Michael Derrick Digs In for Another Round of Probing with “The Abductables 2: Reticulous!” (Interview)
Independent comic book creator Michael Derrick is no stranger to crowdfunding projects (nor is he a stranger to being interviewed by The Splintering!). Derrick recently launched a crowdfunding campaign for The Abductables 2: Reticulous!, a full color follow-up to 2019’s sci-fi/comedy original (which we reviewed here). We were fortunate enough to get a chance to discuss his Reticulous! campaign which is still available to support here.
As always, the answers below are represented as closely to “as written” as possible with only minimal edits.
The Splintering: First things first, How has Agent Alden’s relationship with the “Greys” (aliens) changed since the events of the first book?
Michael Derrick: The dynamic has completely shifted! Whereas in the original Abductables, Agent Alden–codename The Abductee–was public enemy number one as far as the Greys were concerned, this time around our musclebound hero finds himself working for the little alien bastards as a kind of enforcer to bail them out of the trouble they get into on other planets and clean up all the messes they make–usually by way of blasting holes other (bigger) aliens!
TS: What new characters does Reticulous! introduce?
MD: Not only will readers get to visit the Grey’s homeworld of Zeta Reticuli and learn more about how their strange society operates, but the entire galaxy will be opened up to us, introducing a whole host of different alien races of all shapes, sizes, and temperaments! On the villains’ side we have The Reptilian, an evil space warlord who’s easily the deadliest threat Alden has ever faced; while on the heroes’ side (yes, the Greys are the good guys in this scenario!) we have Alden’s pudgy sidekick Blub, a portly Grey alien with a gift for gab and penchant for designing all sorts of experimental hardware for Alden to use out in the field.
TS: Is The Abductables 2 the end of The Abductables saga, or is there more in store for the series?
MD: I do have a grandiose idea for a third (and final!) installment in The Abductables saga, one that goes in a direction I don’t think anyone would expect, and I only hope Reticulous! proves successful enough to justify making that final chapter. It would truly leave no stone unturned when it comes to alien and UFO lore, and would definitively answer the questions, once and for all, that have haunted us for generations. (Namely, why do aliens stick things up our butts and what’s with the cow obsession?)
TS: You’re offering a two-pack perk that includes the first Abductables book, but for those who want to jump straight into book 2, how easily can that be done without reading the first one?
MD: Despite being a sequel, Reticulous! is just as self-contained as the first Abductables was, meaning people should be more than able to read it on its own without being confused by any kind of continuity issues. And just like the previous book, it has a satisfying, definitive conclusion that still plants the seeds for a future storyline! If anyone chooses to just read Reticulous!, and decides they want to learn more, they can always go back and read The Abductables as a retroactive prequel.
TS: The first book was a blend of action and comedy in a sci-fi setting. Does the sequel change the tone in any way? Is it designed with more of a focus on comedy, action, or story this time around?
MD: The action-comedy style that readers loved from the first book will absolutely still be there this time around, but with even more emphasis on the action side of things, given that our hero finds himself smackdab in the middle of a cosmic war between hostile alien races! The plot of The Abductables served as a role reversal of Ridley Scott’s Alien, where it’s the human acting as the hostile organism wreaking havoc aboard a spaceship of terrified aliens; likewise Reticulous! is a riff on James Cameron’s Aliens, in that we’re taking the premise of the original and upping the ante to an insane degree. Bigger, better, bolder! Which is why I shamelessly stole the “This time it’s war!” logline from Aliens…because it’s true!
TS: How does the body count compare between the first Abductables book and Reticulous?
MD: As bloody and (comedically) brutal as the original Abductables was, it’s a walk in the park compared to what we have in store for readers within the pages of Reticulous! Expect even crazier fight scenes, even deadlier enemies, more explosions and chaos and gore galore–on a scale you have to see to believe!
TS: Can you promise any one-liners that are even better than “Probe this, bitch”?
MD: As a matter of fact, I can! I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say this particular one-liner (my favorite in the book) involves the word: meat. (Make of that what you will…)
TS: Your last campaign, Grayskale, included a secret tier featuring two copies for the price of one, which was a very unique offering. How well did that perk work in attracting customers? How much of an impact did it make on the price of printing and shipping at the end of the day? Did this affect your decision to not offer a secret perk for The Abductables 2?
MD: The secret perk I offered for the Grayskale campaign was an incentive for people to sign up to the Indiegogo’s pre-launch page. It performed fairly well, but I figured this time around I’d up the ante by instead offering an exclusive trading card for everyone who signed up. I think it was the right call, as I got more sign-ups than last time, but who knows? Maybe I’ll offer both next time! Even though this is my third crowdfunding campaign, I’m still constantly learning and trying to figure out the best moves to make.
MD: I always knew I wanted the sequel to The Abductables to be in full color, not only because a lot of our readers requested it, but because it only made logical sense to visually go bigger and bolder along with the plot. And since I’d seen Canales do colorwork on some of his lesser-known titles (notably an old webcomic of his called Weregun) I knew he had the chops to pull it off all by himself. And I’m glad he did, rather than bring on another colorist, as I think it makes for a better artistic transition between the two books. Not to mention his painterly style compliments his usual grayscale work perfectly. And the great thing about the coloring in Reticulous! in particular is that, because it takes place on multiple different alien planets, Canales is free to be as experimental as he wants! Because who’s to say what color scheme an alien planet is supposed to have?
TS: Whose idea was it to go with purple and green for Agent Alden’s armor?
MD: Since the logo, cover art, and credits page for the original black-and-white Abductables comic followed a definite green and purple color palette, it just seemed like a natural choice for Alden’s armor to follow the same aesthetic. It was my call, since green and purple together just scream “alien colors” to me, but someone has since pointed out that it’s also the color scheme that old school comic book villains tended to have (like Lex Luthor and pretty much every Spider-Man villain) in contrast to the heroes’ primary-colored costumes.
TS: Now that you’re on your third crowdfunding campaign, what lessons have you learned about the process? What advice would you give to those considering jumping into the crowdfunding game?
MD: It’s not for the faint of heart! That said, have no fear: if you’re as passionate about comics and storytelling as I am, then rest assured that passion will always outweigh the headaches and heartbreak the crowdfunding struggle will throw at you. In practical terms, just promote, network, work with the best people, and hope for the best!
We would like to once again thank Michael Derrick for taking the time to answer our questions and to have some fun with us. You can visit The Abductables 2: Reticulous Indiegogo page here. Don’t forget that you can read our previous interviews with Derrick here and here. And of course, thank you for reading!