Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
Airship Ambassador: How did you make the Legend history come alive for the readers?
Scott Wilke: I’ve got a lot of little touches throughout the story that I had hoped would add depth to the world and the history behind it. To give a little background, Genesis Automata is the company that built all the original Machines. The company also owned the entire western territory and had hopes of turning the territory into a paradise of sorts. So, throughout issue #1, you can catch glimpses of the promotional materials that still remain, like billboards and welcome signs. You can also catch the company logo scattered throughout.
AA: I’ll have to go back and look for that. Hmm, that might be a fun belt buckle J You worked with Click Art Studios and About Time Comics to bring this project to publication. How did that collaboration come about?
SW: Back in 2014 I posted an ad on DeviantArt looking for an art team that would be interested in doing a Steampunk Weird West comic. Literally, one of the first responses I got was from Rai at ClickArt Studios. I didn’t even have to look at the other responses. I knew immediately that I wanted to work with them! Their art and character designs were off the chart and I knew they’d be able to bring my characters to life in a truly unique way. About Time Comics I met with after my first failed Kickstarter. I was looking for a publisher to help me understand more of the ins and outs of the indie industry. I saw a post about this great looking story called Godsend. I checked out the website, saw they were open to submissions and sent my story over to Lee Jiles. Lee shared it with his partner, Eric Dotson, and they both loved what we were doing and asked us to be part of the About Time Comics family!
AA: Great partners are a boon to every project, and sometimes, so hard to find. Glad to hear you did well on both counts! How long did it take to write, and rewrite, Legend?
SW: Most of the work was in creating the universe for Legend. To be honest, that has been a decade in the works. I should clarify, I didn’t spend ALL of the decade creating the universe. Every now and then I would go back to Legend and add more backstory to the world and the characters. As for the script for Issue #1: Fire and Brimstone, that took a couple months with rewrites happening here and there during the year between the failed first Kickstarter and the successful one.
AA: If someone likes “X”, then they’ll like Legend. What is “X”?
SW: Westworld. Obviously our robot cowboys are a bit different. haha. Like Westworld, I try to explore similar topics in my work, such as the relationship between man and machine. Also, with Omega’s character, I’m able to delve into the theme of what it means to be human. Something I feel that Westworld nailed with the Dolores character. Oh, we also have a bunch of cool gunfights like Westworld.
AA: I thoroughly enjoyed Westworld, both the original movie and the new series. The new series was pretty amazing in so many respects. What do you think puts Legend on someone’s must read/have list?
SW: I think its uniqueness. There aren’t a lot of stories about robot cowboys. Even fewer stories that have airships, battle mechs, and winged robot assassins.
AA: That’s true, not many spring to mind. If a movie were on the horizon, who would you cast?
SW: Oh, that’s tough. Forge is a pretty stoic character and a man of few words. We’d need someone who can communicate a great deal through just their eyes and facial expressions, like Tom Hardy maybe. Since most of the characters in Everett Forge are robots, we’d have a lot of voice actors. I honestly hear John Malkovich’s voice a lot when I write Omega’s dialogue. I imagine it to be a very labored and intense voice with just the right amount of volatility.
AA: A crowd-funding campaign was run to help create this book and bring it to market. What was that whole experience like? What prep work had to be done before even launching it?
SW: Well, we have to go all the way back to 2014 when I first started work on Everett Forge. After teaming up with ClickArt Studios, we assembled some concept art and a couple pages. With probably only three or so months of actual prep time, I foolishly tried my first Kickstarter. It failed MISERABLY. At that moment I seriously contemplated giving up. I took the horrible turnout as a sign that I wasn’t creating anything worthwhile.
But, after talking with Madeleine Holly-Rosing, writer and creator of Boston Metaphysical Society, I realized that it wasn’t my material that sucked…it was my preparation! So, I spent the better part of a year putting together more concept art, paying for more pages, promoting my comic in every imaginable place, and networking with other fellow indie creators. By 2016, I was set to relaunch and within 15 days we were fully funded.
AA: Knowledge and hard work definitely pay off. Once you were funded and ready to go, what was your publishing experience like?
SW: During that year after my failed Kickstarter, I started looking around for an indie publisher. I realized I didn’t know nearly as much about the indie industry as I needed to. As I was searching Facebook indie comic groups, I stumbled upon some artwork for a comic called Godsend from About Time Comics. I fell in love with the cover and the concept so I headed over to their website and saw that they were open to submissions. I sent an e-mail over to Lee Jiles and showed him what I was working on. He forwarded it all to his partner, Eric Dotson, and within a week I was part of the About Time Comics family! I mean it when I say I couldn’t have done it without them. Their expertise with not only comics but the comics business has helped me start to build a foundation in this industry!
AA: What do you do to keep a balance between writing and the rest of your life?
SW: I try to keep to a schedule for both of those aspects of my life. When I get home from work, I try to devote that time to my wife and daughter. Once they’re in bed, I head to my office and start to write. It usually means some long nights with little to no sleep. But, in the end, my family comes first and I’d rather lose sleep than time with them.
AA: Good to have clear priorities and a plan. Do you get to talk much with other writers?
SW: Totally. I work very closely with Lee from About Time Comics. I have him review scripts, look over panel layouts, etc. We are also brainstorming a new story idea that we hope to start working on this year. It’s a zombie/war story. Very exciting!
AA: Some people might say that writers need to be readers, too. What do you think about that and what would you say your ratio of reading to writing is/was?
SW: It’s extremely important. Reading is when I become most inspired. I learn new tricks and I figure out what storytelling methods I like and don’t like. It allows you to take a step back and view your craft from a new perspective. It gives you a fresh set of eyes each and every time. I would say my reading to writing ratio is about 60/40. I’m always reading more than I’m writing.
Time for a pause in our chat with Scott. Join us again for the conclusion when Scott talks about his writing process and other interests.
Support Scott and our community and get your copy of The Legend of Everett Forge here.