Tag Archives: Bill Willingham

FABLES 141 REVIEW – The Beginning of the End!

FABLES 141 COVERFABLES 141
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Publisher: Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

I opened this issue with as much as dread as desire; my first time in 10 years of reading FABLES and 7 years reviewing for Ain’t It Cool I’ve said these words. I love FABLES and it’s spin-off FAIREST. Willingham’s take on our favorite fairy tale characters living in the modern world has broken so many walls of character development and the nature of literary figures permeating the zeitgeist I can’t even begin to describe what the man has done within the confines of my word count.

It’s all ending though; issue 150 will mark the end of FABLES proper with issue 141 being the alpha chapter of this omega arc (the appropriately named “Happily Ever After.”) I don’t buy for a second that the title will be reflective of everyone’s fate though, especially with the seeds of war mongering, deception and de-evolution Willingham jammed neatly but tightly into these 22 pages.

What surprised me most was that new readers could actually get something out of this arc. I don’t recommend that anyone starts now since it would be like coming in for the last two seconds of a blowjob, but if you only want money shots with no build-up you could. Willingham really does some grand explaining of Rose Red’s new Knights of the Round Table, the strife between her and sister Snow White, skullduggery from the 13th floor mages and a reintroduction of the recently resurrected, and now very feral Bigby Wolf. There is also a moment with Cinderella that has me salivating with hope for some of her FAIREST Bond like adventures to bleed back from whence they came.

To show that he’s not simply playing his end-game, Willingham resurrects a mythos from the Great War in the form of magical entities that were boxed up against their will when they told Gepetto to go pound wood. They are antsy, ornery and all have now found a home inside Rose Red. I have little doubt this is an effort to up her critical hit damage rolls for a final tussle with sister Snow before the end.

FABLES is almost impossible to review at this point outside of play-by-plays and spoilers, so this will most likely be my last words of admiration for the next 9 months. Instead I will spend the time lamenting the looming loss of Willingham’s delicious dialog, Buckingham’s marvelous margins and the end of yet another vivacious Vertigo era.

P.S. For anyone who is jonesing for more FABLES stories, there’s an app for that called the Wolf Among Us by Telltale games. It thrusts you into the life of Bigby back in the Ragan era as he cleans up the slums of Fabletown. Yes, it’s interactive so if you are tech tarded do what I did for my spastic friends. Get someone with hand eye coordination to play and then stream it to a big set with Apple TV or Chromecast so you can watch the story unfold.

Why Your Comic Book Kickstarter Sucks & 6 Ways to Fix It!

Kickstarter is the ultimate internet high. It’s a feeling of empowerment for dreamers and believers that the middle class still has a modicum of control over our destiny. It is the new economy tucked inside the microcosm of electrodes that fuel our collective zeitgeist.

Kickstarter is also something I have seen hundreds (and this is not an exaggeration) of comic creators completely shit the bed on and lose just a small piece of their soul simply for perusing their dream.

And this is not just novices. Plenty of well respected and established creators have misjudged their own Q scores, believing clout could help surmount best-practices. The first being Bill Willingham, creator of FABLES. I don’t mind mentioning Bill by name because when I interviewed him about his Kickstarter project BIFROST, the Kickstarter was already faltering. So, Bill was pretty insistent that we discussed the Kickstarter process in addition to discussing the book. Since, I’m a comic book reporter for Ain’t It Cool News, Bill knew I had seen many a Kickstarter both soar and sink. And I have, so now I depart to you my darling creators with your eyes gleaming of spinner rack stardom this accrued “wisdom: in the best way I know how – a scathing indictment of Kickstarter idiocy.

If you have built any of these types of Kickstarters, NEVER send it to me for review. If you have avoided these trapping the by all means please email robpatey@comcast.net with the subject line, “My Kickstarter Don’t Suck!”

All right, enough preamble. Let Mjolnir fly.

15-dopest-movie-stoners--large-msg-130326163086The Lazy and Delusional Comic Kickstarter – It’s awesome you and your artistic buddy got baked last night and came up with a cool concept that he, “totally sketched the shit out of,” but you two did not create a comic.

Comics are a serial medium of sequential art and story. A comic is an arc, a progression of several chapters that end in a logical conclusion. IT IS NOT ONE PAGE! Your Kickstarter hath failed if your only initiative this far is an idea.

