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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
MP: It just looks beautiful as a presentation. That's why we went for that.
DA: "I'd just like to say, it's always a pleasure to speak about comics – not just what I'm working on, but comics in general. The community is full of great creators and amazing projects. What I'd love to see is everybody keep putting everything out. Don't give up on what you got going on. It might seem hard doing it, but if somebody like me can do the greatest juggling act ever, if I can do it then you can do it."
DA: I agree. A square-bound book as opposed to the traditional stapled comics, this is a bigger project. With forty-two pages worth of material, there's probably gonna be more, it's not going to hold together very well. In my experience when I bought books that big or even bigger and they've been just regular staple books, they tend to fall apart over time. I've got a couple of square-bound comics running around here in my collection. There's one that came out a couple months ago that's roughly 56 pages, and it's just beautiful. You can crack it open, and it looks fresh every time as opposed to, say, my regular floppies. Centerfold pages start to come out. I can kind of fix that but after a while, they're just gonna start coming apart just like older books from the Silver and Bronze eras. You want people to get a project and product that looks beautiful. When Marcus proposed the idea for the square book, I just happen to look at a couple in my collection, just kind of go over it and see if it was perfect and I was like, well, that should work. It shouldn't be bad. The cost of a square-bound book is not that far off from a normal floppy from comparing prices from various places like Ka-Blam and a couple other printers in the country. It's about what was best for us, and I thought this was just as cost-effective as making a regular floppy. Marcus agreed with that too.
CBY: Devin, I know you recently joined up with the Band of Bards crew. You have two projects, Magni the Mighty and Katsumi, both with planned 2022 releases, if I'm understanding correctly. How'd you hook up with Tim and Chris?
DA: It was actually a stroke of luck for me. Ironically, it was around the same time that Marcus and I linked up to do The Gateway. I just happened to see Band of Bards running through my newsfeed as a new publisher in town. I'm like, well, what's the chances that they are taking in new submissions? I saw their mission statement, and I wanted to test the waters to see if they would be willing to listen to me about my project.
Maybe about a month or two goes by, and then I get my submission requests ready to pitch to both Tim and Chris. Although I didn't get to pitch to Chris at the time, he had some other obligations going on, I did speak with Tim for about two and a half hours – longest day of my life. It was a Friday night too. I had just gotten off work, I was kind of tired, and realistically, I was kind of nervous because I had never pitched to a publisher. I guess that's not true. I pitched to publishers before, but that fell through. Talking to Tim, they really liked the ideas that I had for Magni and Katsumi. I really love these projects to death. Magni is gonna be my first ongoing project, as opposed to Katsumi which will be a quarterly kind of project so that gives me a little bit more leeway. I have about half a dozen scripts written. It still gives me time to work on other things.
I'll be working with Godhood Comics as an editor for GPD. I've got a couple other things I'm doing in between in my freelance career. Hooking up with them was probably the greatest opportunity that I ever had in my life really. I can do something that I've always wanted to do since I was a young child, so I'm just very thankful that they gave me this opportunity to really tell a story that I'm passionate about. It'll really set itself apart from the typical core stories that you would see done by Marvel or even books like Wonder Woman or anything that features a godly, super-powerful character – this is way different. I think what people will see when I get the issues out, they'll see that it truly is unique. As far as Katsumi is concerned, this is me playing on Japanese culture that I really enjoyed. I watch anime. I'm a big anime fan. I had to inject traditional lore from Japanese culture and then a couple of other elements to make a brand new, unique project that I'm hoping I can really set apart from a lot of similar material out there in the world. I think that once everything comes together, I think everybody will really enjoy what I have planned.
MP: "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: Marcus, let's get you in here. What other irons do you have in the fire? What's next for you after The Gateway?
MP: I've got another book coming on called Ballad of the Gods, which will start off as a webcomic, a fully colored cosmic kind of thing. That's what I'm working on at the moment. After The Gateway two and three, I don't really have anything else lined up if anyone wants to hire me after January. I'm sure I'll find something, but nothing's concrete at the moment.
CBY: Is there anything else you guys would like to add before we wrap up today about The Gateway, or anything else you got going on?
MP: If you like hearing us ramble, chat, and stuff and feel the need to go and back The Gateway, that would be fantastic. Go back it so we can justify putting out the second two books.
DA: I'd just like to say, it's always a pleasure to speak about comics not just what I'm working on, but comics in general. The community is full of great creators and amazing projects. What I'd love to see is everybody keep putting everything out. Don't give up on what you got going on. It might seem hard doing it, but if somebody like me can do the greatest juggling act ever, if I can do it then you can do it. You just have to put your mind to it and get in where you fit in. You got time to do 15 minutes worth of art, writing, coloring, or whatever. Whatever process that you do as a creator, then do it because you'll be a lot better for it. It'll really put you in a better position and then that further down the course of your career. Push for those goals. Don't just sit back and watch everybody else make it. It may seem like you're falling behind. It's not a race, everybody's got their own pace, so don't get discouraged when you see other folks making a bid or whatever thinking you might be at a disadvantage with releasing your project. No, release it at your own pace.
As far as promoting The Gateway, I'd love it if more people back it to get this project funded because I'd love to get everybody their copy in full. Even without Kickstarter, you're still going to get this book one way or another.
MP: Follow us on the socials and shit, then look out for stuff that's coming out. You're all so lovely. Thank you for listening. You've been an absolute pleasure to talk to.
DA: Pretty much same with me. If everybody can just keep following me and share my profile with friends, that will be more folks looking at my work. Keep an eye out for The Gateway. Everybody just needs a little push. Be ready for this crazy wave of material I have in the coming year because it's gonna be a lot of awesome stuff.
CBY: We have Band of Bards wanting to jump in here. Go ahead.
@BANDOFBARDS: I just wanted to say thanks for shouting us out and to give my full support for Devin and his team. The Gateway is a fantastic comic. Devin's an amazing writer. I can also vouch for his scriptwriting. It's really fantastic to be able to have the inside knowledge of some of their stories and see where they're going. It's so cool seeing everybody's different scripting styles, and Devin's are incredibly easy to follow. You know exactly where it's going and can see his thought process behind everything which is why we spent two and a half hours chatting. It's really cool. I just wanted to give kudos to the full team of The Gateway, and thanks for talking about his work slated with us for 2022.
MP: You don't have to have a two hour conversation with me man, just send me something to draw and I'll do it.
BOB: Definitely, we have a long process that's mostly to get to know each other because making comics is one hell of an undertaking. Don't be scared by that conversation, that was a little bit longer than the norm.
DA: I think it was really just me dumping my whole brain. I didn't expect it to be that long, but it was me just gushing about the project. That's something I really liked to do.
CBY: There's nothing wrong with being proud of what you do. All right guys, I appreciate you both so much for joining me today. Go to Kickstarter, check out The Gateway to support Devin and Marcus and let's get this thing fully funded. Thank you.
Alright, appreciate you guys. Take care everybody. Thanks for listening. Have a great one.
This is a transcript of the interview conducted on Twitter Spaces with Devin Arscott and Markus Pattern on Saturday, October 16, 2021. Minor content changes have been made to assist with readability.
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All The Gateway characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Devin Arscott and Markus Pattern or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED