Indie Comics Showcase #108: Sisterhood, Genu & Blake Undying

 

 

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!

 

BLAKE UNDYING

by Jason Cook

Check out the campaign page here!

 

John: Thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase, Jason! Let’s talk a bit about your upcoming comic BLAKE UNDYING.

 

Jason Cook: Thanks for having me John, I’m happy to be here representing the team.

 

John: Before we get started I was hoping you could tell us a little bit about yourself .

 

Jason: I’m a Canadian comic creator, which likely has contributed to my fatalistic sense of humor, and the overall tone of BLAKE UNDYING. I’ve been writing for over thirty years, but BLAKE UNDYING is by far my most successful property, and the one that I’m most proud of. If I were to describe myself and my history, you might start seeing some parallels. Perhaps its best to have your audience learn about me through learning about Blake! Its no secret that the character of Blake draws heavily from my own experiences in my career and personal relationships, with varying degrees of accuracy. I’d like to think that I’m mildly less misanthropic, but my friends might disagree.

 

John: Without getting into any spoilers, what can you tell us about BLAKE UNDYING?

 

Jason: Well the tagline does a lot of the heavy lifting right out of the gate: “Suicide is the Worst Way to Find Out You’re a Superhero”. Blake is a man who has discovered, to his utter dismay, that he cannot die. Ironic amusement gives way to desperation when repeated suicide attempts reveal that not only is death denied him, but he is slowly becoming harder to kill. Blake has been shot, stabbed, blown up, and electrocuted, and though each brief foray into death ends in failure it still hurts every time.

His doctor is baffled, the government can’t stop him, and his ex-girlfriend can’t decide whether or not to return his calls. His last hope is to use his abilities to protect the society that he hates by becoming a superhero, gambling that he can attract a super villain nemesis as ingenious as Blake is indestructible, who can finally find a way to put him out of his misery once and for all. The irony is killing him, but not literally.

 

John: Can you tell us a little bit about how the characters and story were conceptualized?

 

Jason: Fun fact, I know the exact moment that I had the idea that became BLAKE UNDYING. It was September 25th, 2006 at 8:10 PM Central time. Hayden Panettiere was climbing a rusty structure of some kind while Thomas Dekker filmed her from the ground. She climbed over the edge of a platform and fell a hundred feet to the ground. After a moment she got up, popped her broken or dislocated shoulder into place and was fine. The thought that went through my head at that exact moment was, “Wow. It would have sucked if she really were trying to kill herself, and that’s how she found out she couldn’t.” So you can thank NBC’s Heroes and Tim Kring for the thought that eventually triggered me to create BLAKE UNDYING.

 

I started thinking about all the tropes that were commonly used in superhero stories, and how many of them were utterly ridiculous in a real world setting. Like the woman whose baby is still in the building that’s on fire, or the superhero utterly wrecking a store to stop a robbery and causing more damage to the store than the robbery itself would have cost. On top of that, I considered what the psychology of a hero with Blake’s particular personality type and ability set. What happens when the law fails to deliver justice? Who has the right to act in that capacity, and who could stop him if they were out of control? Slowly the kernel of the idea built over months, until at 4AM I wrote out the very first scene in issue #1 almost exactly as it still appears today, 14 years later. That scene set the tone for the series, for the “Post-Modern Age” superhero story as I like to characterize it. BLAKE UNDYING seeks to subvert expectations and re-examine the traditional superhero tropes through a distinctly more jaded lens.

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

Jason: Heh. Speaking of jaded, I remember the first comic I ever had as a kid was a Green Lantern issue. I was very small and I remember loving it, but an uncle of mine “borrowed” it, and I never saw it again. Mind you this was over 40 years ago at this point, but I’m still plotting my revenge. Largely my comic collection was second hand from friends and family, so I ended up reading individual issues of various series with no sequential stories. Spider-Man and Batman became early favorites, with a surprising fondness for the Metal Men, which kept popping up in various Superman or JLA stories. It was only when I was much older that I really fell in love with comics as a storytelling medium, which I think leads nicely into your next question.

 

John: Can you recall some of the comics that have made the biggest impact on you?

 

Jason: Its hard not to start with Watchmen. That was a formative experience in university. At the time, I viewed modern comics cynically, thinking that most had meandering plotlines of varying qualities that used variant covers and artificial rarity to bootstrap sales in place of compelling storytelling. I started reading Watchmen one evening after having dinner, and I literally read the entire thing in one sitting. It must have been 5AM before I was finished, because I had to see it through to completion. It was a revelation to me in terms of my perception of comics and my understanding of the visual medium in story-telling.