The “No, I’m Not Paying You to Make a Comic Book Kickstarter”: So you’ve written the script. You’ve proofread and had the guy at your local comic shop give it the once over (but not before signing a legalzoom.com generated non-disclosure form. Oh, on that front. No, I will never sign one before I do a review. OK, maybe if J.J. Abrams wanted me to review Episode VII, but that’s it!). Now you face the terrible hurdle that causes so many projects to wither and die – the artist.

Art is a time consuming and laborious process, I get it.  I understand the time it takes. However, a comic born solely in the pursuit for money will bare a soul as thick as the currency it is chasing. Stan Lee was not seeking to be a millionaire when he transformed the industry. The late 80’s boom out of Marvel that led to the formation of Image was bred of men who were not getting a gazillion dollars to create. If 99% of comic artists went commercial and did B2B work, they would make more cash.

More-HonestyMy point is a comic should be a labor of love. Shameless plug alert: I have a comic called AVERAGE JOE coming out later this year, published by Com.X (Here’s a nice little piece CBR just did on us). I wrote all 5 chapters (extra long issues of Joe) while I was working as Digital Marketing Manager for a  tax software company. I am writing the second volume as I take on the most work responsibilities of my life. No one was paying me to create. The artist on Average Joe, Stephen Andrade is diligently rubbing his hands to a tiny nub after a hard day of doing the same at his day job.

The point here is that the professional writer and artist believed so much in this project we poured out our hearts in the few free minutes we had each day. We don’t know if the book will make a dime, but we truly believe it will. So we created the pitch both words and art, found a publisher and presto comico. There are enough publishers out there today that if the book has true merit, someone will be proud to represent it. Here’s a guy named Ken Garing, no Kickstarter, he just created a book called PLANETOID, I reviewed it and then Image grabbed it up. But when Ken sent me the first issue, he didn’t have any clue he was going to be published by Image. And I’m not implying my review got him picked up, far from it, he simply made a GREAT book.

Just go make a comic book, quit begging. It’s not that hard. C’mon our Grandparents went overseas and stormed two friggin continents.

Sorry, stop crying. I didn’t mean to be so harsh. Here…like falling in love, you and the right artist will simply know this book needs to be created.

The “We’ve got a book, we just need a publisher Kickstarter”: Awesome, who is it? You don’t know? How many copies are you printing? Don’t know that either huh? Well, surely you must be close to figuring that out, because you will have to get the second book going to press shortly after?  No, oh the second book’s not even done yet? Good luck, nice talking to you. Clearly you are not interested in being a publisher or even a good creator that will capture fan interest.

Have a business model people and share it on the Kickstarter description page. Espousing dreams will only get you so far, we need to know you can deliver the goods. Which leads to…

The “I hope that moron sandwich was delicious, cause you prolly should have ate it AFTER you created your incentives.” 

moronWow, this is the most egregious and yet most common mistake. Have you ever heard of a world where people will pay something for nothing or pay an inflated price by percentage points in the hundreds? Then why on earth do you think a digital PDF (the bottom feeder of High Res comic files) is worth $4.99? Brian K. Vaughan, award winning comic writer, publishes a book called PRIVATE EYE that is almost completely free. It’s DRM paypal, give whatever you want. Are you as good as Brian K. Vaughan? Honestly, first book ever. Are you as good as this guy? Honestly, this is your very first book, remember that. So should you then be charging a $5 contribution charge? No, you should not. $5 is for print, just like retail. Suck it up. I know it will eat your margins, but see 2 rules up for my feelings on that.

Also, don’t make your incentives too elaborate. Like Bill offered himself and Frank Cho up to come over for dinner, but didn’t even offer a copy of the book???? Now, Bill admitted his error in that decision and it was born from his superstar status. He didn’t want to encumber a publishing deal. 99% of would be Kickstarters don’t have this problem.

Ensure you make each level of incentive, commensurate or a margin below market value. Humility is a very endearing virtue, ask Scott Snyder.

The “You didn’t tend your own garden Kickstarter”: There are millions of folks out there trying to create Kickstarters for comic books, rising above the cacophony of noise is a Herculean task. But hey, we all have friends, most of which live onthis thing called Facebook.

Kickstarter is a social media driven economy. Success in social media is about exponential share. Yeah, Aunt Sally may be the only week to like the Facebook page you set up for t8he project, but Aunt Sally is connected to Aunt Myrtle, and Aunt Myrtle’s neighbor is Gladys Baumgarten, Gladys’ Grandson Joey like comics.

BAM instant fanbase.

