Voracious was one of the best miniseries released so far this year, and for me personally, it remains the one to beat in 2016. The series focused on a chef who discovers time travel, and using his new found ability, decides to make a dinosaur sandwich. There’s a lot more to the first four issues, and I highly recommend you check out the trade paperback (out now at your favourite comics retailer!) if that sounds even remotely interesting to you, because it’s twice as good as you’re expecting it to be.
The series creators, writer Markisan Naso and artist Jason Muhr, recently launched a Kickstarter to fund the production of the second series, Voracious: Feeding Time. I recently had a chance to catch up with the two to talk about the new series, and how things had been going over the summer for the two.
Note: Just before this interview was published, the Kickstarter was successfully funded.
Graphic Policy: So how’ve you guys been?
Jason Muhr: Good.
Markisan Naso: Been great! I just went to a place called the Metal Haven Grill here in Chicago to celebrate my buddy’s birthday. They sell metal records and make fresh, locally-sourced comfort food. Few things make me as happy as fried cheese curds and Slayer.
How are you doing, Alex?
GP: I’m good, thanks! It’s been a month or two since we last spoke, but the last time we did the two of you were heading to Wizard World in Ohio. How was that?
MN: The con was a lot of fun. It was great to do a show outside of Chicagoland for the first time, pitch the book to people in Columbus and make some new fans.
JM: It was a smaller show than we’re used to in Chicago, so it was nice for our little book to stand out a bit more.
MN: And after the convention we got quite a few messages from folks who took a chance on Voracious and told us how much they loved it. That was really nice to hear.
GP: You launched a Kickstarter to fund the second volume of Voracious, Voracious: Feeding Time (which, in the interest of full disclosure for our readers, I’ve backed). But now that you’re Comic Book Creators, I thought you guys would be swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck. That’s not the case?
MN: Ha! I know you’re kidding, but I’m going to answer this question seriously anyway! The vast majority of comic book creators don’t make anything near McDuck bucks unless they work on high profile gigs for Marvel or DC, they’ve established a huge fan base, or they’ve successfully adapted one of their indie books into a TV show or film. For creators like Jason and I who are working on our first series, there isn’t a lot of bank rolling in just yet.
We are incredibly fortunate to have a dynamic publisher in our corner like Action Lab, but we weren’t paid anything up front. That’s how it generally works with most independent publisher deals. We can potentially make a little money on the back-end, but that would only come after all the production, printing and marketing expenses are subtracted from the total revenue. We’ll find out in a couple months whether or not we make anything off the initial Voracious miniseries.
A lot of people probably don’t realize that most indie comics creators operate at a loss. Jason and I create Voracious because we LOVE comics, and we think we have a great story to tell, but the fact is that we’ve paid for the series out-of-pocket for the last couple years. There are multiple expenses that we incur throughout the process, from Andrei’s gorgeous colors, to commissioning variant covers, to ordering books from Action Lab to sell, to attending conventions and signings. And Jason has to spend a lot of time drawing our series. He’s actually had to turn down some paid opportunities to illustrate Voracious.
We aren’t complaining about any of this, mind you. We would definitely do the same thing all over again because we believe in our story and we’ve dreamed about becoming comic book creators since we were little kids.
But we also realized we could ask for help with our production costs. That’s where Kickstarter comes in. Starting a campaign just seemed like a good way to cover some of the expenses for Voracious: Feeding Time. We aren’t looking to pay ourselves at all with our campaign and we don’t even expect to recoup all our front-end costs. We’re just hoping to reduce them. Thanks to a lot of generous people it looks like that will happen.
GP: The response to the Kickstarter has been pretty good, to say the least – did that catch you by surprise?
MN: Oh definitely. Jason and I had never done a Kickstarter and we were honestly pretty worried about getting it funded. Even though the first issue of Voracious sold out at the distributor and we’ve gotten good buzz for the series, we just weren’t confident that we’d be able to get enough backers to support our weird, little comic book. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who’s pledged in the first week. We just have a little bit more to go to make our goal. Hopefully we’ll earn a few more supporters and get over the hump soon. Then it’s on to the stretch goals!
