Welcome back friends and readers to Indie Comics Showcase! We have some truly wonderful indie comics & creators for you to get to know this week. Once again I feel very blessed to be able to get to know these wonderful and just incredibly talented creators. I’m also very grateful to be able to share them and their projects with all of you.
The Gathering Place
An anthology biography series profiling artists from Toronto
The premiere issue of The Gathering Place will contain four chapters, each chapter will capture a moment within an artist’s life that celebrates significant achievements, illustrates important turning points and allows us to develop a greater appreciation for these artists. As the series progresses, each biography will reveal unfamiliar stories about well established artists, and showcase artists who truly deserve a greater moment in the spotlight. Each issue of The Gathering Place will contain twenty 6.75” x 10.25” full-colour pages of story – each chapter being five pages in length. The illustrations in each chapter have been created in a distinctive style, and have been either watercolor painted or digitally coloured. All to give each story a specific voice to match the mood and themes of those stories.
I spoke with the creator, Nelson Caetano recently, to discuss the project:
John: Nelson thank you for being on and welcome to Indie Comics Showcase. I really want to learn more about The Gathering Place, but before we get into it, tell me about your background.
Nelson: Thank you for having me on the Indie Comics Showcase, it truly is a pleasure. This has been a strangely familiar journey for me as I re-enter the indie comics scene after a twenty year absence. I’ve been teaching visual arts, illustration, and animation at the high school level for the past 16 years in Toronto, where I live with my wife and two sons. Prior to my career in education, I worked in the fields of magazine/print publications, and digital animation. I’ve also worked as a mural painter and an art restorer. But my decades old fascination and passion for comics, which started with the hand-me-down comics (Jonah Hex and Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu) from my older cousin, had been nagging me – in a good way – to come back to creating comics and telling stories. I’ve always been mesmerized by the storytelling possibilities of combining visual images with words.
John: Welcome back to this world! Now then, what can you tell us about The Gathering Place?
Nelson: The plan for The Gathering Place is to produce a series of short biographies on Toronto area artists, illustrators, and storytellers. Each issue would contain four short biographies, each on a different artist. The short stories themselves would focus on a significant moment within the artist’s life that could encapsulate who this artist was as a person, and possibly inspire readers to further explore these artists. The title The Gathering Place comes from one possible translation of an indigenous word that evolved into the name Toronto, hence the focus on Toronto area artists. The inspiration for this series came from my years of teaching, and researching artists not found in Visual Arts textbooks to allow me to offer a deeper education for my students. Also, statistics here in Canada show that the vast majority of Canadians are unable to name a Canadian artist. This book is my way of educating and entertaining with some rather unique stories.
John: How did you select all of the different creators who are a part of The Gathering Place?
Nelson: In selecting artists for each of the biographies, I tried my best to combine names of more notable artists with artists who possibly only a handful of Canadians will know. So, biographies will include Canada’s most internationally successful artist, Tom Thomson, to little known painter, Thomas Browne Jr., a third generation painter who’s family is responsible for painting over 450 murals across Canada.
When illustrating The Gathering Place I chose alter my drawing style for each of the biographies to better reflect the tone of each story. This should also allow for clear separation of each story, and give the reader a unique perspective on each artist.
John: Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
Nelson: As you can imagine, much of my time is spent on research. Some basic information is readily available on the internet – which is the least exciting part of the research process. I’ve taken advantage of the Toronto Reference Library which has an impressive collection of out-of-print books, newspaper art-critics reviews, art gallery programs, as well as art prints and photographs for visual reference. And, I also enjoy visiting locations throughout the city to find the studio spaces and old hangouts of these artists. During this process a story, or moment will stand out in this artist’s life that will allow me to dramatize and script a story. Developing, or selecting a style to adopt for each biography is crucial, for me anyways, to get across certain emotions that are best communicated visually. As a result I may either use watercolour to paint each panel, or choose to colour each page digitally.
John: What are your hopes for The Gathering Place and 2019
Nelson: I’m hoping there is a market for historical biographies, and that I’m able to share these stories. With libraries becoming more open to graphic novels and comics on their shelves, I hope that The Gathering Place can find a way onto school and public library shelves. I’m hoping that The Gathering Place can become an educational resource.
John: Is there anything else you would like to share with us before we sign off?
Nelson: We are still early in our Kickstarter campaign, and are looking for continued support for our printing and distribution costs for The Gathering Place. You can search for The Gathering Place on the Kickstarter site and app, or click on the following link: here.
