“It is a reaction to what’s going on in the UK right now” Matt Fitch and Chris Baker on the story behind Our Land webcomic
They’ve taken us to space and back with Apollo and Adventures in Science, but with their new Our Land webcomic, Dead Canary Comics’ Matt Fitch and Chris Baker have opted for a more earthly tale of racism and Native Americans, but with their own other-worldly twist. Despite this, we find out how this North American set tale actually has it’s roots in the UK.
Tell us a bit about the origin of the world in your new Our Land webcomic? What made you choose to write about Native Americans in the US? It’s a bit different to Apollo!
Matt Fitch: We do love a space story, but the theme we seem to unintentionally keep coming back to in our writing is America. Not just the place, but what it stands for.
But despite the setting, Our Land is actually a reaction to what’s going on in the UK right now. Our country is so divided at the moment, with deep-rooted racism and hatred everywhere, we saw an opportunity to tackle some of those issues by focusing on the plight of the Native American.
You’re releasing it as a webcomic, why did you choose this instead of a print release? And have you had to change any of your writing practices to help fit this new schedule?
Chris Baker: We did pitch the story to a number of publishers, and feedback was positive across the board, but ‘big two’ aside, the comics industry is a place of tight-budgets and small release slates, so despite the praise nobody was willing to take it on. That pushed us to think about alternative routes, and releasing it through Dead Canary as a webcomic seemed like a logical step.
The digital space is actually very exciting, it’s been really eye-opening for us. There’s something really nice about being able to give readers something new every other day and receive instant feedback. It’s been very rewarding seeing our readership grow each day as people become invested in the story and want to know what’s coming next.
The full script for Our Land is already written, so our writing practices haven’t changed much, but releasing pages one at a time does allow us to review them one by one and make dialogue changes on the fly if we want to, which is fun and quite liberating as writers.
Will it be getting a print release once it’s complete? And how long is the series planned to be?
MF: Our Land was written as a four-issue miniseries, and the plan is to retain that four-part structure even though it’s now a webcomic. If there’s demand we might release it as a trade once the story is done, but for now we’re just focusing on making the best digital release possible.
You’ve worked with artist J Francis Totti on Adventures in Science, did you have him picked out for Our Land from it’s creation? Or did you develop the story together?
CB: Joe is a force for nature and the three of us get on extremely well both creatively and as friends, so we were keen to work with him again on pretty much anything. We pitched Our Land over drinks at a con and without even blinking he accepted the challenge.
What does he bring to the story and what do you love most about his artwork?
MF: Joe has brought a lot to the table. We’ve worked closely with him to develop the world, characters and visual language of the story. He’s done a lot of his own research into Native American imagery and contributed some lovely touches to how Dena’s powers manifest themselves. When we look for an artist to collaborate with, we look for a true partner, somebody we can rely on to dive in and own as much of the story as we do. Work ethic is also really important to us, and Joe has that in spades… many a late night has been sacrificed to bring you this story.
Were there any books or films which inspired Our Land?
CB: We like to say Our Land is us doing ‘Michael Bay with substance’, so we’ve watched a lot of action movies in preparation! We also watched old war movies and sci-fi B-Movies from the 1940s and 50s, as well as a number of documentaries about the time and place we were writing about. Even though this is fantastical, as with all our projects we wanted it to feel authentic so we did a lot of real-world research, looking at everything from old maps of the area to vehicles and weapons of the time.
And finally, are you working on anything else at the moment which you can mention?
MF: We’re working on something very special (and very secret) right now. It’s certainly the most ambitious thing we’ve ever done, and once again it’s set in America. But for now that’s all we can say…