This is called pre-press, stoking the fire as you begin to trickle out assets. Tease…delight…and get the chops watering to a level people will gladly shell out duckets for a taste of your meaty tome.

And FINALLY

 polls_ugly_dress_4547_940865_answer_4_xlargeThe “Presentation is EVERYTHING Kickstarter”: So you avoided all trappings? Every…single…one? You and your artist joyfully completed a full story arc, you know exactly where you will go to get the piece produced once the funds are raised? You created incentives of tangible value for your future legion of fans?

You are a beautiful human being. Now:

Create a page rife with multi-media assets. You should ideally have a YouTube trailer and a plethora of art to help break up the mountains of text you will need for high placement on Search Engine Results Pages.

Understand how tagging works on the Web. ESPECIALLY GOOGLE + AFTER HUMMINGBIRD (sorry that’s a whole other post). Tag your post with the utmost care.

Now, you are ready to reach out to the press and press launch campaign.

LEGENDERRY 1 REVIEW: Green Hornet with Gears

legenderry 1 coverLEGENDERRY 1
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Sergio Davila
Publisher: Dynamite
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

FABLES has been one of my favorite stories of the past decade and Willingham one of my favorite writers. I was crestfallen in 2013 to hear that FABLES was going to end with issue one fifty and Bill’s Kickstarter, BIFROST, failed to connect the nine worlds coming up just short of its goal (you can read my interview with Bill on that here).

Then on the heels of these set-back announcements, came the whispers of Bill trading Grimm for gears and Snow White for steam with a new book called LEGENDERRY from Dynamite. I politely declined an interview opportunity with Bill because after BIFROST melted I didn’t want to jinx the guy. So, for one of the very few times in my recent comic history I had no idea what to expect when this adventure dropped last Tuesday.

My visceral response is…it’s good. Bill is twisting the Green Hornet and Kato properties into a Baz Luhrmann Moulin Rouge like frenzy. I’ve never been a huge fan of the ole’ Hornet and again without any prior knowledge I traversed most of the book without a concern for these brand trappings. Honestly, the connection didn’t click until I saw the teaser for the next issue and actually examined the cover when I sat down to write the review. I simply found myself too entranced in the mystery and this world that was, but has never been to be distracted by anything else.

We’re never given a specific time or place for LEGENDERRY, but Davila paints for us a city so grand in scope we can only guess its New York. Horse drawn carriages and Victorian garb adorn this city, but the vibe is clearly the roaring 1920’s. 90% of the book takes place in the Scarlet Club, a grand palace reminiscent of the dinner clubs where the elite would meet to rub elbows, dance and of course get sauced on the finest liquors. The main difference is there’s no persnickety prohibition in this world to inhibit the imbibing of libations. No, what brings the constables to this club, on this particular night, is a young woman being chased by a gang of mechanized thugs.

Another chief difference in this world from our own is everyone packs heat; this includes the owner of the Club Scarlet, the lovely Miss Pendragon. Ironically, her date for the evening, one publishing heir gadfly by the name of Britt Reid (yes, I should have gotten the hornet connection sooner – sue me) is sans protection and at least for this issue seemingly without any skills…outside the bedroom. I have no doubt this will be rectified in issue 2.

What really drove home the mid twentieth century vibe (when the book wasn’t laced with bodices and clockwork that is) was the choice of narration for the title. All exposition and a good chunk of the forward action is narrated by “wireless” personality Felix Avalon. This Howard Stern of the day has eyewitness accounts of the doings at the Scarlet club along with the bloody aftermath when Miss Pendragon is done protecting the premises with her sword. We like to think reality entertainment is a new phenomenon, but this is a nice reminder that our Grandmothers were just as glued to the happenings of celebrities as our wives are to the Krapdashians. Grandma simply didn’t have to watch a sex tape first.

My only “complaint” about this issue is there wasn’t a lot of steam driving the punk. Granted, I’m only a cursory fan of this geek sub-genre, but what I’ve read and been entranced with the most in the past was modern digital marvels made more massive by being analog. Show me a super computer 4,000 stories high so it can match the wits of my iPhone or an airplane that makes the Spruce Goose look like a Cessna…or…something…that would require a billion laborers to complete and make me drop my jaw in awe.

