Trolltooth Wars – An Interview

If you don’t follow me on Twitter (shame on you!), you will have missed my constant promotion of a project that my OH is currently working on. In the hope of realising a childhood dream, he’s working with artist Gavin Mitchell to create and publish a Fighting Fantasy graphic novel. They’ve already put a lot of work in to this but there’s still a long way to go. Self publication ain’t easy, it seems. As this goes live, there are 12-days left on the Kickstarter campaign and a chunk of money still required but we’re optimistic. (You can pledge HERE)

I wandered up to our spare room, where the computer and now PJ lives, and grilled him about the project.

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When did your love of Fighting Fantasy start? 
When I was a child, my primary school had some of the FF books in the school library. I read them and enjoyed them, and then pestered my mum to buy me one. She got me book one, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone’s original gamebook. I was hooked from then on.

What gave you the idea to turn Trolltooth Wars in to a graphic novel? 
Fighting Fantasy books always had some fantastic covers, filled with colourful monsters and characters. The books themselves were also illustrated throughout by some very talented artists, so there’s always been a strong visual sense of the world of Titan. For a while, I’d been trying to figure out if it would be possible to make a Fighting Fantasy style comic (complete with different paths and stats for the reader to keep track of, etc), but I was struggling to make it work. I then realised that there was a series of stories right there, waiting to be adapted, set on Titan. If I could make it work, an adaptation of a Fighting Fantasy novel could make for a fun fantasy comic, and allow me to play in the Fighting Fantasy sandbox, something which had been a dream of mine since childhood.

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The art/inking/lettering is being done by Gavin Mitchell, what made you choose him? 
Gavin actually approached me about doing the book. I had put word out that I was looking for an artist who would be interested in working with me on a fantasy comic, and Gavin was one of the ones who responded. We’d already worked together on Stiffs, so I knew that a) he had the talent to make the book look fantastic, and b) we could work well together. He’s doing some amazing work on the book. I can’t wait for people to see it.

How  much involvement has Steve Jackson had in the project? 
There were a lot of conversations between myself and Steve during the early stages, but in terms of producing the actual comic, he’s pretty much left us to it. Obviously, with Fighting Fantasy in general, and The Trolltooth Wars in particular, being his baby, he wants to make sure we get it right, so we do send him some of the artwork so he see how we’re progressing. At the end of the day, we want this to be as good as we can make it, and having feedback from the original author is a big help in that respect.

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What made you decide to use Kickstarter? 
Necessity. While The Trolltooth Wars is an official Fighting Fantasy product, it’s also an indie comic. It has the FF logo on the front, but all the art and print costs have to be raised to make it a reality. Art is Gavin’s full time job, so he needs to get paid, and if we can’t print it, there’s no point, so we turned to Kickstarter to try and raise those funds. It helps that having a Kickstarter campaign is a good way to raise awareness of the comic, and get the word out that we’re putting this together in advance of the printing. While its primary goal is to get the money, the promotion it gives you certainly doesn’t hurt.

The video is a lot of fun but also informative. How difficult was it to create and get the balance correct? 
Actually, it was easier than you might expect. Right from the off, Gavin and I wanted to make sure that the video was fun. We watched a few Kickstarter videos for research, both good and bad, and we found that the more successful campaigns were the ones which had a fun video. People are more likely to watch to the end and take a look at your page if they’ve enjoyed your video, so that was an important element to get in there. Of course, it’s no good if your video is funny without actually telling people anything about the project, so we needed to make sure that we got the relevant information in there. We also wanted to make sure we didn’t poke fun at the very thing we were trying to create. If you watch the video, you’ll see that we take the book very seriously, while making fun of ourselves. Or at least, that was the goal!

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How did you decide on the total amount you need to raise? 
It was simply the minimum amount we needed to make sure we had enough for both the art and printing costs, plus Kickstarter fees and rewards. Unfortunately, those costs quickly add up, more than you might expect!

Anything else you’d like people to know about your project? 
Gavin and I are both excited about getting Steve Jackson’s The Trolltooth Wars out there for people to read. We think it’s going to be a fun, exciting graphic novel, which will appeal both to Fighting Fantasy fans, and people who’ve never even heard of the series before. Backers on Kickstarter also have the chance to get copies signed by Steve Jackson, signed copies of Jonathan Green’s excellent history of Fighting Fantasy, You Are The Hero, and can get drawn into the comic as their choice of a human, undead or goblin character. Back the campaign, and get one of the first copies of an epic fantasy adventure!

If you haven’t donated yet, please do. Pledges start from as little as £1 and there are some great rewards still available. Importantly, as I’m asked this a lot, no money will be taken from your account until 02-04-2015 and then only if the project is fully funded. Any and all help is appreciated, even if it’s just sharing this blog post.

If you have any questions about the project, comment below or contact @PJMontgomery on Twitter. You can pledge HERE.

The use of any image from this blog without express permission is strictly prohibited.

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