What happens when your mundane life slinging burgers gets caught up with a satanic cult? That’s what poor Marty is going through in Trve Kvlt. Successfully funded on Kickstarter and with its second issue releasing this week, the comic offers something for everyone: relatable dead-end job emotions, heist adventures, hilarious characters, and a violent satanic cult. Co-created by writer Scott Bryan Wilson (Batman Annual, Batman: Gotham Nights, DC Holiday Special, Star Trek: Waypoint, Shadowman, Elvira) and artist Liana Kangas (She Said Destroy, Devil’s Dye, Gwar), Gab Contreras is on colors, DC Hopkins is on letters, and Jamez Savage jumps in on color assists. Jazzlyn Stone takes on marketing for the series.
Wilson and Kangas chatted with The Beat ahead of the second issue’s release.
Deanna Destito: How did Trve Kvlt come about?
Liana Kangas: I absolutely lost my mind when he told me the premise. It’s the first time I related so heavily to a concept (or…you know, some of it) and was like, yeah, I can definitely work with this and draw it in a style that I want to, so we can make it as weird and fun as possible (both in the story and while working on it).
Destito: Scott, your story at the end of issue 1 about shaving in the McDonald’s bathroom is horrifying and hilarious. Besides working in a fast-food chain, are there any other autobiographical elements mixed in (characters, incidents), and can you share more awful yet fantastic stories?
Wilson: If we went panel by panel through the series I could point out countless things that come from real life. One of the main characters is Marty, this guy who just feels stuck in his life and job and sees nothing changing for him, ever. While that’s upsetting to him, it’s also very comfortable, and a lot of that is autobiographical. I know a lot of people probably feel like that. In fact, one of his lines from the first issue—“Full-life reset”—probably predates Trve Kvlt by ten years. That’s something I came up with ages ago and it never left me, and in many ways was the springboard for the entire series.
Kangas: I have so many real stories that we’re considering doing backups of entirely real scenarios that happened but put our favorite characters in—especially one I talked about recently on my Twitch (which was when someone quit on me mid-shift by writing their name in mayonnaise on the wall).
Destito: Working with friends can be both fun and difficult. How do you make this creative team work?
Kangas: Becoming friends with Scott has taught me a lot about the industry. I think because we’re both so driven by wanting to put out a great product, it makes it easy to do business, and I’m sure he’s much more eloquent to expand on that part. But: It’s why we chose our entire creative team of our friends as well, I think, knowing that they’d be honest with us on all aspects of the project—especially if they like the book itself. Sometimes, I get a text from Jamez when he’s flatting pages literally laughing so hard he had to interrupt what he’s doing workwise to tell us how funny the book is, or recently when Jazzlyn admitted to us that she meant to just proofread the new issue and ended up getting sucked into reading it instead. Having your friends and peers, or creators that you’re collaborating with give you positive reinforcement is GREAT. It’s an amazing feeling I’ll never get tired of.
Wilson: Making comics with friends is awesome! But with a creator-owned book, you’re not just friends and collaborators working to tell a story, you’re also business partners. So for every conversation Liana and I have about character arcs, motivation, line art, and covers, we have two conversations about intellectual property, legalese, copyrights, publisher/media deals, and money money money. So to answer your question, I think we’ve made it work by talking a lot and being transparent, and dividing the labor. So we’ll each make checklists of the creative stuff we need to do for the book, but also all the business aspects that have to be dealt with.
Kangas: I had no idea how much went into making a creator-owned book AND self-publishing it.
Destito: What has been your experience with publishing through crowdfunding? Pros, cons, & advice for anyone looking to go this route?
Wilson: The good thing about crowdfunding is you’re in total control. The bad thing about crowdfunding is you’re in total control. But you can make the book exactly how you want, no one telling you it’s too long, or there’s not enough swearing, or it’s too funny, or whatever. And it’s possible to make more money through crowdfunding, per copy sold. Plus you have this really direct interaction with your backers that is fun and refreshing. The problem is, it’s a soul-crushing amount of work (basically a full-time job on top of your regular jobs/life) and if anything goes wrong, it’s your fault. I learned a lot from our experience.
Kangas: I have a lot of props for a lot of friends from whom we got advice at the start, and I am incredibly grateful to Jazzlyn Stone, who suggested we Kickstart the book when COVID kneecapped the industry. I’ve had a lot of experience running my own shop and even that alone didn’t give me a full scope of what crowdfunding a successful book would look like. Pros are, it’s nice to have creative control and direct contact with the people who believe in your project. Cons are the scope of work and the time it takes with learning curves along the way. If you are a creator who has a lot of patience and can roll with the punches, I highly recommend crowdfunding.
Destito: I’d definitely read more antics from this universe, especially starring Bernice. Any plans?
Kangas: I’m so glad you are digging Bernice, she really shines in this second issue! But I think about every character constantly and imagine them in weird scenarios and the opportunities we can share each of their personal stories. I have a million ideas in general about where the Trve Kvlt universe can be taken and I don’t want to promise anything, but Scott and I have talked about future plans for more…books.
Wilson: Well, first we have to finish this series. We’re about halfway done. And we’re talking with publishers about giving it a proper print release. But yes, I’d say if people are interested, we’ll make more. And if people aren’t interested, Liana and I will just make them anyway—we did this book for us and just assumed that we’d print it ourselves at a copy center and sell it by hand at shows. This is a personal project for us and we both love living in this deranged fast-food world, so the response it’s gotten has really been humbling and makes us try to outdo the previous issue. Who knew so many people would find Satanic fast-food criminality relatable?
For more on how to snag your copies of Trve Kvlt, click here.