Peter Welmerink is an author and now comic book writer. He launched his comic book, BIG JACK: ANIMALS through Kickstarter. A lot of comic book creators are using Kickstarter to launch their creations and it is an amazing tool to use.
I was able to chat with Peter recently about BIG JACK, his plans, and how his Kickstarter project went.
Peter’s journey to become a comic book creator is a great one. You will learn about his journey, who BIG JACK is, and what is coming next.
With that, let’s get into the interview.
1. What can you tell us about BIG JACK? What’s it about and how did you come up with the idea?
BIG JACK is about Big Jack Galloway, farmer, family man, salvager, part-time bounty hunter, trying to keep his family and livelihood intact long enough to eventually get his wife and kids away from an increasingly lawless and dangerous area of Michigan in a post-apoc alt-history year 2085.
BIG JACK takes place in my TRANSPORT “Universe.” In an alt-reality 2013, the H7N9 bird flu virus turns into a global pandemic and creates the zombie apocalypse. TRANSPORT takes place in 2025 where we are re-building and moving forward… and in a bid to fix the zombie “menace” some local scientists experiment on Michigan fauna and unleash giant, raging creatures, creating another menace for Humankind to survive against.
60 years later, 2085, Humankind is still surviving (barely), fighting against each other for survival, and those genetically-mutated creatures (wolves, porcupines, bulls, squirrels, LOL) are fiercer and nastier than ever. BIG JACK gets to deal with it ALL while trying to keep his family from being brutalized by both man and beast, and, hopefully at some point, getting them all out of the area unscathed.
How did I come up with the idea? I always enjoy taking a character who is an EVERYMAN/EVERYWOMAN type, like you or me, and throwing them into an adverse condition and/or scenario, and seeing how they get out… or don’t. Sometimes my protagonists do the “right thing” only to NOT survive in the end.
2. For Michiganders, you included a lot of great local hot spots. That was great seeing places like Tip-A-Few in the comic. Were there other local spots you wanted to include but didn’t?
I always like to throw some Real Life landmarks in my locally-based stories for grins and nods, though mainly because I KNOW THEM somehow, someway in reality and just like sprinkling them into my fiction, and adventuring around them.
The first BIG JACK story line (which will be a three issue story arc) takes place mainly in the farmlands, woodlands, and rural areas of West Michigan. In reality, there are not a lot of KNOWN locations to plop down, at least, in this particular story line. There are mentions of areas in West Michigan: Coopersville-Eastmanville, Rockford, Interstate 96. The fictional NORTH SHORE COALITION (NSC) comes into play in the story which is an area I created in my TRANSPORT series that extends from Muskegon south to the Port Sheldon area.
It might not mean anything to anyone but Michiganders, but I have always wanted to create action-adventure stories in and around where I grew up. I mean, why should New York, Tokyo, LA, etc., have all the fun… Why not West Michigan? LOL
3. You transitioned from author to comic book writer with BIG JACK. What inspired you to make your foray into the comic book world?
Easy. I love comic books. Grew up reading Sgt Rock and GI Combat, then a mass of superhero books. I still collect and read comic books. I enjoy VISUAL STORYTELLING, so it was actually kind’ve easy to transition. I am naturally a visual writer so, I think (hopefully), I can flip easily from one to the other and do good work. I try. I still write pure prose books, short stories, etc.
4. Were there any challenges in writing BIG JACK? How did you overcome the challenges?
The biggest challenge was getting my head around scripting and plot breakdown when transitioning from prose writing to comic book writing. You really need to condense things down and tweeze out the prominent, specific parts for the VISUAL story. You obviously can’t move everything, every detail, from your prose story to the visual adaptation of it. You need to decide what is important to keep moving the visual story along.
I overcame these challenges by networking and working with a crack group of people who have done these things before. Co-creator Ryan Cummins. Artists EV Cantada, Erwin Arroza, Bryan Magnaye, Russ Colter, Tim Holtrop. Editor Kasey Pierce. Letterer Justin Birch. Logo artist Ed Lavallee.
5. What was it like working with artist EV Cantada and colorist Bryan Magnaye to bring BIG JACK to life?
And don’t forget the awesome work of variant cover artist Erwin J Arroza. Working with all three of these awesome gentlemen was, well, awesome. Considering we’re over 8,000 miles apart, many exchanges of information and notes were passed between us between email and FB Messenger. These guys are true professionals. This is what they do, and truly, the entire process (so far) has been great.
6. Do you have any authors or artists that inspired you? How did their inspiration help you write your first comic?
As I enjoy a small plethora of action-adventure and sword-and-sorcery authors and illustrators, the list might be slightly long. David Drake. Cherie Priest. Robert E Howard. Frank Frazetta. Classics. Ryan Cummins. Steven Shrewsbury. They all have inspired me simply by DOING WHAT THEY DO. If you sit on your hands, you don’t get anything accomplished. The people listed have done things or are doing things… I want to be like them.
7. You launched BIG JACK via Kickstarter. Why did you choose to go the crowdfunding route? Will BIG JACK be available in your favorite comic book store?
To get my comic book endeavors off the ground and get BIG JACK out there, and since I haven’t won the lottery yet nor have anything to show an actual comic book publisher, I figured crowdfunding was my best option. Once I get the first book and/or first book series out there, then I can submit it to a named-publisher for wider distribution.
And, yes, distribution-wise, there are a few comic book stores that will carry the BIG JACK comic. Local stores in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area (Comic Signal and Tardy’s Collectors Corner) and even one in Maine (Black Cape Comics). I will also have my own inventory on hand for direct sales and book events. If anyone would like to order a book or books directly from me, they can contact me at: email@example.com.
8. What was your biggest challenge in launching via Kickstarter?
You have to do all your own leg work. You need to be your own public relations person, marketing, promotions. It’s a challenge even when you are okay with doing that kind of stuff, especially when it’s your own project you are trying to get off the ground. I promised to do a video’d MILLI VANILLA dance if the kickstarter succeeded. We succeeded. I danced the entire GIRL YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE song for everyone… and realized how NOT in shape I am. LOL
INSERT VIDEO OF PETER DANCING HERE
9. Do you have any words of encouragement for up-and-coming comic book creators?
Don’t tell Nike but, yes, JUST DO IT. Go for it and create it because YOU LOVE IT. Don’t expect success and the ability to quit your day job straight out of the gate, but pursue your passion and your project(s) because YOU LOVE IT. I always tell people if I did all this simply to acquire fame and fortune, I would’ve quit a long time ago. I write, I create, because I love to.
10. The big question. BIG JACK leaves us with a great cliffhanger. How long before BIG JACK returns?!?
As I may have mentioned, BIG JACK: ANIMALS is/will be a self-contained 3 issue story. Plot breakdowns for issues 2 and 3 are done, and the scripts are underway. I would like to do another crowdfunding campaign to complete this short series and, at least, have issue 2 available before year end, and issue 3 in early 2022.