Thursday, February 4, 2016

Kickstart This! Paradox Girl

I love a good time-travel story as much as the next princess, don't get me wrong. But even as a kid, I had to accept the fact that they don't actually make sense from a purely logical standpoint. I suppose I was an adherent to the "wings of a butterfly" line of thinking before I even knew what that was.

Still, I enjoy the fantasy of being able to go back or forward in time, and so I happily wave away those niggling thoughts about cause and effect and whatnot in favor of enjoying the story.

I guess I'm not the only one, because Cayti Bourquin and Yishan Li's latest Kickstarter project Paradox Girl takes the time-travel trope and turns it on its head, giving us a heroine who jumps around trying to fix her fixes. Or something like that.
Paradox Girl's time travel powers aren't bound by the normal rules of cause and effect. Consequences can come before actions. A constantly shifting past means a constantly changing future, the two blending into an endless present. Her timeline criss-crosses over itself again and again. Consequently, she runs into herself a lot—and we mean a lot.
I was fortunate to be able to chat a bit with Paradox Girl's author Cayti Bourquin and editor Peter Bensley about this project and the importance of writing the stories we need to read. Paradox Girl has already met its Kickstarter goal, but you should still consider buying in. Not only will you be getting this fantastic story for yourself, but you'll be showing the comics industry that there really is a market for more female voices!

SRPS: First of all, can tell me a little bit about yourself? What is your background? What inspires you? What are some of your goals?

Cayti Bourquin: I've always been more attached to fiction and games than I am the real world. There's an emptiness that can only be filled by consuming or, better yet, creating stories. I often jokingly compare myself to Scheherazade.

The late, great Satoshi Kon was one of the biggest inspirations for me. His ability to make the medium become part of the story itself was just incredible. I had the opportunity to meet him at the US premier of Millennium Actress. Sadly I didn't have the appreciation for him then that I do now. I would love one day for my work to evoke some of the same feelings that his did for me.

SRPS: What was the inspiration behind Paradox Girl?

CB: Earlier incarnations of the character were a way for me to explore my existential angst in my twenties. She's changed a lot since then and lost lots of the pretentiousness I'd instilled her with. What remains now is a lighthearted, carefree parody of myself.

I've long loved superhero culture and stories, but dreaded the long stretches of continuity and catch-up one might need to do to understand the full scope of a particular hero's story. Paradox Girl is also sort of a jab at those long running comics with their reboots and rewrites and attempts to keep an existing character 'fresh'.

SRPS: What's it like working with Hanako Games?

CB: I've been friends with the people at Hanako Games for a long, long time. Gegi (Georgina Bensley) has such a great work ethic. She's an incredible role model. She works tirelessly and is always coming up with unique, new games to keep her business going. Their good fortune put them in a position where they were willing to take a risk on my script. Peter (Gegi's partner) found an an amazing artist [Yishan Li] who wanted to work on the project with us, and has done all of the editing, marketing and management of Hana Comics. A lot of this journey has been a huge learning experience, creating this indie comic shop from the ground up. I'm incredibly grateful to them.

SRPS: What has your experience been like running this Kickstarter project? What has the reaction been like from your fans and the general public?

Peter Bensley: It's been fantastic. When we started out we just had a handful of our friends and people who had seen Paradox Girl on imgur from Cayti's post there a year ago, some of them were really enthusiastic and helped us get off to a great start. Being recognized and featured by the Kickstarter staff made a huge difference and was tremendously gratifying.

We had no idea what to expect when we launched the campaign, so it was thrilling to reach our goal so quickly. We've been working toward this for a long time without knowing if it would pay off. We've also had to learn a lot of new things very quickly to keep on top of it. We've had a lot of help and advice from our friends and contractors - notably Sara Quinn of who helped to design and run the Kickstarter, and Matt Hosking who has helped an incredible amount with the business side of things.

One thing I've particularly enjoyed is reaching out to other creative people on Kickstarter and Twitter, getting to share our project and find out what kind of weird and wonderful projects they're working on.

SRPS: What has surprised you most about running this project?

CB: To be honest, that anyone is willing to pay for something I wrote! We're just over a thousand supporters right now. The thought that that many people would see or care about something I'd made is terrifying and thrilling at the same time.

PB: From my perspective, nothing. Don't get me wrong, it was scary starting out and it's been thrilling to see it succeed, but Cayti and Yishan have done great work, and I knew that if we could get that work in front of people they would respond.

I was really touched by how generous some people have been with their pledges, particularly friends of ours where I was left feeling that their pledge was not only a vote of confidence in the project, but in us personally. That means a lot, and they really helped to get the ball rolling.

SRPS: You've well exceeded your initial goal, which is fantastic! What does this mean for future projects? What can we expect from Paradox Girl in the future? (I mean, our future, of course. Her's is a bit mixed up, I imagine.)

PB: We have more issues of Paradox Girl planned, so there'll be another Kickstarter on the way as soon as we've finished fulfillment of this one.

CB: We're already working furiously on some other titles that we hope our fans will be just as excited about. We're hoping to establish a presence that will allow us to distribute through more traditional means and get our books on shelves in comic stores everywhere.

Paradox Girl's story is anything but conventional. Each issue is a self contained story but has links to other issues (even ones that aren't out yet). There's little threads and contradictions as her story changes with each new issue. Despite ultimately being a lighthearted comedy, soon we'll see the consequences of her actions on others and just a bit of how loss and change affects our heroine.

SRPS: Where else can people find you online?

CB: I don't do social networks or have much of a presence outside of the work I've done on Paradox Girl. I suppose people could find me at I don't stream myself, but I spend a stupid amount of time watching other people.

You can learn more about Paradox Girl by checking out their website and Kickstarter, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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