Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Remember Andy Xenon?! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of this story, and what was the inspiration behind its creation?
Tom Pinchuk: Our title character, Andy Xenon, was a boy adventurer… until he suddenly lost his powers at 18 and had to grow up real fast. Without any explanations in sight, Andy resigned to life as a normal guy, and it’s quiet misery. Nobody believes he used to be Andy Xenon. People have moved on to new adventurers. Each year, fewer even remember Andy, at all.
But one person hasn’t forgotten. A journalist has tracked Andy down for a soul-searching interview. At last, he can set the record straight, review his reckless youth with hard-earned wisdom… and maybe even figure out what went wrong. Is it too late for answers? Or can Andy earn a second chance?
That’s our premise. Lot of inspirations underpinning it. Interestingly enough, fan backlash I encountered while writing on reboots of blockbuster kid hero franchises like Ben 10 and Max Steel really got the ball rolling. I’d meet young adults who’d grown up with the characters and were frustrated by these reboots that reset everything – making everybody kids again for a new generation of viewers.
It makes absolute sense for a kids series to keep itself relatable to its target audience (i.e., kids), but I still couldn’t help but empathize with fans who felt like they’d been “aged out.” I wondered how “aging out” would feel for a kid hero and just couldn’t shake the thought. It offers such an intriguing metaphor for coming of age, life’s up and downs, and more.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with artist and co-creator Nikos Koutsis in bringing this story to life?
TP: Nikos is phenomenal to work with. There’s such an energy to his work, but, above all, I’ve appreciated his attention to detail – which is especially crucial in a one-shot where you want to make every panel count. We worked together very closely. I’d give him a draft of a script, he’d do thumbnails based on it, I’d rewrite the script based on his thumbs, back and forth, back and forth, until we were still fine-tuning every aspect, even at the lettering stage. I think the passion we’ve poured into every aspect of this will radiate through to anybody reading it.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Andy's story will connect with and impact readers?
TP: What’s been cool about getting readers’ reactions, now, is that people from very different steps of life have found a lot to relate to in Andy’s predicament. I’ve talked to former child actors, ex-college athletes, and, really, anybody who’s ever questioned if your best days are behind you and you aren’t special as you felt as a kid.
I don’t want to say too much – because there are some big twists and turns – but I’ll stress that the story we’ve teased in previews barely scratches the surface of Andy’s journey. For him, “the end” is only just the beginning. I don’t like to get too prescriptive with my work, but I do hope people will find something encouraging in seeing Andy realize he’s maybe counted himself out too early, and new opportunities might be closer than he’s realized.
BD: The comic is currently available for pre-order through Zoop, a new, direct-to-consumer crowdfunding platform for comic book creators. What encouraged you to work with Zoop, and what do you feel makes it such a valuable crowdfunding tool for creators, especially those in the comic book medium?
TP: I’d sold an original TV series to Cartoon Network and was in development on it for a couple years until it became a casualty of the Warner Bros. merger. I went in with eyes wide open about how the process works and had a very supportive creative exec throughout, but still… it was a bummer. You create characters you’re dying to introduce to the world, but have so many approvals to go through. Then, circumstances beyond your control put those characters down in a drawer.
I just wanted to get back to basics. That is, telling stories to an audience. Crowdfunding looked like the most direct way to do that – literally going straight to fans. I’d been talking with Camilla Zhang while she was at Kickstarter, but then she told me about this new outfit she was involved with, Zoop, and it was very much a case of right time, right place.
In addition to being a platform for the book, Zoop handles campaign management and fulfillment, which everybody who’s ever run a campaign has told me is overwhelmingly time-consuming. Since the staff have run great campaigns previously, the idea is that they work on what they’re good at, while I work on what I’m (hopefully) good at – telling a story to an audience.
So, while I certainly benefit in a deal like this, it’s the readers who really benefit most, because we get more time to make sure the comic’s the best it can be instead of splitting time, printing address labels.
BD: What are some of the backer rewards that are available to those who support the crowdfunding campaign?
TP: We’re offering Nikos’ original art from the book, as well as commissions of any character backers. I’m offering a writing class, too, which I’ve done at UCLA Extension, the Script Writers Network, WonderCon, and elsewhere, for a campaign discount. There are also variant covers available by big artists like Freddie E. Williams II and Brent Schoonover. Also, anybody who buys any copy of the book will get a copy of the script and a digital “Artist Edition” of the book, so you can see how Nikos and I crafted it all from soup to nuts.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
TP: Nothing ready to share yet, but projects are in the works, absolutely. Nikos and I are already working on more comics. We have a longer series in mind, but we may do a one-shot first. I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the format, doing this. There’s a real poetic focus if you do it right.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Remember Andy Xenon? and your other work?
TP: The landing page for the comic at Zoop is the place to go. I’m on Twitter [@TomPinchuk], but I’ve recently started a newsletter, the Chuk Chronicles, which is a lot more appealing to me. I can get into deeper detail statements about what’s new with my projects, career, life, etc., instead of squishing things down into sound bytes. There’s also a fan mail at the tail that I invite readers to submit questions to.