Today I welcome Gordon McAlpin back. It’s been a week of returning favorites. You’d think there was an anniversary coming up or something.
Gordon McAlpin lives in Minneapolis with his cat Punk. In his twenties, he watched over a dozen movies a week. Gordon has written movie reviews, co-hosted a movie podcast, and edited a movie news blog, but now he just writes and draws Multiplex. While he has never worked at a movie theater, he has had several equally terrible jobs.
From 2004–2006, Gordon created Stripped Books, a series of non-fiction strips covering book- and comics-related events in comics form. Multiplex began in July, 2005, and is Gordon’s first on-going comic strip.
Gordon draws Multiplex in Adobe Illustrator CS5 on a Mac and happily endorses the Astute Graphics’s Phantasm CS and VectorScribe plug-ins. He uses Coda to update and maintain the Multiplex website and hosts the site on Rackspace Cloud Hosting.
ANTHONY: Welcome back, Gordon! Thanks for agreeing to chat again.
GORDON: No problem. Thanks for asking!
ANTHONY: You used Kickstarter to successfully fund the publication of MULTIPLEX BOOK ONE: ENJOY YOUR SHOW. It’s time to get Book Two: THERE AND BACK AGAIN. How long is this campaign running for, and what are some of the rewards you’re offering to those who contribute?
GORDON: This campaign is running for 23 days total. This is a bit shorter than most, and much, much shorter than my first project, which went for the maximum of 90 days. When I ran the Kickstarter project for Multiplex: Enjoy Your Show, I was literally the first webcartoonist to do it — not the first cartoonist, jus the first webcartoonist. So I assumed more time = more money. What I didn’t realize was that it would be more stress and more work, because I had to promote the project for three months. That got old kind of fast. So I decided to do a much shorter one this time: three weeks, which I rounded up to 23 days so that I could end it on midnight before an update day. This way I get the initial flurry of interest and the last-minute drive much closer together. That might have been a mistake, but it’s been doing well so far. We’ll see how it plays out, won’t we?
As for the rewards, you can get artist’s editions of the book (or both books, even), a T-shirt with some as-yet-undecided movie parody image (like the Breakfast Club one I did for Book 1), a print, sketches, an original hand-drawn Multiplex comic on the subject of your choice — on up to some kind of jokey ones like a print of a Multiplex comic with yourself “George Lucased” into it or me flying/driving to your home to watch the movie trilogy of your choice on Blu-ray.
ANTHONY: You’ll really watch any trilogy of the person’s choice if they donate at the highest level? This makes me hope I hit the lottery before your Kickstarter ends, just so I can make you sit through The Never-Ending Story movies. Seriously, what trilogy would you most and least like to sit through if someone did donate at that level?
GORDON: Absolutely! I mean, it was really mostly a joke, but yes, I would absolutely do it. It’d be great if the staff of a movie theater were to make that pledge collectively. I can’t imagine any single person wanted to give me THAT much money. I was shocked that someone went for the “Leet Pack,” which gets them a portable hard drive with every Multiplex file (strip, reference file, background, etc.) in its original Illustrator format, signed by me. And some other stuff, of course.
The trilogy I would most like to see… I think the Mad Max movies. They’re pretty awesome, and I’ve only seen each of them once or twice ever, so they’ll feel pretty fresh.
Least like… probably the Matrix. The first one is awesome, of course, but I can’t even look at it anymore because the sequels were so bad, especially the third one.
ANTHONY: Book One got some really good reviews, and I remember how excited I was to find a copy randomly on the shelf at my local Borders (alas, poor Borders, we knew it well, Horatio…). What lessons did you learn from the production of Book One that you’ll apply to producing Book Two?
GORDON: I was mostly very happy with how the book turned out, physically. There were some mistakes that slipped past me and the freelance proofreaders I brought in, so there’s stuff I’ll be able to keep my eye out for now.
Johanna Draper Carlson gave a review of the book that pointed out a few things I hadn’t thought of, like a table of contents or providing a better introduction to the strip in the front matter than I did. I’ll be taking some of those comments to heart with Book 2’s design.
But I’ve produced books and other printed stuff as part of my “day job” as a freelance print production artist for over a decade, so there wasn’t much I was going to learn from doing yet another book. The only big difference was that this was MY book, you know?
ANTHONY: There are those who say “why bother buying a print edition of one storyline when I can see the entire series archives online for free.” So what can we expect in the print edition of book two that we didn’t see online?
GORDON: About 236 dpi? (Mathematically not accurate, I know.) Aside from much better reproduction, there will be something like 25 bonus comics. Those will also be in the Chapter eBooks that I’ll be releasing as I get the material done, just like with Book 1. Chapter 6 is already out.
There isn’t a new story in this book, like the “Prequel” story in Book 1, because I felt like there was already a pretty strong main thrust to the volume and that any new, longer story I added would just feel like filler. But the bonus comics here will serve the same purpose as in Multiplex: Enjoy Your Show — fleshing out the narrative and characters in a way that I couldn’t (or failed to do) the first time around.
ANTHONY: For those who don’t follow Multiplex on line, give us a summary of who the main characters are, and where we find them as THERE AND BACK AGAIN starts.
GORDON: Jason is a movie snob, a bit of a jerkass, but always honest (some might say to a fault), so… that’s his one redeeming quality, I guess. Oh, girls think he’s cute, too, but his mouth gets in the way.
Kurt is a horror movie buff and just in general muuuuch easier to please. He’s goofy, but not stupid, and has a cruder sense of humor than Jason (although it’s slowly rubbing off on Jason).
Becky is a quiet, bookish science nerd with a romantic streak, who was kind of in love with Jason for a bit (see Book 1), but might just be getting over it…
Melissa, Kurt’s girlfriend, is a bit more worldly than Kurt. She’s pretty protective of Becky (her roommate and best friend), so she can be a bit of a scold when Jason is a jerk to her, but otherwise she’s sort of aimless and just likes to enjoy the moment. Which is how she can handle with Kurt’s abysmal taste in movies.
Franklin hasn’t done a whole lot at this point, but he’s a ladies’ man and computer nerd rolled into one.
Jason’s girlfriend at this point is Devi, who worked at the theater over the previous summer but is now attending the SVA in New York, so there’s going through some long-distance drama (still). Devi is a lot like Melissa: worldly but also a little boring. (I hate to say that about her, because I love her, but that was always the idea.)
Book 2 picks up where Book 1 left off, but there’s not a long going on with them yet. Multiplex didn’t really have a whole lot of continuity at this point, and it’s not really a plot-driven comic. It’s the 2006 Christmas season. Devi is back home from school for the winter break, and that pretty much sums it up, really. It’s a pretty good jumping-on point.
ANTHONY: Your art and story pacing clearly improved over the course of the strips collected in book one. What noticeable differences are there over the course of book two?
GORDON: I think my writing — in terms of character — is what improves the most throughout this book. The art evolves less noticeably in Book 2 than Book 1. You have to keep in mind that I was basically relearning how to draw in the material you see in Book 1, so it was bound to start off VERY roughly.
Mostly, I think, I just get a little better at the actual drawing/posing/whatever of the characters in Book 2.
ANTHONY: The estimated delivery date for the rewards is November 2012, which I guess rules out Book Two making its’ debut at NYC Comic-Con this year. I don’t suppose you’ll be getting a table anyway?
GORDON: If things pan out with financial aid, I’ll be a poor grad student when NYCC rolls around, so I don’t think so.
The November thing is definitely an estimate, though, for the ebooks. The print books will be out in March of 2013. If I end up going with a Chinese printer, it could be later than that. We’ll see.
ANTHONY: You know I have to close with a question. Last time we talked your favorite movies and favorite books, so this time, tell me what each of the Multiplex main cast’s favorite movies are, and what they would say to convince someone who hasn’t seen that movie that they should go watch it immediately.
Jason: The Apartment. “It’s the perfect blend of comedy and drama, with just a bit of schmaltz-free romance.” And then he would blather away for another few minutes.
Becky: Sense & Sensibility. “It’s so wonderful. Emma Thompson makes me start bawling every single time.”
Melissa: The Princess Bride. “Cary Elwes. yummm Oh, it’s inconceivably funny, too.”
Franklin: Die Hard. “It’s the best American action movie ever, man!”
Kurt: Night of the Living Dead. I wrote a whole storyline leading up to Kurt introducing this flick, so I’m just going to give you the URL of the strip where he explains it… http://www.multiplexcomic.com/strip/606
ANTHONY: I loved Kurt’s intro for Night. Thanks again, Gordon!
GORDON: No problem!
You can follow Gordon on Twitter as @gmcalpin and be updated about the webcomic by following @multiplex10. You can join in the current action at Multiplex, where Jason, Kurt and the gang are filming a zombie flick (yes, a zombie flick). And of course you can (and I hope you will) donate to Gordon’s Lightning Round Kickstarter for MULTIPLEX BOOK TWO: THERE AND BACK AGAIN. Oh, and Multiplex has a Facebook page as well.