James E. Roche Interview
Ian: You’re very busy lately with a Kickstarter on the way and all the other exhausting steps to getting a comic series off the ground, so let’s start with your book Wretches, can you tell us a little bit about it?
James: Wretches centers around a brother and sister duo, Shea and Sean, who were forced to flee their home planet when they were just kids, barely escaping before it was destroyed in an all-out war between the humans and the sentient robots they shared it with. During the escape they lost both of their parents and were forced to grow up on the mean streets of an alien planet with nothing but each other.
The story opens with an action-packed chase scene that really sets the pace for the rest of the series. All grown up, Shea and Sean are a part of a team of rough and tumble mercenaries who hunt down other beings for a reward, specializing in capturing the robots they’d once shared their home planet with.
We take a dark turn towards the end of this first issue after an epic action scene tears the siblings apart. I’m really excited about all that we have in store for the rest of the series – corrupt robot warlords, gangsters, unlikely allies, a drug dealing alien mafia. Every issue is going to be a ride in and of itself.
Ian: The first thing I noticed was the immediately evident dynamic between brother and sister Sean and Shea, why was this important to you and the story, and does it play a bigger picture in the overall story arc?
James: After all that they’ve been through Shea and Sean have a unique bond. As painful as these things are – loss, hardships, struggles – they really bring people together in an incredible way. That being said, I wanted it to be evident that they have a special relationship, the kind where they can fight to the death together then turn around and make jokes, make fun of one another, make each other cry and then be the one to make them feel better.
Their relationship is very important to the overall arc. In fact, their relationship is the crux of the story. That dynamic you saw in the beginning is going to change dramatically once they’re separated, and these two killers are not the ones you want coming for you if you jeopardize those they love.
Ian: What are some Sci-Fi stories that have influenced you as a writer and does it translate on any level to Wretches?
James: Blade Runner. Terminator. Let’s be honest, sentient robots as the harbingers of doom is not the most original idea at this point. For me though it’s about the execution of the overall story, bringing something new to the table. That’s why it’s so important for me to try and nail the importance of the bond of family and the heartbreak that comes with personal loss, because I want Wretches to have the right amount of heart to it that everyone can relate to it. That plus the awesome shots and scenes we have planned are going to separate Wretches from the Sci-Fi pack.
Ian: I didn’t notice any credits to a publisher on the 13 page preview I got from you, is this something you’re doing all by yourself or are you attempting to find a publisher?
James: We do have publishers who have taken an interest in Wretches, but we have not yet signed a contract with one. I’m setting up and running the Kickstarter myself. At the end of the day I just want to tell this story for myself to be completely honest. If we can scrap enough backers together to get the ball rolling on this series and eventually put the final book into us and our backers hands then I’ll walk away happy.
Ian: Your artist team consists of; Salo Farias art, Chunlin Zhao color, and Jamie Me letterer, can you tell us a little bit about them and how you came about assembling them for this project?
James: I’m fortunate enough to have gotten together with a fantastic international team of super talented indie comics creators. I first worked with Salomon Farias (Sea Breeze Lane – Lakefront Comics) in late 2013 on Apex War, an 8-page short which was published in the IF Anthology by Alterna Comics. Apex War, which was always meant to be the prologue to a bigger story, actually focused on Shea and Sean and how they narrowly escaped their home planet. Salo lives in Curico, Chile and is a lifelong sketcher and professional comic book artist since 2011.
Chunlin Zhao (Shogun Knight Dyson V #1 – Outlander Entertainment) is an incredible colorist and cover artist. Not only did she color Wretches but she did the main cover as well. She’s from Chengdu, Sichuan, China and has been a working artist professionally since 2012. Jamie Me (QUEEN, START AGAIN) hails from England, UK and is a comic creator who writes and letters comics. He is also the host of the weekly trending Twitter chat #ComicTalk which helps to promote all things in the world of indie comics. We also have an awesome variant cover to this first issue by Halifax, Nova Scotia’s own Ian Burns. He is a filmmaker, illustrator and the creator of the giant-woman-slaying-giant-monsters graphic novel.
