Charles Butler is a professional banjo player based out of Nashville, TN. Butler recently began a Kickstarter campaign for 1X, a 28 page comic featuring four short stories, all of which were written and drawn by Butler. Butler reached out to me via email about featuring the Kickstarter on the site, and I agreed to interview him via email:
Christian Hoffer: How does a professional banjo player from Nashville decide to make comics?
Charles Butler: In a way, I can’t help it. I have loved comics since before I ever imagined a life in music. When I was about eleven I got the idea that I could create them, and I was actually right! That’s the power of the art form, one person can create a visual and literary world to let their imagination run wild in.
Hoffer: Do you feel there's a different sort of creative process between creating music and creating comics?
Butler: There are some interesting similarities as far as the creative process. Both are collaborations with instruments. The banjo music I create is greatly influenced by what the banjo wants to do, when creating comics I am likewise informed by the brush or pencil or digital pen. Especially so with the brush, I like to let it lose so that its nature comes across in the artwork. Beyond that, I'd say that though creating music and creating comics are quite different processes, they are both exercises in storytelling.
Hoffer: Is 1X your first comics publication?
Butler: I have published some stories through Grayhaven Comics. This is the first comic book that I have created from front to back.
Hoffer: What comics are in 1X? Have any of them been previously published?
Butler: At the risk of over-simplifying, there’s a sci-fi tale (‘Second Nature’), a western (‘The Albino’), and two stories which could be considered to be of the fantasy genre (‘Memories of Ysabel’ and ‘Withered World’). ’Second Nature’ was previously published in a Grayhaven book called ‘Grayhaven Presents Sci Fi/Horror’.
Hoffer: Are there any common themes that run through all the stories in 1X?
Butler: From my point of view, they are all very different. That said, I believe that the reader will find there is a singular voice connecting these tales which lends itself to a consistency of tone. Also, in each story my aim is to give the reader an “Aha!” moment towards the end, a twist of the plot which causes them to rethink what came before.
Hoffer: Did you encounter any unexpected obstacles or challenges when making 1X?
Butler: I have learned to not underestimate the difficulty of bringing a comic to completion. Especially that last 10%, it can be a struggle to be happy with the finished product. I read recently that Hayao Miyazaki dwells on the imperfections of his movies until he starts the next one, I believe that’s the curse of being so personally invested.
Hoffer: With 1X complete, do you have any additional comics in the works?
Butler: Yes, more short stories! Some day I hope to make long-form comics, but for now I have too many ideas, and not enough time, so I am focusing on works of ten pages or so. A couple of tentative titles for upcoming tales: “Daughter of the Wind” and “Whisperings”.
Hoffer: What will the proceeds from your recently launched Kickstarter campaign be used for?
Butler: Printing and shipping. This is my first Kickstarter campaign so I am trying to keep things simple and streamlined, $5 gets a printed version of the comic shipped to your door.
Hoffer: How have you promoted your Kickstarter campaign? Do you plan on upping the marketing for the Kickstarter as it goes on?
Butler: As I write this, the Kickstarter campaign for '1X' has been active for about a week. In that week I have learned a lot about this process, and tweeked the project page to my liking. During the next three weeks I will be stepping up the marketing, I have written an article for Bleeding Cool and am preparing a press release to email around. That said, it's a relatively modest Kickstarter goal, so the marketing I do will be appropriately modest. So far '1X' is on track, and I'm thrilled about it.
Hoffer: As a new comics creator, have you found it challenging to build support for your Kickstarter campaign?
Butler: It’s still early in the campaign, but it is safe to say yes. It’s a challenge that I am enjoying taking on, probably because ‘1X’ is such a labor of love. Still, this is very experimental for me. Who’s to say the pledges won’t shoot through the roof during the last week of the campaign, or the opposite? I have no idea what’s about to happen.
Hoffer: Will 1X be available for sale anywhere besides through your Kickstarter campaign?
Butler: Eventually I will sell them at local comic shops around Nashville. It could have a future in the digital realm, but it is definitely intended for print, and that’s what this Kickstarter is all about.
The Kickstarter page for 1X can be found here. Butler's website can be found here. Butler's Bleeding Cool article can be found here. Grayhaven Comics' website can be found here. A YouTube video of Butler covering Daft Punk's Get Lucky on his banjo can be found here. I enjoyed that last link a lot.