When Bureaucracy and Fantasy Combine (in a Fun Way) – An Interview with KACEY FLYNN
Kacey Flynn is the writer of Adventuring Without a Permit, currently on Kickstarter at 50% of its goal with 4 days to go (the campaign ends Friday, September 17, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. EDT). Despite the stress of running a Kickstarter campaign, Kacey was kind enough to chat with Jimmy Gaspero about AWP and their role as a DM for Everyone Dice.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Kacey, thank you so much for joining me in the Yeti Cave to discuss Adventuring Without a Permit! How have you been doing?
KACEY FLYNN: Hey Jimmy, thanks for having me! I’m doing about 40% good and 60% stress.
CBY: That sounds about right. What is your comics origin story? Have comics always been a part of your life?
KF: So, I’ve kinda been reading comics in some form since I was about in grade 6. A friend's dad had a huge X-Men collection and let me read through what he had under a very watchful eye. That sort of kicked things off, and here we are today.
CBY: Are you a full-time freelance writer, or do you have a “day job” and what is it?
KF: I’m lucky enough to be able to do this full-time.
CBY: Jumping right into AWP, I love fantasy/science-fiction stories that take fun concepts and steep them in bureaucracy. It’s something I think a writer like Douglas Adams did exceptionally well in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and it seems from what I’ve read of the Kickstarter campaign there’s some of that DNA in AWP. What was the inspiration for this story and what can readers expect?
KF: Well firstly, thank you so much for that. Even being in the same sentence as Hitchhiker’s Guide is flattering. Readers can expect not only fun and misadventure in AWP but also a good deal of heart – each issue will have at least one “awww” moment.
As for the inspiration, that's a great question. Well, Dungeons & Dragons is an obvious one, but one that isn’t readily apparent right away is the movie Brazil (a favourite of mine). Bureaucratic and administrative work can often be layer [after] layer of convoluted hoops and forms, and I wanted to sort of take a jab at that while telling a fun story.
CBY: I have been playing Dungeons & Dragons about once a month for the past 4 years and my oldest daughter, now 8, asks me a lot of questions about it. So I was ecstatic to see that this was an all-ages story that I think she will like. Did you set out to write an all-ages story? Was it important to you and the creative team to have a story that would appeal to kids and adults?
KF: So, funny enough, AWP didn’t start out all-ages. It wasn’t like a grimdark tale or anything, it was always a comedy, but we just hadn’t really settled on a direction for it yet. However, that all changed when Sam started working on the art, and that’s kinda when we knew exactly what the story was.
CBY: You DM (Dungeon Master) for Everyone Dice, which I do want to talk about more, but have you found that things that have happened during a session find their way into your writing? Are there moments from real life that have influenced AWP?
KF: Oh, one hundred percent. In fact, the opening 8 pages of the comic are inspired by a short adventure I ran for some friends in university.
CBY: The character designs for Baern, Laz, Mina, and Sami are great. Can you tell me about them (especially Mina, who is my 8-year-old daughter’s favorite). I’m always interested in character creation. Are any of your characters based on yourself or people you know? When writing, do you think of character first and then story/theme, or do you come up with a story you want to tell and then think of the type of characters that will serve it best?
KF: Thank you so much for that! Sam just knocked it out of the stratosphere with those designs. And tell your daughter she has excellent taste, as Mina is my favourite, too. So, while I know it’s kind of a cop-out answer, but for me, it really does depend on the story. Some stories are 100% character first and the story forms around them. Other times, I’ll have outlines of a story and sort of think of characters that fit the world.
CBY: The remainder of the creative team is incredible, with artist Sam Owen, colorist Dearbhla Kelly, letterer Ariana Maher, and editor Heather Tinsley. How did the creative team come together, and what do you think makes your collaboration successful?
KF: The team all came together sort of piecemeal. We brought Ariana on initially to letter the first 8 pages so we could potentially pitch it around (no luck there), she wasn’t sure she’d be able to stay on, but we were super lucky that her schedule worked out for us. Dearbhla and Heather were brought in closer to the Kickstarter launch date, but both of them have been instrumental in making AWP what it is today.
