I spend a lot of time on Kickstarter looking over potential projects, A LOT. One of the most rewarding aspects about writing for this site is not only being able to help support great projects like The Projectionist, but getting to meet and talk to the geniuses behind them. One of those geniuses is Sam Midwood, an all around cool guy and lover of comics and the arts.
The Projectionist caught my eye thanks to my love of Geekly properties such as Ghostbusters, Doctor Strange, The Phantom Stranger, Constantine/Hellblazer, and more. But what Sam has created, speaks more from his heart and experiences in life than any other project I have seen to date.
The team he has assembled for this undertaking is no joke either! David Daza is providing his amazing pencil and ink skills to bring Sam’s characters to life! Daza has had some great experience working on books for some of the big name publishers like: Star Wars: The Old Republic (Dark Horse) and Transformers (IDW).
To make the pages pop, Sam has acquired the expertise of Marta Martinez, or as he calls her “the rock and roll artist of the coloring world“. Martinez gives Daza’s drawings the beautiful colors that bring a dynamic edge to the art. Marta has worked on various big name books like Captain America, Wolverine, Batman, Wonder Woman, you get the picture! This is what really makes this project so special, the Trinity of talent behind the panels!
The Kickstarter is doing well so far, it has reached just over 70% of its overall goal, but with only 10 days left it still needs YOUR support! Head on over to the official The Projectionist Kickstarter page and check it out! Don’t forget to check out Sam’s heartfelt video while you’re there as well.
You can read all you want of my ramblings and what the Kickstarter page presents, but let’s take that one step further and talk with creator Sam Midwood himself! I had the chance to interview Sam about The Projectionist, life, and a many Geekly things! Read on Towelites because we had a lot of fun with this one!
DFAT: First off I’d Like to thank you for taking time to talk with DFAT, we are huge comic book geeks and also big fans of the noir, detective stories not to mention supernatural fiction. Being fans of characters like Sherlock Holmes, Buffy, Batman, and more; we were instantly interested in The Projectionist
How long have you been a comic book fan? And why did you decide to create your own book?
Sam: I’ve been a fan since Chris Claremont and Jim Lee’s blue-team/gold-team run on the X-Men. Also, I was a little insane for Liefeld’s X-Force. I don’t care what the Liefeld haters say. I loved the crazy way that dude drew feet! Sue me. Yeah, huge Shatterstar fan here. Huge Mojoverse fan. In fact, it’s kinda my dream to write the Longshot movie one day. Anyway, then we have all that great Image stuff — The Maxx, Savage Dragon, Spawn… gah… great memories! I was also big into Valiant Comics – Archer & Armstrong, X-O Manowar, Harbinger.
DFAT: What about stories like Phantom Stranger, Constantine, Deadman? Were you a fan of these types of Supernatural heroes?
Sam: I wish I could say, “yes”, but, I really wasn’t cool enough back then to know about those characters.
DFAT: What about Doctor Strange?
Sam: Oh, yeah, Dr. Strange, absolutely! But, I didn’t know about Constantine ’til the Keanu movie. I liked the Keanu movie just fine, but, when I started reading the comics there was just no going back.
DFAT: Oh, I agree! Are you looking forward to the TV show?
Sam: No. I caught the pilot… and… I was disappointed. I think everyone they cast was great, but, the show didn’t feel like Hellblazer to me. It was a little too goofy. Something was off.
DFAT: More like the DC Comics mainstream version…
Sam: Yeah. I couldn’t really get into that. I did try. Do they have to reinvent every damn everything?
DFAT: What/Who were your biggest inspirations for The Projectionist?
Sam: Ya know, The Projectionist started out as a film script. Well, lemme back up a bit….
DFAT: Really?! I know that you are a play-write. I have a question about that later, but please continue…
Sam: Sure. A few years back I was going through a rough patch –in the middle of a breakup, sleeping on couches, working the graveyard shift at Target, yadda yadda. Bloody awful stuff. And, during that time I started having dreams where ghosts were swirling all around me and saying things like, “You… are the king… of the dead.” Then, all of a sudden, I was being chased by something, hunted down, because now… I was a ghost myself. So, I dunno. These terrible dreams became fuel for a story, and that story eventually turned into dun dun dunnn… The Projectionist.
As for inspirations…
Biggest inspirations for this story, film-wise at least, were Ghostbusters and The Fugitive. Also, Minority Report with a little Beetlejuice thrown in for good measure.
DFAT: Amazing films!
