It started with the title. Escape from Jesus Island was such an insane moniker we had to run an article. Now there’s a lot more to this comic than just a crazy handle – it’s on fire!
Recently EFJI creator Shawn French sat down with Dread Central to talk about the status of the comic and where they’re going from here.
“We have a few days left in our Kickstarter campaign, which ends September 1. We launched on July 28 and passed our main goal in eight days,”French said. “That goal was the minimum needed to print the first three issues and get us up on our feet. We’re now pushing for the stretch goal that guarantees we can print all of Act One (Issues 1-8).”
French talked about how the EFJI group is attacking the project. “During the campaign, our crew is basically split into two groups,” French said. “Shawn Greenleaf (editor) and I are focused on the day-to-day running and promoting of the campaign, which takes every last second of our time, plus a little more. Meanwhile, illustrator Mortimer Glum and letterist Peeter Parkker are cranking away on pages. There’s overlap, of course, but we’re primarily focused on our respective roles. This 35-day period is a make-or-break opportunity for us. We’re obviously off to a great start, but we have a long way to go to reach our ultimate goals.”
The group is currently targeting a launch in October. “Greenleaf, Mortimer and Peeter are working on pages, getting ready for a Halloween launch of Issue 1. I’ll be knocking out the scripts for future issues and organizing a whole lot of Kickstarter rewards. Most of the rewards start going out along with Issue 1, so I can do a lot of the work in advance to try to cushion the crush of launch week.”
One of the great rewards the EFJI crew gave away as a Kickstarter incentive was appearances in the comic. “We also have more than 20 Kickstarter supporters who will appear in the story due to their pledge,” French said. “Some claimed a specific character. Others picked a reward to appear as a mutant or to die or even to be killed by a certain character. It’s my job to track all of that and insert them into the scripts, making sure everyone gets their moment to shine. It’s a fascinating puzzle for a story geek like myself. When I originally wrote the scripts, I left a lot of references to minor characters intentionally vague. So once we collect all the reference photos from our supporters who will appear in the story, I’ll use those to cast all the featured roles, like I would for a movie. As I turn in each script to Mortimer, I’ll include reference photos of the Kickstarter supporters who appear in that issue. Then he’ll transform them into comic book versions of themselves, and we’ll go about murdering them in spectacular fashion.”
And all this is going on while the boys are out working their everyday jobs. “Everyone on our crew has been working like crazy,” French said. “We all have day jobs. Anytime we’re not there, we’re working on Escape from Jesus Island. There’s so much more to making a comic book than just making the comic book. I came up with the story 20 years ago, but I’ve been working on it daily for four years now. Mortimer has spent nearly a year building 3D models of the entire island, the ReGen Corp testing facility and all main characters. Editor Shawn Greenleaf has started design work on an Escape from Jesus Island board game. We’re getting quotes from sculptors and 3D modelers for gaming minis and character busts. We’re pricing out tarot cards and lunch boxes, character masks and trading cards, EFJI hoodies and T-shirts. We’re reaching out to comic book stores and checking out potential publishers.”
Recently French had to deal with a serious injury and managed to not only survive it but used the time to improve on the Escape from Jesus Island story. “I’ve had some recent forced downtime due to breaking my back in two places (plus two ribs) while working on the film Amish Devil. I play the title monster,” French said. “Initially, I could barely even roll over, much less do anything. I was stuck staring at the ceiling for a few weeks, which ended up being great writing time. I couldn’t physically write or type, but I had a whole lot of time on my hands, while loopy on painkillers. So I just ran the entire 40-issue story arc in my head start to finish, all day every day. I watched it over and over and over. By the time I was back up and moving, I had fleshed out an incredible amount of detail about the characters and story. It was an unexpected bright side to an extremely unpleasant experience.”
The main story arc for Escape from Jesus Island will be 40 issues, divided into five acts of eight issues each. Act One (Issues 1-8) launches as a monthly comic book series this Halloween. For more visit the official Escape from Jesus Island website, “like” Escape from Jesus Island on Facebook and follow Escape from Jesus Island on Twitter (@Jesus_Island).
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