Category Archives: Interviews

Getting Dapper & Talking Dapper Men with Jim McCann and Janet Lee

Welcome to Anorev, a land where time has no meaning. Robots work and children play, but the play is no fun and the work is no use. A curious boy named Ayden and his robot friend Zoe know that something’s missing, but they can’t imagine what it might be… until 314 identical men in green bowler hats fall from the sky. At last, our heroes have a chance to discover what happened to their world, what might start the clocks back up again, and what tomorrow really means.

Blending clockwork whimsy with majestic art-nouveau visuals, Jim McCann and Janet Lee present a hand-crafted fairy tale in Return of the Dapper Men that feels both familiar and entirely new in a new prestige reprinting!

At San Diego Comic-Con we talked to Jim McCann and Janet Lee about their award winning series as well as what’s to come in its sequels!

Gen Con 2017: Cory Jones talks QST the new Tabletop Gaming Subscription

Gaming industry veteran Cory Jones has announced the creation of tabletop gaming subscription service QST and the launch of the QST Kickstarter campaign. Pronounced “Quest,” the service offers a brand-new, small form factor tabletop game directly to subscribers every other month. Each game is a collaboration between three creative visionaries from different fields who work together to deliver the different elements of the game: concept, design, and art.

We got a chance to talk to Jones at Gen Con 50 about this new venture and bringing together so many different creators to such a product.

Why does this matter for a comic site? Numerous comic creators have been announced as part of the first wave of creators involved and it’s an amazing list. If you’re into comics and games, this is a must.

(via Board Game Today)

James Ninness Opens The Vault to Sci-Fi Horror

When the moon-bound crew of Gaia stumbles across an enormous alien vessel, more technologically advanced than their own, priorities change. The mystery deepens when the crew discovers the name of the vessel along the hull… written in English: Vault.

That’s the concept behing The Vault, the first storry in Storm King Productions’ new science anthology series John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction.

Written by James Ninness, the first issue has a solid mix of the sci-fi space classics taking its queues from sci-fi classics and more building an atmosphere and experience that’s tense and just downright creep.

Graphic Policy: Reading the first issue the building of tension as the issue progresses really stands out. As the writer, how much of that build was a focus of yours? Was it something that just naturally happened or was it a conscious thing?

James Ninness: Yeah, that was planned. Glad to know it worked!

I spent months doing research and plotting out the story beats for Vault before I even approached Sandy (King Carpenter) with the idea. There was time to not only develop the themes, characters, and twists, but the gradual escalation of things throughout – and it (hopefully) only gets more tense as the situation gets more desperate for the characters.

Though it’s certainly a crossover of the horror and science fiction genres, there’s a solid dose of mystery in there as well: What is this ship? Where did it come from? What the hell is all that stuff inside of it? Letting the answers to those questions reveal themselves slowly and naturally helps to serve that tension from the horror/science fiction perspective. Thankfully, Andres and Sergio knew exactly how to approach the art to emphasize that gradual pacing.

GP: So, your idea came before the anthology from Storm King? Or was the anthology floated around and you submitted it to that?

JN: Yup. I had the idea for Vault about a year before I pitched it to Sandy. Most of the preliminary writing – outlines and research – was done before we spoke. When I was ready to start writing, I mentioned a bit of the plot to Sandy and she let me know about their anthology series, John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction, something she and John had been developing for about the same amount of time. She liked Vault and asked me to send her more information. After that it was a matter of putting together the team and wrapping up the script.

GP: Usually with these types of stories you see if either lean heavily sci-fi or heavy horror. Yours feels more towards horror with a sci-fi setting. How do you see this type of story yourself when it comes to those genres?

JN: Most of my favorite science fiction works are set in a world crafted by the science fiction but driven by more natural means. Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles is a great example of this: each short story is set in a well-developed realm of science fiction, but the characters and stories are driven by good, old-fashioned human conflict and emotion — love, hate, frustration, curiosity, pride, etc. Black Mirror does this as well.

With Vault a lot of effort was put into the setting and primary gimmick: the ship was developed as both location and story device. The characters, however, are driven by more standard means: the need to understand, loss of control, and camaraderie with one another. And that’s where the horror comes in… In my opinion, the best horror creates fear in a proximity to real life; could the reader experience the tragedies and abuses experienced by the characters? That’s not to say that people will find a spaceship floating in space, but the need to understand and loss of control I mentioned earlier could certainly cause people to act in real life the way the characters behave in this book. To me, that’s terrifying.

GP: It kind of sounds like you wanted a horror story with conflict at its center that just so happened to have a sci-fi setting. Is there any particular reason that type of setting might benefit that sort of story?

JN: That’s exactly what I wanted to do. I think science fiction, as an overall genre, has more freedom than some other genres. The “rules” that apply to science fiction are broader than most. The suspension of disbelief that comes with science fiction, if put together well, is an easy pill to swallow. “How come this space ship can fly through space? Because according to Newton’s third law of motion every action produces an equal and opposite reaction, thus propulsion is possible without air.” Yay! Sometimes, when poorly handled, it’s a detriment to the story. “How come this space ship can fly through space? Because science.” Boo.

So, with Vault, I knew the theme of my story, the repetition of mistakes, but I needed a way to convey that without losing the audience. Horror is useful way to keep people engaged, while the science fiction setting, ironically, keeps the narrative grounded.

GP: Beyond these three issues, how much of this world have you sketched out? Might we see more stories set in it?

JN: Nope. This is it. I like self-contained stories. John and Sandy allowed me as many issues as I wanted to tell Vault and the story demanded three — no more, no less.

GP: There’s lots of stories that are similar to this and each feels special in their own way. How conscious are you of what’s come before and how much of a focus is there to make your story unique.

JN: Well, there is some very direct nodding to three specific movies that I’m hoping people will pick up on: Alien, Event Horizon, and Sunshine. I love these movies and was heavily influenced by each of them. Rather than hope nobody would notice, I leaned into those references. Thankfully though, Vault is self-sustaining.

There are a ton of stories about being trapped with a monster, plenty of returning ghost ship tales, and more than a handful of “flying to close to the sun” cautionary narratives. I’ve read, heard, and seen many of them, but the trick here was to put this story together in a way that could be its own. I’m confident nobody has ever read a story like this before. I’ve had lots of people who have picked up issue one hit me up on social media with theories on where they think the story is going… Most are wrong. Many think it’s about a monster on a ship, while a few think that the ship itself is alive… All I’ll say is that I think issue two is going to throw readers a pretty big curveball. Hopefully they dig it.