Sam: Speaking of Beetlejuice, I took an 8-week screenwriting course at UCLA a couple of years ago. My professor, awesomely enough, ended up being Larry Wilson, co-writer of Beetlejuice and The Adams Family. Actually, he’s been a huge supporter of The Projectionist since day 1.
DFAT: So, you would bounce ideas off of him?!
Sam: Yep. All the time. Still do.
DFAT: How about Ghostbusters (one of my faves of all time), how did your love for that movie help to influence the story and the characters? Is there a fine line between the “good” and the “bad”, or more of a grey area? Also those ‘ghost blasters’ seem to be a little more hardcore than the proton packs the GB’s use!
Sam: Definitely more hardcore! Right now we’re calling them “Goo-Guns” because they reduce ghosts down to… well… goo. But, yes, Ghostbusters is a major influence in this story. Our hero, Ethan Plane, is an astral projectionist. Astral projection is the art of traveling outside of the physical body, projecting the soul into the astral plane… or spirit world. So, essentially, when Ethan leaves his body, he’s a ghost. And, who better to hunt down our ghost-like hero then a bunch of ghost busting cops? I imagine these cops as being quite hateful, bigoted even, towards ghosts. Sorta like Donnie Wahlberg in the Sixth Sense would be if he didn’t shoot himself and made his living chasing down the dead. These cops, these Paranormal Transit Authority guys, they call ghosts things like “Spook”, “Doornail”, and “Sheethead”. Real nasty stuff.
DFAT: So you have a moral dilemma to deal with in your world.
Sam: Oh, yeah! Unfortunately, the big moral dilemma is something I can’t really talk about as it goes hand in hand with the story’s big mystery.
DFAT: Fair enough. Looking forward to finding out what that is!
Let’s take a step back… Is this your first big comic book project, I know it is, but can you elaborate for the readers a little? Also tell us about your playwriting experience. I’m from the NYC area, what was it like tackling art in the Big Apple?
Sam: I was just a kid, I didn’t know any better. I wanted to do a play, so I did it. There was no fear back then. Short version is: I found some old songs my father had composed buried in a drawer and I decided to write a musical around those songs. Because, they were just sitting there and, I dunno, I wanted people to hear my dad’s songs. So, I grabbed a bunch of the kids in my high school theatre department and said, “this is what we’re doing!” And, we did it. We raised the money to rent a great space in Manhattan, an off-Broadway theatre called The Judith Anderson and… we had a good run and people loved it. One of the coolest bits for me was getting a letter from the Manhattan Theatre Club, who we never even invited. The letter basically said they’d sent someone from their company to see our show and that they wanted me to send them my next play. I never did though. ‘Cause I’m dumb. On second thought, my mom probably wrote that letter. Thanks, Mom!
DFAT: Did you grow up in NYC?
Sam: I was born in Manhattan and grew up in Far Rockaway and Long Island. After college I moved to Brooklyn.
DFAT: When did you move to Cali and Why?
Sam: I moved to California a couple years ago… to write this thing. That’s the truth. I needed to be around movie making energy and I was dead-set on taking that UCLA class I’d mentioned. The idea of turning The Projectionist into a comic book came about half-way through writing the screenplay.
DFAT: How old were you when you wrote that play?
Sam: 17. Maybe 16.
DFAT: So, you’ve been rocking the entertainment life for more than half your life! Or, maybe longer?!
Sam: Yes, sir. Did a lot of acting as a young man. Went to college for acting. Produced a few plays in my early twenties. But, I eventually caught the writing bug and here we are. Half of my family is in the arts. My dad’s a writer, my mom studied film, my brother’s musician, my sister’s a musician, my step-mom’s a poet, and my other sister is a painter. Random story: my sister got invited and then uninvited to show her work at the MOCA Street Art exhibition a few years back and so… she just walked right into MOCA on the day of the exhibit and tagged their bathroom.
DFAT: So, it runs in the family.
Sam: And runs it.
DFAT: So, you moved to LA because you thought it would provide “better” opportunities? Exposure? Like you said, you wanted to make a movie.
Sam: I needed to get out of NY when I did, too much painful stuff going on at the time. And, yeah, I was ready to write my movie. Cue the cliché! Even saying, ‘moving to LA to write a movie is a cliché…” is, in itself, a cliché!
DFAT: So, the comic could essentially be your storyboards?
