Indie Comics Showcase #49

 

Hello friends and readers, welcome back to Indie Comics Showcase. The weekly blog where we try and bring you our pics of the top Indie Comics from across the web, as well as interviews with their creators. We have some truly outstanding crowd funding campaigns this week for you to learn about, enjoy, and hopefully support by making a pledge!

Remember that every little bit counts, from the single dollar pledges to the ten dollar, and of course the higher ones. Some of these campaigns have got some great higher tiers which add even more value by offering stuff you can’t get anywhere else. Thank you all for being the best part of Indie Comics Showcase! Let’s jump in!

 


TurnKey #1
A RPG Fantasy-Adventure Comic Series

One man wants out, but everyone else wants in! A D&D-inspired prisoner story that takes a surreal, fun stab at RPG & Fantasy Tropes.

Please Visit The Campaign Site Here. (Ends July 4)

John: Thanks for agreeing to an interview guys, why don’t you both tell us about yourselves?

Dedren: My name is Dedren Snead, a devout Southerner from Snow Hill, North Carolina. I currently work and reside in Atlanta, Georgia.  I’ve been a lifelong fan of comics, arts, toys and games as long as I can remember.  I’m big on collaboration and discovering the creative experience, so projects like this are right up my alley.

Rob: I’m basic AF.  I like video games, my dog and cat, and I have a love/hate relationship with drawing comics. 🙂

John: What are some of the first comics you remember reading?

Dedren: I’m an Big 80’s kid, so the first comics I recall were in the Sunday Paper.  Peanuts, Beetle Bailey, and all of the Sunday Funnies are what I remember first.  But Prince Valiant was the one that I truly remember.  The art and the style were just completely different, and it was serious, or at least that’s how I felt about it.  I cut them out and made my own comics, and from there the love affair began.  I was huge into both Marvel & DC, and in my teenage years, came up on Image and Milestone, so the independent rennaisance was happening right when I could buy my own. Spider-man, Avengers (both coasts) the Secret Wars event, the 100 X-Books, Thor and Iron Man were my big ones.  DC I was more into Superman than Batman, with the JLA books a close second.  I probably own 1000 or so comics, the number’s dwindled over the years, but 80- early 00’s were my jam.

Rob: Um, I remember being really into X-men during the 90’s.  Jim Lee’s art really caught my eye as a kid.  After that it was Batman, Spider-man… The usual, I guess.  I always had to save up to buy comics, so I was mainly into the cartoon versions.  After that I really got into manga thanks to Dragon Ball.

John: What’s the comic you remember having the biggest impact on you?

Dedren: The biggest books were the 80’s Secret Wars.  I  loved crossover book and the mashup of all of my favorites in one place. I grew up on the Superfriends cartoon, so when Marvel took a stab at it, I just fell in love.  I remember the Spiderman Black Costume era as one of my favorites, and from that Venom.  New Mutuants 98 was big because I just knew that Domino (and not Deadpool) was going to be a hit and was playing the Marvel Comics Game System heavy after school.  Spawn #1 and  Static Shock #1 are two of my all-timers though.  Lastly, the McFarlane run on Spiderman before Image had me and all of my friends drawing, we worshiped his art.

Rob: Probably Dragon Ball Z if that counts.  Then years later I happened upon The Ultimates and Bryan Hitch’s art blew my mind.  I had never seen anything like it.  It looked like a blockbuster movie.  Also, I will never forget how Berserk destroyed whatever innocence I had left in me.

John: Without revealing any spoilers, what can you tell us about TURNKEY ? Where it’s been, where it’s going, and your plans for the future?

