Indie Comics Showcase #110: 1st Man, Ballyskillen & Urfspace

 

 

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!

 

 

Urfspace
by Chuck Whelon

 

The Future is Now. What will it be like to dwell amongst the stars?… Will we retain our sanity once time-travel is possible?… Should it bother us when apocalypses start happening every other day?…

 

Check out the book on Amazon here!

 

 

Chris Braly: Tell our readers your elevator pitch for Urfspace: Cartoons of the Future. Briefly tell our readers what’s up.

Chuck Whelon: Urfspace is a book of cartoons about the future, and the technologies that are changing our lives in so many ways. These are single-panel cartoons that act as bite-sized science fiction stories. In the way of all good sci-fi, they are intended to shock, awe and horrify readers. Also hopefully to make us think a bit too, with the ultimately intention of getting a good laugh.

CB: This isn’t your first book by a long shot. I noticed well over a dozen on your Amazon page. How did you first get into this and how did it lead to this?

CW: I have been drawing all my life. I work full-time as an illustrator through the Beehive illustration Agency, creating work for different publishers, including children’s activity books and a lot of work in the education market. Thanks to my agent, I have also been commissioned to create a number of search-and-find books, such as “Where’s the Elf?” and “Where’s the Mermaid?” for publishers such as Simon & Schuster & Penguin Random House. Previous to this I worked in day jobs, first at a print shop in downtown San Francisco, and later at advertising and graphic design studios in the SF Bay Area.

While doing this I would work at nights on my webcomic, “Pewfell: The Worst Wizard on Urf“, which was originally published online in the early 2000s on ModernTales.com, the first professional webcomics portal. Pewfell is now collected into 5 trade-paperbacks, also available on Amazon. Previously, I worked for a long illustrating boardgames for Minion Games, including “Legitimacy: The Game of Royal Bastards” which I designed the mechanics of myself. Urfspace is the first collection of single-panel cartoons for a general audience that I have released.

CB: Where did the idea for Urfspace: Cartoons of the Future originate?

CW: I love science fiction, and often have little ideas for sci-fi stories, so I wanted to create something that could capture and present all these ideas in an easily digestible format. Also I am disabled with a less severe form of Spina Bifida, which affects my mobility somewhat, so I wanted to do something that addressed issues of diversity and inclusion, albeit in a more oblique kind of way. I am a bit of an idealist, who feels like they have something to say, so there is definitely some kind of agenda to this book, so sometimes it does get a bit political too.

 

Mostly, though, I just started doodling in my sketchbook, and gradually the format started to emerge. I had an idea about doing something in space or on a space station, but I really didn’t want to be too constrained, or use too much narrative or formal structure. I wanted to create something organic and different that would allow me to take the series wherever I wanted. Originality is very important to me, and I don’t usually like working too much with other people’s (or corporations’) characters. I also wanted it to be very simple and ground down to just the most basic elements. Many of the first ones are simply illustrations of various facts about space, where we all live, even if we are currently all still trapped on this tiny blue dot we call Earth. Once I got started, the ideas started coming pretty quickly, and I just ran with it. Eventually I had enough to put them into a book, so here it is.

CB: What kind of comic fans do you expect this comic will entertain the most? And is that the same for all of your works?

CW: This book was designed for the general reader, but comic book fans should be better than most at grasping some of the more advanced science-fictiony concepts. Growing up, I read 2000AD and Judge Dredd, so I love the kind of dark humor that was an integral part of those stories. I kind of worship writers like Alan Moore, John Wagner and Pat Mills who were foundational for me philosophically, and I think “Urfspace” is quite a philosophical work. Thanks to my father, I had access to the work of Charles Addams and Ronald Searle in my home as a kid, and those guys were very influential on me as far as actual cartoons go. I also love Sergio Aragones and Groo, and there is no doubt my work is very influenced by his, though in “Urfspace” I have used an even more stripped down format, mainly because of dwindling attention spans… including mine!

CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team / other creators that have contributed to this?

CW: This is all my own work – pencils, inks, colors and self-publishing through IngramSpark. I did not try submitting the work to publishers. I have done a lot of work for publishers, but I have also had some success with my self-published works, and these days I am actively working to expand my catalog of self-published works. I published the cartoons originally on my Instagram @chuckwhelon, and on Webtoon, where I am now currently re-running my Pewfell comics, which were written with my co-writer Adam Prosser of Phantasmic Tales.

CB: What are the best and worst parts of publishing through Amazon?

CW: I use IngramSpark to publisher to Amazon, and to all other major online book retailers. Over the years I have found that my margins are so low on books put out by publishers, that it is hardly worth my while to promote them. Also I noticed that nearly every negative review I’ve ever gotten on Amazon has been because of some cheapness on the publisher’s part. I guess those sorts of jobs do pay the bills, but there seems to be very little left on the back-end these days for artists, who generally seem to be regarded by corporations as the least important person in the process, as far as I can tell these days.

