Is Rotten Roots driven by a passion for American History?
Paul: Absolutely. I have both a bachelor's and master's degree in History, with a focus in US history. This work is a combination of my two loves - history and comics. Each issue touches on an aspect of American history most people don't know about. For example, in the first issue, we look at adultery in Pilgrim Massachusetts - and let me tell you, it happened a lot more frequently than you were taught in high school!
Both my artist and I have worked to make sure the story hews as close to history as possible, with obvious liberties taken. Osprey City does not exist, though the location it is based on is very real. The Woods are a fictional family, but more than one reader has mentioned to me how much they are reminded of some famous American family or another.
Do you feel you have learnt a lot from creating Rotten Roots with the help of Renee Majkut?
Paul: Well, it's her first comic project too, so I think we both learned a lot from each other! I've learned not to let words get in the way of fantastic art - show, not tell. I truly think Renee's art carries the comic, and I tell everyone how fortunate I am to have her on this project.
I've written before, but nothing like this, so it was a real learning experience, and one that I've enjoyed fully. We've both been fortunate to have the advice and assistance of friends who have been in the indie game for some time. We really would have been lost on the business end without them.
What made you decide on the crime noir genre for your comic?
Paul: I've always been a fan of noir and neo-noir genre works: 'The Maltese', 'Falcon', 'Chinatown', 'Blade Runner', and of course, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?'. Additionally, I've loved Ed Brubaker and Scott Snyder's writing for years. I figured if I could write a third as well as they do, I'll be happy.
I also figured that crime drama is an accessible genre, since most people are familiar with the style as it has been depicted in television and film. If I can make a few people realize that comics are more than strongmen in spandex, that'd be great.
How do you see Mark Robles' character developing over time? Would you say that whilst he takes his work seriously, he has a sense of humour?
Paul: Robles is a guy who looks at things from a different perspective, which is why his investigation process is unusual, to say the least. He becomes more and more committed to seeing this case through, but it will become increasingly difficult. He's a bulldog. He bites into something and just doesn't let go. And ultimately, he's an outsider, coming to a very different part of the country, with a very different culture and way of doing things. That makes things tough for Robles. I would absolutely say that he has a sense of humor. He investigates killings; I think you'd have to have a sense of humor, or you'd go nuts!
Have you created any other comics or been involved with any other comic projects?
Paul: Rotten Roots is my first comic project. Currently, I'm working with a couple other individuals to put together a submission for Alterna's IF Anthology, so keep an eye on that!
I also have a small graphic novel script that I want to revise before moving forward on the project. So, I have a few things waiting to go - this is not the last you've heard of me, no matter how much you wish it was!
When do you expect to publish volume 3? Would this mean that it would be available to Kickstarter backers, who supported the project in 2014?
Paul: Renee is actually nearly finished with the coloring for issue 3, so we might actually have it out by April! Yes, Kickstarter backers would get the issue, and then it'll be made available to the public. After that, we'll be finishing up the necessary work to turn the three issues into a trade paperback, finish up our rewards, and then celebrate being done.
Do you have plans for a further Kickstarter?
Paul: Well, we only funded half of the story, so there's still three issues to go. I'd like to run another Kickstarter, but hopefully the sales we've had from our comic will bring the amount we'd need to raise down. Obviously, I very much want to finish the story!
Rotten Roots is available to purchase from the Bad Kids Press Website. You may also like to visit Paul Axel's Osprey Courier-Gazette website which features newspaper articles which directly relate to the Rotten Roots story: