Q and A with Runners Creator Sean WangJune 4, 2018
Runners creator Sean Wang has brought his first volume of the graphic novel to Kickstarter in hopes to be able to print the book in a new way. The graphic novel was originally produced in black and white, but is now looking to match the series’ volume 2 in color. Check out what all Sean had to say about Runners and Kickstarter before you head over and back his project.
BS: How did you come up with this comic?
SW: I actually came up with the concept for RUNNERS back in the mid-1990’s, when Star Wars was pretty much dead, as hard as that is to imagine now. It was well before the prequels, and the franchise (and sci-fi adventure in general) was nowhere to be found. A fun space adventure comic series is what I really wanted to read myself, but since no one was doing it, I decided to create my own! I’m also a big fan of stories that involve gangsters, bounty hunters, pirates, and conflicted criminals, so I wanted to build a series around those kinds of characters and not the typical good guys and bad guys. So I created RUNNERS, which is basically a fun, sci-fi action-comedy about a crew of alien smugglers trying to get by in the criminal underworld of the galaxy. And you can read it FOR FREE at www.runnersuniverse.com!
BS: How would you best describe the story to entice readers?
SW: It’s a fun space adventure comic revolving around a crew of alien smugglers who get in over their heads while trying complete various jobs for the mob. The series has great action sequences, dramatic moral dilemmas, and comedic character banter. And lots of cool aliens and ships! If you like the original Star Wars trilogy, Firefly, or Guardians of the Galaxy, then RUNNERS would definitely be something you’d want to check out, as it has that same vibe of fun space opera. So far, I have two completed graphic novels, Volume 1: Bad Goods and Volume 2: The Big Snow Job. The two are mostly self-contained stories, but they also start seeding things for some of the bigger events coming down the pike.
BS: What made you want to release it in color now?
SW: I always had big long-term story ideas for the series but only decided last year to really sit down and figure out EVERYTHING. So I now have the entire rest of the series plotted out and know all the major story turns and character arcs. The series will be a total of 10 volumes, and the third book is already completely written. The problem is, back when I did the first book, it was in black-and-white. Volume 2 was in color and each new volume will also be in color, so it felt very weird to have just the first book in black-and-white. I also know that black-and-white art can be a deterrent to some comic readers, and I want to open the series up to as many people as possible, so it made sense to do the color version of Volume 1 now.
BS: What inspired you to run a Kickstarter for it?
SW: Color printing can get pretty expensive, especially for a self-publisher like myself, so Kickstarter is a great way to bring in funding and support to get the project done. And it also gives me the chance to do some fun rewards that backers can get with their books that won’t be available generally.
BS: How is the campaign going?
SW: It’s going great so far! My goal is $12,000, which will cover the color printing and the various rewards I have planned for the campaign. I’m about a week in and over the halfway mark, so I’m very excited about that. But of course, I’m always looking for new people to discover the series, so I’m hoping many more comic readers and sci-fi fans will take this opportunity to check out the campaign and give the series a try.
BS: What one of the rewards you offered during this campaign is your favorite? Why?
SW: I have to say the 2-book tiers are my favorites because they are intended for readers new to the series. I have a $40 tier that gets you Volumes 1 and 2 in paperback and a $50 tier for the books in hardcover. While a lot of the tiers are aimed at current fans of the series who just want to upgrade their black-and-white copies of Volume 1 to color, these two tiers are meant for new readers to get them completely caught up on both stories. And after reading both books, they’ll be ready for Volume 3, which will start posting at runnersuniverse.com later this year!
BS: What is something you wish you would have done differently at the start of your campaign?
SW: I don’t think I’d do anything differently about the campaign launch. The only thing I wish I had been able to do differently in general is to have gone from my last Kickstarter (for the printing of Volume 2) directly into production on the next book. But at the time, I was doing a lot of freelance work and that ballooned to the point that I wasn’t able to get back to RUNNERS. I do feel like I lost a lot of momentum during the intervening years. It seems a lot of readers love the series enough that they’ve been willing to wait for it, but as the creator, I’M not willing to wait anymore! Having plotted out the entire remainder of the series, I’m super excited to get to it, and this time, I plan to do it full-time without the long breaks in between books.
BS: Any advice for new comic book creators?
SW: For anyone who is self-publishing a book like I am, I would definitely say that planning is very important and building your audience is key. As I mentioned, I feel I lost a bit of steam, reader-wise, with my absence from the series during those years of freelance. It’s certainly a balancing act, since the freelance is great for income and financial stability, but at the same time, if you can’t get your project out in a timely manner, it will be very difficult to build an audience that feels truly invested in your work.
BS: What advice would you give someone looking to run a Kickstarter?
SW: I think everyone says this, but shipping is a huge factor to understand. If you’re shipping graphic novels within the U.S., media mail is a great, cheap option via the postal service. But international shipping is a nightmare, as it can easily cost $25 to ship a single graphic novel overseas. I really hate that I can’t do much about that, but I recently updated my campaign to give international backers some free reward items to hopefully take some of the sting out of those shipping costs that they’re paying.
BS: What is next for you after the campaign?
SW: As I mentioned, I have the entire rest of the series plotted out, which will be another 8 books. Book 3 is completely scripted, so once I finish the coloring of Volume 1, I will be getting into the concept design phase for the new story and then producing the pages themselves. So Volume 3 will start posting online later this year, and I plan for each subsequent book to follow shortly after the previous one, so that the series continues to come out on a regular and consistent schedule going forward.
BS: Anything else you would like to add?
SW: RUNNERS is also a web comic and is available to read for FREE at www.runnersuniverse.com! So you can read the entire series there if you want, or if you’re on the fence about the Kickstarter campaign, you can check out as much of the story and art as you want at runnersuniverse.com to see if you want to back the printed books. The series has gotten stellar reviews across the board (which you can find on Amazon and GoodReads), and I genuinely think most fans of sci-fi or just fun adventure stories will really love it.