ME: Just to get this out of the way–As I mentioned in the post for the first CAPTAIN CONFEDERACY ‘cover’, the whole reason I ever got into CC was because in middle school (8th or 9th grade, don’t remember which) I attended a ‘Young Writers Conference’ one day, and you and Emma (Bull, Will’s wife and fellow author) taught ever class I took that day. The topics were writing comics, sci-fi, and fantasy. You guys both really impressed me as “adults I’d like to grow up to be like”. Not just because you wrote books and comics that appealed to my aesthetics, but because you weren’t afraid to tell a room full of impressionable minds that the Bible was just a bunch of bullshit, but highly entertaining and a great fantasy epic. You guys also ate lunch with me and the friend I made there that day. Just curious if you have any memory of this event, and if so, what?
WILL SHETTERLY: We said the Bible was a bunch of bullshit? Damn, we were awesome! I remember the day was fun, but not much else, I confess. We just like teenagers in general, and especially teenagers who want to be writers.
ME: Flash-forward a few years and I’m 18/19 and at Target with a friend. He was returning a defective video game or something, and while we waited in line at customer service I started leafing thru a guide to “YOUR CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR!” I was more than shocked to see YOU as one of the people running. A few weeks later I took part in my first election, which I did for no other reason than to vote for you. What kind of administration would I have helped vote into office had you won? What were the issues of the day?
SHETTERLY: Hmm. Well, I totally did not expect to win, so I never gave it a lot of thought. At least, not practical thought. But I do have a copy of my platform here:
ME: I know you have since moved from Minneapolis to Arizona, but do you still at all follow MN politics? What do you think of the more than probable chance that Tim “Let The Poor And Disabled Die” Pawlenty will be our next president?
SHETTERLY: I try to avoid speculating about politics, because I have a terrible track record. I actually thought Kerry would win. But last I heard, Pawlenty’s chances were pretty slim. Maybe he could be Palin’s veep. I’m hoping the Republicans put together a doomed team for 2012, and that might work.
ME: CAPTAIN CONFEDERACY (as well as several books by yourself and others) were self-published by your own STEELDRAGON PRESS. What was the self-publishing game like back in the 80’s? Any thoughts or reflections you’d like to share with someone looking to get into self-publishing? In a later issue of CAP you show the print run of the series and how it had steadily declined. What is the sustainability of self-publishing, both for the individual and in general? How do you think the internet age, Ipad/Kindle, and print on demand services will play into the world and future of self-publishing?
SHETTERLY: Small press publishing is a labor of love. Changing technology doesn’t change that, because small presses just can’t afford to do the publicity and promotion that big presses can. But I do think Lulu and CreateSpace are creating interesting possibilities for people. I’m especially optimistic about the development of e-readers and tablet computers.
ME: How did you and series artist Vince Stone come to collaborate together? Going into the book, who were your comic book influences? Are you still reading today? If so, what and whom?
SHETTERLY: I was at the Chicago Comicon, looking for an artist, and Vince had samples that I loved. We shared a fondness for some of the same people–Alan Moore, Chaykin, etc. I’m only reading webcomics: Magellan, Crimson Dark, Sinfest, Narbonic, Skin Horse, Girl Genius, Wonderella, Questionable Content, and undoubtedly a few that I’m forgetting just now.
ME: In an afterward to the CC “Special Edition” #1 you mentioned how once issue one was done you had that realization of “Aww, shit! The origin is out of the way, now what am I going to do for 11 issues?” So how did you craft the story? Did others (Emma, etc) help you get there, or did the characters start writing their own fate? Both? Who is John Ford and how did he become such a big part of the later half of CC (so much so he not only co-plotted/wrote issues, but wrote a whole issue himself)?
SHETTERLY: John M. Ford was a great science fiction writer and one of our best friends in Minneapolis. He was a plotting genius, so when I got stuck, I went to him. Emma probably helped brainstorm, too. I really didn’t understand how to write a tight series then, but I’m happy with the result.
AS IT HAPPENS… today’s “cover” is of the issue John M Ford wrote. Since the rest of the Q & A is about Will’s thoughts on the series, I think this is as good as any place to stop and say “BE BACK IN 7 DAYS FOR THE THRILLING CONCLUSION!”