A while back, The Outerhaven was given the opportunity to review the graphic novel gone viral via Kickstarter! You can see that review here.
The Rattler publishes on March 23rd and Jason McNamara will be in NYC signing books from 6pm-9pm. Here is a great chance to get to know all about the effort that went into this new work.
Q: Why did you decide to go with a Kickstarter campaign instead of the traditional publishing route with your project? You’re not exactly an unknown author in this genre.
I’m not unknown but I don’t work enough to be known, if that makes sense. I release a creator-owned graphic novel every year or two, which is essentially like starting over in the industry every time. And working on THE RATTLER with Greg was sort of a career reset for me; I think of it as my first book.
Because Greg and I produced the book independently, we were protective of it and wanted it to have a healthy birth. If we went with a publisher first, without any buzz behind it, its release could easily have disappeared into the catalogue and been forgotten. And we probably would have had to give up some of our ownership for the privilege. Even though there was a risk of public failure, we believed introducing THE RATTLER through a Kickstarter was best long term decision.
Without getting into the granular details of distribution models, page rates and publishing contracts, Kickstarter is a great opportunity for creator-owned projects. When you see creators like Jimmy Palmiotti using it as their primary publishing outlet, it’s not because they don’t have other options; it’s because KS offers them the opportunity to retain ownership of their work and make a living doing it. That’s not always possible with a traditional publisher.
Q: Did you expect your Kickstarter to get so much attention?
You hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I think the campaign succeeded, and got the positive attention it did, at least in part, because of the amount of preparation that went on behind the scenes. We worked on the KS project for 6 months before it was released—not the book itself, just the KS. We researched, created assets, and priced all the shipping down to the penny. In addition, our book was finished and ready to go to the printers–we weren’t just selling the idea of a book, which might or might not ever materialize or ship. We took the mystery and risk out of the equation, which made for less dramatic stakes but more reliable return for our backers.
Kickstarter is an amazing opportunity because it allows creators to bypass the traditional industry gatekeepers to reach an audience. For the platform to remain viable, creators have to leave it in better shape than they found it. Unfortunately, a handful of ill-prepared people have run campaigns that didn’t deliver and that hurts not only their backers, but also other creators that might benefit from the platform. Kickstarter is not free or easy money; a good campaign takes a lot of work.
Q: How did you get Joel Enos and Greg Hinkle involved in this?
Greg and I became pals through the Isotope Comic Book Lounge in SF and eventually started talking about working together. He and I approach storytelling in similar ways and are comfortable working together. We’re also comfortable calling each other rude names, and that helps, too. The way we produced THE RATTLER was intensely collaborative and I think we were able to bring out the best in each other to create something neither of us would have done on our own; I’m a much better writer and creative partner now because of it.
Joel Enos is someone I’ve known through comics for years and always wanted to work with. When we took THE RATTLER over to Image, I knew we were going to need some help navigating the adjustment. Joel smoothed out some of the rougher aspects of the script and helped us get the most out of our experience with Image. Having a veteran like Joel on the team raised the quality of the book to a more professional level. Plus, he and I are both redheads and can speak to one each other in our secret language of grunts and fist shaking.
Q: You disclose that THE RATTLER is loosely based upon real life events. So where did you get the inspiration for the rest of the story?
I’m a huge fan or horror and crime noir and wanted to bring together the best of those genres for a fast paced but atmospheric story. For the visual inspiration we looked to older black and white horror films like Pyscho, Eyes Without a Face, Repulsion and classic Twilight Zone episodes. By employing unusual angles and cinematic staging, we were able to slow down and hold certain emotional beats for effect. Anything we could do to slow down the pace of the reader and hold their attention longer helps in sustaining atmosphere.
As for the writing, I was definitely inspired by the noir pacing of author’s like Ross McDonald, Richard Stark, Jim Thompson, and Raymond Chandler. Dashiell Hammet’s Red Harvest in particular was an influence, that book takes off like a shot and doesn’t stop until the last page. It would be exhausting if it weren’t so engaging, that’s the effect I was hoping to have with THE RATTLER.
Q: In my review, I jokingly compare Stephen Thorn to Nancy Grace. Do you suppose one message that can be drawn from this story is that people in the spotlight are prone to self-destruction? Or maybe you didn’t mean for this work to have any message at all?
I think most people would admit there’s a slight discrepancy between who they’d like to be and who they actually are. Stephen’s fame is entirely fueled by his grief and it’s also his catchall excuse for being aloof. When the possibility of being reunited with Catherine is presented, he pursues it because that’s who he’s told the world he is. But you have to wonder if that’s actually what he wants, maybe he was always going to be a miserable SOB and losing Catherine was just justification for that behavior. The search for Catherine forces him to reconcile the real him with his crusading public persona. And we find that the difference between the two is tremendous.
I think if this book has a takeaway, it’s about rectifying the public and private sides of ourselves.
Q: If this became a movie, who would you cast as who?
I think Hannibal’s Hugh Dancy would make a stellar Stephen Thorn. For the often-heard but rarely-seen Catherine, I’d go with Ruth Wilson; I love her voice. Patricia Clarkson for the villainous Esther, she’s was my model for the character when writing her. I think Jane Levy would play a great mischievous Chantal. And I’d love to get Lee Byung-hun for Kaizu; he was incredible in I Saw The Devil. Jimmy Smits for Rodriquez. Mickey Rourke and Juliet Lewis for the porn clown couple, obviously. That’s my genre veteran dream cast!
Q: Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
I have a pair of full-length graphic novels coming out from the digital platform Stela later in the year. One is a young-adult fantasy and the other is sci-fi thriller, two genres I’ve never worked in before. I’m working with some incredible artists on those projects and I’m really excited for people to see a different side of me. Greg and I also have another horror project in the pipeline but it’s going to be a while until his schedule opens up again.