I’ve recently been selected to table at the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival on May 18-19th of this year. This will coincide with the release of The Gathering Place. From there, I plan to attend Fan Expo in Toronto from August 22-25, 2019. I hope to attend other conventions and festivals across Canada to promote the first issue, with plans to attend conventions in the U.S. once the book is released in the United States – I’ve learned so much from American artists and illustrators that it would be a thrill for me to share this stories in the States.
John: Once again thank you for your time and we would like to wish you the best of luck on your campaign.
Nelson: Thank you for the opportunity to reach out to comic book readers everywhere, especially supporters of independent creators. Again, it truly was a pleasure to speak with you.
Please Visit The Campaign Site Here & Show Your Support.
The Low City
Walter Nealing and Ariana Orner
The Low City comic follows a detective and her naive intern investigating a new narcotic in their city.
Free Preview Available Here.
The Low City is a fantasy, buddy cop, action-adventure that follows D.C., a veteran of the Patrol, and Kail, her naive intern, as they investigate the source of a mysterious new narcotic appearing in their city. The Low City is written by Walter ‘Neal’ Nealing and illustrated by Ariana Orner. After producing the pilot issue of the comic, they launched this Kickstarter to finish the rest of story. The full graphic novel will be 100 pages.
I recently spoke to the creators, Walter and Ariana, about the graphic novel.
John: Walter, Ariana, hey thank you being a part of and welcome to Indie Comics Showcase. Today we will be discussing your Indie Comic, The Low City – A Fantasy, Buddy Cop Graphic Novel, which is currently being crowdfunded via Kickstarter. But before we get into it, can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Walter: Sure! I’m a writer and producer who’s been writing for close to 10 years across formats and for a variety of different audiences. Most of my work has been in the tabletop sphere, but the pilot issue for The Low City, live on lowcitycomic.com, is my first stab into the comics sphere, and it’s been a ton of fun.
Ariana: And I’m a freelance illustrator! I’ve been creating illustrations, concept art, and other types of visual development for over 10 years, but this has been my first formal foray into comics. Thank you for having us on the Indie Comics Showcase!
John: Walter, I did read through the teaser and I have to say, the premise is pretty unique as is the location. What inspired you to write a Detective Fiction story in its current period and setting?
Walter: I’m glad you liked it! Honestly, this one came straight from my personal taste in comics. I love stories like this, and I wanted to write something that, at the end of the day, I would enjoy reading. Setting up an anachronistic mixture of setting details was just fun and doing it with my favorite kind of narrative was an absolute treat.
John: Ariana, you have a really unique and beautiful art style, it truly is a great fit for this story. Can you tell us a bit about how you developed the look of the characters & the set pieces?
Ariana: Thank you! First Walter had me do some concepts for the characters he had in mind, and we discussed the look and feel of the world. Once we had those figured out, we were free to start roughing out the comic. It was definitely a collaborative effort—Walter and I worked closely together to figure out a style for the story before actual work on the comic even began.
John: What else can you tell us about The Low City?
Walter: Well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that our pilot issue is live right now on lowcitycomic.com—go check it out! In the pilot issue, we set up both our characters and the world, and the full graphic novel will take full advantage of that. Now that the first 30 pages have introduced the world, I’m excited to use the remaining 70 to pay it off.
The story itself is a fantasy, buddy cop, action-adventure that follows D.C., a veteran of the Patrol, and Kail, her naive intern, as they investigate the source of a mysterious new narcotic appearing in their city. They end up being each other’s biggest obstacle in some ways, but are definitely stronger together.
Ariana: Like Walter, I’m thrilled to share the rest of the story—this first issue sets up a great arc, and I’m as excited to draw it as I am to read it! We’ll get to find out just how much hot water D.C. and Kail, our two main characters, get into, and the repercussions that has on the rest of the city and its citizens.
John: What have some of your influences been over the years and how have they affected your work?
Walter: I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid, with both comics and novels, and the works I enjoy definitely shape the things I try to create. In earlier years, I focused on the classics, but now I’m just as likely to find inspiration in the pages of comics like The Injection or Monstress as I would a dusty tome from my grandmother’s literature shelf.
Ariana: Oh man, too many to count. To keep it short, I grew up watching 4Kids and Toonami, as well as reading all the shounen manga I could get my hands on, so anime has really influenced my work. I was exposed to Japanese-style art long before I really started getting into Western comics, and I think that comes through in my style, though it’s definitely changed over the years.
