Monday, April 12, 2010

Interview with the Writing Team of Kill Shakespeare

I enjoyed Kill Shakespeare so much that I asked writers/creators Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreey if they would do an interview with us and they did. Since they answered in tandem I will go with Ant/Con for the replies.


Jim: Okay I love origin stories, so is the secret origin and Anthony and Conor and how did you guys become a writing team?

Ant/Con: Oh, the memories… We both attended the same business school - at the exact same time - but we didn’t actually meet until a couple years after we graduated. I think that our original intent was to stab the other guy in the back (a trick taught to business students that could be described as Shakespearean…) but we discovered that we had similar sensibilities when it came to films and storytelling. We tried optioning a book that we had both loved as kids but were unsuccessful but it started a partnership that led to other projects developed along the way - children’s animated shows and some features.

Jim: What was the genesis of Kill Shakespeare and how did you sell it to IDW?

Ant/Con: We came up with the idea about six years ago after brainstorming ideas for video games. It was originally conceived as a massive-online game but we eventually discovered that the story would be best told in the medium of comics.

We treated the project from the beginning as a business venture. We prepared a 100-page business plan and raised some private equity that would allow us to leave our jobs and work on this full-time. We brought on artist Andy Belanger and prepared a comprehensive series bible that featured character designs, sample pages, summaries of each of the twelve issues, marketing plans, etc. We pitched it to numerous publishing companies and had interest from many but signed with IDW because it was the right fit. They’ve been great for us thus far and we’re really happy with the first issue.

Jim: Baseball season is upon us, any opening day jitters when it comes to the launch of your book?

Ant/Con: Yes and no. There’s always a part of us as creators that is nervous to see that people will like our work. But we’re so busy at the moment – working on future issues, doing the marketing, etc. – that we’re too occupied to spend too much time thinking about it.

Jim: I'm always curious about the process. Who writes what, full script with dialogue, back and forth with the artist, etc.?

Ant/Con : We both sit down and hammer out exactly what needs to happen in each script, looking at the full twelve-issues as the foundation. Conor then takes the first pass at the script and then we both go back and forth with notes and changes until we’re both happy with it (and settle disputes with the rock-paper-scissors method…). The final script has a panel-by-panel breakdown of each page with dialogue in place.

What happens next is magic. We bring it to Andy Belanger (the artist) and he goes through it and does the thumbnails. Andy is a fantastic storyteller in his own right so he’ll make suggestions and changes to how a page or scene will flow, based on his comic book experience. We then make some final revisions to the story and dialogue based on Andy’s suggestions.

Jim: How did you find your artist?

Ant/Con: Eighteen months ago we started to look for an artist and met with a number of people but Andy jumped out right from the beginning. Five minutes into our meeting he slammed his hand on the table and said he was in – he had always wanted to draw Lady Macbeth. He then started to talk about what he could do with the artwork – a strong emphasis on background, etc. It was then that we knew we had created a monster…

Jim: Will this be monthly or do you have planned breaks?

Ant/Con: Kill Shakespeare is a monthly series. The first two issues come out in April and then May, with Issue 3 in early July and everything monthly up to Issue #6 in October. We will then release the first trade in November (a perfect Christmas gift for that Shakespeare fan that you know…) and resume the series in December or January.

Jim: 12 issues is a huge commitment is IDW all in so we know we will get to the end of the story?

Ant/Con: Yes, we’re all-in. We will be releasing all twelve issues. If IDW had any reservations about this that was eliminated when the sales orders for the first issue came in – they were above expectation and we’re pretty happy with the buzz that’s been building since. We’re pretty excited about the storylines that we’ve come up with over the entire twelve issues and think that fans will be able to jump in and enjoy!

Jim: If it is a smash success, do you have ideas for sequels?

Ant/Con: We have a rough outline of what would happen in a second and third series – we’ve mapped it out as a trilogy. There are some plotlines that are really getting us – and Andy – excited about but we’re still spending most of our time focusing on the current series.

Jim: Anything else on the horizon for the writing team or individually?

Ant/Con: We’re in discussions to put together a tabletop RPG game of Kill Shakespeare as well as a mobile game/app that captures the essence of our story and world. We have other projects (film, television) that we’ve been developing on the side but right now we’re spending all of our time on Kill Shakespeare. But hey, who needs a social life?...

Andy is also busy working on his Zuda Comics series Bottle of Awesome which, as a bright comedy, is a radical departure from the epic storytelling of Kill Shakespeare. You should check out that series as well.

Jim: Finally the hardest things about any project is getting people to try out the first issue. I think the book is a great story from the opening and basing it on Shakespeare is a nice touch to give it a different edge. I'm sold, now tell me why you think other people should buy it?

Ant/Con: You should buy it because if you don’t we’ll come to your house and not leave until you buy a copy… And we can be very obnoxious house guests…

This is a great story full of adventure, epic drama, bloody violence, love, lust and comedy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of Shakespeare or not, you’ll enjoy this series. The characters are the greatest of all-time and you’ll really get into the story. It’s an adventure of Shakespearean proportions!

Thanks guys, it is always interesting to me to hear from the people who are behind the books.

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