In 2014 Anthony Ruttgaizer wrote a series called The F1rst Hero for Action Lab Comics, he also wrote Heroes of Homeroom C, and he has had a career as a professional wrestler. Anthony was nice enough to stop by First Comics News to talk to us about his career and let our readers know all about his latest project, Chance For Survival.
First Comics News: The F1rst Hero was an Indiegogo campaign, why Indiegogo?
Anthony Ruttgaizer: At the time of TFH Volume 1, Kickstarter was not open to Canadian creators so Indiegogo was the only option for crowdfunding a comic here in Toronto. Volumes 2 and 3 of TFH were done via Kickstarter.
1st: You also had F1rst Hero on Kickstarter. What is the difference between the two platforms?
Anthony: Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing funding model whereas Indiegogo offers “flexible funding” where you receive anything you raise regardless of whether you reach your stated goal. The other difference is in name recognition. Kickstarter is synonymous with crowdfunding like Kleenex with facial tissue or Q-Tip with cotton swabs. I think you have a better chance of reaching random supporters via Kickstarter than Indiegogo.
1st: What are the differences between self-publishing vs signing with a small indy company?
Anthony: Within self-publishing, you are almost certainly reaching a smaller audience but you’re also guaranteeing that you’re not signing a crappy loophole-filled contract or giving up any portion of your rights to a bad publisher. It’s more work to self-publish but what you earn at the end of the day is yours.
1st: What made you decide to pitch the series to Action Lab Comics?
Anthony: Naivety. I had been given advice from an established writer that “self-publishing ain’t publishing”. That was HIS path. I know now to follow my own path.
1st: How did you pitch Action Lab Comics and what did you include in your pitch?
Anthony: Via their website, at the time. I recruited an artist, had some sample pages done, and created a package with those pages, a synopsis of the first story arc, and some bio information, and sent it in.
1st: When you sign the contract with Action Lab Comics, what was your understanding of your ownership vs. the publishing rights they were purchasing?
Anthony: Long story short… my understanding was that they would print and distribute the book (and this is key) while making an effort to market the series in exchange for a percentage of the revenue for sales. As far as I can tell, next to zero effort was ever made to publicize the book. Meanwhile, overprinting the book and crappy accounting meant that zero revenue ever made its way to me or my collaborators.
1st: Why are you having to fight now to get your rights back?
Anthony: That book is important to me. There are still things I want to do with it. And frankly, I don’t want anything to do with Action Lab ever again in even the most peripheral of ways. They are holding the rights to my book hostage and, if they had any conscience about things, they’d let me (and a bunch of other creators in similar situations) have our rights back and let us get on with things.
1st: Heroes of Homeroom C had a little bit of a struggle at first, what made that campaign successful and what did you learn for that campaign?
Anthony: I learned to set my Kickstarter goal at what I need, not what I want. Hahaha.
1st: Let’s talk a little about wrestling, how did you meet Sweet Daddy Siki?
Anthony: This is a mistake often made online. I was not trained by Siki. I didn’t meet Siki until about a decade ago when I visited him at the country karaoke night he hosts here in Toronto.
1st: Where did the name Kingdom James come from?
Anthony: I had been wrestling for about two years when I decided I needed a change. I was inspired by an American college basketball player named Scientific Mapps to create a new first name that had a braggadocious quality. Hence, Kingdom. James was just a surname that wouldn’t get in the way of the heavy lifting “Kingdom” was doing.
1st: What is the Union of Independent Profesional Wrestlers?
Anthony: That’s the banner I promote shows under, mostly here in Toronto.
1st: How did wrestling prepare you for a career in comics?
Anthony: It’s largely the same business, except someone has to actually get in the ring and physically act out the battles of good vs evil that I write. Haha. The merch table is exactly the same!
1st: You were nominated for a few awards too, tell me about the Glyph Award.
Anthony: The Glyph Award is an American award that spotlights Black comic books and Black comic creators. I was nominated for “best male character” for Albert Hathaway in Heroes of Homeroom C.
1st: The following year you were nominated for a Joe Shuster Award.
Anthony: The Shusters are a Canadian comic book award named after the Toronto-born co-creator of Superman. The nomination was for self-publishing HoHC.
1st: What are you working on these days?
Anthony: I currently have a Kickstarter running for the first issue of a new series called “Chance For Survival”. It’s about a female sheriff named Chance Beckett who is fighting to protect a small settlement of survivors after a worldwide monster apocalypse.
1st: What is the period of the comic? It looks like the 1800s except for the machine guns.
Anthony: It’s set in the present but with most of the world destroyed by monsters, rebuilding takes on a bit of an old west flavour.
1st: Who is Chance Beckett?
Anthony: Chance is our lead character. She is ex-military, smart, tough, sexy, and just flawed enough to be human. She fights to protect her townsfolk from roaming kaiju and, often, from each other. And she deals with her own trauma the way a lot of people do: with booze and sex.
1st: What causes the monsters to appear?
Anthony: That would be telling…. Gotta keep some secrets for future stories.
1st: With a worldwide apocalypse, is this series designed to appeal to fans of the Walking Dead?
Anthony: The Walking Dead is definitely an influence but I also want the series to appeal to an audience of sci-fi and old western fans.
1st: What is the minimum pledge for a digital copy?
Anthony: $7 Canadian which is about $6 American.
1st: What is the minimum pledge for a physical copy?
Anthony: $15 Canadian gets you the standard edition and all the digital rewards and freebies.
1st: What rewards do you have planned?
Anthony: There are reward tiers for all four covers of the book plus rewards that include archival prints, commission sketches, appearances in the comic as a background character, and even one where I will cut a wrestling promo for you, Cameo-style, on most any topic you want. Want to wish someone a happy birthday or quit your job in spectacular fashion or need an intro for your podcast? I’ll film it for you!
1st: How much of the comic is complete?
Anthony: All the line art is complete and the colours are well underway. We’ll be finished with the book and ready to go to print very quickly.
1st: When will backers expect to get the comic?
Anthony: Late December or early January.
1st: What makes Chance For Survival so cool no true comic book fan should miss it?
Anthony: Everything about it.