Interview: Ben Templesmith On ‘THE SQUIDDER’ Kickstarter and 44FLOOD
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 at 1:00 pm
Have you ever had one of those days where it seems like the world is conspiring against you? Well, I’ve had one of those months. But right in the middle of what has been a pretty cruddy time, I got the chance to get a few answers from none other than Ben Templesmith himself! Talk about making my day/week/month! If you don’t recognize the name then you just aren’t paying attention. This man is a comic book demigod! He’s done a little bit of everything, most notably being the co-creator and artist for 30 Days of Night, Fell, and Shadowplay…not to mention working on a ton of other projects in one capacity or another.
I got the chance to ask him a few questions about his newest project, THE SQUIDDER (read more about it in my Kickstarter Spotlight). Read below what he had to say regarding the Kickstarter fundraising and success he’s had with it so far. And if you haven’t checked out this project yet, do so right here. It’s going to be tentacles above the rest!
Geeks of Doom: How does it feel to be able to finally create this book that you seem so very fond of bringing to life?
Ben Templesmith: Well, each one of my projects, specifically ones I do everything on are all my babies, my children. SO when I do those ones it’s rather intense and like giving birth. Just without most of the messy bits. Most.
Having the audience themselves endorse the book and allow me to actually do it (by supporting it and pre-ordering on Kickstarter so I can literally eat and pay rent while putting it together) is nothing short of amazing.
GoD: If I read everything correctly, you have secured (or are able to secure) alternative support if this Kickstarter was unable to provide the funds you needed. Are you seeking financial assistance from the fans so you have more control over the final product? Such as length (that you referred to in the supplemental video) or content?
BT: Well, I could try the regular publishing system route *first* and lose rights and control over the things I create but”¦ Usually, when you create comics, it’s for a corporation, on things you don’t own, or have rights to, or you create something, and in exchange for having a publisher print your book and put an ad in the previews catalog, they want things like 50% of the rights. To *everything*. In addition to perhaps controlling the print run, the paper quality, the price and most importantly, the reprinting (should your book actually sell out, which is great”¦ but not so great if your book is out of print for 6 months after that”¦ that’s rent to a normal human being that they can’t pay).
Going to Kickstarter allows me, or any creator that hits and exceeds their funding goal, to have the freedom to make the book I want, the way I want, in the time I want and have it go out the way I want. With the basic funding just for printing secured and hopefully enough to survive on as I make the book, not including shipping and all the other costs around self distribution, making the book bigger, and allowing me to have more fun with more pages, both of story and process, was just an easy decision to make. Especially in a day and age where publishers try to shrink page counts and keep a price the same, enlarging ours by 33% is something I definitely wanted to do as a statement that this book is more than a business transaction.
GoD: You say humanity lost the war and this soldier is a proverbial man out of time. Without giving away any plot points or spoilers, is this graphic novel going to be a one shot or could this be the first of many adventures? Be they squid or squid-free.
BT: Well, I have in mind a sequel, or continuance of the story of sorts but it may not even involve the main characters from this one. Before THE SQUIDDER was formed, it was a lot of small pieces that slowly built into a whole world.
GoD: Having seen that you had almost reached your goal just a few hours shy of ending the first day, how does it feel to have the fans show such support for you (and the project)?
BT: Well, feels amazing, certainly. Having such a fantastic fan base means I’m lucky to get the freedom to fulfill my vision. Not every creator gets that. And for sure, not every idea or project deserves that. So I’m damn lucky.
GoD: As I’m looking at the KS page right now, you show to be over 400% to goal. That has got to feel stupendous. What other additions could we see if this number skyrockets even more? The addition of 33% more pages is phenomenal.
BT: Well, Kickstarter is a fantastic pre-ordering system for a book, it’s just a more open and public one, to a degree. No matter what numbers a book does when you order it in previews, normally in a comic shop, you, the consumer, don’t usually get anything else just because of how many others bought the book! The crazy thing for us is we’ve still currently sold only a small number of books. That’s how amazing the KS system is. You don’t have to sell huge amounts to create a viable, profitable and creatively pure project. The great thing of course, is that with Kickstarter, people are quasi investors in a project, not *just* consumers. We have some other things in store for those lucky people, beyond giving everyone literally 33% more of what they already signed on for”¦ which really, is the big thing we can do. But we’ll announce them in due course. ;-)
GoD: 44FLOOD seems to have the knack for this Kickstarter fundraising. I attribute it to the awesome work you have turned out that inspires everyone to contribute. Having raised over $300,000 for four projects, do you have anything else you can think of that helped you blow away these goals to the extent that you have? Anything you can point to that you think was pivotal to these successes?
BT: If only a huge chunk of that hadn’t gone to shipping! (Which honestly, is the great unspoken part of Kickstarter self distribution”¦ as opposed to projects that turn around and then get a major publisher to then put out their books. Especially internationally, postage can be a huge factor) We’re just a small bunch of people trying to put our art out there, who don’t have the fancy funds to start a publisher the traditional way, with secret funding from who knows where. Kickstarter has been amazing in allowing us to just show everyone what we want to do”¦ and then let the market tell us if they want it or not. Thus far, they’ve said a resounding YES WE WANT THAT, GIMME NOW (or words to that effect! )
A big part of our success is the opening videos, filmed and edited by menton3, and also Keith Carmack, as well as our social media outreach and general “giving a shit” in a genuine way, if you ask me.
GoD: What’s next on the agenda after THE SQUIDDER? Anything you can tease us with regarding your own work or that of the group from 44FLOOD?
BT: Currently my own world doesn’t extend much past getting THE SQUIDDER done and tying up some loose ends on other older projects. I’d like to keep the slate clear for a bit perhaps. 44FLOOD though? Well”¦ there’s an awful lot planned and things we’re going to start getting into, especially now we’ve partnered with IDW, which gives us even more freedom and a platform to expand our passions. But no special announcements I can make as yet.
Once again, if you’d like to learn more about the project or help get it made, you can head over to the Kickstarter page.