The following is an interview with Jordan Williams on his upcoming graphic novel, Gunpowder Witch, from Stache Publishing. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Williams about the inspiration behind the graphic novel, his creative process in adapting it to the sequential art medium, the Kickstarter campaign currently running for the project, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the completion of your graphic novel, Gunpowder Witch! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Jordan Williams: Thank you! Gunpowder Witch is about people with super powers being mistakenly labelled as witches during the American Witch Trials. They didn’t have comic books, movies, or Superman back then, so they didn’t exactly have a reference for what a “superhero” is or what super powers are.
Their powers are seen as supernatural powers given to them by Satan, and the local preacher accuses anyone using these powers of being a witch and leads a witch hunt to exterminate what he sees as a threat to the sanctity of his village and his faith.
I have always been really into history, and I was looking to do something different than a normal, modern-day superhero story. When the thought of the Salem Witch Trials popped into my head that night while I was working on some early comic book sketching, the premise started forming itself.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in adapting this concept from short story to graphic novel, and what have been some of your creative influences?
JW: I have really molded this story over the years. It had started as a classic superhero story of good vs. evil with some trash talking and action. Over the years, I’ve adapted it to hold some important messages on some current social issues. Some changes took place after Chapter 1 was already completed, so the final three chapters were molded around the first to make sure it told my new rewrite of the story and didn’t leave any loose ends.
I’ve been lucky to have a strong support team to keep me motivated and influence me. My parents have been very supportive, both with my artistic endeavors and my Kickstarters. And my girlfriend has been pushing me to keep working on my book to get it finished. My friends at Stache Publishing, as well as many members of the St. Louis area comic book creating community, have really pushed me to make a book I can be proud of.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
JW: Tolerance and acceptance are the main issues I want people to get from it. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are or what your political affiliation is, we can all treat others kindly even if you disagree with their lifestyle choices. I don’t think that’s a touchy issue, I think it’s a human issue. As humans, I believe we need to be kind to each other.
Aside from that, it is a comic book. So, I would hope it would be an enjoyable, entertaining read for all. Even with its message, I wrote the graphic novel to be a fun, action-filled story.
BD: You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund for the production costs of Gunpowder Witch. What encouraged you to utilize the platform, and what are some of the backer rewards available?
JW: I love Kickstarter for a few reasons, but the main reason is that the book can reach across the globe. Kickstarter is not only a fundraiser, it’s a great promotional tool. Many people, myself included, love searching Kickstarter for unique products. Just by using the platform, your product is being advertised to a large group of people.
I love traveling and visiting other countries. I also love shipping my book to people in other countries. Already on this Kickstarter, I am shipping to six countries not counting the United States. Someone in Germany and China wants to read my comic. Those are proud moments for me.
I am offering the standard edition of the 144-page graphic novel in paperback form, as well as a Kickstarter exclusive hardcover edition that I’m only going to offer as a reward on this Kickstarter. I am also offering some drawings as rewards and my official original convention banner.
BD: Gunpowder Witch is part of your company, Stache Publishing. What inspired the creation of the publishing company, and what defines a Stache book?
JW: After I graduated college, I went to a first meeting of a Comic Book Creator Club at a local comic book shop in my town, Heroic Adventure in Edwardsville, IL. The store manager, Drew Rose, was starting a club for people who had never made a comic book before but wanted to learn. I went to that meeting. I did not know anyone there and that was the first time I had stepped foot in a comic shop. After a year working together, we had completely taught ourselves the basics of making comic books. Over time, we would grow and get better at the book production aspect, but at the time it was exciting to be getting our comics printed. We created an rag-tag independent comic publishing company (Stache Publishing) together and, in the process, had all become close friends.
We published STACHE SHORTS #1 on Free Comic Book Day 2013, a year after we first met. This less-than 100-page anthology was our first printed book and highlighted our first year together as a Comic Book Creator Club. It featured a few short stories we made specifically for the book, as well as pin-ups, concept art, fun story building exercises, and short previews of 3 graphic novels we were working on. One of these story previews was Gunpowder Witch.
Over these 5 years, Stache has grown tremendously. It started out as a group that published our own comic books but has now evolved into a independent company that publishes work from around the world and strives to help new comic creators get their foot in the door with a graphic novel release. We look for new ways to express stories in comic book form, and we look for new creators who, perhaps, don’t get the spotlight they deserve. When you get a Stache book, you’ll have experiences that you won’t get with other comics.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
JW: I have just finished up localization and translation work on a Brazilian graphic novel titled Primas created by Alberto Pessoa, PhD that is a serious examination of prostitution in low-income areas of Brazil, created by compiled research by Alberto and a university colleague, Loreley Garcia, PhD. If that wasn’t interesting enough, Alberto’s students did the coloring work in the graphic novel.
Immediately after Gunpowder Witch, I will be assisting on an Kaiju anthology and a twisted fairy tale-style anthology. We have upwards of a dozen projects planned or in development, so there’s lots of excitement and lots to do on the road ahead.
I have not decided which personal project I am going to pursue after Gunpowder Witch, but I have a number of ideas. I just need to choose my path to take.
I invite anyone interested in following Stache to follow our Twitter and Facebook page for all of our future releases.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Gunpowder Witch?
JW: Currently, the best place to find information about Gunpowder Witch is the Kickstarter campaign page that is live throughout the month of February. Any immediate news for this month and March will be shared on my Kickstarter campaign through updates. After the campaign is over, Stache’s Facebook is the best place to find information.