Interview: Ryan K. Lindsay Hoofs it to Kickstarter for ‘Deer Editor’

You guys, you guys! Deer Editor is a comic about a crime journalist who is also a deer!

So that’s likely got your attention. Written by Ryan K. Lindsay, drawn by Sami Kivela, lettered by Nic J. Shaw and edited by Dan Hill, ‘Deer Editor’ is a digital-only comic which hit Kickstarter a few weeks back. Quickly reaching the target of $1000 and then some, the story will only be made available online for the time being. If you back the comic at $1, you get the comic. YOU GET THE COMIC! That’s the sort of pricing which is unheard of on Kickstarter.

Ryan’s been making some waves in comics recently – he has a new series launched over at Monkeybrain, and was recently one of the contributors to Vertigo’s ‘CMYK’ anthology series, telling a story about boxing and revenge. But for this new story, he’s got such a simple setup that I just had to get in touch with him and find out more! And, gent he is, he agreed – read on to find out all about Deer Editor, and head on over to Kickstarter if you like the sound of it!

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Steve: What’s the basic premise of Deer Editor?

Ryan: Bucky is the editor of the crime beat at ‘The Truth.’ He’s also a deer. This issue sees him chase down a story involving a John Doe killer, a key to a public locker, and what might be the biggest narrative of political intrigue he’s ever covered.

The book is a black and white tale told in 48 tablet pages.

Steve: What defines Bucky as a character?

Ryan: Besides his rad antlers, the fact he’s incredibly dogged and has a true north on his moral code. Bucky finds a thread and won’t stop pulling until the sweater is gone and eventually the emperor has no clothes.

Steve: How early on did the idea of “oh, he’s a deer” come along to the story? Did you have the character planned out first or the story?

Ryan: The book came about because of a discussion of embarrassing typos. As soon as I typed the words ‘Deer editor’ the character came to me pretty fully formed. From there, it’s just polishing and finding out what sort of deer is he, how does he go about his business, etc. But the core trapping of ‘journalist’ + ‘deer’ were instant inception points. Then the story formed around him pretty smoothly.

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Steve: What kind of tone does the series have? Is this a world where nobody really minds that, y’know, their editor is a deer?

Ryan: Yep, no one minds at all. But the tone of this book is a serious crime story. There’s a heavy influence of Polanski here (especially CHINATOWN) with a soupçon of TERRIERS somewhere in there.

Steve: You’ve worked in comics journalism yourself for a while – did that develop your interest in telling a story about a journalist? (or is that just a coincidence?)

Ryan: I wanted to be a journalist for years. I have a misspent youth of writing movie reviews in a ledger, and writing reviews of basketball games I’d watch on TV. I was a huge word nerd and journalism scratched that itch as much as fiction did, and still does. I was finishing high school, and planning to go into journalism, when I got into a conversation with a guy who told me journalism was a hard game to crack. He asked me why I wanted to do it and I said because I liked writing and wanted to parlay into fiction eventually. He asked what else I wanted to be and I said the other option was teacher.

He told me to be a teacher and write at night. And here I am.

Steve: How did artist Sami Kivela come onboard the project? What does his style bring to the story?

Ryan: I was introduced to Sami by ‘Canadian Gent’ Ed Brisson and we haven’t looked back since. Sami has a great ink style for B&W and I’m a huge fan of his expressions and body language. The fact he can make a deer’s face show a range of emotions says a lot.

Steve: Why take the project to Kickstarter?

Ryan: I like Kickstarter. It’s a good distribution platform as well as a way to rally the crowd. The big thing for me, and for this campaign, is all the extras. I could put the PDF up on my site and hope traffic finds it but that’s a drop in the ocean. I could, and will, go the ComiXology Submit route but that’s just a few extra drops. What this campaign allows us to do is offer all these crazy extras and make them exclusive. The RKL Script PDF won’t be available for purchase anywhere else. The Talking Pin Ups won’t be done anymore after this campaign ends. It’s fun to really support the people in kooky ways who have come out to support us.