I’m sure my wish is coming, but for now I was more than content with Willingham’s ability to shift voice to emulate a more formal and eloquent time. Reading Pendragon and Reid debate the finer intricacies of martini making in the opening pages was sheer poetry in motion. Davila draws a beautiful book from clothes to the few Buck Roger’s style zap guns in the issue. Again though, I want more steam powered cowbell. I’m also going to applaud Dynamite for developing a nifty hook that actually makes me give a shit about the Green Hornet. I’ve enjoyed past dalliances with Green Hornet titles we cover on the weekly podcast, but none could hook me past that issue. LEGENDERRY has no such problems in bringing me back. Even if I come back just to piece together why the hell Legend, Dairy and LEGENDERRY are all spelled wrong.

FABLES ENCYCLOPEDIA VOL.1 HC REVIEW – Like Drinking with WillingBuck

fablesencyclopediav1FABLES ENCYCLOPEDIA VOL.1 HC
Writers: Jess Nevins, Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Confession time: this is only the second compendium book to ever grace my thousands upon thousands deep collection of comics. My memory is fair, and since I’ve always owned source material I always figured why bother. My other compendium is FABLES-related as well; I loved James Jean’s covers, so I bought that collection book simply to ogle them without sullying the individual issues. It’s a nice picture book, but only has a fraction of the insight, heart and clear creator love that occupies the FABLES ENCYCLOPEDIA.

What amazed me most about this meaty tome is just how far the characters have progressed in the past ten years. Emotional growth can only be measured by reading the book, but stately titles and the literal “where were they then” and “where they are now” can be easily referenced as long as you know the alphabet. Actually, I take that back. With the color commentary provided by WillingBuck, you do get a modicum of the characters’ feelings through the voice of their new Gods.

I wouldn’t recommend reading this in a linear fashion; every stinking character to grace the FABLES pages is in here. These footnote characters, while serving a purpose over the years, are truly red shirts. Unless you have a Germanic folklore fetish they will easily be forgotten and you’ll miss the meat. Instead, start with your favorite characters and you will quickly find yourself traipsing into and across these ancillary figures simply to reach the next impactful character on your list.

Jess Nevins truly did her homework here. There were many times I thought “That character must be made up.” Baba Yaga would be a good one for most. For me, I knew this insane witch well with my Slavic upbringing. Leave it to pollocks to come up with a witch that rides around in a mortar and pestle. Sigh…other characters like Mister (not Master) Dark weren’t made up, either; he was merely an amalgam, similar to Jack of Fables. Nevins peels apart the old tales to find the true source of each character. Did you know Ozma was supposed to be a brunette? I didn’t. They made her blonde because there were already too damn many mousey browns on the page.

WillingBuck did no homework for this book, but I’ll grant them a rest given their ten years of dedication. Instead the boys kick back and give their personal insight behind each character. Flycatcher’s first name is made up, and they never planned for him to be King. Prince Charming was Buckingham’s least favorite character to draw. Pinocchio’s overhaul was also a Buckingham add because he wanted to add an air of toughness to his boyish visage (I guess the cigar wasn’t enough). Speaking of Pinocchio, the wood nymphs that served as Gepetto’s guard popped Buckingham’s full frontal nudity cherry. I could go on, but I won’t since there’s a book for that. These are just a few of the hundreds of stories inside. I’m sure I’ve lost all FABLES fans at this point, since they went over to Amazon to buy the book, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the icing on the cake. To keep this from being a too tex- heavy affair, each page of words is accompanied by a page from past issues of FABLES. They didn’t do it for every character, but many get a nice remember-when moment.

FABLES ENCYCLOPEDIA reminds me of the first time I fired up Encarta: it made learning and remembrance a joyous and fun experience.

BILL WILLINGHAM INTERVIEW: BIFROST KICKSTARTER, WEIRD INCENTIVES, FABLES NEXT ARC

Rob-Carly-ArubaI love the Internet. I interviewed Bill from my iPhone in Philly airport and I package this interview from my balcony overlooking the white sands of Aruba. Only my love for all things Willingham could get me to spend my first vacation in two years typing away about a KICKSTARTER project. It also doesn’t hurt Frank Cho is joining project BIFROST and Bill agreed to spill some goods on FABLES to sweeten the deal.

Bill Willingham (BW): Before we go into this I want to make sure you’re not so polite we don’t address some of the criticisms thus far about the Kickstarter.

Rob Patey aka Optimous Douche (OD): I guess you haven’t been privy to my reviews, but I chose a nom de plume reflective of my personality, Optimous Douche. I’m a huge fan and holding back my geekdom right now, but I promise not to pull punches. However, you changed my family. You’re the only comic writer I’ve been able to get my parents to sit down and read. My Mother bugs me monthly now for my copies of FABLES.

