When The Ship Comes In: An Interview With Aaron Fever
Aaron Fever has had a lot of things going on lately from funding a Ship Wrecked trade collection to helping start Irish Comics Dot IE. We asked him about all about these and more.
Ship Wrecked is coming to a close and there’s a trade collection on the way. How do you feel about it ending? Having it all collected must be bittersweet.
I have to admit, I’ve gotten emotional on a couple of occasions. Once when writing the final few pages for SHIP WRECKED Volume 5 and again when Kaite Fleming and Rebecca Nalty sent me their artwork for them. It’s been 5 years which feels both like a lifetime and no time at all. I’ve learned a lot in that time and maybe more importantly I’ve made some great friends from it too. While I think the story has come to a natural end, I know I’ll always be thinking about these characters. The trade just arrived this week and it looks pretty amazing on my bookshelf. I’m still processing the whole experience, I think.
You funded a lot of it through Kickstarter. Any useful tips for running a campaign?
So many! First of all, everything I learned doing Kickstarters is due to making mistakes and let me tell you folks I made a lot of them. Shipping is an absolute nightmare to try and get right but can be a huge debt if you get wrong so try your best to get your postage costs correct in advance including the price of buying packaging! Take a trip to the post-office if you have to and ask some questions, bring an example book so they can weigh it.
The other bit of advice I can give is to know your audience. We all hope to go viral with a campaign but the likelihood is we’ll get mostly our current fans/friends getting involved. Try to budget your project with that in mind. For example, I’ve usually paid for the printing of my comic myself because I know that I can’t really raise the funds for much more than the artists’ and letterer’s fees on Kickstarter. Sometimes you have to hedge your bets, which is maybe slightly pessimistic but I’d prefer to think of it as realistic, haha. You get nothing if you don’t reach that KS goal.
Speaking of Kickstarter campaigns, you have a story in Turning Roads. Can you tell us about that?
Yes! I love it so much so I’ll talk about it at every opportunity. When Paul Carroll told us the theme of the anthology (taking Irish myths and modernising them or even bringing them to the future) the Children of Lír was a story that quickly came to mind as it was always a favourite of my youth. While the original was a bit of a long tale spanning 100s of years, we obviously had to simplify things for 4 pages. We bring it to modern times and set it along the Royal Canal in Dublin. Instead of the children of a king, it’s a homeless man hoping the swans transform back into their human selves. We hint at some of the original story elements but mostly it’s just about the sadness of missing your family, really.Alice Leclert and David B Cooper do a stunningly beautiful job on art, as I think you’ll agree.
A big thing at the moment is Irish Comics Dot IE. Can you tell us how you got involved and what made you want to be a part of it?
It basically happened from me ranting at Paul Carroll, Hugh Madden, and Clare Foley on a Zoom call. We had been chatting regularly online since the start of the pandemic, trying to offer a bit of support to each other through this madness. One of the things we were lamenting about from the quarantine era is losing a lot of the community and mutual cheerleading that happens from conventions and events. I thought we could do a better job at promoting each-other online and pooling our resources so I brought up the idea of the style of website I came up with in my teens. Sites that posted regularly scheduled comics from different creators each week but as a specific team rather than using open sites like Tapas or Webtoon with a bunch of strangers. A one-stop-shop for reading comics from Irish creators. Paul has done all the heavy lifting of creating and maintaining the site. We were mostly just shocked IrishComics.ie was still available as a domain, haha!
Your first book on the site is with Hugh Madden. When did you discover his work?
I met Hugh through DCAF (see, these comic events are important!) he offered me a chocolate and the rest was history. I’ve always been a fan of his art style, the heavy European comic art influence makes him really stand out in a crowd. I never thought he’d work with me though because up until recently he had worked on all his comics solo. Luckily, he reached out a year or so ago about collaborating on a story that he had a rough premise and characters for. We worked closely on developing that story out and I’m really proud of what he’s doing with those script pages now. Absolutely breathtaking work. MR & MRS VAN HELSING is gonna be a wild ride.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the story? Maybe some of the influences for it?
Hugh will be the first to tell you, the characters he approached me with are quite different to who they are now. Bela and Erzabet were originally in a dysfunctional relationship. However, I’ve always been a fan of couples in serialised storytelling who are very different people but those differences are how they support each other, so I think you’ll see a lot of that play out in this story. They’re a very sweet couple. Romance novel tropes probably play a bigger influence than you’d think. I kinda want Bela Van Helsing to be a heartthrob. We’ll see if my plan works! But if you watched the TV show THE VENTURE BROS you may get a similar tone to what we’re doing too. I think I wanted that Saturday Morning Cartoon show setting but with a grown-up neurotic character interaction vibe that their show did so well.
Regarding Irish Comics Dot IE, can you give us any details on upcoming stories or any other creators coming on board?
As of writing this, we just announced the legendary Leeann Hamilton will be bringing her fun TRIASSIC PARK comic to us and we’ll soon be adding a new short story by Paul Caroll and the skyrocketing artist Gavin Fullerton. This may be some exclusive news for ICN though, Kevin M. Smith will soon be posting his stylish comic MARCO THE DEMON DUDE starting on Friday 10th of September. That brings the number of creators who have contributed up to 10 which is still scratching the surface of the Irish Comics scene but I think it’s not bad for two months of the site’s existence! I’m so excited to see the site grow the way it is.
Anything else upcoming you’d like to mention?
My imaginary publicist would probably fire me if I didn’t mention SHIP WRECKED Volume 5 starts posting online Wednesday September 1st. I’m hoping this being the last in the series, we get that LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING Oscars effect and finally get the ICN award this year. Although I’ll probably have to hack John Cullen’s website to make that happen, haha. I’d also just like to take a moment to thank you, David, for the hard work you do here at ICN. These online touchstones in the Irish Comics community are a big reason we were able to do something like IrishComics.ie in the first place so big shout out to you and the crew here for your dedication.