If you’ve read any of my previous work you know I like to focus on repetition and the mistakes we, as humans, seem to make over and over again. I hit that nail a little too directly on the head with Samara, but the theme is ever-present in a lot of the stuff I do. Vault is no different.

GP: What is it about that theme of repetition and mistakes humans make over and over that you’re drawn to it so much?

JN: It’s everywhere I look, man.

I think our current political situation is a mess and it’s one brought on by personal fears. I don’t know how we, as a people, haven’t learned what shitty motivators personal fears are. Bigotry, racism, sexism, religious intolerance, ignoring the needy – these are all things we should be able to deal with by now. These are not problems we should have. A glance at history can teach us all enough to dismantle and avoid these problems in the future. And yet, here we are. I’m not saying it should be easy, but we should, at the least, not be moving backwards.

On a less grand scale, social media has become a place of pitchforks and torches. It has the potential to be marvelous. We can connect with old friends and family, share news, keep an informed populace. But, instead, some use it to spread hatred (see above point) and crucify anyone for making a mistake. There’s a gross lack of forgiveness in the world. Don’t get me wrong, people should be called out for their bullshit, but the fervor with which some are quick to admonish and cast out anyone who does something wrong is terrifying. I’m a world class screw up. I’ve made a long list of mistakes. It’s only a matter of time before some of them are unearthed and nobody gives me the time of day, no matter what kind of person I am now.

Mistakes happen. We should learn from them and grow together. Sometimes we do. Often times we don’t. That lack of learning? That has the potential to be our downfall.

Wait… I think I went off the rails there.

What was the question?

GP: Having three issues to work with, how’d you approach the story as opposed to some of your past work which was told over a longer number of pages?

JN: It was kind of the opposite, actually. After the research, character development, and world building, I started mapping out the story beats. I probably could have told Vault in four issues, but it only needed three. One of the criticisms I got when I first started (and rightfully so) was that I can tend to bloat my narratives a bit, so these days I err on the side of caution and try to tighten things up as much as possible.

GP: Which is strange since the comic industry seems to have shifted to a more decompressed style of storytelling. How has your process shifted to do the opposite?

JN: I graduated from Cal State University Long Beach with an English: Creative Writing degree. Most of my efforts were spent on short stories. I love them. There is a particular set of skills required for any type of writing: novels, short stories, poetry, screenplays, etc. Writers of each tend to understand that the toolbox required for any given style is unique. Some writers possess the tools to write them all, others only one or two. The short story has always been the one I gravitate toward the most.

Whenever I start a new book I try to throw everything on the board first. I have a yellow pad I use to put every idea possible on the page. Then I whittle. Everything that isn’t imperative gets cut. That’s the short story education in action: chop everything that doesn’t need to be there, no matter how awesome it is. I actually have a file on my phone full of cool concepts that didn’t fit into other stories.

It’s less about me trying to keep a story short, and more about me trying to keep things necessary. I don’t like it when stories wander. I like twists and turns as much as the next guy, but it should make sense and feel relevant in the context of the story. At least, that’s what I tend to enjoy the most.

GP: Every story of this nature relies on its visuals and Andres Esparza’s style adds to the story in so many ways. How’d he come on board the project and how closely did you two work when it came to the visuals?

JN: Andres Esparza is a goddam genius. I met Andres through a mutual friend, Axur Eneas. Axur and I worked on the second Tales for a Halloween Night together. After Sandy and I spent several months hunting for artists and scouring portfolios, I told Axur what I was looking for and he introduced me to Andres. Andres did a few sample pages for Sandy and I and that was it – we knew.

Andres brought Sergio Martinez (colors) with him, and Sandy brought Janice Chiang (letters) to the party. I’ve been blessed. These folks are crazy talented and I’ve learned a lot working with each of them.

Early on Andres and I spent a few weeks crafting the tone. I knew what I was looking for and he brought his own ideas to the table. What we ended up with is somewhere in-between the two. It wasn’t hard to get to and it didn’t take a lot of work. Andres and I have been on the same page since the beginning, we just had to figure out what that page looked like.

GP: Working the John and Sandy Carpenter and Storm King is really cool, they’re beyond icons. How’d you get involved with the publisher?

JN: I was friends with Sandy for about a year before we worked together. She had read a book I did, in Sanity, AZ, and we were introduced through a mutual friend at Long Beach Comic Con. Most of that year was just spent getting dinners at shows or talking occasionally on the phone. Truth be told, I feel like Sandy likes hanging out with my wife more than me, but who can blame her for that?

A couple months before the first Tales for a Halloween Night was to be released, Sandy called me and asked if I’d like to be a part of it. I jumped at the chance. I called my pals Brett Simmons and Ben Glibert, and we knocked out “Some Grub” in just over a month. Thankfully, after the book came out, our story got decent reviews so we were invited back.

It’s been a dream come true to work with both Sandy and John. They’re lovely. Truly great people who I’m lucky to call friends.

GP: Was there any intimidation at all about that? Being involved with two icons has to come with some pressure.

JN: Oh, hell yeah.

Sandy and I were at a show in Las Vegas a few weeks back and we did a panel together. On that panel, she said that the way she approves materials has a lot to do with John’s reaction to the pitches they receive. If he shrugs and says, “That’s fine” then the pitch gets rejected. If his response is more like, “Wow, that’s fucked up,” then the pitch gets a shot.

I think that sounds funny, but it should seem obvious. John and Sandy have been in this game a while. When I got the chance to pitch to them I knew my pitch needed to (a) not be a Carpenter re-hash of anything they’d already done, and (b) fit the fun, violent, often-squeamish brand that they have built. The pressure to impress two people I’ve looked up to for a long while is nerve-wracking enough, but to write something that they believe is good enough to attach their name to is, well, daunting.

Thankfully, I’ve been working as a freelancer for many years and I’ve had clients from all walks of life. At the end of the day those clients don’t care about anything other than the work getting done, so I try to approach writing comics the same way I approach the freelance stuff I do. I identify what the client is looking for and do my best to fill that need.

Can it be intimidating? Totally. Does that ultimately matter? Not really.

GP: One of the things about sci-fi that I enjoy is the sci aspect of it all. When it comes to the science of things, did you do any research?

JN: Oh my god, yes. Those space suits our astronauts wear are based on experimental designs for increased range of motion from a couple years ago. The ships (both Gaia and Vault) are based on prototype mock ups from NASA for deep space travel. And a lot of the tech, including the laser bridge in issue #1 and the seekers (drones) are all taken from conversations I had with some engineering friends of mine.

I knew from the beginning that I needed some hard science for the world to be believable. From a storytelling standpoint, Vault begins just around the corner from our own time, as though it could be a world we live in five or ten years from now. By the end it’s bat-shit crazy. I had to ground that early on to get people to come with us on the journey — make them comfortable and then make them squirm.

GP: Do you see that grounding as shifting it from the fantastical to a bit more realistic in a way? An easier way for readers to get drawn into it?

JN: Totally. Every single fantastic thing that happens, whether in fiction or real life, requires a juxtaposition against something “normal” for it to feel fantastic. Nobody can feel awe if they’re always awed – at that point it becomes normal. Keeping the setting, characters, and situation as grounded as possible allows the wild stuff to feel thrilling.

Turning things up to eleven can help keep people’s attention, but it doesn’t always keep their interest.

GP: Lots of science fiction works really well as allegories or exploring deeper themes. As a writer do you think about that at all when creating your stories?

JN: All the time.

I actually started writing as a kid in therapy. For me, writing has always been about grappling with concepts and realities I don’t understand. I find answers to a question only to find myself face to face with much bigger, scarier questions. That could be what attracts me to horror and science fiction so much… They serve as particularly wonderful mediums with which to end stories with more questions than answers. I like that. I don’t like stories that wrap things up as though life is simple. Life is far from simple, but that’s okay. We’re all struggling. Struggling isn’t bad. We should all be a little more honest about that.

GP: Any thoughts as to why science fiction works so well as allegories?

JN: Science fiction, when logically constructed, is a great way to make what should be an obvious point. Invasion of the Body Snatchers wonderfully highlighted the logical flaws in McCarthyism. Dawn of the Dead’s criticism of consumerism actually made people think about their behavior. District 9 is chock-full of references to handling refugees and race relations.

Science fiction starts every member of the audience at the same point. A situation is presented that unites the majority of the audience. That unity is bolstered by the events they experience. By the end, most of the readers and viewers will agree (or disagree, if that’s the desire of the creatives) with a protagonist’s actions and story’s resolution.

The real magic happens after all that. Any given audience member reflects on what they’ve just experienced and begins to see how it parallels the situations in their own life. Unlike other genres, science fiction can do this without being too on-the-nose. Is Godzilla really about the dangers of nuclear war, pollution, and nationalism? Or is it just about a giant lizard? You’ll enjoy it, either way, but if you start thinking about it too much it might change your perspectives a bit.

GP: Finally, what else can folks check out from you this year?

JN: Well, Vault will go until the end of September, and then, around October, I’ll have another story in John Carpenter’s Tales for a Halloween Night Vol. 3. I’ve got a few other pitches I’m working on, which I hope to talk more about soon…

I’ve got a couple more shows as well. If anyone is going to Long Beach Comic Con or New York Comic Con, I’ll be at both. Come say hi!

GP: Thanks so much for chatting!

SDCC 2017: Jeff Lemire Talks Black Hammer, Spin-Offs, and Canada’s First Nations

Writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dean Ormston have captivated readers with their brilliant creator owned superhero saga Black Hammer. This fall, Dark Horse Comics will expand the universe of the Black Hammer with Sherlock Frankenstein & The Legion of Evil, written by Lemire and illustrated by artist David Rubín, for the first of several high profile mini-series featuring different artists.

At San Diego Comic-Con 2017 I got a chance to talk to Lemire about his new spin-offs, being such a prolific writer, the difference between Marvel, DC, and Valiant, and Canada’s First Nations.

Shannon Wheeler Talks Sh*t My President Says

At San Diego Comic-Con there were a few releases I was super excited for. One of those was Shannon Wheeler‘s Sh*t My President Says: The Illustrated Tweets of Donald J. Trump which takes President Trump’s Tweets and give them a comic twist. Wheeler has drawn cartoons for the New Yorker, MAD, the Onion—he’s very, very, good, okay?

But these cartoons, plus the Tweets, it’s absolutely fantastic and a must have for anyone interested in politics and humor, or want a good laugh as the world crumbles around us.

EVERYONE is going to want this book — even the haters and losers (Sad!).

I got to talk to Shannon about the book and what he learned reading all of those Tweets.

Graphic Policy: What got you interested in even doing this? The concept alone sounds like torture.

Shannon Wheeler: I was actually going through my own cartoons trying to put together a book collection. I was sick of looking at my own art. I was complaining about it to a friend of mine. He goes “You don’t want to write your own stuff. Why don’t you just illustrate Trump’s Tweets?”

GP: You’ve gone through his entire history to figure out what to draw?

SW: Through Twitter I found a programmer who had downloaded all of them. I got them as a PDF, started reading through 30,000 Tweets. At the same time there were all these sites popping up that were archiving, a bunch that go through and organize them differently. At the same time there were all these articles about his outrageous Tweets. I’d use those as well. Whenever something would come up in his speeches or in the news and I’d Google search the keyword and his handle.

GP: Going through so much, is there anything that sticks out to you about his patterns, what he says, topics he touches upon?

SW: Yeah. A lot of people have talked about his psychological makeup. The narcisim. The pettiness. The immaturity. That’s well trodden. But, what I thought was interesting was his image of himself. He thinks of himself as a stand up guy, here’s the honorable one. What he’s doing is right. And that’s why drawing him as a child made more sense. There’s a “common sense” aspect to children, “it’s snowing outside, there must be no Global Warming.” That’s the view Trump has, that “common sense” point of view of life.

GP: The end result is Trump as kid-like. Were there other versions of him that you tried to use?

SW: Yeah, I started off trying drawing him as ugly, a large brutish man with tiny hands, and whatever. And slowly there’s a petellence, and maybe that’s the word. I probably drew a hundred different versions. Until a Tweet came a long that felt like a little kid and I felt this works.

GP: Did you always envision a book?

SW: Yeah, it was a book. First I started with can I do this. Then I thought this would be much more interesting than another collection of my stupid ideas.

GP: The one thing I immediately think of is the trolls. Is that something on your mind.

SW: I’m not really good at receiving anger and such. I fully expect there to be a backlash and people attacking me. I’m trying to prepare for that.

GP: That’s what the block button is for. In the back of the book you have a really interesting observation. FDR had radio, JFK had tv, and Trump has Twitter. Do you think this is his tv and radio?

