The Indie Index – Interview with Stephen Kok
My name is Stephen Kok and I’m a Sydney based graphic novel creator!
You’ve just had your fourth graphic novel, Word Smith, successfully funded on Kickstarter. You make it look easy! What’s your secret?
Lots of coffee and late nights! There’s a lot of planning and work that goes into Kickstarter and I’m always thankful of everyone who supports my creative endeavours.
Your first graphic novel Tabby is about a family of cats with nearly no dialogue. Can you discuss the challenges you faced writing this and finding the right artist to bring it to life.
After I finished the script for Tabby (and lots of lots of editing), I was ready to find an artist to collobrate. The artist who did the initial design (Canadian Eric Gravel) was unfortunately not available at the time. I posted on Freelanced.com and it was over a 2 month selection process going through over 100+ applicants. Each applicant had to do one page trial. At the end of it, P.R. Dedelis was an easy choice and it won’t be the last project we collaborated on!
The release of Word Smith marks your fourth collaboration with polish artist P.R. Dedelis. Can you give us some insight into your creative process with Dedelis, especially with over 13,000km between you two.
According to Google, the distance is 15,716kms! A lot of work gets done before the panels eg. character designs, world designs etc. P.R. is the ultimate professional, we bounce back with different ideas on how to approach a page. I do take a lot of artistic guidance from him
You’ve received grants to help create 5 Seconds and Word Smith. What was the process to gain these grants and how important have they been in helping to produce your work?
Be prepared to spend the time putting together plans, budgets, references etc. There are artistic grants out there for all different purposes but it’s really making your project stand out from the rest. Be also very conscious of the time, I misread the end date, spent ages doing the prep work and forgot to submit on time!
You’ve mentioned in the past that you’ve always wanted to make graphic novels but you were forever procrastinating. You’ve now made four! What changed and how do you keep it up?
My daughter who’s 6 now. I’ve been telling my wife over 10 years ago all these story ideas but never spent the time to actually complete a script end to end. When my daughter was born, I want to be able to tell her to work for her dreams but I rather than just tell her I wanted to be an example. I was very fortunate that Tabby was well received leading to the other graphic novels!
Which current local and international comic creators inspire you?
In Australia, Queenie Chan who’s not just a talented individual but always trying to raise the profile of Australian graphic novels and Karen Dwarte an Inner West librarian who’s one of biggest champions for independent creators! She got Tabby into the first Australian public library. Internationally, Jeff Smith is an inspiration. He was able to bring to life the epic saga of Bone but still make it appeal to all ages audience. One of the best stories I have read.
What’s on the horizon for Stephen Kok – graphic novelist?
I’m working on a collaborative project with Melbourne publisher COMICS2MOVIES on a new science fiction series called Terralympus. Earth is a distant and the remnants of humanity now live aboard giant space stations. On the station Terralympus, Mia stumbles onto a conspiracy that could prove fatal. Other that than a sequel to 5 Seconds which I wrote as a trilogy. I’m hoping to launch this in Feb 2018 and of course spending lots of time with the family. My girl loves drawing and it’s awesome to hear her stories.
Interview conducted by Aaron Magnuson.
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