Currently running on Kickstarter is MUTE, a silent comic from writer Frank Cvetkovic and artist Michael Lee Harris. At just under 20% of its goal, currently, it still has a bit to go, but the interesting premise and presentation definitely deserves a look. With the first week of the project just wrapping up, Cvetkovic was kind enough to talk about silent comics, making sure none of his talents are used, and more!
Frank Cvetkovic: MUTE is a 48-page silent comic I wrote that is being drawn by artist Michael Lee Harris. Our story follows Adrian Kim, a deaf steel mill worker, and his ladyfriend, Meg, as they find themselves on the run from a ruthless killer, after Adrian accidentally mistakes the killer’s smartphone – filled with incriminating evidence of grisly murders – for his own.
LJ: Where did the original idea for MUTE come from?
FC: The idea that sparked MUTE came from a ten-second ad I saw for an upcoming segment on the local news a couple years back. It was such a quick little detail, but it got stuck in my head and started growing. I didn’t get a chance to see the actual news story, but I immediately saw the storytelling potential and had to know how someone could find themselves in that kind of situation. So I started working my way backward, outlining a possible series of events. The story started to form bonds with other types of stories I had wanted to tell – a silent comic, a modern noir chase comic – and, eventually, MUTE started to take shape.
LJ: MUTE is a comic without spoken dialogue, something you don’t see much of. You’re a writer and letterer, so what made you decide to make a comic where at least one of these talents went largely unused?
FC: As you said, I’m a writer – who LOVES writing witty back and forth banter between characters – and I pay the bills by lettering comics, so when it came to choosing a new comic project, I thought “How can I show off absolutely NONE of my skills.” Haha! Honestly, though, even with my love for dialogue and lettering, writing a silent comic is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while; if only to see if I was a strong enough writer to tell a complete and coherent story with characters the reader could relate to and care about, despite the lack of spoken dialogue.
LJ: As the comic is largely without text and without any spoken dialogue, the art carries a lot of the story. What were the scripts for artist Michael Lee Harris like? Did you plan everything out in detail or give him broad strokes to build on?
FC: My script for MUTE was actually not that much different from other scripts I’ve written. I tend to write full script anyway; breaking down the page panel by panel, briefly describing actions, characters, and sometimes even suggesting possible camera angles (although, I do write most action sequences in much broader strokes, so the artist can really play around with those scenes). I think the only real difference with the script for MUTE was making sure that I was a little more specific when writing facial expressions and hand gestures, as they would take the place of spoken dialogue when it came to communication between characters. I also included a lot more photo and video reference than I normally would have, so Michael knew exactly what I meant when I wrote something like “Adrian signs the word ‘deaf.’” in the script.
LJ: You’re attempting to fund the production of MUTE on Kickstarter. What made that the right platform, versus other crowdfunding sites or even self-publishing?
FC: I’ve self-published for a couple of years, making minicomics with friends, zines, even a webcomic, and, honestly, had I the money, I’m just about enough of a control freak when it comes to my work that I might have self-published MUTE had money not been an issue. Haha! But Kickstarter – any crowdfunding platform, really — has been one of those things that has intrigued me since the site debuted. It’s not just about raising the money to make something for me, but getting to know and interact with your backers, hearing what they like and want to see more of in your work, forming that community bond, which is one of the things I grew to love about running a webcomic.
LJ: Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?
FC: MUTE is currently up on Kickstarter through April 8th. We’re a small creative team, but we’re dedicated to telling the best possible stories we can. And we can’t wait to put MUTE in your hands.