MATT CHATS: Ryan K. Lindsay on a Digital Comic for a “Buck” with DEER EDITOR: Fearless

MATT CHATS: Ryan K. Lindsay on a Digital Comic for a “Buck” with DEER EDITOR: Fearless

For a comic inspired by a typo, Deer Editor has already had a pretty rich history. A successful Kickstarter, especially given that the comics were only offered digitally, was conducted for the first volume. A new campaign for the sequel is currently underway. I spoke to project manager and writer Ryan K. Lindsay about building a relationship with the readers, actually fulfilling the promise of a digital comic for a dollar and more.

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Art by Sami Kivelä.

From as far away as Australia, how do you forge relationships with publishers and readers?

It’s easy to feel isolated in Australia, we’re just a glorified island, but the game of comics is so global, and so online, that it’s as easy [mostly] to do these things from here as it is anywhere. I’ve met wonderful comic peeps usually through Twitter, and I’ve been introduced to editors, and I’ve met artists, and it’s all gone well over a long period of time.

I feel like if I lived in the States then I could hit more cons and have my face seen and it might help. Maybe. But I’ve also been lucky enough to work with Dark Horse and Vertigo and Monkeybrain Comics purely from online interaction and going to ECCC in 2013. That trip was a whirlwind and saw connections made that opened up opportunities down the track, but a lot of that was predicated on some really ace people hooking me up with introductions and good words because they knew I was over on a one-time-only kinda thing [I wanna get back but it’s an expensive trip] and that particular trip was 7 days after my daughter was born so people knew I was serious and they gave me their time.

From there, you just keep in email contact, it’s the internet so you don’t be a dick, and you hope for the best.

As for building the readership for Deer Editor, and other RKL jams, well, mostly that’s just hard work and luck mixed together, probably. I think the first Kickstarter for Deer Editor went so well [we raised 230% of our goal and got into well over 300 hands] because our initial pledge level was $1 for the pdf of the comic. We weren’t out to gouge and if you were mildly interested then you could spare a buck [especially an Australian dollar, which is tabling about the equivalent of a real rich juicy booger right now] so that got a lot of people through the door, but from there it was just having a variety of fun and connected pledge levels that slowly went up in price and people could really max out at whatever level they wanted or wanted to support to in a cold hard cash level.

Plus, y’know, Tiger Lawyer from Ryan Ferrier and Matt McCray and Vic Malhotra built a lot of goodwill in the Anthropomorphics as Professionals realm.

Vic Malhotra

Art by Vic Malhotra.

How do you think the campaign will be more challenging being for second volume of Deer Editor?

I think pushing a #2 for anything is hard, I’m expecting a drop off in traction from the first campaign, but I’m also hoping I’ve worked hard and smart enough to combat this before it happens.

I have more press connections now, we have a book that’s just as good as the first one, if not better, and we are also offering the pdf of #1 for an extra buck, or within all higher pledge tiers. There’s no reason not to jump on and hopefully all previous people dug the book and return with fervor.

How do you think you benefitted from offering the comic for as little as a dollar?

We got a lot of traffic through the door on that buck and then those people have emails sent out to their Kickstarter followers about the campaign and it creates little snowballs where I honestly don’t believe there would have been in any other situation.

We offer the next pledge at $3 and it’s a deluxe pdf with all kinds of pixelated bells and whistles so my figuring is if these peeps weren’t going to level up to the $3 crazy big deluxe pdf then they were never going to back unless it was a buck. So, in my mind, that’s a buck I’d not otherwise get. If I put the basic story pdf at $2, I think at least half of them would have bounced after 7 seconds on the campaign page.

And I wasn’t necessarily aiming for a huge monetary goal – we only asked for $1000 – but instead I was gauging success on how many people we’d reach. Plus, I firmly believe digital comics should be 99c for the usual sized thing. Deer Editor is a little bigger, it’s 48 tablet view pages, but it’s still an issue in my mind and it’s from a little-to-unknown creator like me so I have to give backers every reason not to leave the page.

Alfie Gallagher

Art by Alfie Gallagher.

How do you determine a Kickstarter monetary goal for a project that’s already more-or-less done?

I work out what the creative team is worth at a very base level, the cross that with what I work out is reasonable to be able to raise with my level of industry success as well as based around the pledge tiers I’m offering. If everyone is hitting that $1 level then we’ll need over a thousand backers to make the magic happen, and I know that might not happen.

But in the end, I set the goal in a way that was a challenge but that also got Sami a decent payday even if we only limped over. This is because Sami stepped up to create the book before the campaign, and is happy to wait and see how the campaign goes, which I think is amazing and worthy of applause.

Given the cost of overseas shipping, do you think you’ll ever be able to bring Deer Editor to print?

There are possibilities, if I partner with certain entities, that this could be a future thing that happens, absolutely. But that won’t ever come with an Audio Commentary to play along with your reading experience, which is what makes the ‘digital-only’ campaign so much fun.

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Art by Sami Kivelä.

Your noir influences are explained in the backmatter, but what inspired the wry tone of Deer Editor?

That purely came from Bucky himself. The more I understood and broke the character, and then wrote him, the more his voice really shone through and he’s a crazy wry character. He’s so much fun to write.

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Art by Sami Kivelä.

Deer Editor is centered on a journalist who takes action to become a part of the story he’s writing. How does that reflect your thoughts on the role of a reporter, generally considered as being that of an unbiased observer?

To me, adventure journalism has always been All the President’s Men… where Woodward/Bernstein are a huge part of that story. The journalists, and the way they do things, fascinate me just as much as the story they’re breaking. And if they’re doing their job really well on the hard stories then to some degree they have to become a part of the story purely by levels of engagement. But I don’t feel like the good ones, nor Bucky, are ‘trying’ to insert themselves in the story. They just get swept up.

If they are hunting a biased view of their story in a dogmatic way, well that’s no good, but if they’re just diligent and still taking in all the facts and synthesizing them, then I think that’s fair play.

Plus, I love The Paper, from Ron Howard, and this is my chance to write something on that level/wavelength, which is super fun because the people who create the news, and are behind the scenes, can be just as fascinating at times.

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Art by Sami Kivelä.

This started with a funny typo, but has obviously grown beyond that. How far do you want to take the concept and characters of Deer Editor?

Oh, man, I’d love to do Deer Editor all my life. It’s one of the few properties where I feel that way. We are already working on #3, but it’ll close this overall story Bucky is working on. From there, I’ve got all kinds of ideas but it really depends on being able to keep finding the time with Sami, and if readers will follow us. I can totally see us doing this still in some capacity many years from now, even if it’s just the odd one-shot every half a decade.

Follow Ryan on Twitter, visit his website and go back the Kickstarter for DEER EDITOR: FEARLESS already!

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MATT CHATS is a weekly interview series that goes live every Tuesday conducted between Matt O’Keefe and a creator and/or player in the comic book industry, diving into subjects not broached by other comic news outlets.

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