Hello friends and readers, welcome back to Indie Comics Showcase. The weekly blog where we try and bring you Indie Comics from across the web, as well as interviews with their creators. We have some truly outstanding crowd funding campaigns to feature this week 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 ones, and of course the higher ones. And some of these campaigns have got some great higher tiers which make the higher levels of support even more value. Thank you all for being the best part of Indie Comics Showcase! Let’s jump in!
by Alejandro Lira
After unearthing the energy of a distant planet, humanity will awaken a menacing power that could evolve our species, but at what cost?
An outer spaced human colony discovers what appears to be evidence of another civilization in their planet, Orion .
Orion is a planet where technology was known to be pretty inefficient, that was until some scientists discovered a colossal station of unknown technology underneath the planet, supposedly constructed by a long-extinct race. It took two generations to understand that this construct of an ancient design was not a great place for humanity. A lot of people started leaving the planet out of fear, but others remained and worked under a new special project.
Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.
John: Alejandro, bienvenido Y gracias por estar con nosotros en Indie Comics Showcase! Today I would like to talk about Orion, your bilingual sci-fi comic thriller. I understand that you’re also working on a short animated film to go along with the comic, is that correct?
Alejandro: That is correct. The world we wanted to tell kept expanding and we had a lot of secrets and information to share with our readers. Orion is not only an action story, but it also has a lot of suspense, and we do focus on its mysteries. That is why we started working on the animation. The animation will cover all the comic panels and will include additional lore to the main story and cover some side stories.
John: Without giving away any spoilers, what can you tell us about Orion? Give our readers the pitch.
Alejandro: Orion takes place in a world where humankind has achieved the capacity to wonder other galaxies and planets.
One of those planets is Orion, which, when humanity arrived and started the colony, they noticed technology did not work as intended. Power leaks. Malfunctioning machines. Transportation issues. It seemed the planet had a magnetic field that affected technology. Some people loved the idea and others didn’t, Orion was perfect for a simpler life. Until they found out about the ruins.
Deep underground, the ruins of ancient technology and civilization revealed why human technology presented issues, something bigger was in the planet’s core, a forgotten energy. Once humans started analyzing it, they found it might hold the key to technokinesis. A civil war disrupts the planet as scientists find a way to use a portion of this power.
Orion dwells under different premises. Can we merge human life and technology? Would technokinesis allow people to remain human? At its core, we created a sci-fi story with lots of actions and suspense and we are thrilled to share it with everyone. Orion shows a lot of scenarios where the power of technokinesis can shine and become a great but terrifying power. Expect lots of technology controlling action and how it would affect the human mind in our story.
We are also considering a prequel book for the series, Orion is a passion for us and we want to share all we can about its lore with our readers We will continue evolving and creating stories, we grew up reading comics and we are excited to add our stories to this amazing art form.
John: What makes Orion a story you wanted to tell?
Alejandro: This is not only the story about a human colony discovering new power and using it for “evil purposes” it is more about how this power affects every single person and how it changes what we are as a species. Orion is fun to work with, I love every moment with it because I can describe a fight scene and then follow it with ancients civilizations and their mysteries, I love it.
Orion is an opportunity we want to transform into a reality. For us, the Orion comic and animation means our goals are coming to life and evolving our lives the same way technokinesis changes our characters.
John: What are some of the things that have served as a source of inspiration when working on for Orion?
Alejandro: The biggest Orion inspiration, for its lore, would be H.P Lovecraft. I can’t say a lot about it because it would spoil a few things, but let’s say that the planet and its mysteries hide way more than we want our readers to know at the moment.
Star Trek and the ideas of discovering new worlds and civilizations are there as well. I might even add a little bit of Phillip K. Dick’s Blade Runner and Valis in regards the questions I wanted to raise. I also enjoy videogames and we do have a focus on action throughout the story too. I wanted big action panels, with huge battles and powers. So I think I can mention Halo and Mass Effect as inspiration for Orion as well.
John: Why did you choose sequential art as the format in which to tell this particular story?
Alejandro: At first I did consider a prose book before turning Orion into a comic, but with the art, we had a unique style that we wanted to continue working with. When I saw the first moving images I knew people would like to experience the story in animation. But nothing is set in stone, we might work with different ways of telling this story and a book is still a possibility, but it would be a prequel.
