You may have heard of crowd-funded comics, but have you ever heard of a crowd-plotted comic? Bar Dog is a new comic by Carol Holsinger, detailing the adventures of a scruffy dog living in a dive bar. And you get to decide what happens. At the end of each story, readers can vote on selected endings to determine where Bar Dog goes next.
AP2HYC: What was your inspiration behind Bar Dog?
Holsinger: I spent a few years after college bartending on the side—in places ranging from a rather divey nightclub to a neighborhood bar. Bar Dog was also inspired by my own dog and by an old jaded dog I saw hanging out at a bar in Berlin, just lying in an old leather armchair and watching the passing parade like he owned the place.
AP2HYC: How would you briefly summarize the plot?
Holsinger: Bar Dog follows the antics and adventures of a dog who lives in a bar. I’m calling the story “a crowd-plotted comic” because the “plot” will be somewhat freeform since people can vote on what happens next, so the story won’t follow a traditional character arc. There will be some rules, however. For example, animals can only have conversations with other animals, and humans can only have conversations with other humans.
AP2HYC: Readers will actually be able to vote on what happens next. How do you see this changing the reader’s experience?
Holsinger: I think this will be a very different and fun way for readers to be involved in the creation of an ongoing story. I’m hoping that people will look forward to new episodes to see how the storyline they choose plays out in the next episode. There will also be some competition involved, because the person whose storyline is chosen by the crowd will receive a page of original art from the episode based on their suggestion.
AP2HYC: Also, as a creator, how do you feel about giving the audience such a collaborative role in your project?
Holsinger: I think it will be highly entertaining. I’m curious to see what kind of suggestions people come up with, and I’m sure there will be a wide range, from silly to serious to random and surprising. I’m not sure audience participation could work with any story, but a story about a dog who lives in a bar can go anywhere.
AP2HYC: How surreal or crazy can readers get with their creations? For instance, can Bar Dog encounter space alien craft beer hipsters?
Holsinger: I’d really enjoy drawing space alien craft beer hipsters! In the Kickstarter-exclusive comic book, Bar Dog will be transported to a cat-ruled parallel universe when he eats an old pickle that turns out to be a teleportation device. That was one of the sample suggestions I included in the graphic explaining how Bar Dog works, so I decided to use it in the comic book. So, yes, suggestions can get surreal or crazy, but probably not all the time. And suggestions will have to logically follow the existing storyline.
AP2HYC: Were you inspired by any other indie comics?
Holsinger: There are so many people whose work I love and find inspiring—Daniel Clowes, Art Spiegelman, Lynda Barry, Farel Dalrymple, Molly Crabapple. My favorite thing I’ve read recently was Glenn Head’s Chicago, which is a wild, funny, no-holds-barred memoir with amazing art. I’m also inspired by fine art, children’s books, and film.
AP2HYC: Bar Dog’s art features green as the primary (and often only) color. What made you chose green?
Holsinger: When I first drew Bar Dog, I was doing lots of drawings with green colored pencils and black ink. I liked the look of it because it’s kind of weird and evokes the nighttime light of a bar. But I’m not married to green and I could see the series changing color after a while or going full color.
AP2HYC: How often do you plan on creating new comics?
Holsinger: Once the website is up and running, I’m aiming for every two weeks. There will also be the story suggestions submission phase (alliteration not intended) and the voting phase. The timing allotted to both of those phases will depend on how many people participate. Once the series goes on for a while, I’d also love to invite other artists to create episodes.
AP2HYC: What kind of rewards will contributors to your Kickstarter receive?
Holsinger: Rewards range from comic books to t-shirts to original art, and you can even get a portrait of yourself and your dog drawn in the style of Bar Dog.
AP2HYC: Finally, in the spirit of Bar Dog, what’s your favorite bar and your favorite dog?
Holsinger: I don’t know if I ever had a favorite bar. When I lived in Brooklyn, I used to go to a dog-friendly bar called Brooklyn Ale House, and I drew some of my very first sketches of Bar Dog there. I also used to really like the Grange Hall in the West Village. NYC has changed so much, so both of those places are gone now.
My favorite dog is my own dog, Asta. I also had a great dog when I was a kid. His name was Willy. I’m hoping the two of them will hang out together in dog heaven.
Bar Dog’s Kickstarter is over halfway to its goal. Help support Bar Dog, and create a comic that you can leave your mark on.
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