The following is an interview with writer/illustrator Richard Fairgray regarding the recent launch of the Kickstarter campaign for the graphic novel, Shed, to be published by Blue Fox Comics. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Fairgray about his shared creative process in working with co-writer Lucy Campagnolo to bring the story to life, the incredible backer rewards available to supporters of the campaign, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign in collaboration with Blue Fox Comics for your upcoming graphic novel, Shed. For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you share with us about the premise of this new story, as well as its inspiration?
Richard Fairgray: On the surface, Shed is this quiet, quirky story about a young woman moving to a seaside town, looking for some stability in her life, maybe just the happy ending that’s been eluding her as she’s flailed through her twenties. But of course, looking for a happy ending is still looking for an ending, and you probably shouldn’t ever seek that out. From there the story pairs small-town attitudes and a desperate need to cling to traditions and the past with the story of a sea monster who chose to come ashore. Lucy and I are both people who have fled our homes. I’m perpetually jumping between Canada and America, Lucy is currently in London, neither of us having any plan of returning to New Zealand, especially not on a permanent basis. We want to keep moving, keep finding new things whether good or bad. But both of us have had people in our lives who have wanted us to stay still and it can be an overwhelming pressure. We wanted to explore that feeling and add some horror disguised as off-beat comedy. Also, we both really like sea monsters.
BD: This project is a collaboration with co-writer Lucy Campagnolo. How would you describe your shared creative process in working with Lucy, and how much did your typical process deviate, given that you have generally written and illustrated most of your previous works?
RF: Lucy and I have worked together for years. First at comic conventions where we became this charming (maybe just to ourselves) double act in matching outfits with improvised backstories, then on our podcast, then writing Cardboardia. When we started Shed, we were still both in lockdown, so it felt more like a necessity than anything else. We had to build a world where we could play together since we were stuck inside on opposite sides of the world. I think the biggest difference with this one was how long it took. Lucy got a new job and I started 3 new ongoing books, and, suddenly, Shed became harder to schedule. The whole thing was written in 6-page chunks on a semi regular bi-weekly basis. Then, I had to draw chapters in between other projects. It’s a 128-page book, which I would normally have made in about 6 weeks, but instead I drew it over a full year, so I feel like I’ve been living with these characters for an eternity.
BD: What makes Blue Fox Comics the perfect home for this story?
RF: Blue Fox just publishes good stuff. To be honest, I didn’t know about them until 2020 and during COVID I got to know Simon and (later) Marielle and they just had this calm, competent quality that’s pretty rare in my messy circles. I backed a Kickstarter at random and got a book about Alzheimer’s and pomegranates that was equal parts heartfelt and beautiful and outside of what i was seeing from comics either indie or mainstream. I knew that if I had a story like this that they would be my first choice to take it to.
BD: How do you feel that Amber’s story may resonate with readers, and what do you hope that readers will take away from Shed?
RF: I hope people understand Amber, but I also hope they want to scream at her to get the fuck out of that town. When we write character drama, our first thought is to figure out what the character wants and what the character thinks they want and then let that disconnect trip them up. We all know what it feels like to know what someone doesn’t realize about themselves, I want Amber to feel like a friend who you are biting your tongue around because the advice you’d give should be so clear.
BD: In light of the Kickstarter campaign, are there any particular backer rewards that you would like to highlight for our readers?
RF: Well, we funded very quickly, and there’s some limitation because of our locations, but I can tell you there’s going to be a stretch goal for a lobster sticker that i would really like to see eventuate. This is a wildly inexpensive Kickstarter, especially considering current exchange rates. The entire book (128 pages) is only $11, which I think is about $13.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you would like to share with readers?
RF: I have so many things on the go. There’s my all-ages books, Black Sand Beach and Cardboardia, there’s my mature series, Haunted Hill, which just wrapped its first 12-issue run on my website, there’s literally thousands of pages of comics on there, because I really like free comics. But right now, I’m answering these questions in between pages on a new book that’s getting announced very soon. It’s a YA graphic novel about queer love, toxic masculinity, superhero comics and is (just quietly) the best art I have ever done in my life. So, maybe people should keep their heads on a swivel for that announcement.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about the Shed Kickstarter campaign and your other work?
RF: Well, the book is finished, there’s zero chance of this thing not fulfilling and this book is unique and funny and spooky, and I’d really like everyone to appreciate how many wrinkled faces I drew (not to mention the ghost train sequence) so they should really go back it immediately.