Until Death Do Us Part...Unless There's a Zombie Apocalypse – An Interview with SILV STEVENSON
Here we are, once again, hanging out in the Yeti Cave for an exciting installment of Cryptid-Bits! Today, I am chatting with Silv Stevenson about getting into comics, zombie stories, and lessons learned in crowdfunding. It's a great chat, so come on in.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Silv, thank you for joining me in the Yeti Cave to talk about Until Death. The KS campaign runs until September 2nd. What’s Until Death all about?
SS: It’s a one-shot story about a young woman wrestling with the nature of her husband during a zombie outbreak.
CBY: What’s your comic creator origin story, meaning when did you first get into comics and what was it that made you want to create comics?
SS: I initially got into comics through manga. I was always curious and interested, but weirdly too bashful to read them. Eventually, I did start reading manga at my local library and was hooked. I eventually started a few of my own comics in junior and high school for different assignments and in my free time as fan art. I was just so inspired by the stories in other mediums, from games to movies and other books. Comics was an accessible medium for me to play with. Mostly. I got busy with my day job and it got lost for a while under life.
The older I got, the more I wanted to try my hand at making comics myself again, but as a writer. Drawing just wasn’t my avenue. With the COVID-19 pandemic, I was fortunate to not lose income and used the time stuck at home to start writing THE DEATH TALLY. Its conception had begun in late 2019. I had other ideas too (some a decade old), but for whatever reason, THE DEATH TALLY was the first one out the gate and finished. The recent tax return and stimulus checks helped massively.
CBY: Is there a comic (single issue, trade, or OGN) that made you feel the way you hope readers of Until Death will feel after reading it?
SS: I’m sure that book exists, I’ve either not seen it or can’t think of it off the top of my head. Until Death was pulled from real-life events and a voice that I wish had been there at the time. I’ll go straight ahead and recommend Harleen by Stjepan Šejić, though. That is a fantastic book about a toxic relationship.
CBY: There are plenty of comics, tv shows, and movies set during a zombie apocalypse that I imagine it must be difficult to try and bring something new to that genre, but it certainly appears that you have. Did you have any trepidation about the zombie apocalypse setting and why do you think stories using zombies as a backdrop are still so appealing?
SS: The usage of zombies was automatic and integral to the story I wanted to tell. Zombies can be captivating because of the themes or ideas you can play with by using them. They’re human monsters. Until Death was a tad influenced by the pandemic response as well. It was hard to not draw comparisons.
CBY: John and Ruth’s relationship in Until Death is emotionally abusive. The KS campaign page says that you’re “pulling from personal experiences.” When taking experiences from your personal life, especially painful or traumatic experiences, and writing about them in a work of fiction, is there a catharsis that comes from that?
SS: There was a lot of catharsis at first. To take such a garbage situation and get SOMETHING out of it. But it sort of comes back to bite you later because it is also a reminder of things you’ve mentally or emotionally moved on from.
CBY: With Until Death, your collaborators are Marc Perugini (artist), Shan Bennion (colorist), LetterSquids (letterer), and Richard Pace (editor). How did the creative team come together and what qualities do you look for in your collaborators?
SS: I sent out a call for an artist over on Twitter and when I saw an email from Marc I totally freaked out. I had seen his and Shan’s work in another Kickstarter book (Cuddles) and had really enjoyed it. He and Shan work together on a lot of books in fact so I was able to ask for Shan to come in. They’re a great duo. I had consulted with Richard and worked with LetterSquids on my previous book. Like with the art and colors, LetterSquids’ work is also phenomenal and something that had grabbed my attention early. His work really highlights how the lettering itself is an art.
CBY: Until Death was unsuccessfully funded on KS a few months ago. What changes did you make to the campaign and/or marketing strategy between then and now? You have had a few KS the past 2 years. What have you learned about crowdfunding in that time?
SS: With Until Death, it felt like we didn’t have as good a first week for whatever reason, though I suspect the algorithm played a part. I was also wanting to have THE DEATH TALLY piggyback off some of those funds, meaning that goal did not need to be as high as it was. The book itself was already paid for. With the second campaign, I lowered it and the reward prices. Other than that, there weren’t really other changes. Everything else was the same between the two.
A few things that I’ve learned from Kickstarter so far is to get the goal as low as possible, market the heck out of it, and get prices lower. Also add on way more extra months to books that aren’t already finished to give the creative team and printers time. Because stuff will happen to prolong its fulfillment no matter how sure you are of your schedule.
CBY: What are the comics, books, TV shows, and movies that you are currently enjoying?
SS: The Sandman is a huge one right now. That felt like a phenomenal show and I’ll be reading the comic as soon as it becomes available at my library. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying a lot of books from Image, especially ones written by James Tynion IV. I tend to like darker books and dramatic stuff. Sexy too.
CBY: Tell me about any upcoming projects or friends’ projects that CBY readers should check out.
SS: Once Until Death gets to being shipped, we’ll run a campaign for the next issue of THE DEATH TALLY. I’m also always working on other ideas in the background. There’s a really fun Hell-centered one I want to do next.
As for projects from other creatives I know, there’s just so many. Lincoln Green by Chris Fildes and Donna Black is coming up, as well as L.A. Chavez and Julio Suarez’s Heirs Of Dim Mak.
CBY: Where can you be found online?
SS: I can always be found on Twitter at SilvStevenson and on Instagram under TheDeathTally.
CBY: Thank you so much, Silv, and good luck with the rest of the campaign.