“The avenue to self-publishing couldn’t be wider and the potential audience couldn’t be bigger” Don Garvey and Mike Connelly creators of Hurry – Adventures of the Rabbitoid Knight talk Guided View, ComiXology Submit and self published space rabbits

Hurry 02 promoNestled in the new ComiXology Guided View section between Batman and Wolverine you might have noticed a new title called Hurry – Adventures of the Rabbitoid Knight. Rubbing shoulders with the big boys of digital comics, Hurry is the self published adventures of a space rabbit in the L Dimension that is written and drawn by writers, artists and podcasters, Don Garvey and Mike Connelly. If that title hasn’t been enough to tempt you into checking it out, we’ve got the full down from Don and Mike on how they got into self publishing and how a little rabbitoid knight found himself a home alongside some of comics biggest characters.  

Hurry Adventures of the Rabbitoid Knight 01 cover
Hurry –  Adventures of the Rabbitoid Knight 01 cover

Tell us a bit about the back story of Hurry – Adventures of the Rabbitoid Knight, it has a real Saturday morning cartoon feel (it reminds me of 80s cartoon Bucky O’Hare) so where did the inspiration for the characters come from and has he been published before?

DG: I was a huge fan of Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a kid – not the the heroes-in-a-half-shell/Corey Feldman stuff – this was before that, when they only existed as black and white comics.  Hurry began as doodles in my school notebooks and he has changed quite a bit over the years according to my tastes and maturity level, so yes, there is a Wolverine-like grimdark version of Hurry buried in my sketchbooks somewhere.   Mike and I both had a desire to produce something that was akin to the “all ages” stuff of our youth – back before “all ages” meant “for children” – back before such a term even needed to exist.  A Saturday morning cartoon is an excellent comparison, and we hope to infuse a little of that Star Wars/Pixar element that makes the comic interesting to adults at the same time.  Aside from a short stint as a webcomic, this is the first time Hurry has seen “print”.

MC: That’s the cool thing about collaboration. While I didn’t conceive of Hurry, he’s a character we all recognize. So all you have to be or have been is little boy (or girl) to know-the-man you want to be some day. I’m going out on a limb here…  I’m one one side of the Atlantic, you’re on the other, and I’ll bet you wanted to be an adventurer, too. That’s Hurry, he’s the rabbit we wanted to be until we got real jobs.

Tell us a bit about your background in comics and what made you choose to get into the world of self publishing?

MC: My joke about real jobs bares refinement. I’ve never stopped wanting to be something when I grow up. If anything, I’m more invested in the importance of storytelling than ever because of the children in our lives. Don and I have been writing or drawing or both since the day we met in a design class.  Within a year of that meeting we had a booth at a convention selling a comic book. We knew nothing about everything. But we did know that we loved stories and visuals, even in music.  We took an unplanned hiatus with jobs, family, homes, but now we’re back to comic books… the perfect marriage of narrative and imagery. And today, we have the internet, computers, new marketplaces like ComiXology, devices like iPads. The avenue to self-publishing couldn’t be wider and the potential audience couldn’t be bigger. So it’s hard to think of self-publishing as a decision. If and when we approach or are approached by a publisher I’ll let you know.

DG: I’ve been drawing comics since I could hold a pencil.  Like most kids, I spent my time drawing comics of characters published by Marvel or DC. Despite inventing Hurry, even in college I spent half as much time drawing Gambit and Wolverine.  When Mike and I started collaborating, the notion struck me that we shouldn’t “waste” time drawing someone else’s characters when we could be producing stories about our own.  As Mike described, self publishing made sense to us even back in the 90s before the Internet became a household appliance.  I think we both have this do-it-yourself attitude ingrained in us – that’s even reflected in the podcasts we produce – we decide to take on a project, and then do or learn what we have to to make it happen..  Working with a publisher would be great, but so far we’ve spent our energy making comics and podcasts.

Hurry The Adventures of the Rabbitoid Knight

Hurry is one of the featured books in ComiXology‘s new Guided View section did you always plan to release it digitally and in this format?

DG: We started off with plans to do a short traditional comic, something we could print, and then changed to a more digital friendly landscape orientation while Mike was still in the thumbnail stage of drawing.  Much of the comic was completed when the Big Day happened – the day I downloaded Marvel’s AvX Infinite comic by Mark Waid and Stuart Immonen.  My mind was blown – this is what we should be doing.  At that time there wasn’t a ComiXology Submit program, but my wife had worked out how to use a certain photo album wordpress plugin to approximate the same effect (something Mark Waid and Thrillbent would do within a month of the AvX release).  As we worked on the comic, everything started falling into place in terms of publication – we decided to forgo releasing the comic to our website (just yet) and go the ComiXology route.  We will begin releasing small episodelettes, webcomic style, to EchoRift.com in the coming weeks.

