INTERVIEW: Writer Ryan Burke talks crowdfunding and his creator-owned book, Coronary

The cover for the Coronary TPB.

By Jarred A. Luján — Crowdfunding has become a pillar of the indie comics market. Creators of all levels within the industry have realized that while a comic may fail to be picked up by traditional publishers, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter are a viable method to get work to fans. Despite its rise in popularity, however, crowdfunding isn’t always a fruitful venture for creators.

This isn’t the case for writer Ryan Burke, though. Burke has managed to successfully crowdfund all three issues of his creator-owned comic, Coronary. His next Kickstarter campaign, for the trade paperback of the whole story, launches on September 1st, marking his fourth and most ambitious campaign yet. With all of that in mind, I really wanted to pick Burke’s brain on two things: his ability to turn Coronary into a successful venture and his approach to writing in general.

Here’s our conversation….

Interview with Ryan Burke

JARRED: First and foremost, your book Coronary is so against the grain in so many ways. What sort of set you in the direction of Coronary? What inspired it?
Damn, well, thank you! I just took what I loved about certain films and books that I really, really loved, and mashed them together. And I’m glad you liked the recipe! The two main ingredients would be neo-noir and detective flicks, and some dystopian mixed in.

JARRED: When you sit down to work on scripting, how much of an outline do you have beforehand?
I usually set out to do four panel descriptions for each page, and fit as many relevant details while keeping it succinct. A lot of stuff doesn’t always make it in, but it helps the art team a ton in terms of getting a whole picture. I think about my character’s watches and shoes far, far too much.

JARRED: I’ve seen you post thumbnails you’ve drawn for Coronary’s pages. Do you do that with all of your pages, or is that just when you have a particular vision in mind?
BURKE: Every now and then. I find sometimes it’s easier to lay it out in basic terms. When I say ‘do it like page seven of issue 24 of Saga, you know the one!’, it’s not always productive. But nine times out of nine, I let the artists take the reins on the aesthetic side of things. It’s a dance, after all.

JARRED: Joel Saavedra is an absolute incredible talent. How did you two begin working together on Coronary?
It started way, way back in the hazy past of 2015. I made a forum post on DeviantArt looking for artists (apparently it’s old school now, but making a come back?) to work on the first five pages of a pitch. I think we had decided Coronary would be the title by then, and we’ve been working on it since.

JARRED: Kickstarter has really carved out a place in the indie comics world. You and the team have successfully funded THREE issues of Coronary through it, an impressive feat. What have you learned most from that experience?
So, so, much mate. Honestly. I’m always bowled over by the outpouring of support for the team and I every time it happens, it’s crazy.

But practically, make sure your page count is divisive by four, and your sizes match the publisher’s requirement. Each printing house is slightly different by a few millimetres, and it can ruin a perfectly good Tuesday by not aligning everything. There be dragons, dude.

JARRED: Who do you think are your biggest influences? Do you see their mark in your work?
Oh a ton. In terms of the classics, Hemingway and Chandler are both such greats. I can talk to you for days. It just delivers on that tight, basic style that hits like a brick in a sock. I try and model my dialogue off their principles so often. No fluff, kill your darlings, keep it simple, stupid, all that great stuff.

There’s a wonderful panel in Understanding Comics where there’s an artist and a writer, and they reach across from two different worlds. That’s the fun of comics in my opinion. I learn a ton from Joel, and I should hope vice versa!

JARRED: Lastly, and this is my favorite question, what’s your favorite part of your own writing?
Jarred. You’re doing this to me?

Only joking! I love that I my writing can be both serious and moody, and also a lot of fun. When my eyes start to roll from two talking heads, we can get to blowing some stuff up.

Jarred A. Luján makes comics, studies existential philosophy, and listens to hip-hop too loudly. For bad jokes and dog pictures, you can follow him on Twitter.