Why Shakespeare, what made made you pick that time and period and author?
C: Actually we sort of came upon the Bard by accident. We were brainstorming video ame ideas (a medium that interests us as storytellers) and Anthony made a crack about Kill Bill. Except he said instead of having a game where you are trying to kill David Carradine, he said it should be a different Bill, such as say… Billy Shakespeare?
A: We’ve both been fans of the work of Shakespeare and when we came up with the concept it just clicked. We knew we were onto something big – these are characters and stories that millions (if not billions) of people around the world are familiar with. Shakespeare’s works have survived for over 400 years because they are so rich and deep and we relished the opportunity to play in this sandbox.
How long did it take you to decide on the style of artwork?
A: The artwork actually came to us and introduced itself. We had talked to a number of artists but we really liked Andy Belanger’s enthusiasm as well as his zest for detailed artwork. He immediately told us that he envisioned a large amount of detail in each panel so that each image told a story by itself.
C: We had a few touchstones we were using as templates for the world Juan Ferreyra from Rex Mundi, Tony Harris on Ex Machina, Leo Pilipovic on The Secret History. We knew we wanted someone who could bring a real mood to the project, and we also wanted to avoid the series being too “cartoony”– we thought people might take us less seriously. So on that front Andy B was a surprise choice because he is best known for his cartoon style work on D.C.’s Bottle of Awesome – but he quickly proved to us that as an artist he can draw in many different styles.
What was your biggest challenge in bringing this to completion?
A: Realizing that in order to put this project together we would have to quit our full-time jobs to devote the time and energy needed to pull off this project successfully. Conor and I both had great jobs in the media industry here in Canada (in broadcast journalism and music management, respectively) and we left the stability to make this dream come to life. That was a big personal risk and challenge.
C: For me the biggest challenge was raising money at the beginning. I think we knew we had a great idea, and we had faith we could do it justice, but could we get somebody to back us financially so we could really work on this the way we needed to? THAT was a big question, especially as the financial markets were tumbling down all around us.
What is next for you?
C: Who knows? More Kill Shakespeare we hope. We do have two more arcs plotted out that would bring an end to Hamlet’s story (we’ll as far as we know it). Other than Anthony and I have a few different series for T.V. that have been in and out of development here in Canada… and of course we have a drawer full of ideas we’d like to pitch.
A: We have been approached by a number of companies interested in doing film and game versions of Kill Shakespeare. We are continuing to talk to them and will be involved in these but our main focus is on finishing off the current series and looking to put a second series together.
What is your target audience with this, and do you think that you hit that target?
C: Shakespeare’s work is so widely appealing that we think in many ways we can hit several audiences. But for the comic we hope we can hit that 18-35 year old male sweet-spot. Although we’ve been really surprised at the number of tween-age girls who contact us to say they are reading the series.
A: Yes! The Twilight and Hunger Games teenage girl readership demo!… In all seriousness, Shakespeare traditionally skews female so our female readership is rising with the release of the trade paperback.
Do you think that this has a chance at being a made into a movie? And if so who would you like to see do the voices?
A: We have had a number of top production companies and agencies approach us to do the film. Conor and I have backgrounds in film in Canada and will begin working on a screenplay in the new year, once we complete the scripts for the rest of the series. We envision a live-action feature film very much in the vein of Lord of the Rings – a large epic journey story.
C: For actors we’ve always talked about people like Ryan Gosling, Ben Foster, Julianne Moore, Ewan McGregor, Djimon Houston, Idris Elba, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Polley, and I really like Allison Pill.
How long did it take you to put this all together from beginning to end?
C: Jeez, it’s what, five, six years and counting, Anthony?
A: We came up with the idea back in 2003 but it wasn’t until mid-2007 that we started to put in some serious time to making it become a reality. We started raising financing in late-2008, pitched the project in February 2009 to publishers, and the first issue was released in April, 2010.
When did the light bulb for the idea come on, where were you?
C: I don’t remember. I think we were on the phone- so I think I was probably in my home office in downtown Toronto at the time.
A: I remember like it was yesterday… Picture it: Sicily, 1923. A young school boy… Yes, we were chatting on the phone, exchanging ideas and suddenly… Eureka!
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