Lessons In “North Bend”

| January 20, 2016
North Bend Trenches copy
It’s been a while since we’ve had an entry here in the Trenches. This time around, we’ve got Ryan Ellsworth talking about his project North Bend, and the lessons learned with it.

What’s North Bend about?

coverThe story is about an undercover agent, Brendan, who works for the Seattle DEA. He is approached by two CIA agents who want him to help them test an experimental mind control drug on people without their knowledge. The story starts out by jumping forward two years after he has joined the CIA project. Brendan is in prison, and experiencing some major psychological problems. Presumably from his involvement with the drug program.

Sounds a lot like A Scanner Darkly. How much did the Philip K. Dick novel (or film that was inspired by it) inform the story you’re telling?

Well, I try to rip off the best! But really, like any self-respecting sci-fi fan, I love Philip K Dick. There are some similarities to A Scanner Darkly – the main characters are both undercover drug agents, and they both undergo some mental trauma where they both have a multiple personality type thing happening. And Steven, you know this, but I’ll share this little nugget for everyone else who doesn’t. The first draft of North Bend was a bit more futuristic. There was shapeshifting tech, where Brendan could change his face while undercover. The shapeshifting played a bit into the story. I wasn’t intentionally ripping off A Scanner Darkly – I had read it, but wasn’t thinking about it when I was coming up with the story. But you pointed out the resemblances, and we decided we had to cut the shapeshifting to make sure it wasn’t too similar. And the script for issue 1 has changed quite a bit since then. So beyond that, I don’t think the stories have a lot in common.north-bend-INT-02

This is your second Kickstarter for this. What happened with the first one?

The first one flopped, and flopped hard. I thought I could win everyone over on the merits of my 8 page preview alone.  My goal and reward prices were too high for a new creator.  I think it got about 2 weeks in and hadn’t even reached 10% funding. At that point I knew it wasn’t going to happen, so I canceled the campaign. I bungled a bunch of things with it. I launched on a Friday afternoon, probably one of the worst times you can launch. I looked at a bunch of comic Kickstarters that did really well, and tried to do some of the same things, without realizing why they worked for that specific project and if they would apply to mine. There’s so many variables that change with each Kickstarter project. And about a million Kickstarter advice articles out there. You have to be careful choosing what advice to follow. There’s a lot of conflicting information.

cover_vWhat lessons have you learned through the entire creation process?

This was my first time writing comics and pretty much everything I learned, I got from this site. There’s so much quality stuff here about writing, the process, and getting it made. So I appreciate the work you guys do. A lot of the things I learned had to do with Kickstarter.  I learned a lot about pitching a story and having a solid premise/logline. One tough lesson was learning you need a following before you launch a crowdfunding campaign. I kind of suspected as much, but was impatient and didn’t want to wait another few months to launch while I promoted North Bend. But it’s very hard to get a #1 funded if you’re a new creator without an audience. A few comics do get lucky and have done it without, but 99% of the time you need people already interested and knowing what you’re up to. I worked on getting involved with the community and meeting people for about four months before I relaunched the Kickstarter.
Thanks, Ryan!

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About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

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