Smash Pages Q&A: Jason McNamara on ‘Sucker’

McNamara discusses his latest collaboration with artist Tony Talbert, an original graphic novel about vampires, the pharmaceutical industry and immortality.

A vampire stockbroker from the 1980s reemerges in the present day to find that a pharmaceutical industry wants to sink their teeth into him — and steal his immortality. Writer Jason McNamara (The Rattler) teams with longtime collaborator Tony Talbert (Continuity, First Moon, Less Than Hero) to bring this “mature readers” adventure to life. They’re joined by inker John Heebink and colorist Paul Little.

Using Kickstarter, the team hopes you’ll help them see their vision become a reality. We ran a preview of the new book last week, and I caught up with Jason to learn more about the new book, Kickstarter and more.

Before getting into this Kickstarter, I thought I’d ask you about your last one, for The Rattler. What did you learn last time around that you’ve applied here?

I learned that the story of the Kickstarter, who we are and why we’re doing it, needs to be as engaging as the book we’re pitching. I modeled the Rattler Kickstarter like a typical pre-order because I wanted donors to feel comfortable. It was a more passive approach to audience engagement, there was nothing for my donors to do after they pledged but wait.

That was a missed opportunity.

With Sucker I’ve left more room for our donors to participate in our success and get to know us as creators. For example, we’re running a series of articles through the campaign called “Get to know your SuckerS” where we do deep dive interviews on the creators and their process.

What can you tell us about “Sucker“? What’s the story about?

Years after a human/vampire war decimated the vampire population an unscrupulous pharmaceutical company is close to reproducing their longevity. Their goal is to get everyone in America addicted to immortality. But they need a fresh vampire to finish their formula, and there hasn’t been a sighting in years. So, when Bruce Jacobs, a forgotten vampire from the 80s, re-emerges, an old Sucker unit is activated and the hunt is on.

Sucker is a big, bawdy, baroque tale of addiction, monsters and tragedy. Did I mention the “Mature Readers” part? This isn’t a book that would succeed anywhere but Kickstarter.

I think I asked you last time around about some of your favorite horror comics, but let’s talk specifically about vampires — what are some of your favorite vampire stories, both in and out of comics?

Death Dream (aka Dead of Night) is a bizarre vampire/zombie hybrid film that I love. The Hunger obviously, Christopher Lee’s Hammer run as Dracula, Fright Night, Let The Right One In, The Fearless Vampire Killers, Near Dark, What We Do in the Shadows, the Spanish language version of the original Dracula (1931) is an overlooked gem.

As for comics, I am all in when it comes to Marvels 70’s horror titles. Son of Satan, Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf by Night, etc. John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake did a great Civil War vampire book called Kros: Hallowed Ground not long ago that was also funded on Kickstarter.

What’s it been like re-teaming with Tony on this?

I love Tony Talbert; there is nobody else in the world like that guy. We had a solid run of projects from 2003 to 2008 but it was also rough going. We weren’t setting the sales charts on fire, and eventually our momentum just fizzled out.

Now, a decade later, we’re both much better collaborators and problem solvers. Years ago I might have cast myself as the “voice of reason” trying to reign Tony in; these days I see myself more as a project manager pushing him to his strengths and getting out of the way. I’m grateful we get to do this again as wiser, slightly saner adults.

How far along is Sucker at this point? What kind of timeline are you looking at once the Kickstarter is finished?

The graphic novel is complete and ready to go to the printers. If we’re lucky enough to get funded, we will still have to produce some of the pledged art commission pieces for the back of the book, but we’ve hedged our bets and started production on those already.

Our goal is to ship the books and rewards in November. That gives me some wiggle room if there’s an issue with a vendor. You never want the conversation about your work to be “Where’s the book?” If one person feels we dropped the ball, the campaign would be a failure in my opinion.

Sometime after the campaign ends and before donors get their books, Tony and I will gauge if there’s a demand for additional volumes of Sucker. He and I have a larger story for these characters we’d like to get to but for now we’re trying to take it one adventure, and book, at a time.

One of the fun things about Kickstarter projects is all the “extras” that you see in the higher-level reward tiers. Like for The Rattler, you guys were going to host dinner for a backer. Are there any rewards you’re extra jazzed about this time?

No dinner guests this time, although I do have a Skype level reward if someone is looking for script mentoring or project consulting. I have been more involved in mentoring and teaching lately and, to my surprise, I’m enjoying it.

Our more exciting pledge levels involve in creating unique vampire profiles for our backers and including them in the book. These rewards add a value to the finished book, expand the story world of Sucker and allow donors to have an original art piece of themselves produced that they can show off for eternity.

Check out a 10-page preview of Sucker right here on Smash Pages, and visit the Kickstarter page for more information.

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