Interview – Chatting with David McAdoo
17 Dec, 2012
David McAdoo’s incredible graphic novel of a small dog named Mox is making a comeback! Red Moon‘s story, much like it’s creator, inspired us to see things differently.
We want to share with you our little chat about the story and the plight of the indie comic creator.
Crisp Comics: We had the pleasure of reading your Red Moon Graphic Novel and enjoyed it thoroughly. It was a wonderful adventure story from a dog’s point of view. What inspired you to create this comic?
David McAdoo: Well, Red Moon really came from several different ideas I had throughout the years but the ultimate starting point was when the dog that I had growing up that the lead character, Mox, was based on was getting really old he started having seizures and I thought, “What if something’s happening to him; something deep and cosmic.” And I wanted to talk to him. Beyond that, I just wanted to write something that was on the level with The Secret of NIMH and Watership Down and The Jungle Book, but I wanted to take those ideas and put them in a more epic, world-wide scale, and try to keep the intimacy of a personal story. I didn’t want it to be a child’s children’s book but I didn’t want to scare them away either because I discovered all those stories I just mentioned when I was young.
The book is beautiful by the way! What made you come up with the splash of red color within the book? It did the trick of making it memorable.
Thank you. I’ve always been a drawer’s artist. My medium of choice has always been a pencil (or a Bic pen, so I can shade with it). And some of the most influential comics I had growing up were the old Savage Sword of Conan books and the Heavy Metal magazines and Frazetta sketches, so I really do lean more towards the black and white material. And Steve [the publisher] has always been a big fan of the pen and ink comics more so than the colored stuff. But once we got started on actually making the book and thinking about the logistics and costs we really had to take a look at whether or not we could make a book called Red Moon and not have any red in it. Then it hit us; there’s a line in the script that talks about the fact that dogs only see in black and white but Mox is having visions of this Red Moon and how that could be. It was like a safe dropped on us, it was perfect. Once we found out the cost difference wasn’t that significant to have a handful of pages with a spot of red in it, there was no question in our minds. We’re not the first to do it, of course, but it looks cool and serves a purpose in the story. Win-win.
You just succeeded with a Kickstarter campaign to resume the story. Why the comeback?
I had wanted to do some other story ideas after Red Moon because, originally, I’d conceived it as a stand alone story (and it really still is), but I got so much positive feedback and people asking when the next one is coming out while we were touring the convention circuit that I started to realize that I needed to get busy on the sequel. A lot of people came back the next day after buying it at the convention saying they read the whole 200 page book the night before and couldn’t put it down. That’s a big hint, in my book, that there’s an audience out there for that kind of material.
What can readers expect on this sequel?
Besides starting 10 years after Red Moon’s events, Shadow of the Red Moon is kind of a radical departure setting-wise. But if you’ve read the first one, you know there’s kind of no way to get around that. Not to spoil it for anyone that hasn’t read it but the ending of Red Moon changes everything. The biggest difference is that the first one was a one-shot full graphic novel whereas this one will be a 10 issue series. I’m writing it the same way, just breaking it down into issue so I can trickle the story out as I write it. Shadow of the Red Moon (SotRM) is still going to have Mox and Daeden and a lot of animals, some new, some returning, but they’ve got a brand new enemy/threat and a few new animal sages to help them answer the many questions that were left from the first story.
As an independent comic creator, what are some challenges you face and how do you think they can be fixed?
That’s a big one. I think everyone’s challenges are the same in different ways. Everyone’s got a life that restricts the amount of time they can spend getting their creation together and out to an audience and I think MOST independents’ biggest hold back is money. It comes down to time and money. Nothing’s free and life is chronologically bound. But I think things are definitely getting better and easier with things like Kickstarter and Indiegogo and other crowd funding websites. Not to mention how easy it is to actually write, draw and print your own comic in the digital age. That’s even if you want to print it, if you go all digital it gets even easier. It’s all easier now; the problem comes from how the creators can get their stories out to the audience that wants to see them. I was told last year at the NYCC that I did everything independently TOO good. I couldn’t get a larger independent-friendly company like Dark Horse or Archaia or IDW to look at Red Moon because I’d done everything that they would do and I’d sold a good amount of books on my own. I’d have to wait and see if they’d want to pick up the sequel and repackage the original. I mean, there’s still politics involved in every business and there always will be and getting your book to the right person at the right time is more than half of the struggle. It’s usually almost all of the struggle. I don’t think there’s a fix for that. Selling them online on your own and spending every extra dime on advertising and marketing, maybe. Well, that’s just called a good, old-fashioned business. Work hard enough at anything and you’ll start getting something for it.
What is your process? How do you get inspired?
Unfortunately my creative process is slow at best so it’s taken me a while to get a story I’m happy with but at the same time I really think that anything that’s rushed shows it. I mean, I could pump out some cookie-cutter simple line art and story and maybe a lot of people would still like it, but I think people, even without knowing it consciously, will gravitate towards something that someone has really put their heart and soul into. My process is pretty free-flowing, like my art. I’m changing things and editing as each page is finalized, sometimes even after it’s done. Art to me is very fluid and flexible. And inspiration is the same. Sometimes it will come from something on TV or the radio, words I thought I heard or a flashing of an image in a commercial. All of it cascades through my brain, mixing and churning. Art-wise, if I can just stare at someone’s work that I admire it makes me want to do something that looks that professional. I’m like most, if not all, artists and my own worst critic, though. Story-wise, I’ve got dozens of ideas written down, it’s just a matter of finding the time to write it fully. I’m usually most inspired by things that make my brain work to understand.
The way your story is written and illustrated, we can’t help but feel as if you have an affinity for dogs. Is this true?
I do have an affinity for dogs. I love dogs and I think it’s undeniable how intelligent and interwoven they are in our lives and the way we live. And I think most of that can be attributed to natural attitudes and their physical abilities to have such a wide range of facial expressions. Outside of primates it’s hard to imagine a more expressive animal. Having said that, and maybe to some’s surprise, my last pet was a cat that I had for 10 years. I live in an apartment and felt that a cat would be more suited to the indoor life. However, I can only feel sympathy for any animal that is confined in any size space. I know companionship is a good thing for both humans and dogs (or cats, birds, etc.) and we need to have it, but confinement of any kind really puts a sadness in my heart. Unless I own a ranch or something in the future, I can’t imagine having a pet of my own anytime soon. It’s absolutely one of the lesser-understood messages of Red Moon.
Do you have any last word?
Just wanted to say that I really appreciate everything that the fans of Red Moon have brought to the experience and I hope that you all like Shadow of the Red Moon as much as I enjoyed creating it.