Locust Moon Comics is thinking big again, and this time, it’s got an army of support. Set to publish Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream—a tribute to one of the titanic figures in comic art Winsor McKay—this October, the troika of Editor-in-Chief Andrew Carl, Publisher Josh O’Neill, and Creative Director Chris Stevens, turned to Kickstarter. The result? Over $78,000 dollars in donations to help fund the 130-artist anthology that has made huge waves in the comics community. We sat down with Stevens to get the inside scoop on the ambitious project.
Ticket: I know how influential Little Nemo in Slumberland has been, can you sum up the influence it’s had on the comics industry over the years?
Chris Stevens: Sure. Winson McKay created Little Nemo in Slumberland in 1905, it initially ran until 1911, and the influence its had on creators that have come since and the medium itself is almost immeasurable. He’s a guy who brought techniques and storytelling tropes to sequential art that had never existed before, and they’re still kind of tricky — I think one of the things that the creators in today’s book were both challenged by and intimidated by was how to live up to the work McKay did, and that work’s 100 years old. It casts a long shadow. I mean, you throw in the fact that he’s pretty much the father of modern animation. He did animation that took Disney 20 years to catch up to.
Ticket: How did the inspiration for the Kickstarter project come about?
CS: We’d made a few books. We had a book that came out from Dark Horse a couple years ago, called Once Upon a Time Machine, and we worked with about 100 creators on that. And the making of that, and the convention circuit, and just having the shop here in town, — Philly’s a great comics town — we knew there was a lot of creators we thought were great, some of today’s creators, that love McKay. And we love McKay. So we said, let’s take a shot and see if we can put this together, get these guys fired up to work in McKay’s world, and once one person signs on, another guy signs on. These guys are competitive, too. It snowballed to a point where we had about 130 amazing artists.
Ticket: How did you go about rounding so much artist support from so many different fields of the comics industry?
CS: Well, we have friends who do this, and that we’ve worked with before, so there was the initial [support]. We had our initial support team and then those guys have friends, and those guys have friends. We had people we wanted, people we targeted, people we definitely thought were perfect for the project, and that’d be a dream to work with, and then we had people who wanted to start to get out there a little, hit us up on Facebook or would come into the shop and show us their stuff, and a lot of those people turned out to be in the book. Any time you’re gonna collect this many artists in one book, it’s not gonna happen any one way.
Ticket: Did you expect to achieve this much Kickstarter support in such a short span? [Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream has already received over $77,000 dollars of support, easily smashing the project’s original $50,000 goal]
CS: No, No. I’d be lying [If I said I did]. You don’t do these things hoping to fail : we wanted it to be a success, we knew $50,000 was a lot. To be honest, $50,000 was a modest number in the sense that it isn’t the true production costs — it’s a more expensive project than that — but it just seemed like a lot to ask for. It’s crazy. It just makes you feel good about the project you’ve put together, about the support for the group of artists you’ve assembled, and about — hopefully — a throwback to a lot of people who are either like us, already in love with McKay and Slumberland, or are gonna discover it through this project. It feels good.
Ticket: Can you give me a rundown of what Locust Moon’s publishing efforts have been in the past?
CS: Our initial book, Once Upon a Time Machine, came out in October, 2012, and it was a book we put together, and Dark Horse — who’s a large comics publisher: Sin City, and Hellboy, and all that stuff — they partnered with us and published it. We could have never afforded to put out a 430 page color book. They liked it, they took it, and now we’re actually working on a series of books like that with Dark Horse. That was our first big thing. Now we self-publish smaller books — a quarterly comics anthology called Quarter Moon, where we work with a lot of people, sort of experimental—type comics. We published a book called 36 Lessons in Self-Destruction, by a local cartoonist named Rob Woods…and that got a lot of attention.
Ticket: What’d the dynamic like between the shop itself [34 S. 40th Street] and the publishing press?
CS: I think the shop is a sort of de facto headquarters. It helps create a sense of community — we do these Drink-And-Draws here every other Thursday, and it’s a chance for us to see some of the artists we work with who maybe are busy throughout the week, or we’re busy. It’s sort of a hub, I would say. It’s nice having them both. I think either one of them would survive independently, but I think there’s a nice synergy between the two.
Ticket: What was the goal you had in mind for Little Nemo when this was first envisioned?
CS:The goal was just to make the best tribute to a guy in Winsor McKay that we love and has given us a lot of wonder and awe. And the production values came down to the scale, that’s why we’re doing it in 16×21, because 16×21 was the size that he worked at back 100 years ago. So we wanted to be faithful to that. Then in the creators we rounded up … it was only about the book. We had to make tough choices. Pages got cut. Friends of ours wound up not in the book, who certainly thought they would be. It was about the book, and what would make the very best book. We tried to take that part very seriously.
To find out more about Locust Moon Comics, visit its website.