In out latest Summer of Indie interview we chat to Pete Rogers the man behind The Interactives coming this august from Markosia.
How did you get into writing for comics?
I was a big comics fan as a kid and decided when I was about 10 that I wanted to work in the industry. I didn’t realize you could write the stories (I thought Stan Lee did all of that) so I thought I’d have to make it as an artist. Only problem was I couldn’t draw that well, not even after devouring How to draw comics the Marvel way.
Years later I’d decided I wanted to write screenplays, I took a number of courses in both writing and film mainly with the London based film school Raindance. I then wrote my one and only movie script, a Western entitled “Restitution Day”.
A few years later I started to get back into comics starting with superhero books and then broadening to other genres. I realized that I should put my love of writing and love of comics together. I started writing comic scripts then and I haven’t stopped since.
Now the artwork on the comic is fantastic how did you put the art team together?
I discovered Luciano via an ad on the penciljack forum that I posted looking for an artist for the book. I actually got about 12 of those who put themselves forward to draw the double page spread that ended up being Page 2 and 3. That narrowed it down to two artists, Luciano from Argentina and Jun Joe Monares (an artist I’d been talking to for a long time) from the Philippines. I then got them both to draw what became Page 22 and made a final decision from that. I love both their work, but Luciano’s take felt just right.
I already knew Yel from her work for Orang Utan Comics and had always been impressed with her colouring. Once I’d seen her colour Luciano’s test pages I knew I had my dream team in place. And I mustn’t forget my long time collaborator Azim Akberali who painted back up story Seniors, another artist whose work is up there with the best. I’m really confident that the book looks as good as anything else on the shelves at the moment from any size publisher.
Did the art team have any influence over the look of the character? Did they evolve from you initial look for them?
I included initial descriptions in the script and especially in the first third of the story that’s what you see on the page. As the book got going and we went through a number of sizeable rewrites and changes of direction the character designs changed a little though. You’ll notice their clothes are different in the second and third act and that comes down to the influence of both artists involved. It was definitely very collaborative.
Without spoiling, the characters that join the story later on were brilliant interpretations of what I’d worked into the script. The art has definitely exceeded all my expectations.
Once the characters were on the page it did shape their characters and make me move away from some elements in my original character bible. It even influenced the plot a little too as the finished book deviates quite a bit from the original story.
Now the comic is being published by Markosia what advice can you give to indie pitching their material?
Know your world inside and out would be the first thing. This started as a high concept and I got some advice before pitching and I’m glad I did. When I couldn’t answer questions outside of the story itself I knew I had rushed into it. Taking the time to work out the whole world and flesh out the characters meant the story was a living and breathing thing not just a series of plot points. So have that high concept pitch to lure them in but know your world inside and out.
Also get some work out there first; I was a known entity to Markosia from my self-published work at Orang Utan Comics initially. This meant they were looking out for new ideas from me and I wasn’t just a random name on an email.
Have you ever been tempted to write prose?
I have written prose in the past, short stories, poems and a couple of aborted novels. But I’m a very visual person with a short attention span; so working in comics fits me like a creative glove. Writer’s block is not a problem.
The premise of inter feels very modern where did the genesis of the idea come from?
It’s a daydream book more than anything else I’ve ever worked on; it’s the things I see all around me in my mind’s eye. It wasn’t a book I expected to end up writing at all, it just kind of snuck up on me.
I used to live in Monmouth and the idea stemmed from me looking out at the field behind my garden and imagining dragons in the sky. That started to become a regular occurrence and led to me imagining people fighting the dragons. Straight from the off they were online gamers and their leader was the only one who knew it was real. The idea just kind of grew from there and took on a life of its own.
I started to think back to things like my first tube trip to MCM Expo in London and the first time I met up with members of the Geek Syndicate forum who I only knew by their user names. Soon there were more than enough ideas floating around to weave a story out of. And then my viewpoint on imagination and its importance in society along with the power of the internet and social media became part of the mix too.
Because I wasn’t looking to put together a new project the whole thing was very liberating. I was writing something based in places I knew and with a lighter tone than I was used to which made it a lot of fun to write. I’d say Paul Cornell’s run on Captain Britain and MI-13 and Dan Slott’s Mighty Avengers played a big part in giving me permission to just let loose.
Give us a one sentence elevator pitch about the graphic novel?
The creatures from Fantasy fiction are breaking through into reality, 1 blogger, 4 geeks and their collective imagination are all that stands in the way.
Now scallywag has a twitter account what prompted you to do this and how important a tool do think social media is in your arsenal?
In an ideal world with unlimited time, resources and money there would be twitter and Facebook pages for all the main characters, probably Google+ too. There would also be scallywag’s daily blog and the archived version of the forum where they all met as well, with all of the characters interacting with each other and readers and non-readers alike.
When I realized it wouldn’t all be possible I knew there had to be some element even if it’s relatively small. Otherwise the fact the story makes such a big thing of social media would seem like cheating and not being true to the central concept. So please follow @theinteractives on twitter to help make the story have an added dimension.
Where did you seek out the inspiration for scallywag’s team?
A mixed bag of people I know well, online and convention acquaintances and people I’ve come into contact with over the years. Once I’d created backstories for them all and fleshed out their bibles they all started to take on a life of their own. Each of them becoming real to me and shaping their own part of the story, so they eroded those initial influences pretty quickly.
Who was the easiest character to write for and who did you find the most challenging?
Scallywag was by far the easiest person to write, he’s the closest to me as a character. His story arc follows some of the changes that have happened to me over the years, although I haven’t fought any orcs yet.
The hardest was probably Legend, as he needed to be different enough from Myth to be distinctive but similar enough to have a shared history. I also needed to be sure I didn’t fall into the trap of regurgitating Gandalf v Sauron or Magneto v Professor X.
If you could give the young pete rogers one piece of advice what would it be?
Keep on daydreaming, even when it gets you into trouble. It will serve you well in the end.
Sum up the world of interactives in one word?
What next for the interactives and Pete Rogers?
I would absolutely love to return to the Interactives world and I have a plot roughly outlined and some of the pages for a sequel written already. A lot will depend on how the book Is received in print and when it goes digital. I’d imagine that the art team will have moved on to bigger things by the time I’m ready though!
For me, well I’ve just completed the script to Fragments of Fate, a one shot featuring Napoleon Stone from the Unseen Shadows universe created by one Barry Nugent! I also need to write some short stories for 10thology 2 and FTL from Fatboy comics and Orang Utan Comics respectively. Then there are the 10 plus ideas that I’ve started in the past that I need to kick back into gear for my next book as I’ve definitely got the graphic novel bug.
Have a read of a preview of the graphic novel here.
GS Reporter: Nuge