Guns of Shadow Valley's James Andrew Clark and Dave Wachter | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, April 22nd, 2024  

Art by Dave Wachter

Guns of Shadow Valley’s James Andrew Clark and Dave Wachter

Fresh Off Kickstarter Success, Web Comic Creators Talk Process, Collaboration, and Superpowers in the Old West

Jun 21, 2013 Web Exclusive
Bookmark and Share

On June 14, James Andrew Clark and Dave Wachter posted a Kickstarter campaign for their lauded web comic, The Guns of Shadow Valley, with the primary goal to bring it to print as a hardcover. Despite the comic having been on hiatus for a pretty good stretch, the great art and compelling story of superpowered gunslingers in the Old West proved to maintain its fan base… and then some. Merely days later, and well in advance of the deadline, they’ve blown their $24,000 goal out of the water.

Clark and Wachter found some time to answer questions about their book, the campaign, and future plans; our “e-conversation” is recorded below.

Jeremy Nisen (Under the Radar): Were you worried that the hiatus of Guns of Shadow Valley kept you out of the limelight for too long, or were you confident that your intervening projects and social media presence would help reach the goal?

James Andrew Clark: I’m blown away by how fast we’ve reached what is now the 75% mark [at the time of our conversation] in less than two days. I knew that Dave had a good-sized following through his other projects with IDW, Dark Horse and the like, and I knew we had a-good sized reader base, but all the support we’re getting is incredible, and I’m very thankful.

Dave Watcher: I hoped that some of my recent projects with publishers had helped me get my name out into the world, and that it might translate to the project. But I had no idea how this was going to turn out, I was ready for a struggle, but hopeful of what could potentially happen. Then bam! The first day is huge! Beyond what I ever expected and it just kept going. I couldn’t stop checking the computer and checking my phone while I was out. It’s been tremendous. But I’m still cautious. I don’t count my chickens until they’re all in the basket.

Speaking of whichcan you each share what comics and/or creative projects you’ve pursued during the GOSV hiatus?

Dave: The whole hiatus happened because I starting taking on full-time paid work with publishers, and couldn’t keep up the schedule of both simultaneously. I started at IDW with a three issue mini-series titled Robert Bloch’s That Hellbound Train, then Night of 1,000 Wolves, and a fill in for the current Godzilla series. Just this week, the first issue of my miniseries with Steve Niles hit the stores, called Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem for Dark Horse. And next week I have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villains one-shot called Old Hob for IDW. Once I had finished that, I starting working on putting this Kickstarter together with Jim.

James: During our break I wrote and published a children’s book called The Jumping Flea Circus, had a 16-page comic published in the Megabook anthology, and also released an album of ukulele music called Fretting the Small Stuff.

You started Guns of Shadow Valley (or at least publication of it) just about three years ago on the web. Was a print version always the final goal? Did the recent spate of successful comics-related Kickstarter projects change your end-goals any, or is it more of a useful tool to accomplish something you planned anyway?

James: Actually, the print version was the initial goal.

Dave: Originally we envisioned it as a comic book miniseries, the same as we had done with our previous collaboration Scar Tissue. But we really didn’t want to self-publish another series of printed books. We pitched it around to lots of publishers, got a few nibbles, but ultimately never landed a good deal. Then, after the Comic Geek Speak SuperShow convention, the organizer of that show, podcast extraordinaire and my friend Bryan Deemer was driving me to the train station, and he suggested doing it as a webcomic. Build our own following and see what happens. We had nothing to lose.

James: Only sleep, which is overrated anyway.

On the Kickstarter page, you mention that on completion you’ll be working with a publisher—do you have one in mind, or will you cross that bridge when you come to it?

Dave: We have a publisher all lined up. They wish to remain nameless for now. They are absolutely awesome, and I was thrilled when learning of their interest. But they couldn’t put up the capital to allow me to finish it. We were already planning the Kickstarter, so we moved forward with it. The plan is that the Kickstarter backers get all their rewards, and later the book will be distributed through the Direct Market to comic shops.

