Ryan K. Lindsay Grabs ‘Deer Editor’ by the Horns [Back Pages]
If you go down to the woods today, you'll find that the third part of Ryan K. Lindsay and Sami Kivelä's digital comic noir, Deer Editor is now live on Kickstarter. Featuring, yes, a deer who acts as an investigative journalist for a local paper, the series has found great success through crowdfunding --- the first two editions hit their funding target in record time, and this final part of the trilogy has likewise already met the goal.
One of the unique selling points is that the Kickstarter runs very simply. If you pledge one dollar, you get the digital copy of the story. You can pledge more if you want, but all you need is that one dollar to get your hands on 48 pages of story!
With Deer Editor: Hack running on Kickstarter for the next few weeks, Back Pages tracked down the wild, roaming, Ryan K. Lindsay to find out how this weird comic first came together, to investigate the unique approach to crowdfunding that the project takes, and to learn just why the new face of hard-hitting journalism... is a talking deer.
ComicsAlliance: What’s the basic premise of the series?
Ryan K. Lindsay: A warped crime series about an anthropomorphic deer/man journalist investigating stories for his newspaper.
CA: What was the genesis of the comic? When did the idea first come to you, and when did you first decide to make it real?
RKL: The initial genesis was Twitter, and goofing about bad typos in magazines with Ben Rankel, and the moment I typed Deer Editor, I knew I had something. Through providence, this came about during the first weeks of my daughter’s life, and I was sleep-deprived enough to believe this delusion. I also had time on my hands, because she was a terrible sleeper, woeful, so at night from about 10pm to 2am I’d strap her into a Baby Bjorn and walk the streets to give my wife a break. It helped that this was Australian Summer, so the air was lovely.
Now, walking your neighbourhood at midnight is pretty boring, so I used my phone to start researching deer, and then make notes about the character and story possibilities, and eventually I wrote the entire first script on my phone, in the dark, with my daughter drooling on me.
As the script entered the editing phase on my computer, I only had one name to pursue: Sami Kivela. He and I had just put a pitch together, and I was keen to still do stuff with him while we waited for permission on the other thing.
I hit him up and he loved the idea, and we’ve been working in our little antlered family ever since, and this was early 2013.
CA: How important has Sami been to making this project a reality?
RKL: 100% integral. The way he makes Bucky act and emote, through a deer head, is just phenomenal, it’s ink kung fu. But beyond his skills, it’s his passion to the project and our relationship that makes this all work so well. If I have thoughts, I shoot ‘em to Sami, and he responds, and brings himself to things. He’s there to help if I need something done, he’s so exceptionally helpful, and talented. I can’t imagine Deer Editor being what or where it is right now without him.
CA: What's the collaborative process like for you both? What do you think he brings to the story?
RKL: I love our collaborations. I write full script, but will sometimes just write a big paragraph when I know there’s a page where he can bring more to things. And he always does. From this, to Chum --- our creator owned mini at ComixTribe --- he’s always elevating the material through innovation of page and tone.
By now, we know each other well enough that I have a great mind to write for Sami, and he knows when to just do his thing and that I’ll love it. We’ve got a pitch making the rounds now, and some of his work in it was so exciting to get through my inbox, he’s constantly working to make us both look great on the page.
CA: Bucky, the Deer Editor himself; what kind of a character is he? What drives him?
RKL: Bucky’s a very straight up character, he believes in the truth, he’s an old school journalist. He doesn’t yield to bigotry, and he doesn’t want to get distracted. But I’ve found this has made him too much of a straight line, which means he’s missed certain kinks in the story he’s chasing of political intrigue. Which is why, when the vampires appear in the second issue, he’s caught so much by surprise.
CA: Why bring the series to Kickstarter to begin with? What do you think Kickstarter offers you as a platform?
RKL: I really love Kickstarter because of the carnival atmosphere you can build for a month, but that only works if you play to that. If I was just selling the PDF of the book for a month and then after that you could just get that same file from ComiXology, then there’d be no point. This is why I put months of planning into my campaigns, and I feel each Deer Editor campaign shows a level up in concept and execution.
For this campaign, we are offering things you could only really get here and now --- annotated scripts with notes and margin doodles from me, a process-fuelled PDF with art pieces, pin ups, the script, and more, an audio commentary. I could just offer these things on my site and hope for people to trickle in, but I’d rather make it a one-time-only grab, so people are getting some special for their coin. That’s why I love Kickstarter.
CA: The nature of your Kickstarter is a seemingly unique one, where for $1 somebody very simply gets a digital copy of the comic. Why set things up in this manner?
RKL: Put purely, because I would prefer to only spend $1 on a digital comic, no more, ever. So I offer that based on my beliefs. Though it’s interesting how few take the $1 option, with most wanting the $3 process-packed PDF, or any of the other bigger items.
This is the gamble, because I’d need 2000 people to come in at the $1 option for me to be successful, so I’m risking that people will care enough to pledge bigger.
CA: You achieved your target even before I could send you a single question, so now we're decidedly in the realm of stretch goals. What kind of stretch goals have you got in mind for backers, should you reach those targets?
RKL: I love giving out Thank You Downloads. At 100% funding, I gave everyone an ebook download of my book of essays about Daredevil. And we’ve already hit the first stretch goal, where people will get another four page short comic to download, and a copy of Stuck in the Gutters #2, assembled by Leo Johnson, with a variety of comics and essays in it.
Beyond that, when we hit $3000, I’ll add a four-page Deer Editor short story to the PDF, and it’s so good! Sami drafted it up and showed me, and got me to write over it, and it’s just amazing. We got Ryan Ferrier in to letter it for a very specific reason, which people will love.
Beyond that, I’ve lined up adding more material to the PDF, giving away more downloads of rad material, and even building towards getting the first issue of a new thing I’ve got cooking if we hit $5000.
CA: Is the issue already completed? What’s your estimated delivery on the final books?
RKL: All pages are inked, lettered, and depending on certain level ups within the campaign, I estimate we’ll give out the PDFs for the book within a week of closing the campaign. I love being able to offer something that’s completed, so no one is left waiting or having their light for the project fade.
CA: What are your ambitions for the future of Deer Editor? Is this the finale, or could we see a return at some point in future?
RKL: Alas, this is the last we’ll hear from Bucky. For now. Sami and I want to work on this new pitch if/when it gets picked up, and I’m not certain we could keep rolling out Deer Editor Kickstarters into infinity.
In saying that, I’d love to come back and do more. Bucky really is our collaboration love child, and I have notes for plenty more stories to tell, so I guess we’ll wait and see what the future holds. If the audience demands it, or a publisher helps us out, more could very easily happen.
Deer Editor: Hack will run on Kickstarter until 29th September 2016, having already met the funding target of AUD $2,000. To find out more, head to the official page here!