When Greg Pak, Jonathan Coulton and Takeshi Miyazawa’s “Code Monkey Save World” comic launched its Kickstarter last month, it quickly defied all expectations, completely demolishing its $39,000 goal. At the writing of this article, nearly $244,000 has been raised toward creating a comic book based on the songs of Coulton. EDITOR’S NOTE: As of the publication of this interview, the goal has been met and surpassed.
Traditionally, Kickstarter fundraisers have stretch goals, which allow for bonuses to be added onto the project should a certain amount of money be reached. When “Code Monkey Save World” hits the magic $250,000 mark, the creative team for the comic will commit to a second Coulton-inspired project: a children’s storybook based on the song “The Princess Who Saved Herself,” about an independent young girl who recruits a dragon and a witch for her rock band. The book will be digital, with the possibility of a physical product if a certain funding point is reached by the campaign’s May 15 concluding date.
To shed some light on the very-obtainable stretch goal, CBR News spoke with writer Greg Pak, songwriter Jonathan Coulton, artist Takeshi Miyazawa, colorist Jessica Kholinne and letterer Simon Bowland about how they intend to put together another music-inspired project — this time, specifically aimed at children.
CBR News: First off, congrats on the success of the Kickstarter for “Code Monkey Save World” so far. What’s the concept behind this new stretch goal you’ve announced, “The Princess Who Saved Herself?”
Greg Pak: Thanks so much! It’s been insane. We’re just tremendously grateful to all our backers and determined to make the project as awesome as we can for them.
“The Princess Who Saved Herself” is a fantastic song by Jonathan that follows a tough, tomboy princess as she encounters a scary dragon and creepy witch — and recruits them for her rock band! Our big plan is to make a children’s book based on the song, using our brilliant “Code Monkey Save World” creative team. If we hit $250,000 on the Kickstarter, everyone who pledges at the $15 level and above will get a digital download of the children’s book for free. If we go way over, we’ll start thinking about the possibility of printing actual physical copies of the children’s book as well. Crossing our fingers!
â€¨Out of all Jonathan’s songs, this one seems like it’s most well-suited for adaptation to a children’s book — especially when it comes to the rhyme scheme. How much did you actually have to do with the lyrics in order to adapt them into a full book?
Pak: Great question! It would indeed be possible to do a great picture book that just uses the lyrics as text. And who knows, maybe that’s what we’ll decide on! But right now I’m inclined to go a bit deeper and fill in the background just a touch, give us a little more of the princess’ inner life and the world in which she lives. Maybe something about on the reading level of a “Frog and Toad” book. Or maybe as advanced as a “Frances” book. We’ll see! It’s a fantastic challenge and I’m really excited about the prospect of tackling it.
â€¨What’s the difference between your approach to something like “Code Monkey Save World,” which combines a lot of the ideas and concepts from a number of songs, and “The Princess Who Saved Herself,” which stands on its own two feet?
Pak: I think the biggest difference is that “The Princess Who Saved Herself” has a pretty perfect little story right there in the song. The spine of the actual narrative is all there. It’s just a matter of figuring out the best way to tell it. With “Code Monkey Save World,” the songs provide these incredible, vibrant, funny, sad characters and set up a world. But in putting them all together, it’s really totally up to me to figure out what the actual story is. Different challenges, both ridiculously fun.
â€¨This seems like a pretty big project all on its own. Why go for a stretch goal instead of launching a second Kickstarter?
Pak: You know, it actually never occurred to us to do it any other way. We wanted to provide our existing backers with a huge bonus if possible — we’re so crazy grateful to them. Also, running a Kickstarter is pretty hard. It’s a lot easier to add this to our existing Kickstarter rather than launch a whole new one.
Takeshi has a wide range when it comes to artistic style, what kind of style is the creative team shooting for in “The Princess Who Saved Herself” and how do you hope to differentiate it from “Code Monkey Save World?”
Takeshi Miyazawa: The worlds will be completely different allowing me to really push the limits on both stories. A children’s book look is a first for me and I was thinking bigger and bolder shapes and lines for it but I’ll have to see if it works. I’m currently in the process of looking for inspiration by reading some of my own favorites from my childhood.
â€¨Speaking of the art, the piece posted on the latest Kickstarter update is pretty rad. What has it been like for Jonathan in getting to see his creations realized in living color?
Jonathan Coulton: It’s been amazing. I always get a little thrill to see someone else’s interpretation of a thing that I made, whether it’s a drawing or a video or a cover song, or any number of fan-created things people have sent me over the years. But the scope of this thing is particularly exciting — we’re making a real book. Two, maybe! And Tak has done a great job of capturing the little character traits that are going to make this thing really sing.
Miyazawa: I’ve been blown away by Jessica’s work. Really stoked she is on board.
Pak: I worked with Jessica on the “X-Treme X-Men” book and loved her stuff. I showed it to Tak and he basically said, “Yes, please.” We’re really lucky to have her on board. I love the way she’s fearless with bold colors, but she’s also great with the subtle colors that make people and organic things feel real. It’s a perfect match for the book. Lots of crazy, lots of heart.
â€¨Both Jessica and letterer Simon Bowland are on board for “The Princess Who Saved Herself.” How does one approach lettering and coloring a children’s book compared to a comic?
Jessica Kholinne: I notice most children’s books use bright and primary colors, which [is] similar to what I want. It seems to fit the story. I also went for a slightly different rendering style.
Simon Bowland: The truth is — I don’t really know yet! It’s going to involve designing the overall style of the pages — selecting a suitable typeface, line spacing, etc. — and then taking care of a lot of typesetting work. It’s all stuff that I’ve done in the past, before I started working in comics, so it’s just a matter of reactivating those long-dormant brain cells! It’s going to be a lot of fun, that’s for sure!
The Kickstarter still has about a week to go and has completely demolished its initial goal. Considering the success of this Kickstarter, is doing “The Princess Who Saved Herself” still an option even if the stretch goal isn’t met?
Pak: Our backers are blowing our minds. We just announced the stretch goal yesterday morning, when we were at $216,000. Now the Kickstarter’s at $242,000. I’m pretty sure they’re going to put us over the top, and we love ’em for it.
The “Code Monkey Save World” Kickstarter is currently live, and “The Princess Who Saved Herself” children’s book will be unlocked as stretch goal should the project reach $250,000 in funding.