Getting folks to fall in love is hardly a one-person job… which is why two-person hit teams seem more of a better fit to get people together. That’s the conceit of the webcomic Cupid’s Arrows from creator Thom Zahler, who has created in Cupid’s Arrows such a fun, engaging yarn that pulls from everything from his own imagination to comic book influences to older Thin Man films.
And now fans and new readers alike have the opportunity to get their hands on a physical copy of Cupid’s Arrows thanks to a Kickstarter for Volume 1, running right now! Mr. Zahler spoke with us recently about the Cupid’s Arrows Volume 1 Kickstarter, the conceit of the series, his work beyond Cupid’s Arrows, and what phenomenal rewards backers of the campaign can expect to get their hands on.
FreakSugar: Before we get into the Kickstarter itself, for folks who aren’t familiar with the series, what’s the conceit behind Cupid’s Arrows?
Thomas Zahler: Cupid’s Arrows is about two-person hit man teams of Cupids whose job it is to get couples together. They have a couple of powers (the ability to turn invisible and to “enter the narrative” and essentially go undercover), but mostly, they survive and succeed completely on their wits and sensitivity.
FS: The series blends so many elements from various genres. What is the inspiration behind Cupid’s Arrows?
TZ: Cupid’s Arrows borrows from a bunch of things I adore that either don’t get enough credit or never got enough time. So I loved the Jeremy Piven show Cupid, where he may or may not have been Cupid, sent earthward, and had to get one hundred couples together. It may have gone thirteen episodes (and then brought back as a short reboot in the early 2000’s) but that original was so amazing. And I love the old Thin Man movies where Nick and Nora Charles, charmed and flirted and bantered their way through five movies of mysteries.
And I’m known for romance-based stories. So I through that all in my mental blender and put together a story about a couple with sparkling-dialogue and romantic tension, whose job it is to make true love happen.
FS: You have such a broad and wide-ranging cast in Cupid’s Arrows. What can you tell us about the characters that populate the series’ world?
TZ: In volume one, Lora is a bit of a world-weary expert and Rick is more the starry-eyed newbie. “New” being a relative term, given that they’re immortal. So they’ve been together as partners for one hundred years.
Past that, their targets give me an opportunity to showcase all sorts of people and points-of-view and backgrounds. So we start with a former college football player and the super-smart college student he’s in love with. We see a very Jason Momma-inspired actor who gets involved with his fan. There are a couple of actors whose chemistry is about to spill out into the real world, and a jilted girlfriend at a wedding with her ex.
I try really hard to keep the characters diverse and varied. It’s rarely the point of the story, but it’s definitely part of the flavor. So in season one, we’ve got Pacific Islanders and same-sex couples and deaf people and so on. It’s a big world, and I want to show all the people in it.
FS: On to the Kickstarter, what can you tell us about the campaign for Volume 1?
TZ: I can tell you it’s awesome! We hit our funding goal in 70 minutes, which is completely insane to me. I’m very lucky to have some amazing fans. Now we’re just knocking down stretch goal over stretch goal. We’re making leather journals that look like our heroes’ pocket Book of Love books! That’s awesome! And there are lots of original art layers and some very personalized experiences, too.
We had one reward level (taken, already) where I’m adding a chapter to the book where the Cupids will be involved with getting a real-life couple together. So the pledger will have them and their significant other drawn into the book as we see Rick and Lora get THEM together.
FS: What was the process like for preparing the printed volume from the digital series format?
TZ: It’s been a bit of a challenge, but it’s fun.
When I did my first Webtoon series, Warning Label, I built it on a 2×3 grid, and as such, it was easy to put those pages into a comic format. When I did Cupid’s Arrows, I was more comfortable with the Webtoon infinite-vertical-scroll format and started doing a lot more to experiment and take advantage of that.
Because of that scroll, you lose those long vertical vistas. I’ve now got the opportunity to work some of those back in. I’m trying to turn them into cohesive pages, extending some of the art, and relying on the word balloons to really move the eye around the page.
FS: What kind of rewards can backers of Cupid’s Arrows Volume 1 expect?
TZ: I’ve mentioned some, but here are some of my favorites:
- You can be in the story as a couple the Cupids get together. That reward got snapped up right away, but we miiiiiiiight be adding another one before the end of the campaign.