BW: Glad to hear it. She didn’t write you out of the will after reading?

OD: Only child, and they don’t have any pets so…I promise though, no punches pulled. I’ll be honest it was solely my fandom of FABLES that made me agree to covering yet another Kickstarter project.

BW: Say more…

OD: I get between probably 30-40 Kickstarter coverage requests a month. After 2 years of this I’ve become very stringent with my criteria to cover them. One of which is I insist on a finished product in hand that I can see in PDF form beforehand. I’ve been burned too many times where creators are looking to get a paycheck to create a book. Being a comic author myself, I created my book that’s getting published this year during my free time at night without ever knowing if I would get a publisher. So I take the stance; if you believe in it, go create it and worry about the money later.

bill-willingham-1BW: It surprises me Kickstarter has only been around for two years, it has completely embedded itself in the culture. It’s where I go to look at the new cool things coming up. Things like the Veronica Mars Kickstarter, which was a phenomenon unto itself.

OD: More like an anomaly…

BW: True. But just that the mechanism for something like that to occur is amazing. Very impressive. I had no idea that in such a short time there have been rules that have shaken down for Kickstarter projects. The other surprising thing on first blush is that it could be rife for scams. Since you can literally Kickstart anything, I’m waiting for the old time email equivalent of if you give me x amount of dollars you can get your held fortunes from some obscure country.

OD: That’s the 419 scammers from Nigeria, because that’s the name of the penal code for it. There’s a really cool guy in England who has a site called 419 eater where he strings them along and makes them do all sorts of crazy shit like jump off buildings before he agrees to send them the money. They film or photograph the antics and then he puts them on the site. He also shares the email exchanges which range from the sad to hilarious (depending on your world view). It still goes on by the way. If you have your email address up in enough place (like say Ain’t It Cool News). Ask your assistant Stephanie how many she gets in a day. I get about 20 a week.

BW: Such a flim flammery world we live in. Anyway my first blush impression of Kickstarter was that “Oh dear God” this is going to be scam heaven. I wonder if you can get away with things like I’m trying to finance a change in spirituality or something else that doesn’t actually exist than fast talking.

OD: And that’s one of my concerns with Kickstarter from the comic perspective. We have a mantra on Ain’t It Cool to help the little guys. Yes, we cover the big guns to keep the clicks flowing in, like I’ve done over 15 FABLES reviews in my six years on the site. But we as a site and I‘ve always taken the personal mantra to cover one indie or sub-indie book a week or every two weeks if my day job isn’t that busy. So I went into Kickstarter coverage with eyes and arms wide open ready to embrace it. Then I just got burned time after time with projects that never came to fruition or a load of half-baked ideas that thought they were a real comic book. People didn’t get scammed out of their money, but there is still a lot of skullduggery. Very fair of you to go in with that trepidation. So what made you finally decide to jump in?

BW: Two things, by the way have we started?

OD: Yeah, I’m not a great interviewer, I prefer conversations.

frank cho artBW: I like that better, don’t change. So it was a couple of things. First of all, it’s fairly well known I’m from the right side of the tracks politically and one of the things that makes me bristle is that things that are worth doing like support for the arts and such do not necessarily mean we should be forced to pay for them with our tax dollars. To me Kickstarter is the perfect mechanism to prove what I’ve said fr years, which is that there are wonderful things worth doing and supporting. Meaning not an investment in a company, but more like micro amount grants to worthy causes. But it’s not required is the point. It is done with persuasion versus force. Which is how it should be.  When I realized that Kickstarter was the mechanism against what I’ve griped about for years I saw it as a wonderful thing.

The specifics of why do this? Frank and I have wanted to work together for some time. We just couldn’t quite get together. Even when I came over to Marvel to do the 4 issue THOR thing, thinking maybe this time it could work, he simply wasn’t available. The deal was along the lines of you get to work with the best artist we have available at the time, that was the closest they would do to a guarantee I could work with Frank Cho. And of course it didn’t happen, because it was a slippery guarantee definition. When the big companies of DC and Marvel are there the idea of two guys wanting to do a book together is an impossible mess to slog through. We decided to do a novel instead of a comic…that takes contract exclusivity off the table.

OD: That was actually one question I prepared for the interview, why BIFROST will be a prose piece?

BW: I think it’s a better prose piece regardless, but exclusivity was one of the considerations. If we don’t do it as a comic than the exclusives are taken away.

OD: I thought you were no longer exclusive to DC, correct?

