Steve Horton (Satellite Falling, Amala’s Blade, Here There Be Dragons), the bestselling writer of Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns & Moonage Daydreams, which won two Eisner Awards, is crowdfunding his next project on Zoop. Nine Lives, written by Horton with art, colors, and logo by Chris Peterson (Manticore, Mayday, Broken World) and a variant cover by Lee “Moosopp” Tran, is about nine incarnations of the same woman throughout history, each with different magic powers, and a reincarnated killer that targets each of them. The first book in the series is about Cleo, the sixth incarnation, a singer and flapper in 1920s New York with the power to turn water into any type of alcohol that you can think of, and that’s just the beginning of her powers.
The Nine Lives campaign ends today, so there are only a few hours left to back this comic from an Eisner Award-winning creator on Zoop. Check out the project here. The Beat spoke with Horton about crowdfunding the project, setting a story during Prohibition, and more.
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan: You’ve previously tried to pitch Nine Lives to multiple comic book publishers. What was behind your decision to use a crowdfunding platform instead?
Steve Horton: I believe in Nine Lives! Comics publishers greenlight an extremely tiny number of new projects each year, even ones produced by established teams. In this particular case, I knew that Chris Peterson and I had a great book on our hands, and I wanted to finish it and help it find an audience.
Kaplan: Why did you choose Zoop instead of one of the other crowdfunding platforms, such as Crowdfundr, Kickstarter, or BackerKit?
Horton: At Kickstarter, I was afraid I’d end up one of those creators that enters into it with the best intentions but are unable to fulfill the books in the end. At Zoop, I was able to concentrate on the creative process, and Zoop handled rewards, social media marketing, e-mail marketing, and fulfillment. Plus, comics get successfully funded on Zoop at a very high rate. Also, the percentage they charge for these services is more than worth it.
Kaplan: What type of research goes into creating a story set during the 1920s prohibition?
Horton: Prohibition is the setting for issue 1, and we’d love to come back and do more Nine Lives, exploring the other time periods and other versions of Cleo. For this issue, I studied old movies and movie posters set during the time period and did my best to get the fashion and slang correct. It’s a lot of fun.
Kaplan: What’s your collaborative process with artist Chris Peterson?
Horton: Chris is great to work with. He’s drama-free. He likes to work with full script, so I provide traditional, panel-by-panel scripts, and he comes up with his amazing art and interesting minimalist color approach.
Kaplan: What was the inspiration for the limited color palette?
Horton: Not a lot of books are colored this way, and it fits the style of the book very well. I really like how it looks. I’ve always been a fan of flat color with minimal shading on the right project.
Kaplan: I can’t help but notice that you’re an ailurophile (you have three adorable furs). Other than the comic’s name, Nine Lives, did they inspire any part of the story?
Horton: What?! Fur coats? That’s so cruel! I … oh, you mean CATS. Yes, if and when we get to travel back to ancient Egypt, cats will play a significant role there, and I’m sure Whiskers, Tony, and Nala will make an appearance!
Kaplan: How did you move from working in editorial at newspapers to writing comics?
Horton: I interned at Comics Buyer’s Guide all the way back in 2001, and it inspired my love of comics. I began writing my own shortly after, starting with webcomics, getting a lucky break at DC and Image, then publishing books at Dark Horse, IDW, Insight, Webtoon, and now on my own with the help of Zoop.
Kaplan: Is there anything else you want to include?
Horton: Alongside my self-published comics, I do have one or more music books in the works as a follow-up on Bowie. I can’t say what the subjects are yet, but I guarantee you’ll be surprised! I know I was.
Nine Lives won’t be funding on Zoop for much longer, so check it out now!