Robot 6

Scott Fogg talks ‘Phileas Reid,’ Kickstarter and kicking puppies

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A once-respected scientist became the laughing stock of the scientific community when he published a book claiming aliens are real. But as attested by the title of Scott Fogg and Marc Thomas‘ upcoming graphic novel Phileas Reid Knows We Are Not Alone, he’s about to be proved right in a big way.

Fogg and Thomas — the artist and writer — have turned to Kickstarter to fund Reid’s story, which brings the scientist together with a reporter, her 10-year-old son and a 14-year-old alien to stop a war between Earth and Io. Joining Fogg and Thomas’ own team are Dean Trippe and Vito Delsante, who will respectively color and letter the project.

Currently they’ve made more than $6,600 of the $8,500 they’re looking for to create and publish the graphic novel, with just nine more days to go. I spoke with Fogg about the project, using Kickstarter and why his Super Bunny comic never made it past the first issue.

JK Parkin: I thought we’d start with some questions about you before moving onto the project. Is this your first comics project, or can you share some details on what you’ve worked on before?

Scott Fogg: This is actually my second comics project. In fourth grade I wrote and drew Issue 1 of The Adventures of Super Bunny. It was the story of Ben the Bunny, an average rabbit granted superpowers after eating an irradiated space carrot. We had big plans for Ben, but the book was canceled before we were even able to do a second issue. I blame circulation, which did not extend past Miss Dickhaut’s classroom.

What made you want to start writing comics?

I’m a storyteller. I love discovering stories and finding what medium they work in best in. Most of my writing has been for the stage or the screen, but I’ve been a lover and collector of comics since I was five. To write a comic book is something I’ve always wanted to do, I’ve just been waiting for the right story or the right set of characters. Phileas Reid was just such a character. He crawled into my brain and nested there. As I wrote other scripts, I could see him sitting there, waiting. Waiting for me to tell his story. I knew he belonged in a comic book, it just took me a little while to figure which comic book.

How did you and artist Marc Thomas first meet?

Funny story: Marc and I still haven’t met. He lives all the way down in Tallahassee, Florida (which I guess is a real place), and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee (a city with its own font!). Marc answered my call for an artist. Once I was ready to really get the ball rolling on Phileas Reid, my good friend Dean Trippe did some character designs for me and posted them online. Marc contacted me straightaway, sending me some sketches he had done of the main characters, and said he was interested in helping me tell this story. We e-mailed back and forth, started Skyping, and it didn’t take long at all to realize we had just formed a team.

What made you decide to go the Kickstarter route?

Marc and I were putting our pitch together and compiling all the publishing companies that were taking submissions at this time when the idea dawned on us that we could self-publish this first novel. We really liked the idea of doing it ourselves and then going to cons or selling them online or at our local comic book shops. The more personal, one-on-one approach was really appealing. We could lay the groundwork now for what could be a very long and fun ongoing series. We thought the best way to sell people on this idea is if we could meet them face-to-face, show them our book, and talk to them. The problem with that is, of course, is that we don’t really have the money to do that. Self-publishing a book isn’t the most expensive project in the world, but it isn’t cheap either. Kickstarter just seemed like the obvious route to go. We could fund the book and do it in a way that wasn’t begging people for money or taking out a loan. Backers are basically pre-ordering our book.

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Could you share a few details about Phileas Reid Knows We Are Not Alone?

There are two kinds of sci-fi: popcorn sci-fi and serious sci-fi. Popcorn sci-fi is what I grew up with (Star Wars, E.T.) and serious sci-fi is what I have fallen in love with (Children of Men, Blade Runner). Phileas Reid is the marriage of the two (putting it in very good company with Doctor Who and The Fantastic Four). It’s about four characters who want to change the world they live in. None of them are happy about it. But it’s not going to be easy. Especially when an entire fleet shows up from another planet and all hell breaks loose.

How far along is the project, and what will the $8,500 pay for?

We just finished the prologue (the first seven pages), and now we’re pausing for a moment to finish our character designs. A couple of the rewards from the Kickstarter allowed backers to cast themselves as some of the characters. So we’re collecting reference photos of those backers and beginning work on that. While Marc works on that, Dean is coloring the pages we have, and I’m tightening up the script. This being my first comic book in over 20 years, I had to re-learn how to tell a story in this medium and I want to make sure it’s absolutely perfect. The $8,500 we’re trying to raise is covering publishing costs and paying our artists for their time and talent. It takes a lot to make a 100-page graphic novel.

What happens if you don’t meet your funding goal?

If we’re not able to reach $8,500, the first thing that will happen is I’ll kick a puppy. I wish it wasn’t so, but that’s what happens when my mouth is filled with the bitter taste of disappointment. I kick puppies. Usually small ones. Big ones know how to defend themselves and are far less trusting. After I’ve punted a pup, Marc, Dean, Vito and I will discuss our options. We’re dedicated to telling this story and will pretty much do whatever it takes to make that happen.

It sounds like you’re pretty busy getting this project ready, but are you working on any other comics projects at the moment?

As far as comic projects go, Phileas Reid is it right now. I’m currently producing a web series called Illumination Inc., which I wrote, but we’re taking a break from filming that for the holidays and will get back into that early next year — which gives me time to wrap up Phileas Reid Knows We Are Not Alone and get the outline finished for Phileas Reid Discovers The Adjective of Proper Noun (it’s a working title).

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