SW: I supposed so. I don’t know how people reacted at the time, but I’m sure both said radio and tv was crazy and the worst thing ever. It’s similar. It’s Trump getting himself out there and exposing himself in an unfiltered way. It’s part of his appeal, a reaction against a super guarded persona, warts and all.

GP: FDR’s chats were clearly scripted, JFK was a natural on tv. This is probably the most unfiltered we’ve ever seen a President, really any politician.

SW: Yeah, but that might be an act too, which I thought about. It could also be a thing he uses for distractions as he passes his agenda. I feel like I’m adding to the distraction, I feel a little guilty at times.

GP: He’s the perfect example of politics as entertainment and you’re doing entertainment diving into politics. Do you see him as the ultimate blending of those two things together?

SW: That’s interesting. Those two things have been blending for a long time. I think, so far. Every generation probably says that. He’s made reality television and taken that to politics. Nobody knows where it’s going to go.

GP: I don’t know if you get the sense but it feels like he’s putting on a show. He’s taking the heel concept of wrestling and as long as he gets the big pop, that’s all that matters.

SW: He does think he’s the hero and he’s putting forward the sense that fake media, the polls were fake obviously, these things that validate everyone is a liar. It’s you and me against the crazy world. He also likes the attention too. It’s a layered thing.

GP: With the number of Tweets that are in the book, how much is sitting on the table not in there?

SW: There were 30,000 Tweets and a couple hundred in there. When people cite 30,000, most of them are “buy my book” or “I’ll be talking here.” I think it’s close to 5,000 Tweets. I wanted it to be relevant, so there’s stuff about Russia and his Tweets about wanting to be Putin’s friend. Those are the one’s I pulled. As new events happen, Sessions become more relevant. I pulled one.

GP: As far as what’s in the book, how’d you choose what to include?

SW: I wanted there to be a story arc with a beginning, middle, and an end. So I’m picking them to create a narrative. We probably left about a hundred on the floor. Lots more to do.

GP: You’ll be busy… two to eight years?

SW: Hopefully not.

GP: During the Mueller hearing he was threatening to live Tweet. Then you said you were going to live sketch. When he didn’t Tweet what was going through your mind.

SW: At first I thought “oh crap this is embarrasing and really stupid.” Then I thought somebody hid his phone. So I did that as a cartoon and a series of cartoons as to where’s Trump’s phone. It’s under the couch, in a tree, an FBI agent has it.

GP: At one point did it click to do that?

SW: About 15 minutes.

GP: With the live Tweeting, I’d think most of these have multiple takes. How’d it work with the live aspect, one and done?

SW: Yup, from the hip. A lot of times I’ll do sketches and I’ll put them up on Twitter and Facebook and later rework them into something later. In a lot of ways I’ve become unfiltered, there might be a misspelling or bad drawing, I just put it up and move on to the next one.

GP: I’d think there’d be a point where you’re having fun but at the same time think this shouldn’t be happening.

SW: Yeah, there’s a point I think it’s so stupid and I’m laughing and it slowly becomes awe crap. This is real. We can make fun of this guy for being stupid or petty or mean or vulgar or thin skin, all these things or he’s stealing money from the country. A lot of the things he criticized Hillary or Obama, I think it was jealously. When he saw them, he thought I should be doing those things. The Tweets are relevant in that sense.

GP: Was there anything that was too mean and you don’t want to touch it?

SW: We pulled one Rosie O’Donnell one in there. There was one were I thought it was a really cheap shot, it was his fragrance, everyone built an empire. I thought of him sweating and I had him on a toilet. It was a cheap shot, but I’m not above being stupid.

GP: Is there anything that’s shocked you about this?

SW: What’s shocked me is that its kind of become normal. Where I’m not shocked anymore. The one thing that has shocked me is that I can’t tell parody anymore. I read something and there like “look at this shocking Tweet” and I think “oh my god” and I think it’s parody and he really said it and I think it’s parody and he really said it. That’s weird to me.

GP: I’ve asked this to a few folks in your line of work. Things are so absurd now, does that make your life more difficult?

SW: I don’t know. What I like is the social satire and looking at myself and asking what are the hypocrises I’m living, diving in myself. That doesn’t really change. I liked The Simpsons where they had Homer buying triple chocolate and when they did it, it was such an exaggeration it was ridiculous. Now we have this as a flavor.

GP: The Simpsons had Donald Trump as President.

SW: Right.

GP: When you see what should be parody in real life, what do you think when you see that?

SW: One of the jokes I made during the Bill Clinton scandal, in the future politicians would use the scandal to their advantage. They’d sell the sex tape to fund their campaign. I’m still able to be a bit more extreme than what’s happening.

GP: Has there been any reactions to the book that has surprised you?

SW: How enthusiastic people have been. I thought there’d be some enthusiasm and a lot of people would be mad at me. We did a panel at San Diego Comic-Con and it was standing room only. They were turning people away. That kind of shocks me. There’s a hunger for this kind of pushback. It gives me some hope.

GP: You’ve already done an addendum. Will there be a book two?

SW: I hope not. I hope we look back and ask “what’s a Tweet?” where you have to explain what it is. I like to do universal and lingering. I hope this is here today and gone tomorrow, like a pet rock. It’s been piling up and there’s enough for a second book already.

GP: Thanks so much for chatting!


The Forbidden Chamber: An Interview with Sarah Searle About Gothic Tales of Haunted Love

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cover art by Leslie Doyle, logo by Dylan Todd

Sarah Searle brings a new twist to the gothic genre and an old tale in her story for Bedside Pressanthology Gothic Tales of Haunted Love. A fundraising campaign is currently running on Kickstarter and you can read more about it in this previous article.

Searle’s story, “Ladies of the Lake”, is Searle’s “spin on the classic Bluebeard tale, incorporating some Arthurian themes over a setting of spooky 1920s Wales.”

The new themes and setting is one twist Searle gives this source material, but this story is even a slight departure for Searle herself. “I’ve done a good amount of historical fiction at this point, but I’m allowing myself to stylize it and go a bit darker this time, which sets it apart from my past works that focus more on research.”

Although Searle hasn’t “read anything from that time period [the 1970s gothic romance comics that inspired this anthology]”, she is “a great lover of gothic literature and romance comics, so it was a natural fit!”