BW: I am no longer exclusive, although I haven’t done much with them outside of FABLES for it to be really noticeable. The only barrier that was left was Frank being able to take the big blocks of time to do a project like this and afford it. The art side of things for better or worse just takes longer than writing. It’s easier to find time within your schedule for other writing projects, it’s harder to do big projects on the art side. So the whole purpose of the Kickstarter was to get the money to compensate for the big chunk of time Frank needs to take out of his schedule to do BIFROST.

OD: It’s interesting you say that, my graphic novel AVERAGE JOE which is coming out soon is 160 pages and it’s taken close to 18 months for the art because my artist has a day job and we’re both getting compensated on the back end. So it is safe to say we’ll see a quick turn around with BIFROST since Frank can shuffle off other paid projects?

BW: Officially we’re going to give him a year before we get antsy. However, Frank’s enthusiasm is amazing. He shouldn’t really start working until the Kickstarter is funded, but at the cancelled Boston Con he was already showing me BIFROST sketches. And what he consider sketches most would consider ready for inking. They are gloriously  rough. So my suspicion is this will move rapidly. It’s a project of love.

I should probably work in an apology now to DC and others who are waiting for work that is already scheduled. There might be a few blown deadlines.

OD: Wow, that’s a bold statement. Kudos!

BW: Well, you know, we’re excited about this. The bumps in the road, like learning the Kickstarter process notwithstanding.

Frank-Cho-ArtOD: OK, I’m glad you brought up the white elephant in the room first. I was wondering how to get to this question. Some folks, like Bleeding Cool have derided your choices for Kickstarter incentives. You’ve gone away from the traditional, fund this project get a copy of the book or a commemorative beer cozy. What was the thought process here?

BW: Since the structure was to get the funds to create the project not publish it, which I now understand is not the exception not the  norm, I simply didn’t want to handicap the project when we went to publishers. I didn’t want to go in there and say to them, “no matter what deal we make you must provide this number of copies to meet the rewards.” We’re talking to big publishers who have set policies for everything. If you go against those policies you get a lot of “this has never been done” and it will take months of rewriting contracts. I’ve been down this road before and it’s just how staid old publishers work. I over thought it basically.

So we came up with rewards that could circumvent those difficulties.  People immediately rushed to let me know that I was being silly. Wiser heads like Kurt Busiek let me know that publishers are already making allowances for Kickstarter. Actually it’s precedent. What’s odd is even though it’s a norm now, digital rights are so volatile in publishing, and giving away the DRM is harder than physical copies believe it or not. So we added actual tangible rewards since then, but boy is my embarrassment vast.

In hindsight I should have asked some folks, but I just didn’t think there were any Kickstarter experts.

OD: Actually you should look outside of comics to Internet marketers because we’ve been dealing with digital rights management waaayyyyy before comics were dealing with it. We’ve also been all over Kickstarter since day one looking for ways to monetize it. Yes, “the man” is evil and I am his tool for 8 hours a day. It’s a great high commitment heavily viral tool, the panacea of marketing. Email marketing has gone  the way of the Sabertooth, so we’re always moving to where the traffic is to hock our wares.

BW: I never thought of it, but that’s true. One of my assistant’s more important jobs is to slog through the email crap and get rid of anything I don’t absolutely need to see. I think Dave Sims said, if you sit to answer 300 letters from the old days, you could do it even  though it would be arduous. If you sat down to answer 300 emails you couldn’t get to the end before the answers to your answers started arriving. A slog of self generation.

OD: That’s why internet marketers live by 3, 30, 300. You have to get them in 3 seconds with the subject line, 30 seconds for the email body and 300 seconds with your offer landing page. All have to the most insanely targeted and compelling thing the user has ever read. It’s why we A/B/C test and then double down the next go round.

ca-deathBW: So does answer this or I kill your cat still work?

OD:  No, testing found a lot of people don’t give a shit about cats.

BW: The  wonderful thing about the Internet including email, is that if you step on your foot the entire Internet will tell you how badly you screwed up instantaneously. Some in a helpful  way, some not so much. But that’s the price of putting yourself out there.

Some of it still confuses me. One of the things I was certain of this is not an investment. And correct me if I’m wrong, but a reward for a copy of the book should not require an investment beyond the actual retail price of the book.

OD: I respectfully disagree. There’s a level of exclusivity and specialness to advances. Everyone wants books before everyone else in this spoiler age and people will pay a premium for it and reap a 5 minutes of fame themselves for having the inside skinny.

