The GeeksverseHorizon’s End Kickstarter: Darryl Banks’ Return To Comics

Horizon’s End Kickstarter: Darryl Banks’ Return To Comics
Published on Thursday, June 27, 2013 by
On June 18th, the Kickstarter went live for Horizon’s End, a 120-page graphic novel “chronicling a young girl’s impossible mission to free a xenophobic alien race from an intergalactic syndicate.” Jason Thees talks to the writers about the book and the process behind its creation.

Horizon’s End was created and written by Chris Delloiacono and Daron Kappauff, and is being illustrated by comic veteran Darryl Banks, probably best known for his lengthy run on DC’s Green Lantern, and co-creating (and designing the visual for) Kyle Rayner, the third Green Lantern of Earth.

The ComixVerse: Full disclosure here, I’ve been a fan of Mr. Banks since his days on Green Lantern, and I’m a backer of this Kickstarter, so I’m pretty excited that Mr. Delloiacono and Mr. Kappauff have agreed to give us this opportunity to talk about the project. Thanks, gentlemen.

 So, to get started, tell us about Horizon’s End? What should we expect from it?

Daron Kappauff: Horizon’s End is science fiction story with strong ties to the classic space operas and sci-fi serials of the past. It also mixes in some nice superhero elements, which we hope will help it appeal to a good range of audiences.

Chris Delloiacono: Horizon’s End is about the tipping point in life where you find your place in the world or are shattered by your demons. The central character is an impetuous young woman named Andara. The tale begins when she becomes stranded on a world ravaged by plague like army, The Black Dominion. The same force that decimated her home planet.

Andara has tremendous strength, a powerful force field, and can create an energy sword, but that’s not enough to shatter an army. Andara must decide if she only wants revenge, or if she wants to become the leader of an organized resistance. Essentially, the choice is childish bravado or inspiring others.

Darryl Banks' promo image - colored by Moose Baumann


Darryl Banks’ promo image – colored by Moose Baumann

Stephane Roux's Cover - colored by Moose Baumann

Stephane Roux’s Cover – colored by Moose Baumann

TCV: Sounds like is has all the classic elements of great scifi and a great comic. Tell us a little about your process – was it different, prepping a project for Kickstarter, than for submission via more “traditional” route? How much of an impact will Kickstarter and the like have in the future of publishing?

CD: Originally we wrote and structured the story as a five-issue miniseries and planned the typical submission route.

Andara concept design

Andara concept design

We have some interest from major publishers, but nothing firm yet. We really want to tell our story, and Kickstarter is a forum to bring it directly to fans. We’ve been spurred on by the amazing successes that Gail Simone, Greg Pak, and so many others have recently had on Kickstarter.

Preparing for the Kickstarter meant a lot of homework. First we had to pull together the creative team. Then it was on to printing costs, shipping, and designing a system of rewards. The rewards have to be something special to entice folks to help make dreams possible.

As for the future, I think there’s no doubt [about Kickstarter’s impact]. The Internet is the engine that drives so much business today. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sources are a direct line to consumers. If you make something people want there is a wonderful audience waiting for you.

DK:  And the project itself is very much a science-fiction comic. We’ve spent a lot of time creating the universe, its history, and all the characters that populate it. That all came long before we even thought about doing a Kickstarter. In fact, the actual scripts were completed before we thought about doing it. For us, this is first and foremost a story we want to tell. This is something that Chris and I are passionate about. It’s something we’d like to share with the world.

When we first started talking with Darryl about doing the project, we were planning on just doing the required pages to make a submission package for companies like Image, Dark Horse, or IDW. The problem was, even if we got picked up, we wouldn’t have the money to pay the rest of the creative team to put the whole project together. That’s the unfortunate part of independent comics—you don’t get paid unless the book really sells. And you won’t know if it’s selling until you’re well into the series.