Dedren: So TURNKEY is a fun twist on the traditional RPG Hero Quest sagas that both deconstruct and poke fun at a lot of the stereotypes and tropes that the fantasy world has.  I’m a huge fan of Dungeons and Dragons, Roleplaying games and all of the franchies we all love such as LOTR and Game of Thrones.  But we’ve seen those stories replayed time and time again.  I’m looking to show a new perspective of how   In essence, this is a prison break story.  But the catch is that so many people are wanting to break IN instead of our hero, who spends his days trying to escape unsuccessfully.  There’s a huge fantasy world just beyond the walls, but we try and break down the politics, the intrigue and the story within the confines of our fantasy prison.  

Rob: The first issue is really setting the stage for bigger things, which I’m very excited to design and draw.  Think Orange is the New Black mixed with Castlevania mixed with Lord of the Rings.  All the things you love about the fantasy genre- epic battles, ancient artifacts with great power, mysterious magical forces, conniving demons, political intrigue- will come into play, but with our spin on them.  You’ll see the main character, Darrus, discover and develop his new powers as Turnkey, and use them to clear his name while keeping the big factions in line as they vie for control of The Mount.

John: What does TURNKEY  mean to you, what about it makes it a story you want to tell?

Dedren: TURNKEY meant starting the traditional fantasy story off in a non-traditional place.  I refer to this area as Moor Europa, meaning there is an African/Middle Eastern contingent that we start with and see that the European side of the world has become the periphery.  It’s the same story, just a different starting point. And that’s what is important, the story isn’t diluted or unrelatable because of it, but helps highligh the similarities and the parts that we all like translate into something fun.  But then, we also take a more adult-themed step that allows up to really address themes and situations however we see fit.  And that just adds to the intrigue of what we’re doing. 

Rob: It means a lot.  Marcel (the editor) gave me a great opportunity to draw this book and teamed me up with a very talented writer.  As a fan of the fantasy genre I was instantly enthralled by the concepts and characters in the outline.  It got my artistic juices flowing and I wanted to bring it all to life.

John: TURNKEY looks like a gorgeous comic with a mix of a lot of different genre and RPG Elements. Tell us, which has been your favorite RPG, Tabletop or otherwise?

Dedren: First, Ar En has been the perfect artistic partner on this.  His style is so rich and inviting. it has been a great challenge to provide something worthy of it.  My favorite RPG is Dungeons and Dragons Second Edition.  Only because that was my childhood and growing up D&D when it wasn’t popular, it was expensive and it was a labor to play, as it was a labor of love.  Ravenloft, Dark Sun and Forgotten Realms. It was just and endless world to get lost in, and I could write what happened next.   I still have my old modules, many of the old books, and read them for fun even though we are up to 5E which is itself a marvel.  A close second would be the TSR Marvel Superheroes game of the 90’s.

Rob: Thanks!  I have fond memories of the Final Fantasy series (gotta stress “memories” because after 12 the series went downhill majorly).  I grew up with Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment on PC and those will always hold a special place in my cold heart.  I’m really too shy and awkward to play pen and paper games so I mainly stick with video games.

John: How does TURNKEY standout from them and other fantasy novels?

Dedren: Great question!  I think that TURNKEY isn’t trying to be a large sweeping saga.  I want the feel to be local, as if you’re already up to speed and then it just takes off from there. The quests are small and simple, but detailed within a prison cell.  Get clean water.  Sneak something past the guards.  Survive the night.  The locales we go outside are rich and vigrant, and a key location to the storyline.  But so is the Guard’s changin room.  That’s the goal we are working towards.

Rob: Most fantasy stories seem to take place in a stereotypical Western European-based setting.  The main nation in Turnkey is more Moorish, Middle-east inspired in terms of culture and terminology.  You don’t see many people of color as main protagonists in most swords and sorcery media, either.  We’re looking to switch things around in that regard.  I think that gives the Turnkey world a unique feel and look.  We’re also putting our own spin on the typical D&D races, too, which you’ll see more of in future issues.

John: What are some of the things that have served as a source of Inspiration when working on  TURNKEY? Do you read anything, watch any shows, listen to music as you work?