John: What can you tell us about your creative process?
Alejandro: I usually stare at the void, hahaha. My ideas flow while I have my eyes opened but I focus on the story without knowing what I am even looking at. That is why I need to be sitting, haha, can’t drive while imagining things, not in the same way at least. I also listen to music, but it has to be related to what I am writing, in Orion’s case, I mixed rock with Silent Hill soundtrack.
John: I feel like I’m seeing a little ‘War of The Worlds’ influence in the artwork and design, was that intentional?
Alejandro: Oh, that’s on me, hahaha. I really enjoy H.G Wells work. I still remember how his Island of Doctor Moreau changed my life. I have never seen the movie adaptations, so for me it’s more about how the book ends and how it makes you feel. I believe H.G Wells and Lovecraft inspired me in order to create Orion the way its meant to be.
I do believe a big part of storytelling has to do with knowing what the world has seen already. There are a lot of ideas that I want to explore in my work, add some twists to things we have seen already and to make them something else. So I tell the stories I want to see alive. I love superheroes and I am also working on a story about them, with twists, of course. The same goes for fantasy. While growing up, Arthurian Legends really influenced my early work and how I wanted to tell and end stories. After that, I got Lord of the Rings, The name of the wind, and let’s not forget about folklore. Mexican stories have a lot of deaths on them, which, eventually got me closer to Game of Thrones.
As a writer, I like to have fun, I love telling stories and giving them my passion, the things I can do different and the questions I like to raise for my readers.
John: Very interesting. So what are your hopes for Orion going forward?
Alejandro: Orion is on Kickstarter at the moment, we need the funding to transform it into a reality. So, for now, that would be our starting point. We want our story to be a success, so we can expand our way of storytelling. In the future, we could create a channel where we can deliver animations on a weekly basis in addition to expanding the number of issues for the comic.
John: Do you have any advice, any words of encouragement for any of our readers who one day hope to launch their own indie comic or for someone who wants to get into concept or production art?
Alejandro: Don’t give up and don’t be afraid of sharing your ideas. I know working with passion it’s hard sometimes and that it can be discouraging from time to time. I’ve been there, I have doubted myself in the past and probably will continue to do so. We are humans after all. It’s fine, you can doubt, but do what you love. Eventually, it started to be easier for me to the point where it became fulfilling.
Creating stories and seeing them come to life… it’s beyond words for me. My childhood dreams have turned into reality these past few years and I’m really grateful. So, the best thing I can tell you is that if you want to be an artist, you may have to fight for it against yourself and never give up, but also remember, we are doing this to share what we love, create for others, adapt who you are and what you love so others can enjoy it too.
John: Great advice. Anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?
Alejandro: We simply want to invite all readers to check our project on Kickstarter and if you like it feel free to support us! We really appreciate all the backing we can get.
John: Once Alejandro, me gustaría darte las gracias por estar con nosotros en Indie Comics Showcase, te deseo mucha suerte con esta y toda las compañías de el futuro.
Alejandro: Thank you so much for having me and conducting this amazing interview, I had a blast answering your questions and I can see that you are as passionate as I am, it was a pleasure. The Orion team really appreciates your support and your wishes, thank you!
Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.
Masked Heroes: Time Strikers #1
by Ale’ and Dan Becker
Time Strikers Accelerate!
Defend time and space from villainy!
Inspired by Japanese tokusatsu series like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, Masked Heroes: Time Strikers is the dawn of a new super hero universe full of masked heroes and magical girls. Join us as we have fun in our own sandbox creating stories that span time, space and many worlds!
Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.
John: Hello Ale’! Welcome and thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. Today I would like to talk about Masked Heroes: Time Strikers by first saying “congratulations” on the comic being fully funded. I love the look of the Time Strikers, it has that really nostalgic 80’s anime look to it, the kind you would find in Speed Racer and Megaman.
Ale’: Thanks! I can’t believe we got funded in only a week! I did a few Kickstarters last year that were also successful, but this one went by really fast, so I’m hoping we can continue to grow!
John: Without giving away too much, what can you tell us about Masked Heroes Time Strikers? Where it’s been, where it’s going, and your plans for the future…
Ale’: Well last year I started to develop the seeds with my co-creator and plotter Dan Becker. He pitched me the idea and the name TIME STRIKERS. I immediately started designing characters, and together we fleshed them out, and developed a plot and our plans. Its a story about a trio of siblings who work for a galactic organization dedicated to fighting evil, think like the Nova Corp from Marvel Comics. They are a specifically designated with traveling through time to investigate disturbances affecting the stream of time and space.
What I’m really excited about this project is creating a larger universe playing with a sandbox. The Time Strikers aren’t the only heroes of this universe, and it’ll be fun to play with that, issue to issue! We have 10 issues planned for these characters, but after that it’s really open ended. We may develop characters we introduce here, and even villains too! We want to make this feel like a fleshed out universe with many facets of characters!
John: What does Masked Heroes: Time Strikers mean to you, what about it makes it a story you want to tell?
Ale’: As a product of the 90s, I grew up watching television shows like Power Rangers, and as I grew up I learned about the Japanese side of these shows like Kamen Rider and Super sentai and the overall genre of Japanese Tokusatsu. I love the aesthetic of these shows, and I wanted to take that aesthetic and i wanted to focus on the characters I develop. I’m really influenced by older manga too, especially from the 60s to 80s. Some of my favorites being Cyborg 009, Astroboy and Devilman!
Time Strikers to me, is a story about family and the bonds that tie them together. All these siblings have are each other, and they’ve been thrust into this life with the pressure of defending the Galaxy. It’s a heavy thing to ask of any young adult, but together they can triumph over any obstacle that stands in their way. So while the action and tropes of tokusatsu are gonna be fun to play with, ultimately overall the story will be about the relationship between the three.
John: Do you read anything else for inspiration, or watch any shows, or listen to music as you work?
Ale’: Well as I said before, I LOVE Power Rangers and the Japanese side of Tokusatsu. It’s a really nice genre here in the United States, but in Japan its huge! In a way, this comic is here to help bridge the gaps between Toku fans and the casual public who may not even be aware these shows exist!
My biggest inspiration to this book though is Japanese artist Shotaro Ishinomori. He was a manga artist from the 60’s up until his death in the late 90’s. He created so many Japanese comics and super hero shows and he’s my idol. And while I’m working, I definitely love to the fit the mood of what I’m working on. I paint a picture inside my head like I’m a movie director and what music would fit the scene I’m working on. I have a playlist full of opening themes and music from shows like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai. I especially love music from the Showa era, it was so jazzy and so unique!
John: Why did you choose the comic book format to tell this tale?
Ale’: Drawing comics is just something I’ve always done and its like being my own movie studio. I am the camera man, director, set designer and artist! In high school, I used to draw comics on computer paper that I would give to all my friends to read, and their excitement to see what I was doing next, drove me to get better and better. Now as an adult those same friends support my projects and I’m able to travel all across the country to bring my stories to people. The other day a fan tweeted an image of him wearing a shirt of an old comic I worked on a few years ago, and it’s crazy to think that I could have that impact on anyone!
John: That’s pretty cool. Can you give us some insight into your craft? Tell us about your process. Pen and paper or digital?
Ale’: So I draw entirely digitally now for my comics, but here’s how I get it to “paper,” if you will. With Dan, we discuss what the plot is, how we want the comic to end and start. It’s kind of like writing a college essay, writing that intro is the hardest but most important! Once we have the story plotted out, I start scripting it. It’s interesting to script as the artist, because in my head I’m basically planning out the scenes and layouts in my head. I may even grab a scrap paper and start storyboarding to see if the beats will work out on the script.
Once the script is completed, I start drawing from it one panel at a time. I draw both traditionally and digitally, but for this book I’ve been using an ipad pro to draw the whole book. It’s hard to go back to traditional when working digitally is so convenient! Despite the fact this book is a small indie book, I try to work as a team the same way any big publisher would. I hired a colorist Zac Actkinson, who’s a great friend of mine but has a great resume!
After I finish the line work, he colors all my pages and brings it to life, and then I pass it on to Jeremiah Lambert, another artist who acts as my editor and letterer. The man just knows how to make my pages look the best they can. He doesn’t let me do my average, he always pushes me to get better and I really appreciate that. Together that’s how we’ve put this book together!
