, otherwise you’re hunting got tokens, which is a pursuit that has way more to do with a white person’s sense of guilt than a desire to engage actual individual people. Think about what is exciting about comics to you and then think about how to share that with someone.  


This year’s Expo’s theme is “You Can Do This, Too!” What advice do you have for someone wanting to get more engaged with their community as a creator, organizer or activist, who doesn’t know where to start?   

Despite being an organizer of a comic festival and having a history of activities that someone might describe as “activist,” I don’t really love those terms or the way people dress themselves up as those things. Thinking of yourself as an “organizer” or “activist” professionalizes your passion, it becomes something intractable to the way you see yourself in society. Why not respond to a space based on your passion without a fixed understanding of how your supposed to participate? For me being in a community means finding ways to amplify the people around me rather than prioritizing being seen as a leader. We can be tyrants or our own art, but when you’re in a groups space (art show, comic festival, collective zine, ect.) the only way to be a benefit is to be a sturdy foundation instead of some edifice.  


Your Black Friend has received massive critical acclaim. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from this success?

Never let anyone one tell you who you are, or what your best work is. 

What are you most looking forward to at STLSPExpo 2018?

I’m just excited to see my people in St. Louis and see how the city is rocking.

Anything else you’d like for our followers to know? 

Stay woke.

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