Andrew Scott has written a couple of pieces for Comics Bookcase—including a short argument about Daredevil on the character’s anniversary, as well as this interview with artist Peter Krause, who drew Archie 1941. Now, he’s back to talk about his new Kickstarter campaign for Paradigm Drift, an anthology of stories he wrote drawn by an impressive roster of artists.
Q: What is Paradigm Drift?
AS: Paradigm Drift is a collection of new short stories written by me and drawn by a wonderful selection of artists. Some are creators with decades of good work behind them, like Patrick Zircher and Peter Krause, while others are promising newcomers or under-the-radar artists who are building their reputations.
The stories cover a range of genres. Some are superhero stories, or at least superhero-adjacent. “Trouble at Kadarva Cave” is a space adventure story in the vein of Starlight or Adam Strange. “Our Kind of Work” tells the story of a father and son who deliver fuel to the estate of a billionaire who secretly fights crime at night. Somebody has to have that job, right? “The Boy Who Loved Kiana, Queen of Wonder” is another of these stories. They are my versions of some of the popular archetypes in superhero comics. I love Astro City, and these stories are my foray into taking that kind of approach. I hope editors see this book and realize I can excel at writing the types of stories they publish. It’s a mix of stories designed to showcase my range and interests as a writer so that editors will hopefully invite me to pitch ideas to them. And it’s also a creative challenge to myself. A five-page story is not easy. Some of the stories in Paradigm Drift will be even shorter than that. If these artists and I can make something meaningful in just a few pages, I hope it’s enough to convince publishers that I’m suited to write stories that are 20 or 100 or 200 pages long.
But other tales in this batch are clearly crime fiction, like “Kingsville” and “Hwy X.” Some are weird literary stories or “slice of life” stories with a twist. One of the stories, “The Dog Next Door,” is about a middle-age man who comes across a “found dog” post online—and it’s somehow the dog he had in college two decades ago. “The Eulogist” is about a man whose chosen art form is speaking at the funerals of strangers. “Special Achievement” is about a filmmaker who wins a major award and is never seen again.
Q: Who are you and how have you convinced such incredible artists to work with you?
AS: I am the author of a book of short stories, Naked Summer, that earned some attention when it was published. It was named a Notable Collection by the Story Prize and spent some time on Amazon’s list for bestselling story collections. For a week or two, it sold better than Stephen King’s collection that was out at the time, if you can believe such madness. Actually, King’s two sons both supported an earlier Kickstarter effort I put together, because I know Owen King and I collaborated with an artist, Charles Paul Wilson III, who was working on Joe Hill’s Wraith comic back then. Small world.
I have always wanted to write comics. Before I went to college or earned an MFA in creative writing, I just wanted to write and draw comics—but I’m not a great artist. I might be better than the average person on the street, but I am far from where I’d like to be. My interest in art allows me to understand where artists are often coming from, though, which makes me a good collaborator, I hope. After I finished the MFA, I developed a few book-length projects with three different artists that, in the end, didn’t go anywhere, for a number of reasons. I learned a lot along the way.
As for getting incredible people to work with me, sometimes you just have to ask. I befriended Patrick Zircher on Twitter before I really knew his work. He lives near me. But then I started reading his work, especially the Shadowman story he did, and he’s just incredible. He’s also well read and smart about stories. We talked about William Trevor and he liked a list of recommended story collections that I shared online. He put me in a Green Arrow issue he was doing with my friend Ben Percy when they needed a byline for a newspaper article that appears in the story—which I just loved, because my dad had been a reporter and had recently died. That was a small gesture that meant a lot to me. I’ve met up with Patch a couple of times for a meal, including once when Ben was in town. Patch wrote me a letter of recommendation when I tried to land a spot in DC’s talent workshop. He said once or twice that we should do a short story for one of the Kickstarter anthologies that are always popping up, and eventually I realized that maybe I would need to launch that Kickstarter myself to make it happen.
I knew Peter Krause’s work from some of his collaborations with Mark Waid, who used to co-own the comic book shop in Muncie, Indiana, where I have bought a lot of comics over the years, since I teach in Muncie and I’m there so often. Pete and Patch both followed me back on Twitter years ago. I asked Pete if he had file copies of a couple of comics he drew in the 90s, and in exchange I sent him a bunch of titles published by Engine Books, my wife’s small press. They’re two artists I always root for, I guess.
Anyway, I’ve known some of these artists for a long time. Eduardo Herrera is one of my oldest friends. He was in my wedding. Håvard S. Johansen and I have been friends for thirteen years now. I’ve never met Jacob Edgar, but he’s such a talented artist who I think taps into the kind of magic that Darwyn Cooke had, or that Chris Samnee puts into his books. Jacob and I would be doing at least one more story together for this project if he wasn’t currently locked up with so much work; Dynamite is keeping him busy for the foreseeable future. He’s working with Mark Russell for them, which is great.
Andrew Krahnke is Ed’s friend from art school, and I’m excited to work with him. Josh George is like me, in a lot of ways—he’s my age and has an MFA in painting and drawing and has taught some classes, but would really love to make comics full-time.
I’m happy to be making good comics with good people. All of the stories will be lettered by Deron Bennett, who does incredible work for a lot of publishers, though I had the idea to approach him after seeing his work in one of Vault’s titles. (I like Vault’s books quite a bit, actually.)
All of these creators are getting paid, too. That always helps.
Q: How can I help make this project a reality?
AS: Support the Kickstarter campaign! That’s the easy answer. Pledge an amount you’re comfortable with. Help me spread the word. Share the Kickstarter link online. I need all the help I can get.
There are so many different ways to break into comics, but I think the easiest way is just to start making comics. It’s sounds so simple, but for years, I had the mindset of someone experienced in book publishing, not comics publishing. I put projects together, developed pitches and wrote full scripts—after all, almost no prose novels are sold without being written first, and that’s the world I knew best—and then I found artists and got the packages together first and approached publishers. In hindsight, I wish I had just found a way to actually make and finish those graphic novels and put them out into the world. And I also wish that maybe I had focused on smaller projects like what I’m doing with this Kickstarter campaign. It’s awfully hard to see a graphic novel through to the end. The artists have to make such a time commitment. Sometimes my collaborators had to abandon a project so they could take on paying work (other comics, storyboards, advertising jobs), and sometimes life got in the way (international moves, illness, etc.). I don’t know why I didn’t think about just making a collection of comics stories back then, since I was writing prose stories and editing prose stories and promoting prose stories all of the time. Although it’s true that there are not many books like this project I’m doing, with creator-owned stories written by a single author and drawn by different artists.
I believe it’s never too late to do what you want to do creatively. I love making comics for a variety of reasons, but primarily because collaboration is so central to the endeavor. And just about nothing brings me greater joy than seeing a great comic book page. To me, what happens when words and images are put together is a kind of ancient magic.