The following is an interview with Jeffrey Kaufman, writer of the new graphic novel, Angel Falling, from Zenescope. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Guest Contributor Dean Richards talks with Kaufman about his inspiration for the story, his upcoming projects, and how Bryan Adams fits into his creative process.
This interview was conducted on August 28, 2013.
Dean Richards, Fanboy Comics Guest Contributor: I recently read Angel Falling and enjoyed it very much. What inspired you to tell this story?
Jeffrey Kaufman: I was actually at a Bryan Adams concert with my wife, and I was thinking about a sculptor friend of mine Clayburn Moore of CS Moore Studio. I am a huge fan of his work and was wondering if he would ever be able to do a statute of one of my characters. Bryan Adams started to sing a song called “Seven Spanish Angels,” and I immediately thought a character with a huge angel wing tattoo on her back would really look cool on a statue. While sitting there, I then came up with the premise and the title Angel Falling. Still sitting at the concert, I Googled the title to see if it was taken. When it wasn’t, from my cell phone I bought the domain name and locked down the Facebook page.
A couple of days later, I added the character Jacob Connors, a seventeen-year-old kid with Autism who also had physical photo memory. Since my own son is Autistic, I wanted to create a character that had Autism, but that was able to survive in the world and would be admired and respected. Welcome to my creative process.
DR: You mention in the prologue that constantly reminding the reader of a character’s race, religion, sexual orientation, or special needs isn’t necessary, and that inclusion allows for a more palatable awareness than a neon sign. Could you elaborate on this as it applies to your writing?
JK: I write what I see, so to emphasize something that occurs naturally, I feel makes what I’m saying disingenuous. I write fiction, but I want you to believe that everything is real. I understand the desire to be inclusive, but you can be inclusive without being preachy.
DR: You talk about noticing that we, as a society, strive for conflict rather than peace. Is that why you made peace Connor’s motivation?
JK: What I’m saying is that we strive to be entertained, and to escape from the mundane. Conflict is that vehicle that takes us there whether it’s in our own life, on television, in the movies, or on the internet. What I find to be true is that those people who have or have had too much conflict in their lives are starving for peace. Connor, who has seen and has been responsible for so much death, is so burdened that fleeing from his past is his only option.
DR: Not only is Angel Falling a great story, it has some great art to enjoy with it. How would you describe your experience of working with the rest of the creative team?
JK: All I can say is that working with Kevin West, Mark McKenna, and Tom Chu was a gift. Having three very talented DC guys working on a hundred-page original graphic novel just doesn’t happen. As the art director of this book, I felt more like a criminal prosecutor whose witnesses were so good, he only had to say the words, “And then what?” I also want to mention my letterer, John Hunt, who is fantastic, always professional, and has never let me down.
DR: It is no easy task publishing a graphic novel. What was the most challenging part of creating Angel Falling?
JK: Well, I have the benefit of being published by Zenescope, so they handle the printing and distribution, and I handled the writing and the production. I believe the most difficult part of putting out the book is the production. As the producer you are in control of everything from recruiting and managing talent, to the art direction and an unbelievable amount of other stuff. My best advice is to take advice from those who have already done it. If I had to choose the toughest part, it’s definitely managing the talent. These people are your friends, but you need to be their boss. Treat them like professionals, and you have a better chance of getting their best.
DR: 50% of the sales of the variant covers is going to Autism Awareness. Where are fans able to purchase the graphic novel to help this wonderful cause?
JK: Being that my family has been touched so much by Autism, I don’t have a choice but to do my part. They can buy the variant books at conventions and other signings, and they will also be available for sale online by the middle of September.
DR: What advice would you offer to our readers who hope to one day work in the comic book industry?
JK: It is easy to have and unbelievably hard to achieve. My personal belief is that if you strive to constantly be better with each subsequent book you do, the closer you will come to that dream.
DR: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
JK: Well, there is always the next project. My next book is actually a children’s book. Yes, from the guy who brought you the graphic novel Whore comes the children’s book Chip and Gorro. It’s about a stuffed bear and gorilla who live on a boy’s bed, and they go to school when he goes to school. I’m also working on a 22-page conspiracy-themed comic book called The Finders about three twenty-six year olds hiding from the “powers that be” while still trying to fight the system that took away their childhood. My next graphic novel is a supernatural black comedy called New Jack which comes out next summer. It’s about a 22-year-old college kid who becomes responsible for all the weird things that happen in Wildwood, Louisiana.
DR: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about your work?
JK: Well, they can look in all the 25-cent comic bins or go to our Facebook page and click on the store. I prefer Facebook because it’s easier to update than our website which is www.bigcitycomics.com. They can also email me, if they want the really obscure stuff. I can also be reached through my publicist at Molly@MalenaPR.com.