- We’re making the Book of Love as a journal. I’m a big journal guy, so I can’t wait to see those.
- We’re doing pins, including the Cupid’s Arrows logo that the Cupids have on their armband.
- Optional hardcover versions of the trade!
- Lots of exclusive art and prints, too!
FS: Shifting gears a little, what can you tell us about Warning Label?
TZ: So, Warning Label is about a girl who’s cursed by her ex-boyfriend that every guy who asks her out gets the warning label of what they need to watch out for. Most guys run away when this happens, and even the ones who stick around don’t stay for very long. But then she meets Jeff and he’s got some staying power.
What they find out is that the list can be changed as she addresses each item. And he winds up writing a list of his own for her. And together they start becoming better people.
FS: Back to Cupid’s Arrows, the series is just a lot of fun. What are some of your influences, not just for Cupid’s Arrows, but all of your work?
TZ: Man, all sorts of things and people.
Artistically, off the top of my head, I’d have to say: Curt Swan, the iconic Superman artist. You can’t read a lot of Superman and not become a fan. His stuff is straightforward, especially be today’s standard, but he was an amazing draftsman who never made a drawing mistake.
Kurt Schaffenberger was the artist of Superman and Captain Marvel (don’t call him Shazam). He had a sense of whisky to his work that was amazing, and that man had an utterly pristine ink line. He inked Don Newton on the 70s Shazam comic and it’s just gorgeous.
Darwyn Cooke was a friend and an inspiration. He had a high-energy, cartoony style that is always amazing, and he showed how that could work for anything. You wouldn’t think that cartoony would work for noir stories, but he did that on Parker and Selina’s Big Score. And I make sure to keep The New Frontier in my studio for easy inspiration.
Writing-wise, Tony Isabella and Bob Ingersoll were early mentors, both Cleveland natives like me. They taught me to do the research, keep the stories accessible, remember every issue is someone’s first. I couldn’t have started without them.
I was a big fan of The West Wing and SportsNight and other Aaron Sorkin projects. He is kind of like the filmed version of Stan Lee’s dialogue. Nobody talks like that, but they talk the way we wish we could talk. It’s his lyrical dialogue and its cadence that helped me define my dialogue.
I loved Chris Claremont’s X-Men, Mark Waid’s Flash, David Greenwalt’s TV show Profit, lots of the Joss Whedon stuff, and anything by J.M DeMatteis. I like having a sense of fun in my stories, no matter how dark or serious they might become.
FS: Do you have any other projects do you have in the pipeline you want to talk about?
TZ: I’m still writing My Little Pony for IDW. New issues coming out soon! I’m getting to write about Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich, and being a Weird Al fan (who does the voice of Cheese), that’s just a thrill.
Also, my first really major series, Love and Capes, came back late last year and IDW is collecting the trade. Love and Capes is my superhero romantic comedy, and it’s the series where I got the most notice and really made an impact. Love and Capes: The Family Way will be coming out from IDW next month. It picks up five years after the last issue, where Mark and Abby have had their first child. Now they have two kids, a boy and a girl, and lots of things have changed and lots have stayed the same.
I was never “done” with the series, but I wasn’t sure how to continue it and I didn’t want to just do a series to do it. Then Greg Weisman, of Young Justice fame, gave me an idea and I ran from there.
FS: What would you tell folks who are considering donating to Cupid’s Arrows campaign but haven’t yet?
TZ: I would tell them GO NOW AND DO IT! EVERY TIME YOU DONATE AN ANGEL GETS THEIR WINGS!
Cupid’s Arrows is a fun series and I’m really proud of my work on it. I think you’ll like it. If you just like good stories, and either don’t like reading webcomics, or want a permanent copy to read after the internet goes down in the last quarter of the spectacularly horrible 2020, it’s totally worth checking out.
And also, if you’ve ever been a fan of mine, it’s a nice way to support me and keep me making new things… and to get some cool original, personalized art or other bits of coolness I wouldn’t be able to do on my own.
The Kickstarter campaign for Cupid’s Arrows Volume 1 is already fully funded, but it still has over four days, so you still have time to contribute for a whole host of fantabulous backer rewards. Click here for the whole shebang’s worth of info!