The following is an interview with series editors Kate Ashwin and Kel McDonald regarding the recent launch of the Kickstarter campaign for The Woman and the Woods and Other North American Stories, the fifth volume of the acclaimed Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales series from Iron Circus Comics. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Ashwin and McDonald about the creative process of bringing these stories to life, the impact that the collection may have with young readers, why Kickstarter has paved the way for many comic book projects, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent launch of your Kickstarter campaign! As the series editors, how would you describe your thematic approach when arranging and cultivating the various comics in the collection?
Kate Ashwin: Thank you! The theming for the series has always been a very strong one – it was Kel’s fantastic idea originally to explore fables from across the globe, and it’s been pretty much a natural progression from that notion. We like to give our contributors free rein to explore their choice of stories, since it allows them to really dig into an old favourite, or perhaps a tale that means something to them personally. Having given the series a title like Cautionary Fables is a helpful guide to the theming of wise words from the past, but since that describes most fables, it’s not been difficult to fit things under that umbrella!
Kel McDonald: With each volume, we accept all tones and themes from a wide range. Then, when the entries are complete, we organize them in order of comedy/lighthearted to most serious. We figured the series is aimed at kids, but what a 5-year-old can handle and what a 10-year-old can handle are very different. We’ve found that this type of lighter stories first means if a kid reading hits a story they find too dark, they can put the book down for a little while and come back in a year or so. We want to foster an interest in folklore from around the world, and part of that is letting kids grow into some of the later tales.
BD: As this will be the fifth volume of the Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales series, what do you feel makes this collection truly unique and its stories stand out?
KM: The whole point of the series has been about sharing more than the usual Brothers Grimm stories that kids get given over and over again. By having each book focus on a region, we can make it easy for kids to widen their horizons.
KA: We’ve been looking forward to a North American collection for some time now, and the pages we’ve received from our contributors have not disappointed! There’s a really lovely range in here – a fantastic mix of present and past, creepy and fun, silly and serious, all of which wraps up neatly into a really solid collection that we can’t wait to share with readers!
BD: Having utilized Kickstarter for prior editions of the series, why do you feel that crowdfunding serves as such a valuable tool for creators, particularly in the comic book medium?
KA: Crowdfunding has, honestly, changed the face of comics entirely. Being reliant on a series of publishers severely limits the scope of the stories being told via comics, as it reduces the pool of creative talent to only those who have access to these publishers. Via Kickstarter, a lot of the limits of geography, connections, or past experience are taken away, and that means we get to enjoy a much greater variety of incredible, different content. When an artist is able to support themselves financially, they’re able to take the time to really spread their wings and explore their craft, and we all get to benefit from that!
KM: Kickstarter has completely changed the landscape of comics. There are so many genres and types of stories ignored by the mainstream comic industry. Kickstarter really gave creators a way to show there was a desire for more than publishers limited focus. Combining that with comics being relatively cheap to make (compared to animation or video games), it has made it the easiest way for comic projects to get the word out about a project.