Ian: Can you go over what it’s like as a writer to search for the right team of artists to help bring your idea to life?
James: You basically just have to put the feelers out there blindly when you’re new to the game and looking to make a comic book. For the interior artists, I found them by posting a paid job offering in an online forum. You’ve got to sift through a lot of hungry artists, but my recommendation is to treat this as an investment into your future; your storytelling portfolio. If you want to make a comic book that’s going to look professional and make people take notice then it’s going to have to look good, and pretty art doesn’t come cheap.
Ian: Too True, you get what you pay for. Let’s talk about the Kickstarter, what is your approach to crowdfunding and how do you plan on making the Wretches a successful project?
James: I personally wanted to treat this campaign with the same reverence as a pitch to a publisher. That being said, we loaded up the campaign with as much finished content as we could, the first 10 pages, covers and pinups, which will hopefully instill confidence in backers. I think that this and the clean, informative campaign page itself, not to mention the sweet rewards and cool graphic chart I put together for them, are going to show how dedicated myself and the team are to telling this story and delivering it in the highest quality we can.
Ian: Can you reveal any of the rewards?
James: Aside from the 24-page print itself and the variant cover, we have some sweet looking stickers, magnets, pinup posters and a limited amount of commissions from the interior artists of Wretches. These are all pictured in the rewards section of the campaign, so backers will know exactly what they’re getting.
You can also be drawn into the comic! We have three minor roles at the end of Issue 1 where these baddies have nothing left to do but be slain in epic fashion by our main characters. We also have one featured role, where you can be in the entire series from Issue 2 to 5. You’ll be interacting with all of the characters at one point or another, until our heroes get their hands on you in Issue 5. Then, we can’t make any guarantees you’ll make it out alive.
In the digital realm you can get a hold of the story, variant cover, pinups, script, and mini-comics set in the Wretches universe. I’ve also added two rewards I call the Creators Connection that I think could be very helpful to comic book creators who are new to the game. An artist can have their portfolio reviewed by full-time comic book artist Salomon Farias, and a writer can have a Skype chat and email exchange with myself regarding anything involving making comics – full issue script analysis of your story, marketing your story, planning your Kickstarter, pitching, press, starting from scratch, anything they’d like.
Ian: Those are some really awesome and innovative rewards. I especially enjoy the thought of being in the comic.
Ian: Do you know any other artists with successful crowdfunding campaigns and if so have you sought out help or gotten any worth wild advice?
James: I’ve picked the brains of several creators here and there the last few months regarding Kickstarter. Comics creators are so willing to give helpful advice it’s incredible. I can only hope to be able to continue paying it forward in the future. Now, I can’t think of any one piece of advice that stood out above the rest, so let me take a moment to shout out a few folks who did take the time to throw some knowledge my way.
M. Holly Rising, creator of successful Boston Metaphysical series and runner of its multiple Kickstarter campaigns, literally wrote the book on Kickstarter for the Independent Creator. Check that out for a crash course if you’re throwing your hat into this arena. Keep an eye out for Daniel Brodie and his recently successful Morgan’s Organs Kickstarter. That book looks hilarious and you should try and get your hands on it. Jamie Me is in the middle of his Kickstarter campaign for Start Again. Give that a peep and also check out the Twitter event #ComicTalk that he runs for insightful indie comics chats. Alterna Comics is also in the middle of a NCBD t-shirt campaign at the moment, aiming to donate t-shirts to comic realtors across the globe.
Ian: I gave to Rising’s latest Kickstarter for the Boston Metaphysical Series and I loved the books, not to mention the fact that Alterna Comics and Peter Simeti have been doing really amazing things with film as well as comic books. I feel like it’s a great time to be involved with indie projects.
Ian: Where can people get a hold of you?