Written by Neil Greenaway
At Phoenix Comic Con 2016 I had the chance to sit down and talk with Madeleine Holly-Rosing of The Boston Metaphysical Society about her take on publishing indie comics. This interview originally ran on Bleeding Cool on 6/11/2016, and you can read their version of it here.
Neil Greenaway: Today I am sitting here at Phoenix Comic Con speaking to Madeleine Holly-Rosing about The Boston Metaphysical Society. So first, just by way of introduction, can you give us just a brief synopsis of what the story is about so far?
Madeleine Holly-Rosing: Sure, no problem. It’s a six issue mini-series about an ex-Pinkerton detective and his spirit photographer partner who battle super-natural forces in late 1800’s Boston. So think steampunk X-Files.
NG: Ok. I understand that you have used a couple of Kickstarters to get this going, is that correct?
MHR: That is correct. We have actually done a total of 4 Kickstarters. The first one failed spectacularly, like they often do. But we sucked it up and re-strategized and launched our second one which was fully funded in under 48 hours. We have since run 2 more, so we have 3 successful Kickstarters since that first failed one. So yeah, I’ve done this a lot.
NG: And those campaigns have brought us to issue six in the series. Is that the end of the arc, or does this story go farther than six issues?
MHR: No, this is the end of an arc. Any other stories for the comic will be in sequential art form. What we’re thinking of doing is having 32 page one-offs focusing on just a couple of the characters. One, that’s just easier economically and also production wise. It’s taken us just a little over three years to get all six issues out and that’s three years of my life gone. And I do want to continue writing other things as well, but anything that precedes the comic timeline we’re looking at doing in novel form. In fact, I’m putting together the outline for the first Boston Metaphysical novel now.
NG: And I see that you have prose book here at the table today; can you tell us a little about that?
MHR: Yes, those are a number of short stories and novellas that I’ve written while we were in production. They are prequels to the comic (no spoilers, a few hints, but yeah, not spoilers). They are standalone from the comic but what they do is they enrich each other. Because of the limited page count for comics you can only go so far into the character and the world and in prose you can really expand on that, which was really nice, and go into some of the supporting characters.
NG: And I know that you are the writing half of the duo, can you tell us a little bit about the artist that you’re working with?
MHR: Emily Hu is an amazing young lady who I met right after she had finished art school and I met her through a mutual friend. I had spent almost a year looking for an artist. I had some that I thought were on board, and then they dropped out. You know, it happens, life happens. So I hired her to do sample pages and gave her two very different pages from the script, and she nailed it. I hired her on the spot and got her under contract and worked with her the last three years. I believe (I am not familiar with the anime/manga world), but I understand she is semi-famous in the anime world. The few times we are actually at the same convention together – our schedules always conflict – I have these young ladies that come to the table and completely plotz when they meet her. It’s pretty funny. She’s very, very talented and I jokingly say that in a few years we won’t be able to afford her.
NG: Now you have said that moving forward you would probably do one-shots in the comic world. Do you have any of those planned at the moment?
MHR: I do have a story sketched out which focuses on Granville Woods, our African American scientist who is part of the Boston Metaphysical Society team and Tesla.
NG: I am a big fan of Tesla. He is of course huge in the steampunk world. How does he factor into the story? Or is that something we can talk about?
MHR: Well we can. Bell, Edison, Tesla and Houdini are integral to the story line in the six issue series. I don’t want to give away too much, but let’s just say that none of these guys get along at all but they come together because of the greater threat that’s happening in Boston and they’re trying figure it out because they are the greatest minds of the time. So it was a lot of fun using those characters. I mean, nothing about Boston Metaphysical is historically accurate and no one should even dream of that. But what I do try to do as a writer is maintain the accuracy of the relationships and thematically maintain that.
NG: With the prose Novels, are there any of those on the way or that you are working on yet?
