Interview with CW Cooke about Solitary

CW Cooke is a writer who I met at Planet Comicon back in March. He’s got a Kickstarter up to finish the first arc on his comic Solitary so I thought I’d help him spread the word with an interview. I hope you enjoy!

Popgun Chaos: For those who don’t know, can you give a brief synopsis over what Solitary is about?

CW Cooke: I would love to! Solitary boils down to this: What if Superman was on the Green Mile?

To break it down further, our main character, Tim Hill, is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. He is placed on death row and executed very quickly. Then he wakes up, learning for the first time that he cannot die, making death row that much worse for him. It may seem like a superhero story and it may seem like a prison drama, but it’s really both. It’s the story of a man trying to find his way in the world, all while numerous people want him dead and will do anything in their power to make him suffer and suffer greatly. 

PC: You said on the Kickstarter that you’ve been working on this book ever since you were a kid. Can you give us a timeline for your work on the book? When did you first start? What was the inspiration? How did it evolve?

CW: Around the age of 8 years old was when my love of comics became a big BIG part of my life. And I’ve never looked back. So like everyone who loves comics, I decided that I wanted to make them. I wanted to be an artist! That was my goal in life. That was my first dream job that seemed more realistic than Ghostbuster, Ninja Turtle, or Batman. So when I was 8 years old, reading comics, watching cartoons and comic book movies, and then deciding I would draw my own using colored pencils, markers, and lined notebook paper. Initially, it probably started as an X-men style comic. That then turned into a story of one character and became more like Superman with me drawing random characters and sketches and scenes. And then, in college, the idea of Superman on the Green Mile hit me. And it hit me hard. I started attempting it, around 2003 or 2004, as a screenplay. That didn’t work. And because my art skills didn’t follow me throughout life, I started writing it down. Writing the ideas down day after day. And then, after one fateful comic convention moment, I decided to pursue comics as my dream career again. And started on Solitary as my first attempted creator-owned book. That was 2007. And here we are now!

The inspiration was probably just my love of comics and my love of mashing ideas together that don’t seem to mesh well. I love that. I love taking two vastly different things and shoving them together and I’ve done it a couple times already in comics. It evolved over years and years of practice and writing and ideas and sketches and just constant change. I never gave up. I had three different titles prior to Solitary and I had about three different artists as well.

PC: What makes prison an interesting setting to you? Why do you think there is so much interest in it?

CW: Everything about prison makes it interesting. The sights, the sounds, the smells. I’ve seen a number of movies and TV series about prison and it’s always been an amazing place to set something (even when the entire city or island is a prison). Prison is a dark, scary place that we all know exists. We’ve all seen one. A few of us may have been threatened by the idea of being there or having to live there for awhile, haha. Prison is terrifying. Prison seems like it can be the end of your life.

But here’s something I plan to explore: Prison is going to change Tim. Prison is going to make him smarter. I can’t go into it more and I can’t delve too deeply into it without spoiling MAJOR plot points that will come up, but prison can show you things and tell you things you didn’t know. That’s something that will be explored. 

PC: How did you find your artist?

CW: I believe it was through Digital Webbing, I think. I’ve attempted to find artists there a couple of times and have had a lot of luck so far.

PC: Solitary has been picked up by Devil’s Due Publishing, so why is the Kickstarter necessary?

CW: To pay my incredible art team and staff. I’ve paid a lot out of pocket so far to make this book possible, so I’m working really hard to get the Kickstarter funded and possibly double or triple funded to not only add issues to our run but get my team taken care of (and also, Kickstarter is a great way to spread the word and hopefully get press that we need for the eventual release through Diamond and into comic shops worldwide!). The goal would be, the more we get, the more likely we are to get the book to run forever. The more we make, the more likely I am to get the book as an ongoing series instead of a series of minis or just one mini-series.

PC: What do you think is the biggest challenge of running a Kickstarter?

CW: Time. Stress. Everything else in my life vying for attention (like my day job, hahahaha). Other writing needs and requirements thankfully have been caught up (for the most part) so focusing on the Kickstarter for the time being is good to go. But it’s time-intensive. It is stressful. And getting the word out to EVERYONE and anyone in the world who might enjoy it is tough too. It’s hard. Lots of people in the world, and I can only do so much. So thank you for helping spread the word!

PC: I know you have the first four issues planned, but is this to be a mini-series or do you have plans to go further?

CW: I could write this book FOREVER. Everyone always says that. They have 4 arcs planned, 50 issues planned, whatever. I could write this forever. Because I’ve been working on this for so long, I’ve got stories planned for pretty much now through the end of my life. Tim is a great character and one that is going to grow up in front of everyone’s eyes. I have planned arcs, single issues to fill in the blanks between arcs and about certain characters that will hopefully be hits with readers, I have plans that will split the book into seasons, essentially, but keep the numbering throughout. 

Beyond that, like I said, I could write it forever. I want to. I hope to. It just depends on how we do!

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