Dedren: I’m working on my first professional RPG credit as we speak, and playing various RPGs on Steam.  I’ve tried to rekindle my weekly D&D setups online, and that’s been a new world opened to me.  Music, I’m still stuck in the 80’s mid 90’s where you could have Hip-Hop, Country, Rock and Jazz all at the same time.  I’m behind on TV, but Game of Thrones is a default can-miss, though I intentionally haven’t watched the last season just yet.

Rob: Heh, I listened to a lot of Ghost, and imagined their music as the soundtrack to the Turnkey movie.  I got sort of a Micheal Mann’s “The Keep” vibe from it.  If it were a TV show, “Rats” would be the opening theme.  Other than that I usually listen to film, video game, and anime music and also synthwave.

John: Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?

Dedren: I’m a paper person, I like to read, muse and relate a lot of things, and then start to write. I think that’s why I love to collaborate. I want to know what other people are thinking, their experiences and expectations, and try to play off of those. It’s a Jazz Standard type of energy, I’m doing this, you’re doing that. Let’s keep playing what we like and meet somewhere in the middle.  

Rob: I do really crappy thumbnail drawings, then really crappy rough sketches on printer paper.  Then, I scan those, composite it all on Photoshop, then ink on Clip Studio, then back to Photoshop for colors.  Before all of that I spend hours searching for reference photos, especially for the female characters.

John: What have some of your influences been over the years and how have they affected your work?

Dedren: Milton Davis, a prolific novelist who wrote WOMAN OF THE WOODS.  I’d say TSR and Blizzard took up a chunk of my free time.  But I love the indie comics scene the most.  I’d rather read the new creation from Robert Jeffrey and Sean Hill than buy a Big 2 book.  That’s why I love Kickstarter. It lets you take those changes and build an audience.  I’ve been a fan of a lot of people and now can say I’ve had a chance to work with them or that those chances are just around the corner.   I also love ancient history, fictional and otherwise, so worldbuilding things with a bit of reality and a bit of fantasy are my wheelhouse. It’s what you see here and in my other series SORGHUM & SPEAR.

Rob: Akira Toriyama’s art has been very influential.  His characters are so lively and iconic.  Manga in general.  I find their characters are more fashionable and expressive than what you see in Western comics. 

John: What are your hopes for TURNKEY  and for the future?

Dedren: I hope that Ar and I can keep it going.  I like playing in this world where you don’t know how we are going to turn things, and I appreciate having the art that supports the story in a way that keeps you paying attention.  As I get to grow and develop as a writer and creator with this and my other stories, I think Turnkey is just pure fun, and makes it a release to try new things.  And of course, I’d be remiss if we didn’t say we can see this as a tabletop game of some sorts very soon!

Rob: That people like it and are excited for issue 2! 

John: Is there anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?

Rob: Just wanted to thank you again for this opportunity.  It’s been fun.

Dedren: Thanks for having us!

John: I also wanted to say congratulations, as of the writing of this, it looks like your campaign has surpassed the initial funding goal! So Awesome!

Rob: Yeah, it’s great.  The support has been amazing.

Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.

___________________

Iron Skies #1
by Kristopher Rue

Take flight alongside the crew of an ill-omened airship as legends fall, heroes rise, and a world is forever scarred!

Please Visit The Campaign Site Here. (Ends July 7)

Chris Braly: What is the ‘elevator pitch’ for Iron Skies? Briefly tell our readers what it’s about.

Kristopher Rue: The crew of an ill omened airship navigate a treacherous course through the maelstrom of a shattered kingdom. As forces collide legends will fall, heroes will rise and their world will be forever scarred!

Chris: Can you let us in on who or what inspired you to make this?

Kristopher: I wrote the first story in the Iron Skies Chronicles for my sister ten years ago. As I started to piece together more adventures, I was influenced by Cowboy Bebop, Berserk, Dragon Age and probably a few other stories along the way.

