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Fanbase Press Interviews Luke Arnold and Doc Wyatt on Launching a Kickstarter Campaign for the Graphic Novel, ‘Essentials,’ with The Lab Press

The following is an interview with Luke Arnold (actor, Black Sails) and Doc Wyatt (writer, Marvel’s Rocket and Groot / toy maker, Wandering Planet Toys) regarding the recent launch of a Kickstarter campaign for the graphic novel, Essentials, in collaboration with The Lab Press. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Arnold and Wyatt about their shared creative process for bringing this epic, new world to life on the page, the incredible backer rewards available to supporters of the campaign, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the Kickstarter campaign launch for Essentials!  For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you share with us about the premise of this story?

Luke Arnold: Essentials follows Harris Pax, the one scientist who anticipated an apocalyptic event that saw our dimension collide with another. Now, reality has become untethered. The surviving humans are all trapped in their own subjective ‘reality bubbles’ where their dreams, fears, and beliefs manifest around them. Harris must team up with a being from that other dimension. Together, they travel into the reality bubbles and attempt to bring the dreamers inside back to the real world.

Each reality is a different style and genre, rendered by a different artist. It’s all pretty wild.

BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in bringing this epic, new world and incredible characters to life on the page?

Doc Wyatt: Luke and I have such different experience bases. We’re from opposite sides of the world, we’re a generation apart in age. We’ve had very different career paths and very different upbringings. Yet, we have a lot of shared interests and a lot of shared experiences. (We’ve made two different feature films together– one in Australia, one in Europe.) While we’ve worked together before where he was an actor and I was a producer, this is the first time we’ve worked together as writers, and I loved the experience. We have enough in common that it was easy for us to get on the same page about the story we were telling, but enough differences that we each brought a unique perspective to the table, different ideas. I feel like this book is a collision of ideas, which fits the book’s theme of realities crashing together.

LA: When it comes to writing, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Once we established the framework of the story, we were free to take it anywhere we wanted. Each reality gave us a chance to explore something new. As they travel from place to place, our heroes need to witness a variety of human experiences – pain, grief, delusion, greed, desperation, madness – so we could both pour so much of ourselves onto the pages. Story sessions were frequently long-winded, sprawling, philosophical discussions about whatever was in our minds until we landed on some nugget that excited us both. If we had slightly differing opinions that added to the complexity of the chapter, all the better.

BD: Luke, having worked in various entertainment and storytelling mediums, how would you describe your experience in transitioning to the sequential art medium for this graphic novel?

LA: I suppose a comic script most resembles a screenplay, though the form is far more flexible and a lot more intimate. Everything you write must then be created by the artists, so the document really is just a long letter to them. A lot of times, it feels like a suggestion or a prompt.

I love being able to write, “Maybe something like this, or that, or just do your own thing,” and wait and see what the artists sent back.

Of course, we had to be didactic in moments, so that the whole thing flowed together, but it’s a lot more freeing than when you write a novel and the audience will be getting nothing but your words.

BD: Doc, you are no stranger to crowdfunding, having successfully run several campaigns through your work with Wandering Planet Toys. Why do you feel that crowdfunding – Kickstarter in particular – has been such a valuable resources to ensuring the success of today’s comic book creators?

DW: Crowdfunding is a way to prove that weird projects can work. Companies are risk averse. They can’t just take a financial risk on some bizarre toyline no one has heard of, or some strange comic written by a fictional pirate and his cartoon-scripting buddy. They can’t take the risks because they can’t be sure there’s an audience out there for this stuff. Crowdfunding is a way to prove the audience exists. If it’s there, the project gets funded. If not, not. You can take risks with crowdfunding that the corporate establishment just can’t take. You can be more nimble.

BD: You have a Murderers’ Row of artistic talent involved with this project! Are you able to share some of the all-star artists who will be contributing to this book?

DW: I object! None of our artists have actually murdered anyone. Except maybe Vince Locke. I can’t be sure about him.

LA: He definitely blows some brains out on the page. Jason Howard handles the objective reality that we keep returning to, so he kind of becomes your reliable home base as you read. Glenn Fabry delivered not only a glorious cover, but an incredibly detailed sequence inside a building we called the “Museum of Human Achievement.” Looking at what we wrote for him, it almost seems cruel. We really did ask for the impossible, and he delivered it.

Speaking of impossible, DaNi handles what we call The Edge of Insanity. Her work is gorgeous, and it really was a challenge in depicting something essentially inconceivable. Andrea Mutti brings his iconic watercolors to a deadly space station, M.K. Perker hosts a party with a gamut of Greek gods and monsters, and then there are the covers by Brendan McCarthy and Bill Sienkiewicz! It’s pure nonsense. Way too much talent for one book.

The Lab Logo for instagram

BD: What makes The Lab Press the perfect home for this story?

DW:Have you met them? They are deeply weird individuals, each one of them. Weirder, maybe, than they even realize they are.

LA: They’re as ambitious and audacious as we are, and they care so much about every page, every frame. They care about creating works that are impactful and meaningful above all else, and this book is really a collaboration on all fronts.

BD: Are there any particular backer rewards for the Kickstarter campaign that you would like to highlight for readers?

DW: The Lab Press team told me that there’s a tier where someone gets a free Essentials tattoo anywhere on their body (their choice) paid for by The Lab and that I’m obligated to be there, in attendance, while the backer is getting inked. I can’t tell if that is true, or if they were joking, because you can’t be sure about that stuff with them. But that’s what I was told.

LA: There are a bunch of different versions, but every book is a premium edition. Even the lowest tier will get you something that’s been constructed with care, love, and considerable investment. Honestly, this book’s so wild that I don’t know how The Lab will make any money no matter how many you buy, so go crazy. 

BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find out more about Essentials and its Kickstarter campaign?

LA: Our Kickstarter page is where everything’s happening. That’s the way to get this book sailing out to you as soon as possible.

DW: And you can follow The Lab Press on X, Instagram, Facebook, and Bluesky: @thelabpress. Also, Luke and I are always posting about Essentials. Luke’s on X/Twitter and also Instagram at: @LongLukeArnold. I’m on Twitter as: @otherland71.

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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