It was such a good fit, in fact, that she “had this story already written, just waiting for the perfect home. ‘Ladies of the Lake’ references some of [her] favorite books, including Northanger Abbey, so [she pays] homage to [her] own inspirations as well.”

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“Ladies of the Lake” by Searle

Searle elaborates on her love of Northanger Abbey: “Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a delightful play on the gothic romance genre back when it was much fresher, which is an enjoyable read.”

But Northanger Abbey isn’t her only gothic inspiration, as Searle explains: “I also love Terry Pratchett’s Carpe Jugulum for a healthy dose of vampire romance. I suppose I’m drawn more toward humorous, satirical approaches these days, but I can’t help but love taking it seriously sometimes, too.”

And Searle doesn’t just create and read gothic stories–she plays them too, as she explains: “My D&D group recently finished the Curse of Strahd campaign and I really enjoyed seeing the romance and drama unfold amongst the NPCs.”  

When discussing Hope Nicholson and Sam Beiko, the two editors in charge of the anthology, Searle had nothing but good things to say: “I haven’t worked directly with Sam before but she’s had great feedback for my script, and Hope is always super on top of the business side.”

Having worked with NIcholson on The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, Searle had already experienced Nicholson’s business acumen.  In particular, she commented on how “everyone in publishing is so busy all the time, which often means (understandably) long waits on emails, so [she] extra appreciate[s] how quick they’ve been with communication.”

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The Secret Loves of Geek Girls Kickstarter Edition Art by Gisele Lagace and Shouri

Searle offers one last word on the Gothic Tales anthology itself: “I’m especially excited for the comic my friend Hien Pham is working on, about a man who gets help from a friendly ghost during the Vietnam War”, a comic covered in this interview with Pham.

But this anthology isn’t the only place to see Searle’s work.  Much of her work can be seen on her website,  Searle is passionate about her site, putting in the same effort in designing it as she would her comics, saying, “I started it back when I was a new media major learning coding and web design, and I don’t know if I could ever leave it behind. It’s like I’ve built this time capsule that tracks my whole career.”

She continues to express her passion for her site: “I keep it mostly for myself, but I do see that it gets regular traffic, and I like knowing people can get a taste of my work even while I’m toiling away on books that won’t see the light of day for years to come. Plus the accessibility of webcomics has been so important to me, I try to put as much out there as possible.

As seen in the images above, both the anthology piece and the pieces posted on her website, Searle avoids extensive cross hatching and weighing her work down with unnecessary details.  

searle FreshRomance1PDF-18

Searle’s “Ruined” from Oni Press/Rosy Press’s Fresh Romance

Part of this comes from her many inspirations.  While “it changes all the time,” Searle lately has “been studying the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Jillian Tamaki in particular”, artists known for conveying much emotion and story in few lines.

As Searle herself says, “’I’m very story-focused so my art ends up on the minimalist side, and I want to learn from artists like [Miyazaki and Tamaki] who seem to really understand just how much detail is needed in a character design or environment to convey meaningful nuance.”

Reflecting on “Ladies of Lake” and her other work Searle concludes, “I’m proud of all the comics I’ve made for various reasons, but I’m also generally pretty happy to leave them in the past. I learn so much from every project I do, even the small ones. Even if I don’t feel confident about the quality of story or art anymore, I’m proud of myself from making them so I could grow into the better storyteller that I am today –– and still growing, I hope!”

Anyone interested in more of Searle’s work can follow her on Twitter and study her online portfolio while waiting for Gothic Tales to release!


CJ Standal is no stranger to Kickstarter, having run a successful Kickstarter for his comic Rebirth of the Gangster, for sale as a print copy or an ebook now!  Find out more about him at

Kyle Starks and Gabo Talk Oni Press’ Dead of Winter Comic

From the tabletop smash hit comes this new series starring beloved characters from Plaid Hat GamesDead of Winter, written by Kyle Starks, and illustrated by GABO.

In the pantheon of heroes, none are more lovable and loyal than everyone’s beloved good ol’ dog, Sparky. Surviving in the wintery apocalypse of the undead, this former TV star turned zombie killing machine just wants to make friends and be a good boy. As his fellow survivors scavenge for supplies in the frigid wasteland, will Sparky be able to protect his companions from threats both undead and not yet undead?

I got a chance to talk to Kyle and Gabo about the series, board games, and a certain dog.

Graphic Policy: Dead of Winter is based on the hit board game, are either of you board game fans? Had you played the game before coming on to the comic?

Kyle Starks: Almost exactly a year ago, Oni Press invited me to Gen Con to promote my work on Rick and Morty and to sort of underhandedly pitch me on this book. Gen Con was my introduction to modern board games, in fact, no joke – the first board game I played was Dead of Winter: The Long Night and I was blown away. I’m way down with board games.

Gabo: WHO ISN’T A FAN OF BOARD GAMES? I mean, we grew up on this stuff right? There’s so many games out there now that are brilliant, but I’m always glued to my desk drawing, so honestly I didn’t get a chance to play Dead of Winter until shortly after I started the project, and it was damn amazing. I’d played a few games here n there with roomates, but I feel this one is so much deeper than anything I’ve seen. SO MUCH SNEAKIER.

GP: How’d you both come on to the comic?

KS: I’m pretty sure we’re the team, along with Brian Hurtt on covers, that Oni wanted out of the gate. I know, for me, Oni wanted someone who had a unique vision, someone who would bring something besides Another Run Of The Mill Zombie book. And I think the same can be said for Gabo. This isn’t another been there-seen that zombie story – Sparky is a Superstar – and you need the right people for that.

Gabo: Okay I love drawing funny dogs doing silly crap. Charlie knew this. So naturally he hopped on the phone and woke my ass up to tell me about this project. HOW COULD I SAY NO? TO A DOG? FIGHTING ZOMBIES? And Kyle is writing it? AND HURTT IS ON COVERS? I’d be insane to say no.

GP: With it being a board game, it has a theme and look, but the focus is the interaction and mechanics really. As creators how do you go about adapting that as opposed to a book, movie, or television show?

KS: I think first and foremost the most important thing with any fiction is the story, so that definitely came first, but if you know the game, you’ll see over the four issues, it definitely plays out in a sequence that homages the game. The way the characters act, where they go, what they do – all comes from the game. I legitimately love the Dead of Winter franchise. I love the play mechanics, the characters, the locations – so getting the chance to bring that to life was a dream. AND we put a ton of Easter Eggs in there.  It’s a love letter to the game.