I hate to put the cart before the horse, but if the kickstarter success keeps at this pace, do you have stretch goals already in mind, or is the intent to keep the original goal?

Dave: We sure do. And they’re going to be pretty cool, but I don’t want to reveal anything until we get there. [notethey’ve hit it! Stretch goals can be seen at the Kickstarter page!]

Can you each talk a bit about how you collaborate on GOSV, from conception to execution to editing/publication? I know James is here in my hometown (woo!) and Dave used to be in the Chicago area. How’s the distance affect that collaboration?

James: We use the magical highway of interweb tubes for the majority of our collaboration. Story meetings take place over Skype, script revisions are shared over email and Google Drive. We’ve collaborated at a distance since 2004 and it’s worked out pretty well. Dave never seems to sleep so the time difference hasn’t been a problem for me yet.

Dave: I moved to Pittsburgh about three years ago. Yeah, I stay up pretty late working, and I work pretty much all the time. Sometimes I wonder if Jim realizes it after 3 a.m. when I’m still emailing with him.

James: I just assumed you were nocturnal, like a bat or a flying squirrel.

Dave: This partnership wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago, it’s all because we live in the future. We work out the outline together over the phone, and go back and forth on writing and scripting duties. I do the art from blank page through colors, then it’s off to our extremely skilled and creative letterer Thomas Mauer, who is all the way over in Germany. I have no idea what time it is over there, or if they even use clocks.

Can you each share an item (or two or three…) about what you’ve learned during the course of crafting GOSV?

James: I’ve discovered that writing something for an artist is much different than writing something with an artist. Together we have to bend and shape the story into what we both agree it should be before a single drawing is made. I’ve learned to trust Dave’s abilities as a storyteller. He came up with a personality trait for one of the major characters that I resisted at first because it was different than what I had in mind for the character, but later I came to realize it was rather brilliant and made that character so much more fun to write. It’s give and take, and sometimes we have to let go of an idea in favor of the other guy’s better idea.

Dave: I’ve used this project as an opportunity to work on my writing chops. And I couldn’t have had a better partner to do that with than Jim. We’ve been able to create a real world together. This is what I want to do with comics. Drawing somebody else’s awesome script is great, and I enjoy it. But my goals include the writing and drawing together, as a cartoonist.

James: I think writing a serialized comic also requires more thought as to how the story unfolds. Each page has to be a somewhat self-contained scene or be strong on its own. If a conversation starts on one page, it could potentially be awkward for it to carry over to the next page when that page doesn’t go up until a week later. It has to advance the story enough on its own to maintain the rhythm.

Dave: The horizontal page has provided its own set of challenges, how to make the story flow within a different set of physical constraints than the normal vertical page. Sometimes I kick myself for choosing to do it sideways, but it results in some images and moments that could never have worked otherwise. And I’ve been able to really hone my skills as a colorist. That’s been really satisfying.

Is the planned print book the end of GOSV or do you intend to keep the story going? Any other projects on the horizon?

Dave: There are always more ideas waiting in the wings, some will come to be, others won’t. Nothing is definite. This Kickstarter and the work from it is enough to think about for now. Let’s just see where this horse carries us.

Dave—you’ve potentially set yourself up for dozens of commissions. How would you deal with that kind of output in addition to your regular workload?

Dave: 33 full commissions from 9x12 to 11x17, 30 portraits, and 50 sketch cards. And they’re going fast. I’ve made a little bit of a name for myself for my commission and convention sketch work, so these are nothing new. It’s a lot but when spread out over months, it’s definitely doable. I enjoy them and it’s nice to be able to switch it up from the page work once in a while, exercise some other muscles.

For the latest on Guns of Shadow Valley’s Kickstarter, visit; to catch up on the comic to date, visit


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:
April 8th 2014

I’m gone to say to my little brother, that he should also pay
a quick visit this web site on regular basis to take updated from newest reports.