Scott Snyder and Tony Daniel have launched an already very successful Kickstarter for their new comic book series Nocterra, the first project from Snyder's creator-owned Best Jackett Press imprint at Image Comics. During a recent interview, Scott talked to me about the origins of Nocterra, launching his new imprint, the reasons for going the Kickstarter route, and he also provided an update on the Wytches TV series and future comic books.

We've also been given some exclusive Nocterra art just for Daily Dead readers!

When did you come up with the idea for Nocterra and why did you feel this would be the best project for your first release from your newly formed Best Jackett Press?

Scott Snyder: It's been in my head a really long time. Horror has been my favorite genre since I was born, and one of my oldest and most memorable fears from when I was young was the fear of the dark, which I know is so common as well.

I just remember standing in the hallway and  in my bedroom with the lights off. I’d have a flashlight, and would turn it on and then see how long I could turn it off before I would freak out. Now, as a father watching my own sons struggle with some of the same fears, my middle son in particular, the idea just sort of hit me: "What if the whole world was just plunged into night? What if the sun just stopped rising in the morning? What if the sun was still there, but what if solar light stopped reaching the Earth? And all of a sudden this serious night enveloped everything and worse, this new darkness was transformative and evil and completely unknown, so anything that stays in it too long would change into some monstrous form of itself called “the shade.” And so, the dark would actually be as terrifying or more terrifying as we imagine when we were kids.

I knew I had something special with that and it would be something personal as well, because I had my own sort of deep connection to it. Best Jackett Press is a chance to really rededicate myself to creator-owned in a way where the whole purpose is to be able to try things that are intimate. There are ideas that I've had for a long time and this will allow me to challenge myself by doing new kinds of writing, combining genres, doing more literary books, doing books that mix and match different aspects of things I've done before in ways that are new to me. It just felt like a perfect launch pad.

Nocterra's got the bombast and the kind of kinetic, big, over-the-top epic action of some of my recent superhero work. And it's also got that real deep, personal horror of a book like Wytches. So for me, it kind of combines things in a way that brings together a lot of different things that I love, but makes it something fresh and new and exciting for me, both creatively and hopefully for readers.

I can’t wait to read it, and the artwork teased on the Kickstarter page is absolutely gorgeous. Can you talk about why Tony Daniel was the perfect partner for this project?

Scott Snyder: Tony has been a friend since 2010, when we were told by DC we were going to trade books, back when he was on Batman and I was on Detective Comics. I was terrified because I was still pretty new in comics, and he was already a big star. And he was very kind to me, giving me advice and really easing some of my fears about taking on Batman as a book.

And so, we've remained friends since, and we've done little things together, like parts of Batman and Robin Eternal. And we did some special issues of event books I've done, and we've always been friends and look forward to seeing each other at conventions. And we kept talking about trying to work together when we found the right creator-owned project, so I approached Tony about this about two years ago, saying I wanted it to be the first of a bunch of books that I'm planning for Best Jackett Press. I have about six books in production right now, but I wanted this to be the big lead. And he loved the idea and responded to it pretty emotionally as well, as a father (he has daughters, whereas I have sons). And so, he was excited about the idea of a strong female lead.

Our character, Val, who grew up with really terrible cataracts. She's adopted and before she was adopted, folks didn't realize that her vision was as poor as it was. And so, she had corrective surgery later than she should have. Now she has a good vision, but she remembers that time when she was living in the dark and had to develop all of these kinds of coping and survival skills that now she really brings into play in this world that's enveloped in night.

All of that really hit a nerve for Tony, and he started doing designs. He's just been an indomitable force on the book, where he's not just the artist. He's really, truly my co-creator, where he comes up with things for Val's backstory. He comes up with ideas about the world and the mythology, and I'm just very grateful. And when you get to work with your friends and make something together, it's sort of the best experience, like I've had with Jeff Lemire, Jock, or Greg Capullo. It really is just the best.

So obviously, COVID-19 has really impacted the comic book industry and comic book releases in many ways. How did that factor into your decision to go the Kickstarter route for the Nocterra Collector’s Edition offering?

Scott Snyder: We were planning on doing the book for a while, and we were going to build the book and then see which publisher we wanted to go with. We signed with Image and they've been a terrific home to a bunch of properties for me. And when COVID hit and the industry just shut down, they really had to slow and stop production on things as well.

So it was this feeling suddenly of being halted on this thing you were so excited about, and we really didn't have the means to continue unless we just were building it for free for ourselves. And we did do that for a number of months, because we were passionate about the book. But the concern was, if there's another wave of COVID and there are disruptions or interruptions in the general comic marketplace, you're entirely beholden to a publisher, even a great publisher.

So for us, the idea was to be able to find a system by which we could make enough, just to get the book up and running, to make enough for the first arc. Because essentially, once you have the book coming out in stores and you're about three issues in, that's when you start to see royalties, when you actually start making any money off of the book. And then it becomes self-sufficient at that point, hopefully.

And obviously, we're more than happy to take that risk and we're committed to the book and the publisher. So for us, there was that [idea of going with a] new business model. The business model is making something on Kickstarter that's exclusive to Kickstarter that will only appear there ever in any form whatsoever. It's about making something collectible and personal that you offer, that's exclusive to Kickstarter, that then funds the book that's already committed to an indie publisher.

The benefit for us is it secures us financially. So we know we can produce the book regardless of what happens with COVID, but it also takes pressure off that publisher, because they don't have to offer us any kind of advance. They don't have to support the book and they can devote resources to things that are more important.

So, that makes us feel good on all kinds of levels, to use it as a new sort of approach to publishing, offering something collectible on Kickstarter, something that won't appear again, something personal, and then using that money to make sure that you can make the book free of any risk for yourself or for the publisher so that everybody can relax and enjoy the creative process.

The other reason [for going the Kickstarter route], which is the bigger reason really, is that we both are really active at conventions, and we miss connection with fans. And I think this moment has created a demand for that, emotionally and psychologically for all of us, both creators, fans, retailers, and journalists. We miss each other and we thought we could offer something that might be a poor substitute, but at least speak to that longing many of us feel for that connection again.

This edition that we're offering on Kickstarter isn't the comic. It's a black-and-white artist edition, where you have the script on one side—and I don't normally give away my scripts—the art on the other side of the page, notes, designs, a little flash fiction at the end from me that tells more about the story, and all kinds of annotated elements that show you how the book was made.

So the whole offer is essentially trying to give you something that lets you be part of the team. The whole campaign and all of the tiers are designed around access and inclusion, trying to invite people in to watch us make the book, to help make decisions about the book, to get to ask us questions about anything they want, to watch Tony design things, and to take a class with me about writing.

I'm going to invite a bunch of people that I'm working with at Best Jackett Press, artists that have books coming up with me, to do promos and things like that. And my one pledge to everybody, and I'm sincere about it, is that I'm not going to take any profit from the campaign whatsoever.

We have a number internally [we need to hit] that essentially funds the first six issues of the book. It's a little bit more than what we're asking to make this project itself, because it also includes a letterer, includes the editor, includes those things. But once we hit that number, we'll be funded and everything else, Tony and I will split. Tony’s split will go towards the art costs, and for me, it's all going towards the next book in the line in Best Jackett Press.

What you're doing is also inspirational for creators. There are a lot of people who are looking for new ways to get their comic book project out to readers and there are many new paths to accomplishing that. What you're doing gets creators to say, "Hey, I can fund my project in a different way. Look at what Scott's doing, or look how others are using Kickstarter."

Scott Snyder: Yeah, I see people trying all kinds of things. Some of my closest friends, like James Tynion, who's become a mega star this year and has some of the best horror books out there with Department of Truth, Something is Killing the Children, and The Woods. He's trying a different sort of reach-out method, between doing newsletters for his fans, creating collectible items, and special memorabilia that's built around his books that you order directly from him. It's small, it's different. It's an interesting moment, where people are trying to find their way around the ecosystem in a fashion that feels right for them and their audience and it's exciting as much as it's terrifying.

This is all very exciting for people that have been following your creator-owned and DC work. I know that you’re dividing time between creator-owned projects and current DC commitments. What do you have coming up on the DC front?

Scott Snyder: I'm doing American Vampire and we're six issues into ten. It starts in October and then I have another big project with DC that isn't announced yet. So it's not like I think that superhero comics are going away. It's definitely a challenging and difficult moment, and there's a lot going on that's upsetting.

A lot of the changes that we're thinking about now, both in terms of corporate comics and these kinds of models like we're trying out on on Nocterra, are all things that I think are necessary changes. Not in the way they're happening with mass firings and these kinds of things at all, that could be done differently. That is not what I'm talking about, but what I'm talking about are the ideas that are springing out of the hardship right now, are things that I think are essential and key, and will help modernize the industry and make it something much more nimble and sort of attractive to fans in ways that reaches out directly to them in different ways, especially in indie comics, where the creators understand the importance more than ever of creating and connecting with a fan base that really is built with integrity.

Before we wrap, I wanted to ask about the status of Wytches, because I know you’ve been working on a live-action version behind the scenes.

Scott Snyder: We're developing it for television right now with Plan B. I'm writing the pilot and the first few episodes. And Jock is the art director on it, so we’re really excited.

We were working on it for a film a couple years, and they just realized, looking at the series, that there was more story than they had initially thought. And they wanted to kind of expand it, make it more adaptable in a serialized format and have us more involved than we were before. So the whole thing worked out great, and I’m really thrilled about it.

And book-wise, we're coming back to it as soon as Jock finishes the project he's currently working on with Jeff Lemire. So once he's done with that, we're going to go back and start working on Wytches.


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