Gabo: I think Kyle has done a remarkable job taking his love for the game and written scripts that echo that. I’m not as familiar with the game but I’ve been studying its visual aspects, really trying to immerse myself in the universe these people might be in. I’m just hoping the Easter Eggs we tossed here n there aren’t too obscure for people!

GP: The game itself has a look as far as art which the comic differs from. When it came to the look of the comic itself, how was that decided?

KS: You’d probably need to talk to editorial about that – I know our editor, Charlie Chu, wanted Gabo from the beginning. And it’s different from game artist Fernanda Suarez sure, but for comics you need a sequential artist who can build a world and Gabo not only brings that to the table, he breaks that table with it.

Gabo: It was a bit of a struggle trying to figure out the right balance at first, Fernanda Suarez’s work is gorgeous and beautifully rendered, so I had basically break that beauty down to a very basic level. Lord knows I would have loved to of painted the entire book, but that would have taken months per issue! We decided on a very simple look, but still managed to capture the essence of all the characters, and even brought to life some new ones that I think fit beautifully into the world. For those familiar with the game, I think you’ll love the guest appearances! KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED!

GP: The game has locations but beyond that the world is really in the mind of those playing, when it came to fleshing out the look of the world, what were some of your inspirations?

KS: I think Gabo will agree – the locations depicted in the game are the hugest of inspirations. The game has an entire fleshed out world that makes it easy to play in. I alluded to it earlier, but the for the purposes of writing the book, for me, “going places to get things” is a huge repeated plot device in the book the same as it is for the game.

Gabo: The locations in this project have some art already designed for them in the game, but the insides of these places we had to rummage around our noggins and try to figure out what you might actually find inside them. A lot of my inspiration just came from personal experience and a lot of photo reference haha.

GP: One of the big things of the game is that each player has their own win objective and that may not be in the best interest of the rest of the players. Is that something you thought about when developing the series?

KS: What’s great about Dead of Winter is that it does these narrative things without having a ton of in game narrative. Aside from the Crossroad Cards it’s a lot of implied narrative – but those objectives are just characters motivations for story purpose. All of my characters are doing what they do for their own reasons and I think you’ll find they line up with those cards you’ve had in your hand. The Fireman, Gabriel Diaz just wants to save people. Annaleigh Chan, The Lawyer, has a curious mind that needs fulfilling. So on and so forth. Is there a Betrayer this game? Well, you’ll have to wait until the end of the game, right?

GP: Sparky is a big part of the comic and game and have a dog be the star in many ways makes the series stand out. When writing Sparky, how difficult is it to write for a dog. It’s not like there’s dialogue where you can convey things. Are there challenges to that as an artist?

KS: It’s a challenge for sure, but a thrilling one. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I just though, what if John McCain was a dog and off to the races. Sparky is the Most Heroic character I’ve ever written. The purest, the bravest, the most indomitable. So it was a treat. It was great.

GP: Was there anything that surprised you two in adapting a board game?

KS: I was shocked they wanted me to create new characters since the world they have is already inhabited by such great full ones – but, also, like, I’m going to jump  on the opportunity to make something that could end up being a playable character – and it happened which is literally just mindblowing to me. The Ruckus promo card is going to exist, albeit in very small quantities, but still being able to add to the GAME too? Amazing.

Gabo: Holy hell yes, creating new characters for the series! That was a curve ball and I think we might have a grand slam on our hands. Kyle has written some pretty great new characters that I think will most definitely make the game that much better– that’s if you can get your hands on a Ruckus promo card heheh.

GP: There’s obviously a lot of zombie comics out there, how much discussion was there to make this unique in story, characters, and look?

KS: I don’t remember if at that initial meeting the discussion was, right out the gate, to include Sparky, but I’m almost positive it was, so I think the moment someone thought, “Let’s do a zombie book but with a dog as the hero” it checks all those boxes. I know, for my part, I knew we were going to do an action-comedy zombie movie with a canine lead and so it’s going to be different, it’s going to be unique. And Oni put together a team with Gabo and I that by nature is going to be different than everyone else’s take.

Gabo: I’m just thrilled that this book isn’t going to be nearly as drab and depressing as most of the zombie books on the shelves. I understand the situation all those people are in when this stuff goes down – but man, can we get some dark comedy in here for once? WELL YOU GOT IT. AND HERE’S A DOG FOR GOOD MEASURE. HE’S A GOOD BOY.

GP: What else do you all have coming out that fans should check out?

KS: Oh man, I’m a busy boy, so a ton. I write Rick and Morty for Oni Press every month, and draw it every fifth issue or so. I have my current series with Image Comics that I write and draw with colors from Chris Schweizer called Rock Candy Mountain who’s first trade comes out at the end of September. Also at the end of September, Oni is printing my original graphic novel Kill Them All which is like Die Hard and Moonlighting smushed together with a huge John Woo influence. Lots of good stuff. Everyone tell your local comic store you want it!

Gabo: I’m losing my mind over here with the truck load of stuff I have coming out of and through me right now. The fourth and final volume of THE LIFE AFTER just came out, it’s illustrated by me and written by Joshua Hale Fialkov- published of course by Oni Press! I also illustrate an all ages  webcomic that has received Harvey nominations in 2015 and 2016 for best webseries, Beyond that, I’m working on growing my Patreon, so if you’d like to support my work please check that out. AND, if you’d like to catch a sneak peak of new pages I’m working on for Dead of Winter, I stream Wednesday’s starting around 4pm CST!

GP: Thanks so much for chatting!

Read our review of Dead of Winter #1 now!

SDCC 2017: Hit the Road and Find out about Gotham City Garage with Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly

Based on the DC Collectibles line of the same name, Gotham City Garage is the new digital first series that follows a diverse group of rebels with one cause: freedom for all.

At San Diego Comic-Con 2017, I got a chance to talk to the writing team of Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly where we talk its influences and its anti-fascist anthem.

Gotham City Garage debuts August 16th with a new chapter released biweekly through October 2017 and weekly thereafter, with print issues available in October. The series will have rotating artists, beginning with Brian Ching and followed by Lynne Yoshii of the DC Talent Development Workshop.

A Ghost of a Chance: An Interview with Hien Pham About Gothic Tales of Haunted Love

Cover with Editors_rgb

Hien Pham brings a new twist to an old genre in his story for Bedside Pressanthology Gothic Tales of Haunted Love — an anthology and Kickstarter that you can find more information on in this previous article.

