Rounding The Rough Edges: Discussing “We Are Scarlet Twilight” With Creator Ben Morse

by Tom Smithyman

Ben Morse likes to do it all himself. He writes his own comics. And draws them. He colors them as well. And he colors them. For kicks, he publishes himself with the help of crowdfunding sites. His latest series, We Are Scarlet Twilight, has had successful Kickstarter campaigns. And he’s about to kick off a new fundraising drive for issue #4 on Zoop. In an exclusive interview with, Morse discusses the advantages of crowdfunding comics, his main character’s bloodsucking origins and why he chooses to do it all himself.

Tom Smithyman: What are the advantages and the hazards of publishing your own comic through a crowdfunding site?

Ben Morse: First, I’d have to say my experience has been that the advantages far outweigh the hazards!

The hazards are the stress of coming up with pricing, schedules, finding printers and handling shipping. A lot of that I’d find I was having to work as best as I could with a lot that was out of my control, which is never fun.

The benefits are the flip side of that, being able to plan based on your own schedule, costs and the type of project you’re looking to create. Just not having to wait for someone else to get back to you really lets the momentum kick in. Additionally, it’s really great to have the opportunity to create the type of campaign and comic you want, be that an anthology, long form series or one shot. Crowdfunding gives a lot of projects – ones that end up being really successful – room to exist and find an audience that it couldn’t find through the direct market.

Smithyman: You’ve had three success campaigns on Kickstarter. What is the advantage of moving over to Zoop?

Morse: The biggest one is being able to work with a team that is as knowledgeable and passionate about the comics field specifically as everyone at Zoop has been. As someone just getting started in crowdfunding, I look back at my first campaigns and see a ton of mistakes I’d made – and that really highlights the value of being able to work with a team that’s run a lot of campaigns and seen so much more of what works and what doesn’t!

The second big advantage is just it gives me time to work on the comic when I would have been looking at printers, shipping costs and other logistics. As of writing this, a few days before the campaign goes live, I’m 3 pages from being done with all of issue #4’s art and colors and have about 10 pages to letter. There’s no way that’s where I’d be if I was prepping this campaign on my own.

Smithyman: It’s no spoiler now to tell people that the hero of the series, Captain Lancet, is actually a vampire. How did you come up with the idea to mix and match genres?

Morse: The initial idea that popped into my head, years ago, was a vampire detective hunting a Van Helsing descendent in a future where most people have become vampires. Kind of an interesting irony, but not really enough to justify a comic. But when I had the idea to take some golden age comic tropes and combine that with some other tropes, I was able to fold some of those elements in – and two story ideas that I felt were a little lacking in value mixed pretty well and made things interesting enough, I thought, to move forward with.

Smithyman: As you’ve done on past titles, you handle all the writing as well as the art, colors and letters. Why put that much pressure on yourself? 

Morse: There are a few reasons. The best one is it lets me be very flexible and tailor the script to what works best with the visuals. There are a lot of times I make small alterations to the script or just how something unfolds logistically, and that lets me get a lot more impact or just move the story along more efficiently.

On the more practical side, it lets me work on my own schedule, which is really important when so many of us do this in addition to another job. When you have a team of people balancing their time, and in some cases needing to wait for one team member to finish their part before another can start, things can really slow down. And working around just my schedule helps with that.

Smithyman: Do you consider yourself a writer who draws, an artist who writes, or something else altogether?

Morse: Artist who writes. No contest!

Smithyman: You have come up with some wonderfully evocative names, like Madame Satanika and Dr. Occulto. Where do you come up with these great monikers? 

Morse: Thanks! Those were a struggle! The two you mention actually came pretty easily, but it took me weeks to figure Captain Lancet’s name out. I had probably 100-plus options and synonyms I was mixing and matching until I arrived on something that worked. I still think Captain Lancet could be a little catchier, but the similarity between “lance” and “lancet,” and the fact that a lancet is a tool used to draw blood made it too good to pass up.

Smithyman: We’ve established that Lancet is a vampire. So what is your favorite vampire and why?

Morse: I’d have to go with the big guy, Dracula. In fact, aside from Dracula, I’m not actually all that interested in vampires. There have just been so many great Dracula film adaptations that I’ve been drawn to the character. The Coppola version from the ‘90s was stellar, and the Bela Lugosi film from the ‘30s has fantastic atmosphere.

As far as connecting the vampire concept to We Are Scarlet Twilight, my approach was to be playing with a lot of existing iconography, and I was lucky that some of the lore surrounding, well…certain figures in the 1400s was such that I could round the rough edges off of some historical facts into something that worked as part of Captain Lancet’s backstory. I explored a lot of that in a flashback in issue #3, and there were some clues to a very exciting character crossover that will figure into the sequel to Scarlet Twilight in the flashback that, as far as I know, no one’s figured out just yet!

Smithyman: I’m looking forward to reading that! Best of luck with the upcoming campaign.


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