Some time in the past….
Two words, seemingly random, said by Brandon Montclare to Amy Reeder.
Cut to the present. The two are wrapping up their second successful Kickstarter campaign in just as many years, and now they’re that much closer toward putting their latest collaboration in stores.
You never know,” Brandon says, speaking of the Kickstarter campaign’s success. “It worked out pretty well on [our last project] Halloween Eve
“Yeah, we’re trying an actual series this time,” Amy adds.
Halloween Eve was the duo’s first foray into Kickstarter, garnering over $20,000 with only a $10,000 goal. Published by Image in October 2012, the book proved successful enough for the duo to continue their partnership.
With less than a day left on their latest Kickstarter campaign Rocket Girl has surpassed Halloween Eve’s success. With over 1,000 backers contributing more than $30,000, the project has surpassed its funding goal.
“It’s great to see the fan reaction,” Amy says. “I was really looking forward to that. It’s more than just raising money, I’d have to say.”
“It’s validating, too. It’s one thing if anyone likes the idea, so it’s a matter of, is there a big enough audience,” Brandon says. “Kickstarter, as much as it’s the money, it’s kind of like, well at least we can tell there’s an audience for this now because people are willing to support it and get involved.”
“Obviously we can use as much as we can get because it’s an ongoing series. The more we get, the more we can put towards making more comics,” says Amy.
As with Halloween Eve, the duo is responsible for nearly every aspect of Rocket Girl’s production. So while Brandon plots and scripts the series, Amy pencils, inks, colors, letters, and designs the entire package.
“The part you don’t really think too much about, besides the comic pages, is designing the title page and doing bonus material so it’s not a bunch of ads,” Amy says.
But Amy’s hands-on nature and Brandon’s experience in editorial have prepared them for this involved approach.
“Rocket Girl, the first issue is done,” says Brandon. “So it’s all a matter of reward fulfillment at this point, now that it’s been successfully funded.”
Amy and Brandon’s working relationship goes back to their days at TokyoPop where Amy’s first works, Fool’s Gold, were published. When Brandon left to edit for DC/Vertigo, the two kept in touch.
They were reunited when they worked on Madame Xanadu for Vertigo, written by Matt Wagner.
“Brandon always seems to make friends with the people he works with,” says Amy.
“Sometimes there’s personality conflicts, but when I was editing I always liked everybody to be involved and to know each other,” Brandon says. “But I think it’s safe to say we got along when we were doing Madame Xanadu.”
“We were close friends by then,” Amy says. “Because he was my editor, I knew we could get along, work-wise.”
The duo has followed the trend of creating their own comics after stints at major publishers like Marvel and DC.
Since leaving DC’s editorial department, Montclare has written several projects for Marvel, including the Chaos War: Chaos King one-shot and Fear Itself: Fearsome Four mini-series.
“It was time to move on,” Brandon says. “I had done a lot at DC and Vertigo that I was proud of. I loved it and I’d like to do more, but as a personal reason, then my wife had our daughter. I think I left DC when she was six months old, and writing is something you can do from home with a flexible schedule.”
He still has great relationships with his former employers and would love to return to editing one day, but for now he’s busy with writing. Aside from working with Amy, he’s written scrpts for Michael Kaluta and Simon Bisley, and is currently working with Shane Davis.
“It’s been amazing. How can you turn that down?”
Meanwhile, Amy wrapped up her exclusive with DC though not with some controversy. After suffering numerous delays, her collaboration with J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman on Batwoman was cut short when she announced she was leaving the book in mid-arc.”
“It was creative conflicts,” Amy says. “It just didn’t work out. I haven’t burnt a bridge with DC, and I like the title a lot. I like the character. There are a lot of people who come up to me to draw Batwoman, and I kind of want to keep it positive for them.
“I would never knock anybody else who would want to speak out. I find it admirable when artists and writers decide to speak out about certain things. I think it’s standard knowledge that creators have had difficult times working for DC. I don’t know, it just wasn’t something where we all got along.”
“In a way, it pushed you to do your own thing,” Brandon says.
“That’s the thing. I’m happier in the end, I wanted to go out on my own in the first place,” Amy adds.
Amy replaces one strong female protagonist with another, trading Kate Kane for DaYoung Johansson, the titular Rocket Girl.
Hailing from the year 2013, the 15-year-old police officer has been sent back in time to 1986 to investigate the crimes of a megacorporation in the present. But there’s a twist: instead of coming from OUR 2013, she comes from a period with flying cars and other futurist technology.
It’s during the course of her investigation that DaYoung realizes her timeline shouldn’t even exist.
“Her personal relationships are also going to play a big part,” says Brandon. “It’s not specifically an ‘80s teen drama, but that’s what I grew up with. Basically, the parallel going through Rocket Girl is ‘growing up,’ and having to make compromises.”
“The idea is that, when we’re young, we think in absolutes,” Amy adds. “Is she going to stay young? Or is she going to start thinking in terms of relativism. It’s all about right and wrong versus relativism, and it’s going to be awesome.”
And though there are concerns whether the Direct Market would sustain a series like Rocket Girl, the collaborators are more than confident that there will be a demand for the book.
“There’s not a lot of female lead characters, and that’s part of the reason why Kickstarter was so important,” Brandon says. “Before I worked [as an editor] I worked in a comic shop. It’s not easy to sell female lead characters there.”
“I think that there’s not enough good stuff out there,” says Amy. “Since there’s such a … dearth, I like making female characters. It’s really important to me.”
“There are plenty of female fans out there,” Brandon says. “When you have Kickstarter, it lets you go directly to a lot of female fans, which is really important. Politically, you could say there’s not enough female lead characters, so you should just do it. I think it’s just as valid from a business point of view. It’s literally an underserved market.”
Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare’s ROCKET GIRL is due out in October. Judging by the reaction to their Kickstarter campaign, there certainly is an underserved market for time-traveling, rocket-powered teenage police officers.
Expect solicitations for Rich Johnston’s unannounced “MISSILE CHICK” this winter from Avatar Press. (not really)
If you want to get in on the ground floor, donate to the Rocket Girl Kickstarter campaign before it’s too late.