I Am Michael Watcher an interview with Brian Hawkins

Posted April 14, 2014 by Oscar Russell in Comic Books

Kickstarter is really bringing out the best in independent comic creators at the moment, there is so much talent on display it’s incredible! We The Nerdy was lucky enough to catch an interview with Brian Hawkins, who is currently producing his comic project I Am Michael Watcher. We get talking about all things from Stephen King inspirations to finding your own dark place…..

We The Nerdy: In short what can expect from I Am Michael Watcher, the Kickstarter page looks great, but for the benefit of those that haven’t checked that out yet?

Brian Hawkins: I Am Michael Watcher is about this young man, Luqas Cohen, who wakes up with two weeks of his life missing and with no recollection of what happened or where he’s been. In addition to the missing time, he discovers that he now has a grisly tattoo on his abdomen that reads, “I Am Michael Watcher.” What Luqas does not know, but soon comes to find out, is that the tattoo is the calling card of a killer that has killed three students that attend the same academy that he attends and during the same time he went missing. That’s pretty much the best synopsis I can give to really capture the overall idea of the series, but if I could add anything on to that it would be that it’s really a story about identity incased in the genre of mystery/horror.

WTN: This Kickstarter is covering the first 6 issues of the series? How many issues do you intend to run for, and what will be the plan on getting the next installment out to the market?

BH: Well, the series is really a planned out 36 issues which will consist of six volumes of six issues. Believe it or not, every detail of this story is done – in my mind – but 1f6f370151221fdfd9e345b2184693e4_largethere’s a general outline that I am following, again, in my mind and on random notes that I make to myself. The plan with the Kickstarter is really to rev up the readership and hopefully get some funding for our print run that we’d like to do. The first volume (issues 1-6) is really the beginning of this story in that it introduces the readers to the main characters and their world – a chaotic small terrene where teenagers are being teenagers and doing and saying things that are bigger and more grown than who these kids really are. This is juxtaposed against the actual adults in the story that should be guardians but are seemingly always reacting to the teenagers or the situations rather than being in front of it. Issue four, five, and six is where the story really deepens and the danger of this world is really understood… Wait. Sorry about that tangent, I sometimes get carried away in explaining things…

Our plan for the second installment will be digital releases paralleled with print orders. Hopefully, if we are funded we are going to really try to self-publish through print orders and via submitting to Diamond for distribution. I’ve read a lot on Terry Moore and what he’s been able to do through self-publishing and his journey is one to be admired. I would like for Charlie (my co-creator and artist) to definitely take that route – that isn’t to say that we are opposed to linking up with a Creator-owned publisher because if that opportunity did arise and the deal worked out to the benefit of both parties and it helped the story, we would be game. But our plan for now is to self-publish and use the Kickstarter funding to legitimately be able to distribute in print in conjunction to digital releases.

WTN: Where did the inspiration come from for the book?

BH: Where did the inspiration come from for this book… Hmmm… Well, it’s really a composite of a lot of things. I remember when the idea was first creeping up on me; it began just like that – as a thought – a person vanishes and then reappears with no memory of who he is and with a tattoo of a name on him. That’s how it happened. It was just a thought and then I began to kind of writing the story in my mind. I can’t really say that there was anything that really inspired it… I am always inspired by Stephen King as a writer and I have a real love for mysteries. Just recently, I began reading some Joe Hill, his son, and that inspires me – it kind of teases my mind. I also like Laurie R. King as well. She does a new version of Sherlock Homes through her created character of Mary Russell who later married the great detective. My favorite comic book right now is Chew. No one is doing it better in comics right now than Layman and Guillory.

WTN:What has it been like writing a book with very dark themes, and how does that effect you?

BH: It’s been cool. It really doesn’t affect me. I’ve always liked mysteries and horror as a genre. I like the intrigue and I like to be scared – as weird as that might sound. It’s really goes back to that daemonic dread, the primordial mystery of existence and God and the Universe and all the great beyond that seems more than what we – humanity – are. That kind of drives me or fills me; existential questions with existential possibilities. So… I like it. Funny thing is, I’m reading this book right now by Deepak Chopra and he references how most people are afraid to be in their own personal “dark place.” I’m not…. Because I know that I’m the light.

