A couple of weeks ago, Michael Desing of the Michael T. Desing’s Army Ants War Effort Kickstarter dropped me a line and we started chatting via e-mail. Though I’d not heard of the comic before, the style and subject matter immediately captured my attention and I was happy to learn more. Taking a look at how a group of ants would defend their hill from outside incursions is a terrific idea and Mike’s black and white style splashed with colors really sets it off beautifully.
The Kickstarter only has a few days to go, but seems to be well on the way to beating its funding goal. But Mike was kind enough to answer a few questions for us…
I’ve been playing RPGs for 30 years, and designing them for over 20. I love tabletop RPGs and comics, and I’ve pursued both at various points. I’m also an English teacher (for last 12 years) teaching high school English, and directing plays/musicals. I’m married, and my wife and I have a 4-year-old daughter who has just learned how to draw Army Ants, and thinks she does it better than I do.
Q: What was the inspiration for Army Ants?
I was a fan of G.I. Joe growing up, and I was listening to the Stone Temple Pilots song “Army Ants” while driving the car one day (I think in 1995) – at a red light I pulled out a piece of paper and sketched the five character who would become my core team. They just appeared in my head.
Q: Which came first? The comic or the RPG?
The comic came first (by about a year), but I had started to play with mechanics for the RPG system by the time I had finished 2 or 3 issues of the comic.
Q: How did the RPG come about?
I’d tinkered with several sets of rules for a military-style game (I wrote my first one when I was 13) and this was a natural extension of that. It was the first full rule system I actually published and distributed beyond playing with a few friends. I’d played mostly D&D and D&D inspired knock-offs, so this was a departure for me from playing in fantasy realms.
Q: What’s new in version 2 of the RPG?
Everything! This is a complete overhaul of the game system from the ground up. Some of the setting and background material will be updates of what I’ve published before, but will be vastly expanded, and with a whole new game system driving it.
I hope so! It’s a true Kickstarter, because one of my goals has been to evaluate the level of interest for the game and comic to continue. At the moment, it feels like a regular web comic is probably the way to go as the next step (once I finish polishing up the pages I have) and see where that takes it. I’ve received enough positive feedback to merit continuing on, for sure.
Q: How can people get involved in the Army Ants experience?
The Kickstarter will be the only way to get some Army Ants stuff for the next bit. To be fair to the backers who are supporting me, I won’t be releasing the RPG or comic outside of the Kickstarter backer community until October. I have a target for August to ship the backer packages, but I am going to work diligently to get things wrapped up before then.
Q: If there’s one question you’d love to answer but weren’t asked, what would it and its answer be?
Nope! I truly appreciate this opportunity to spread the word about my project. I know that I’m working on a niche project that is either going to capture people’s imaginations, or that they won’t know what to do with. The game and comic are much more expansive than the initial idea might seem, and I really hope that people give it a try. There’s nothing quite like it in the marketplace right now, and I believe it has the potential to be something special.
A huge thank you goes out to Mike for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish him all the best with the Kickstarter. There’s still time to pledge to the project, so be sure to drop in and check it out!
Also, if you want to check out the playtest edition of the RPG, Mike has uploaded that to RPGNow here.