The Nightcrawlers: Chat with Creators Marco Lopez and Rachel Distler

The Nightcrawlers is an upcoming All Ages graphic novel by writers Marco Lopez and Rachel Distler that will be published by ABLAZE and is currently a crowdfunding campaign on the new platform Zoop. The book is about middle-graders investigating a mystery in their town that involves werewolves. Kids vs. werewolves is a no-brainer.

The Nightcrawlers: Chat with Creators Marco Lopez and Rachel Distler
"The Nightcrawlers" cover, ABLAZE

We interviewed Marco and Rachel about the book and launched its crowdfunding campaign with a different platform from Kickstarter.

The Nightcrawlers: Chat with Creators Marco Lopez and Rachel Distler
Marco Lopez, writer of "The Nightcrawlers," ABLAZE

Hi Marco and Rachel, Nightcrawlers looks fun. The notion of kids investigating a werewolf invasion is sort of an All-Ages Supernatural Mystery no-brainer, especially if you're pitching it in a "Don Bluth classic animation style." What was the inspiration behind it? 

Marco: Hey, thanks for the interview, and thanks for thinking it looks fun. I love Bleeding Cool, so I'm glad you were interested in covering this graphic novel.

The inspiration for The Nightcrawlers was my love of 80s family/kids entertainment and filmmakers like Spielberg, Bluth, and movies like Monster Squad and The Lost Boys. Now while The Lost Boys isn't a kid's film, the rest are. And I in a lot of novels and particularly in the 80s and 90s. All ages entertainment they liked to push the boundaries on the type of stories they were telling touching on the darkness in the world. Letting kids know the world can be a frightening place, but in the end, the good guys will win, and some of it could be a bit messed up. Like, let's say the '78 adaptation of Watership Down. But that's good kids love that they want to be challenged and not talked down.

And that's what I wanted to do with the Nightcrawlers. Give the kids of today something I feel they're not getting in the all-ages graphic novel space. Something that pushes the boundaries a little. Something scary but thrilling and fun. I hope it connects with kids and kids at heart, and I have a feeling it will, and hopefully, I'm not wrong.

The Nightcrawlers: Chat with Creators Marco Lopez and Rachel Distler
Rachel Distler, illustrator of "The Nightcrawlers," ABLAZE

Rachel: Thanks for having us on! When Marco was showing me the initial concept for The Nightcrawlers, I knew I had to join on as the artist, despite knowing it would be a long haul to seeing it finally get published. I'm a real believer in only working on scripts and projects that make you happy, that are things that you wish were on bookshelves. The Nightcrawlers was a book Marco described as "a book for kids that involves myth, urban legends, and a broad cast of unlikely friends," which was absolutely something I would have flipped for as a kid to read, and honestly, it is something I would still love to read. So, being able to actually work on that book is twice as awesome. We both agree on the philosophy that kids enjoy being challenged and not being talked down to, and it was those kinds of books I loved the most growing up. It's great to see more and more books with that perspective, but there isn't yet quite something for horror in the all-ages comics space, and we wanted to bring all the influences of classic, spooky entertainment to the story.

Do you have ambitions to see it made into an animated series or feature? 

Marco: I know the answer should be yes, and there have been some interesting discussions in that space already but first and foremost, what's important to me is the graphic novel. I want this one to be a success so we can work on the second, then the third volume, and many more to come. I want to be working with Rachel on the Nightcrawlers for years to come. I want to see it translated into other languages and see the joy on kids' faces. Now I'm a huge fan of animation, so don't get me wrong. If this gets turned into an animated series or feature, I'll be over the moon.

I originally started out wanting to be a comic book artist and animator and went to the High School of Art and Design in NYC back in the 90s. So the animation nerd in me would kill to see that happen.

Rachel: I hadn't actually put too much thought into an animated series, but maybe that's because I've just been keeping my head buried in the pages! I would like to make a few more books, I think, before considering an animated series, but I think this would look amazing animated – maybe something like Ben 10 or Static Shock, if I'm allowed to show my age. Something like Steven Universe or Gravity Falls in style would be really incredible, too.

