Ashley Neuhaus 06-JULY-2012 This Halloween there will be a very special treat available to the masses: a new comic called HALLOWEEN EVE brought to you by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder.  The duo have turned to Kickstarter in search of the funds to make this comic.  Since her departure from DC Comics, Reeder has teamed with Montclare to produce a fantastic 40-page book about Eve, a retail associate in a Halloween store.  But there’s something very special about their main character.

One would think that you’d like Halloween in order to work in a year-round Halloween store.  But Eve actually hates it and her attitude is made clear in her language and also in her facial expressions, which Reeder nails with her skills.  One night when Eve is working late, she loses herself in her thoughts and next thing she knows, the masks and costumes are coming to life.

The campaign for this book ends on July 27th and has a goal of $10,000.  On the campaign page are the first THREE pages of the book for you to view.  There are some really great rewards for backers of this project.  For just $10, supporters get a signed copy of the book and an exclusive HALLOWEEN EVE greeting card!  Some of the other rewards include prints, a script/portfolio review by Brandon Montclare (for just $50!), drawing lesson/portfolio review by Amy Reeder, and a store signing.

Montclare and Reeder took time from their busy schedules to answer a few questions for me.

AN: How did you guys come to team up?

BM: Halloween Eve is a collaboration that was a long time in the making.  I was an editor on Amy’s first published work at TokyoPop; and again went after her to draw Madame Xanadu during my days at DC/Vertigo.  I’m writing now, Amy has become a good friend and neighbor, and the time was right to create something together.

AR:  It was perfect timing for me–I had just ended my contract with DC Comics and wanted to do something more independent so I could rediscover what I wanted to do with my career.  Brandon suggested this Halloween story and as I weighed out all my options, I realized this was exactly what I wanted–something shorter, that would come out soon, that would be good, that I could do with my good friend who also has a lot of know-how about the business.

AN: Who came up with the idea for this book? And how long ago was it conceived?

BM: We both did.  I had the initial idea about a Halloween shop where the costumes started coming to life.  At first it was very Horrific.  Then it was very Serious.  But as Amy came on board with her own ideas, and I started seeing it through her eyes, it took a real form.  It’s still some horror as well as some seriousness, but it’s a lot more fantasy and also a character piece about a girl who learns to see through the masks people wear.

The idea was kicking around in my head for maybe a year?  I live across the street from an enormous, famous costume shop in Greenwich Village.  Amy and I decided to work together before we knew what we’d be working on—that is, the creative partnership came before the project—and Halloween Eve was the one that fleshed-out best.

AR: Yeah, he came up with the original idea, and it took many forms before we ironed it out.  There’s been so much back and forth that it feels like a true collaboration, though Brandon is the clear writer of the story.  I think my biggest input was on who the two main characters ought to be. 

A great thing about Brandon, and it probably has something to do with his being a great editor as well, is that he really cares about the artists he works with and he makes sure to play to their strengths and write something they can get excited about.  I’ve been in good hands!

AN: Are you a fan of Halloween yourself or are you more like Eve and despise it?

BM: Without a doubt, it is my favorite holiday.  Eve doesn’t agree with me.

AR: I have mixed feelings!  I definitely think it’s the best holiday.  But I’m a perfectionist and in a perfect world I could spend an entire month making a costume.  Since I can’t do that, I make really lazy, thrown together costumes.  This Halloween I’d better come up with something good or I’ll be really embarrassed!

AMY REEDER, AGE 11, AS GARTH FROM “WAYNE’S WORLD”

AN: What was your favorite Halloween costume that you wore growing up?

BM: I had a real-deal ninja costume (but unfortunately no tabi boots); I wore it many days that weren’t Halloween.

AR: I was eleven when Wayne’s World came out and everyone said I was exactly like Garth.  I did a mean impression, too.  So, I was Garth that year.  It was pretty uncanny.

AN: I’ve known some witches that hate Halloween because of how it portrays their kind. Is Eve a witch and maybe that’s why she hates Halloween so much?

BM: That’s a very interesting point about true witches… but, no, that’s not the reason.  Eve’s problem is that she doesn’t believe much in anything—a cynic, even though she’s too young to be a cynic!  But the most direct cause for hating Halloween is her job.  She works in a costume shop all year—it’s hard work and has soured her on the holiday.

