Becky Dreistadt is the artist on Capture Creatures for KaBOOM! as well as a veteran of the Kickstarter world. I had a great time chatting with her at this year’s Emerald City Comicon.
Jason Sacks for Comics Bulletin: Thanks for doing an interview. So you started in self-publishing. What kind of self-published books did you put out?
Becky Dreistadt: So me and my husband, Frank, started out doing a kids book called Tiger Butter that sort of like a fake Golden Book. We went through Kickstarter to publish that one.
CB: I think I remember that one. You did really well with your Kickstarter, right?
Dreistadt: Yeah, yeah. It went really well. We went over the goal, which we were worried about. Like we hadn’t even made the book yet because we were like, “Well, maybe we won’t even make the goal, so let’s not make it until something.” So that was good. And then we did another Kickstarter for our web comic, Tiny Kitten Teeth, and it was a collection of that.
And then we started doing a small publishing company we started through Kickstarter that we started with a couple other people called Benign Kingdom. We did the original Capture Creatures collection of creatures through that and we also did some other art books for other people.
CB: So you started through web comics then?
Dreistadt: Yeah, I started doing web comics.
CB: Okay. Probably all of your friends in web comics are like, “Of course she did. How can he not know this?” That’s a great community, though. It must be really fun to be a part of that.
Dreistadt: Oh, yeah.
CB: I’m sure you still are, right?
Dreistadt: Yeah. I’m here at the Podica booth here and everyone is web comics there.
CB: So that is a really tight group from what I understand, especially with the stuff that you are putting out or have been putting out anyway.
Dreistadt: Yeah, it’s great.
CB: So that helped you with your Kickstarters I’m sure.
Dreistadt: Oh, yeah.
CB: I ran a Kickstarter myself and it was just terrifying how big it was and complicated it was with the publicity. How did you approach doing the Kickstarter?
Dreistadt: Frank was mostly in charge of it so I didn’t have to deal with it too much. The first time we had never done book buying before, so we had to go through Global PSD and they did the book buying for us. And then after that, we had our friend George do the book buying for the other books. But now with BOOM! we don’t have to worry about book buying, which is a nightmare.
CB: Right, right. Is it a nightmare? A giant chore?
Dreistadt: Yeah. It’s just nerve wracking because you are just afraid how the book is going to come out, especially because you are working overseas too. And also it’s way more expensive. We have been lucky; we haven’t had a book messed up. But if you get two thousand books messed up and it turns out you turned in the file wrong or you messed it up, then you just have to live with this book. So we haven’t had this happen yet, but I’ve always been terrified.
CB: Right. And if it isn’t your fault, you still have to get these reprinted and shipped off all the way from China or Singapore.
Dreistadt: Yeah, exactly. And argue with them about it, too.
Dreistadt: I have heard a lot of horror stories from other people that have gotten books and they’ve opened up the box and open up a book and it falls apart and things like that. We’ve been really lucky so far and haven’t had any major mess ups of any of the books at all. I mean, I’m just waiting for the day when a page is printed out of order or something.
CB: Right. It happens anywhere that you would get it done.
Dreistadt: That’s true. I know. With the comic, Hicksville, the first printing of that apparently the last two pages were printed out of order.
CB: Wow. That would give it a really different reading.
Dreistadt: He was saying most people didn’t notice. It accidentally sort of worked out. But I think when thy reprinted it, it’s been fixed.
Dreistadt: I’m like that’s really important pages!
CB: For sure. I had a book published through TwoMorrows and we have silver embossed lettering on the spine. The lettering just smudges. Like you practically run your thumb over it and it smudges.
Dreistadt: Oh! We have silver emboss on one of the books and it hasn’t been an issue, but I don’t know. This is on cloth. I don’t know if that makes a difference.
CB: This was on cloth. Let me show you what it looks like. They fixed it in subsequent printing, but the first run of the first book of the series-
Dreistadt: Was it just not dry yet or something weird like that?
CB: Like if you ran your finger along here. And it’s because the coating wasn’t strong enough yet or something.
CB: But these little things you would never think about, right?
Dreistadt: Yeah, you would have no idea until you have experienced it.
CB: Right. It must have been fun to do the Kickstarter, too, when you start to see those numbers go up and you feel like you are going to hit your targets.
Dreistadt: Oh, yeah. It’s really.
CB: And then the third one must have been like, “Oh, yeah, of course. We’ve been there, done that,” right?
Dreistadt: Yeah. The more that we have done, the less nervous that we get about it. And also, I think with Kickstarter I think it’s good if you are like, “Hey, I’ve made other books and completed them and shipped them off” and everything, then people are like, “Okay, this person knows what they’re doing.”
Dreistadt: Because I have heard of other Kickstarters where somebody hits their goal, but they don’t understand how to make the product happen and they don’t fulfill on it or they take an insane amount of time to finish it.
CB: I have been supporting Kickstarters almost as long as Kickstarter has been around and I still have a couple from the early dates I have never received.
Dreistadt: Oh, yeah.
CB: I have supported like a hundred and thirty or something.
