Welcome back to another installment of Indie Comics Showcase, the weekly blog where we signal boost a few truly independent comics that are currently crowdfunding their projects, crowdsourcing their funding in some way, or just completely self-publishing on their own. Every little bit of support for these creators matters, from a single dollar pledge to the twenty-five dollar bundle, and of course the higher tiers are usually fun too! Even if you can’t back a campaign or buy a book, you can share or tweet about these projects to your friends and followers.
On Indie Comics Showcase, we interview the creators, show off some art, and tell you how you can check out the product for yourself. Below we have some outstanding crowdfunding campaigns this week for you to learn about, enjoy, and hopefully support by backing one or more of them! Thanks for checking these out and for being the best part of Indie Comics Showcase. Let’s jump in!
DEMON HUNTER RAVEN
Raven must fight off a deadly assassin and protect the Twin Cities from demons, vampires and other supernatural threats, over 90 pages!
Please checkout the campaign for Demon Hunter Raven Here.
John Lemus: Welcome to Indie Comics Showcase, Nick. Thanks for being a part of it and chatting with me today. Tell our readers a bit about yourself.
Nick Mueller: Thank you for inviting me. I’m Nicholas Mueller, I’m a husband to an amazing wife (coming up to 10 years almost!) and a father of 5 wonderful, crazy kids that keep me busy.
John: Without sharing any spoilers, what can you tell us about DEMON HUNTER RAVEN?
Nick: Imagine Devil May Cry and Assassins Creed had a kid, this would be the results. It’s a supernatural action book about a special group of people called Demon Hunters. They may have all decided to become a hunter for various reasons but all seek the same goal, the complete eradication of vile threats.
John: Can you tell us a little bit about how DEMON HUNTER RAVEN came to be, how the characters and story were conceptualized?
Nick: The story and characters very much reflect my own struggles in life and the many hardships I have and am still enduring. It has been a therapeutic deal to write all my anger on the page, each line feels soothing and allows me to describe what I may not be able to put into words. Much like how James O’Barr crafted the Crow from his pain and loss of his girlfriend, Demon Hunter Raven is very much the same way for me. A way to channel pain, loss and anguish. But ultimately it stands as a means to help others that have been through terrible struggles such as divorce, death and separation and hurt. It’s to help those that don’t know if everything will be okay tomorrow.
John: : What are some of the comics that have made the biggest impact on you?
Nick: Grant Morrison’s run on Batman showed me how you could craft this large sprawling narrative with insane ideas packed in them. But the biggest ones have to be TMNT by Eastmen and Laird along with Tite Kubo’s Bleach. Each deal with the bleakness of growing up, and tell them in such sobering ways. There is no ultimate goal that must be achieved, it’s depressing but a reality check at the same time. Because there are these fantastic ideas in both series with larger then life characters, but the reality is all about growing up.
John: What does DEMON HUNTER RAVEN mean to you, what about it makes it a story you want to tell?
Nick: I dealt with a lot as I grew up, and I didn’t always know what tomorrow would hold. I wanted to share my experiences with how I survived and moved on, and in some cases still deal with the many hurts I received. Besides telling a story I want to help others. I really like to infuse music into my works, Dir En Grey plays a huge part in my design and writing. Chapter 2 is based off of one of their songs, Sustain the (un)Truth. Which deals with the lies we believe to be truths.
I love how Dir En Grey has evolved through the years and mastered their style, which is very dark and morbid yet beautiful and poetic at the same time. As I’m drawing or writing I like to have their live performances on, I like how the lead singer Kyo pours his heart into every song. I try in the same way to pour my feelings into each page, to make them real and honest. Although there are to many things that have inspired this series, such as Bleach, Assassins Creed are just a few that have played a part in helping with world building. In fact, I would love to see my work turned into an anime, with high production value behind it and have multiple games to go along.
John: Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
Nick: It’s a bit all over the place, I start with a feeling or an idea and try to draw it out. I’ll work out an outline and think of a theme I want to capture. Chapter 1 is called Nevermore, based on the same poem of Edgar Allen Poe (The main character is called Raven, so of course theres going to be a play on his poem right?) But the story revolves around the idea of loss and never wanting it to happen anymore. Which is the main driving force behind the main character. It drives him mad like a tapping at the door.
John: What have some of your influences been over the years and how have they affected your work?
Nick: I’m driven by my faith in Christ. It changed my life and gave me hope, I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t made some changes. Is everything perfect now? No, of course not but now I feel like I have endure and keep going.
John: It looks great. Is there anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?
Nick: I’m grateful to all that have helped me, encouraged me and lend me a helping hand. I don’t feel like I get to express my thankfulness enough, but anyone that has shared or bought something from me is amazing. I can’t say thank you enough.