John: As I previously stated, Time Strikers really takes me back to playing the OG Megaman games on the Nintendo and watching Speed Racer. Was that intentional?
Ale’: Well its no secret that I love old school video games and anime! So in a sense yes! The original art direction of Megaman was really inspired by series like Cyborg 009, you could even argue that manga laid the ground work for Megaman. Also back to that music question, Mega Man 2’s soundtrack is on repeat a lot for me! It’s so good! It’s why in our Kickstarter video I asked my friend, a chiptune artist, to use his music. I just love that aesthetic! And I’ve been really developing my art style to convey old manga/anime style like Speed Racer and Astroboy for years. I absolutely the style and I just organically draw that way now.
John: Who has been your biggest influence and how have they affected your work?
Ale’: My biggest influence is Shotaro Ishinomori, I mentioned him before but the man’s resume is stacked. He has the world record for most sequential pages ever drawn by one person! He created the manga Cyborg 009, which eventually led to several anime adaptations. One that captured me, was the 2001 adaptation that actually played on Cartoon Network’s Toonami! I remember the first time I got my hands on the DVD and my life changed from there. The art style was amazing, the story telling was groundbreaking even for today’s standards. I eventually found out how that story basically laid the groundwork for every anime and manga to come after it, even more so than Astroboy! I also learned he created several live action tv shows, known as Kamen Rider and Super Sentai (and of course many more!) Eventually Super Sentai came to the United States as Power Rangers. It was a full circle and I knew this man was important. I really want my work to capture the energy of storytelling and art as he did. He loved what he did and had such a passion for all of his characters and I want to carry on that legacy through what i do.
John: What are your hopes for Masked Heroes: Time Strikers?
Ale’: Not to get ahead of myself, but I really want this to develop into a fleshed out expanded universe I’ve dubbed it the “Masked Hero Universe”. I want to create many more characters that exist in this larger narrative and have them interact. I would even love to bring on other artist and writers someday to contribute. I also want to create something live action from this. A fun part of tokusatsu is its definition of “special effects” and there’s a lot of indie toku that exist, and it’d be fun to work with them, and create stories that work with the comics hand in hand!
John: Is there anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?
Ale’: Despite being funded already, we’re working on stretch goals! I have got some cool plans, so if anyone reads this still wants to support the project, it’d mean a lot to check out the kickstarter and consider supporting it! I think people are going to really like these characters a lot, and I’ve poured everything I’ve learned the last few years into this project and I’m really proud of what we’ve done.
John: Once again Ale’, I would like to say thank you for being a part of indie comics showcase. Congratulations once again on Time Strikers having been fully funded. I wish you the same amount of success, and more, on all future projects.
Ale’: Thank you so much! It was a pleasure!
Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.
“Man is a wolf to Man”
by Cristina Roswell
Callie, a killer who is mind-linked to a wolf, and Chris, a PTSD suffering soldier, must stop the US army from weaponizing their kind.
Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.
John: Welcome and thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase, Cristina. Let’s talk about your project Woodland Creatures Wild Souls which is a graphic novel adaptation of your prose novel.
Cristina: Hi, John! Thank you very much for your interest in our comic book and the opportunity to be featured on Bleeding Fool! I really appreciate it!
John: Of course! Let’s jump right in. What can you tell us about WOODLAND CREATURES. Wild Souls?
Cristina: Woodland Creatures started as a paperback novel, but it actually began as an online novel back in 2009. I started to write the first chapters on my personal blog (in Spanish. I was born in Spain) with the only purpose of getting my name out before publishing my first paperback novel. I wrote about half of the story this way until I got stuck and stopped to fully focus on my first novel (a different one which was published in 2012 by a Spanish publisher). In 2016 I finished it and decided to send it to Amazon’s indie contest. It didn’t win but it was the second most commented book in the contest with a total of 60 reviews (all 4 and 5 stars).
I made the decision to turn it into a graphic novel a couple years ago and immediately began looking for the right people to work in the project. I found award-winning scriptwriter Fali Ruiz-Dávila, who decided to take the job after reading the book; artist Tomás Aira, who has an impressive portfolio, having illustrated Garth Ennis’ War Stories and recently worked for Dark Horse among many other big publishers, and Gonzalo Duarte, who is also a colourist and script-writer and took the lettering job.
