Lone Star State Ltd, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland

This year’s winner of the Donegal Enterprise Awards Best Emerging Business, Peter Campbell of Lone Star State Ltd has creativity and passion in spades.

While Lone Star State publishes multi-platform graphic novels across digital media space, at the core of this business is one central facet –telling good stories. Here Peter Campbell tells Creative Edge his own story, which also lives up to his core business aim.

Who are you, where are you located and where do you work from?

My name is Peter Campbell and I am the Founder, Director and Creative Director of Lone Star State Ltd. My business, Lone Star State Ltd is a publisher of transmedia content, who specialise in creating original transmedia multi-platform graphic novels. The business produces and publishes original graphic novels in print and digital format, animated series, games and apps for viewing across all digital platforms, for delivery across the entire digital media space. The core ethos of the business is simply to tell great stories, using the entire gamut of digital platforms to do so. I – and my business – Lone Star State Ltd are based in the Co-Lab facility in the grounds of Letterkenny Institute of Technology.

Do you have employees? If so, how many work in your business?

Currently, I have a Marketing Manager who looks after all our press and industry relationships, marketing strategy and social media channels. She initially came on board as an intern, but has now carved out a niche role in the business. I am the Director and Creative Director of the business and up to this point I’ve been responsible for all the content. I have taken care of all the business development, branding, direction and overall creative strategy of the business. In a few short months I will be forming a core team, and this will be primarily made up of an Art Department, where a small central team will drive all the main visual concepts, look and style of the Lone Star Soul story. I have, what I term “built the scaffolding” and I’m now moving into the next stage of business construction. I have established the platform upon which the business will build and expand, and have hopefully future-proofed these plans firmly enough so that our flagship brand – Lone Star Soul – can grow.

What is unique about what you do?

On the face of it we would be classed a publisher of graphic novels first, and we would be what the industry at large would call an independent publisher (or indie publisher), but I don’t want that to be hanging around our neck – because it’s commercial suicide frankly, and you’ll get buffeted and flapped from one side of a choppy sea to another, before you then sink and disappear. The life-span of these entities is not fantastic, both in Ireland, the UK and in an international context. It’s a tough business, so to survive through it, we have opted to embrace and surrender completely to digital distribution of our original entertainment content. We are utilising the best of digital devices, apps along with a method called transmedia storytelling to both tell – and distribute – our story. Everything in digital consumer-based entertainment is converging and bulleting head-on towards multi-platform, tri-screen experiences. So content creators like ourselves must now dive in and take it. To do so, we create one story, we make it large in scope, and we make it long-running and multi-parted, because this kind of story lends itself so well to the transmedia storytelling method. By pioneering transmedia storytelling techniques we can deliver story elements systematically across multiple media platforms. Released in chronological instalments and daisy-chaining digital apps or “appisodes” an epic story can be told across digital comics, games and episodes of an animated series, with each appisode advancing the storyline. Through adept insertion of key plot points each medium will make a unique contribution to the overall story making that medium essential to purchase.

 

Is your location important to your creativity?

Yes. Not so much geographical location (although that is very important too), but the location of where you choose to work and operate your business on a day to day basis – and by that I mean the environment you work in. The place where you go to work, where it is situated, and even how it looks, its appearance, I believe these are crucial aspects of one’s work and occupation. If these are right, then all the rest will follow – that is, creativity and productivity. I’m a great proponent of clustering – the clustering of like-minded businesses and individuals pays off so many dividends, the benefits of which span so many areas of work, creativity, innovation and business.

What inspires you? Do you have creative role models?

I know it sounds a bit twee but – it’s the Donegal Landscape! Our beaches, our vistas, our mountains and our hills make for a great muse because the scenery and landscape is littered with gems and is just very inspirational. I could even tell you on what particular beach I stood on when I wrote certain parts of Lone Star Soul, and where I was when I had specific ideas. That sounds a bit cheesy, but, well it’s true for me. Music – particularly Soul and Funk of the late 60s and early 70s are major sources of inspiration. 1970s American cinema, comic books and graphic novels also have a huge part to play in contributing to the pot of ideas that swirl round in my head. My creative role models would have to be George Lucas and another film Director called Joseph Kosinksi. Writer-wise, well there’s quite the shooting gallery for that; it would have to be Michael Crichton, John Wagner, Alan Grant, Pat Mills, J.Michael Strascynski, Arthur C.Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, Nelson George, Mark Millar, Joseph Campbell and Simon Furman. And musicians-wise it would have James Brown, George Clinton and Chuck D!

How did you learn and acquire the skills you use to make your business successful? How do you continue to grow and learn?

Last August, I took part in (and recently completed) the New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme run by Enterprise Ireland. It was an extremely rigorous programme that challenged you to test yourself, test your business idea/proposition and test your ability to question whether you have it in you to carry off your idea and make it sustainable. Guys like me aren’t traditionally associated with entrepreneurship or business acumen courses, and they are also neither expected to go down that route, nor are they expected to be in any way good at it. But, I knew this was the only way I was going to get to: a) do what it is that I Iove to do, and b) work in an industry that I want to work in (Media/Entertainment). So, by carving out that trench myself through sheer stubborn pig-headedness, and by establishing a business, I knew I would be able to create my own opportunities and get what I wanted to do that way. It changed everything, and also accelerated it. This combined with relocating to Donegal has opened door after door, culminating in a chain of events that ranged from establishing and incorporating a business, releasing a series of my own graphic novels, launching a website which has 21 products available on it, to even winning the Best Emerging Business Award at the Donegal Enterprise Awards this year. I would say that I have grown and learned from the above mentioned clustering along with being at a close proximity to other focused, intelligent, forward thinking and generally very interesting, good people that populate where I work every day.

What is your biggest business challenge?

The main challenges do not come from the quality of the product offerings, as sales and positive testimonials have all been accrued. Channels to market are also already established, leaving the main challenge to be attaining a higher level of visibility and exposure that the brand deserves. To do so requires marketing and distribution firepower, so therefore partnering with publishers with greater such resources will be a priority. A Business Development Rep and Producer will be needed to push this area forward.

What are your plans for the future?

To take our flagship products and Lone Star Soul and make it an instantly recognisable entertainment brand that spans all mediums. We currently have just released what we call ‘Wave 1’ of Lone Star Soul products. 21 products in total, this spans graphic novels in printed format, digital comics and downloadable editions of the books. Along with app versions of the books we want to take this model now and continue to roll-out a continual range of products. By mentioning products and brands as often as I have there, it may sound all very cold and corporate, but it is I believe essential to have as wide a net as possible to snag your fish. But most important thing is not lose sight of our core ethos – and that is to tell GOOD STORIES. In this case, it just happens to be cross-medium and multi-platform stories that utilise the best of transmedia practices and techniques!

If you had to do it over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?

Considering how everything has turned out since I moved the Co-Lab – and Donegal – at this particular moment I can say with some degree of confidence that I would not have done it very differently to how I have over the last 6 to 8 months. The only thing I would change would be to do what I’ve now done, not differently – but sooner!

Peter Campbell, June 2013, Director / Creative Director / Chief Gunslinger, Lone Star State Ltd

 

To see more of Lone Star Soul or connect with  Peter see:

www.thelonestarsoul.com

www.facebook.co./lonestarstateltd

www.twitter/lonestarsoul

http://ie.linkedin.com/pub/peter-campbell/55/a68/114