 

Some of the others are obvious, like V for Vendetta, Y the Last Man, Preacher, The Boys, while others are a bit more random. Star Wars: Crimson Empire was one of the first Star Wars EU properties that I really enjoyed, and it was interesting to see an entirely new facet of the established canon examined from an entirely new perspective. Also another one that grabbed me in my teens, Tempus Fugitive by Ken Steacy, which was a stylish and interesting DC series done by a Canadian author. Plus, it was a great time travel story! One of these days, I will sit down to write the time travel story that Tempus Fugitive inspired, but only after I’m done with Blake!

John: What about Blake Undying made it a story you want to tell?

 

Jason: Back in 2008, the property was licensed to a development studio but never went into production, and ten years went by where I thought I would never get to play in the Blake sandbox again. So I shelved literally years of scripts and plot developments, believing that they’d never see the light of day. Flash forward a decade and the rights reverting to my control again, and I realized that it was up to me to drive it to market. Back then, Kickstarter wasn’t a thing, and I had believed the license was the only way the story would see the light of day. Now, I can publish it directly to its audience and not have to worry about censorship or cagey studio execs who want to make the core concept more palatable to a wider audience. BLAKE UNDYING was very much a product of its time, steeped in political and corporate corruption, and overwhelming cynicism at the possibility that anything could change. It was an expression of my feelings of powerlessness and a way to look at how that was a reaction to the state of the world rather than being based the reality of my own situation. The funny thing is that now, in this era, it feels like my cynicism is actually quaint in the context of today’s world. If nothing else, Blake will be very therapeutic for me, by proxy.

John: What served as inspiration when working on BLAKE UNDYING? Do you read anything, watch any shows, listen to music as you work?

 

Jason: Absolutely. Music is key, and I have a Blake playlist that I curated during my original campaign. In fact, there are a few Audioslave tunes that have inspired issue names in the distant future, so five years from now when you read an issue titled “The Last Remaining Light” you’ll know what soundtrack to put on. I don’t watch television while I’m working, but I do credit a couple of classic shows for the sort of balance of drama and humor that I’d like to emulate. Dennis Leary’s show Rescue Me was a pretty dark comedy, and of course there’s the undisputed heavyweight champion in HBO’s The Wire. That’s a master class in compelling heroes with glaring flaws, and I still watch the whole series every year or two.

 

John: You a have rather unique style in your writing and art. Can you tell us a bit about you developed them?

 

Jason: The writing style is a direct extension of my own sense of humor. Smartass comments have been my bread and butter, and simultaneously my albatross for the better part of my life. At the same time there is a core of earnest expression and self-evaluation there. It can’t be two dimensional or you end up with stories where everyone is a “Chandler” and no one seems real. I struggle with that balance, and do my best to always be looking at the characters as a whole, rather than some extreme end of the Sinner-Saint spectrum. People are fallible, and failure is sometimes more interesting than success. In fact, issue #1 is called “Failure” to celebrate that very fact.

 

 

 

John: What are your hopes for BLAKE UNDYING for the future?

 

Jason: I’m hoping that I’ll finally be able to tell the complete story. I have 22 issues outlined, and 12 scripts in the can, all shelved over a decade ago. There’s actually a “five year plan” that plots out the main tentpole story arcs to pay off over multiple years, stretching all the way back to the first four issues, and I’ve been sitting on the mother of all spoilers just waiting for the day I can finally talk about it! That’s the real motivation. I need independent confirmation that my big reveal is actually clever and not just my own hubris.

 

BLAKE UNDYING #1 is available for free at blakeundying.com right now, and we will be launching a Kickstarter on October 19th to release the first three issues in both digital and physical form. Production is already in progress, and we hope to have all artwork finished by the launch.  Finally, I couldn’t bring my story to life without the amazing work of our artists Ezequiel Rubio and Seb Valencia, and our wonderful colorist, Jovanna Plata. Their talent makes my dream possible.

 

John: Once again JASON, 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 projects.

 

Jason: Thank you for having me, John. Hope to speak again soon.      

 

Check out the campaign page here!

 

GENU
VOLUMES ONE & TWO

By Tommaso Todesca

 

Visit Amazon to purchase Genu and other great works from the author.

 

 

John Lemus: Tom, welcome to and thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. Tell us a bit about yourself!

Tom Todesca: Thanks for having me! And thanks for providing such a great platform for independent books. I grew up in Italy, lived in London for almost 10 years and for the last 9 years I’ve been living in Los Angeles. The other two co-authors of GENU, Giulio Srubek-Tomassy and Alex Franquelli, are also Italian. They live in Boston and in London so that adds a layer of fun – and insanity – to our creative process.

