Most of the time when I’m trying to dodge actually doing any real work during the day you can find me buried in any number of webcomics.
One local Philadelphian has been penning the fantastic Guilded Age every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a while now, and I had the chance to catch up with him after hearing that his book had been featured in Previews.
For those who aren’t acquainted with you and your work, who is Phil Kahn?
A guy trying to become a career weirdo. A careerdo, if you will. I’m from Silver Spring, Maryland, but I moved here to attend Temple for Film & Media Arts. After I graduated, I decided to try and make it in Philly with no real career prospects or any sort of a plan after college besides “get a job that hopefully resembles my degree in the vaguest sense.”
I did want to do both film and comics for a while, but the honest truth is that the actual process of shooting a movie is too involved for me. Too many cooks in the kitchen, too many hands on deck, too many schedules to manage and just… blagh. I liked writing and editing most of all, so I decided to say screw it and pursue comics exclusively. I’ve been doing webcomics for eight years now, and I’ve been doing good webcomics for two.
Right, Guilded Age. Bring us up to speed, what’s GA all about?
Guilded Age is the saga of the working class adventurer. Most fantasy fiction is about heroes of destiny who are chosen by something this one time by a bunch of guys to do a thing that saves everyone from some other thing. I wanted to take a hard look at what it’s like to be any other adventurer in that universe: a regular working joe with personal ambitions in addition to world-saving ones.
Arkerra is a land where war approaches and industry grows, and the area of opportunity for our sword-wielding independent contractors gets narrower. So they get on the crown’s payroll, and become the Peace-Makers of Gastonia, dishing out diplomacy and justice in equal amounts. But over time, the gang has been starting to wonder just whose side they ought to be fighting for.
We’ve got a brilliant cast of characters and have sought out to embrace the best tropes while weeding out the worst, giving our story a unique, quirky flavor that gets you wanting to know more.
Very cool. I’m sure it’s not a solo effort; tell me about the rest of the team behind Guilded Age.
I’ve been co-writing with T Campbell of Faans and Penny and Aggie since day one, and we have a pretty good system going where we’re able to tear each others’ work apart viciously and still remain great friends. Erica Henderson was our original artist, and did the illustration for our first volume.
She left us for greener pastures developing Facebook games, and she has our blessing forevermore. John Waltrip was then tapped to jump on board, and has since been owning it with his mastery of action and detail. Having a staff of three is pretty damn handy, because you can always call in the third guy to settle an argument that won’t end.
Word on the street is you’ve got a book?
The book is out and available on our website, but we just made it into Previews catalog which is kind of a big deal for us, and causing my fingernails to be devoured on a daily basis. It’s my first real break, big or small, and I’m hoping a whole bunch of people go to their local comic shop and tell them “we want Guilded Age!”
What’s that process like for a webcomic creator? How tough is it to make the jump to being published like that?
The only difficulty that comes in being a webcomic creator is not giving up. If you’re new to the scene and you’re not already God-tier talent, you’re going to have work really hard for a long time before you start to get noticed, gain an audience and make a business out of it. And we’ve been very, very lucky to have great friends and fans who help spread the word about our little yarn.
“Being published” is getting more vague in definition, because self-publishing is more viable than it’s ever been. We had our own book printed and sell it at cons and the website. Last year at our “home con,” Intervention, we were extremely fortunate for one of the staff members to approach us and say “Give me a copy of your book so I can put it in stores everywhere.”
So yeah, it’s one part luck and one part hard work. But you won’t get the good luck if you haven’t been working hard.
So, when you’re not working on Guilded Age where else can we find you?
Karaoke Tuesdays at National Mechanics, on the road for a convention, or nestled up in my fortress of solitude bashing zombies in Dead Rising 2. Sometimes you can find me in WoW on the Steamwheedle Cartel server as Fnip. Yes, we have a Guilded Age Guild, and anyone’s welcome.