John: Thank you Nick for being a part of this week’s Indie Comics Showcase! We wish you the best of luck on this and all future projects.
Nick: Thanks for having me!
SILVERLINE COMICS: Double Feature!
Trumps + Cat & Mouse
by Roland Mann
Cat & Mouse is a crime action-crime-drama presented to you in saddle-stitched comic book format! Cat & Mouse #3 contains 22 pages of story and art.: Brett Huffman heads to New Orleans to look for the runaway kid sister of his ex-fiance’ only to discover she has been caught up in a human trafficking ring. Brett has to figure out how to get her out of the human trafficking ring and get her home. Only problem is that she’s in the clutches of the WidowMaker!
Trumps is a science fiction/action/superhero story presented to you in saddle-stitched comic book format. Trumps Book 1 contains 48 pages of story and art: Every time the Deck is shuffled, a new kingdom of power is chosen. This time the kingdom of Clubs wishes to overthrow the Diamond kingdom because they think they are weak. The King of Hearts wants to fold, but his young Jack will hear nothing of the sort. The Spades are enjoying the freedom that the Clubs/Diamonds war gives them. The war for supremacy ensues and only one kingdom will emerge victorious… that kingdom is called Trumps!
Chris Braly: We chatted back in May about some of the offerings at Silverline Comics, tell our readers about your latest double feature where you’re offering two comics.
Roland Mann: Up this time is the 3rd issue of Cat & Mouse where we’re nearly finished telling the origin story of this new pair. We’ve got some faces that readers of Volume 1 of Cat & Mouse will be familiar with, but are introduced to new readers, particularly the popular character Demon.
With Cat & Mouse I’m introducing a new comic called Trumps. It’s not political, but if that suspicion gets me some eyeballs, I’m okay with that. Trumps is a sci-fiction story set on a world called THE DECK. There are four kingdoms on The Deck that fight for power on a regular basis, but only one of them can hold the title “Trumps.” As we start this story, the kingdom of Clubs are trumps and they are waging war on the Diamond kingdom in an attempt to destroy them. There is political intrigue and some super-heroics as the Aces of every kingdom are endowed with superpowers.
CB: What are you learning from the crowdfunding model of comics publishing? Is this campaign any different from the last as far as the way it is organized?
RM: I’m learning that those who don’t fulfill their campaigns in a timely manner are hurting those of us who do. I’ve heard from many that they are afraid to back my campaign because they’ve been burned by far more established names. And I totally get that. That’s one of the reasons we make sure our books are FINISHED before we crowdfund. Theoretically, I could print and ship both of the comics today–assuming I had the money (which I don’t–and that’s why we’re crowdfunding). I try to tell them that I’m 7 for 7 in fulfilling my campaigns on time. I’m also learning it’s tough to get eyeballs. Crowdfunded has become crowded, and the bigger the names who join, the harder it is to be heard above all the noise.
As far as the way it’s organized, yeah, I’m doing it a little differently this time because we were frontloading a lot of the variants and I heard from some folks they really didn’t want all of them, but they liked CHOICES. Kickstarter would make it a LOT easier if they would ever institute an “add-on” function.
CB: Tell us a bit about your creative teams? How did these projects come together?
RM: For Cat & Mouse, Alex Gallimore is the penciller, Barb Kaalberg is the inker, and Kevin Gallegly is the colorist. I actually “stumbled” upon Alex’s work when I saw something he posted on Facebook. It’s a corporate owned character, so I won’t mention the name, but it was dark and moody, and had the same kind of tone I like for Cat & Mouse. I reached out to him–he was interested–so off we went! It’s his first published work, so I’m pretty excited about that. He’s doing a great job. Barb and Kevin are both creators I know from my days at Malibu Comics. They were both happy to be making comics again!
For Trumps, Anthony Pereira and Thomas Hedglen are the pencillers, Thomas Florimonte is the inker, and Sid VenBlu is the colorist. Hedglen is actually a friend of Alex’s…I think they might have been roommates at the Kubert School. But Alex is the one who connected us…and then Hedglen suggested Sid because they were classmates! Florimonte is a good friend of mine and I’ve known him for a long time, back before either of us actually did any comics work. When Trumps came up, he and I were talking and I just asked him if he had any interest. He liked Pereira and Hedglen’s pencils and jumped on!
CB: What kind of comic readers will these most appeal to? What do you hope readers will take away from these comics?
