Friday, November 1, 2013

Fanterview: Arclight Comics (Part Two)

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Arclight Comics is represented in this Fanterview by Edward Williams

What led you and your guildmates to form your own comic book company?

The Peacekeepers. Look us up on deviantArt, YouTube, or Guild Launch. That’s where it started.

There are three quotes I’d like to use here. Otherwise, I’ll get garrulous because I can go on all day about Arclight. Some people ask, Why create more superheroes? Don’t we have enough? Well, the correct answer to that would be yes. We have an abundance of superheroes today. We’ve hit the mainstream---we no longer have to keep our geekdom behind closed doors. But this is now. What happens in 10 or 20 years? Are we making Iron Man 15? While this is a great time to be a superhero fan, this won’t last forever. Joss Whedon said it best: “There’s probably a dozen [properties I’ve always wanted to do]. It’s very important I don’t do that. It’s very important that we start creating new content again. We can only build on nostalgia so much before we have nothing left to build on. Before we’re rebooting Spider-Man—again. It’s dangerous to the culture, and it’s boring to me. I squeezed in between my Avengers movies a 400-year-old play. So I really need to create some new worlds.” It is this type of thinking we approached one of the reasons why we wanted to start our own indie company. He isn’t telling us to forget about our nostalgia, but put fresher material on the frontlines with it. You’ve got to have a mind capable of reaching into the future and grabbing ahold of what can be rather being content with what currently is. There’s more we can do with this genre. There are ways to make the business and working model of it all better. Geoff Johns says: “I love comics and I want to read them forever, but superheroes need them, because they’ll fossilize like Dick Tracey or The Phantom. If you stop publishing superheroes now, all the new ideas that will keep them relevant will stop. They’ll be frozen in amber like that mosquito in Jurassic Park. To keep those mythologies expanding, to keep those mythologies fresh, you need new voices.”

We’ve got to get comics back in the greater public eye. We’ve got to keep this medium in circulation---this genre. Books use to sell by the millions. Digital comics have made tremendous leaps and bounds and indie publishers are putting out amazing content----but less of it is superheroes. We’re taking our little 2 year old machine and putting it up against a 75 year old monster. How do you compete? Lol. What you don’t do is try to create “the next” Superman or Batman. Those characters carry mythological gravitas that are unmatched. That’s done and we don’t want ‘the next’ or ‘Arclight’s version of...’ something. But what you can do is described in the final quote: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Google Jim Shooter’s The Dramatic Conclusion of the New Business Model Rant to get an idea around that. We’re geeks---fans even---who see that it’s time for yet another change the same way Siegel and Shuster, and Lee and Kirby did. We want to be a part of the construct that bridges the genre from today, to our tomorrow.

What have been some of the early challenges you’ve encountered?
For starters there’s only three of us: myself, Jason Quinn, and Jeffrey Roach (all of whom played City of Heroes). We started this venture with a bigger crew and it imploded (a ‘too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen’ thing). When that happened I thought it was over, but it was just the beginning. Our first major challenge was figuring out how to get from the universe we built in the guild to what we essentially have today. That’s scary stuff considering it was 3 years worth of building. 80% of our content was designed for DC Universe Online and The Peacekeepers guild; it was a collaborative effort of 40+ creatives and we could not claim it all as our own with a clear conscience. And we sure could not start this venture dependent on another intellectual property’s influence. We had to define ourselves and our universe. We had to find our voice, our story---then figure out the types of tales we wanted to create. We didn’t want to play into what is being done today either. We had to think ahead several years from now. How do we elevate the genre? It was quite the challenge, but we’re excited about what we have today.

I do think one of our most common challenges are the people who think we’re just...outrageous. Lol. We almost sound silly, you know? Believing we can do all of this. But you know what? We’re fine with that. We’ve got something big to strive for everyday we wake up. Its scary and intimidating at times, but it comes with the territory. And let me not forget to mention one of our Arcitects (the name we’ve given to co-founders; its a thematic thing) beating out cancer. Every step of the way that guy made us believe ordinary people can do extraordinary things. He never gave up and we’re thankful he’s here with us today.

How do you think the views on comics have changed over the last ten years?
They’re no longer kiddie-material, that’s for sure.

We’re at a point where we’re starting to see a shift in the ‘industry’ of comics. There’s a war being fought. People want to see equal representation in the books they read. Creators want to be treated with respect and want the freedoms to do what they do best (create). No more editorial dictatorship---that sort of thing. I think we’ve held certain segments of comics back from being progressive over these last several years and now they’re busting at the seams. People are yelling, “No more!,” when it comes to misogyny, rape, racism and other hot button topics. There’s no longer room for gimmicks and tricks to make a quick buck. The consumers are using social media as a weapon to set the records straight, and man are our voices being heard. And with all of this going on with the Big Two, indies are really taking off. Its a good time to be an indie publisher. We (the consumers) are allowing ourselves to be open to new material. I’ve done it myself and find the other genres fascinating (Saga is GREAT, by the way!).

