Brahm Revel is the creator of GUERILLAS, printed by Oni Press.
What is GUERILLAS about?
GUERILLAS takes place during the Vietnam War (or the Vietnam Conflict for all you sticklers, as war was never actually declared), and it follows an experimental platoon of chimpanzee soldiers fighting their way through the jungles of Southeast Asia. Being such a desperate war, with so many casualties, the United States government has decided to try using these surrogate soldiers to cut down on the American losses and hopefully provide a spark against the stubborn Vietnamese guerillas. In theory, the highly trained chimps should be stronger, more agile, and much better suited to the jungle warfare than their human counterparts, but when the ape’s training begins to clash with their better instincts, the chimps become harder to control than previously expected.
After a series of unfortunate events, the platoon of chimps ends up rescuing a relatively inexperienced American soldier and after some hesitation on the part of the chimps, they decide to let him tag along with their troop. As the platoon continues to fight their way through the jungles of Vietnam, the story touches on the nature of war, the nature of man, and all the grey areas in between… Bracketed, of course, by lots of action, chain smoking chimps, and machine-guns being shot with monkey feet-hands…
What inspired the idea for the series?
Initially the idea came while watching a WWII movie. As a platoon of soldiers walked single file through the war torn landscape of France, the image reminded me of the way a troop of chimps march single file through the jungle… Chimp soldiers… Not a bad idea I thought.
Since the idea originally came from a WWII movie I thought that it should take place during WWII. Chimps vs. Nazis could be pretty fun. It could be kind of pulpy… the chimps could be able to talk. Very comic-booky… But as I thought more about the story, I realized I wanted it to be more realistic. If chimps vocal chords wouldn’t allow them to mimic human speech, then I didn’t want them to be able to speak. I wanted the story to be less one dimensional than “Killer Chimps take on Hitler’s Youth!” Most of all, I wanted there to be some kind of logic behind why the chimps were being used.
The Vietnam War quickly became a better setting for the story I wanted to tell. As I said, it was a desperate war, a war we were losing, and one which took place in a jungle, a chimp’s natural habitat. Also, they were fighting guerilla soldiers, which was a perfect play on words, and which gave me an obvious title. A realization that came much later in the thought process than you’d might have guessed.
Once I got that far, it wasn’t too hard to fill in the rest of the blanks.
You used Kickstarter to help raise funds for Volume 2 of GUERILLAS. What are some lessons you’ve learned from using Kickstarter?
I think Kickstarter is an absolutely fantastic resource for modern creatives. Anything that can help connect creators directly with fans and cut out middle men is a huge step forward in creating a new business model for artists and entrepreneurs. I think it’s great for marketing, for pre-sales, and for finding a wider audience. It’s definitely something I would use again and I was very happy with the result that I received.
In terms of the logistics of actually starting a campaign, Kickstarter has FAQ’s about constructing a project that are far better than anything I could tell you here. The one thing I would say in hindsight, is make sure to have the foreign donors add extra for their postage. I didn’t expect to have too many foreign orders so I didn’t make any rate distinction. In the end about 20% of my orders ended up coming from other countries. That postage starts to add up quickly…
Kickstarter is a great resource though. I would recommend it to anyone… Amateur and professional alike.
Are there any projects you are currently working on?
First and foremost, I’m working on the third volume of GUERILLAS, which will conclude the series. I also have three shorter projects which I’m finishing up and should be seeing the light of day some time in 2013. I’m really not sure how much I can say about any of them, but I’ll try to be vague enough that nobody’s panties get in a twist. One’s a prequel to a horror movie which should be making the rounds at SXSW. One’s a supernatural tale which takes place during the roaring 20’s. And the last one is a short that I wrote as well as drew which will be part of a larger anthology exploring the themes of H.G. Wells.
There’s also maybe one or two other possibilities further down the pipeline which are too secret to comment on at this time.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d just like to shout out Oni Press, the publisher of GUERILLAS and one of the very best independent publishers out there. I’m proud to be a part of their family and I can confidently say that any book you pick up from them is certain to be a winner.
If any of you out there have any questions of your own, please feel free to drop me a line, I love hearing from readers!