By: Henry Barajas
Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore, the same team that brought you SECRET SIX, is bringing you LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS.
Project: LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS
Talent/Project Manager: Gail Simone & Jim Calafiore
Days to Go: 28
Goal: $ 34,000
“When the caped heroes of the world’s safest city inexplicably all turn into homicidal lunatics, no one is safe.”
“LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS is a thrilling, original 80 page graphic novel of suspense and terror in a superhero universe gone horribly wrong, where a small band of survivors face the horror of both their formerly beloved protectors, and the dark secrets within themselves. Featuring the creative talents of writer Gail Simone and artist Jim Calafiore this is a story of violence, fear, hope and –if they’re lucky– survival.”
Besides the book which is enough, the rewards are very enticing. They are also very generous about original sketches of your choice from Calafiore. There are variant covers, desktop wallpaper, thank you credits, and signed scripts with a personalized note from Gail.
It’s great to see the support that these two are getting from their peers, including acclaimed artists like Mike Oeming (Powers), Aaron Lopresti (Wonder Woman), Francesco Francavilla (Detective Comics), Ethan Van Sciver (Green Lantern), Mike McKone (Spider-Man), Mike Norton (Battle Pug) and Nicola Scott (Birds of Prey).
Gail was kind enough to sit down with me and talk about her LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS, her thoughts on working on creator owned opposed to licenced characters and her new project Thrillbent.
Henry Barajas: You were at Geek Girl Con this past weekend and it looks like you have been an early advocate of that convention since the very beginning.
Gail Simone: Yeah, it’s hard to explain what that con means to me. I came from a time in fandom that didn’t always make room for females, was very skeptical of female input. These fierce women looked around and decided this thing that didn’t exist, a geek con with a focus on women and girls, should exist, and they just wouldn’t be stopped.
The result is this incredibly fun, smart, creative con that’s inclusive of everyone on the gender spectrum…even that makes it sound a bit stuffy, which it definitely isn’t. It’s a celebration, and it’s a huge success that’s only going to get bigger. I feel like it’s something important, a seismic change that I get to be there to witness. It makes me happy.
Don’t be surprised if a lot of these cons start popping up…last year, everyone had the best time…women, dudes, everyone.
How did this project come to fruition? I assume you have other ideas or scripts lying around, why did you pick this one?
I don’t really have a lot of scripts laying around the house, exactly…but I do keep notebooks full of ideas pretty much everywhere around me, you never know when something interesting will flop its way into my diseased brain.
This project came about because my long-term Secret Six collaborator, the great Jim Calafiore, was interested in exploring the option of a Kickstarter-supported graphic novel, and asked if I would like to be involved. Since the end of that book, we have been asked endlessly when we would be working together again, and we enjoyed our partnership so much, it just seemed a wonderful opportunity. DC was kind enough to grant an exception to my exclusive contract, so that was nice of them.
I gave Jim several concepts to choose from, and this was the favorite of both of us by far. Probably because it’s the most damaged!
How will LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS compare to anything we have seen from you previously?
Well, I’m normally working in the mainstream, and I love it, I love that tapestry.
I guess the big difference here is that we are creating everything from the ground up, and it’s a tight, tough little story all on its own.
It has a lot of what people loved about Secret Six, I think. It pushes some boundaries, but not just in terms of gore or sexuality, it actually pushes into darker, more sardonic corners than that.
I like comics that are slightly lurid and unacceptable.
What are your feelings with doing this creator owned project versus working on licensed properties?
I like both. Seriously, I love writing characters like Batgirl, and Wonder Woman, and Superman; I love all that. I love seeing what I can bring to them. And at the same time, I have had tremendous freedom to pursue offbeat books like Secret Six and the All-new Atom. I feel incredibly fortunate; this is a career I love.
With creator-owned, there’s no second guessing and no mandate to work towards, except ‘tell a ripping good story.’ And it’s rewarding to create things from scratch. There’s more risk, the finances are less secure, and if a book is a flop, that’s all on you, sister. But that’s part of what makes it fun, I think. All the best creators are gamblers, in the end.
That might be a bad analogy, actually. I suck at gambling.
It seems like a lot of creator owned projects naturally progress to television and film projects; is that a plan for LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS?
I was on a panel once, and a very well-known comics creator was asked why he chose to do comics, and his response was, “comics are the quickest shortcut to making films.”
I got what he meant, but at the same time I was kind of shocked. Comics is such a remarkable medium, such a joyful way of telling stories…it never occurred to me to write comics with the goal of not writing comics.
It’s the same way with stories. If film companies are interested, lovely, but it’s not something I give much thought to. It’s not really on the radar. Now, if they chose to make a Lego game, that’s another thing entirely.
Depending on the success of this project will we be seeing more creator owned work from you?
Oh, yeah, no question. I have a Thrillbent story, drawn and co-created by Amanda Gould that will be coming to Mark Waid’s THRILLBENT.COM site soon; that’s a ton of fun. There are other things in the hopper that I can’t discuss yet. I’m not actually sure what a hopper is. I think it’s time for a new phrase for where my things are supposed to go.
What kind of research did you do before starting this project?
Bless him, Jim did all of that. He did all the heavy lifting on the numbers and printing
and everything. He came to me with most of that in hand already. And thank god, because I am terrible at those things and would have accidentally set the internet on fire long ago.
I’d be in a corner somewhere, accidentally mailing my feet to Malaysia. Jim is the guy making
the monorail run.
How much involvement has Jim had in this project?
Jim is the engine that made this train go. He’s just tireless. He made it happen. It’s crazy; when I send him a concept, it’s like, BAM, he’s got a sketch ready, and it’s perfect. He is so into this process, so devoted to it that it motivates me on a deep level.
I am not the most collaborative writer in the world. I tend to come to a project with the package already wrapped. But Jim has been a big part of shaping this world and these characters; he just is that enthused and inventive.
I’m happy. I get to tell my little violent, funny, sexy, terrifying story, and one of the best artists I’ve ever worked with is co-creating it and bringing it to life.
That really is something you have to be grateful for.
What will it take to get the colorist Jason Wright on the project?
Believe me, we are trying. Jason is…I swear, he’s a wizard. He can literally transform the vibe of a page with color in a way that few can match. He’s the colorist other colorists envy, and rightly so. I love that dude. I used to write him fan letters after every issue of mine he colored. If he can, he’s in.
You have advertised nothing but what looks like a cover with no interior art and the project is funded, how good does that feel?
Ridiculously great. I’m not going to lie, we’re putting our names on the line. If this thing had bombed, if no one jumped on board we would have been severely depressed. Not that many projects by working mainstream pros have appeared on Kickstarter yet, so we know the whole industry is watching.
We were sort of preparing ourselves for disappointment and a slow opening until word got out. We didn’t really have a big marketing push, even. All I did was mention it on Twitter and Tumblr, and suddenly, boom, the pledges were coming in too fast to keep up with. We thought it would start slow.
The rewarding thing is, the readers totally took over the marketing themselves…people just took it upon themselves to spread the word and tell their friends. I don’t even know what to say to that, “thanks” just doesn’t cut it. We had a signed script incentive that we thought would last the entire month, and it was gone in fifteen minutes.
On top of that, the pro community really jumped in and spread the word, lots of people I have never even met tweeted about it and pledged. And retailers have jumped in, too, with pledges and suggestions; nothing but supportive and helpful.
I get teased a lot deservedly for saying this stuff, but…this is an amazing community.
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+.