CBY: What was your writing process like for AWP? I know you’ve been working on it for some time. Did you outline all 3 chapters first, do you create character/world-building documents, or do you start scripting and see where the story takes you?
KF: Great question! I did indeed outline all 3 chapters (followed by some sequel arcs, so get us funding, kids!). After I started the outline, I built up some character and world documents that helped [to] both fill in the blanks and keep track of everything already in the story skeleton. Once that’s done, though scripting often does change things, in fact, the character Sami changed quite a bit from the outline to scripting stage.
CBY: AWP was on Kickstarter previously, but the campaign was cancelled after things stalled. What did you learn from that experience and what have you done differently for the current campaign?
KF: Always make sure you are 110% ready for launch, and then double-check. Last time we launched was definitely premature. We didn’t have a coloured cover, no promotional video, and I think we had like 5 days of pre-launch or something ridiculously small like that. Last time, we were also doing physical releases, which we did away with this time out, which dropped the funding target almost $2K. Since it’s really costly to print small runs, we decided to do digital single issues, and then once all 3 are out, do a print release of a trade paperback.
CBY: As a writer, what kinds of stories are you interested in telling?
KF: For me, the kinds of stories I want to tell are ones that I would have wanted to read growing up. The kinds of stories that would have made me excited to get back to the library.
CBY: Getting back to Everyone Dice, how did you first get into Dungeons & Dragons, what do you enjoy about playing, and how did you become involved as DM for Everyone Dice?
KF: So, I first got into D&D way back in grade 8. A friend brought the 3rd edition players handbook, and we were all so fascinated leafing through it. We all made makeshift character sheets at lunch, and then started a little campaign that we played after school for like 6 months. It was incredible, and so much fun.
As for how I become involved with Everyone Dice, I actually met them all a few years ago when I was looking to play more D&D. We played some personal campaigns together, and when the pandemic hit, we kinda decided to do this “professionally.” Not sure how I became the DM, but I think it’s just because I have WAY too many ideas and not enough output for them.
CBY: What do you think makes a successful DM?
KF: Being open to things going awry and remembering that this is a collaborative story you’re telling.
CBY: Who are your biggest influences as a writer?
KF: Gail Simone is a HUGE influence on me both as a writer and a human being. She is a phenomenal soul, and I will always champion her. Jeff Lemire is another big one, being that he is also from the Great White North. And I know this is the answer every fantasy writer gives, but it’s hard NOT to be influenced by Tolkien when you write stories about magic and elves and whatnot.
CBY: If you were the curator for a comics museum, which 3 books do you want to make absolutely sure are included?
KF: Oh man, that is a good and very difficult question. So I’m gonna just assume this comics museum already has the “standards,” your Watchmen, your MAUS, etc. The titles that jump out at me right away are East of West, Punk Mambo, and Little Bird. All of which are not only incredible stories but stories that utilize the medium of comics brilliantly. Also, I know you said 3 but I am also making sure They’re Not Like Us is in that museum.
CBY: I'll allow it. Also, I LOVE Little Bird. Is there anything else you have coming up in the future that CBY readers should be on the lookout for?
KF: HOPEFULLY! I have a few irons in the fire when it comes to other projects, though none are at that red hot stage to really talk about. I do have something on the 2022 horizon with Alaire & Toben Racicot (amazing talents, go check them out), but that isn’t fully ironed out yet so I can’t say much more than that.
CBY: The Racicots are great! That's awesome. Where can you be found online?
KF: You can find me on the Twitters @TheWriteKC. I also do that weekly D&D stream which you can find on Twitch by searching Compass Rose Productions.
CBY: Kacey, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. I very much appreciate it and I am looking forward to reading Adventuring Without a Permit once you conclude what I’m sure will be a successful Kickstarter campaign.
KF: Jimmy, thank you so much for interviewing me it was a total blast! And another huge thank you to all the support you’ve given us so far. Me and the whole team appreciate it immensely my friend.