AN: Some people think that men can’t write a good female character (and vice versa). Do you find any difficulty in writing a female character as your lead?

BM: Yes and no.  Probably more “yes”, it’s a challenge.  But as far as putting the words in her mouth, I personally don’t find it significantly more difficult.  There’s some extra anxiety that I’ll have her do something very dude-ish, but that doesn’t really slow me down.  And remember: comics is both words and pictures; moreover, Amy and I are very close collaborators.  Whatever Eve might say—that communication goes hand-in-hand with the visuals like expression, posture, &c—which is all the contributions of a female artist.  Beyond that, I also rely on Amy’s input for all dialogue.  That being said, it’s a truth that the comics medium would only benefit from more diversity in both characters and creators.

AN: Will be offering the book digitally or just in print?

BM: Ultimately it will certainly be available digitally.  But whether the digital version is published at the same time as print, or after, is still to be determined.  Many factors will go into that decision, some based on how the hardcopy is received.  So right now the focus is print.  And I will say that the print version will probably have some exclusive bonus content that won’t be available digitally.

AN: When it comes to character/panel descriptions, are you pretty strict or do you allow your artist(s) to change things as they see fit?

BM: I’m not strict at all.  In general, it makes sense that Artists make better artists than Writers do.  I’m lucky; I’ve had a close working relationship with the artist on most of my writing projects.  I always try to tailor my approach to their strengths.  With Amy, I try to have the script commit to as few specifics as possible—because she’s a world-class visual storyteller.  We talk about the plot and the moments and the dialogue while I’m scripting.  Likewise we talk about the layout and the expressions and the angles when she’s drawing.  Personally, I’m more comfortable putting more description in the text of a script instead of less, but it hardly restricts Amy (I hope!), since she knows she can change whatever she wants.

AN: Are you doing the inking and coloring on this book as well as the pencils?

AR: Yes!  Inking, coloring, AND lettering.  I am enjoying the control; I must be a control freak!

AN: What was the most challenging part, artistically, about HALLOWEEN EVE?

AR: It’s definitely the Halloween store.  This is a majorly decked-out store.  Clothing stores alone are a lot of work, but this requires a lot of creativity because you want to include as many elements of Halloween stores as possible.  I’m trying to sell the world I’m building, especially because atmosphere is such a huge element of the story.

AN: I think you’re a fantastic artist. Did you go to art school or traditional university? Do you think one has an advantage over the other?

AR: I Just went to a normal university.  At the time I disliked art classes because I didn’t like being told what to draw.  I got a degree in social science teaching, as “backup” for my ultimate goal to become a famous singer.  I learned to draw from my head after college; it was completely random.  Although there is some connection–I think I learned quickly because I teach well.

As for my opinion on art school, I am pretty undecided.  It’s too expensive.  It will no doubt make you improve, and force you to step outside your comfort zone.  I have a lot of friends who went to SCAD and SVA and I think (and I’m sure they would agree) it was the right choice for them.  I wish I had time for art classes because I am severely lacking when it comes to art supplies.  I can’t use real ink, I don’t know how to paint, and I’m pretty confused how people figure it out.  I have rarely gotten to draw from life and I feel the void from it.

I don’t know if this is true, but I have heard that art schools hold back from their students how difficult it really is to break into the industry and how little you will get paid.  So I am here to say it’s true.  You’ve gotta do it for the love first, and realize you can’t make demands based on your degree.  Not in comics, at least.

AN: Do you prefer to work by hand or digitally? Do you find one having an advantage over the other?

AR: I originally learned how to draw digitally!  It was a great learning tool because I could create anything with enough patience, and the editing tools helped me discover what I was doing wrong because I could move stuff or shrink it or rotate it.  It can become a crutch, though.  Now I draw by hand and I prefer it that way, though I usually color digitally.

AN: Where can people find you on the Internet and read more about what you’re up to?

BM: brandonmontclare.com will share behind-the-scenes stuff for Halloween Eve, and stuff about my other projects.  I’m also at twitter.com/bmontclare.

AR: I am mostly on my Facebook fan page,http://www.facebook.com/amyreedercomics, but I also update frequently at http://www.twitter.com/amyreeder and http://amyreeder.blogspot.com.

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