Pham’s story, “Minefield”, concerns “a young ghost in love with a young farmer whose home is under attack by a foreign troop during the later stages of the Vietnam war.”

Part of what makes this story unique, however, is that it draws on stories Pham’s parents–who grew up in Vietnam–would tell him. According to Pham, “This is the first time I have directly tapped into my parents’ war stories I grew up on. There has always been some sort of war-like, bigger forces and conflicts in my stories, but I haven’t done anything so close to the source material.“

Pham elaborates on this inspiration for “Minefield”:

The story that inspired Minefield was actually a precautionary myth of sorts: back then, if you weren’t conscripted into the American army in the day, and you weren’t conscripted into the Vietnamese army in the night, the next morning you’ll find your head on a spike. ‘Minefield’ originally was written to directly reference this ‘rock and a hard place’ position Vietnamese folks had to live through. After rewrites, the comic has lost some of this resemblance, but hopefully it’s still a good gothic romance nonetheless!”

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love draws inspiration from 1970s gothic romance comics, but Pham “wasn’t too familiar with the genre until [he] did [his] research to write [his] anthology submission!”

But perhaps this lack of familiarity is what led Pham to take such a personal and unique approach with his story:

“The stories from that era that I’m used to are simply horror stories from my parents who lived through the war. These stories are always human stories, myths, rumours, and precautions that were either passed down to my parents or actual life experiences they have lived through. Growing up in the Vietnamese culture has made me entirely too aware of the pain and horror their generation suffered. I wanted to take this chance to put a sweeter slightly-less-bitter spin to that.”


Image Credit: from “Minefield” by Hien Pham (told entirely in Vietnamese)

In creating this story and trying to make it as authentic as possible, Pham decided to use Vietnamese instead of English (as seen in the above image).  

To explain this choice–telling a story in a different language than the one the target audience speaks and reads–Pham said,

This is a Vietnamese story. These are Vietnamese characters and for them to speak Vietnamese just rings true to me. In the process of writing the story. I made two different scripts: one with the dialogues in Vietnamese and one in English. There are tiny subtleties and nuances in the way they speak that scream Southern Vietnamese that are lost in translation. Some parts of the story change ever so slightly and feel less interesting when I have them speak English. To me, there’s just something that’s slightly more genuine and authentic when I let them speak Vietnamese.”

Pham adds in his trademark self-deprecating way, however, that he has “no idea if it works better or worse on the comic page, ahaha! That’s my challenge to solve!

Hien_Pham_Large profile pic

Image Credit: Hien Pham’s“The Young Giant” promo picture on Supanova Comic Con page

He elaborates on these concerns–and the second guessing almost any artist experiences in creating something new and personal:

“I am downright terrified, ahaha! I’m quite afraid of the fact that the readers can’t understand what the characters are saying which might put them off finishing the story altogether. I’m afraid that they can’t connect to the characters and find the story boorish and boring. I’m afraid that Vietnamese readers might read it and say I didn’t do it justice and they would rather read it in English anyway! I’m quite the paranoid person so I have millions and millions of worries in my head.”

Despite all these worries, though, Pham insists he is making the right choice:

“What makes it worth it is that it might just work as I intend it to. The language barrier emphasizes that this is specifically a Vietnamese story, not a romanticized vision told by anyone who hasn’t been on excursions to actual prisons where people were tortured and murdered since first grade. I wanted these Vietnamese characters to speak Vietnamese as a way to reclaim a tiny bit of my culture from everything that’s used it as exotic backdrop or tragedy porn. I’m hoping the the audience would be firmly aware of the cultural differences, yet still be able to emotionally invest in these characters, and find love, lost, hope, and dreams within them.”

Another benefit, he adds, is that creating the story this way presents a unique artistic challenge: “the classic ‘show don’t tell’. The story is practically wordless, so I will need to flex my storytelling muscles to get the emotive language across. I’m very excited to give it a good shot!”

Pham expressed his working relationship with Hope Nicholson and Sam Beiko the editors of the Gothic Tales anthology as very rewarding:


“I am a new face to the comic-making community in general and haven’t had much experience working with editors. They were very open to my ideas and gave me great advice and direction to go with the story. I wholly appreciate their trust in letting me do a foreign-language story and believing that I’ll have the skill to deliver it.”


Image Credit: from Hien Pham’s “Float”

Nicholson is also well known for working with diverse creators on diverse stories, and there is one more part of Pham’s “Minefield” that aligns with this diversity: “Minefield” is also a love story between two men, something not frequently seen in mainstream comics.

And this focus on homosexuality is something Pham is looking to explore more of with Pham’s future work, It Will Be Hard, which has no release date yet–Pham says it will be coming out soon though.  Pham describes it is as a “lite choose-your-own gentle smut adventure about two men’s relationships with their bodies and with each other.”

He adds that he’s “still got a long way to go with [his] drawing skills and drawing this comics has been practically doing anatomy aerobatics!”

Other than improving his anatomy skills, Pham has found that working on It Will Be Hard has carried other benefits: “Making this comic has also made me look more into my own sexuality and the different ways I feel about my body and myself. It’s given me a lot to think about and a lot still to process but I can feel myself being more confident in my own skin the more I work on the comic.”

Anyone interested in Pham’s work can follow him on Twitter and his online portfolio!


CJ Standal is no stranger to Kickstarter, having run a successful Kickstarter for his comic Rebirth of the Gangster, for sale as a print copy or an ebook now!  Find out more about him at

Hope Nicholson and Bedside Press: A Dream Realized

Bedside Beginnings

Last Saturday, July 15, marked the beginning of another Hope Nicholson Kickstarter, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love–a Kickstarter discussed more throughly here Nicholson has been publishing comics under the Bedside Press imprint and running successful Kickstarter campaigns for years.   
bedside press logo

At first, Nicholson didn’t expect Bedside Press to become as big of a part of her life as it is now.  

In fact, when she started the imprint in 2014, she “just wanted to do this one reprint book because [she] didn’t see it in the market! But what [she] learned about the process is not only did [she] really, really enjoy it but [she] had the seeds to be good at it too. Ever since Nelvana of the Northern Lights [she has] been trying to nurture these seeds and grow as a publisher.”

nelvana of northern lights

Her “first project was a reprint, but after [she] caught the publishing bug from Nelvana [she] knew that [she] wanted to do new content too. Getting the pinups for Nelvana and Brok was [her] first experience with working with artists and it was a rush.”

