Jamal Igle didn’t expect to receive the support he got when he decided to work on his creator owned project, Molly Danger. Igle raised $50,329 to self publish the first installment of the story about the world’s most powerful 10-year-old girl. Kickstarter comics were booming in 2012, and a lot of industry favorties like Igle were making a lot of money and giving the fans something different. Igle tried to repeat the success in May but fell short. He admitted on his Facebook page (and in this very interview) there were a number of reasons that the project wasn’t successful, but that didn’t stop him.
He’s back but with a manageable goal, great incentives, and has passed the halfway mark in the project’s second week. Click here to check out the project yourself.
Igle took some time from his busy schedule to discuss latest attempt to fund his labor of love. There are a number of dope-ass incentives: personalized commissions, be a character in the book, original art and so much more. We talked about why he’s decided to take Molly Danger from the graphic novel format to a regular schedule, his reaction to CW’s Supergirl show, how his frank political discussions on Facebook affect his Kickstarter campaign, what the unsuccessful campaign did to his ego and why that didn’t stop him from launching another Kickstarter initiative.
Henry Barajas: I just want to start off by saying you look great. Every time I see you in person or online you seem to be shrinking. What’s your secret and has the major weight loss helped you with your art?
Jamal Igle: Mostly, it’s been a combination of changes in both my overall diet and getting almost daily exercise. I run 5-6 days a week, five miles a day. I still have my little indulgences, but I’ve cut out a lot of the processed food I was eating. I don’t eat at any restaurant where the kids meal comes in a box with a toy, so no McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s etc. unless I don’t have another option. No fruit juice, cow’s milk and very little fried food. I also changed my schedule drastically. I used to, like many comic artists, work primarily at night, staying up sometimes until 4 am but now I make sure that I stick to a strict schedule. I’m awake at 5 am, I run for an hour, I have breakfast and see the family off and I work from 9 am until 6 pm or so. I’m in bed by 11 pm, and just doing that has improved my health, my art has improved and I get more done during the day.
HB: What looked like a recipe for success, your last attempt to crowdfund the second installment of Molly Danger fell short. I’m glad you didn’t let that stop you. How did you process that set back on a personal and professional level? What did you learn from your first attempt, the unsuccessful project, and what are you doing differently this time around?
JI: I would be lying if I’d said it didn’t sting a bit. There were a few times during the campaign where I thought about canceling it, because at a certain point it was clear that it wasn’t getting the traction I needed for it to be successful. It was an ambitious idea, to do both the physical book and the audiobook together but it became clear that the audiobook wasn’t as much of a draw as I would have hoped for it to be. I really had to put my ego aside though, and look at the bigger picture. The most important thing to me is telling the story, telling the story of Molly Danger and her world.
HB: I think an audiobook would be great for blind fans or families on long road trips. Have you scrapped the idea completely?
JI: No, I haven’t. We’re still trying to make it happen and if the campaign gets funded in a way that makes it viable it will become a stretch goal.
HB: I’ve noticed that Facebook is a good tool for promoting your Kickstarter projects; however, my feed is full of politics, black folks getting harassed by the police (or worse) and other social injustices. How do you stick out while respecting the world around you? I know you’re not afraid to speak your mind on topical issues, but has that affected your campaign?
JI: It may have but not in any noticeable way. I used to be afraid that my very vocal stances would drive fans away from my Facebook page, Twitter, etc. However, I started to meet fans who were following me online because I can be very outspoken about politics and social issues. Some people do it because they agree, others because they disagree and want to argue with me and some do it just to see me rail on comic book movies and argue with me about the Man of Steel (laughs). I do, however, attempt to always be respectful in my engagements and I try to present some well researched facts. It doesn’t always work, I can get angry occasionally and just like everyone I’ve been fooled by a meme online. I’m also not afraid to play bouncer if I see a thread getting out of hand, since I do try to keep the conversation as civil as possible and I think people respect that.
HB: I find it interesting that you’re going from the graphic novel format to a bi-monthly ongoing series. How did you come to this decision?
JI: That all starts with plans that have been set in motion with Action Lab for the connected superhero universe we’re doing, “The Actionverse”, which launches during Halloween Comicfest this year. This something we’ve been developing for over a year, all of the scripts are written, artwork is in various stages of completion. Molly is a big part of the Actionverse and originally it was just going to be the Book Two graphic album.
The thing is, after the campaign failed, I had to really figure out what the best approach to making Molly a character people could get behind was and part of it was to make Molly come out on a more consistent basis. I have at least a decade’s worth of Molly stories written down in various books in my studio. So now the plan is to do each six issue as a “season”. One of my concerns was to be able to continue the hardcover format of the first book, and after talking to Action Lab, we’ve decided that instead of the traditional monthly comic book size of 6.5 x 8 inches, we’re going to make the Molly series “Golden Age” size, 7.5x 10.5 inches. Every two issues will be collected as a new hardcover and each season will be collected as a trade.
Doing the series in this manner actually allows me to expand the story more. I’m expanding Molly’s world a bit more with new characters and character dynamics that I didn’t have room for in the original outline for the miniseries.
HB: What kind of reaction have received from Molly Danger fans? How is it different from your freelance work like Supergirl?
JI: On a personal front, it’s been truly heartwarming. The first book has been in circulation for a while and I have kids, particularly girls who come to my table at shows to tell me how much they love the book. It’s extremely satisfying in a way that working on and being recognized for drawing a character like Supergirl doesn’t match. Working for a DC or Marvel is fun work and I clearly enjoy doing projects for larger publishers, but it’s essentially brand management and there has to be a professional distance when working on those characters. Molly is mine, I feel a pride and a fatherly protectiveness about how she’s portrayed in other people’s books. So far with everything we’ve been doing behind the scenes getting ready for 2016, every writer has embraced my view of Molly.
HB: Speaking of the Girl in Blue, how does it feel to see that your work inspiring the upcoming television series? Were you consulted or approached by the CW or DC Entertainment?
JI: It’s pretty flattering, and a bit of a validation that Sterling Gates and I had a vision of the character that could potentially reach a mass audience. I wasn’t consulted, although it would be fun to be involved at some point, and it’s purely ego, of course, but I’d love to see them do Bizarrogirl at some point.
Henry Barajas is the co-creator, writer and letterer for El Loco and Captain Unikorn. He has also written and lettered short stories for two successful Kickstarter SpazDog Press projects: Unite and Take Over: Stories inspired by The Smiths and Break The Walls: Comic Stories inspired by The Pixies. He is the Newsroom Research Assistant for The Arizona Daily Star and was nominated for the Shel Dorf Blogger of the Year award for his work at The Beat. You can follow him on Twitter @HenryBarajas and Google+.