By Matt O’Keefe
I recently wrote an article about five ways to format your comic script. One option, ComiXwriter, was crowdfunded in July and is expects to deliver the software to backers before summer. I spoke about its development with Glenn Farrington, who co-created ComiXwriter and ran the Kickstarter campaign.
Is ComiXwriter still on schedule for a February release? Where are you with the software now?
We are still in development stages. My partner and the rest of our programming team reside in Boulder Colorado. The recent horrific flooding had a direct effect on them and their families. My partner Steven’s home got badly flooded but not nearly as bad as some of the others. Everyone is still dealing with the flood damage but we finally got back on track [in mid-November]. We certainly didn’t see a natural disaster becoming a hurdle. We also became concerned that we might have to take different action to keep on schedule. However, we’re very fortunate that our backers supported our decision to wait until our team got through this awful period and continue to keep them on as the ComiXwriter programmers. The flooding put us two months behind schedule.
Are there any unforeseen challenges with fulfillment?
Not really challenges, but we’re surprised that when we send out the surveys to get addresses for some of the items they pledged for (t-shirts, posters, graphic novel) some never respond. Even after emailing them directly. In speaking with people behind other kickstarters, apparently this is not unusual. We’re still holding onto their items and we hope when it comes time to download ComiXwriter…they’ll finally show up for that.
$37,00 minus fulfillment costs and various fees seems like a very low cost to fund the creation of a whole new piece of software. Has it been enough?
The actual work on ComiXwriter started before the Kickstarter. We needed to make sure some of the original features we wanted were possible before we could move forward. For us, the Kickstarter not only helped us with the final round of funding we needed to complete ComiXwriter, but it was also a great way to create awareness. Knowing the economics of how Kickstarter works, the target goal included the funding we needed to finish the software, marketing the product and website development. At the end of the day we overfunded so all is well in ComiXwriter land.
What made you the right guys to make a definitive comic scripting software?
We consider ComiXwriter an innovative product to enter the marketplace. Something Steven and I both have extensive backgrounds in doing. Steven was the creator of Scriptware, the first screenwriting software on the market and is now incredibly successful with his company Xero Shoes. I founded and built the business of Digital Seas International, which put internet cafes and other internet related services on every major cruise line in the world. Software was a major component on the front and back end when it came to delivering those services.
I am also a professional screenwriter here inHollywood and I’m a professional comic book writer. When it comes to writing screenplays, I have a few software options to choose from. I soon found out there wasn’t a single writing software completely dedicated for comic books.
With my own background in software development and my knowledge of how to write comic book scripts and Steven’s background in understanding automated writing software, it was the logical choice to partner with him. Steven and I are the perfect storm for making ComiXwriter a reality.
Can you tell me a little more about the ComiXwriter Advisory Panel? How did it come together? What role does it play?
Even though many professional comic book writers allowed us to pick their brains, we wanted some individuals who shared our vision and to personally commit their dedication in helping us create ComiXwriter.
At the end of the day, no matter how much you think you know, you’re only as good as the people who surround you. We couldn’t ask for a better group. Larry Young, Matthew Dow Smith, Richard Starking and the Fillbach Bros. From publishing, to artwork and even font creation…as diverse as their backgrounds are, the one thing they all shared in common was writing professionally for comic books. Who better to come to for advice?
I felt especially honored to have Richard Starkings come on board. He is a pioneer in our field with Comicraft. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the only guy in the world who already understands how technology can be a huge asset in the comic book industry.
How did you learn to script comics? What was the first comic script you read?
The internet was a valuable resource when I started writing my first graphic novel. But I was lucky to have Larry Young as a mentor when it came to structure. I had pitched the idea of my graphic novel to him and not only did he agree to publish it, he was kind enough to help me early on with some methods on how to write the scripts. I think the first comic script I actually read was Astronauts In Trouble. AIT was written by Larry and Charlie Adlard did the artwork.
Were you inspired by any comic writers’ scripting styles when you formatted ComiXwriter scripting?
The greatest attribute of ComiXwriter is that it allows you to script your story however you like. We offer many templates, but at the end of the day it automates whatever style you decide upon. Many professionals sent us samples of their scripts, a few were similar, but they all exhibited differences. We incorporated many of their versions for our templates…but I must admit, I do get excited when I see an unusual style. That’s what’s great about comic book writing. The structural freedom it gives you. It’s our goal to make sure ComiXwriter becomes the tool to secure that freedom, allowing you to concentrate on the most important part of the script…the story.
According to Farrington, ComixWriter is scheduled for an April release.