Self-published works do not sell anywhere near as many copies, but it’s easy enough to set them up, once you figure out how to jump through all the hoops, and once it’s done, the title is out there and easily accessible for all, with now more work required from me, other than to promote and sell the thing when I have some time to do so…. like right now!

CB: Thanks for chatting with us, Chuck! Best of luck with this fun project!

CW: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to tell you about “Urfspace”. I hope your readers will check it out and let me know what they think. It’s a fun and easy book to read, that can be dipped into at will. It will make you laugh and it will make you think and even I find new angles in them whenever I come back to them.

 

Check out the book on Amazon here!

 

 

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1st Man
by Andy Smith

 

Andy Smith has been a professional comic book artist for almost three decade working for Marvel, DC, Image, Valiant, Cross Gen, and, Ominous Press. Andy created 1stMan back when he was a kid in the 80s when he was still only dreaming of being a professional comic book artist and was reading Marvel’s Captain Marvel and DC’s Shazam, those books are a huge part of what he loves about comics, and he modeled 1st Man after them!

 

Check out the campaign here!

 

 

Chris Braly: Tell our readers your elevator pitch for 1st Man. Briefly tell our readers what’s up.

Andy Smith: An otherworldly Essence inhabits a young college student to bide time while the evil overlord Monarch is on the hunt through the universe to gain that last bit of power he needs to rule the galaxies!

There are 10 Essences scattered throughout the universe, each Essence inhabits a host on a different planet to safeguard it. Monarch being corrupted by the Essence that inhabits him destroys his planet and goes on a quest to absorb the other 9 Essences and become all-powerful. In the last moments, before Monarch can take the last Essence, it escapes to Earth to inhabit a new host and hide from Monarch. The hunt is on for Monarch to find the Essence with his help of his servant Penumbra.

 

CB: How did you first break into professional comics?

AS: I attended the Joe Kubert School from 88-91 and in my senior year I found out Bart Sears was an instructor at the school, however, he was teaching the second year students not the third which I was. I introduced myself to him and showed him my work. He must have seen something in it as he tutored me after school hours and became a mentor for me in my third year. I’d hang out at his apartment doing homework while he was penciling stuff for DC. I drew a few backgrounds of buildings and stuff for him in JLE. In the spring of that year, he asked if I wanted to take my work up to DC Comics while he went up to drop off some JLE pages. He introduced me to editors who gave me some great feedback and said to work up new samples and bring them back. I did that and returned with Bart a few weeks later when he was dropping pages off again. I talked to some of the same editors and some new ones and was offered a job then. I was lucky to break in and get my first job before I graduated.

 

 

CB: Where did the idea for 1st Man originate? You mentioned you were 12 or so when the concept came to you right?

AS: I took my love of silver-age comics like Captain Mar-vell, Thanos, Shazam, Darkseid, Green Lantern, and more and threw them in a bowl mixed up the ingredients and that is the cast of 1stMan. I wanted to have the straight-edged doesn’t kill hero, 1stMan, and the no morals totally evil bad guy which is Monarch but in between is the female lead Penumbra that rides the line of what’s right and wrong…she’ll kill if she has too and is mostly out for herself.

 

CB: What kind of comic fans do you expect this comic will entertain the most?

AS: I love superhero comics with fun action-packed stories and if you’re a fan of that type of comic book this is one for you! It’s PG-rated so kids can read it and adults will enjoy it too!

 

 

CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team / other creators that have contributed to this? (inks, colors, dialogue, letters, etc)

AS: A buddy of mine Rob Snyder, who’ve I’ve known since I was 18, is also a cartoonist, mostly editorial stuff and gag comics helped me with the dialogue of the first issue from 1997. When I decided to bring it back and finish the story I called him up and asked if he’d like to contribute again and he was thrilled to be a part of it. The colors are being handled by Periya Pillay who also colored my Jungle Lords/Ultra book. He is out of India and does phenomenal work. The lettering is being done by a buddy of mine from the Kubert School Steve Dutro, he also designed the 1stMan logo. Steve has worked for every major publisher since 1991 and is still lettering today. He also lettered and created the logo for Jungle Lords.

 

CB: What else are you learning from crowdfunding and creating through this process?

AS: I’d say mostly is how much time it takes to do social media marketing to get the word out about the campaign before it started and during the campaign. I learned more about what are good stretch goals to offer through my first campaign Jungle Lords/Ultra.

 

 

CB: Thanks for chatting with us! Good luck and we are rooting for you!

