Blake Northcott is no stranger to comics or crowdfunding. She’s a witty and talented creator, writer, social media Jedi, and definitely a kick-ass Kickstarter, not to mention being blessed with an alluring charm and appeal. Blake is a native born Canadian hailing from Ontario. Early in her writing career, Blake did a lot of work for Millarworld, the company started by Mark Millar.
Last year, Northcott’s magical spy thriller ‘The North Valley Grimoire‘ became the most-funded and most-backed original fiction novel ever on Kickstarter; in the first week of pre-orders, it was funding at the pace of a New York Times bestseller.
In addition to writing novels, Northcott has written several comics, including ‘Michael Turner’s All New Fathom’ and ‘Executive Assistant Iris’ for Aspen Comics, as well as ‘Vampirella’ for Dynamite Comics. You may have also seen her articles at Comic Book Resources (CBR), Geeks of Doom, CBS Man Cave Daily, and Verily Magazine.
Now Blake has teamed up with legendary comics writer Scott Lobdell to create a horror graphic novel called ‘Everglade Angels‘ that they’re currently running a crowdfunding campaign for on Kickstarter. I got an opportunity to chat with Blake about the project and what’s been happening with her writing career.
Chris: Unless you count our little dust up that took place in February, you and I haven’t spoken since last year when you were crowdfunding your last novel, the supernatural thriller ‘The North Valley Grimoire’. Tell our readers how that crowdfunding campaign turned out and what’s been happening since then.
But life is good! Can’t complain. Living the dream up here in Canada. The North Valley Grimoire ended up being a huge success, and it totally exceeded my expectations. It ended up being the #1 Fiction Novel on Kickstarter in 2018. Still can’t believe that actually happened! Lots of plans to expand that universe going forward!
Chris: Speaking of Kickstarter successes, and before I talk about your latest one, let’s discuss your track record for crowdfunding. Your debut full-length novel, Arena Mode, became the highest-grossing superhero book on Kickstarter, it was their third most successful publishing fiction project that year, and you’ve successfully met your goals for all of your subsequent campaigns. What is your secret to successful crowdfunding?
Blake: I think the secret is building one fan at a time. It’s a long process, but it pays off both creatively and financially. When you interact directly with fans you never have to guess what they want or don’t want. They’ll always tell you, and they’re not shy about it. Nothing creative is a guarantee, and you can never know for sure what will connect with readers, but if you keep your finger on their pulse, your chances of success increase dramatically. That may be a long answer, but I think what I’m saying is, ‘listen a lot’.
Chris: Well said. I believe that this is your first time crowdfunding a graphic novel. Tell me about the genesis of this project and introduce us to your creative team.
Blake: I’m working with Roc Upchurch from Rat Queens fame, and Scott Lobdell who needs no introduction, but he recently scored huge with the horror movie Happy Death Day. So we decided to collaborate on a horror project, and here we are!
Chris: Why tell this story in sequential art as opposed to your usual novel style approach?
Blake: That’s a great question. For me, horror is such a visual medium. I really wanted to show as much as tell. I know Steven King and others are masters at prose when it comes to horror, but that isn’t really my wheelhouse – when I write, it’s sci-fi, fantasy and spycraft. It’s more action based.
To really get across the visceral nature of a horror story, I wanted a graphic novel format and I think it’s turning out beautifully. And I can brag about how pretty it looks because I’m not the one responsible for the art!
Chris: Nice! So what’s the elevator pitch for Everglade Angels?
Blake: A girls softball team takes a wrong turn in the Florida Everglades, and craziness ensues. But not the way you’d expect. Our concept was to take a somewhat standard horror premise and do something crazy and unexpected with it. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of readers!
Chris: I’m intrigued. Tell me how the campaign is going at this point.
Blake: Excellent! Just passed the $30,000 stretch goal in Canadian dollars. I have no clue how much that is in American dollars, but it’s doing pretty well. Well over 700 backers now and the campaign is only half finished. I’ve gotten lots of requests to re-launch it on Indiegogo when it’s done on Kickstarter, so that is the next logical step. That way if you prefer one platform over the other, you’ll get your chance to grab this before it’s too late!