John: Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
Walter: I’ve always had an overactive imagination, so it’s usually just a matter of letting that come through to give me ideas. If I can do that and pull together the major points of a story, then the rest is just a matter of thinking through what shows that best. My ‘true north’ is that narrative elements should always serve the plot, so being able to filter everything through that lens helps a lot in terms of really defining what actually hits the final story.
For the art portion of it, I count myself very lucky to have a partner as capable as Ariana. Her expertise speaks for itself, and she helped define our process to help keep production moving once I had the story in place—I’ll let her speak to that.
Ariana: I wouldn’t be half as capable without Walter’s guidance; his input was invaluable. For the process itself, first I’d do a few quick and dirty sketches, which we call “roughs”, in order to communicate panel layout. Then Walter would review them and offer his insight, and I would go into sketches with those changes in mind. Then came the inks, then the colors. For each step, we’d go back and forth in order make sure everything looked okay before moving on to the next stage—it was a very collaborative creative process.
John: What are you hopes for The Low City and for 2019?
Walter: For The Low City, I really hope we get to share the rest of the story. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the pilot issue, and it’s not even to my favorite part of the narrative yet! Beyond that, I hope 2019 brings even more amazing art and comics into the world; I’m always craving more.
Ariana: Agreed. Hopefully we get funded and are able to finish the entire graphic novel! We’ve got just over 30 pages done, with another 70 to go. Being fully funded and finishing this would be amazing. If we can put the whole thing out there for people to read and enjoy, I’d be really happy.
John: Is there anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?
Walter: We’re really proud of the work we did so far and are excited to do more. Please go check out the pilot issue; whether you can back us or not, we would absolutely love to know what you think. And if you can support us by backing or sharing our project, we would be extremely grateful.
Ariana: Thank you for checking us out! Like Walter mentioned before, you can read the pilot issue for free at lowcitycomic.com, and, of course, we have a Kickstarter running in order to fund the rest of the graphic novel. Please consider backing us!
John: Walter, Ariana once again, thank you both for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. We wish you the best of luck on your campaign.
Walter: John, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having us on.
Ariana: Thank you, John!
47 Furious Tails
Sam Quinton, Sinopa Publishing
A Comic book story of the 47 Ronin / Samurai, Furious action inspired by real life events! Japan and intrigue come alive in issue #1
Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.
47 Furious Tails is planned as a 12 issue limited series which tells the story of the 47 Ronin Ako incident in a new and exciting way. In this version, all of the participants of that historic event are depicted as members of the animal kingdom. Join creator Sam Quinton as he tells the tale of this Samurai legend from Japan’s rich history. Their KickStarter campaign has been established to fund the printing, shipping and remaining art costs of the first issue wherein Asano Naganori, lord of Ako, is preparing for his fateful trip to Edo.
Sam has delved into the legends and literary accounts of the Ako incident, taking some artistic license to fill in the blanks and to make the characters into anthropomorphic animals. As the series progresses, Sam plans to help the readers become acquainted with the principle actors from this legendary event, the men and women involved, and learn why the story of the Ako incident has persisted for over 300 years!
I spoke with Sam recently about 47 Furious Tails:
John: Sam, Hey. Thank you for being a part of and welcome to Indie Comics Showcase. Today we will be discussing your Indie Comic 47 Furious Tails, an Indie Comics about The 47 Ronin. But first can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sam: Thank you. I founded Sinopa Publishing in 2017 in order to publish comic books, table top role-playing games and children’s books. I’ve been an avid comic book fan since early childhood and a role-playing enthusiast since being introduced to the hobby in college. I’m excited to bring my first comic, 47 Furious Tails, to the world.
John: If I may ask, how did 47 Furious Tails come to be, with its absolutely wonderful use of almost anthropomorphic furry critters depicting the 47 Ronin?
Sam: Oh, this is a fun story. In 2017 I was working on a scheduling a few titles I wanted to develop, basically planning for art contributors and planning the calendar to get projects to KickStarter for funding. I had experienced a bit of inspiration and had several ideas I wanted to pursue, and 47 Furious Tails was one of them. I posted a list of the projects I was considering and asked the artists I commission if any of them were interested in particular projects. Alexia Veldhuisen immediately laid claim to 47 Furious Tails, and we’ve been working on its development since. We rushed into a crowdfunding effort in late 2017, which was unwise of me, as we were basically just too excited about the project. From that first failure I learned to pace my schedule better. Through 2018 I used extra revenue from other projects to fund work on 47 Furious Tails and as a result we have the current campaign with a much lower funding goal that is well within in our reach.
