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Blake McCarthy talks Territory, Cullen Bunn and Kickstarter

Blake McCarthy talks Territory, Cullen Bunn and Kickstarter

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This article is part of the Super Backer Digi-Mag which is covered solely by the Soda and Telepaths editing team. Super Backer is a bi-monthly digital magazine which reports exclusively on Kickstarter Campaigns. You can subscribe to Super Backer by heading here.

Black McCarthy brings Post-Apocalyptic storytelling to Territory Issue 3

Earlier this month I caught up with Blake McCarthy, the creator and writer of independent post-apocalyptic comic book, Territory. Described as a post apocalyptic kaiju story set in the far distant Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Ancestors tell the story of how civilization was wiped from the earth in nuclear fire long ago. In this interview, Blake and I talk about getting started in comics, campaign milestones, getting inspired by Cullen Bunn scripts and the apocalypse!

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Let’s talk about you. Who are you, where are you from and what do you do in the world of comics?

Blake McCarthy: My name is Blake McCarthy and I was born and raised in Colorado and currently live in Loveland, CO. Territory is my entrance as a creator into the world of comics. I grew up reading them and was re-inspired by them when my 2 sons started getting into super heroes.

After starting to read them again frequently I realized they would be a perfect medium for Territory which had been brewing in my head in various forms for a couple years. I had wanted to write a story for awhile, and dabbled in screenplay writing in college, but after realizing comics was the perfect medium for the story everything just fell into place and I felt I was able to tell the story I had been trying to tell for years.

Your series, Territory, is a post-apocalyptic series you’ve been finding on Kickstarter but before we talk too much there, let’s talk about your earlier creations. Anything of note?

Blake McCarthy: None! Territory is the first time I’ve ever really created anything so it’s been an amazing learning experience and I’ve been very fortunate to meet and work with a ton of very creative people.

Territory Issue 2, Page 1
Territory Issue 2, Page 1

How have those earlier comics shaped your approach to Territory?

Blake McCarthy: While I don’t have any other completed comics aside from TERRITORY I did write a couple one shot scripts as a sort of practice for myself before I dug into the bigger TERRITORY story. I’m very glad I did as it helped me figure out a lot as far as templates, pacing, etc. My template is heavily influenced by Cullen Bunn, whose script for The Sixth Gun, I was able to find online.

It also taught me I did much better if I roughly mapped out the whole story page by page first, then wrote the pages after. I tried writing each page as I went, but felt like the pacing was way off and so I was able to develop a template to map things out to give me somewhat of a guide as I put the story together.

What’s the penultimate post-apocalyptic story?

Blake McCarthy: The story that always comes to my mind when I think post-apocalyptic is The Road. In reality the world would be a brutal, ugly place in my mind if we were brought back to our base instincts and no other piece of media has captured that better than The Road. I have yet to read Cormac McCarthy’s novel though I would like to, however the movie is fantastic.

Its bleak depiction of the constant fear and struggle the characters face in daily life feels like a world that has lost all hope and has come to an end. The father son duo also perfectly captures the desperate will people have to survive, especially the need to protect their loved ones. The characters feel so real and their motives so relatable, the decisions aren’t always easy but they most likely wouldn’t be in such a terrible scenario.

Territory Issue 2, Page 2
Territory Issue 2, Page 2

I feel like as much as post-apocalyptic storytelling is technically a sub-genre of science fiction, the argument could be put forth that it’s also a horror sub-genre. What are your thoughts here?

Blake McCarthy: I think it is story dependent but horror is a natural fit. Civilizations have described the end of the world in many horrifying ways across history. As humans we are both fascinated and terrified by our own mortality, and the apocalypse seems to be the culmination of that. I say story dependent  because there are such a wide variety of apocalyptic/post apocalyptic stories that it’s hard to fit them into one genre.

Some stories use the apocalypse as a tool or setting for something more humorous, like Love & Monsters or Good Omens. That being said the majority definitely seem to have some sort of horror element to them, even if it’s in a more existential sense. In today’s world survival is so comfortable and taken for granted by many people that it’s terrifying to think of all the things we rely on without even thinking about them being stripped away.

