The following is an interview with Greg Bourne and Nick Butterworth regarding the launch of their Kickstarter campaign for the first volume of B-Sides. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Bourne and Butterworth about their shared creative process in bringing the comic series to life on the page, what readers can anticipate in terms of exciting backer rewards, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the launch of your Kickstarter campaign for B-Sides! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the series’ premise?
Nick Butterworth: Thanks! B-Sides is a new comic series drawing on influences from a range of places, from street culture, music, and film. Our cast of characters are played out against the backdrop of an imagined part of LA called Sidetown, a counter-cultural corner of the city that is home to creatives and schemers who are living their best lives away from the bright lights of mainstream LA.
Volume 1 weighs in at 60 pages, and we explore these characters over one feature story and a handful of bitesize tales. The aim is to give the reader a real slice-of-life feel for our B-Siders, and their adventures are a homage to a simpler time in our own lives where we loved nothing more than just hanging out and pursuing our interests with a passion.
At the center of it all is the B-Sides bar, the beating heart and soul of Sidetown, run by Gus, the barman, who lives in an old airstream in the parking lot. In front of the bar, on their bench, you’ll usually find Slippery Kev and his mate, Sketch – a Riff Rat. With their own speakeasy under the floorboards, The Riff Rats live among the other residents in their own, rat-sized world.
Then, there’s a regular open mic night at the bar hosted by the slightly irregular Open Mike, who gets his name from being, well, open, too open… Next door we’ve got the vinyl record exchange, Sounds Good, run by the couple Sheena and Debs, who also run Sounds Good Radio from the back of the store. On the other side of the bar is Bodhi’s Taco truck, where you can get the best tacos in town, that is unless ‘surf’s up,’ then Bodhi and his sous chef Nacho are nowhere to be seen.
We’ve got a whole world in mind for each of these characters, and it’s been so much fun introducing them in Volume 1.
BD: How would you describe your shared creative process in working with writer Mike London, artists Rich Ivens, Hayley Dwan, and David Arguno, and animator Theo Duberry to bring this incredible world and characters to life on the page?
NB: We all work in different places so utilize online video meetings. Greg will usually have the initial framework of storyline, then Mike will work that up into a fully realized story. That then rolls into a creative meeting where everyone can pitch in their thoughts. Rich starts working on the artwork as Mike continues to polish the scripts. Greg oversees it all to ensure consistency with the overall vision of B-Sides. Mike is also great at storyboarding, and we utilize that for some of the tricky areas of the script. Rich’s artwork is full of ideas and surprises that add further depth to the story, with Hayley supporting some of the coloring and speech.
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 B-Sides‘ story may connect with and impact readers, especially in light of its transmedia influences?
Greg Bourne: We think the world of B-Sides has important stories to be told. There’s a focus on celebrating alternative lifestyles, showing people living their authentic – at times unconventional – lives. They’re always optimistic, taking advantage of opportunities, however wild or unlikely they may seem. More often than not, they come up against the world and things don’t work out, or at least how they planned. But Sidetown is a supportive, positive place, everyone knows each other and looks out for each other.
We wanted to explore using animation to give a slice-of-life feel. The animations show simple things that the B-Siders are talking about, like how good their tacos are, or the crazy dreams they had the night before. It all helps to bring to life the B-Sides vibe. Ultimately, we’d love to do a full length animation based on the comic book.
BD: Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter have provided a wonderful opportunity for creators of all mediums to reach new audiences. What encouraged you to utilize Kickstarter for the series, and what can supporters anticipate in terms of backer rewards?
GB: My friend, Mark, has had a few really successful Kickstarter campaigns for camping products. We were excited to see it was a popular platform for comics, too. We’ve recently found out about a few other platforms, and we’re keen to look into those. Kickstarter was a great first option for us!
NB: Yeah, we looked at a few different platforms before setting on Kickstarter, the sheer volume of successful comic campaigns that precede ours was too big to ignore. It gave us flexibility to get super-creative with our backer rewards, too, both in terms of the products we sell alongside the comic but where we ship them to, as well.
Backers can buy the digital or print comic as standalone items, or they can bundle them with a bunch of things like an art print by our lead artist Rich, posters of our main Volume 1 cover and the five variant covers, a couple of different skateboard deck designs and a unique B-Sides pendant, crafted by cult classic jewelry designer Kelly OnlyChild. Kelly’s pieces have been worn by famous global artists, and we were so stoked to have her involved in the project. As a thank you, we immortalized Kelly and her dog Chip in the comic by creating the OnlyChild pop-up at the back of the Sounds Good record store!
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
GB: Volume 2 of B-Sides! We already have the stories down. There’s a brilliant character we’ve not introduced in comic one but you see him around – The Captain. In comic two, we travel back in time when the Captain had a hit single recorded in Hawaii, and we explore the crazy reason he never recorded another song…. And we have a very special cameo from a real-life musician who tracks him down in current-day Sidetown. We’re really excited about this story and can’t wait to produce the second comic in the series. There are other shorter stories around this, and the continuation of the Open Mike story from comic one.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about B-Sides and your other work?
GB: We really love the world of the B-Sides, it feels like home! It takes me back to a time when nothing else mattered other than just hanging out and doing what you love most. You’ll find most characters are really passionate about what they do, whether it’s skateboarding, art, music, surfing, etc., and it’s been so fun to inhabit that world again.
NB: I echo that. Working on B-Sides has felt like a love letter to a nostalgic past, going out to shows to see my favorite band, or hanging out with friends and ‘staying out of trouble.’ I’m glad we’ve been able to pay tribute in some small way to some interesting people we’ve met in real life who inspired the personalities we get to explore here. We wanted to shine a light on those people who are led by their creativity above all else, a kind of antidote to the rat race. I hope readers feel that authenticity when they pick up Volume 1; if we’ve achieved anything close to that, I’ll be delighted.