Remember Missile Mouse? Book one? Book two? The mind behind these books is one Jake Parker, one of my favorite comics artists, and the one one who meets both these categories: I buy most everything he does. I share it with my kids.
Jake has started a new Kickstarter campaign which has in very few days racked up a tremendous amount of money. Let’s talk with Jake about what he’s up to, shall we?
Theric: Jake! Funded in under twenty-four hours? I never doubted you would be funded—people love you, after all—but I did not expect it to happen so quickly. What happened? Are your fans that legion and enthusiastic? Is it your network of fellow pros spreading the word? Please speculate: how did you get funded so quickly?
Jake: I’m still scratching my head at this, but I have some thoughts. First, I think my funding goal was just right. I wasn’t asking for too much.
Second, twitter is where it’s at. Twitter’s ability to spread the word about something fast is unparalleled. When you add to that a few respected pros with 5k or 10k or more followers who shout it out and you get some amazing reach. And then lastly, I think my book is good, and I presented it well. I studied A LOT of campaigns before starting this one. Took notes, and saw what worked and what didn’t. I tried to bring the highest level of professionalism to this and I think people saw that and were less hesitant to back it.
Theric: Something that interests me about collections is naming and ordering. Why name the book after Antler Boy? Why arrange the stories in the order you did?
Jake: Haha, Ok, to be honest it’s because I thought of a really good idea for the cover illustration. I had been going back and forth about which story to headline it and then I scribbled a drawing of all my characters hanging in the antlers of the Boy. I was like, “That’s it! That’s what I’m calling it.”
Theric: You’ve colored the Lucy Nova stories and I think “Checkers” too, yes? But not “The Star Thrower.” How did you decide which to newly color, and how worked over are the old stories as a whole?
Jake: I’ll be coloring all the stories. I just didn’t get to Star Thrower before the campaign.
Theric: Related question to that last one. You got in a bit of trouble once using the word “crap” (it was “crap,” wasn’t it?) in a kid’s comic. Did you change that for this volume? And do you see this collection being aimed at kids or not? In my opinion, everything here is kid-friendly and I’ll be sharing it with mine, but, to be honest, I’m buying my copy primarily for myself. Who’s your audience?
Jake: Yes, I did get in trouble for the word crap and some libraries didn’t want to carry the book that story was in. I changed it to “rats!” in this book. Figured it was more fitting for Missile Mouse to say that instead.
And yes this is an all-ages book. My kids love the stories and the college kids I’ve taught love the stories, and I love the stories. That’s a few generations right there.
Theric: A couple years ago you let me talk you into contributing to the Sunstone comics issue, which is the origin of “The Star Thrower,” a frankly hilarious scifi rendition of the sacrament-meeting standby. Nothing particualrly quote-unquote Mormon about that story—or any of your work, really (though I did think about doing a Mormon reading of your most recent Missile Mouse novel, I instead just told people how much I liked it). I know when I first mentioned you in my 2008 survey of Mormon comics (along with some erroneous biographical information), you were unsure that having the “Mormon” in front of the word “artist” was going to be helpful, careerwise. Because, as any Mormon filmmaker who’s seen The Singles Ward can tell you, that adjective Mormon can be made an embarrassment very quickly. Yet you did agree to show up in the Sunstone issue all the same. I’m curious—what are your thoughts about your role as a “Mormon artist”—and are they any different from your role as an “artist”?
Jake: I think I have a responsibility to not produce crap. I feel strongly that I’ve been given this talent from God and I shouldn’t squander it or use it for ill. I try to keep my work family friendly, and I hope it’s a source of inspiration for others to want to be better people.
Theric: A lot of the stories in this collection feature innocent characters put into situations where they must deal with circumstances we might wish the innocent would never have to deal with. What is it that draws you to these stories?
Jake: Good question…I havn’t thought about that, nor looked at my work in that way. Perhaps I should do a story about a guy looking for trouble and can’t seem to find it anywhere. That might be something fun. But yeah, I guess you’re right. Where’s the intrigue in a guy who wants trouble and gets it? I like to see what people do under pressure I guess.
Theric: You’re coming out with this collection, you’ve fulfilled your Missile Mouse contract—what’s next?
Jake: Outside of various contract work I’m committed to I’m working on an outline for a sci-fi adventure story about an innocent character thrust into a situation he shouldn’t have had to deal with.