Kickin’ it with Dean Trippe – Something Terrible

by Antonio Garcia

Today we have a very special feature with Dean Trippe, creator of Something Terrible, to talk about his new Kickstarter project as well as the life experiences that led him to create this book.

4cr: Welcome Dean. Would you mind introducing yourself to our readers?

Happy to. I’m Dean Trippe, now best known for a short, autobiographical comic about the only secret I’ve ever really kept, the thing I was most afraid of people finding out, that I was sexually abused as a child. Something Terrible follows my life, processing that trauma with the help of superhero comics. I’m also the creator of Butterfly, a superhero parody webcomic about a sidekick of a sidekick, the co-founder and co-editor of Project: Rooftop, the superhero redesign art blog, and co-host of The Last Cast, with my pal Scott Fogg, a pop culture review show broadcast back in time from the end of the Earth. I’ve been known mostly for posting fun illustrations of superheroes online, and for being a bit of an ambassador/zealot for both the medium of comics and the genre of superheroes.

4cr: Something Terrible is a powerful story that was first published digitally, and it has been well received both by readers and the media. Why go to Kickstarter to create a print copy of the story?

Thanks, and yeah, I didn’t really intend to make Something Terrible a physical product. It’s running as a free webcomic and you can download the whole thing now for $0.99, and I even posted a specially-assembled abridged version for Upworthy, to help get the message out about childhood sexual abuse victims NOT becoming sexual abusers themselves, despite the frequently perpetuated crime show myth about that “Cycle of Violence.” I had believed that was true for decades, constantly fearing there might be something terrible inside me that I had to guard against. Since reaching so many people around the world, I’ve heard from hundreds of other former victims who, sadly, related all too well to my story, though many hadn’t yet heard that the old myth had been thoroughly busted. But I also heard from folks who knew someone who needed to read Something Terrible, but weren’t entirely computer literate, and needed it to be in print. And so far, nearly all of my donors have been folks who have already read the comic, they just want to have it to hold. That really means a lot to me. I’m kind of excited about it now, myself. I did expect the Kickstarter to get funded, as the goal was reasonable and interest was high, but I certainly didn’t expect that to happen in under twelve hours. I’m still in shock about it, really.

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4cr: How has Something Terrible helped you to become a better person? How does it feel to have so many people come forward to tell you that your story has helped them kill some of the demons from their past?

It’s funny, I mean, I modeled my life on Batman and the other fictional heroes I grew up around, and with such a strong “secret origin” myself, I’ve had a core-deep bend towards fighting bullies and helping anyone I can my whole life, but having this darkness driving me now turned into a light that’s helping others out of the night, I feel so free to now be 100% me. I’d put down my invisible gun a few years ago, but made the story for others. Now that my secret is out, there’s no holding back. Nothing to fear. I feel armored by it. I’ve had this mission of promoting and telling stories about superheroes for so long, but now that my motivation is out in the open, I don’t feel the need to second guess my instincts or justify my work. Something Terrible is why I do this. Why I am this way. Driven by knowledge of cruelty and injustice learned too young, trained by a dozen master artists and writers to have the tools I need to make the stories I want to see in our medium, and I won’t stop until I’m dead. It is so rare in life for things to align so you know what your purpose is, that there’s a job that needs doing that only you can do. I’m honored and humbled and happy that this task fell to me.

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4cr: The campaign itself was funded within 12 hours of going live. Have you planned any stretch goals to improve the book itself or to add any other extras into the mix?

I’m pretty sure we’re going to be upgrading to hardcovers, and adding a new epilogue. I’ve had this little idea of what I’d do with a few more pages after the main story, so, if it keeps rolling like it is, I think I’ll have to. I’m really overwhelmed by the number of people vigorously supporting the print edition. I’ve got estimates for hardcover options coming from the printers, and with this being a physical option people who have already read the story simply want to have forever, I feel obligated to make it an object worth of that affection [EDIT: As this interview was set to go live, the stretch goal for the hardcovers was reached, and now every version of the book will be a hardcover!]

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4cr: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Would you like to say anything else before we end this?

I’m happy to, Antonio! Just that the message of superheroes is you are who you choose to be. Use all of your abilities to help everyone you can. And if you think you don’t know someone who was a victim of sexual violence, you are mistaken. Do the people in your life a favor and share Something Terrible on your Facebook wall. I promise you’ll be helping someone even if you don’t know it. Be my ally for this mission to rescue those still in the darkness, and you’ll have my thanks, new chums.

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