The use of anthropomorphic animals was from the original concept, though at first the ronin were all planned to be squirrel forms. Alexia called my attention to the difficulties that would make in discerning between characters and the concept was revised to include several different animal forms. It is, in a sense, much like how super hero comics use different costumes to make each hero character readily identifiable. Using different animals makes them easier to distinguish.
John: The art style really takes me back to that of Stan Sakai who, is known best for creating the character Usagi Yojimbo. 47 Furious Tales even reminds me of the work of author Richard Adams and Illustrator Aldo Galli who worked together on the original Watership Down. Did they have any kind of influence on you while working on this project?
Sam: I really love Usagi Yojimbo, but the art stylings I left to Alexia. For me, as a writer, I want to convey to the artist the story, describe the scenes, and provide the narrative and dialogue elements. Alexia chose to use a fusion of traditional art styles to give the pages a unique and authentic look that harkened back to early art styles as well as paying homage to Edo period aesthetics.
Alexia had freedom to explore the art in her own way and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Alexia took a lot from the traditional Japanese inking style, called ‘Sumi’. She wanted to convey the feeling of an art piece from feudal Japan while at the same time channeling an iconic anthropomorphic Beatrix Potter look.
John: What else can you tell us about 47 Furious Tales? Can you tell us where the story has been in issue one and how it leads into issue two?
Sam: Issue one introduces the reader to the world of the late Edo period and the normal lives of these characters before the events that would give rise to their legend. This first issue establishes the roles and relationships of the samurai to Asano, the Daimyo of Ako and references his coming journey to Edo. We get an introduction to the corrupt official Kira and his vices, as well as an introduction into difficulties that are confronting Asano’s territory. The story moves naturally into issue two, continuing the chronology and bringing us deeper insights into key characters even as Asano moves ever closer to his fate.
John: Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
Sam: My processes are a bit different depending on the project type. By way of example, for my role-playing game source book “The Steel Road” which is a weapon source book, I did a considerable amount of reading / research into weapons I wasn’t already familiar with. For “Whispers of Persephone” I read up on old occult practices and heresies, while for my adventure modules I free wrote my story then adapted it to game mechanic interactions.
With 47 Furious Tails I realized I needed a different approach. Writing comics requires you to communicate clearly with your artists, allowing for much of your story to be conveyed through the sequential art medium. I found myself over-writing the scenes at first, so I stepped back and removed my extraneous material so that the comic would be presented more like a play than a novel.
John: What have some of your other influences been over the years and how have they affected your work?
Sam: I’ve drawn inspiration from a lot of sources: Greek and Roman mythology, history, life experiences, folk tales, comics, cinema and theater. I have a love of samurai stories ever since I was young from watching films by Akira Kurosawa. Neil Gaiman, Charles Stross, Jim Butcher, E.C. Tubb, Sun Tzu, Miyamoto Musashi, Shakespeare, Russell Zimmerman, Micah McGurk and Stephen Kenson are among my favorite authors.
When I write I always find myself working to polish my stories and I think it is because I want to produce work as fine as those created by the authors whose work I admire. I continue to hone my craft as I create new titles.
John: What are you hopes for 47 Furious Tails and for 2019?
Sam: For 47 Furious Tails my first goal is to complete all twelve issues. This is dependent on funding, so the support of backers at KickStarter is incredibly important. Once the series is complete, I’ll have it bound as one book and Iintend to send a copy to the temple complex where Asano Naganori and his 47 ronin are interred. For 2019, I’m developing three role playing game titles as well as another comic book title,this one for small children aged 4 to 5 years. The children’s comic will be crowdfunded to pay the art and print costs.
John: Is there anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?
Sam: Yes, thank you. Crowdfunding platforms like KickStarter and Indiegogo provide an opportunity for creators to bring new and exciting things to the world. Look and I’m sure you’ll find something that interests you. If you pledge your support to those projects, you make a real difference in the life of the creator and those people working with them. If you cannot financially support a campaign, you can help a great deal by sharing the links to the campaign on social media, telling other people about the campaign or writing about it. If a campaign interests you, spreading the word about it can help make the project a reality. You really can make a great deal of difference in people’s lives that way.
John: Sam, once again, thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. We wish you the best of luck on your campaign.
Sam: Thank you so much for having me. I hope you’ll check out the KickStarter campaign for 47 Furious Tails, Issue one and help Alexia and I bring this beautiful comic to the world.
Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.
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