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Interview: Joey Esposito Discusses FOOTPRINTS and Kickstarter

The writer of FOOTPRINTS talks about the new volume of his series and how Kickstarter helped his writing career.

Writer Joey Esposito (PAWN SHOP, CAPTAIN ULTIMATE) is currently working on his third Kickstarter for the second volume of his series FOORPRINTS (Which you can check out right here). He took the time to answer some of our questions about the upcoming series and how Kickstarter is helping him in his writing career.

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COMIC VINE: FOOTPRINTS is an extremely interesting concept for a book. For those who aren't in the know, what is this book about?

Joey Esposito: Thanks! Footprints is a crime/noir series starring Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, Chupacabra, and Jersey Devil as a team of private dicks. The first volume was about the murder of Bigfoot’s brother Yeti and the team coming back together for the first time in 40 years to find out who killed him and how it relates their past.

Bad Luck Charm is a one-shot with two new stories, one that’s set before Volume 1 and one that’s set after.

CV: What does this newest volume have to offer readers and is this a place that new readers could jump in on?

JE: Bad Luck Charm is definitely accessible and enjoyable for new readers, but if you’ve read Footprints Vol. 1 you’ll get more out of it. The cool thing is that for any reward tier on our Kickstarter that gives you a copy of Bad Luck Charm, you’ll also get a copy of Volume 1 in either print or digital, depending on the level, so if you haven’t read it you can check it out before diving into Bad Luck Charm.

But even if you read it apart from Volume 1, both stories in the one-shot are self-contained and can be enjoyed as one-offs on their own.

CV: Have you always had a love for all things in the realm of cryptozoology?

JE: Pretty much, yeah. I’m not sure it was so much the physical monsters themselves but more the idea that these creatures could be living under our noses for so long. It’s a very attractive idea, I think, that there are things we still don’t know about the world that we live in despite the insane technology we’ve got. It’s interesting that these ideas are reinforced as we explore the depths of the ocean a bit more and keep discovering new things. It adds a particular kind of magic to the world; it’s kind of the leftovers of the unabashed imagination of being a kid that seeps its way into your adult life. I love the idea that there’s more to the world than we are ready to accept.

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CV: Where did you and Jonathan Moore come up with this idea?

JE: It was a mixture of a few different things. Initially the idea was to tell the story of the people that legitimately discover Bigfoot; how that would rocket them to fame and reality shows. Eventually, that thankfully evolved into thinking about what would happen if you killed Bigfoot in a mysterious hit-and-run or something and his friends set out to find his killer. So that was the kernel I think, which evolved into the murder mystery around Bigfoot’s brother and getting his private detection team of cryptids back together after years of bad blood.

Jonathan and I had done another pitch together before Footprints that didn’t go anywhere, but the first work of his that I saw was this really stark black and white noir comic. So the evolution of the Bigfoot idea was really helped by wanting to see him do more of this kind of hardboiled crime stuff.

CV: When you're writing a book with some elements people would consider "out-there," what types of concepts, themes, or tones do you like to use to keep the book a bit more grounded?

JE: I think Jonathan’s work helps this a lot in the case of Footprints. He’s a technically sound illustrator and former anatomy teacher, so accurate figures and scale is really important to him, which I think helps keep the more fantastical elements of Footprints – Bigfoot riding Nessy to the scene of a crime, for example – grounded in the real world. The combination of playing the characters straight, meaning putting their personalities and feelings front and center as opposed to “Hey! I’m Bigfoot!” in addition to Jonathan’s style is key to keeping the book grounded and less gimmicky.

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I think the core of Footprints has always been about Foot living with the choices he’s made as they pertain to his lover, his brother, and his friends. We can all identify with the betrayal of loved ones or loving someone that’s toxic, and ultimately that’s at the center of Footprints Volume 1. And those elements carry over into Bad Luck Charm as well, particularly in our second story called “Ghost on the Road.” It’s primarily about the team investigating a new cryptid down in South Carolina called The Lizard Man, but it’s during the time period that Foot is having to cope with the events that happened at the end of the first volume.

