The following is an interview with Wells Thompson regarding the recent launch of a Zoop crowdfunding campaign for the graphic novel, Depths. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Thompson about the genesis behind the graphic novel, the shared creative process of working with co-writer Dalton Shannon, artist J. Schiek, colorist Rajesh Kumar, and letterer Nathan Kempf, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: You recently launched a crowdfunding campaign for Depths. What can you share with us about the journey that readers will experience with this new project?
Wells Thompson: Readers will follow a 1930s engineer, Emil Parker, as he invents a perpetual diving suit, gets trapped underwater for three years, and desperately finds a way to escape; meanwhile, his best friend, James Harrigan, is still on the surface and relentlessly continues the long-abandoned search for Emil. All the while, we learn more about Emil’s past, his fraught relationship with his father, and his secret motivations for being under the ocean in the first place. It’s a harrowing journey of survival, grief, and loss set in the most alien place on Earth.
BD: How would you describe your shared creative process in working with co-writer Dalton Shannon, artist J. Schiek, colorist Rajesh Kumar, and letterer Nathan Kempf to bring this impactful story to life on the page?
WT: Dalton and I have been waiting to make this book happen for almost seven years–it was actually the first comic we worked on together. We’ve passed the script back and forth enough times that it’s hard to remember who wrote which specific part or line of dialogue. It was originally Dalton’s idea, but he couldn’t figure out how to make it work until I took a crack at it. For the art team, it’s more about giving them the freedom to interpret the script in a way that makes sense to them. We put a lot of trust in J. to create an appropriate style for the story; Rajesh complements that style with claustrophobic blues that perfectly capture the feeling of the murky ocean; and Nathan is the kind of versatile creative to give our captions and dialogue the flow they need. Really, it’s just about expressing what we’re trying to accomplish and trusting everyone to do their best with the parts, and the results speak for themselves.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Emil’s story may connect with or impact readers?
WT: Everyone has, at some point, experienced grief and felt lost in their lives. Emil’s story addresses that these feelings are overwhelming, seemingly impossible to deal with without being crushed. It also shows how we all have the strength to break through, overcome, and survive, even if it’s only to the next day. As a quirk of luck, we all just spent a good long time in quarantine, and I think the isolation Emil experiences will resonate with people who went through that; who thought they had no way of getting through that period of their lives and are still around, having found a way.
BD: Are there any specific backer rewards that you’re most excited about with the campaign and wish to share with readers?
WT: This is our first book where we’re including a hardcover version with unique art from Heather Vaughan that is absolutely stellar! It’s also our first book where we offer the chance to get drawn in as a background character, a character with a single line, or even as a minor character with a whole scene! We’re always looking for interesting ways to allow backers to feel like they’re part of the story, and this is definitely the most direct way we’ve been able to accomplish that.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
WT: We’re always working on MechaTon and Frankenstein the Unconquered, our ongoing series, but we also have an upcoming graphic novel that we’re working on that’s kind of a spiritual sequel to Depths, about a brother and sister driving cross country to scatter their parents’ ashes. I’ve also got two solo projects brewing, one that’s already funded and one that will debut next year. It’s a little steamy, so I won’t give too many details, but I think people will be excited to see it!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Depths and your other work?
WT: You can follow Depths now on Zoop and follow us on Substack (Wells Thompson–Comics, Cats, & Cocktails) to get updates on whatever we’re working on at any given point. Overall, we focus on making character-driven stories with unique genre twists and don’t much focus on what that genre is. If you like a lot of variety, from sci-fi to horror to romance, we’ve got something for you!