In a futuristic setting where railroad technology has led rival companies into warfare with blood being spilled over the tracks a strong tough hero is needed to guide out of the Badlands right? Unfortunately our hero, Trigger, is struggling with problems of his own, an addiction to alcoholism and anxiety over his past as an enforcer. Working alongside artist Gavin Smith, writer Gavin Spector explained the origins of Badlands of West of Ironhorse and spoke about why the story has a message for people who struggle with anxiety.
1) How did you become a comic book writer?
Accidently, I suppose, haha. When I was a kid my father bought me building toys like Erector sets, Legos, etc. My brother introduced me to comics before I was 10 years old. I was fascinated by the worlds these comic people inhabited. Those two ideas combined into world building. From there I had to have my inhabitants do something, right?
2) Would you say the Badlands is Steampunk meets a Western?
Well, at least Western-Steampunk adjacent haha. Sometimes steampunk can have magical qualities like sentient clockwork automatons, for example. This is more grounded, but the idea is there. Instead of steam the inhabitants are moving through a revolution around the internal combustion engine.
3) How did you go about creating the characters and what inspired you?
There is that trope where at the end of the story the hero stands at the edge of the water and says “I’m finally over it!” and hurls a memento symbolizing their past away. I hate that trope. In the Indiegogo there is a line about how the past never stops hurting, it just moves further away from our present. Complex issues need complex resolutions.
4) Usually the main character in these types of stories is quite determined and robust but Trigger suffers from anxiety and an addiction to alcohol how is this part of the character’s journey?
I won’t bore you with the details but this is deeply personal to me. Another trope I can’t stand is “throw down bottle, alcoholism insta-cured.” When they say you have to hit rock bottom to fix yourself, they are not kidding. Trigger is someone who is just above rock bottom. The struggles in stories of The Badlands isn’t man vs man or man vs nature but man vs self. Trigger is the biggest obstacle to Trigger.
5) Do you think Badlands has a positive message for those who struggle with anxiety issues on a daily basis?
Yes, I do. A friend of mine told me “I’m glad you depicted anxiety this way, it lets me know I’m still useful to the world. This is something I can show my family and say ‘see??’ “ which was honestly incredible to me.
As I work with more and more artists, colorists, etc the circle of people they recommend grows. I honestly forget who recommended Gavin Smith to me but it was something along the lines of “I worked with him before, I know he is top quality, fast, and easy to work with.” I had to check him out at that point because you typically only get 2 of those 3, haha.
COLOR. As an indie creator I have to take every advantage I can to make top quality stuff. Taking the time to make things perfect is the one thing indie people have that the big boys don’t. To that end I decided I had to go color. Of course that makes printing about 4x more expensive. Without help it will break the back of my day job.
8) Do you think crowdfunding works successfully for comics’ projects?
Eh, not really. I once saw a panel about crowdfunding hosted by Jimmy Palmiotti. His number one advice was “have a big family.” He was saying that the amount of pledges that you, as an unknown indie, will get from strangers who view your campaign is essentially zero….unless you are making a porn comic. Everyone loves boobies.
Editor’s Note: Interested in helping The Badlands: West of Ironhorse a reality!? Then head right here to help fund and spread the word!
Interview by: Neil Patel!