[Interview] Kyle Starks talks Kickstarter, Basketball Bad-Asses and OLD HEAD

In case you missed our previous post, Kyle Starks (Rock Candy Mountain, Rick and Morty, Sexcastle) is midway through a Kickstarter for his latest creator-owned comic, a glorious-looking vampire/basketball mash-up called OLD HEAD.

Billed as “Space Jam meets Fright Night”, the 124-page full-colour graphic novel tells the story of the world’s toughest ex pro-basketball player returning home with his daughter to learn about his destiny and his mother’s mysterious past. Oh, and while this is happening, Dracula (yes, the Dracula) is setting up next door with his goons getting ready to unleash blood-sucking hell.

I mean, it’s a fantastic idea, and given Starks’ previous track record for mixing irreverent comedy with hilarious violence (and a laugh-out-loud used of sound-effects) along with perhaps a surprising amount of heart, we simply had to find out more about this one.  Thankfully, he was able to take a few moments out of his schedule to sit down and answer a few of our questions.

BIG COMIC PAGE: Okay, so I know “where do you get your ideas from?” is a fairly lazy interview question, but man… Basketball and Vampires? What the heck made you think of bringing those two things together?

KYLE STARKS: I actually came up with OLD HEAD a loooong time ago. It was going to be my third overall book, in fact, I had drawn and written about 70 pages of it back in 2014 but then Sexcastle started to get a ton of traction and I got pretty concerned about my second notable/visible book being 1) very unusual and 2) having another book with a dumb weird title. So I, instead, made KILL THEM ALL which was also a very successful Kickstarter.

My first two books had been love letters to things that were really important loves of mine: wrestling and 80s action films. I was set on doing *something* with basketball. I love basketball and, at the time, I think Oni’s Down Set Fight by Chris Sims and Chad Bowers and Scott Kowalchuk had come out and I saw a really well done American sports comic that wasn’t just a sports comic. Down Set Fight is amazing and every year when the NFL season starts should be a best seller for that month.

Anyway, I knew I was going to do something basketball and had a lot of ideas and I saw Fright Night, randomly, for the dozenth time and realized how I was going to Reece’s Piece’s Cup these things together.

BCP: Unlike your previous Kickstarter campaigns, OLD HEAD is going to be given the full-colour treatment by the mighty Chris Schweizer. What prompted that decision?

KYLE: I did my first three Kickstarters at digest size and black and white and I did that because it’s cheaper, I really like digest sized and I can do black and white tones. I am just not a very good colorist. When I did ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN for Image my now best friend, Chris Schweizer (three time Eisner nominee, American’s Best Secret Cartoonist) volunteered to color it and I just love what he did. It looked amazing. I love my digest sized black and white books but I’m trying to move forward and, honestly, if I learned very much in my years now as a professional comic creator it’s that, generally, comic consumers like their comics colored and traditional size.

BCP: The hero of OLD HEAD is described as “the world’s toughest former pro-basketball player.” With that in mind, who would your all-time basketball bad-ass starting five be?

KYLE: I fell in love with basketball through the mid-90s Knicks and if I was going to put my starting five of fist-throwing tough guys John Starks, Anthony Mason and Charles Oakley would have to be on it. Allen Iverson has to be running the point. And here it gets tricky because I really need a center and Laimbeer and Bill Russell were both very tough in their own ways. And guys like Xavier McDaniel and Charles Barkley were famously sort of legit willing to throw punches type of guys. But, if I’m putting together a legit battling team, I’m putting James Johnson – who probably no one has really heard of but is a current player – who is 7-0 in MMA fights and 20-0 in Kickboxing. His parents and all EIGHT of his siblings all have black belts. His nickname is Bloodsport. And that guy is definitely making my team.

BCP: You’re becoming a bit of a Kickstarter maestro with several successful campaigns under your belt already, two of which have gone on to be picked up by major publishers. Do you have any advice for any comic creators planning on using the platform to fund their projects in the future?

KYLE: Keep it simple, have realistic funding expectations, never stop promoting, never stop looking for places to promote and, most importantly – definitely have all the costs figured before you go in. Absolutely check what International shipping will be for you book and, in my opinion, have the book finished or as close to finished as it can be. I don’t think people really want to pay for ideas, they want to pay for a product.

BCP: And as one final sales pitch, what would you say to someone who was on the fence about backing OLD HEAD to make them think twice about giving it a look

KYLE: Here’s what I say – I think comics should be fun. And I make fun comics. If you don’t like basketball or vampires you’re still going to like this book – it’s an action-comedy romp with a ton of heart about legacy and destiny. I think anyone can relate to the main character who’s been waiting his entire life to have that moment of greatness he thought was going to be his life and how when that time comes it’s not what he or anyone would’ve expected. It’s a good, fun comic. Does it look a little weird? Okay, sure, maybe? But do we really want cookie-cutter things? I promise you’ll laugh and love the ride.

OLD HEAD is currently funding on Kickstarter until the 2nd of November 2019, and you can check out (and back!) the campaign by CLICKING HERE.

The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
Article Archive: Ceej Says
You can follow Ceej on Twitter

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  1. Review – Old Head OGN (Image Comics) – BIG COMIC PAGE

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