Writer Don McGregor, has earned acclaim in virtually every genre that comics have to offer. He is one of those guys who — through virtue of the fact that he has worked in comic for decades — has irrevocably altered the field. McGregor initially broke into comics in 1971, penning short character-driven horror and science-fiction stories for Warren Publishing’s legendary, black-and-white comics magazines Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella, which earned him an editorial slot over at Marvel. McGregor then continued to write horror with Morbius, The Living Vampire (in the black-and-white magazine Vampire Tales). Needless to say, that wasn’t all that he did while over at Marvel, He also wrote some pretty compelling science fiction stories with his Killraven/ War of the Worlds stories in Amazing Adventures. Still, with all of the groundbreaking work he did in mainstream comics it was his independent work that really rocketed him into the stratosphere.
Now, some 35 years after creating his signature character, Sabre, Don recently attempted to re-launch Sabre via a Kickstarter project that — unfortunately — failed to hit its goal. With the project currently in Limbo, Don and his team; Trevor Von Eeden and Jason Sacks are castng about in order to find a new way to fund this amazing project. Before his Kickstarter ended Don sat down with us to discuss the project.
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Examiner: Give us your projects “Elevator Pitch” (assume we are in an elevator traveling 10 floors and you only have that much time to get us interested in what you are selling.)
Don McGregor: Yikes! The elevator just crashed into the ceiling.
I didn’t know this was going to be a Hollywood High Concept type question. Sabre is a romantic idealist caught in a future where the worlds values have gone askew (kind of like just about any old time, except this is years down the line. Charles Dickens had it right.) At the series core is this unique rebel, tossed into a role he never sought, is a love story about a man and woman who keep their love alive no matter how crazy everything else gets around them. It’s swordplay! Flintlock lasers! Robot stallions! Nocturnal Trackers! It’s honor! It’s passion! It’s love! It’s lust! It’s corruption. Its ideals! It’s all in one disturbingly entertaining epic! Did the elevator hit yet? SKRASSHHH!
EXAMINER: Who are the principals involved in the project? (writer, artist, etc. not everyone who was in the room when you had the idea, but the two or three folks who will be critical to its success.)
Don: There was no one in the room with me back in 1975 when I created Sabre. I was playing with the idea that the comic book stores could support a comic title, that the readers might come to a writer and artist they knew and liked. I thought if I could give the medium something story-wise that they could not get anywhere else: They would come, or build a baseball field.
EXAMINER: What (briefly — remember, we’re still on the elevator) is/are the credentials of the main contributors?
Don: I find this a strange question to answer for myself. I’m a writer/creator. I created Sabre/Detectives Inc/Ragamuffins/Alexander Risk/Nathaniel Dusk/Lady Rawhide. Trevor Von Eeden is an extraordinary artist, of firm integrity, well known for Thriller/ The Original Johnson/ Black Lightning, and other comics I don’t know off the top of my head.
EXAMINER: Why should we care about your project (instead of the hundred others that are currently baying at our door)?
Don: The great thing about Kickstarter is it allows people to choose books that they specifically want to see and read. When it comes to Sabre, I can only write that I’m a story-teller who cares about comics, has never treated the medium as second rate, has tremendous regard for the readers who have cared about these characters and my books. I hope I bring a distinct, unique voice to whatever series I am writing. And Sabre is the kind of book that could never have been done in the mid-1970s. And there are still many aspects of this series that aren’t safe now in 2013. If I’ve done it right, this will be a story that will excite, entertain, explain, and not be just another book read this month to be put in a stack and forgotten.
EXAMINER: What kinds of cool swag are you giving away to contributors?
Don: Many. One need only go to the Sabre: The Early Future Years Kickstarter by Don McGregor and Trevor Von Eeden to see the many levels of extras, including I am told, being drawn into the story, to copies of the Sabre #15 script, which has never been seen. Two days into this suspenseful time to reach the Kickstarter goal, there is only one of those left. But there are many other stretch goals, I believe they are called. Including one, I am told, where I personally, in the flesh, will come to wherever the person is who meets that goal, and have dinner with them. Well, wherever is probably confined to the United States, but check the Kickstarter page for the details.