Add in the monsters/disease/barbarism, that is usually a part of these stories, and the world has gone from a comfortable place to a terrifying one.

Tell the readers about your storyline and what’s unique about it?

Blake McCarthy: Territory is set in a far distant future in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, centuries after some sort of nuclear apocalypse. The remaining people now survive in tribes and worship Behemoths as gods, which are massive kaiju that sprung up as a result of the nuclear event and are now the dominant life forms on earth. Modern technology is long lost to these people as both they and the world around them have reverted to a more primal state.

The story follows Alkia, a young woman whose tribe worships the Greathorn, a massive bear/elk kaiju that rules over the forest. The story is an exploration of how we are taught to believe things, and how we deal with those beliefs and how they change as the world around us changes.

It begins with Alkia encountering the Greathorn for the first time, setting off a chain of events that teaches her about the Greathorn and the tribe’s past, as well as new conflicts as the Greathorn must battle a new Behemoth, shaping the future of the tribe and her beliefs. This mixture of post apocalyptic kaiju action and a grounded take on religion and belief gives the reader both exciting and memorable scenes, as well as thoughts to chew on long after the story is over.

Let’s talk about your Issue 3 and your Kickstarter project. How has knowing you were going to Kickstart this book shaped your approach to the overall campaign?

Blake McCarthy: The first 2 issues were successfully Kickstarted last year so this will be my third Kickstarter campaign. While I am getting comfortable with the basics I still am experimenting with ways to deliver the best experience possible to all backers. As a brand new creator for the first campaign I was extremely nervous and had no idea what I was doing, so I kept the first campaign pretty basic as I mostly just wanted to make sure I could do it.

For the second one now that I had a little bit of a built-in audience I tried to expand the campaign to offer more options and see what people liked. Now for the third campaign I am trying to take the knowledge gained from the second campaign  of what worked and what didn’t, and streamline the campaign to offer the best experience for backers while being viable for me. I feel like this is the most cohesive campaign yet and has an identity fans of Territory will be able to recognize and will attract new fans as well. 

Promotion is always a hard thing to do as an independent creator so when putting the campaign together I tried to really identify what aspects of the book people liked. Fortunately the creative team is amazing and artist Chris Sassman, colorist Ichsan Ansori, letterer Marco Della Verde and editor Nicole D’Andria all worked hard to get the story done before the campaign goes live which gives me plenty of material to use for promotion.

I believe in the story we’ve put together so being able to use that story and show people what they’ll be getting is huge in catching the attention of new fans as well as getting it out to reviewers and influencers in the community to help spread the word.

Territory Issue 2, Page 3
Territory Issue 2, Page 3

Let’s talk stretch rewards. Are you doing them, what are they and how have they contributed to the success of your campaign previously?

Blake McCarthy: Yes I have two different categories of “stretch rewards” to try and build excitement in a couple different ways. The first set I call “Milestones” which are triggered by the number of backers, that way every backer can feel as though they contributed regardless of the amount they back. These rewards are digital to make them cost effective but gives backers good insights into how the book gets made.

The first stretch reward is triggered at 100 backers and there will be 5 pages added to the PDF of behind the scenes pages of pencils, inks, concept art, etc.and the second is triggered at 200 backers, which would be more backers than previous campaign have gotten, and will get everyone a PDF of the completed script for issue 3.

Then our goal for the campaign is $3,000 with stretch goals at $4,000 of an art print of the kaiju fighting and $5,000 of a physical upgrade with the same 5 pages of behind the scenes content as the digital. Previous campaigns have met a couple of the milestones but they were just for digital backgrounds. With this campaign we are trying to offer more value to make them more exciting.

Hit me with your Kickstarter link.

The Kickstarter for issue 3 can be found here.

You can also catch up on both issues digitally for free over at Global Comix

Have I convinced you to support Territory?

Check out the Territory Kickstarter which offers Issues 1 through to 3 and leave a comment on your socials with what you thought about this Interview.

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