It’s no secret that our inbox gets crowded from time to time. It’s also no secret that this inbox is occasionally overlooked, sometimes for weeks or months at a time, making your news, the little details and announcements that you want us to shout from the tippity-top of Mount DS, fall into a black hole where they are only to be retrieved by the most eager and capable of hands.
This means that little, but important, blurbs like the one Charlie Trotman, creator of Templar, AZ, sent us, fall by the wayside until they are way past due and and way past useful. So it was with gracious and humbled fingers that I typed these questions for Trotman, known to most online denizens as Spike, and sent them along, promising a plug for the donation drive which was to cover the costs for printing the second volume of Templar, AZ.
Now, with the drive completed and the costs more than ably covered, Spike gives us the answers to the questions on every Templar fan’s mind. Join me as we delve deeper into the mystery that is the mind of Spike!
Digital Strips: So you just returned from the MoCCA festival in New York. Describe, as briefly or lavishly as you wish, your successes there.
Spike: MoCCA was the best con I’ve ever been to.
I sold out of copies of book one, got a bunch of pre-orders for book 2, and met a lot of people I’ve been meaning to meet for years. It was a two-day, small press show, but it was still unbelievably busy. I’d heard MoCCA was on its way to becoming kind of a alternative press, East Coast San Diego Comic Con, but I didn’t really believe it until I went. The crowd was very receptive, and everybody seems to be having a great time, creators and fans alike.
At a lot of major cons, the small press area kind of feels… a little abandoned. Almost neglected. Not by the con itself, but by attendees. Most of the big cons focus on big-name comics and manga, and small press is an afterthought, an “I paid to get in, might as well!” sort of thing. MoCCA is like the Bizarro World cousin of those kinds of cons, where everyone’s come for the little guys.
DS: How are the pre-orders on Book 2 coming along? Do you have the amount you needed to cover book costs?
Spike: I do, and then some! Last time around, to print book one, I managed to get about $3,400 dollars in 13 days. This time, I’ll be improving the printing quality of the book, and the book will be longer, so the bill was $4,400. I managed that in a little under a month.
DS: Templar, AZ has been universally praised amongst critics of the medium, what does this do for your productivity and drive to stick with it?
Spike: It makes me freaking paranoid. I can’t read a review without dismissing the praise and focusing with obsessive intensity on what anyone didn’t like about the comic. And every critic has at least one tiny, twitchy thing they weren’t into. That winds up being all that matters to me for hours. I’m incredibly feeble, that way.
DS: How long do you envision Templar continuing? Is there a clear end in mind or will it stretch as far as you wish?
Spike: All I can say is “It’ll be done when it’s done.” I’m not sure how long it’ll take, but right now, when people insist on an end date, I tend to tell ’em things should wrap up in about five years.
The storyline has a definite end point where there’s nothing left to do with he characters and the curtain’s coming down, though. I get accused of meandering a lot with the plotting, just throwing in stuff for weird points, but a little secret? Everything matters.
Reclamation? They matter. Those two bodyguards we saw outside Xenophage in Chapter One? They matter. I bet you don’t even remember Gordon [I don’t. – Ed], but he matters, too. And that girl with the big facial birthmark who was in exactly one panel in Chapter Two? You’ll be seeing her again.
DS: What other projects do you have in the pipeline?
Spike: Another webcomic, and a print comic. The webcomic is a fantasy adventure, a hicks-in-the-big-city story, except the city in question is sort of a thinly-veiled Stalingrad. The print comic is a secret war, science vs. magic sorta thing, a comedy. They are both awesome and everyone will love them! At least, that’s what I keep telling myself…
DS: As a fellow artist, I see the choices someone makes in line work and color as deeper than are immediately apparent. Is the black-and-white coloring of Templar a conscious choice or was it more of a circumstance of the time in which it was created? Do you ever get the desire to go back and colorize the archives?
Spike: I decided to sepia-tone Templar because I started it fully intending to make a print version of what appeared online, and I preferred the look of toned art to straight black and white. I think it would be more popular online if it were in full color… hell, toning it takes just as much time and giving it a full-color treatment would… but then the printing costs would just be through the roof.
And not only is a significant portion of my income as a cartoonist from the print sales, but… well I grew up wanting to walk into comic shops and see my book on the shelves. I wanted it to be in book form, one day. And full-color printing would have made that a lot harder to achieve.
DS: What does the future hold for Templar, AZ?
Spike: More delays and missed updates, probably!
Seriously, though: Years and years more of this story. An layman-oriented explanation of super-massive black holes. Layoffs. Invasions. Power grid failures. Subculture manipulation for personal gain. Awkward hero worship. Even more awkward romance. The success of image over substance. Scip’s mom. The fields of Osiris.
Am I being vague enough? [Uh-huh. – Ed.]
DS: I’ll admit to not having kept up with the strip recently. What would your pitch be to pull me back in?
Spike: Currently playing on Templar: An apocalyptic cult moonlighting as a criminal syndicate is in town, looking for the Elliotts and maybe a sperm donation towards the manufacture of the master race. And whatever pills Ben’s on? He doesn’t like them. Unless seriously considering chucking them in the toilet is a sign of affection.
After reading all that, how could anyone not want to immediately go and catch up with Templar?Â I know I am!Â Go check out the strip, pre-order Book 2 and stay tuned to DS for more on this promising, young creator!