When I screwed up and reviewed JMS’ SUPERMAN EARTH ONE: VOLUME ONE three weeks before the embargo date. I pissed off a few PR teams, but at the end of the day those people that read my review carried the word forwarded and aside from simply being thrilled to know the details ahead of time, they also helped to increase pre-order sales for the masses outside of heavily steeped geekdom.

Honestly I think this is why you guys are at 10K already. You didn’t offer a copy of BIFROST, but you had some really cool, really personally intimate interactions up there with access to you and Frank.

BW: My guiding philosophy was that the rewards should be fun. I didn’t want to put a lot of art obligations on Frank fro rewards, so he could stay focused, Meeting creators though do seem to be what fans like. These were hard for me to craft. I always have an angel or devil on  my shoulder depending on your views whispering, ‘why would you think anyone wants to meet you?” It’s a little egotistical to think rewards of meeting you are an actual reward for people.

OD: Well convention admission fees say otherwise…

BW: True, but I also wanted to make it fun. I found out you can’t do rewards above $10,000. I wanted to have the top tier be a $30,000 reward, which is Frank and I flying out to give you your money back. Minus travel expenses and hooker fees of course. I never expected anyone to do it. I just thought it was funny.

OD: They mainly have that cap because of average credit card limits. You would only be flying out to meet the Krapdashians or Puffy.

BW: If you’re financing a popular movie based on a popular TV show like Veronica Mars the $10,000 dollars will play. I don’t expect too many on BIFROST.

OD:  The big dollar ones are usually 5 minutes of fame. Your visage appears in the project, you get to write a line of dialog, you get a special thanks at the end…a reach around from Kristen Bell…etc…

Frank-Cho-ArtBW: We have some of that in there, but I really don’t expect anyone to actually contribute to them. What I also didn’t expect was for someone to take offense to them. There was someone online who went on and on because I said you get ot be a bum in the story. And now I’m evil because I used that word.

OD: Here, let me take the heat off of you. It was probably a bum that complained on his subsidized iPhone he never worked a day for.

BW Even though I don’t use emoticons because I think they’re evil. There was a definitive 😉 after those prizes.

The idea that it’s an investment is something I wanted to thwart. It’s not. The best way to support the project is when it comes out, buy it.  Buy it for a reasonable price. I have never noticed any Kickstarter that has listed the reasons you shouldn’t contribute. But I want to make it clear, use your poker or frivolous money for this. Don’t use your rent or car payment cash.

OD: It’s a shame you have to tell people that.

BW: But you do. In a friendly poker game one day with friends, I was doing really well. Two of my friends were talking about how they were going to make the truck payment. What the hell were they thinking? I want to make sure no one gives me important working money. Ever. That still haunts me to today.

OD: Let’s talk about BIFROST itself.  It’s the old Nordic name for the Rainbow bridge right?

noahs_ark_rainbowBW: Yes, I’ve always the whole idea of the Rainbow Bridge. It was the first thing that captured me about Norse mythology. Rainbows themselves pop up all over mythology. In Christian or Judaic circles it is the sign of the covenant that God isn’t going to destroy the  world by flooding again. Which is a shame because then there were no rainbows before Noah. It’s a shame, those poor schmucks didn’t have something so beautiful.

OD: What’s even worse is that also means they lived without light or moisture in the atmosphere.

BW: Yes and mist just appeared from the ground I guess. I don’t think those are as clever though as the Norse mythology which is that is clearly the bridge of the Gods you can never quite get to. You can never follow them to the heavenly world.

I started once before to play with the notion of who controls the bridge once everything falls to shit. A big part of Norse mythology is that everything is coming to an end, there is a big doom hanging over their heads and they are just waiting. I played around with and of course Marvel has played with what comes before the end, but no one looked at what happens afterwards.

So that’s what this is about. Who controls this wonderful thing once the end has happened? The premise is that Hundall (sic) destroys the bridge and cuts it from its base once the world starts to fall. My justification is that it shatters.  But just like the physicists postulate gravity will bring together a shattered planet again, likewise for the bridge. It looks like the old Roman roads of antiquity now.. it is a rocky and craggy journey instead of pleasant. You can make use of it.

OD: So BIFROST takes place in both Valhalla and the mortal plane?

BW: The novel takes place on our world, but our world where the fantasy we believe in now is real. But unlike Dresden and most urban modern fantasy where vampires or werewolves exist, or even FABLES none of these things are secret. It’s all buerocracy. You have your vampire communitues, department of lycanthropy, government divisions dealing with ghosts.One example is Amnesty Supernatural which looks to get ghosts out of abusive homes.