So, how did you first hear about MWM and their first project, City of Titans?
When the ‘City of Heroes is shutting down’ buzz got started, it was one of the project names that popped up on the list. I didn’t think much of it though. I thought NCSoft would pull through and sell the property or at least change their mind. Once that didn’t happen and we all realized the game was gone, I took to MWM after one of our Architects pointed me to it again. My support has been with you guys since.

What’s been your reaction to the success of the Kickstarter campaign so far?
I am not surprised. I have this uncanny ability to detect authenticity and greatness in people. I see these things in Missing Worlds Media. I see a team of people who share a common love for videogames and superheroes, and are bringing their individual talents together to create something phenomenal. And you’re doing it not because of money, but because there’s a void that needs filled. A problem that needs fixed. None of the other SuperMMOs solve these. MWM has stepped up to the plate. It’s admirable, motivational and inspirational. And because of your authenticity and transparency, a community of over 4,000 supporters has come forth. This is the real thing. I see it and the community sees it. I predicted $500k before you all even launched the Kickstarter. We’re at $450k+ now, am I right? ;-)

$456k, as of this interview!

Of course, I have to ask - where do you think the KS is going to finish at and where would you like to see it finish at?
The Kickstarter will most likely reach $480k-$510k, and I would like to see it stop there and here’s why. More money is always great, but the more money it generates, the more work you are going to have to do to get those stretch goals in there. I want you guys to not feel obligated to do those. Are they nice? Hecks yes. But a fun, functioning game is even better. We live in this society where we want more, more, and more, and often, “more” doesn’t equate to “best” or “better”. I personally feel the less stuff you guys have to get in before 2015, the more time and energy can be spent on making the framework sustainable, functional, and ultimately, fun. That’s what’s most important (to me, anyway). But hey. If you all hit a million, I’ll be doing the same dance I’m doing now.

Any of the updates on the KS page catch your eye?
All of them. They’re so well written and give you so much to take away. You guys are really thinking outside of the box. I’m really looking forward to customization and these flexible classes/archetypes (I forget the name you guys are calling them).

What would you like to see done in City of Titans that hasn’t been done in an MMO before?
I always wanted signature characters to get more involved rather be these lifeless avatars you run to for missions or clues. I want to be flying over the Northeastern Research District and all of a sudden one of the signature heroes is flying next to me. Fangasm, right? Just make them feel more a part of the world. Give them that larger than life presence.

A lot of people either love or hate PvP - what are your thoughts and feelings on it?
I’m in that “hate PVP” category. I’ve just never been a fan. My experiences involve gamers who want to simply make someone else’s experience a negative one. That isn’t to say all PVPers are like that, but the few who are make it bad for the rest. But hey. I’ll give it another try in City of Titans!

A lot of people seem skeptical about a “fan made” MMO actually being done - what are your thoughts on that?
Ugh. Listen. Pixar was “fan made.” A bunch of animation and tech geeks who wanted to create movies---they had no idea what they were doing. Apple was a “fan made.” A computer nerd with a vision. Some people will disagree with me, but all of these big companies and celebrities started as fans of something----basketball, animation, movies, video games, etc. Their fandom became passion, and their passions became visions and dreams which ultimately became realities. You have to be the kind of person to see the potential in something big, look into the future, and grab it. You have to be crazy enough to believe you can monumentally change something, go out there, and do it. A lot of people who have done that were inexperienced to start. People are always going to be skeptical and that’s absolutely fine, but let them be skeptics while you continue pushing towards the finish line. Jobs didn’t have it all together, Oprah didn’t and neither did Larry Page. Just a bunch of crazy, passionate fans who loved what they did, but had a dream and goals. Now look at them. Not all are success stories, but we have examples of those that were. There’s proof in the pudding. Just make sure you’ve got the right one.

I’m going to wrap this up here and I want to thank you so much for taking the time to answer my myriad of questions! Any last shout outs or important news about Arclight Comics you want to share?
It was a pleasure! I don’t want to plug Arclight too much (this is about you guys!) but I will say that if you’d like to, please feel free to Like our page. We don’t have much to share at this time (we’re still knee-deep in development) but will be looking for people to join our team VERY soon. This is, of course, on a volunteer basis like MWM, but there’s so much room to learn, grow, have FUN and partake in this vast universe we’re building. Whatever your profession is, if you believe you can help, be on the look out! We would aspire to be this zany mashup of Pixar, Google, Mindvalley and Valve (a lot of name dropping, I know, but our work culture is inspired by each). If you love comics, superheroes, and if there’s something you’re insanely epic at (drawing, writing, graphic design, painting, business, marketing, legal, etc) we’d love for you to join the team as an Arcian. We’ll make announcements about this on our social media outlets come 2014.

Many blessings on Missing Worlds Media and City of Titans. You all have Team Arclight’s full support. If you need anything just knock on our door!

1 comment:

  1. We're still alive. Follow us on Twitter: @ArclightComics. Our Facebook page will be back soon. :-)