CV: Kickstarter is a big part of your success. What would you say are the challenges in creating a Kickstarter for a comic?

JE: Kickstarter is an amazing tool, but the stress of running one definitely takes years off of your life. So being able to consistently promote it is one challenge. But the other challenge that’s cropped up in a big way since I did my first one in early 2011 is that there are just so many more of them. Everyone’s got a Kickstarter which means it’s more and more difficult to get attention on your own. Particularly when you’re vying for attention from well-known creators that are running one. And I’m not a guy that thinks already successful creators shouldn’t be using the platform, because that’s absolutely not true.

But the reality is that if you put the choice in front of a journalist to talk about Project A from A-list talent and Project B from an unknown, which one do you think they’re going to go with? So it becomes a thing of trying to get clever in how you promote your campaign. For Bad Luck Charm, we went the route of posting a free 6-page comic that any outlet could post and hopefully drive their readers back to contribute if they enjoyed it. We’ll see how it turns out, I guess.

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The other big challenge is unforeseen delays. My last two campaigns suffered from this, but we still delivered everything as promised, albeit later than expected. Still, I think if you keep everyone updated with full transparency, most people are willing to go with it and are understanding. That said, we’ve got a huge head start on Bad Luck Charm and will deliver on time, no problem.

CV: What would you attribute your multiple Kickstarter successes, for PAWN SHOP and FOOTPRINTS, to?

JE: Mostly word of mouth, I would say. There’s nothing more important for a Kickstarter. People sharing the campaign on social media, press outlets sharing the news and doing interviews, the Kickstarter community sharing it on their blogs and newsletters and featured picks, all of that is essential. Hopefully Bad Luck Charm gets the same kind of support. People have been asking if there would ever be more Footprints, and the only way that can happen is if this campaign gets funded.

CV: The first volume of FOOTPRINTS was in black and white, but with the newest edition, you and artist Jonathon Moore went with color. Is Moore doing the color for book, and what made you guys decide to add color?

JE: Yeah, Jonathan is coloring the book and did the pages that you see on the “Bad Luck Charm” story itself. He also colored a bulk of Pawn Shop. He’s a true renaissance man. But the reason we decided to go with color this time around is mostly because one of the stories features Jersey Devil and Motheresa heading to 1962 Las Vegas to try their luck at the tables. We figured we couldn’t send them to classic Vegas and have it in black and white. So that extended to the second story as well, even though that tale is much more in line with the tone of Volume 1 in that it’s a straight-up mystery.

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CV: What do you think it adds to the book?

JE: I think it just adds a little bit of flair and atmosphere. A huge part of the Vegas look is obviously the bright lights, so I think it’s absolutely essential in that case. And “Ghost on the Road” has a lot of stuff set in the swamps of South Carolina, so I think there’s a lot of cool tones that Jonathan can play with there. Fog and muck and all of that. I love black and white comics, but I think adding color in this instance will add a really cool texture that will be more attractive to readers and retailers that might’ve overlooked Volume 1 because it was B&W. Which happens more often than you’d think, unfortunately.

CV: Why should the folks reading this donate to your Kickstarter?

JE: Hopefully they’re hungry for more stories that are only possible through a platform like Kickstarter. There’s no way we could make this happen without the support of the people; this was our first creator-owned series and it’s really near and dear to our hearts. We’ve got so much more planned, but the only way we can afford it is with everybody’s help. Plus we’re offering a lot of cool stuff, from the book itself to original artwork – sketches, cameos, pages of art – from Jonathan, an awesome Footprints t-shirt with a brand new design by Jonathan, script pages, our other comics, editing sessions, digital copies, the works.

So if anyone reading this is into crime fiction, cryptozoology, or just really, really gorgeous artwork, please give Bad Luck Charm a read, or check out the original Footprints #1 for free, and consider backing us on Kickstarter for this one-shot. We’re about halfway there at the time of this interview with two weeks to go. Every $1 helps. Share with your Bigfoot-loving friends, please, and make this happen.

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If you're interested in donating to the cause, check out the FOOTPRINTS' Kickstarter page here and help get this book made!