Packs of The Lowcountry Interview

We the Nerdy’s Alexander Handziuk had the pleasure of interviewing writer John Dudley and artist Don Cardenas about their newly released collected edition of Packs of The Lowcountry, now available to back on Kickstarter.

We The Nerdy: Right off the bat, what is the elevator pitch for Packs of The Lowcountry?

JOHN Dudley: Imagine a world invaded all at once by every nightmarish creature imaginable. Werewolves, lovecraftian kaiju and everything in between. They just appeared all over the globe as if out of thin air, attacking mercilessly. Now imagine surviving day-to-day in such a world for 16 years.

Bastion Conroy doesn’t have to use his imagination.

Fortunate for ‘Bass’, he has spent most of his life safely within the protective walls of the world’s last safe haven. But there’s a new rumor that needs to be investigated. A mysterious report has suggested the possibility of a second city of survivors—in the Lowcountry.

Bass isn’t content with simply surviving. And so he accepts this mission to step outside the walls to discover the truth about this mysterious city. He soon finds that he’s stepped into a mystery as big as the invasion itself…

WTN: I was able to interview the both of you back when Packs was coming out in single issues. What made you guys decide to Kickstart Packs as a collection? And how has the Kickstarter process been thus far?

JD: The Kickstarter just launched at noon on Nov. 1st. We raised 25% of our month-long goal in four hours. So, uh… it’s been pretty good so far!

Kickstarter was a natural option for us that we’ve been planning for a couple years now. Our book is decidedly indy edge to it. We’re throwing quite a bit of layers into six chapters. There are publishing houses at which it could probably make a great home, but as one complete story, we always intended for this to be one collected graphic novel. In the serialized world of comic books, that limited our publishing options considerably.

That said, we’d be thrilled to work with a publisher for future printings of the hardcover, after this Kickstarter campaign serves as a proof of concept for the book.

WTN: How did your collaboration begin and what’s kept it going?

Don Cardenas: Our collaboration was really by chance. I came across a post John made on a comics forum and it seemed like something I might dig. It ended up that we were both in the Chicago area and met up in person, had similar influences and ideas about the book so we jumped into it. Aside from lack of better judgement (kidding), our collaboration kept going because we HAD to finish this story. It was very important to both of us to finish this the best way possible. And once we are done I will never talk to John again! Until next time.











JD: Don and I come at storytelling differently even though our venn diagram of the stories we love share a ton of overlap. This makes co-creation fun as hell with Don. We never stop bouncing ideas off each other. Four years later and we’re still sending overly excited emails about new story revelations.

But per Don’s point, it’s all over between us after this Kickstarter… Until one of us inevitably sends the next overly excited email.

WTN: Packs has a very distinct, grungy style to its art. What drove the inspiration of this style?

DC: This is a pretty boring answer, but really it was just my natural style. I can notice shifts in things and approaches as I was learning a lot while working on this book, but I never wanted to stray too far from what I established. I draw influence from everyone from JRJR and Adam Kubert to guys like Cliff Chiang and Chris Samnee (though if any of it comes through, that’s up to you!).

WTN: The importance of setting is something that you’ve talked about before in regards to Packs. What is it that drove you to base it on a real place?

JD: The lowcountry region of South Carolina speaks to me. It always has. I don’t live there now, but when I’m back down there visiting family I find myself writing notes about story ideas that just come to me. With Packs, simply setting the story in the lowcountry got me into a heck of a writing daze. I did about 75,000 words of prose discovering-writing before restructuring the narrative into a comic book (and throwing out 95% of the story from all that prose!).

In short, it’s entirely fair to call the lowcountry itself a primary character in this tale. But so much of that is due to Don’s expressive work with the setting.

WTN: The post apocalyptic world that this book takes place in features many distinct characters. Who is your most/least favourite and why?

DC: Most? Tie between Helena and Gills. They are the most fun to draw and I really like how I designed them.
Least? I enjoyed drawing everyone but I have to say Connect was the most tedious and time consuming. So I would have to say him.

WTN: How do you see the future of independent comics and what project(s) do you want to work on in the next couple of years?

DC: Independent comics are the future of comics period. The exposure gap between Big companies and Indies is diminishing rapidly and I think digital is a HUGE part of that. People are getting exposed to different things and while the Big guys will always have their place, tastes are expanding and hopefully this high tide raises all ships, sales wise.

As far as projects I have 4 projects I’m currently developing, the most present one is an all ages personal project with Steve Bryant (Athena Voltaire, Ghoul Scouts). It’s a bit early to really discuss others but unless the world ends you’ll have comics from Don Cardenas for the next few years, easy!










JD: I’d like to see more condensed storytelling. My patience for long drawn-out storytelling over dozens of issues just isn’t what it used to be. I’m a great admirer of writers like Rick Remender who inject hundreds of ideas and revelations into a single issue.

Comics as a medium lends itself to boundless storytelling. It’s not a coincidence that the comics medium has proven most successful (in most cases) within the genres of fantasty, sci-fi, horror and super heroics. There is no special effects budget for what you can put down on a page. Nor do you have to adhere to the physics or anatomy of the real world. Comics are a place for boundless storytelling. Adhering the rules of movie or tv show storytelling limits comics more than it adds.

More comics with actual endings would be great too. Nothing wrong with a long-form story, but we only have so much time to experience stories in one lifetime. Far better to feel satisfied by a story than to peter out on it over time. Because in that case, was any of it really enriching outside of the moment?

WTN: If you were to craft a follow up to Packs, what would it focus on?

JD: There’s a character we see oh so briefly towards the end of the book—and only briefly. That character is the crux to something big. There’s also a primary character in Packs of the Lowcountry whose backstory is left entirely unexplored. In a potential follow up, we’d learn that this character might be way more integrated into the events of this story than it seemed at first glance.
That said, we very much want readers of Packs of the Lowcountry to not notice the need for any of this. We very much wanted this to exist as a stand alone story.

WTN: Lastly, what’s one thing that you wish people did more of?

DC: This may be the excessive amounts of Sesame Street my toddler watches that has seeped into my brain but people need to “Stop, and think it through.” It applies from everything to stupid tweets to life. Be a smart cookie, people! It’ll save you a mess of frustration.

JD: Make comics.