Dreistadt: Oh, my god.
CB: And out of them, maybe thirty have never shipped. The worst are the DVDs.
Dreistadt: Oh really?
CB: Yeah, like the documentaries. The feature films, too. They’re always late.
Dreistadt: Yeah, because I guess because people (we did this, too) get too optimistic and you are like, “Oh, this will be done in two months.” If I will do one again, even if it’s a project that will take a month to do, I will still be like, “It will be done next year.” And then if it’s delivered sooner, people are happy. But that way you won’t disappoint anybody.
CB: I work in software. We do that all the time.
Dreistadt: It’s the best way.
CB: We’ll have it to you in June. And then if it’s done in May, you are rockstars. And if it’s June, then you are still good. But now you don’t have to worry about that you. You are with BOOM! now. How has that transition been for you?
Dreistadt: It has been really good.
CB: Yeah? Good support? I know it’s a good company, especially for all-ages books.
Dreistadt: Oh, yeah. I love that we get to do an all-ages book. I like that you are seeing more of those in comic book stores.
CB: Right. You are with a whole group of other all ages books. Does that help you also?
Dreistadt: Yeah, I think so. I think just because there’re a lot more now. They’re mostly from BOOM! I’m sure there’re a lot of people who get Lumberjanes or something like that and they’ll see an ad for Capture Creatures. And they’re like, “Oh, that looks cool.” I think that definitely helps.
CB: I have to admit I haven’t read Capture Creatures, so what’s it about?
Dreistadt: It’s about a girl named Hanson. Her father is a scientist. It’s sort of similar to Pokemon where these creatures have powers. But nobody knows about them at first and then they’re rediscovered on an island. They’ve been reintroduced. I don’t want to give away too much. But it’s like a Pokemon thing where it’s like monsters with powers. She gets her own monster named Bon Bon Fire that is like a red panda that has little fire on his head.
CB: That sounds fun. Where did the idea come from?
Dreistadt: So we did the encyclopedia first. A couple of years ago, (Frank, who wrote it, is from New Zealand), we were in New Zealand. I think they reissued Pokemon gold or silver and I had that. We were just talking about future projects we wanted to do. And Frank was asking, “What’s your dream?” I was like, “I want to design Pokemon, but it will never happen.” So I was just like, “I will just make my own.” So we started a website the next day and started posting. I would draw a creature and Frank would write a story about it. So we just did that. And then we ended up doing a hundred and fifty-one of them. And we decided that we would do a book as well of all of the creatures.
CB: That’s so cool. When my son was between eight and twelve years old, he would sit all day and create his own Pokemon. He had like dozens and dozens of Pokemen. That’s what people do, right?
Dreistadt: Yeah. When Pokemon first came out, I did that too. I had binders full of my fake Pokemon.
CB: So now you get to turn them into something, too.
CB: I bet that has real resonance with people when they see that then.
Dreistadt: Oh, yeah. People are pretty into it.
CB: And obviously you love it with your great Pikachu shirt.
Dreistadt: Yeah, my Pikachu check.
CB: That’s a great sweater.
Dreistadt: I got it Wheel of Find. I saw someone else wearing it and I was like, “Where did you get it?” And they’re like, “Over there across from you.” I was like oh!!
CB: So cute with the buttons to its pokeballs.
Dreistadt: I know, so awesome!
CB: That’s cool. How is the comic doing so far?
Dreistadt: It’s been going really well.
Dreistadt: We’re just a little behind. Issues one and two are out, but we just finished three. That will be coming out April 15th I think. So mid-April it will be coming out. So that will be out soon. And then issue four just needs to be colored and then that will be done.
CB: You’ve got to turn them into a factory and get them going.
Dreistadt: Yeah, yeah.
CB: That’s the only bad thing is you have to be committed when you are at a major publisher, right? Are you ready for that? Ready for that part of the challenge? Do you have the series plotted out through issue twenty or anything?
Dreistadt: Well, the series is definitely going to be eight issues, but Frank has ideas past that. I don’t know if it will be more than that. But if it’s, Frank has more ideas for it.
CB: Cool. And if nothing else you can always go back to Kickstarter and do something different, right?
CB: I’m sure you have plenty of other ideas.
Dreistadt: Oh, yeah.
CB: A world of so many creatures, you must have all kinds of spin off ideas, right?
Dreistadt: I haven’t thought about any spin offs, but I’m sure Frank probably has ideas for it.
CB: The Charizard’s Solo Adventures or something, right? Well, cool. It’s really nice to meet you.
Dreistadt: It’s nice to meet you, too.
CB: Do you have anything else you want to talk about with your comic? You can plug your web comic if you are still doing web comics.
Dreistadt: Well, we haven’t updated in a while. But the web comic is Tiny Kitten Teeth. We have a story that we need to finish still on the website.
Dreistadt: Hopefully one day. We have other projects planned to do this year, but we don’t have anything that we’ve announced yet.
Dreistadt: Mostly just Capture Creature is our thing right now.
CB: It sounds like you are really having fun with it, though. That’s great.
CB: Excellent. Well, thank you.