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Steve: How much research into Kickstarters and their pitfalls did you do before setting up this one? You seem to be aware of the now-infamous international shipping trap, and you also chose to complete the comic before bringing it to crowdfunding?

Ryan: Oh, man, I’ve been watching and loving Kickstarter campaigns for years. I’ve backed a tonne of them, and if you were to laboriously go through my twitter feed, you’d see loads of me talking about what works and what doesn’t and getting annoyed when people do the “wrong” things – PDFs of single issues for $10, that sort of thing. It does my head in.

So for this campaign, I’ve very keenly wanted to run it the way I want to see a campaign run. Cheap thrills, fun extras, lots of free downloads and stuff at checkpoints and stretch goals. And, yes, I avoided that international shipping because I have no desire to run the whole gamut of printing, packaging, and posting just to make a sub-$1 profit – or on the flip, put the issue up for $20 (or more) just to make a slightly more decent profit. I have no interest in that at all.

I did my due diligence, I read articles about people’s success, and their failure, and I then set out to do my best. I’m sure I’ve already made my own mistakes, but I don’t seem to be in the hole just yet.

Steve: There are lots of people involved with the book – you’ve invited Dan Hill on as editor. Do you find that you write best when you have an editor overseeing the project?

Ryan: I find everyone writes better when they have an editor, yes. Dan Hill is a good friend and my first reader on pretty much everything, and I’ve started bringing him in as editor because he’s got a wickedly sharp brain for story engine structure and character motivation, and he always asks me the right questions to get me around (or under, or phased through) barriers I’m facing.

I think everyone making comics, at any level, should bag themselves someone they trust to look over the work, make notes, and ask them a tonne of questions.

Steve: Not everybody comes up with a story concept and then holds back on immediately launching into a full series – Deer Editor is a one-shot, rather than an ongoing. What’s the intent of the story? Do you plan to use this to possibly launch further stories with the character down the line?

Ryan: Yep, I’ve gone for a one-shot, to start with because it’s feasible. It’s feasible to plan, write, get an artist down with, and draw an audience for a one-shot. People are more likely to invest a $1 into a PDF of a complete story than they are for just 1/6. I doubt I could Kickstart a whole mini, or ongoing, so I am being realistic. I think, and I hope, this is a smart move. You gotta pay your dues, and show you can close, so a one-shot is a perfect entry point.

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From here, oh, absolutely I have more stories to tell. I’ve already written the next script. If I have my druthers, I’d love to write Bucky for a long time, actually, in just a series of 1-3 issue stories.

Steve: What else are you working on at the moment? Where can people find you online?

Ryan: Headspace at Monkeybrain with Eric Zawadzki, Sebastian Piriz, Marissa Louise, and Dan Hill is still trucking along. #4 drops at the start of September, after a longer wait than we wanted, and it’s our best issue yet. It’s this weird pause in the grander narrative to explore character and location and really make the escalation into the end of the whole mess truly matter.

I also just had a story in the Vertigo anthology Magenta, from the CMYK Quarterly. It has Tommy Lee Edwards art, John Workman letters, and is called GLOVES. You can probably still find a copy on your LCS’ rack if you dig.

Beyond that, I’m angling a few new one-shots and pitches, all at various stages but I’m not one to tease so I’ll leave it be for now, but trust me when I say things are coming, and they are F.U.N.

As for online, you can catch me on twitter, and hit up my online HQ, I’m on tumblr here, or you can hit me up on facebook, where everyone is!

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Trackbacks

  1. […] Described by the book’s writer as a serious crime story influenced by directors like Roman Polanski, Deer Editor is told from the perspective of Bucky. An editor for newspaper The Truth, the anthropomorphic deer finds himself investigating the death of a carjacker, only for his pursuit of justice to spiral horribly out of control and uncover a far deeper conspiracy. […]

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