Ashley Neuhaus 10-AUG-2012 With my comic reading tastes leaning more towards the non-cape variety these days, I was excited to see Joey Esposito’s new project on Kickstarter.  PAWN SHOP is centered around four characters and a pawn shop in Manhattan.  If you like stories about how people are connected to one another, much like the tv series Touch or the movie Crash, then this is the book for you.

Esposito has enlisted the talents of artist Sean Von Gorman to bring to life his story with Adam Pruett lettering it. Not much is revealed on the campaign’s page except that each chapter will cover the story of one character and all of them will eventually intertwine which then creates the much larger picture of their lives in New York City. Also included on the campaign page are the first SIX pages of the book.

The goal set for this project is $7,000 and the deadline to donate is August 22nd.  If successful, the funds will go completely to producing the book; they’re goal is 1,000 copies and if the goal is exceeded then they will produce MORE copies of the graphic novel.  Some of the great rewards for backers are digital versions of the book, print copies, color sketches, a one hour Skype session with creator Joey Esposito, original page art, and the opportunity for Sean Van Gorman to come to your location (if you’re in NYC) and perform his escape artist act!  Those are just some of the great rewards offered but there’s more listed on the campaign’s page.

Joey Esposito was kind enough to take some time and answer a few questions I had about the story.

AN: Okay, this is a story about lives being intertwined. So how did you and Sean and Adam cross paths and come to work together?

JE: I had actually put out a call on Twitter a long time ago for a different project completely. At the time I was looking for an artist for a short horror story and Sean responded, but his style just wasn’t what I was looking for in that particular project. But when Pawn Shop came around, I recalled his work and we started talking. I pitched him the idea, he liked it, and he sent over some early character designs and such and when I saw those, I knew that he was perfect for Pawn Shop. 

AN: When outlining and mapping out the story, did you start with the bare bones of HOW these characters would all be connected and then build the story from there?
JE: Basically, yeah. I knew the types of characters I wanted to deal with — first and foremost Harold, our widower, who you can see in the pages on the Kickstarter project. But then I thought about the kinds of people this lonely man would come across and it spawned from there. Before I started scripting or anything, I basically did a hand-written one-page summary of each chapter. Since each chapter follows a different character, I essentially did the broad strokes of their stand-alone story and figured out the themes I wanted to explore with each of them and why, and then tweaked the things that could interconnect as I went along.
AN: Why a pawn shop?
JE: Well, honestly, it spawned from my daily commute. I live in LA where traffic is horrific, and every day I pass this pawn shop to and from the office. Often I’ll do my creative thinking in the car, since I’m stuck in there for so long every day. One day I passed this pawn shop and it just sort of struck me: how many items are in that shop that have been passed from one household to the next? That led me to think about items that are pawned or sold, purchased by someone else, and very possibly pawned or sold down the line to some other store. I just found it interesting that so many people in such a large city could very well be interconnected by one innocuous object they’ve probably long since forgotten about. So that’s why I set the story around a pawn shop — though our book doesn’t necessarily involve a single item that brings these people together, the concept itself, lives strung together by a central element, is the core of the book. I thought it’d only be fitting that we use the very thing that spawned the idea in the first place.
AN: Will there be any added content in the digital version of the book that isn’t in the print version? Or vice versa?
JE: Most likely they will be the exact same, in terms of the book itself. While I’m a huge proponent of offering the print supporters a little something extra, with the budget we’re trying to stick to and the space we’ve got, I don’t think it’s going to be possible. However, something I’m considering is, as a stretch goal, should we (hopefully) exceed our funding, is to offer an exclusive ashcan-like preview book that includes more supplemental material that we couldn’t fit in the book itself. Things like sketches, process pages, script pages, and all that stuff. I think that could be really cool. I’ve also considered the idea that, potentially, we could do more stories set in this “universe” down the line, but those would probably be digital-only. It is set in NYC, after all, so there’s literally millions of potential characters. But that’s way far down the line, if at all!
AN: You say that this book is an attempt to make amends with the city for leaving it. So did the idea for the story come after you moved away or was the seed planted prior to moving?
JE: I mean, I’ve always been interested in stories about real people and of course stories that interconnect and overlap. But in terms of the city itself, yeah, I moved to LA at the end of 2010 and Pawn Shop came about after that fact. And I’ve made no secret that I hate it here. I’ve got a great job and all that, which is why I came, but the city itself is just blah. I’m originally from New England, so I love the country in general, but the only city I’ve ever felt like I truly belonged and enjoyed was New York. And though I don’t regret my reasons for leaving, I regret not taking more advantage of it while I was there. I’ll move back there someday!
AN: What is it about New York City that you (and many others) love so much and sets it apart from other big cities in the world?
JE: It’s just got a character and a personality that no other American city can touch. I’m not well-traveled internationally, so I can’t speak for cities in Europe or wherever, but domestically I’ve been to just about every major city in the country and none of them can hold a candle to NYC. It’s got everything. Diversity in people, neighborhoods, architecture, food, art, history; it’s astonishing. Every time you step onto the streets, you’re guaranteed to see something you’ve never seen before. It’s hard to describe, really, which maybe is why I’m trying to write a book about it. I’m certainly not the first one to try, nor I will be the last. There’s a reason so many things in art try to capture this city, but I doubt anything will ever really be able to do it justice. The city is a piece of art in and of itself, really.
AN: Are there any conventions you’ll be attending this year?
JE: I’ll definitely be at New York Comic-Con in October — hopefully with a preview chapter of the book to hand out — and I’m pondering Baltimore Comic-Con at the moment. I LOVE the Baltimore show, but now that I live across the country it’s tough to make it. And on the west coast, I’ll be doing Comikaze Expo and the Long Beach Comic-Con in the fall.
AN: Where can people find you on the Interwebs?
JE: I’m always hanging out on Twitter @JoeyEsposito (and I mean, like, always), and you can check out my blog at joeyesposito.com!