The following is an interview with Chris Mancini on launching a Kickstarter campaign for Long Ago and Far Away 2: Son of Elvenwood, a fantasy/comedy graphic novel series. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Mancini about the experience of revisiting the world and characters of Elvenwood, why Kickstarter provides incredible opportunities to creators, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on your recent return to Kickstarter! Where will readers find the events of the story as they pick up this new adventure?
Chris Mancini: Son of Elvenwood picks up five years after the events of Long Ago and Far Away. As a result of Jason’s… adventure… with the Witch Queen, he now has a son, and since time passes differently in Elvenwood, the son, Lord Stone, is about 20 years older than Jason. Lord Stone is pretty angry at being abandoned by his father, even though Jason had no idea he had a son.
Lord Stone also seems to have the entire sect of Northern Necromancers after him due to him stealing their sacred Blood Dagger for… mead money. They are powerful, quite angry, and are laying waste to Elvenwood to get to him, raising the dead as they go. The Witch Queen could not protect him, so she sent him to Jason in his world to save his life. Now Jason has to return once again to Elvenwood to deal with the deadly Northern Necromancers, a horde of undead, coveted artifacts, and keeping an alliance between the Elves and the Witch Queen intact. He has to do this while dealing with the most difficult adventure of all: Fatherhood.
BD: Given that the creative team has returned for volume two, do you find that you have developed a creative “shorthand” in working with one another throughout the production of the series, and how does that enhance or impact your development?
CM: Absolutely. Fernando and I now have a shorthand, and when I describe pages or panels he seems to know exactly what I’m picturing in my head and then draws it. Occasionally, I’ll ask for something even weirder like an undead Lich or the Jersey Devil, in which case I’ll provide reference links. You’ll see.
Also returning is letterer Troy Peteri, and he’s amazing, as well. He makes the balloon placement seem effortless and does some creative things with the sound effects, so I’m always excited to get back pages from him, as well. New to the team is editor Heather Antos from IDW and Star Wars and Star Trek fame. We’re all excited to be working with her for the first time.
BD: What can you share with us about reader response to the series thus far, and what are you most excited for them to experience in the next story arc?
CM: The response to volume one was overwhelmingly positive, and some backers emailed and said it was one of the best indie/Kickstarter comics they had ever backed. That is incredibly flattering, but I also knew we needed to up the game with a sequel. I needed to move these characters forward with their lives, including the fantasy characters. As I was writing this sequel, it was an absolute joy to revisit Elvenwood and these characters. The various themes of growing up and adulthood resurfaced, of course, and through high fantasy I wanted to explore if Jason could now make the journey from man-child to father. And I wanted to make it a bit more complicated by making his son 20 years older, armed with a sword, and trying to kill him in a hotel room. And Fernando Pinto’s art continues to just get better and better, and I can’t wait for everyone to see what he does with this next chapter.
One of the things I love about indie comics and making your own titles is that I’m not locked into never aging the characters or having them stay the same. Long Ago and Far Away is about the opposite. It’s about how we navigate our entire lives, not just one specific moment in time.
BD: Are there any particular backer rewards that you would like to highlight for this campaign?
CM: I’m always looking for ways to keep things simple and not do too many rewards. We have add-ons of my other books, catchup tiers if anyone missed Vol 1, as well as some other cool things from my Comedy Film Nerds days. But the coolest one I think is the limited Elvenwood Royalty reward. It’s the highest one ($300), but you get your name in the book in two places. One in-story on a plaque at the Obsidian Dragon Pub, and the other in a separate page at the back of the book. It’s limited, but these higher-end rewards really help us get to the goal, so I’m hoping we sell out of them!
BD: For other creators who may be following your trajectory with the series and with your utilization of Kickstarter, is there any advice that you would like to offer about how best to approach the crowdfunding process?
CM: Start small and manage your expectations. There’s a lot of noise about how if you don’t mostly fund in the first 48 hours, you’ll never fund. That’s never been the case with my projects. They’ve always had a slow, but steady, climb to the goal and usually fully fund close to the end. And of course, be prepared for a stressful 30 days! I usually sprain my finger hitting the refresh button on my browser.
Also don’t be disappointed if something doesn’t fund. You can always retool and try again. There is discovery on Kickstarter, but the bulk of backers tend to come from the creators following. And if you don’t have one yet, so what? Do it anyway and, like I said, start small. You’re going to build a reputation and people will follow you from project to project.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Long Ago and Far Away 2?
CM: I would say go to the Kickstarter page and check it out. Fernando’s amazing artwork is there, and more info on the project. And you can also get Vol 1 as an add-on or a “catchup tier,” so you’re not missing anything. Or if you don’t want to wait, you can buy Volume 1 on my website (whitecatentertainment.com) or on Amazon, Drive Through Comics, or GlobalComix.