THE GATEWAY – A Twitter Spaces Interview With Devin Arscott And Markus Pattern

Writer: Devin Arscott Artist: Markus Pattern Letterer: Issac Wilbanks

Cover Artist: Nikita Rissanen

Comic Book Yeti's Byron O'Neal interviews writer Devin Arscott and Markus Pattern about their new Kickstarter comics project, The Gateway. Transcribed from the ongoing Saturday Twitter Spaces creator chatform.

The Gateway - Cover Issue #1

COMIC BOOK YETI: This is Byron O'Neal for Comic Book Yeti continuing our weekend creator chat here on Twitter Spaces. Today, I'm welcoming in Devin Arscott and Marcus Pattern to talk about their Kickstarter campaign for The Gateway.

Welcome, guys.

DEVIN ARSCOTT: Thanks for having us.

CBY: I always like to do a mental health check with my people. We're about halfway through the Kickstarter at this point. How are you guys feeling?

DA: Honestly, this is pretty daunting. This is our first joint collaboration effort on a project. Marcus, do you want to go ahead?

MARKUS PATTERN: On my end, because this is my first Kickstarter, I don't know if we're in a midway slump. I don't know how bad it is and maybe with a little traction, it will take off. You never know if you're doing enough and what fails and what doesn't. You're at the behest of algorithms and stuff. It's a bit of...can I swear?

CBY: Of course, let it go.

MP: It's a bit of a motherfucker. I'd much prefer some jolly publishers pick us up so they can deal with this shit so I can try and get on with drawing, but this is the world I've decided to live in, so this is the pit I wallow [in].

CBY: I think these midway points are always the toughest part for people. You can hit that little bit of a slump area, and it can feel overwhelming. So, I always like to check in see how everybody's doing.

Let's jump a little bit more into the background of your project. What is The Gateway about?

DA: The Gateway is about a mysterious otherworldly portal that emerges within the town of Faith's Haven, Alabama. It manifests originally on the Owens Farm in town, and then it will eventually careen into the rest of Faith's Haven. From that point is where we have our protagonists Holt, Daisy and Jeb, they're all going to have to deal with that and get a group effort going to try to save their home before the worst happens, and nobody wants that.

CBY: You grew up in Toledo, Ohio, which is not that far from Detroit and Cleveland. I grew up in Tennessee. My grandparents had a 190-acre farm. I grew up cutting tobacco, which sucks by the way. I know farms. What made you want to set The Gateway in rural Alabama on a farm?

DA: Probably a couple years ago, long before I started this project, I took a trip to Alabama for my grandmother's birthday, my father's mother. We passed through a lot of rural space on the way down. I was like, wow, this would make for a killer story because how you see that rural space in the light versus in the dark is very ominous. It does not make me feel good, it bothers me.

On top of that, driving around the parts of Michigan that I have to travel through because I work usually in the middle of nowhere, right now I work in Saline, Michigan, but on my way there, it's nothing but farm space. There's nothing in between Monroe and the Saline and Ann Arbor areas. For me to travel to work in the dark, there's a lot of farm space, old tractors, animals, the whole nine. It's like, damn, that will really make for a good story. I wrote it in the beginning of December of last year. I really like horror type stuff. I like a lot of sci-fi properties. I used to watch sci-fi growing up a lot. So it was like, let me do something of my own. Yeah, it was pretty much a wrap after that, and I did that for a straight month.

CBY: Those rural atmospheres can be pretty intense for sure, especially at night.

There's a lot of familiar sci-fi components in your story. You mentioned growing up with it. The portal is a primary narrative element in your story, recently Stranger Things and Locke and Key have used kind of a similar thing. Without giving too much away here, where did your inspiration come from to use a gateway, and how is your interpretation of it unique?

The Gateway Interior Page

DA: As far as inspiration goes, you just mentioned those recent properties utilizing that same more or less trope of otherworldly portals and whatnot. I did watch Stranger Things for about a season or two. I thought it was pretty interesting, then it just fell off. From there, I wanted to put my spin on this. I wanted to see something kind of familiar, but it's going to be its own unique thing with something that really sets it apart from other established properties. I think that is the most telling portion of putting together The Gateway as it is currently. What people will see through not just this first issue, but there are two issues to follow after this to kind of tie everything up properly, they'll see that there are a lot of familiar elements but there are very unique things that I wanted to do with this project. I was trying to really sow the seeds within my characters and the location as it stands so as you guys progress through all this, you guys will see that.

I don't want to give too much away because I'm very good at spoiling my own stuff. Then everyone would be, well, they're not going to be underwhelmed, but I'm underwhelmed. I don't like doing that to myself, so I try to keep my mouth shut as much as possible.

CBY: Yeah, we don't want to give too much away. I want to make sure Marcus gets in here, so he doesn't get bored. So, this one's, I suppose, for you both. Who was the Aqua Teen Hunger Force fan because there are several nods peppered into the backgrounds in panels here and there, that I noticed?

MP: Was it the burger-themed place?

CBY: Yes.

MP: I can barely see the panel I stuck in man. I like the MF Doom album they did. It's the only album I'll listen to where it censors and stuff. Basically, I just figured it would be funny to have a burger themed motel so that's it. Otherwise, it would just be a boring motel. I figured it would give me something interesting to draw and stuff. I personally don't like the more recent things like Stranger Things and stuff. I maybe watched the first episode, so from my artistic interpretation, none of that noise is in there. I'm not doing '80s nostalgia, if anything I'm doing mid-'90s. The way I'm designing the alien life form is basically based on coral reefs and stuff. That's how I'm approaching it.

