We are always looking for new ways to present stories to the world that will be engaging and exciting for readers. This was one of Maso Rich‘s driving factors in his creation of the adventure novel Cursed Swords Logbook. This isn’t just your everyday pirate fantasy novel. It is an interactive experience that tells the story through a graphic novel built in a way that feels like a personal diary. We got the chance to chat with him regarding his company Bubba Dutch, the production of Cursed Swords Logbook and future projects.
Interview with Maso Rich
Julia Roth: It’s great to have this opportunity to talk. Why don’t you kick things off with a brief background of your company Bubba Dutch and how did it start.
Maso Rich: My brother and I have always been ones to create stuff ever since we did Lego animation videos back when we were seven years old. Even before that, we had imaginations so much so that we called ourselves Bubba and Dutch. He was Bubba and I was Dutch and all we would do is put buckets on our heads on the way to the beach with our family. And as soon as we put the buckets on our head we were like, ‘alright your Bubba and I’m Dutch.’
To me, it was always like the origin of my imagination as these characters we made up for no reason. I started the company with my brother just so we could do some random things. As time went on we started doing real-world work and not art stuff. Eventually, I started writing this book and so I finally released it and decide it would be easier to release under Bubba Dutch since it was all set up.
JR: It’s great that Bubba Dutch is routed in your family. You’ve had a large imagination for such a long time, what was it like taking that and putting it towards a project?
MR: My brother and I taught ourselves how to animate and would make short little videos and I’ve always written scripts. Back then I knew I wanted to create a project I could release and control on my own. I run another company and it was taking off really well so I took my funds and put them into this project and that’s how I built out my team. I loved the idea of doing something know I would release it no matter what and no one could stop me. It made me feel amazing.
JR: I got the chance to read through the Cursed Swords Logbook and it is fantastic. But it more than just a story, it is this interactive experience. Why was creating more than just a book important to you?
MR: I was thinking that there is so much screen time. I thought to myself, ‘How do you draw people away from their phones? How do you get a teenager to put down his phone and read an actual book?’ We are reaching a point where I can imagine the Millenials who are older who have kids who are reaching a level of maturity and wondering how they can get their kids off the phone.
I decided to make a project that has an enticing reason to be off of your phone. This is how I came up with the idea to make it into a physical journal so it can feel like you just picked up a pirate captain’s journal that just washed up onshore. That’s the feeling I wanted. For those who are into the genre, they might get a kick out of it. It was worth a try and I wanted to do something unique that people really haven’t tried.
JR: Was Cursed Swords Logbook a story you already had? Or was it something you crafted after deciding how you wanted to present the book?
MR: I had originally started writing a novel version of this book. But, I had ended up stopping to do other work. I eventually stopped working on the novel and knew I preferred to write in a screenplay format and thought about how I could combine the two. This led me to the graphic novel route. I was able to balance my work life and the writing life of this book because of my work with my illustrator. I was able to fit in writing alongside when he would be able to get the art pieces to me.
JR: Speaking of your team, how did you build that? Did you seek people out who you already knew or were there people who reached out to you?
MR: I had started another graphic novel called Zyro G which I am working on still but unfortunately had to lay off the artist during early COVID. I realized that I could work on both at the same time and put a post on Deviant Art for a talented full-time artist to help with the Cursed Swords Logbook. In return I got a lot of submissions and I really liked Denzelberg. I got to know him a little bit and eventually, he joined my team. He is in the Philippines so we work at night and then again in the morning so it has been an interesting dynamic.
JR: That’s quite a time change! Now the Zyro G, will that be a space story with similar themes to Cursed Swords Logbook?
MR: It’s not similar at all. The only thing similar is that they will be eventually growing their own crews to go on specific missions but that is where they stop. Where Rhodes (Cursed Swords Logbook) is trying to bring peace and equality to an area where magic exists. The other is trying to avenge his father in a world where the question becomes how can you keep peace across an entire galaxy. It looks at the idea of not just keeping peace in one small planet but over people spread out across an entire galaxy.
JR: Is Zyro G going to be an interactive experience?
MR: I’m still working on how to bring this one to life. This story is set in the future where everything is moving digitally. I have been checking out other graphic novels that are using animated panels and stuff like that. It would be interesting seeing parts of the story in a digital format. If the publishing of Cursed Swords Logbook works well and we see an interest in these types of stories then I may want to stick to the goal of getting people off their screens. My goal, in the end, is to have fun with this since it is my hobby.
JR: That makes total sense! How long have you been working on the projects?
MR: I started the graphic novel in 2018 and it has taken a total of three years to get it to where it is today.
JR: What is production like? As you said, this isn’t just a novel but something that people can interact with to pull them away from their screens. Did you learn how to bind books on your own or are you outsourcing that part?
MR: I am outsourcing. I found someone who made old fashion leather journals and I reached out knowing they don’t typically print in their journals, but I shared my ideas to see if it could work. They shared with me what was and wasn’t possible and we tested the ones we thought would work through a process of elimination. They then went and found a printer in their country who could print on old cotton paper.
There was a couple of hurdles to handle and then eventually we were able to find a nice balance of what works and I adjusted the book and added stuff. I decided after that I would self-published because I knew it would be a leap of faith for someone to take something like this that was so irregular.
JR: It’s fantastic that you were able to work through this and create something that feels like it was pulled from the time period. We talked about the production, but we haven’t talked about the book itself. Can you give us a brief description of Cursed Swords Logbook?
MR: The story follows a young captain who has to escape the southernmost island in this chain of islands. Essentially they have been locked away there by the government and no one is allowed to leave there. They do not want to submit to this life stuck on the island so they become pirates for a better chance at life. Once they get off the island they realize they have been fed all of this propaganda and they start to learn about the world around them and get stronger.
JR: The way Cursed Swords Logbook is set up, it creates this great environment for parents to sit down with their kids and share in this moment together. Especially, as you said, we have come to a time where kids are constantly drawn to their screens and this gives them a chance to really have a great experience. I know things have been pushed back due to COVID, but what are your plans for the next couple of months? When will people be able to get their hands on this?
MR: I shipped my first 50 and have another 50 coming in this week and I have already sold 40 of them. I am hoping to have 1,000 more copies available for the holidays. That would be it for the leather copies since they are a limited edition. After that, I will be switching to a cardboard print to help save on overall costs.
JR: Sounds good! And where can people buy these?
MR: On the website. Just click on the shop page and it will have links to check out what the book is more about and you can see pictures of what you are ordering. You can also preorder the cardboard cover which I expect to be ready in early 2022.
JR: Awesome! Thanks for chatting with us and good luck! We can’t wait to see what else you guys have in store!
MR: Great! Thanks for chatting!
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