EXAMINER: Are there any “stretch” goals (if you get funded early, and want to rake in more moolah, what else are you going to give away?)
Don: Yes. I think I covered that above. Goes to show you what I know about the more intricate nature of Kickstarter. Jason Sacks knows how things will work, but the more money we bring in the more pages that get done, and George Freeman will do the coloring.
EXAMINER: When is your kickstarter campaign starting/stopping?
Don: Aug 5, 2013 - Sep 9, 2013 (35 days)
EXAMINER: Tell us something unique about your project.
Don: You mean, I haven’t already? Trevor Von Eeden’s art is sophisticated, sexy, strong. As with the script, it’s evocative. Both Trevor and I are artistically committed to telling this story that shows how the love between Sabre and Melissa Siren (the first test-tube fetus baby) begins. Why Midnight Storm has so much rage towards Sabre. And the sex between Crimson Dawn and Blackstar Blood will still have Sabre going where most comics won’t. It also offers a distinct view of where we are heading into the future. And beyond that you get to see Sabre moon gas-masked politicians. And you know you gotta love that. Or laugh. Or both. Or maybe cry.
EXAMINER: What type of project is it? (Print, web, both? Comicbook/strip graphic novel? Book prose, illustrated, etc.
Don: Graphic novel. Jason Sacks who has put that together plans to do the entire graphic novel, starting with the first 40 pages. There are digital copies and hardcover copies, but I’m not a high-tech guy, I kind of get the gist of what Jason intends to do, and for those who know about those kinds of things they’ll learn all they need on the Kickstarter page.
EXAMINER: Is this your first Kickstarter project? If not, please suggest what other tyro Kickstarters can do to help get their dream project fully funded.
Don: Yes. It is my first Kickstarter project. It was Jason Sacks idea. I’d already invested nearly a decade of my life to Sabre: The Early Future years. I started writing it for Joe Pruett’s Desperado comics. And then I went on to start writing Detectives Inc.: A Fear of Perverse Photos/A Repercussion of Violent Reprisal. Kickstarter allows huge projects like this to get done, where they would not be possible to do otherwise.
Jason Sacks is the one you should ask about Kickstarter, though. He knows more about it than I ever will. Depending on the project, one thing I have learned, it needs to be studied, sometimes it’s more complicated than you might think initially, and it might test everyone involved. But if you choose the right people, they can help you do what you do best. And unlike the big companies so often do, not screw you over.
EXAMINER: What compelled you to return to Sabre?
Don: I wasn’t compelled to come back to Sabre. The fact is I never really left him or Melissa or the others. I had refused for the longest time to come back and do some short story. I wanted to finally do a ”real” Sabre graphic novel, which The Decadence Indoctrination was intended to be. I figured it would run in the area of 600 pages, and would take Sabre’s life to a point he could never have foreseen, and that would surprise him as much as it would the readers. Kind of like life.
EXAMINER: Is this a story that has been percolating for some years, or did it recently just occur to you?
Don: Originally, much of this would have appeared in THE DECADENCE INDOCTRINATION. I had in planning stages a New Year’s Eve book where many of the characters reflected on different moments in their lives. And the fans would learn answers to many of the questions about the characters pasts: How Sabre and Melissa really first got together. Why Midnight Storm is so angry with Sabre? So when I was approached about doing a Young Sabre, this did not violate anything I intended to do in the novel. And it turned into its own graphic novel.
EXAMINER: (Perhaps the same question, but) Was this story something you always had in the background (at least in broad strokes), or is it a retcon of sorts, something that occurred to you in the years since you penned the original story?
Don: The sequences I mentioned above were always planned, and in various draft stages. They were put together into one cohesive story, and Dr. Painless is created brand-new, along with other characters.
EXAMINER: Assuming this story does well, do you see yourself writing more adventures of Sabre, either from his early years, his middle years or even his far future years?
Don: I would love to do The Decadence Indoctrination. Although, answering that question, it really seems a daunting effort right now.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.