Artist, writer and fundraiser, we talk to Paul Duffield (aka Spoonbard) about the many roles on his new book The Firelight Isle

We caught up with artist Paul Duffield (aka Spoonbard) back in August to talk to him about his work on the brilliant Freakangels with the legendary Warren Ellis. However with that weekly web series coming to an end last summer, Paul has not been one to rest on his laurels. He’s not only been drawing and writing his own series, The Firelight Isle, but also self-financing it via Indie Go-Go. For those who help finance there is the possibility of access to all sorts of behind the curtain exclusives, from blog posts and sketches to personalised prints! This kind of  independent spirited publishing is just the kind of thing we admire here at Pipedream Comics so we got in touch with him and asked him about how the experience of financing your own comic has gone and just what lessens he learnt from his time working on Freakangels.

Tell us where the inspiration came from for Firelight Isle and a little bit about your aims and goals for the series?

PD: I’ve been wanting to tell The Firelight Isle, or at least a story like it, for a long time! I’ve always been a voracious reader, and from a very young age, I’ve had a desire to write my own stories. Consequently, I’ve had a grand writing project in mind for just about as long as I can remember! However, the content has always been changing, taking on influences from my new favourite authors of the time! When I first started work as a professional artist, I realised just how much work is involved in creating epic graphic novels, and so I ended up focussing on shorter stories. Eventually, more work came along, and most of my working life so far has been given over to Freakangels. When Freakangels finished, I found that my desire to create a longer piece was still there, and I thought that if I wanted to establish myself as a writer as well as an artist, it was now or never! I mined all of my earlier stories for inspiration, reworking them into a new piece using everything I’d learnt in the interim, and this became The Firelight Isle. It’s a new story with a bit of a legacy.

Judging by the trailer, you seem to have some great plans for it in terms of push the boundaries between comics and anime, will it be a truly interactive experience or is that just designed to whet our appetites?
The trailer is really designed just as a teaser, rather than a promise of more animation to come! Animation is extremely time consuming, and presents far more hurdles when it comes to presenting on the web in a format that everyone can see! Also, I want the final destination of The Firelight Isle to be print, so unless some company pioneers cheap digital paper that can display animations before I get round to publishing, I’m going to stick to static images! That being said, if I get the time, or have the budget, it would be wonderful to be able to do short animations that take place at key moments in the plot – I’m extremely doubtful that that will happen though!

How has the experience of working on Freak Angels prepared you for this project? Did the weekly nature of it prepare you for this?
PD:  I think more than anything it’s given me the confidence that I can keep to a schedule and organise my own time well. The weekly deadlines were a large part of that learning experience! I’ve also learnt a very large amount about drawing, storytelling and putting together a comic page during my time on Freakangels – in many ways it was a bit of a trial by fire, that thankfully I’ve come through unscathed! (more-or-less)

How have you found the process of getting money together to finance the project? Can you see yourself doing something this again or was it too much of a headache?!
PD: Being honest, it was much more work than I expected! I have a feeling that if I hadn’t put the time I did into creating the trailer (which attracted a lot of interest and was a good talking point), I might not have succeeded in gathering all the funding, let alone going over the target! It’s extremely hard drumming up support and finding ways to get people talking about the project not just once, but continuously until the campaign is over! Also, because of the time I spent working on the trailer and promoting the project, a portion of the money I raised just went straight back into funding the campaign itself, which also wasn’t something I’d anticipated. My major lesson-learned whilst gathering funding was that ironically, it’s a venture that requires a bit of capital to begin properly, and I think I stepped into it prematurely.

Were I to do it again, I would be a bit more patient, perhaps try to build up a small amount of personal funding to cover the expenses of the campaign, and I’d also take the time to generate more promo material before I began. It’s not something I’ve been put off doing though, since it was both successful and worth my time!

You’re rewarding those people who contributed to the production of Firelight Isle with some behind the scenes extras, can you give us a sneak preview of what you’ve got planned for this?
Absolutely, so far I’ve already put up some rough thumbnails for pages of The Firelight Isle, an exclusive piece of artwork, early previews of the animated trailer, discussions on the origins, naming and thought behind the project, and I’m currently doing a Q&A section where readers of the blog can send in their own questions about the project. As time goes on I plan on using it as a place to preview work before it reaches the general public, and also a place to discuss more intimate details on the writing and production.

You can find out more about The Firelight Isle at Paul’s website ( or get the latest updates via FireLight Isle’s own Twitter @firelightisle or via follow Paul himself at @spoonbard