WTN: How has the whole Kickstarter experience been so far, what challenges have you encountered?

BH: Wowsers! Uh… It’s been challenging. That’s the best word. At first, I was a little antsy about getting it approved but that was fairly easy. During the process of building the project for approval, I was doing a lot of reading on crowd funding in general and then specifically for comic book projects, so I went in with my eyes open. Our project got approved (obviously) but we didn’t launch right away. We waited a month and a half actually to build up awareness about the title and readership (we offered the first issue for free through Gum Roads) and then formed a contact list of people interested in the title. Right now, the toughest part is reaching out to everyone and getting them to back us. I get it though, there are obstacles that can’t be avoided – like the economy, the fact that we’re not big names, and our reach just isn’t as long as others. So, all of those obstacles are factors. Still, I believe with enough drive goals can be attained and paths can be created.

WTN: How important has it been to set the pledge reward just write to get people interested, obviously the story and project should speak for itself but what impact do those rewards have?

82c60ff95d0916da2d671e60d0bcc5ce_largeBH: Very important. I’ve heard the horror stories about individuals and groups that went into their Kickstarter campaign with lofty dreams of getting rich or at least paying themselves the salary that they believed they deserved for their work and how they crashed hard into the pavement. That was something that I definitely didn’t want me and Charlie to do. We wanted to be realistic and find a suitable amount to get done. What we needed to get done – print and distribute our comic. That’s it. Our goal of $2,500 is just enough to do that for the first story arc. In addition to setting the right goal amount, we wanted to offer rewards that fostered the idea of backers joining in with us on this mysterious journey of WHO IS MICHAEL WATCHER? We don’t want anyone to feel like they are donating. Rather, whoever helps to support this project is a legit backer and has literally invested and put stock in Charlie, myself, and this story and we wanted all the rewards to reflect that truth.

WTN: Any tips for aspiring writers?

BH: Yup. Make sure you study your craft. Write a lot and definitely read a lot – read books, comics, scripts, watch film and TV shows with a critical eye, try to see the writing and discover the author’s purpose in everything and the specific ways that the author goes about trying to convey his/her message. Beyond that, develop a drive and a confidence about what you’re writing and doing, and use that same drive and confidence to push your work. Ray Bradbury said it best, “You fail only if you stop writing.”

WTN: How did you and artists Charlie S Alway get together? 

BH: Fate. Seriously, the Universe conspired to bring us together. I was actually looking for a color artist for another project I was working on at the time and I did this query through Virginia Commonwealth University’s art department (I graduated from there, English major) and a professor gave me his name. We worked on the other project for several months and we formed this really great working relationship. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Charlie. He’s an incredible person, artist, and I would definitely call him a friend even though we have never physically met. I saw some of his work and what really struck me about it was how different it was… It was raw but beautiful, abstract in some ways but still put together. It was a different, unique, and (what I came to call it) “real” style; just like life, gritty but alluring. I pitched him the idea, wrote the first script, and here we are. Charlie and I are simpatico.

WTN: Any final words……n

BH: Personally, I just wanted to thank you for this opportunity. Beyond the exposure, it really means a lot to be able to share some of who I am and who Charlie is as creators and people; I would venture to say that it makes the writing and the story telling and the art more real. Ultimately, it gives me a chance to reflect and that’s always a positive.Charlie is finishing up issue three as we speak so we are hoping for a digital release of April 16th

You can check out Brian’s Kickstarter project I Am Michael Watched here, and also read issues 1 and 2 of the series here using promotional codes iamw1 and iamw2 for a free copy. Brian is also on the blogs. Be sure to check out the project before it ends on April 19th and stay tuned to We The Nerdy for reviews



About the Author

Oscar Russell

Comics Editor for WTN, and co-host of the All New Comics Dash Podcast. I like comics and tabletop gaming!