Brian Shearer’s ‘William The Last’ Hits Its Peak on Kickstarter [Back Pages]
For the last two years, comics artist and writer Brian Shearer has been telling the grand tale of William the Last as a webcomic, the story of a young orphan boy who lives on a small island with only his grandfather for company. But when he finds himself all alone, William starts climbing the huge mountain right in the center of the island. He climbs, and he climbs.... and finds a strange new world where cities are in ruins and chaos has taken hold of the people.
William the Last is a passion project for Shearer; each page is beautifully designed and illustrated. With the first few stories now told online, Shearer has brought the project to Kickstarter to raise funds for a print edition. ComicsAlliance spoke to him about the book, and how it came to life.
ComicsAlliance: What’s the basic premise of your story?
Brian Shearer: A young orphan finds his way to a strange world where good people are in hiding, a once peaceful civilization is in decay, and his own name is forbidden to be uttered. He is William the Last.
CA: What was the genesis of the project? How long have you wanted to get this comic up and running?
BS: I remember first coming up with William the Last while walking back to my car from [San Diego Comic-Con] about four years ago. At the time I thought it was going to be a post-apocalyptic story, but later came to my senses. The true genesis of what became the final story happened while I was sitting at a slow convention and got bored. So I just started drawing a couple pages --- the two of him getting on top of the cliff and then seeing the city.
CA: What was it about this story that made you want to tell it beyond those pages?
BS: A couple of things. I wanted to stretch myself a bit and do a story from the writing stage on --- start to finish. I also wanted to do something without self-imposed pressure to conform to a certain style, but instead just do what comes naturally. For that, that tends to be a looser, fun style of drawing. Then the more I got into writing it, the more I really got into creating the world of William the Last. It was the right story and the right time I suppose.
CA: How have you found working in a webcomic format on the series? Do you find it gives you a freedom you don't get in the traditional print format?
BS: The webcomic format is great for getting your work out there and setting your own schedule. It gives you a freedom to tell the story as the story demands, especially in chapter or issue length. If a chapter needs to be a few pages longer or shorter, no big deal. That's definitely a freedom that traditional print doesn't give.
Though I still think boundaries are important. If you don't have some sort of boundaries you'll just meander. So I try and tell the story as economically as possible and give myself a limitation in that sense. The biggest challenge, though, has been promotion.
There's so much stuff out there it's challenging to break through the noise. It takes time.
CA: What are your plans for William The Last outside of comics?
BS: In addition to trying to get the book in print, I've partnered with the guys over at The Audio Knights Theatre to turn William The Last into an audio drama/motion comic. They've been doing audio dramas of IDW's Transformers series for a while and have gotten pretty good at it. They wanted to branch out to other genres and were fans of William, so they approached me about doing the multimedia aspect of it.
CA: Why take this to Kickstarter?
BS: I think it's the perfect way to get the book directly into the hands of those who have been been fans of the story and have copies to take to cons to help promote the story that way. KS is well-suited to webcomics. To have a format to publish worldwide on the internet and then have readers help get the book printed was unthinkable when I was a kid. Or even 15 years ago for that matter. It's a good time to be an artist, really.
CA: What stage are you at with the project? How much have you already completed?
BS: The first four chapters are done, way more than that is plotted out. My Kickstarter was initially to get the first chapter/issue in print, but I've added stretch goals to get the first four chapters in --- which would make it a Volume 1 of the webcomic. That would be over 100 pages of story plus extras. That's the dream!
CA: If you achieve your goal, what’s your estimated delivery on the final comic?
BS: I've listed it as March, though I think it would be sooner. Under-promise and over-deliver!
William The Last will run on Kickstarter until Wednesday 23rd September 2015, looking to reach a target of $3000. You can find the Kickstarter here!