I had the opportunity to ask Brad Weitz about Sweet Meloncholy, From Your Friends, and other projects. - Ryan Conway

RYAN CONWAY: You have published two books for the fans of Blind Melon and Shannon Hoon. What are your experiences and opinions about the relatively new world of self-publishing?

BRAD WEITZ: Self-publishing allows ANYONE to publish which is awesome. Folks whose works and art may not otherwise be seen can share their creations with the world. The downside is the cost to do so. Those that choose to publish on their own soon find that the printers take is quite large. Companies that allow you to self-publish [like Lulu], also offer services to help promote the book at a premium cost. Which leads me to my major problem with self-publishing. . . promotion. Getting any books name out there is very difficult on a budget. Social networks, forums and the like help but not as much as you think. If you want exposure, you have to pay for it in the form of advertising dollars.

RC: When you put together From Your Friends: Art, Photos, and Stories inspired by Blind Melon, how did you stay focused on such a long-term project?

BW: This is an easy one. . . . When I say I am going to do something. . . I do it. I was not going to start that project and make promises to folks and not see it through. It also makes it easy when the people you are doing this for are great people. Blind Melon and Nel Hoon and Nico are great people.

RC: What were some of the challenges in putting that book together?

BW: Well. . . I had to self-teach myself pretty much all of graphic design techniques used in that book. So you could say that the From Your Friends book was an experiment to see what I could accomplish. The overall design came to me pretty quick. I wanted it to look like an old crusty album of art. I think I did pretty good with that. I kinda have adopted it as my own style if you will. Grungy, old and cared for. There were a lot of mistakes made that I have since learnt from. . . . but I dig the book. The art from all the contributors is simply put, amazing! So many folks have been inspired by Blind Melon and Shannon, it's so awesome to see the love visually.

RC: Are you possibly considering a 2nd edition of From Your Friends?

BW: I consider everything. LOL. . . really though, I would love to do another one if the community was there to do it. Meaning. . . the first book was made with other people. . . so I would need the people again. Does that make sense? LOL. I am much busier at the day job then I was when I did FYF so help would be have to be recruited. But. . . . like I said, I consider everything.

RC: How did the Sweet Meloncholy graphic novel come to fruition? What was the inspiration of the idea to tell the Blind Melon story in a comic-book/graphic novel format?

BW: Csaba posted on the Melon forum looking for someone to help him put it together. He did other comics [on Lulu] about grunge bands. . . . and please let me say this right now. . . that dude is an amazing artist. Sweet Meloncholy is his vision. He drew all the line art!! He asked who did the From Your Friends book, and that is how we hooked up. He wanted help writing the text [he is from Hungary] out in English. My role morphed from there as he dug how I inked/colored his work. As far as inspiration. . . the Melon story is interesting and compelling. One just needs to watch Letters or pick up Greg Prato's awesome book to know it visually would be a great story to tell. Hell, it'd be a killer movie. . . that's the next step right? LOL. No really though, the story was the inspiration. Rogers, Brad, CT, Glen, Travis. . . Nel, all are such great people. . . why not tell their story? You know. And that doesn't even touch on the music. That amazing music. . .

RC: Help us understand your role in putting the book together. You dealt with typography, color, layout, production, promotion, etc.

BW: Csaba drew the line art and emailed the black and white pages to me. I did the coloring first. Figured the layout with a whole ton of help from A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other by Greg Prato. With what I learnt from the From Your Friends, assembling the book was a pretty familiar and easy process. The inking/coloring took the longest. Figuring out the typography and script for the book was a big challenge. Again. . . Greg Prato's book helped a lot!

RC: How did you first hear of, and become a fan of, Blind Melon?

BW: Funny thing actually. . . . I disliked Blind Melon when No Rain hit. I was all up in Pantera and really hard stuff that I didn't particularly like No Rain and the "hippy" vibe that it had. Things that are so totally me now. It's funny. I fell hard on them after I heard Galaxy. Got Soup and played it for months nonstop. . . so many scratches on that CD you know. Then went backwards and got the self titled and fell in love with that. Dear Ole Dad was an early ear grabber. Now I love it all. Nico was so awesome. That version of St. Andrews. . . . chills and goose bumps. When they re-grouped with Travis, again was blown away. I could go on. . . that music though!!

RC:Can you tell us about the bands that you listened to while growing up, and what kind of music do you like to listen to now?

BW: Listened to a lot of ELO, Foreigner. . . stuff like that growing up. My dad dug that stuff. Then I got into hair metal. . . Def Leppard, Tesla. . . still love Tesla! Um. . . then I went hard into Metallica, Pantera. . . . Throw in the Wu-Tang. . . . Pinback. I am all over the map. Just not country. LOL.

RC: What visual artists inspire you?

BW: Csaba Mester. HR Giger. Glen Graham. Heather Graham's photography. All the artists in the From Your Friends book. All the artists in Mad magazine. Countless tattoo artists. Countless photographers. You! I mean I could go on for days on amazing visual artists. I love going though DeviantArt online. So many talented people out there sharing amazing visions.

RC: What projects (melon-related and/or otherwise) do you have planned for the future?

BW: Right now Csaba and myself are working on a graphic novel of songs drew out in visual form. Comic versions of our own music videos if you will. I chose a few songs and he chose a few songs and we are going to put them all together into a graphic novel or two.

Right now I am working on coloring when the day job allows. I am over half way done. Then there is a Jack White comic to work on. Too many ideas. . . so little time.

RC: Thank you for teaming-up with Csaba Mester to make such an awesome graphic novel (Sweet Meloncholy), for taking the time to put together From Your Friends for the melon community, and for taking the time to answer these questions.

BW: You are very welcome. I wanna thank everyone who got or wants to get or just digs the stuff I have given to or created for the community. From top to bottom it has all been from the heart.