Chris: What made you decide a comic book was the best way to tell this story?

Kristopher: I have always thought of Iron Skies as a visual medium. When I formulated the story, it was a smattering of key images (think comic frames) in my head. The story really came together by playing connect the dots with all of the striking images, and in my effort to replicate those, I turned to comics.

Chris: Tell us about your creative team members – who is doing what and how did you come together?

Kristopher: I am the writer and piggy bank. Renan Shody (Insta: @renanshody has worked with Zenescope, and is throwing down some crazy work on the interior art, along with his assistant Victor Cappola. Dijjo Lima (Insta: @dijjolima_oficial) has worked with IDW, Zenescope and Dynamite and is putting out eye catching color work. Caanan White put out one of the sexiest covers I’ve ever seen. Nicole “DasGnomo” Cepeda  put together the logo I didn’t know I wanted. Letters will be done by the ubiquitous Eric Weathers. The model of the airship the “Fallen Hope,” is being done by Mariana Sampaio (Insta: @marianantunesampaio) Finally, Windami designed the poster (which I am also using for my IndieGoGo image). As for how we came together – aside from Caanan White, I hunted through potential artists until I found ones that fit. Caanan was shown the project by Antonio Brice and agreed to do a cover – and with everyone involved, I couldn’t be happier.

Chris: What has the creative process been like? What tasks are you handling in this campaign?

Kristopher: The creative process has been a whirlwind of excitement, caffeine, anxiety and lots and lots of late nights. The writing was an exercise in discipline, and at times it was difficult to excise entire issues worth of story. Thankfully, I’ve only had to make one change on the artwork sent in by my artist, so that’s been pretty stress free. I can just sit back and let the badass artwork roll in. As for what I am handling in the campaign – well, I’m the writer/creator. I edit as needed. I fund all the other creators. I find/recruit the talent. I do my best to promote it.

Chris: Can you tell us what stage is the project is in currently?

Kristopher: Over halfway done with the interior art. Cover is about to be colored. Coloring work is closing in on 25%. Eric Weathers says he can swing the letters in about 2 days or so.

Chris: How much has the story evolved over the last decade that you’ve been developing it?

Kristopher: Immensely. I’ve cut out several stories that didn’t add enough to the arc. It has always featured Anne Holloway (the airship captain) and at first it was purely focused on how her ship came to be the Fallen Hope, and the consequences of her thirst for revenge. Somewhere along the way, the character of Shrake (the thief you can see in some of the IndieGoGo artwork) really started to develop into a good candidate for the Hero’s Journey. He became a deeply flawed youth, who would eventually be faced with the consequences of his actions – and one day I realized the story was as much about him and his growth as it was about Anne and her tribulations.

Chris: What else can you share about the project? And do you have any final words for our readers?

Kristopher: If you do join us on this ride, you will be treated to some stunning artwork, an action packed first issue and moral ambiguity (and downright failings) in our protagonists. You won’t find thinly veiled messages about current year politics, nor will you be preached at. The only agenda I am pushing is entertainment, and I will strive not to fail you.

Chris: Thanks for chatting with us Kristopher! Good luck on this crowdfunding campaign!!!

Kristopher: Many thanks! I am grateful for all the support!

Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.

_________________________
 

The Plague and Doctor Caim
by
G.E. Gallas

 
For our final installment of the day we are featuring our first creator and project from Unbound. Unbound is another crowdfunding site, but unlike Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and many others, Unbound doubles as a crowdfunding site as well as a publisher and printer. It is also solely focused on literary works. I was actually planning on having my first novel crowd funded and printed via unbound several years ago, but that is a story for another day. Today we will be checking out The Plague and Doctor Caim by G.E. Gallas.

John: G.E. Gallas, Welcome and thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. Today I would like to talk about The Plague and Doctor Caim A darkly humorous graphic novel about a doctor grappling against the Black Death. It’s currently being crowd funded via Unbound, which has me curious. Why did you go with Unbound and how has your experience been with them?