AS: I appreciate being able to do the interview! Thank you so much!

 

Check out the campaign here!

 

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Ballyskillen
An Augmented Reality Modern Fantasy Comic Book

by Andrew Dorland

 

Ballyskillen #1, is the first of a four issue storyline in an Augmented Reality Comic Book series. A contemporary fantasy based on Irish mythology, it is the first to integrate traditional 2D animation to enhance the storytelling. The full color comic book can be read and enjoyed on its own in print or digital format, but you can increase the scope of your narrative experience using the Augmented Reality App on your phone or tablet. It’s a technologically enhanced contemporary thriller based on creatures of Irish folklore!

 

Check out the campaign here!

 

 

Chris Braly: Tell our readers your elevator pitch for BALLYSKILLEN: An Augmented Reality Modern Fantasy Comic Book. Briefly tell our readers what’s up.

Andrew Dorland: Ballyskillen is a fully animated comic book that takes place in 1980’s Rural Ireland.  This is not a motion comic, it’s full 24 frame 2d traditional hand drawn animation that is played through your phone or tablet.  That said, the app is not needed to enjoy the story. It is more of a super special feature that lets you dive deeper into the world and mythology of Ballyskillen.  

 

 
The pitch is: After being blackmailed by an ancient druid, a washed up pub owner becomes the human agent for a hidden community of Faeries.  Along with a shape shifting giant bunny rabbit and a Punk Rock Leprechaun, they must hunt down a dark mythical creature before it kills again.  Dive into a world of Irish mythology and amazing animation in this fun but heart wrenching tale of creatures and adventure. 
 

CB: This isn’t your first adventure in storytelling and animation. How did you first get into it and how did it lead to this?

 
AD:    I’ve always loved comics and have been drawing, as most artists since a very young age.  After drawing comics for a number of years as well as working in animation as a storyboard artist these two skill sets have merged to make this project possible.  I grew up on comics and the golden 80s of animation, so naturally my love of these two mediums have brought me here but after being a stockbroker, running from bears, and tattooing people, it has not been a super direct line to get here. Having a love of great storytelling, it was very important that this project stand alone as a comic first, but having the ability to add a deeper aspect of animation to the tale was a dream come true. 

CB: Where did the idea for Ballyskillen originate?

 
AD:  The seeds for Ballyskillen were planted as I read old Irish mythology books that my grandmother left at her old house.  These old books from the 20’s, with their worn pages and old book smell gave a mystery in themselves beyond the stories.  Later on while working on a storyboard project in Ireland, I was able to really develop the story.   While lovingly drinking pints and adjusting the story in pubs across Ireland, I based the characters such as Rory from real life pub owners from around the country.  

CB: What kind of comic fans is this geared towards in your mind? Who do you expect this comic will entertain the most?

 
AD:  Fans of modern dark fantasy and mythology will love this book.  People who like things such as Stranger Things, Harry Potter, Sandman or Saga will be in good company with this tale.  

CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team / other creators that have contributed to this project?

 
AD:  I’ve partnered with Sam Noir here at the RAID Studio in Toronto to write this story.  Knowing my strengths and weaknesses, I knew I needed help with the writing and story structure.  Just as lockdown hit I was lucky enough to meet Sam Noir at the studio and after working on a mini first, we knew we had a great working process and I knew he was the one to add some writing magic to this tale.  Sam has worked on numerous books and notably the Cauldron Magazine which is nominated for the Joe Shuster award. We also have Lisa Manton giving us editorial help on dialog as she is Irish and keeps our dialog as authentic as possible. 

CB: What else are you learning from crowdfunding and creating through this process?

 
AD:  Currently with all the Cons being down crowdfunding has been wonderful.  Seeing all these larger publishers moving to the space as well is really putting us on an even playing field if you have a quality product and something people will love.  The ability to provide fans with new and extra features to the comic book medium is fantastic.  I am even able to offer a couple fully animated portraits to a few lucky backers.  The engagement and direct connection to fans has been great and for anyone planning a campaign I always strongly recommend a lot of promotion before the campaign launches.  

CB: Thanks for chatting with us! Good luck and we are rooting for you!

 
AD:  Thanks so much for chatting.  I encourage everyone to download the app for free at www.ballyskillen.com and give it a try.  You won’t want to miss out on this innovative project and all the exclusive kickstarter deals this fantastic story has to offer.   

 

Check out the campaign here!

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That’s it for this installment! Support indie comics!!!

 


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Chris Braly

I'm a collector, a speculator, and one opinionated, based geek. My friends call me Braly, but those who know me within the hobby generally refer to me as Bralinator. I can be heard monthly on the Comic Book Page Previews Spotlight podcast with several other comic book nerds. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisBraly

JUST KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON