Monday, April 29, 2013

Interview with Jamal Igle, Creator of Molly Danger

I'm very pleased today to present the transcript of an e-mail interview I conducted with Jamal Igle, the creator of Molly Danger, an all-ages comic, funded through Kickstarter, that will be coming out through Action Lab as a publisher.  Igle is a long-time comics veteran who brings years of experience to the project.

As a disclosure, I was a backer of the Kickstarter.  I am a big believer that we need more all-ages comics in the world, and everything I've seen so far of this project leads me to believe it will be a good one.  Molly Danger will be joining Action Lab's Princeless in the publisher's upcoming Free Comic Book Day offering and you can pre-order the first book in the series in the May issue of Previews.

Panel Patter:  Thanks for agreeing to the interview!  For those unfamiliar with you as a creator, can you give a little history of your past work?

Jamal Igle:  Well, I'm a 23 year comics veteran, primarily known for my seven year stint at DC Comics. I've worked on titles ranging from Action Comics, Firestorm, Green Lantern, Supergirl, Superman (I drew the last pre-New 52 issue of that series) and Zatanna. I've worked in some capacity for Dark Horse, IDW, Imag,e and Marvel. I'm also a former editor, art director and comics retailer.

Panel Patter:  What drew you to working in comics?

Jamal Igle:  I fell in love with comics after seeing the original Superman movie, starring Christopher Reeve, when I was 5 years old. I was always drawn to art and animation as a child but comics where the key to my sanity as a kid. I love superheroes, I love the challenge of telling a story visually.

Panel Patter:  Who do you feel are influences on your work?

Jamal Igle:  It's easier to ask "who doesn't influence me?", I do have artists who continue to inspire me like Dave Stevens, Brian Bolland, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Stuart Immomen, Kevin Maguire and Jerry Ordway.

Panel Patter:  Those are some awesome artists.  I can definitely see a bit of them in your work.  Tell me about Molly Danger.  What can readers look forward to seeing when the first book is released?

Jamal Igle:  Molly Danger is the world's most powerful 10 year old hero, the catch is that in actuality Molly has been around for 20 years. While she's still mentally and emotionally a child, she has years of experience. Molly's been the protector of small city in Upstate New York, where she lives and operates from a Museum bearing her name.

The problem is Molly is a "princess in an ivory tower" so to speak. She doesn't have any friends and the only family she knew died years ago. She doesn't have a secret identity and the organization she works with keeps her away from the public when she's not on mission. She's an incredibly lonely little girl and all she wants, more than anything else, is to feel normal, Book One covers this and more. There's a lot of world building in 48 pages.

I like to think of Molly's story as a coming of age story more than anything else.

Panel Patter:  What inspired you to create Molly Danger?

Jamal Igle:  I originally came up with Molly as an animation pitch about 10 years ago. My friend Rich had a small press company at the time and we decided to do the comic through his company.

Unfortunately, things kept getting in the way and it never made it passed the planning stages. A few years ago I was approached by a publisher looking for all ages superhero projects and I felt Molly was perfect for what they were looking for. I reworked the concept from the original take I did and simplified it a bit. I think that what I've written was a mixture of having been associated with titles such as Supergirl and Zatanna, basically being raised by a strong, smart, independent woman in my mother, Clarissa. Then eventually marrying my wife, who has all of those qualities and more and having a daughter of my own.

I wanted to create something I would want her to read and enjoy. I always wanted to create a superhero story like the type I grew up reading in the 1980's, something that everyone could read.

Panel Patter:  It seems like most of the larger publishers aren't taking advantage of the all-ages reading market.  What we do see tends to be licensed work like Boom's Peanuts.  Why do you think that might be and do you think it could cause a "reader gap" that may harm Western comics?

Jamal Igle:  I think it's part of a larger problem with the american market, because you don't see it so much (a reader gap) in European comics. We're beholden to a monthly, 20 page comics format in a world that is increasingly more and more about immediacy. Most people are POP (point of purchase) buyers, meaning they buy things on impulse. They're not trained the way hardcore comic book readers are to be in the shop every Wednesday. It's impossible to capture those readers because they don't want to be forced to hunt down the next issue of a comic book. So we need to rethink how we a) write stories b) publish for the future. One of the common complaints I've heard as well is that there isn't enough material for younger readers, but I think that's changing as well.

Panel Patter:  Can you talk about your experience working with a Kickstarter campaign?  What might you do differently?

Jamal Igle:  It was difficult at first because I didn't realize how much work it would be to run and promote the campaign and work on Smallville at the same time. In terms of what I would do differently? I think just streamline my marketing efforts a bit and go more towards venues not traditionally known for comics.

Panel Patter:  As a comics reader/supporter, I've watched Kickstarter become a big way for creators to get their work out there.  Unfortunately, it also means we're starting to see it used for those who might not need it (such as that recent Veronica Mars one).  Do you worry that projects such as that one will "suck the air out of the room" and make it harder for people like yourself?

Jamal Igle:  I don't think so. People have been worrying about "Kickstarter fatigue" for awhile now, but I haven't seen any real signs of it. I think as with any project, you have to take Kickstarter for what it is. it's a vehicle, not the ends to a means. Crowdfunding isn't going to go away, and even if Kickstarter folds, there are other sites that will step up to take its place in some form.

Panel Patter:  How did you become associated with Action Lab for Molly Danger?  Why Action Lab instead of staying entirely self-published or trying for Image?

Jamal Igle:  I've known the guys behind Action since before there was an Action Lab, so there's a trust there for me. I could have taken Molly to Image but I felt that Molly wouldn't get the attention I needed in order to launch the series properly.

Panel Patter:  What's next for Jamal Igle/Molly Danger?

Jamal Igle:  Well, like I said, this is just the first book. There's a story to be told with three more books in this initial arc planned and no matter how long it takes, I'm going to tell it. So where do we go from here?
Up..and Away.

Panel Patter:  Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview.  Best of luck with Molly Danger.  I know I'm looking forward to reading it soon!

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