 

John: Without giving away too much, what can you tell us about Genu?

Tom: GENU is a science-fiction graphic novel in 5 volumes, published by Markosia. We wanted to put the “science” back in science-fiction, and we introduced many hard science-fiction concepts in Genu that are strongly rooted in science. The fact that one of us co-authors is a neurobiologist helped.

The story of GENU takes place in 2125. Our first colony on Mercury experiences a serious accident, and three colonists find themselves in a very unusual situation without a reasonable explanation. As we follow these three colonists, Genu will investigate a central mystery and, later on, reveal a long-buried secret about the origin of Homo Sapiens. It’s an exciting and very plausible plot.

 

John: Can you tell us a little bit about how GENU came to be, how the characters and story were conceptualized?

Tom: There is a bit of a funny background story: initially, what we planned to do was the graphic novel adaptation of an obscure Philip J. Farmer novel called “Jesus on Mars”, a quirky and very smart novel about, well… Jesus living on Mars. Then things evolved quickly, and we replaced Farmer’s ideas with ours, until not even a word or an idea from his novel was left. We had an entirely original story in front of us, and we called it Genu because it’s a story “about the genus”, which is what “genu” in Latin means. The genus that the title is referring to is the genus “Homo”, because the main concept has to do with anthropology.

 

John: Can you share some of the comics that have made the biggest impact on you?

Tom: Like every Italian, I grew up reading “Topolino”, which is the immensely successful Italian weekly comic with Disney characters, and the wonderful black and white collections published by Bonelli, like Dylan Dog, Martin Mystere, and others.  Giulio, Alex and I enjoy comics and sequential art, but what we love above all is stories – reading and writing great stories. None of us has ever been a devoted comic book fan. We are, first and foremost, voracious and eclectic readers. Our shared passion for hard science-fiction is what brought us together for this project.

John: What inspired you to tell this story?

Tom: There are many themes that each one of us was particularly interested in. One is the idea that Homo sapiens have been inhabiting Earth for an extremely short period of time, no more than 300 thousand years. Imagine us in another million years or two. What would we be able to do? Coincidentally, some other Homo species lived on this planet for that amount of time. Did their technology really stay at the level of simply carving stones for all that time? GENU asks this and other questions that have to do with our place in history and in the world as Homo Sapiens, questions that will hopefully resonate with everyone.

Additionally, each of us has introduced some very personal element into the three main characters, who share more with us that a similarity with our names.

 

John: Does anything serve as a source of inspiration when working on GENU? 

 

Tom: The three of us couldn’t be more different in terms of personalities.  We all grew up in Italy, so we share that similar background, but aside from some Italian music and shows, I guess you could say we now have very international tastes. Personally, I like to write on weekends, and before Covid, it was nice to do that at any coffee place. Writing as a team of 3 authors might sound like a clunky, almost impossible feat, but somehow it came amazingly easy to us. We think it’s because of our long-time friendships. And because our personalitiesare so different from each other that they somehow cover the entire range of possible personalities. 

 

Aleksandra Fastovets is the artist. She had worked with me on my previous graphic novel, Science and Faith. She has a real genius for drawing faces and facial expressions in a seemingly effortless way: a few quick traits, and it’s done. The way she can play with the richness of grayscale is ridiculously good. The black and white content introduced by two fully black covers is our original vision for GENU as a completed graphic novel.Francesca Colasanti is our letterer. She is an architect with incredibly good taste who, like us, is relatively new to this. Her choices add a lot of personality and dynamism to the overall result. We think we could not choose a better person for this delicate and sometimes underrated task. 

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

Tom: From a visual perspective, I could not avoid mentioning the great Italian masters of sequential art like Sergio Toppi, Danilo Battaglia, Sergio Tisselli, and, of course, Corto Maltese’s Hugo Pratt.

From the point of view of the writing, we always go back to the greatest science-fiction authors of all time, some of whom are still out there putting out incredible work, like for example Ted Chiang. We love Philip Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg and Philip J. Farmer.

These authors’ influence is strong in GENU, but GENU is also a literary book, where we tried to present each character in a 3D depth that science-fiction authors do not always care about. 

 

John: What are your hopes for GENU for the future?

Tom: Our hope is that as many people as possible will read it. So far, we have received such positive reviews that we are starting to believe it might actually be pretty good!

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

Tom: A quick comment on the cover: our choice for the full-color cover might seem odd to some, but once the 5 volumes collection is completed (next year) it will all make sense, because the 5 covers will gradually move from full black for Volume 1 to full white for Volume 5, through shades of grey. This is, of course, a homage to the black and white art of GENU.

