Here is another cool project we found over on Kickstarter that we real feel good about backing. The project is called Who Will Save The World? a comic book about an army of undead German soldiers and trying to find out who will save from this nightmare. The comic book creator is Adam Watson of Darkslinger Comics and I had a lot of questions for him. In a world where Marvel and DC dominate the comic book industry I really wanted to know how an independent publisher went about making a comic book. Because let's face it , who hasn't wanted to make their own zombie comic? Read our interview below.
IgorsLab: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Adam Watson: I am the owner of Darkslinger Comics and the creator/writer of Ghost Assassin, The Chronicles of Van Helsing, The Pauper, Diary of a Dead Man, The Principalities and El Bovine Muerte.
IL: What got you into writing comic books? Was there a particular comic book or writer?
AW: I have always wanted to work in the comic industry in some facet. As a child it was my dream to become a comic artist, but when I was 17 I was in a car accident that shattered my wrist. I have full mobility in it now, but I have never fully regained the ability to hold a pencil correctly so that ruined my chances of ever doing art for a living. About 6 months after my accident I started my first company, an online comic reselling business thinking I would be content to work in the industry in a retail facet. It went really strong for about 4 years, but when the economy started to tank in 2001 it could no longer sustain itself. It was at this time that I started thinking about writing comics instead of doing the art. I can’t pin it down to one specific writer or comic book but there were several who inspired me. If I had to name just a few I would have to say at that time it would have been Jeff Smith, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis and Kim Newman (novelist-not a comic writer as far as I know).
IL: You are the owner of Darkslinger Comics. How did and what made that come about?
AW: After I decided I wanted to be a writer I started submitting regularly to Avatar Press and then Marvel once their submissions guidelines changed to accept writers. In pretty much every script that I did, I created at least one new character or group of characters. At the time I had a small set of friends that I trusted to read my scripts and give me feedback. These were not pros or even aspiring creators, just normal people whose feedback I would listen to and appreciate. One of those friends, Russell Roy, took note of the fact that I kept creating new characters and encouraged me with every new script to make up my own universe and start my own company. I had several excuses as to why I didn’t want to do this, but the idea always stuck somewhere in the back of my mind. Russell ended up dying due to complications suffered from surgery in 2005 and that gave me the last bit of drive I needed to quit being afraid and just do it. Darkslinger Comics was opened two months later and we published our first title, Ghost Assassin, in February of 2006. Life is just too short not to take chances.
IL: I have heard that the comic book industry is a very hard industry to be in. How is it being an independent publisher in such a competitive business?
AW: The comic industry is very difficult and extremely competitive, but it has been relatively kind to us. This is a great time to be a comic creator. There are several different methods of getting your material out there and we attempt to exploit them all. We exhibit at dozens of comic conventions every year, have a strong web presence and a solid base of fans and retailers that support us. This is all due to a lot of hard work on our part, but the benefits have been worth it. Currently our books sell 500-1,000 copies each, which for an independent publisher is very good.
IL: What are the major obstacles a independent publisher faces in the industry?
AW: I think the biggest obstacle any independent publisher faces is recognition. Just getting your name out there can be very difficult. But as I stated before, now is a great time to use all of the various methods available to a creator to get known. The biggest issues we at Darkslinger Comics are currently facing are monetary. Creating comics is a very expensive business, but thankfully there are programs out there like Kickstarter that can help you to fund your projects.
IL: Promoting has to be the main thing for indie publishers. Do you attend a lot of cons to help promote your comics? Or what means do you use to spread the word?
AW: Conventions are a large part of the way we market ourselves. We attempt to do at least 10 conventions and signings per year. In 2009 I personally did 42 conventions and signings. That really took it out of me, but the exposure I was able to get from doing that many was well worth it. In addition to signings and conventions, we heavily promote via the internet. We have a website that can be found at www.darkslinger.com, a Facebook page, a Google+ page, twitter account and a Myspace (though I don’t think anyone really checks that one out anymore.) We do targeted postcard marketing through the mail and at comic shops. We have done advertisements in print and through the web, but that has not yielded as much of a response as what we were hoping for. I am going to try both forms again in the future, but in a slightly more targeted way.
IL: Who Will Save The World? is your newest comic. Can you tell us what the new comic is about?
AW: Who Will Save The World? is set in an alternate reality World War 1 in which the Germans have created a bio weapon that brings their soldiers back to life as reanimated corpses. They are zombies, but not exactly the traditional brain eating variety. They are still very much soldiers. Most of Europe falls to the Germans in a matter of days. Italy and France are completely decimated. England is one of the last European nations still standing, so they call on the US for help. It is now a race against time to see if anyone has what it takes to stop this undead menace and save the world before they obliterate everything. The story is written by Rita Gorgoni and illustrated by Stefano Cardoselli.
IL: You have a Kickstarter project for Who Will Save The World? Will the comic be made no matter what the outcome is of that project?
AW: Yes, but it will be much easier to make with the help of Kickstarter. Who Will Save The World? is the second of over a dozen stories that we have planned in conjunction with Azurek Studios. These stories will move forward even if we do not meet the funding goal, but we can do it at a much faster pace if we have the money ahead of time to pay for the printing, marketing, etc… If we raise a surplus of funding that will allow us to fund the other stories a lot faster as well.
IL: How do you go about finding an artist to compliment your stories?
AW: Conventions are a great resource for finding artists as are Facebook and Linked In, but the greatest resource we have found is digitalwebbing.com. When we post an ad on that site, we generally get around 100 applicants.
IL: Do the artists work on a comic for free in the indie world or is there an incentive based payment system?
AW: There are plenty of artists that are willing to work on back end payments and there are a lot of companies out there that function solely off of this model, but we are not one of them. We pay all of our artists a page rate. The exact amount of that rate is of course confidential, but everyone who works with us gets paid. I think that this is something that sets us apart from quite a few other companies in the indy world.
IL: I have to imagine that printing the comics must be expensive. Do you think that digital comics will be the way to go for indie publishers?
AW: I think that digital is great for building a fan base, and it is a great way to offer your products for cheap or even free. We offer a totally free webcomic that is updated every week at www.darkslinger.com/elbovinemuerte
However, I would view going digital only to be a huge mistake. Traditionally the majority of comic readers enjoy having a physically printed copy and going digital only could cost you these readers. We try to get our stories out in as many formats as possible so that no matter what format someone prefers we can cater to their tastes.
IL: Where can we find out more about Darkslinger Comics?
AW: You can find out more at our website: www.darkslinger.com, the Darkslinger Comics Facebook, twitter.com/darkslinger, the Darkslinger Comics Google+ page. We sell our titles digitally at myebook.com, Comics Drivethru, Graphicly and mydigitalcomics. You can find physically printed copies of our books at comic shops in at least 30 different states and a few international countries. If you have a local comic shop that is not currently carrying our titles, have them contact us and we will set them up for wholesale ordering. We are currently working on getting distribution through Diamond as well, which should put us in quite a few more shops.
IL: Do you have comics lined up after Who Will Save The World? If so can you give us a sneak peek?
AW: Absolutely, issue #5 of the Chronicles of Van Helsing is currently being worked on. Each volume of Chronicles tells the story of a different generation of the Van Helsing clan as they wage their endless war against vampire kind.
We will be releasing more issues of Ghost Assassin this year. Ghost Assassin tells the story of hitman-for-hire David and his dead best friend, Todd. In addition to being a hitman, David has the ability to see ghosts which gives him a different take on the morality behind taking a human life.
The Principalities will see issues #2 and 3 being released this year. The Principalities follows a group of fallen angels, led by Gabriel the Archangel, as they attempt to stop Lucifer and Emmanuel the Antichrist from kickstarting Armaggedon.
El Bovine Muerte, our weekly updated webcomic will see a new page released every week. There are currently about 61 pages of content on the Darkslinger site for El Bovine Muerte, so there is plenty there to check out. El Bovine Muerte follows the adventures of Le Mime, an insane genius mime as he attempts to create the perfect cheese. This cheese has an undesired and unexpected side effect however, as a single bite of it will leave your mind erased leaving you open to mind control.
This year will also see the release of 100 Points of Hate, a 3 issue drug fueled crime saga. 100 Points is also a collaboration with Azurek Studios.
IL: Lastly, any advice to those who want to make their own comics?
AW: Before you start, learn everything you can. Ask any questions you may have to someone who has published their own comics before. Really know what your goals are. Do you just want to see something in print and don’t care who publishes it? Will you only be happy if you have 100% of the rights and the control? Either way you need to research, research, research and when you are done research some more.
Thank to Adam for the great insight into the world of independent comics, I learned a lot and if you want to create your own comic Adam just told you a lot. I really like the art work in this book done by artist Stefano Cardoselli whoes art work you see in this interview. I can't wait to see the book. You can still help fund Who Will Save The World? by going over to Kickstarter and investing some money. As always you will get something for your investment and Adam has some great stuff to offer. Thanks for stopping by everyone.