JM: And, aside from hand-selling issues at cons and receiving nice messages on social media, we didn’t really have a grasp on how many people embraced us and our work. Voracious reaches shop shelves and then it’s out in the cold, dark world, hopefully selling itself. So the Kickstarter was really a nice way to interact directly with fans and see how much they were digging what we’re doing. We were nervous all the pledges would be coming from our parents, but the fans really came out to support us, and it blew us away.
Page 3 of Feeding Time
GP: The sneak peaks of the first issue you’ve posted on the Kickstarter page look fantastic.
JM: Thank you.
MN: Yeah, thanks for saying that, Alex. Jason and Andrei have really taken the art and colors to another level in Voracious: Feeding Time.
GP: I know the first issue takes place in the setting you’ve shown, so I was wondering how exciting it is to get to explore more of the Voracious universe?
MN: We are having a blast doing this new series! Jason and I have been looking forward to getting to this chapter of the story since before we even started working on the very first issue of the first series. When I pitched Voracious to Jason, I told him there were really two hooks – a chef who travels back in time, kills dinosaurs and serves them in a restaurant in the present; and the huge twist that happens at the end of #4. So now we get to explore what the consequences of that big reveal are for Nate, Jim, Starlee and the rest of the cast. And we get to introduce some new characters in a completely different setting. It’s a lot of fun to bring it to life.
GP: For readers who have yet to read the first series, are they able to start with Voracious: Feeding Time?
MN: The short answer is yes. Kinda. Let me explain. Voracious: Feeding Time is a continuation of our story and I’d definitely recommend reading Volume One first before diving into the new series. Our book was designed to be a finite, ongoing without breaks. That’s the way we pitched it. However, Action Lab thought it would be better for us to do a series of miniseries. Putting out a new #1 helps with sales and with maintaining order numbers at the distributor, which have to reach a certain level every issue for a series to continue being solicited. For an indie book that is important.
But all that said, a new reader can actually pick up Voracious: Feeding Time #1 and they won’t be lost at all. The story is told from the perspective of characters who debut in that issue. They know nothing about Nate, Jim, Starlee, Maribel or the other Blackfossil townies who were introduced in the first series, so the story is told from their perspectives. The reader learns about what’s happening as the new characters do.
JM: Plus, there is a nice recap on the inside front cover of the first issue. If people do want to catch up first, many of the Kickstarter reward levels include the Vol 1. trade paperback, both physically and digitally, so we’re making it as easy as possible to hop on board.
GP: What’s your timeline once the Kickstarter is over in terms of getting Feeding Time into readers hands, and on the racks?
MN: Assuming we hit our goal, the Kickstarter will end successfully on October 4th and very shortly after that we’ll be sending out PDFs of Voracious: Feeding Time #1, a full two months before the book debuts in comic stores and on ComiXology. The issue is already finished. In fact, we’ve finished four of the five issues.
Here’s an exclusive for you, Alex… our first stretch goal will be a digital rewards package that includes the Feeding Time #1 PDF, my script for the issue, wallpapers, Jason’s original thumbnails for the issue and maybe more. So, if we hit stretch goal #1, everybody gets to read the digital book two months early.
The physical rewards will ship sometime in December, the month that the first issue officially hits the stands.
GP: Do you have plans for any of the clothing-based rewards to become available after the Kickstarter is over?
MN: Maybe. We will print the shirts and aprons in lots of 20 or 25 most likely. Depending on the number of pledges and the number of add-ons people select, we may have a few extras lying around. I suspect those will probably be gifted to family members or maybe we’ll use them as contest giveaways, which is something I’ve been thinking about. There won’t be many extras because these rewards are Kickstarter exclusives for folks who are kind enough to support us right now. We do have some ideas for other T-shirts and merchandise that we may pull the trigger on at some point. If we do, we’ll take them on the road with us and make them available at our online store.
We will probably have some of those gorgeous prints by Jason and Andrei left over. The print is limited to 100 copies and each one will be hand-numbered and signed. We plan to print all 100, so if we don’t sell out of them on Kickstarter we’ll make the rest available after the campaign ends.
GP: You have another convention appearance coming up, eh?
JM: Yeah! We’ll be at the Madison Comic Con on Sept. 18 in Wisconsin. It’s a one day show. We’re really looking forward to meeting comics fans and talking about dinosaur lasagna in a new city.
GP: It’s been a pleasure chatting with both of you, as always. Thanks for your time!
MN: Thanks so much Alex. Always great to talk with you too!
JM: Thanks Alex!