That’s why we came to Kickstarter. We’re not looking to make a ton of money with the project. And in fact, if we just meet our goal, we won’t make a dime. All of that money will go to creating the art, printing, shipping and etc.

We literally couldn’t do this project without Kickstarter, so yeah I’d definitely say it’s changing the comic publishing landscape.

TCV: Plus, this gives you more freedom, I imagine, and allows you to avoid pitfalls of “creator owned” properties at major publishers – there are definitely perks. Does doing it yourself create hardships for you, or are you finding printers, shipping systems, etc to be friendly to this sort of thing?

CD: The best thing about doing Horizon’s End on Kickstarter is we have complete control of the project. That’s also a very difficult aspect. Talk about micromanaging! Thankfully we didn’t try to rush. It took about six months once Darryl signed on to get to the point of launching. We were only able to do that because we’d spent so much time beforehand honing the script.

The printers and all the other business folks we dealt with were very professional. It’s a time consuming process, and the answers are not coming at the snap of your fingers. You have to shop around, ask lots of questions, and seek help from people that know better than you. Yet, the final call is yours. Pressure!

It would be fantastic for a major publisher to pick up Horizon’s End. That would free Daron and I up to write, while their talented staff handled those other details. In the end, on Kickstarter this is our baby and we are in charge of all the nurturing.

TCV: So far, so good, then. As of right now, you guys have broken the 20% mark, with plenty of time to go. Congrats! Is this on target for what you were hoping for, about a week in?

DK: We’re pretty close to being on target, but the momentum has slowed a bit. The response has been all positive, but we’re having a tough time getting it to go viral. I think we just need one good push; it’s just making that happen… suggestions are welcome!

TCV: I’m guessing a lot of Darryl Banks fans will still come out of the woodwork before this is all over. It’s pretty exciting to see him making his return to comics.

DK: Us too. It’s making sure they know about it.

TCV: Talk a little about Darryl, and how you got him on board. Horizon’s End is clearly right in his wheelhouse.

CD: Daron and I first met Darryl a number of years ago at the Pittsburgh Comic Con. We had a chance to chat with him for quite a while. Since we are both immense fans of Darryl’s work it was a blast. We both had commissions done at the show, and Daron stayed in touch with Darryl afterwards.

We have been developing Horizon’s End for several years, and with its epic sci-fi scope, we kept thinking Darryl would be perfect. It started as wistful talk, but eventually we realized it couldn’t hurt to ask. What’s the worst thing that can happen.

Horizon’s End may be Darryl’s return to comics after a pretty lengthy hiatus, but he’s still a full time artist. Mostly he’s been working on toy designs and other forms of graphic art. So, Darryl turned us down because of those heavy work commitments.

Wait, there’s a happy ending.

Since we aren’t a corporation or independently wealthy there was no way for us to take Darryl away from his other commitments. That’s when we came up with the idea for creating a Kickstarter so we can finance our dream project. Darryl liked the plan and jumped on board.

Green Lantern 3, Batman, Huntress - From Darryl Banks' sketch book

Green Lantern 3, Batman, Huntress – From Darryl Banks’ sketch book

TCV: That’s great, and illustrates your earlier points about Kickstarter changing the comics landscape. Both of you are published writers, but aside from obviously being fans, did you gents have any prior experience in the comics field?

DK: Chris and I were both comic journalists for years. I started out as a columnist for 411mania.com, writing a weekly article called Missing the Boat and then was quickly made the editor of the review section. Chris was actually one of the first people I brought on after that to fill out our review team. Chris then went on to become a columnist and reviewer, and both of us moved over to ComicsNexus.com when it launched.

Caido concept design

Caido concept design

As for actual comic writing experience, I have a little, but this is our first real foray into the field. Some years back, I was invited to write a back up story for Image Comics’ Small Gods by the writer of the series, Jason Rand. That turned into a 4-issue story that was green lit and ready to go. I had an artist picked out, and we had designed my antagonist for the story, and we had laid out the first issue. Unfortunately, the book was canceled not long after that, and my story never saw print. Because of that, I don’t talk much about it, but it did give me some insight into writing comic scripts and how to work with an artist to tell a story.

