Interview With Batton Lash, Author of Supernatural Law: Zombie Wife
If I’m remembering correctly, I first “met” Batton Lash, author and artist of Supernatural Law, way back in my CompuServe days, twenty or so years ago. It’s easy to take such a consistent, long-running series for granted, but Batton is constantly keeping up with the latest comic marketing methods, from introductory issues to reprint collections to moving to the web. Now, he’s running a Kickstarter to print the latest series graphic novel, Zombie Wife and Other Tales of Supernatural Law. He was kind enough to talk to me about the process. I thought his perspective would be valuable as someone who’s seen a lot of comic market changes. My thanks to him for his time.
This isn’t the first Supernatural Law volume you’ve Kickstarted, right? How many previous, and how successful were they?
Zombie Wife and Other Tales of Supernatural Law is the third Supernatural Law book I crowd funded. The first was The Monsters Meet on Court Street (2012) and then last year’s The Werewolf of New York, which was my first full-color, full-length SLaw graphic novel. Both were successful campaigns, both funded well beyond my goal! (You can find out more about the Supernatural Law books at the publisher’s website.)
How has this one differed from the previous?
As far as format goes, this will be the first SLaw collection that will collect selected stories from the supernaturallaw.com webcomic with several issues of the SLaw comic book in full color. It represents the transition I’ve made with SLaw, going from black and white to color, from “floppie” to webcomic. I’m now concentrating on creating content for the online strip with an eye on collecting the stories (or extended storyline) for print.
Don’t get me wrong — I love the “floppie” format (I grew up with it!), but unfortunately, for a lot of indie/self-publishers like myself, the direct market-distributed, 32-page periodical format is not an economically feasible one anymore. I have to go with what works.
What advice do you have for those contemplating Kickstarter?
Give it a try! I believe crowd funding and print-on-demand has given the indie/self-publishing cartoonist a shot in the arm. Kickstarter is akin to pre-ordering a book. Just make sure you fill the orders and fulfill your premium obligations once your project is funded! That’s a level of trust that pays off in your subsequent Kickstarter campaigns.
I believe it dovetails with the growing DIY aesthetic. Why wait for someone to give you the green light? I think a creative person can tell if he or she has a “winner” if the project is successfully funded. If there’s no interest in the project, the artist will realize it when the goal comes up short. I like that an artist can control his or her destiny; rather than be at the mercy of a prickly executive or an indifferent bean counter who could put the kibosh on a project because . . . well, because they can! Enough of that. In a way, crowd funding harkens back to the Renaissance when artists had “patrons of the arts”.
Does this volume finish reprinting all the comic book issues?
No, but there will be several issues of the black-and-white comic collected in Zombie Wife that will see print in full color for the first time! Selected stories from the webcomic (including the title story) round out the volume.
Will you be offering it through the direct market?
Comic book stores can order Zombie Wife through our bookstore distributor, Baker & Taylor.
You’ve been running a long time, and you have a lot of devoted fans, but what about new readers? Can they approach the series, and how are you reaching out to them?
I have always tried to make Supernatural Law as accessible as possible to the new reader. As for reaching out, I promote the series at conventions, on podcasts, and through Q&As, such as this one! Wolff & Byrd have been around for 35 years, but people are discovering and hearing about them for the first time all the time. I always say, “one reader at a time!” And I think going to color has helped pique the interest of new readers.
What’s up next for Supernatural Law? Are you still serializing new stories online?
Yes! But I had to take a “sabbatical” due to several unforeseen personal concerns. The Supernatural Law webcomic is on hold and will be back ASAP. Also taking up my time is the new strip I’m writing, drawing, and coloring for David Lloyd’s online anthology, ACES Weekly. It’s called The First Gentleman of the Apocalypse. And the story behind that story is a whole other Q&A session if you’d like to hear about it sometime!
Is there still a possibility for the movie?
Not if I can help it! I think television is a better vehicle for a Supernatural Law adaptation. What’s up? Stay tuned!