RM: Obviously, fans of comic books. Fans of 90s comics in particular–not intentional on my part, but I’ve been told Silverline comics remind people of the 90s. As long as it isn’t the glut stuff, I’ll take that as a compliment! haha Cat & Mouse is street level superheroics, so fans of comics like Daredevil or Batman. Trumps is a little different in that it’s sci-fi/superhero. It’s a big Game of Thrones, but futuristic and without all the graphic sex.
“FUN” is the key thing I want readers to take away. While Cat & Mouse deals with human trafficking and I’d like to bring a little more awareness to that issue, these books are meant to teach you a lesson…but they also aren’t an attempt to be politically correct. They’re just fun stories.
CB: What else can you share about the project or this campaign? Which tier is probably the best deal overall?
RM: As I answer you, we’re fully funded, so now we’re trying to reach some fun stretch goals. Oh–did I mention earlier the books are finished? 😉 So, with us being fully funded, you know the books are coming. You’ll have them in November. There’s a lot of original art, and those are probably the best deal for the dollar. Outside of the original art, the $30 SIGNED level is good. The other one worth mentioning is the COMPLETEST tier (this was requested a few kickstarters back), and this gets a single copy of ALL THE COVERS as there are some who want to make sure they have one of each. The most popular, though, is the RETRO tier. That’s the tier where they get the Kickstarter versions as well as the RETRO versions (black and white interiors).
CB: Thanks for chatting with us Roland! Good luck and we are rooting for you! RM: Thank you for chatting with me and thanks for rooting! Make Mine Silverline!
by Thomas Tuke
Chris Braly: Tell our readers your elevator pitch for. Genma Visage Briefly tell our readers what’s up.
Thomas Tuke: In this comic, your worst nightmares are man-made! If government-sanctioned super-psychos and demons aren’t bad enough, the ancient scourge of Psychic Monsters created by the Nishin Genma Cult threatens to destroy Earth and Planet Shuromij. But seeking retribution comes a turncoat mutant demigod called Ryuken Orca Kage. Once a failed experiment, this powerhouse survivor wields the blackened power of his former master’s arcane ultimate weapon program, the Genma Visage.
Expect gallons of Mystic Action-Horror Violence!
CB: Where did this project originate, or what inspired it and made it all come together?
TT: My story goes back to 2007 when I was a young gun at the crossroads between Fine Art and Animation. There was friction with specific authority figures in education and I wanted to prove that my dedication to comics meant something. I didn’t want to be a cliché rebel, but a rotten sense of humour can serve you well. There’s always a grubby blasphemous joy when sadistically lampooning prudent aspects of society and culture. If art school, social-media zealots lose their cool with what I do then that’s fine, but love for adventure in the art form came first, alongside an increasing fresh look on the early days.
Genma Visage is in part a life story. It re-imagines and adapts multiple ideas, travels, trials and errors I had as a kid, hence why there’s an ambience of time and characters that have aged horribly. In a collective nutshell, between 2007 to 2012 I was like “right, I’m just going put it all to the test”.
The initial result was a darkened, martial-arts-fantasy thriller inspired by manga and gritty comics in the 90s but as I renewed my love of monsters, Genma changed into an Action-Horror. Over time I became more interested in archaeology and mythology, especially Egypt. Ideas of Occultism, what happened before ancient documentation, untold histories, the butterfly effect on the modern world and the less-than-sunny origins of many establishments, it struck such a spiritual chord with me that I just had to play along.
I based the title “Genma” on the Hindi word “Janma” which means rebirth and has a Holy association. The bad guys in question, of course, are absolutely unholy, and this theme helped me define a world where anything can be corrupted by evil. I also found it just as fun to have a protagonist that’s hated and reviled by proxy of inherited association, even if he has good intentions in an anti-heroic way. Compared to the assumption by the common media of what makes the hero’s journey these days, to truly grasp the underdog’s tale is to witness a situation of high-gravity where it’s never a dull day.
CB: What kind of comic fans do you expect this comic will entertain the most?
TT: Well, I’m sure Jack Chick will love this book. Hah! Seriously though, Genma Visage’s influences come from Old-School Anime from the Manga Entertainment days back in the 90s as well as mid-90s 2000ad comics, so my work will definitely resonate with those folks. Fans of Super-Heroes, Horror and European comics are welcome, but to all those out there ravenously hungry for Heavy Metal Sci-Fi Fantasy, my comic will definitely by right up your alley, or in your mosh pit rather, as Genma is created on a balanced diet of Black and Death Metal with Dark Ambient soundscapes thrown in between.
On a further note that might sound flash, I’ve got an ambition to try and run my works up the flagpole in areas like Egypt and India, both of whom especially the latter have a thriving Comic scene. As I’m interested in exotic places, I’d definitely love to do an overseas convention there at some point, hoping that will be a thing after all these lockdown restrictions clear at some point.
CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team or if there are any other creators that have contributed to this?
TT: I’ve pretty much been a one-man-army, handling all the art, writing, lettering, publishing, website design, research, advertising, networking, you name it, all by myself. I just found it easier to learn from scratch and apply all the creative process first hand. Having complete control helped me create a streamlined vision of my work. I still welcome collaboration with other creators in the future though, for a certain reward at least.
Besides from helpful critiques from clients and fellow exhibitors over the years, I owe thanks to a Stationery shop that I used to work in. It not only gave access to materials used for the books you’ll read. I also got to meet plenty of artists and industry connections, including Pentel whose sweet Reps sent me over a batch of goodies to cut my teeth with.
There are loads of people mentioned on my website to give massive hugs to. My good friend Curt Sibling contributed a Pinup in Genma Visage Book 2, a witty and talented cartoonist who has lent an ear to my tales over the years. I should give a shout out to my old partners Tina Williams and Andy Ornelas who gave voices to my characters back in the prototype animations and a further salute goes out to UKomix, Fallen Angel Media and Mixam who helped me out of Print related jams. I’d also like to mention my late friend Avnish Chande, who years ago along with his family enlightened me on Indian trivia, which helped out not just for Genma but also for other potential stories in the future. Many cheers, Buddy!
CB: How does your indie publishing work? It’s on Amazon and Artstation. What was the process like?
TT: My foray into digital was somewhat ironic. I used to test the waters by doing the prototype Genma Visage series as a webcomic for feedback at the time, yet I found myself connecting to a broader audience by simply going to print and attending conventions. Printing felt like a collaboration through word of mouth as you listen to exhibitor gossip on the coolest service to work with in town at a given time. Coming full circle and releasing my work for purchase across these two internet platforms (and counting) puts you in a position that redefines what you get out of it. It’s early days for my digital outlets at the moment but I’ve now got industry experience plus I’ve always had a relevant presence on social media. I have high hopes that the benefit of a multiple, quicker networking platform will nourish this.
The process itself with Amazon Kindle‘s was an eye-opener. Artstation and other venues for PDF sales are pretty straight forward but with Kindle, to really offer something new, you have to take advantage of the panel view direction feature. The initial program I used for this was buggy so I went for the lesser-known Kindle Create and stuck alongside as it updated over the months. It was a thorough experience. I felt like a military drill sergeant inspecting each panel to get things working the way I wanted. I’m hard working like that in general, but I always picture my work to be quite animated, and I think overall I wanted to look at the bigger picture of the experience. It was refreshing to view my work on this platform and I hope to take what I’ve learned for future mediums.
CB: What are you learning from independent publishing and creating through this process?
TT: Speaking from experience, it helps to have a good relationship with people in the printing service, suppliers and networks. I’ve never really had a bad experience, mind. All the people I’ve worked with have been lovely, including the public photocopiers during the early days of stapling together books. I do forewarn that you may have many scenarios that put a spin on each different transaction of information, cash and printed books; because the game is always changing.
Printing quickly educates you on the market and gives you that kick up the backside to ensure what you’re selling is awesome. The moment when money talks, it’s a game-changer on how you think creatively. The dream of writing many Odysseys helps, but you find yourself being very economic with your ideas when you consider the gargantuan workloads, especially as one man. I advise newcomers not only should you aim for the highest quality applicable, you also really need to seek a personal identity with your work. If you can’t do that then at best I’d say you don’t need to pursue the idea as a comic; it may work better as a print, or better yet a buff for the next big project. Either way, the sight of your glossy printed comics in your hand will make your eyes water like a joyful puppy.
I’d like to say from here that for all the perks of digital, it will never be the only platform. As others will agree, traditional books aren’t finished, especially with the Comics industry which leans on being a collector’s market. People treasure having a physical product in the hand especially when there are incentives like fancy metallic covers and signed copies. As an Independent, being on the same level as your customers compared to bigger companies puts you in a proactive position based on interaction. If done right it allows a margin for the experimentation that doesn’t have to go through filters of permission from above. You can be your own boss in the day and age where the big dogs are licking their wounds and the future basically lies in crowd-funding. It looks to be exciting times ahead.
CB: Thanks for chatting with us! Any final words?
TT: My pleasure, sir! Thank you for your time. Everyone reading this, keep your eyes peeled on the website because the upcoming Lore Novels, Comic Projects and more are sure to pack a wallop!
Grab free Kindle editions of the first two volumes here!
And learn more about this author and their books here.
That’s it for this installment! Support indie comics!!!
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