A lot of people think there’s a secret to writing comics, and if there is it’s the same secret to writing any work of fiction. Good stories. That’s the heart of every good comic—a good story. It doesn’t matter how technically proficient you are at writing a script, or how great your relationship is with your artist, if you don’t have a good story, you won’t have a good comic. Those other things can be learned. As with any writing field, their are guidelines you have to learn to physically write comics, and to communicate with your art team, but it all starts with the story. And Chris and I have both written plenty of good stories.

CD: Daron discussed how we both worked on the journalism side of comics. I concentrated mainly on reviews, but I also wrote a column on comics history called Near Mint Memories. Oh, and I don’t want to forget conducting interviews like this one.

As far as published comics this will be my first. I’ve been involved in some proposals, but nothing that’s gotten picked up.

TCV: So this will be the first published comic for both of you then. What does the future hold, in a perfect world? Do you have other books planned? More Horizon’s End? Other stories in that universe? Different projects all together?

Prolijo concept design

Prolijo concept design

DK: If all goes well, this will be the first book in what will be a series of stories set in the Horizon’s End universe. We have the overarching story planned out as a series of miniseries, like Hellboy, where each one will tell a complete story, while continuing to build on the overall story.

Some will feature Andara as she continues to grow, while others will focus on Caido’s past, and some may even be completely focused on our villains.

We’ve created a very dense universe, and we’d like to try and shine the spotlight on as many corners as we can.

Other than Horizon’s End, I have a series of novels that I’ve been working on for the past year or so, but I’ve set all of that aside to completely focus on Horizon’s End. If we can make this work, I’ll be devoting all my creative energy into making it the best comic I can.

CD: Daron explained the hopeful future for Horizon’s End. I think people will like what they see, and hopefully clamour for more.

On the prose end, my first novel Triptych is being serialized in Pulpline Magazine. Eventually I would love to see it in printed form. I’ve got some other comic projects in the hopper, but Horizon’s End is the focus right now. I have a two-month-old son and I teach full time. In the future I’ll get back to those projects. For now I’m only looking to the Horizon. Sorry if that was a little cheesy.

TCV: It’s cheesy in the right kind of way; it really shows your passion for the book, and it’s infectious. I was stoked for this book before, but after talking to you guys about it, even more so. Anything you’d like to add before I stop taking up your time, gentlemen?

DK: Without going full-on dairy department on you, I’d just like to say as much as Horizon’s End is a dream come true project for Chris and I, we couldn’t and can’t do it without all the wonderful support we’ve gotten so far. Getting funded for this project is nothing short of monumental, but it is possible, especially given the initial response and success of the campaign. We’ve still got a ways to go, but if everyone gets behind us and passes it on, we can make it. And if do, we promise that the reward will be a truly amazing book that’ll be proud to have been a part of.

Besides who doesn’t want to be able to claim that they helped bring Darryl Banks back to comics?!?

CD: Daron’s right about getting to see Darryl back drawing comics regularly again. He’s an amazing artist who’s told so many fantastic stories in his career. The comic world should be treated to many more years of Darryl’s art.

One final thing, it was a wonderful moment when I just looked at our updated list of backers. I saw my closest friends, family members, old high school classmates, as well as complete strangers. It’s humbling when hundreds of people believe in your project enough to give you money to make the dream happen.

TCV: And here’s hoping for several hundred more to jump on board. Gentlemen, thanks for taking time out of your busy promo work to talk with me. I’ll be following this Kickstarter closely!

DK: Thanks.

CD: Jason, it’s been awesome. Thanks for everything!

The Kickstarter for Horizon’s End runs until 18 July, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT. To read updates about the project and to become a backer, go to the Horizon’s End Kickstarter page.

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