MC: Don deserves the credit for the guided view decision. He was largely inspired by the teachings of Mark Waid.  This is where the iPad comes in. It was a device born without a purpose, a solution in search of a problem. Comics are perfect for iPads. When we did our first comic book, we were stapling pages together by hand. Today we’re ‘all digital’ on the production side, so taking advantage of pages without borders was something we needed to explore.

What challenges did you face when putting the book together when it came to making the most of Guided View? Did you script it differently or just do it all at the art stage?

MC: For me, it meant drawing images in several layers.  It meant drawing backgrounds that otherwise might be covered by something in the foreground.  It also meant trying to give Don options so he could be creative even after the drawing was finished. I’d imagine it’s like shooting additional takes so the editor and director can select the best parts.

DG: Thanks to the wonders of Photoshop layers, I was able to start taking apart the completed pages and start messing around with a Guided View approach.  The script was completed but in the end Guided View changed so much about the comic – as a writer I suddenly had a new dimension for pacing, for emphasis, for revealing the story.  It wasn’t quite like starting over, it was like taking a two dimensional square and suddenly turning it into a cube.  I’ll mock up transition ideas and put them in a Google Presentation for Mike to see (often times based on his thumbnails).  He’ll then take the original drawing files and alter them to give me what I’ll need to do the final coloring and alterations for the Guided View effects.  I did end up redrafting the script for lettering, but I don’t think we quite have the script-writing language nailed down to write a Guided View comic from scratch just yet.

Did you get inspiration/techniques from other similar digital comics like the Thrillbent titles or Marvel Infinite? Are there features you’d like to bring in for future issues?

DG: Thrillbent, Marvel Infinite, PowerPlay – all have played a part in inspiring ideas on how to handle transitions and deliver the best story possible.  For a while I was even a little worried about reading other Guided View native stories for fear that I’d be too influenced by other creators’ ideas.  I’m over that now – this is a new frontier and I think we’re all, consciously or unconsciously, contributing to the this new dimension of sequential art storytelling.  I see it among the Thrillbent comics, among the Infinite and DC2 comics – everyone is taking that last thing and tweaking it, making it better, pushing the boundaries further.  It is very exhilarating.  There are a lot of Guided View techniques that the publishers who have what I perceive as greater access to ComiXology can take advantage of – screen wipes, timed fades, elements that swoop into the screen – I’d love to get to the point where we can do those things as well.

MC: Thrillbent was the one that amazed me. Don said you’ve got to check this out and I just marveled at the coolness of it. I could practically hear a score and I could feel a tangible sense of drama. I’m first and foremost a movie fan. However, having said that I believe superpowers and heroics are paradoxically at their most epic when captured in still frames. It’s why slow motion is so powerful. The reader gets the sense that they’re seeing that-which-can’t-be-seen with the naked eye. Superman’s cape never looks better than when it’s frozen in time.  That’s the proof that comic books are never going away, each one captures lightning in a bottle.

Hurry promo 02As a self publisher how important has the digital publishing boom been for you and how big a deal has it been getting your book on the front if Comixology?

MC: We’re at the beginning of our experience with digital comics, so everything seems huge.  I thought getting the comic into ComiXology was a big deal and any sales that it generates.  But what I did not anticipate is that simply having it there would be a form of advertising and opportunity beyond the walls of that marketplace.  So it’s probably a bigger deal than I tend to think. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

DG: From a dollars and cents standpoint, I can’t believe that the Submit program is a cash cow for ComiXology yet they dedicate time and effort to extend their platform to indie creators like us, including Guided View features.  Anyone who has set up a website and published content to it – a blog, music, comics – knows that that isn’t enough – you have to get to the right audience.  ComiXology is where people who read digital comics go first, the exact audience we seek, being part of the ComiXology Submit program is absolutely a game changer for us.

How long a run will we get with Hurry and can you reveal any of your plans for the direction of the story?

MC – We have big ideas and some very cool arcs in mind.  This particular story was conceived as a prologue to a much larger story. In the short term, we also want to see what reaction we get.  We have other ideas we may publish like an anthology.  If one catches fire that could mean more in that direction. One of my favorite ideas about Hurry and the universe he inhabits (The L Dimension) is that we set out to explain why he and his fellow creatures are essentially humanoids with animal features.  It’s a bloody, brilliant mixture of quantum mechanics, theology and fairy tale all rolled into one.

DG – We have so many stories to tell, and so many different ways we want to tell them.  We would love to continue Hurry stories beyond this three issue arc, we would also love to experiment with some other comic storytelling mechanisms that may not be right for a Hurry story.  Time and audience reaction will tell where we end up next – I think either of us would be happy to make Hurry comics for the next twenty years straight, but there will always be that other story nagging at us in the background.  The trick will be finding a way for us, for Echo Rift, to exercise all of those creative directions in a way that is satisfying to us, and to our audience.

Hurry – The Adventures of the Rabbitoid Knight is available via ComiXology in the Guided View Section, You can also check out their podcasts via their website EchoRift and follow Echorift on Twitter and like them on Facebook