We had the good fortune of connecting with Mervyn McKoy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mervyn, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
The decision to work with my wife, Nicole, has been the single most important contribution to my success. It all started back in 2012 when together we decided to attend MegaCon, which was the largest comic convention in the state. Due to transportation issues, I almost scrapped attending, but Nicole was interested in entering a costume competition there, and so the stars aligned. It was the first time being back in Artist Alley after a long while since normally I had been a guest at a booth or at a booth with friends. Despite the smaller space we had to sell our wares, this was the first time where there was synergy and being on a smaller but super efficient team for me. Nicole was definitely more adept at maximizing the space, and since she didn’t like my original layout, she suggested changing it. This was a great first lesson in thinking on the fly. Whereas normally my booth setup was static, Nicole was all about flexibility and accessibility. I was hesitant at first, but she rearranged the booth to make the products and services more available for people in terms of pricing. Nicole also assisted with sales, and this significantly changed the dynamic of the show. Our different approaches to sales allowed us to cast a much wider net. It allowed us to accommodate a much larger and diverse audience as a result. Her fresh ideas and approach helped locomote my artistic endeavours away from the stagnation I didn’t even realize I was experiencing. The convention was an amazing success because of her involvement, and we have been an inseparable team ever since. When larger opportunities emerged, it was together that we decided to do our first out-of-state show, eventually upgrading from Artist Alley tables to booths at shows because together the financial risk was well worth it. Moving forward and working with her was a big risk, and I’d honestly still never advise working with friends and family. Despite us having discovered some strange, alchemical formula, I certainly can’t tell you how to make it work! We’ve just actively worked on how to combine our goals while respecting the boundaries of our working relationship as well as our relationship with each other. It’s what I call equivalent exchange.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think what sets my art apart is that there is a significant amount of myself and my experiences that I invest in any undertaking. I love creating, even more so than the art itself, and I enjoy talking and brainstorming with people, sketching, writing notes and the process of collaboration. There are two things I’ve been working on that I’m excited to share. One is a microstory in an anthology called GWAN and the other is a microstory called The Black Constable, which will be released in late February in another anthology called Noir Is The New Black. Both books are successful Kickstarter campaigns, and these two stories are a great preamble to the main event, Nanny Queen of Xaymaca. It’s this labor of love that is redefining my love of storytelling and how I tell stories. Honestly, a lot of my success can be attributed to talking to people and fighting through whatever social anxieties I’ve had. This might come as a shock to many who’ve known me, but I was an extremely shy child, and art and storytelling was my main form of communication despite not wanting to talk to anyone. There were times when I would be called to the board to do a math problem in school, and I would break down in tears because of the anxiety! I still never did learn what comes after 2+2=, but oh well, c’est la vie. It sounds cliché, but focus and a bucket load of perseverance also helped. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, and it was just choosing which medium and industry would allow me to achieve said goals. I’ve been involved in everything from comics to animation to video games, but the through line for all of these has always been storytelling. I was able to apply my talents along with the relationships I built in school and the many lessons I learned stumbling along the way. It was the focus and knowing my self-worth that kept me on said path. To this day, there are still people that have influenced me throughout the years that I still have a working relationship with, whether in the brainstorming process or during crafting. Overall, friendship and loyalty are essential, especially when trying to achieve any kind of vision. Finding and working with other people who share a similar vision is rewarding because there are so many different ways to climb a mountain. I enjoy creating, and the most exciting aspect of that is saying something with your work and communicating some sort of vision in the world, and everything becomes so much clearer with more eyes. I’d like people to know ‘the brand’ was built with love and hard work. Every piece of art we create is from the heart, especially if it’s for you.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There’s so much to do in South Florida and always so little time. My first rule is to scrap all the touristy stuff. You can do that by yourself, but when I take you out, you’re going to witness the unsung heroes of SoFlo. My advice on where to stay would be Hollywood Beach and renting out an efficiency for the week. You would have access to the boardwalk and great restaurants, as well as one of the nicest, cleanest beaches in South Florida. I suggest staying south of A1A on Hollywood Beach since it’s a more residential area, and you’re close to downtown Hollywood, which has one of our favorite local restaurants: Mauro’s Pizza. Overall, Hollywood is a great, central location because you can explore both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. I’m a huge foodie, so I highly recommend Casa Juan Restaurant in Miami Springs for Cuban food, Las Totoritas for Peruvian, as well as Aunt I’s for an authentic Jamaican experience. If the Jerk Festival is in town at Markham Park, swing by for great food, music, dancing, and vendors of all sorts. Other notable locations and events include Arcade Odyssey, which is an old school arcade with tons of throwback games for all ages as well as great food. OtakuFest is a local convention that happens in the Miami Airport Convention Center, and it is a weekend long celebration of animation, music, cosplay, and art for starters. Bayfront Park and the downtown Miami area always has something going on in terms of outdoor events, and lastly Zoo Miami is a must for any animal-lover to see species from around the world. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m dedicating this to my late father, Mervyn Walters, whose drive and dedication truly inspired me. He literally came from nothing when he was a small child and spent his days digging in ditches because his family couldn’t afford school. However, he set clear goals and used his innate talents in intelligent and effective ways to achieve dreams that were otherwise seemingly unattainable. Also, a super special thanks to my mother as well for being my rock and always guiding my siblings and me in the right direction.
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