And you have the last survivor of the death of the Norse Gods and she just realized that’s who she is.

So yes, we have post the destruction of Ragnarok. Asgard and possibly the other 9 worlds, which are now wastelands. It’s have your cake and eat it too. It’s all post-apocalyptic, but our world is just fine. It’s all the others “over the rainbow” that got the shit kicked out of them. And now we’re going to see what’s up there.

OD: How far along are you with the script, is it completed?

BW: I do not. Part of the reward system is I write it while you watch. The first level of what I consider interesting rewards are a subscription to the writing journal and you get to follow the progress along while I write. Mostly I have to keep ahead of Frank. He needs to draw when he can so I need to keep him supplied.  Especially now that we’re past April 1. It seems an auspicious day to start a project, but I’ve started all of my major projects on this day. Four of my exclusives with DC were then. I started a romantic relationship once where I knew she was going to rip out my heart on April 1. It’s an important day for me and that’s when I had to start. I should wait until it’s funded, but I can’t stop myself. The idea is that right away after May 14, we’ll send out the first update of “here’s what I worked on today.” They are little peeks into the novel. Now of course someone described it as “great for $10, you get Bill’s e-newsletter.” That’s not what it is; it’s a real journal with specifics about the novel, and my insights on writing.

OD: If I can make a suggestion, format the shit out of it with HTML so the pirates at least have to make an effort to put it out on Bittorrents.

BW: Oh, OK. I will send that to my people who are more computer aware than I. It’s going to happen. I don’t support it, but it will occur.

(Diversion about digital Brian K. Vaughan’s DRM free book)

BW: It’s on my list to reach out to him to see how it’s doing once all my obligations to editors are met and well ahead of schedule.

OD: I wouldn’t beat yourself up too much, FABLES comes out like clockwork.

BW: It does, but there are mighty efforts behind the scenes to make that happen.

OD: I imagine Buckingham’s exquisite margins alone take a week.

BW: I love em.

OD: Me too. So have you talked to any publishers about BIFROST yet?

BW: We have. I have sworn I will never name names, but there have been two that expressed blind interest. They sort of understand and are interested. I had another conversation yesterday as well. It’s remarkable I’m stressed more about saying, no or not yet than in the old days when I was just begging to be looked at. The anxiety is higher only because we break into this business we lose our ability to say no because we always want to hear yes.

The absolute overriding reason for doing it this way is so we can have the finished product unblemished by editorial mandates when we start shopping.

OD: Is Frank going to be doing the illustrations in color?

BW: I hope not, it will probably be all black and white. The Acme of this kind of project was Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein, it changed my life on a huge magnitude. With the wood cut style Frank is using it also lends itself to black and white.

OD: The main reason I ask is as we discussed digital versions, color inhibits reading on some very very popular e-reader devices.

BW: Yeah, I never thought of that. The state of  the art is higher than what is usually out there. It will most likely be black and white.

OD: While I have you, can we get a FABLES update?

BW: Well I think, what, issue 128 just came out?

fables 129OD: Yup, the smackdown between Bigby and Brandish.

BW: Well without giving away the end we have one more big issue of the Snow White arc to conclude. The premise is easy; once again Snow is in a situation where no one can help her get out of her troubles. She’s on her own, so now we get to see how she rises to the occasion on her own sole devices. Also she’s not going to forget those that didn’t at least take a shot at sending Brandish packing.

Following that we have an arc called Camelot. A restoration of the round table and  the idea that the powerful and privileged should put that to service in a formalized way. Rose Red starts it all. After two grim arcs, I promised the editors a little ray of hope. Camelot, a brief shining moment. It’s interesting when you recreate a knighthood of servitude the type of folks who sign up.

OD: Anything I missed on BIFROST?

BW: If you have some cash please help out. If you don’t, THEN DON’T. Just buy BIFROST when it comes out.  It will be a beautiful lavish book. We’re doing it Kickstarter based because we want to offer a higher quality product.

OD: You should make the digital version have bonus material like your journals and video blogs so that becomes a higher quality experience as well. Just a suggestion from a man who loves interactive materials to his e-books.

BW: Thank you, I love recommendations…and even sullen comments, though people don’t have to contribute so I don’t get those. It’s not compulsory.

OD: But complaining on the Internet is. Thank you Bill for the insight, and tolerating my fandom.