For seven years, CW Cooke has worked with publishers like Big Dog Ink, Devil's Due, Action Lab, Arcana, Viper, and Bluewater as well as in the self-published realm of comics. Despite this, he was willing to devalue himself by appearing on The Outhouse for an interview about his upcoming crowd-funded prison comic, Solitary! Though the project has already exceeded its $3500 funding goal on Kickstarter, CW has offered us a special stretch goal if the comic doubles that in the next 23 days, as you'll learn below.
Here's the overview, from Kickstarter:
Orange Is The New Cape:
Solitary is the story of Tim Hill, a man convicted to death row for crimes he didn't commit. He is executed, and upon being executed, he awakens to find that he is immortal and death row is really going to suck.
This book, Solitary, is my baby. It's the one comic I've been working on for my entire life in one way or another. It started as a comic I wrote and drew myself as a kid and blossomed into this entire world that I need your help to bring to life.
I've put a lot of my own money into making this book and have received an agreement from comic publisher Devil's Due Entertainment to publish the series, but first the creative team and I need to deliver on getting the series finished.
By pledging you're helping us see the series through to issue four. We're keeping our rewards focused around issue one, to keep this campaign simple, but we'll be sure to update you whenever new issues are available as well, and try to come up with some extra perks down the line to remember the backers who helped make this book's launch possible.
Now let's find out what CW Cooke has to say and check out some preview art while we're at it:
CW, welcome to The Outhouse. I just want you to know that we’re huge fans of Arrow, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, and America’s Next Top Model. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule as an independent comic book creator and television network to speak with us today.
No problem, I do what I can to help out certain toilet fans. America’s Next Top Toilet was going to be our new show, but we were thinking of maybe calling it The Outhouse…
*Re-checks CW's bio and realizes he is a comic book creator and not a television network* Oh, Wow, this is awkward. Okay, well, give us the overview on Solitary. Story, background, creative team, etc. Where might some of our readers have seen your work and the work of the art team?
The interior artist, Nando Souzamotta, is new to comics, so this is his first work. Incredible, right? The cover artist, Carl Yonder, has done work with Action Lab on the comic Pirate Eye as well as covers and numerous other things. Both are pretty incredible, huh? My work has been from Bluewater, Viper, Big Dog Ink, Arcana, and now, Devil’s Due, and numerous other companies coming up. I’ve been featured in national media like CNN and Time Magazine as well.
Any story set in prison today is going to draw comparisons to the hit Netflix show Orange is the New Black. If people enjoy that show, will they like this comic?
I certainly hope so. I keep making references to that show in all the press and interviews so we’ll see if that makes sense later on. I will say I believe it should be something they like. Also, if you liked Shawshank, Green Mile, Oz, and various other awesome prison-related things.
If it’s okay with you, I’m gonna picture the theme song to HBO’s Oz playing in the background throughout this entire interview. Is that alright? Huuuaagghh!
Do you see any opportunities to explore some of the real world problems with the prison system in America? I’m talking about some of the brutal conditions in prisons, the large number of prisoners, and the industry’s treatment of incarceration as a for-profit venture. Do you have a stance on any of those things? Or will this be a fun, light-hearted prison comic?
Probably less light-hearted romp and more brutal incarceration. Our main character is going to be living in hell throughout the entirety of the book, but there might be some light at the end of the tunnel for him. My beliefs on the prison system, over-crowding, and the obvious problems with putting small time criminals with drug convictions next to the hardened murderers and how odd that might be. The comic will dive into a number of different things I’ve always wanted to explore, and the prison system is a nice way to play in a world of incredible reality.
And what about the death penalty? This comic seems to deal directly with that issue. Care to alienate half your potential readers and take a stance on that one?
Not yet. I’m not even sure which way I lean on that argument. I’m more liberal-leaning than it might seem from some of my comics, but this comic will attempt to straddle the line between both worlds and not make sweeping generalizations.
If you could put one well known real life comics industry figure in prison, who would it be and for what?
Just one? There are a number of creators, past and present, who have done terrible things in the world and just ruined comics for everyone. I mean, come on, I couldn’t pick just one (and see, again, straddling the line is what I do best!)
You already have a publishing agreement in place with Devil’s Due. What do you need Kickstarter for?
To pay my incredible art staff. Nando, Carl, Greg & Fake, all of them deserve to be paid for their incredible work. I’ve paid some out of pocket already to help get things done, this is just to help bring us current and make sure we get the book published and finished in the best possible way.
On the Kickstarter page, you say this is a comic that you’ve been developing for your entire life, and that you actually wrote and drew a version of it as a kid. Do you still have that? Any chance of letting people see it if this project is a success?
My parents still might have a copy of it somewhere. It was drawn and penciled with color pencils on lined paper, so if they have it, or any variation of the story that I can find (like my character sketches, my page layouts, my full comics, or my stories), I will gladly show them. If the Kickstarter makes double its current goal AND if I can actually find the pages. How about that?
You’ve done some of those Bluewater Comics biographies, such as the Madonna one, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, the cast of Glee. Any chance for a massive crossover with all those pop stars and Solitary? Make this happen, CW.
Wouldn’t it be great if I could find a way to get some of those people behind bars with our main cast? Or some of their songs? Sadly, I’m not sure how licensing rights would work if I wanted to get Lady Gaga on Death Row, but it might be something to look into.
This is your first Kickstarter project (at least according to your Kickstarter bio). What made you decide to crowd fund this project, and what role do you think crowd funding will play in the future of the industry?
The need to pay my art team and the need to get press and advertising and to spread the word. Basically, I’m a loudmouth and a braggart (sometimes), but getting the word out on my own was a bit difficult. Getting the Kickstarter started, getting it out there, and getting a staff pick, all helped so far. More to come, so thanks for letting me do this!
Out of all the Kickstarters, small press comics, and self-published comics out there, what would you tell readers to get them to choose yours?
Besides helping my dream come true, I like to think the idea is pretty special, pretty original, and pretty amazing. What if Superman was on the Green Mile? What if you were a superhero, you were convicted of a crime you didn’t commit, and no one will listen? And when they execute you, you find out that you can’t die? What happens to you at that point? That’s the point of this book. It might seem like it’s going to be dark and depressing, but it’s going to struggle with a lot of the human aspects of jail, what it does to you, and what it means to be a superhero at the same time. Morally, can a superhero break out of jail, or will that make him the villain they believe he is? Superheroes are wish fulfillment, but looking at things like Man of Steel, what happens when things go too far and people die?
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Good luck with the Kickstarter, and if it gets funded, I hope you’ll come back to give us sole credit for pushing it over the top.
If you help get it past double funded and I can find the original version of this story, I hope you guys will publish the original version to your site!