Earlier this week I wrote about a Kickstarter project surrounding a comic called Forager. The book was one that I immediately backed once I found out who the creative team was and I saw some of the art, as writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are a team that I have faith in to deliver a good story with whatever they set out to do. After posting that piece, I was lucky enough to have Mr Palmiotti answer a few questions about the book (and a few other things I wanted to toss into the ring as well).
Comic Booked: What was the inspiration behind Forager? A sci-fi epic seems the complete opposite end of the spectrum from, oh, Jonah Hex in the old west.
Jimmy Palmiotti: Justin and I are always talking stories to each other and we have a huge love of science fiction and the part of the genre that opens up the mind to a optimistic future and not the dark and angry type of story that most lean towards. With Forager we were looking at the human element in a story about a first contact experience and a way to tell a story that involved someone without a cluttered mind, and how someone young would be open to receive a message from space. The idea of first contact is always a fun one and this P.O.V. we take with the book , I think, is unique. In the end, any of the books we do, there are characters involved that you can relate to… even good old Jonah Hex.
CB: Most of your books deal with adults in certain scenarios; even Ame-Comi Girls the characters are a little older, at least in their teens and dealing with adult situations. How was it to write for a younger character?
JP: Writing a younger character was much easier for Justin since he has a little girl himself. A lot of our main characters voice is Lucy’s and I think it really helped the story.
CB: What were the challenges in writing an all-ages book vs. some of your other titles?
JP: Honestly, not too many. We mostly resisted going dark with the story because we were never going to tell that kind of story to begin with. We only had two places we could have gone more adult visually, but we resisted because they didn’t add to the story and in the end, we wanted to tell a classic story that someone of all ages could pick up. Sometimes you can limit your audience with the simplest thing.
CB: This was not your first time using Kickstarter to publish a book, in fact I think it’s your fifth. What drives you to use Kickstarter rather than go through a publisher such as Image for distribution?
JP: With a publisher you have to deal with sharing rights and have to pitch the project. Same goes for a publisher like Image, and then there is a handling fee attached and so on that, at the end of the day, you better sell thousands of books or you will find yourself in a hole. With Kickstarter, we need just about 800-1000 people to believe in the project and we can make enough money to not only give them a limited exclusive autographed book, but at the same time connect with our audience and offer a range of other cool things they could not get elsewhere. At the end of the day, we choose what we would like to create and the audience tells us if they are interested with their pledges. It’s a great process.
CB: You mention in the Kickstarter profile that neither you nor your writing partner will be taking any money from the Kickstarter. How is that going to work for you guys, or are you using this book as a chance to establish yourselves into the all-ages work and help showcase newer talent with your additional creators on the book?
JP: The amount we are asking for covers the artists, the letterer, designer, colorist, printer, shipping, packing and delivery. We did not add a writing rate to the number because we wanted to keep it reasonable and in the end, all we want is to keep publishing our ideas and we were not worried about anything but that. All of the money we have made from Kickstarter has gone to other books. We have not taken a dime in profit from any of the projects. Maybe one day we might, but for now, funding our dreams is reward enough.
CB: Speaking of new talent… I had never heard of your artist, Steven Cummings, before this Kickstarter and seeing the sample images that are shown on the Kickstarter site. How did you guys find this guy and where else can we see him? His work, in conjunction with Challenging Studios on colors, looks absolutely amazing!
JP: Thanks, we think the combination looks beautiful. Steven has done work for both DC and Marvel over the years. Not the biggest projects but always beautiful work to look at. When we were putting together the project we felt he was the perfect fit to the book. He understands the genre and can draw children… something not every artist has a handle on. As we speak, the book is totally finished on his end and the crew at Challenging Studios is almost finished with the color. We are super excited about the results.
CB: For those who are looking to try their own program on the platform, any advice for those who are looking at putting out a creator-owned comic using Kickstarter?
JP: Keep your goal as low as you can. Figure out the shipping rates in advance. Be smart with your packing materials. Be realistic with the delivery time… …try to get the rewards out in less than 4 months. Make sure you are up on your social media and make sure everyone in your family supports your work before you throw yourself out there. See what sells and why and get involved in backing some Kickstarters yourself… people can click on your name and see how supportive you are. If you don’t, most people will not back you.
CB: It’s not that common that you get a writing pair on a book these days and yet you both seem to manage to do a number of books each month – 3 from DC, no less plus anything else. What’s it like working in a collaboration on the writing versus working solo?
JP: I am working with my best friend on these books and with Amanda on Harley, the love of my life. What could be better? With both parties, I am surrounded by two of the most creative people I know… so it’s a constant learning process with me and at the same time we get to volley ideas all around us and come up with some cool things. It also helps with deadlines with the work. The only down side is we get paid half of what most people think we make… but it’s the most fun job and we love it.
CB: You guys have really crossed the gamut of genres, with sci-fi, western, superhero, action… What genre haven’t you tackled that you’d like to take on next? Any specific titles that you have an interest in that you have not had the chance to yet?
JP: We have done so many different things, yet each day we have the “what if” conversation with our workload. The things we haven’t done a lot of that we would love to explore. For me, I would love to write some romance stories… but knowing me, they would be a bit twisted.
If you haven’t had the chance to check out Forager over on Kickstarter yet, you really should. As this article is being written there are still 15 days left in the project, and it has already surpassed its goal and is now on to its stretch goals! It is not that often that we see what looks to be an all-ages book that truly does appeal to all ages and with the sample art pieces we see – as well as a lots of goodies, including prints from both Palmiotti and Amanda Conner (sorry, the Darwyn Cooke print package is sold out) – but this looks to be a fun read regardless.
Thanks again to Mr Palmiotti for taking the time to answer some questions for us about this project and his experience in working with the team that he does as well as the Kickstarter program in general. I have a feeling his insights on what has worked for the Kickstarter program will be insightful to many others who are looking at starting such projects, and hopefully they will be able to take away a few things from his experience in using the platform multiple times to deliver some amazing stories that may not have otherwise had a platform in which to see the light of day!