MHR: I am doing an outline right now, like I said it’s still in outline form, it’s probably a good six months away. It will take me a few months to write and will have to be edited, re-written, you know. There’s a lot to it.
NG: When it comes time to actually put that one out, is that something you’ll look to Kickstarter again for?
MHR: You know I hadn’t thought about that but that’s entirely possible that I might do that since we already have a following just to do a small Kickstarter to possibly recoup some of the editing fees and something like that and get it out into people hands. That’s actually a good idea, I hadn’t even thought of that. Thank you.
NG: You’re welcome. If I might touch on it a little bit, this seems heavily steampunk inspired, is that something that you’ve always been interested in?
MHR: Actually I fell into steampunk by accident. I had originally written this story as a TV pilot when I was at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and it was originally designed to be a period detective piece. And a friend of mine suggested that, why don’t I set it in a steampunk world. And I had heard of steampunk, didn’t know a lot about it. So I did research, I did reading and realized she was absolutely right and that it was a perfect marriage of history and science fiction. So steampunk was made for me. It was a lot of fun redeveloping it in a steampunk world. It was great.
NG: Also, in the past few years the fandom for steampunk has really exploded. Have you been getting a positive reaction to the book from the steampunk community?
MHR: Absolutely. The steampunk community has been incredibly supportive and I mean, I can’t thank them enough. They have really come out and been helpful, not only buying the book, but in helping to spread the word. I go to the conventions, not as many this year just because of scheduling conflicts, but last year I think I went to almost every major steampunk convention from Teslacon, which is the largest in the United States, to some of the smaller ones. Clockwork Alchemy, which has been tremendously supportive and Gaslight Gathering which was the first steampunk convention I ever did.
NG: I have heard good things about Gaslight.
MHR: It’s a wonderful, small convention that brings in amazing guests where literally you can pull up a chair and start talking to them.
NG: That’s awesome.
MHR: It is. It’s a lovely, lovely convention. Anastasia Hunter who, she’s one of the main organizers, has been one of my fans since the very beginning and I can’t thank them enough for all their help and support. I think they are just looking for new material and I provided it for them and I love hanging out with them. They’re really just an awesome community.
NG: And now something I have been curious about. Is there a reason the book is based in Boston?
MHR: Absolutely. It was a story decision. Boston Metaphysical is a steampunk story and a lot of steampunk is set in Victorian England. But since this is set in the states, I wanted as I was developing the story, a city that when you said the name out loud, evoked a sense of history, culture and almost mythology. Boston fit that bill. Along with the fact that it’s a very intimate town. It just has a feeling that literally ghost live in every corner and historical ghosts and metaphorical ghosts. Obviously New York and Chicago are big names and everything, but everyone does New York and Chicago. Boston just fit the bill. So it was entirely a story decision.
NG: Ok, I had wondered that. If someone wanted to find more of your work or find you online where would they go?
MHR: The first place to look would be our website at www.bostonmetaphysicalsociety.com I know that’s a mouthful. I’m also on Facebook, just type in Boston Metaphysical. I’m also on Twitter, @MHollyRosing. Those are the two I have time for.
NG: So if people wanted to see the work, that’s where the work is being displayed?
MHR: Yes, and cons of course.
NG: And where is your next convention appearance?
MHR: My next one is Amazing Las Vegas. Then after that we are at San Diego Comic Con, artist alley AA20 in the back so come find us in that chaos. After that we’re at Comic Con Palm Springs which is a brand new con, which looks like Stan Lee is going to be there. I suspect that if you couldn’t get your ticket into San Diego then Palm Springs is a way to go, they are reducing the rates. I know it’s horribly- it can’t be hotter than Phoenix right now. But yeah you can get nice hotels for cheap in the summertime in Palm Springs. Then let me think, I’m doing like 8 or 9 more cons after this so, I know I’m in Rose City, Gaslight Gathering in San Diego, I’m blanking now. It’s Sunday morning I have been working for three days.