He’s cordial, well spoken and punctual. He’s deeply interested in expanding the local comic-book community by helping aspiring creators get their names out. His upcoming website which should be up and running by the end of October was designed with the basic idea of it becoming a hub for undiscovered talent to post their work alongside seasoned local veterans such as Hunter himself, his wife, Rachel, Ryan Ottley, Dave Chisholm and others. He also helped organize “Draw Night” at Nobrow Coffee & Tea Company, where local artists get together for a few hours away from their lonely basement studios to shoot the breeze, share ideas and just draw.
This is the reformed Hunter, though. Before marriage, babies and the desire to help others caught up with him, he was kind of a dick.
In his new self-published “antibiography,” Derek Hunter Is a Fuck, Hunter gives readers an inside look at what it was like as a young adult living on his own in Provo and behaving in the exact manner frowned upon and usually chastised by the entire city
The genesis of the book itself is covered in the prologue, in which Hunter bereft of new ideas decides to write his own version of the increasingly popular autobiographical comic only he’d put his own spin on it.
Instead of eye-opening childhood moments and reflective self-discovery, it would be filled with stories of all the times he came out looking like an asshole. And there are a lot of them. But, surprisingly, they’re hilariously told and even a little endearing at times. So, maybe Hunter isn’t all bad.
Hunter cut his teeth in the comics industry with his creator-owned book Pirate Club, about a group of clubhouse kids based loosely on Hunter’s childhood and inspired by great 1980s movies such as Stand By Me and The Goonies. Single-issue sales were a bit lukewarm, but Hunter pressed on. Eventually, wanting a little time off for other projects, he put Pirate Club on hold for a bit to explore other avenues. It’s been back as an online-only Web-comic since spring 2009, publishing two pages a week on Mondays and Thursdays.
Hunter says the online version isn’t as much fun as the published work, but he still manages to put out printed collections every so often.
“I miss the print,” says Hunter, “but I do appreciate the instant feedback. I’ll put up a page and people will tweet me that they liked it, and right away, I get the inspiration I need to keep going.”
Along with the two-days-a-week Pirate Club series, Hunter also works full time as a greeting-card illustrator. His past jobs on video games and films never left him with much time for his own work. The greeting-card gig, on the other hand, is less stressful and comes with an easier to manage 9-to-5 schedule.
That freed up time for him to focus on creating Derek Hunter Is a Fuck. “It took about seven weeks, writing and drawing,” Hunter says. “Thirty-eight pages in seven weeks with a full-time job and doing Pirate Club two times a week it was a really hectic time, but I’m super happy with how it turned out.”
Beyond the actual production of the pages, there was still the matter of assembling the work. Hunter took a strictly do-it-yourself approach and did all the grunt and leg work himself, with no help from a publisher. “I printed it all, hand-folded it, hand-stapled it all that stuff was done by me,” Hunter says.
And that’s not even mentioning the effort to get comic shops in Salt Lake City to carry a book with such a colorful title and content to match. Fortunately, Hunter has been a friend of the local comic-book retailers for long enough that they were thrilled to support him most of them, anyway.
“The [shops] that did want to carry it were not apprehensive at all,” he says. “It seemed like it was either one or the other. ‘Oh, hell yes, we want to sell this,’ or ‘Absolutely not.’”
So far, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive, with the book already selling out its first run. Derek Hunter Is a Fuck isn’t the high-concept, cape-and-mask book that’s dominating the market right now, but it is a series of well-told, entertaining-as-hell stories about a guy you probably wouldn’t have wanted to be friends with 10 years ago.
Nowadays, though, Hunter is a much better person. The only downside is that there probably isn’t any room for a sequel.
DEREK HUNTER IS A FUCK