Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Beastlands: Keepers of the Kingdom! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Curtis Clow: Thank you! It’s been a long time coming, so, sometimes, it still doesn’t feel real. I’m really excited for Beastlands to have the chance to reach a much wider audience.
Beastlands is a fantasy action adventure series in a world where some people have these big, lifelong companion beasts. It’s about a boy that has to save his beast and friends before a tyrannical king tries to execute them all. I always try to put something personal and meaningful into my stories. For Beastlands it was about trying to put that human and pet bond into the story. It’s really inspired by my personal experience of my dog being hit by a car. It was pretty traumatic carrying her in my arms after the accident to the vet. I thought she might’ve been dying in my arms at the time. Luckily, she survived and is still with me today, but it took a lot of extra care during her recovery time. Something that I feel made our bond even stronger. That’s what I tried to capture with the world and story of Beastlands.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with artist Jo Mi-Gyeong, and letterer Toben Racicot to bring this story to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
CC: I’m lucky to be working with such amazing collaborators like Jo and Toben! I had the idea for Beastlands long ago and was just waiting to find the right artist for the series. As soon as I saw Jo’s art, I knew she had the perfect style. Luckily, she agreed to work on Beastlands with me. The series wouldn’t be what it is without her. This was her first comic work ever, and I feel she keeps taking it to a new level with every comic she makes. It’s so much fun collaborating with her! After working together for years now, we have a pretty smooth process. I send her the script, she sends thumbnails, then inks, then colors.
The same goes for Toben. He letters a lot of my books and even helps out with a lot of the back-end design. I feel like letterers are sometimes forgotten and not given the proper credit that they deserve. But Beastlands wouldn’t be what it is without Toben lettering it. I appreciate his patience and all the edits he lets me make during the lettering process. For a creator-owned book, we don’t have the normal deadlines other books might have. We can really take our time and make sure it reads exactly how we want it to. He gives me the opportunity to do that, and I can’t thank him enough.
I have a ton of creative influences in my work. I’m a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy worlds. Beastlands is really inspired by stuff that I grew up with like Pokemon and Digimon. I tried to make an original world similar to those. All of my work is greatly influenced by the work of Studio Ghibli, as well, and specifically Hayao Miyazaki. Lastly, I'm a big fan of the writer Rick Remender. He has a lot of high-concept comics that also have a meaningful story. It’s inspiring to see how his work improved over his career and where he’s at now. He’s someone I look up to and can only hope to try and emulate his career.
BD: What makes Dark Horse the best home for this series?
CC: Dark Horse is an amazing publisher! Beastlands is still creator-owned and we still have so much freedom with Beastlands. For example, we’ll still be using Kickstarter for the series. Dark Horse is a proven publisher who has been around for a long time. Just having their name attached to Beastlands is prestigious. With Dark Horse, we’ll reach a wider audience all around the world - in comic shops and bookstores. Something we never could’ve done on our own. They’re honestly a dream publisher to work with, and I’m excited about what's to come.
BD: Previously with this series, you found success through Kickstarter in crowdfunding the single issues. As an indie creator, do you find Kickstarter to be a valuable tool in the comics-making process and would you recommend it for other indie creators?
CC: Yes! I can’t recommend Kickstarter enough to other indie creators. Or for that matter whichever top crowdfunding platform is at the top at the time. For right now, that’s Kickstarter. If you’re looking to break into comics, you need to make them. Kickstarter gives you that opportunity to build a fanbase and over time continue to grow it bigger and bigger. When I first started on Kickstarter, we barely had 300 backers per project. Now, we easily reach over 1000 backers. Comics are expensive to make and self-publish. So, unless you have a lot of savings or want to use a credit card, Kickstarter is a chance to cover those costs. And who knows if you keep growing on the platform, it could be a chance to even make profits from the platform. Kickstarter is a lot of work but I couldn’t see myself ever not using the platform. The way you connect with your audience there is truly special.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
CC: Yeah, as a writer there's always multiple projects going on. We launched issue 3 and 4 of my other fantasy series, Slightly Exaggerated, on Kickstarter in April. We’re still working on the first volume of my new fantasy series, Majestic. That one was funded on Kickstarter last December. Issues 6 and 7 of Beastlands are on a ship on the way from the printer right now. Once those get here and get shipped out, we’ll be launching a new Kickstarter for Beastlands late summer. We also launched a Kickstarter for a full Beastlands soundtrack this year. I’m working with an amazing composer, and we’ll be recording with the Budapest Scoring Orchestra. We made a Beastlands main theme a few years ago with them and it turned out so good. I can’t wait to hear some new music for the series! And lastly, of course, this Dark Horse Beastlands book. This is my first big direct market release this June, and I couldn’t be more excited!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Beastlands and your other work?
CC: You can follow me on social media (@CurtisClow) on all platforms. I’m always sharing some behind-the-scenes stuff there. But if you want to see even more sign up to my mailing list at www.toinfinitystudios.com and to get in touch with me from my portfolio site (www.curtisclow.com).