John: Thank you for chatting with me, Tom. We wish you the best of luck on this and all future projects.

Tom: Thank you so much John.

 

Visit Amazon to purchase Genu along with many other great works from this author.

 

SISTERHOOD (One Shot)
by Richard Boom

 

John Lemus: Welcome back to and thank you once again for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. I am happy to be discussing your latest indie comic with you, today. Before we get started can you catch us up to how and what has changed since we had you on the last we had you on, for Leave On The Lights?

 

Richard Boom: Of course Covid19 happened, but still working my ass off daily and keep going strong. It took some adjustments mentally due to working at home fulltime ánd having my 3 teenagers around fulltime due to highschool programs being online… but other then that, all good, John! And how have YOU been?

 

 

John: Without Spoilers, what can you tell us about SISTERHOOD ONESHOT “THE GÁE BULG”: GWYNN GOES FERAL? Where it’s been, where it’s going, and your plans for the future?

 

Richard:Well, as you know the Sisterhood-series is a series filled with lovely 32-pg story in 40-pg comic books that all are oneshots. That has nót changed. I do see that every book becomes better then the last and with Sisterhood #3 it is the best so far i think. And I am working already on #4, which will be even better. And working on ashcans, crossovers, new stories, statues and even a boardgame.

 

 

John: We’ve last had you on for the first installment of SISTERHOOD, can you tell us how that went?

 

Richard:O that was a doozy, but much more a learning moment then anything else, from getting the right data into XLS, making sure the art team delivers (or try and diminish delays as much as possible) and trying to nót catch a burnout from overworking in the meantime! But I was happy with the end-result and so where the customers/fans!!

 

 

John: What was the most challenging part about your last campaign?

 

Richard: Fullfillment! The registration of it all, taking care of all the personal messages, and making sure the postal services do not run out of stamps!

 

 

John: What are some of the things you learned in your last campaign?

 

Richard: I would say the registration of PM’s and add-ons at the exact moment they come in. Do nót delay on that. Since I had over 30% backers with add-ons, I am glad I finally got off my procrastinating ass and finally figured it out.

Also… if you are preparing the Kickstarter, do not forget about the massive stack special high-end prints you had ordered previously… oh well, there is always another KS or IGG project 🙂

 

 

John: Can you tell us a little bit about how tackled this campaign as compared to your previous one or ones?

 

Richard: I took the basis from my other campaigns and mostly added FUN stuff. Like keychains, bandana’s and mouth masks. Just to try it out. TRY out new stuff, was my motto. Sadly no takers, but I did had fun thinking about those! With this information I ended up creating a bandana-stretch goal that really had folks raving! 

 

 

 

John: Is there anything did in this or the last campaign that you feel you could do better next time around?

 

Richard: I wish I would have looked around more for the market prices on metal covers. I loved the idea of fully metal covers, found a place that made them for me, yet priced them at around 25$ while other creators had put them on 100$. That was kinda lame of me.

 

John: Media wise, is there anything that you are consuming while working on this project?

 

Richard: The more I create projects and think about new projects, actually the LESS I consume of other stuff, be it comics or TV-shows. I did find out that a lot of ideas will pop up in my brain, when I am my new garden-situated jacuzzi, which we bought instead of going on a holiday during Covid19-season. The bubbles make me happy!

 

 

John: Has anything changed in your process between comics?

 

Richard: I feel I am a better projectleader now, that is for sure. Planning stuff ahead instead of waiting around till the last moment.

 

John: Is there anything you want to do that you have not been able to, yet?

 

Richard: I am planning a boardgame and this is in the final stages of the creative process. Next up is figuring out the costs of it all. That is so much fun though… I love both the creative side as well as investigating how to print, where to print, how much cost etc. I also want to give another go at a Mummy-statue. I tried and failed but I am thinking about new strategies, costwise!

 

 

 

 

John: What are your feelings about the current state of Indie Comics, and have they changed since you started?

 

Richard: I do see a surge in amazing new projects that are high-class quality shizzle. And of course the big change is celebs (hi there Keanu Reeves) doing projects that are not only cool to look at, but also will bring folks into comics like there never before!

 

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

 

Richard: After running a lovely Kickstarter, I have switched over to Indiegogo to give thát community the same product. So please check it out: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sisterhood-oneshot-3-in-which-gwynn-goes-feral

 

Richard: Thanks for having my on again! Hope to one day speak to you again! Keep safe, keep social distancing, VOTE for a change and make comics great again!

 

 

 

Launch video to comic Sisterhood#3

Grab Sisterhood the One-Shot here!

 

Include their Twitter tags at the end of each interview

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