G.E. Gallas: Over the years, I’ve done a number of Kickstarter campaigns in order to self-publish my work. This included the first volume of my graphic novel trilogy The Poet and the Flea about the 18th-century poet-painter William Blake. While I enjoy self-publishing, I’ve found it very difficult to distribute to a wider audience. Unlike Kickstarter (which is simply a way to crowdfund any project), Unbound is a publisher that uses crowdfunding to publish their books. So, working with Unbound, I don’t have to worry about printing and distributing the books all by myself. I’ve had a wonderful experience with them so far, especially with their comics and graphic novel editor Lizzie Kaye. She previously worked for Titan and SelfMadeHero, so she understands alternative and independent comics and really knows what she’s doing.

John: G.E. Gallas what can you tell us about yourself?

G.E. Gallas: I’ve always been very interdisciplinary in my creativity. I wrote and illustrated my first graphic novel in high school, though I think I’ve come a long way since then. As an undergrad, I created my own major involving cross-cultural storytelling within various mediums. For me, research is an integral part of writing and illustrating a graphic novel, for both the story and visual aesthetic. Many of my works are macabre historical fiction, including The Poet and the Flea and The Plague and Doctor Caim. I try my very best to get the historical details right, going as far as looking into the etymology of certain words to make sure they fit the time period. But I also like to play with juxtaposition, such as in The Plague and Doctor Caim — setting a 17th-century story as a 14th-century illuminated manuscript.

John: What are some of the first comics that you remember reading

GE: When I was a kid, Edward Gorey, Hergé, and Ai Yazawa all had a huge impact on me. In elementary school, I was obsessed with ancient Egypt, so my mom got me Cigars of the Pharaoh and I started collecting all of Tintin. I’m pretty sure my parents gave me Edward Gorey’s Amphigorey books too. A middle school friend from Japan introduced me to Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss years before it was released in the U.S. I think it’s easy to see Gorey, Hergé, and Yazawa’s influence in my illustration style even now.

JL: What’s the comic you remember having the biggest impact on you?

GE: I know they’re not exactly comics, but I have to say William Blake’s poems such as Songs of Innocence and of Experience. The way Blake uses both word and illustration to express himself, I’ve always thought of his work as the precursor to modern comic books, especially self-published and indie ones since Blake too was a self-publisher. There are so many aspects about Blake that have changed the way I look at graphic novels and other creative works.

John: Without Spoilers, what can you tell us about THE PLAGUE AND DOCTOR CAIM ? Where it’s been, where it’s going, and your plans for the future?

G.E. Gallas: I started The Plague and Doctor Caim because I had seen the plague doctor used in many different ways, from cosplayers to tattoos to supernatural-themed comics. I thought it was fascinating how, in many of these versions, the plague doctor had been imbued with superhuman powers. But I had not seen anything that really delved into the reality of the plague doctor’s life from a historical perspective. I wanted to create a graphic novel that showed the nitty gritty (such as bloodletting and other treatments of the day), and I found dark humor in it along the way. Now, it’s just a matter of crowdfunding the book so that it can be published!

John: What does THE PLAGUE AND DOCTOR CAIM  mean to you, what about it makes it a story you want to tell?

GE: Character development is always the most important aspect of every story I want to tell. For that reason, I think the heart of this graphic novel is Doctor Caim himself. On one hand, he’s an Everyman: an average human being that could belong to any race, ethnicity, gender and so on because he never takes off his mask. But, on the other hand, he’s a multidimensional character with his own personality, ethos, habits, and flaws. In this way, I hope he is a character that readers will care about.

John: THE PLAGUE AND DOCTOR CAIM has quite an interesting premise, I also really enjoy the art work. Can you tell us a bit about how it came to be?