Chris: That’s a great idea and a smart approach. So what’s the creative process been like working with people in different locations?
Blake: It can be a little daunting since Scott is out in Hollywood, or flying off to exotic locations, Roc is in Texas, and Leila Leiz (the variant cover artist) is French, but lives in Italy. And I’m out in Eastern Canada. It’s crazy! But these are seasoned pros. They get their business handled, and I never have to worry about any of them. It’s not like the 90s when you had to be physically in the same office to collaborate on a book. I loved the 90s, but technology makes things a lot easier.
Chris: I concur. I still have yet to meet most of the other Bleeding Fool contributors face to face. Technology really has changed the way we do most everything. So, other than just merely succeeding in reaching your campaign goals, what do you hope a reader takes away from Everglade Angels and do you have any plans to continue the story?
Blake: I hope the readers get to enjoy some escapism. That’s it. Horror is wild and fun and crazy, and it lets us take a break from the daily grind. As for more tales, this is a story with a definitive beginning, middle and end. But as always, never say never. If it becomes a Hollywood movie and makes a ton of money, I can pretty much guarantee a sequel will be in the works. That’s how the business operates!
Chris: Of course. Let’s shift gears a bit. When did you first get into comics as a fan?
Blake: I have a ton of comics from the early 90s. A boyfriend dragged me into a comic store, and I ended up getting into Spawn, WildCats, Gen 13, The Maxx, and also a bunch of X titles. That was my start in comics. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Chris: I’ve see the “20+ years in the making” video on your Youtube channel, tell us how you and Scott Lobdell came to meet and collaborate on this?
Blake: I met Scott at San Diego Comic Con a few years back and we bonded talking about our favorite horror movies from the 90s. This was a few months before Happy Death Day hit theaters, and after it came out and was a huge smash hit, I was shocked that no one had asked him to do a horror comic! It seemed like a no-brainer, so I asked him if we could brainstorm some ideas. And a few years later, here we are.
Chris: You’ve worked at comic publishers for years, but you’ve been publishing your novels independently for even longer. What’s your philosophy on independent publishing like this?
Blake: Publishing independently is like working with the handcuffs off. It’s really liberating. You give customers what they want, with no filters, and get direct feedback. There is nothing else like it.
Chris: Do you have any advice you can share with other indie creators who want to circumvent sending their ideas, pitches, and art samples to big publishers and just create their own comics?
Blake: First of all, never send original characters and story ideas directly to publishers. It can become a legal issue, so always ask about their policies before pitching, or go through an agent. And as for creating your own comics, my advice is just do it. No one is stopping you. Write, make art, collaborate, and do what you love. Tell your story, your way. If it connects with an audience, you’ll know right away. If not, make adjustments and try again. The creators who succeed are the ones who don’t quit when they get discouraged along the way.
Chris: That’s some good encouragement! So before we wrap up, what else would you like to tell our readers about Everglade Angels?
Blake: That I’m adding a ton of stretch goals, the book now has a back-up story, and it is going to be awesome. If you love horror, baseball, action, and girls in cute uniforms, this is for you.
Chris: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Blake. We’re rooting for you!
Blake: Thank you, Chris! Appreciate it. I’m rooting for you, too. And for the record, Bleeding Fool is by far the best comic book website with the word ‘Bleeding’ in the title. I know that is an extremely low bar considering the alternative, but you’re doing great.
Chris: You’re nuts, Blake and crazy talented, thanks for the support! Oh, and I’m also looking forward to your next comics project, Nora’s Saga! But we can talk about that next time 🙂
Back this crowdfunding campaign and be a part of something special. Only 10 days left – click here to back it now!
All artwork by Roc Upchurch unless otherwise specified.
I'm a collector, a speculator, and one opinionated, based geek. My friends call me Braly, but those who know me within the hobby generally refer to me as Bralinator. I can be heard monthly on the Comic Book Page Previews Spotlight podcast with several other comic book nerds. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisBraly