Monty Nero writes games, comics, screenplays, radio plays, and novels. Comics readers will probably best know him for Death Sentence London with Martin Simmonds for Titan Comics (he created Death Sentence withMike Dowling), The X-Men and Hulk for Marvel, and a brand new series he can’t discuss just yet.
Hollow Monsters, his 1980’s set semi-autobiographical comic has two more days to run on Kickstarter. downthetubes talked to him about his new comic and how he found the Kickstarter experience…
Monty Nero: Yes, it’s about fear, essentially: horrors lurking in a suburban forest frequented by a gang of kids from a nearby estate, and how the disturbing things which happen there echo through the decades. It’s a very personal and spooky semi-autobiographical story: an unsettling commentary on the nightmares at the heart of society, and how lives are shaped by them over time.
It explores nostalgia – Raleigh Choppers, Pac-man, Adam Ant – and why we cling onto our imagined past greatness, as well as things like friendship and sex.
downthetubes: How did the idea come about?
Monty Nero: It all started as a reaction against high concept comics. I felt a burning need to write something intensely personal and meaningful without any thought on how it could be sold or explained to someone else. So, to see people connect with it now is exciting. I’m very grateful to every backer, and fired up to give them something truly special.
downthetubes: Why make it now then?
Monty Nero: Well, these are dangerous and scary times, but so were the 80s. More so, in some ways, though the
way people absorbed news then perhaps made it seem less cataclysmic. I saw patterns and allegories in how things have developed since the 1980s which seemed to be important. Sometimes you can make a larger point through a smaller story. And I’ve always wanted to write about these events in some form or other, events from my childhood and the strange goings on in a forest near my home.
But it wasn’t a marketable idea, or anything I could pitch to a publisher without having to change it profoundly. So Kickstarter allows me to make it as I want to, and experiment with all kinds of fascinating narrative techniques which wouldn’t be possible elsewhere.
downthetubes: What kind of narrative techniques?
Monty Nero: There are freewheeling visual sequences, contrasted with tight grids, and a fair bit of symbolism. All in the service of a great story, it’s always gripping. I’m exploring in how the concept of ‘closure between panels’ extends beyond Scott McCloud’s limited definition. And I’m trying to convey human experience vividly by depicting memory, reality, and imagination interchangeably.
Comics are perfect for this, exploiting the area between images and words – creating emotions in ways which can’t always be achieved in films or books.
downthetubes: Is that why people backed the comic? It was fully funded in six hours…
Monty Nero: I honestly don’t know, I feel very lucky. I think in my case most people backed it who liked work I’d done before. So they already knew my work and trusted it would be good. It’s much harder to persuade someone who’s never heard of you to back a comic on Kickstarter, I think. Then it becomes much more about whether they like the subject and tone. And I think backers like the fact it’s smart and ambitious, which is something I’m very passionate about.
downthetubes: What are your thoughts on Kickstarter in general?
Monty Nero: I find it very surreal. As comic writers and artists it’s a very unusual feeling to have people support what you want to do artistically. It never really happens elsewhere, there’s always compromise. It’s a great feeling, but I don’t really believe it yet. And I haven’t even been through the process of sending everyone there comics and rewards yet.
I guess I need to wait until the whole thing is done before I can speak with authority. But I do feel an enormous sense of responsibility to the people who backed me, to give them what they asked for and make it all excellent. Kickstarters are based on trust, so you can’t mess with that bond.
downthetubes: Will you do more?
Monty Nero: Definitely more Hollow Monsters, and I’m prepping others for next year. One’s a very exciting new character I’ve designed which I can’t wait to unveil.
downthetubes: What advice would you give anyone else planning a comic Kickstarter?
Monty Nero: Go for it, but plan well in advance. Hollow Monsters raised £2600 in five hours, and I think that was because I’d been trailing the Kickstarter to my mailing list for a month before hand. So people who like my work were raring to go.
I don’t think Twitter or Facebook count for a lot. They form very weak social connections. A like or an RT has no deeper value, in my opinion — they’re much less valuable than most people seem to think. But I like chatting to people who share my interests online, and the mailing list is a really nice way to do that. You can have open, personal conversations and it’s very positive and fun, catching up on news or chatting about comics, biscuits, Blue Planet 2, or whatever.
downthetubes: So when will Hollow Monsters be out?
Monty Nero: Well, the Kickstarter ends on Wednesday 8th November at 12:10pm, UK time. After that, I’ll be making a few more issues – six in all – before thinking about anything else.
downthetubes: Monty, thanks very much for your time and the very best of luck with your projects.
All art © 2017 Monty Nero