GE: I arrived at this premise as a way to weave the history of the plague doctor into what I hope is a compelling narrative. Much of the story stems from how Doctor Caim will react in a given situation. These situations come from the history of the plague doctor, whether from the medical treatments of the period or other duties expected of the plague doctor like attending autopsies and such. The artwork is the culmination of historical costume research for all the characters as well as my idea that the graphic novel should echo the colors and two-dimensionality of illuminated manuscripts.

John: How does the THE PLAGUE AND DOCTOR CAIM stand out from other graphic novels and stories centered around the time period.

GE: Honestly, I’m not sure that there are too many graphic novels or comic books set in the 17th century. I don’t really think there are too many graphic novels or comics that fall under the historical fiction category. And those that feature plague doctors usually involve some sort of supernatural element. So, as a historical fiction graphic novel whose intent is verisimilitude, I think The Plague and Doctor Caim is a very unique book.

John: What are some of the things that have served as a source of Inspiration when working on  THE PLAGUE AND DOCTOR CAIM? Do you read anything, watch any shows, listen to music as you work?

GE: As I mentioned, plenty of historical research went into The Plague and Doctor Caim, which influenced the overall aesthetic of the graphic novel. There’s a folder on my laptop filled with illuminated manuscripts from various countries and time periods. While I work, I usually listen to music which could be anything from opera to Jack White to Japanese rock.

John: Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?

GE: First, the seed of idea. Then, the research. Then, I write the script and perhaps draw a few character designs and other sketches. Once the script is finished, I try to thumbnail the whole thing so I have a general idea of how each page will look. I draw the pages by hand, pencil, pen, then scan. I add color in Photoshop, in this case using the eyedropper tool to grab colors from scans of illuminated manuscripts. Then, I add the text and background (the old paper effect) in InDesign. 

John: What have some of your influences been over the years and how have they affected your work?

GE: Joseph Campbell and his The Hero with a Thousand Faces has been a huge influence on me since high school. His universal hero’s quest has been an invaluable foundation in the way I tell a story. I’m also deeply inspired by visual art, not just Blake, but also Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Toulouse-Lautrec, and John Singer Sargent among many others. I’m a bit of a museum nerd, so any chance I have to go to a museum to see art, I’ll take it.

John: What are your hopes for THE PLAGUE AND DOCTOR CAIM and for the future?

GE: Once The Plague and Doctor Caim is funded, I hope it will be carried in comic book stores in both the U.K. and U.S. Every year, I table at SPX (Small Press Expo) in Maryland, so I hope to introduce The Plague and Doctor Caim there too. I’m also working on another graphic novel called Pawn My Soul (about a sin-eater, someone who historically was paid to take on the sins of the recently deceased) as well as The Poet and the Flea volumes 2 and 3, which I hope to see published in the near future.

John: Is there anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?

GE: As an American myself, I think many Americans who don’t really know comics have this idea that comic books are only for kids and that they are either superhero comics, comicstrips, or graphic memoirs (not that there’s anything wrong with superhero comics, comicstrips, and graphic memoirs). And many think of “graphic novels” as a genre within itself. But graphic novels and comic books are not a genre but a medium. They are a medium that can take on any genre, including historical fiction. As a historical fiction graphic novel, I hope The Plague and Doctor Caim might change some people’s minds as to what a graphic novel can be.

John: Once again G.E., I would like to say thank you for being a part of indie comics showcase. We wish you the best of luck on this and all future campaigns.

GE: Thank you so much, John! I had a wonderful time answering your questions!

If you like what you saw please, don’t forget to visit the Unbound page and show your support. Thank you.

That’s it for this installment! Consider backing these awesome looking projects and always remember to support indie comics!!!

 


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John Lemus

John Lemus

I'm a 35 year-old Cuban who works in Hialeah, FL. I'm really into comic books and comic book culture and I have a particular fondness for independent comics. Which is why I started the Indie Comics Showcase. Follow me on Twitter @indie_comics!

JUST KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON