The indie scene in the comic book industry is a very interesting discussion topic. Due to the rise in popularity of the internet, social media and crowdfunding, comic book creators now have more freedom and resources to make their own properties and deliver them to their buyers, creating an alternative business model for a lot of creators. Whilst that model may not be used by Marvel or DC it helps establish a closer relationship with their fans.
An example of that is writer Adam Lawson, who has worked in film and TV for quite some time, and who recently finished his crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for his own comic book creation, The Eighth, which we reviewed in this blog. We were interested in knowing about the process behind that comic, and so we contacted Adam to do an interview. We had a very friendly discussion about comics, writing, how to use crowdfunding, and a lot more. I hope you enjoy it!
Kevin: Thank you for taking the time to do this, Adam! Many readers may not be familiar with you and your work, so what can you tell us about yourself?
Adam: "I am a TV Showrunner (for me, I write/direct my shows as well) by day and an indie comic and board game creator by night. My TV shows include Escape the Night, Wil Wheaton’s TableTop, Sagas of Sundry, Spellslingers, and Titansgrave. Much of my TV work deals with fantasy and horror or is centered around turning gaming into a TV show. I live in LA, I’m married to the woman of my dreams, and I don’t drink."
How did you get into reading comics and books?
"The first novel that turned me on to reading was Dragons of Autumn Twilight when I was in the fourth grade. It was a fantasy novel, and I found myself trapped in my room, reading it for hours and acting out the scenes in my mind. I have been hooked ever since. For comic books, I played Dungeons & Dragons as a kid, and at the same shop where I bought RPG stuff, they sold comics. I saw Jim Lee’s art one day on a cover and picked it up. I have never stopped reading them since."
Were there any comics, books, and/or writers that influenced you, or your work?
"When I was thirteen, Jim Lee’s X-men is what opened the door to comics for me. His art made me believe superheroes were something I could aspire to be. After that, I chased artists. A decade later came Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. It totally changed my world, and I discovered the power of writers in comics. After that, I chased writers. Then someone gave me Brian Azzarello’s 100 Bullets. It blew my mind. I had never read anything like it. The story, the dialogue, and the grit meant I could not put it down. After that, I chased indie comics and abandoned the big two."
You’ve showcased your directing skills in the YouTube space, can you tell us more about those projects?
"Escape the Night is my most exciting work to date. I write and direct the entire season, as well as show run it. It’s an all-in journey. It’s a fantasy/horror series where the stars of the cast have no script but instead “go back in time” to a dark setting. Here we see them react to monsters, traps, puzzles, and a complex narrative in real-time and truly live the show. It has been YouTube Originals’ longest-running and most award-winning series."
Are you currently writing or working on any new projects?
"I have projects at WB and Netflix (I can’t talk about those just yet), but the thing I am most excited about is my next graphic novel, which launches in October (pre-launch starts Aug 5th) called The Kill Journal. It is a horror series set in the world of Revenants and survivors. Revenants are evil spirits who have come back from the dead and are bent on the slaughter of the innocent, wielding chainsaws and crawling through nightmares. St. George, called by God as he so claims, and his band of Revenant-attack-survivors are taking a stand. The only way they can reclaim their broken lives is to hunt down the monsters who took everything from them."
Tell us more about “The Eighth” and your motivation behind this new project!
"The Eighth is the combination of two parts of my life. The first was from when I was in high school, and a friend took their own life due to bullying and other horrible events. Bullying was around me to an extreme level. The second is my love of ancient Sumerian myth. It is a world that points to secret parts of the Abrahamic faiths and also ancient aliens. I merged these two things through the tale of a teenage math genius and his two troubled friends.
The story begins with the discovery of a piece of ancient Sumerian armor in a small town, which is soon left in ruins by the misguided choices of David and his friends. They travel the world, searching for the missing pieces of the armor and themselves. In time, they discover they are the harbingers of the end of the world… or at least as we know it."
If you had to give our readers a reason to back this project, what would you say?
"First, you can’t find this story anywhere else, and it’s 200-pages of hardcover awesomeness. Second, it is brutal in the best way possible. This is a graphic novel with real consequences and real choices for the characters. Instead of a tale about a hero who can lift a tank, but when he punches a bank robber, they just get a black eye (instead of killing him), this is a tale of real consequences tied to the character’s actions. Where bullets kill and superpowered teens do damage to innocent people. Third, it’s good to be on the journey of supporting an indie creator. You get to take the ride with me and interact with me directly. Not something you get from the big two."
When and where can our readers get their hands on this book?
"You can back the book on Indiegogo right now! https://igg.me/at/8thcomic
It is IN-DEMAND, which means we have met our funding goal, so you will get a copy. One really cool thing is I that have completed six of the issues and have started to deliver them monthly digitally. So, if you back today, you will get issue one today and any other issues that have already been released. Number two comes out on August 5th and so on, leading up to the release of the special hardcover edition with a slipcase."
Your Indiegogo fund is funded! That’s awesome! Are there any rewards for our readers that choose to sign up?
"Our campaign is fully funded, and three stretch goals have already been unlocked. I’m hoping to get that last one of an additional 12-page storyline before the print order has to go out. For $25, you get the eight digital issues delivered to you monthly. For $55, you get the digital + the hardcover edition with slipcase. It is also embossed with spot UV work and is over 200 pages. For $100, you can get the digital + hardcover + a badass T-shirt with an original design on it. The fabric is high quality, not some boxy thing you get on the comic-con floor!"
I know that you have a love for comics, who’s your favorite comic book character?
"I have two: Swamp Thing and Murder Falcon."
What advice would you give to young writers or directors that want to get started in the industry?
"Work on your craft every day. If you are a writer and you are not writing at least 10-15 hours a week, then you are not really a writer. Working writers often put in 50 to 60 hours a week. So, 10-15 is just a warm-up. If you are a director, you should be shooting something every week. Your camera should live in your hands. They may not be epic films, but something. And for both, keep reading books and trade magazines on your craft regularly. It is much easier to break in if your work is excellent."
How do you write your comic book scripts?
"I do an outline first and beat out the emotional arc and significant action moments. Then I allot how many pages I am going to spend on each moment, which usually changes a bit in the writing stage. I do all of this on a notebook at a park with nothing to distract me. After that, I get into the writing, which I do on a computer. If it is a dialogue-heavy moment, I write all of the dialogue first and then think through the panels and how it should be laid out. If it is a moment of intense action, I do the opposite."
How do you think your work in film has influenced the way you make comics?
"It has helped me think in sequential images. I have worked with storyboards and editing for two decades and so putting together panels was not that big of a leap. Though panels have a lot more artistic elements you can add."
Crowdfunding takes a lot of time, dedication, and marketing. What have you learned about this experience?
"Build your audience as much as possible before you begin and then realize it is going to take hours of your time every day to push the campaign forward. There are constant interviews, press, live streams, and social media demands that you have to do, and it’s okay. That is the ride. Enjoy it."
What are your plans with this comic in the coming years?
"I hope to do another story in the world of THE EIGHTH, but more importantly, I want to get this story into as many hands as possible. It is my true joy to create TV or comics and to see the fans' reaction. To hear their thoughts and how the story becomes their own."
Thank you for your time, Adam! Where can our readers find you on social media?