DA: Also, to add on to this as a part of the Aqua Teen reference, just imagine getting an email asking if you could do a burger theme for the hotel. I thought that was pretty funny because I immediately thought of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I'm like, go ahead and do it because I wanted to see that. I thought it was pretty cool.

MP: Am I not original? Jesus, I thought I was pioneering at stuff.

CBY: Only if you throw Glenn Danzig in there because that's absolutely my favorite Aqua Teen episode. That one was just epic. It was crazy.

Let's dig a little bit into your background, Marcus. Comics are universal, but your experience and influences, being across the pond in London, will be different from Devin and myself. Tell me a little bit about your background. Were you that kid who never stopped doodling?

MP: No, I didn't. Maybe about the age of 12 or 13, I thought I'd do doodling, and then I got into anime in a really big way. For a while it was like, I can draw DBZ and stuff so that's where I went from there. So, my primary influence was mid-'90s anime and stuff, and then the comics I got into were Spawn, and Deadpool, then the pseudo-manga kind of thing that Marvel and Image were doing about the mid-'90s. Then, I basically dropped off and tried to become a musician. I failed at that but always continued drawing, and I figured, well, I can try drawing comics again. I didn't keep up with it for long enough, and now I'm kind of barreling back into it. I've been properly focusing on drawing comics for about five years or so.

CBY: I watched, I think it was a Reddit video you guys recently produced where Marcus was drawing live. Do you use exclusively digital tools at this point? What does your process look like?

MP: I use Clip Studio and an XP. Yeah, I'm primarily digital. I used to be traditional, but it takes me ages. I just took to it like a duck to water really.

[Traditional] was a struggle for me. If you are doing sketches and borrow drawings, it's fine to just not look as great for me. A finished inked piece, that was tedious. I used to pencil digitally and then ink on top of it because I'm using the same brush. I just skip that stage where you're drawing an entire image three times. Basically, I'm a fully blown digital artist at this stage and time.

CBY: The Gateway is black and white by design. Talk to me about the challenges of translating that necessary suspense that you find in a horror comic book with monochrome.

The Gateway Interior Page

MP: How to translate it, that is a good question. Because you don't want to give too much away in the artwork and stuff, you want there to be some sort of suspense. Even though it's black and white, I don't like having big spots of black because it seems like to me it removes so much. I don't know how much of The Gateway that you've seen. That's why there's loads of nice background kind of stuff.

CBY: I've read through the first issue.

MP: The problem with black and white is that it can be quite sparse unless you're really committed to blacking out huge portions of it. Obviously, you don't want massive bits of white for your horror comic. Luckily, there's loads of brushes on Clip Studio that I can basically use to erase and obscure the image as much as possible.

CBY: I want to give a quick shout-out to the rest of your team. Isaac Wilbanks did the lettering on the project. How did your team come together?

MP: Devin's cool with Isaac, and I'm cool with Nikita, the chick who did the cover. She would have been coloring the entire issue but the cost of getting a color comic printed in the States is ridiculously prohibitive so that's why it's black and white.

DA: Correct. I essentially started mentoring him after we really got cool through his project. I edited for him in the background for The Sentinel. I really liked how he lettered comics, so it was just a natural thing. I texted him one day and said, hey, do you want to do some lettering for a book together? It'll really set us up for a while between all four of us that gives us what we need. He jumped on that quick, and then from there, we had a full team of people.

My portion along with Marcus's portions were essentially done. Marcus would send updates on finished pages. Isaac will take the rest and then start lettering as he could and in batches because that way it was a wrap. After that, it's just pretty much pulling that whole effort [together] without the cover. Nikita did the cover for it. I love the colors on it. It just pulled everything together, and we all work very well with one another. It's not like one of those teams that you have to pull together where nobody works well with one another, and communication just falls off. We're pretty good about the proper portions of, "Hey, I need to do this," "Alright, thanks." Everybody knows their role and how to play it very well. It's pretty much the perfect match.

CBY: You guys have both produced webcomics. I was recently chatting with Sierra Barnes, and she talked about how working on those types of projects will evolve your work over time as an artist. How has that experience been a catalyst for both of you growing as creators?

DA: At least for me personally, it's essentially built a fanbase. I think it was about a month ago now, I dropped Kingsley Barnes. My first ever full-page comic book and debuted that character. So it's like, I wanted to do something, I did it, notch on my belt. Obviously, I want to do more, and it really showed everyone what I could do as a writer with such limited scope. One page was hard enough to write. Now try to maximize that into a fuller project – 20 pages, 40 pages, 60, 80, 100. It takes time, and if you don't pace yourself and all that good stuff then you're not going to have a proper comic put together to either have a webcomic or a full-fledged project. So, in my experience it really helped. It really helped me as a writer, helped me as an editor, helped me as a creator. As far as Marcus goes, he can explain his portion because I know it would have helped him a lot better than me coming on from being an artist versus a writer.

MP: The more you do, the more you learn. If you've created something, you can always edit as well. [You say to yourself,] "That was stupid, I'm not doing that again." If my intention was to have this trope where there would be four little squares at the top of every issue. I did that a couple times. Well, that's really stupid, tedious, and I don't want that, so now I'm dropping that.

The one-pagers are a really good way to hone your craft and telling stories because if you can tell an entire story within that one page, that's a real skill. So, that's what I learned. You just quit trying to tell an entire story on a page and just hone your skills and stuff, learning what I don't like doing, what I do like doing. In this, I've learned I like drawing horses and I don't like drawing cars, learning what stages to skip, how to not be so disorganized and discombobulated. Every day is a learning day, you know.

CBY: You are doing square-bound formatting with The Gateway. Was that a monetary reason in terms of printing it? What was the reasoning behind that?