Working on Brok didn’t only just become a fun experience because of working with the artists. In fact, “Brok Windsor is [her] pride and joy”, the comic she’s proudest of so far.

Nicholson holds this comic in a special place in her heart, because it’s “a beautiful comic, so iconic of Canadian history, and of [her] own city Winnipeg in particular, and completely forgotten.”

brok windsor

As mentioned before, “that project really was [her[ first solo outing, and it was a joy to be able to reach out and see what [she] was capable of in all avenues. Discovering the real Brok Windsor, finding ALL of these lost 1940s comics to reprint, hiring a new artist to reinvision a comic only available as a text script and reaching out to over 30 artists to draw pinups of Brok made [her] really proud of my abilities.”

And it seems like she was onto something–since starting Bedside Press, Nicholson has published 11 books, sometimes graphic novels and sometimes a mix of traditional text and comics. As the Kickstarter shows too, she’s only getting started.

Refreshingly, Nicholson seems to enjoy “the feeling of satisfaction in producing books and working with really talented creators”, and focus on that feeling more than trying to be a publisher only focused on the bottom line.

“Plus,” Nicholson adds “all the readers seem really happy!”

A Diverse Touch

Maybe the reason the readers seem happy stems from that personal touch and from a focus on producing a wide range of texts from a wide range of creators.

Early on, she knew “that [she] wanted to focus on diverse content” although that focus is still on hiring “people who tell good stories”.

However, Nicholson noted that when a publisher focuses on good stories, they’ll find that “people who tell good stories come from everywhere. It’s important to tell their stories”.

And one of those stories is making it’s way into Gothic Tales of Haunted Love:

One [story] really caught [her] eye, so much so that [she] had to hire a restorationist so [she] could reprint it in this collection…[that story] was Sanho Kim’s ‘The Promise’. It’s an exceptional gothic romance, set in Korea, created by a Korean artist, and lettered in both Korean and English. It’s proof that there are always resistance and exceptions to dominant genres and [she’s] really excited to showcase it.”

sanho kims the promise

This is just one of many diverse stories, however, both in Gothic Tales of Haunted Love and in the rest of Bedside’s publishing catalog.

Nicholson attributes her success at attracting diverse voices to a few things:

At first when [she] did open calls, [she] didn’t have as far of a reach, so a lot of creators outside of [her] immediate circle never even heard of [her] projects, let alone could apply for them. But over the years [she has] had more and more standing in the industry and since [she] promote[s] a lot of different creators…people who aren’t white, who aren’t straight, who aren’t binary gender.. [diverse creators] are now within [her] social sphere.”

secret love of geek girls

But she knew she had to do more than just rely on her social sphere:

“[She had] to put the work into research and asking for specific recommendations in order to compensate for [a social sphere’s] limitation. For example when [she] did The Secret Loves of Geeks, it was a bit of an attempt to fix an issue that feminism has with binary gender. [She] didn’t want just stories from men, just stories from women–[she] wanted stories from people where the gender binary just wasn’t accurate for them. So [she] asked specifically for stories from nonbinary creators, and received several!”


Bedside Bumps


Although Nicholson has been successful in her publishing experience so far, she does admit that there have been a few bumps in the road, mainly stemming from her steadfast commitment to publish stories she loves instead of only pursuing commercially successful stories.

Distribution and finances are the biggest bumps she’s experienced so far:

“In Canada because of our sparse population base most publishers exist on grants, and grant eligibility is restricted to very strict criteria. [Because of this limited funding, she] fund[s] most of [her] projects through Kickstarters, but this only reaches an audience of usually 400-3,000 funders, and is usually only done two-three times a year.“

She adds that “distributors don’t want niche projects for the most part, so it limits [her] reach to what [she] can hand-sell. That’s tough”.

It’s so tough that Nicholson has had to adjust her life a little. “Because [she uses] almost all of [her] freelance income to put into new projects, it also means [she has] had to cut personal costs as much as [she] can” so she lives with her parents.
spectacular sisterhood of superwomen

On the bright side, though, she’s “had better luck licensing the projects to publishers later (like with The Secret Loves of Geek Girls through Dark Horse), and using all [her] freelance payments from other projects (like writing The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen for Quirk Books) to fund additional books.”

For example, “The Spectacular Sisterhood paid for all the production and printing fees for Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time!”

Kickstarter Boost

Part of her success as a publisher comes from running successful Kickstarters; Nicholson has run six successful Kickstarter campaigns and is looking to add a seventh.  In fact, she’s been so successful in this area that Kickstarter has made her one of their Thought Leaders, an honor only bestowed on seven creators so far.

kickstarter thought leaders hope nicholson

When describing this experience and honor, Nicholson says that “ it’s been nice!”

But she adds that, “not too much has changed for [her], since unofficially [she] was already giving a lot of advice and panels and seminars on how to use Kickstarter and tips on how to succeed. It’s basically just given [her] a degree of legitimacy when [she says she’s] an expert!”

Nicholson was more than happy to share some of those Kickstarter tips in this interview.

One of her biggest pieces of advice is to “keep a lot of spreadsheets of lists! It’s tough to re-do all your research from scratch for each campaign.”

While Nicholson has raised enough funds with all of her Kickstarters, she does offer some light for those who don’t have her track record.  She reminds them that “failure is OK.”

Not only is it OK, it’s so much a part of life that she prepares “as much for the failure of a campaign as [she does] for its success.”

woody allen failure quote

Sometimes this means asking the right questions, such as “at what point would [she] be comfortable making a personal investment in the project if funding doesn’t push [her] over the edge”?

Does she think that she would “try the project again at a later date or through a different method”?

“Would [she] approach a publisher with the project instead, or would [she] let the project die and encourage the creators to apply with their story for other projects?”

Even though she prepares for failure, she hasn’t had to answer those questions outside of the abstract yet.

And she attributes that success to many things:

“[A big part of success is] putting the work in. And that goes from every aspect. It includes having and maintaining a newsletter, having an active social media life (yes, life not just promotion! People want to know who you are before they feel connected), chatting to press and journalists like they are human beings (so many creators treat press like a necessary evil which is ridiculous. We’re all in this equally together!), identifying your weak spots ([hers] is design) and hiring appropriately (S.M. Beiko did all the amazing design for the kickstarter!)”

Despite this success, she made a point to say that she is ”always learning, and anything outside of comics kickstart-ing is still a bit foreign to” her”.

*Note* All quoted material is from Hope Nicholson.


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