Sam: Yes, that was the initial idea, sure. I thought It’d be easier to sell the film that way, but, it became something else. I love comics. As a kid, I used to spend hours in my bedroom making up superheroes and writing little stories for them. I remember I had this whole team, when I was 14, called the MIA (Mutant Intelligence Agency) and their job was to monitor and keep tabs on all of the mutants and…ha… that’s a whole other article. I dunno, turning the The Projectionist into a comic book kinda became about me getting back into my childhood bedroom. Sorry, was that creepy? Are there any Freudians in the house? Maybe we need to call the cops. There’s some freak trying to get back into his childhood bedroom!
DFAT: You think that by creating this comic, it will open more doors?
Sam: I have no idea. What I do know is this is how I need to do it right now. I mean, it’s hard not to get caught up in all that stuff, being in Hollylala Land and all. Really hard. But, right now, I really just want this book to be awesome.
DFAT: Does the name Ethan Plane have any other meanings or references? What inspired the creation of your main character?
Sam: Ethan Plane is just a play on etheric plane. Ethan is an avoider. He avoids all manner of responsibility, uncomfortable situations, angry girlfriends, etc. He avoids. And this is his big problem. This is what gets him into trouble time and time again. He also happens to be one charming cunning SOB but, again, he’s an avoider and this is, in a way, the central drama of the story.
DFAT: Does Ethan only smoke when he is in astral form?
Sam: That’s awesome that you noticed that just from the pin-up. Um… yes. But, I won’t tell you why or how that’s possible.
DFAT: How far ahead do you have the story of Ethan planned out? Are you staying within the scope of him being framed for now? Do you have plans to tell more of the Necropunk world story, i.e. of its decay and maybe a way to stop it?
Sam: I like having proper endings. So, at the moment this is the story I have to tell. It doesn’t end with a cliffhanger or a “You decide” or “It was all just a dream”. It ends and it ends on what I think is the right note. But, yes, there are a million tales to tell within the setting of this world and I’m totally open to telling some of them.
DFAT: How did you hook up with David Daza and Marta Martinez?
Sam: I posted an ad on digitalwebbing.com. I got Marta through David. They live in the same city in Spain, have worked together, and are good friends.
DFAT: With it being your first comic book project, to get the two of them on board like that is pretty impressive.
Sam: I had a little experience helping a friend of mine put together a submission for his comic. I kind of acted as project coordinator for it. Posted an ad on DW, found a great artists and colorist, worked with them until we got the pages right. Doing that, I learned a helluva lot about working with artists and just comic book production in general. And, I was able to carry that knowledge over to this project. Still learning though. Always learning.
DFAT: What is it like working with David Daza? Also how important is it to have a dynamic team, like Daza and Marta Martinez, to bring your idea to life?
Sam: It is a true pleasure to work with David. I couldn’t have asked for better. He’s a supreme talent and I can’t wait for people to see what he can do. We also get along great, which is a real bonus. Although, I do drive him a little nuts sometimes with my OCD attention to detail like noticing a finger being slightly out of place. As for Marta, she’s a rock star. She has this wonderful, almost inexplicable, brightness of spirit. How important is it to have a team like this? It’s everything. This book would be nothing without them.
DFAT: If The Projectionist is a success, would you rather expand the universe or create a new project?
Sam: If I did expand I’d do it after doing another project. You know, cleanse the old brain palate, if you will.
DFAT: If the project reaches 100 percent funded early, will you offer any stretch goals?
Sam: Absolutely! One of the stretch goals would be issue #2.
DFAT: Are there other supernatural creatures in this world? If so, when and how would you introduce them, or their presence?
Sam: Yes, and I can’t answer that without ruining things.
DFAT: If you could be any comic book character who would you be and why?
Sam: Is Howard the Duck the right answer? No? Hm… I was gonna say Spider-Man but all that swinging around would make me nauseous. Honestly, my answer would change from day to day.
Right now, I’m feeling Armstrong because he’s immortal and a total degenerate.
DFAT: Which publisher would you like to work with the most? Why?
Sam: Is there a way to answer this without alienating perspective publishers? No? OK. Image. Because, they have a fantastic market presence and, as I understand it, creators fully retain the rights to their stories.
DFAT: In a world dominated by big name publishers and even bigger named Superheroes, I love Indie comics and the stories creators like yourself have to tell. I find them so much more personal! Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with DFAT! We wish you and your team the best of luck with the Kickstarter campaign! I am really looking forward to reading the comic!
Sam: Chris, you are amazing! I had a blast with this interview and I can’t thank you enough for supporting The Projectionist. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we’re enjoying making it.
The Projectionist Kickstarter ends on Sunday August 17th! Please if you love Indie Art as much as we do, help this amazing project reach its goal!