Did you approach publishers with it before you decided to go the crowdfunding route?

Marco: I hit up a few other publishers over the years as Rachel and I were developing this through life's struggles. But I was lucky enough to land it with Ablaze. A phenomenal publisher is releasing some of the best European comics here that their industry has to offer. I love the European comics scene, and being part of that family of books at Ablaze is a dream come true. Also, Rich Young, the owner of Ablaze, has been incredible throughout all of this. He cares, and it shows, and he puts in a lot of work and wants this book to succeed as much as we do.

Rachel: Marco has been the one putting out the pitch efforts, and yeah, we did approach different publishers before landing Ablaze, which I actually only learned about when he asked if I thought Ablaze was a good fit. When I looked them up, I saw they were new, but their lineup of books was really impressive and very attractive so that immediately told me that they must be onto something, so we went for it, and here we are! Frankly, Rich Young has been very responsive and communicative and is on top of organizing all the branches of marketing and handling the logistics of the project, which is really impressive since we're certainly not the only book he has to handle, and considering this is a debut OGN; I appreciate all the care and consideration we've received. I've seen some horror stories on social media regarding the lack of communication and bad contracts offered to artists. But I feel treated very fairly with Ablaze and am really happy to join their lineup. I'm glad they also see the value in the middle readers' space and want to support new artists like myself.

Why Zoop instead of Kickstarter or Indiegogo? 

Marco: Because unlike Kickstarter and Indiegogo (and don't get me wrong, they're great), Zoop acts like a partner. Your success is their success. They're down with us in the trenches. For one, Zoop is a crowdfunding platform just for comics and nothing else. Two, they're working their butts off. Whether it's advertising, contacting people for coverage and interviews. And they set up the crowdfunding page, and they will be handling fulfillment and working with Ablaze on various other things. They take a lot of the work off your hands so you can focus on making the comic and helping get the word out on your campaign. In my opinion, it's a very beneficial partnership, plus they're incredibly nice.

Rachel: Zoop was another new name for me while navigating the comic space, and when I was going into it, some fellow creators asked me what Zoop was like and what it was about. I was initially worried about using a new platform since Kickstarter has such ubiquity in the indie comics circles. But when you're on Zoop, they're not only handling printing and logistics, leaving you free to worry about, well, just making a great book, but they've been so open in handling our actual campaign page, marketing, the whole nine yards.

Can you talk about what your experience working with Zoop has been like?

Marco: Well, I think I also answered that above. So that's on me for not reading ahead. HAHA, But like I said, this is a fantastic partnership. That's unlike Kickstarter and Indiegogo with people that want you to succeed because if you don't succeed, then they don't succeed.

Also, let me add the obligatory you can find me on Twitter under @atomicrexent and find me on Facebook by name, Marco Lopez, and you'll see the Nightcrawlers logo in my banner. Thanks again for being so awesome and covering us.

Rachel: Honestly, in a lot of ways, I feel like the red carpet has been rolled out for us. It's been so nice to have that much less stress to leave us to handle art and using our own network to talk about our book, while they'll promote using their tools to boost us further. Meanwhile, if there are things you'd like to add to your campaign, change around, etc., all you have to do is ask, and they're more than happy to make your project just the way you like it. I've never run a crowdfunding campaign before, and while it's still a high-octane experience, knowing that there's somebody behind you to catch you is very relieving. And, if Marco is adding his social media, then I guess I should, too! You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Ko-Fi as @redtiebear, where you can check out some more of my art and keep up to date with new Nightcrawlers art and updates that I want to share with everyone! And of course, thank you so much, Bleeding Cool, I've always imagined seeing myself with a book on your site, and now I don't have to imagine anymore. Thanks to everyone reading here, too; thank you for supporting new creators, books for everyone, and The Nightcrawlers! See you when something goes bump in the night!

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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