Yesterday we talked with Adam Breen a two-time Darby Pop Breaking into Comics Winner. Today we have Richard Casey, who is also a two time Darby Pop Breaking into Comics Winner. Richard was nice enough to stop by First Comics News and let our readers know how he broke into comics and what his story is all about.
First Comics News: You won the Darby Pop, Breaking into Comics Contest. That must have been a dream come true.
Richard Casey: It really was. I’ve spent the last seven years trying to convince people that I’m a writer. So, finally managing to do that has been an incredible confidence booster. And, if I’m being painfully honest, winning the “Breaking Into Comics” contest twice has made me an insufferable arse.
1st: How did you hear about the contest?
Richard: I’m always looking for opportunities to submit writing samples and such, but finding Darby Pop’s contest the first time was dumb, blind luck; they announced it on Newsarama, so I clicked the link, read up on the opportunity, and got to writing. This time around, I just saw them announce it on Twitter, which is way less interesting, but wholly true.
1st: Were you familiar with the characters before the contest?
Richard: I wasn’t. Although, in a moment of crazy happenstance, Side-Kicked was a book I’d read about online. But, a poverty-induced exile from comic book reading meant I hadn’t yet had the chance to check it out.
1st: How long was it from the time you entered the contest until you heard you won?
Richard: A couple of months, I think. I almost didn’t find out I’d won. The email address I used to submit “Life’s Beauty” — my first winning story (published in The Women of Darby Pop anthology) — had been compromised somehow, and I was unable to recover the account. It’s only because I saw Darby Pop Publishing announce on Facebook that they’d chosen winners that I even thought to reach out to them and tell them what had happened. So there you have it, kids: always update your email account’s recovery information. Fortunately, the second time around the process was far less stressful, even though it took roughly the same amount of time.
1st: That was the Women of Darby Pop with “Life’s Beauty”. After you win, you’re a published writer and have literally broken into comics. Didn’t that exclude you from the contest the following year?
Richard: No, I thought it might have… and did ask before I put the time into writing something for Side-Kicked. Luckily, Darby Pop understands that being published and being a professional comics creator are two very different things; they seem genuinely interested in fostering new creators and voices. So never be afraid to ask, ‘cos if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
1st: As a prior winner, did that give you an edge over the competition?
Richard: I’d like to think that being an exemplary collaborator the first time around helped sway the fine folks at Darby Pop (there’s that “insufferable arse” I mentioned earlier). But, in reality, I’ve been told that it did not. Darby Pop, apparently, distributed the drafts internally without the writers’ names on them.
1st: Were you following Side-Kicked?
Richard: No, like I mentioned earlier, poverty-induced comics exile meant that the last time I read a comic, Otto Ocktavius was pretending to be Spider-Man.
1st: There isn’t much of a back story for Al Clinton/Jolt before “Pick (Up) A Card”. In your story, we see Al’s first day as a side-kick. How much latitude did you have in creating this story?
Richard: Like you said, there wasn’t much to begin with, which meant I didn’t have to colour between the lines; I could draw whatever damn picture I wanted. Obviously, whenever you’re dealing with a character someone else has created, you want to make sure you’re staying true to what they’ve established, so there was a lot of reading and re-reading of the Side-Kicked trade paperback. But, other than that, it was open season on Jolt’s backstory.
1st: What did you do to make sure your story stood out?
Richard: Whenever I write something, I always make sure that character is at the center of it. Who is he/she? What does he want? Why is he dressing up like a fool and punching bad guys in the face? So, honing-in on Jolt and the fledgling relationship he has with Flying Fox was always the crux of my story. I’d like to think that focus helped my story stand out from other submissions.
1st: Flying Fox is basically a Batman analog, or am I misunderstanding the character?
Richard: Yeah, the Side-Kicked TPB contains several references to Flying Fox and his mythology that have a Batman-y vibe to them: he’s rich, he has a butler, no real super powers, and — of course — an underground lair he refers to as “The Fox Hole.” And, if I remember correctly, a couple of the artists who worked on the book have DC credits, as well.
1st: How does Al Clinton get the side-kick job for the Flying Fox?
Richard: Within the Side-Kicked universe, heroes tend to have a sidekick backing them up in the same way police always patrol with a partner. So, I imagine there’s probably the coolest employment agency on the planet that deals exclusively with heroes looking for sidekicks and vice versa. Hey, that sounds pretty fun, I think I just came up with a Side-Kicked spin off…
1st: What is the nature of their relationship?
Richard: Flying Fox is a loner; he doesn’t want Jolt, or anyone for that matter, at his side. That said, Flying Fox recognizes the dangers this world presents and understands that the more soldiers there are in the fight, the better. To Flying Fox, sidekicks are temporary: he trains them and either they burn out or go on to be full-blown heroes, making the world a little bit safer.
1st: Why does Jolt stick with the sidekick job?
Richard: Because he believes in the idea of “for the many, not the few”; he wants to help in any way he can. And for a guy with super powers, that means putting on a costume and fighting the good fight, regardless of the personal cost.
1st: What do you have planned next?
Richard: More writing, more pitching, hopefully, more interviews about the next comic I’m having published. What do you think, Daby Pop? That Employment Agency-based Side-Kicked spinoff really does sound like a winner to me!