At the moment we are just waiting (all fingers crossed), hoping that we can get funded on Kickstarter to finish the first volume of the graphic novel. We are almost 60% there, with over 80 backers and 15 days left to go.
John: What about Woodland Creatures makes it a story you wanted to tell?
Cristina: Woodland Creatures covers so many themes that I actually struggle to define it by only one. It’s got action, but it’s not an action novel; it’s got a bit of military thriller, but it’s not technically one; it’s got a love story, but it is definitely not a romance book; it’s got werewolves (with a twist) and blood, and murders, but it’s not a horror novel or a crime one.
The main theme of Woodland Creatures is how Man can be a wolf to mankind, how people can be way more dangerous than the most dangerous of animals when it suits them or when they are scared. The other second theme is the impact that Mankind has not only upon their own but over Nature (putting it under its service) and particularly in this case, over wolves.
Woodland Creatures was, technically, the first story that I showed to people, so in that sense it will always be special to me. Its characters are probably the most developed of all of those that I have written so far, and several of them have a bit of me (especially Callie, the female lead, not in the way of a Mary Sue, but more in the way of considering her my Mrs. Hyde, how I could be if I had no morals and there was actually no consequences to our actions. Like… how you could be if you could just say “f*** it all” to everything and to everyone, lol).
John: What are some of the things that have served as a source of inspiration when working on Woodland Creatures? Do you read anything, watch any shows, listen to music as you work to give you inspiration?
Cristina: Yes, yes and yes, haha. As a writer you could say that you are constantly getting inspired by everything, literally anything can be a source of inspiration. I do listen to music as I write, and even more: I create Spotify playlists with songs that remind me of the story that I’m writing. For Woodland Creatures it’s mainly Bastille and Of Monsters and Men, and a bit of Grizfolk and The Script.
John: Tell me about your writing process. What kind of writer are you?
Cristina: They say there’s two types of writer: the compass one, and the map one. The compass ones goes where the story takes them, whereas the map ones has everything pretty much planed from the beginning to the end.
I’m a more of a compass one. I start with a very general idea of the story and a few characters, but I never know how it is going to end until I’m further down the line. Some people laugh when we, authors, say that characters often take their own directions and go away from what we had planned for them originally, but it is totally true! You might have some dialogues worked out, and for the characters to do this or that, but as you have them “moving around” you see that it makes more sense for them to do or say something different, you change things here and there and it can totally twist your plans for later on. Sometimes I don’t have a definite end until halfway through the book, often even later than that.
John: I like that. You mentioned that Woodland Creatures was originally a novel. Why did you decide to do a graphic novel adaptation?
Cristina: The good reviews of my Spanish paperback version encouraged me to reach a wider audience (the English speaking one) and that, added to the fact that I met my current partner (who only speaks English) and I wanted him to read at least one of my published novels, made me decide to translate it all myself from Spanish into English.
The translation was good enough for my boyfriend, he could understand it, but I knew that it wasn’t professional enough to be published. I thought that a graphic novel could be a middle ground (less text to translate and the artwork would work with how “visual” all the readers said that my novel was). I found my great script-writer, my amazing artist, and we began working on it.
John: Who would you say have been some of your influences been over the years and how have they affected your work?
Cristina: When I was younger I used to read a lot of Anne Rice, R.L Stine and K.A. Applegate books. It was mainly urban fantasy/science fantasy, horror, paranormal…, so I guess that’s why I now write mainly those genres; it’s what I know best and where I feel comfortable.
My stories always have a fantasy/paranormal theme, but it’s told in a realistic way (or as realistic as a fantasy story can be), that’s what defines my works. So I’d grab a paranormal character (vampires in my first and second published novels, werewolves in my third one and a ghost in my latest book) and then set them in a world that, other than having those fantastic beings, is just like ours in every other aspect. After that I´d ask myself: how would a vampire or a werewolf be if it actually existed in our world?
So vampires would be immortal and I’d justify the regeneration of cells through the consumption of blood, but they´d need to eat normal food too, just like every other person, and they wouldn’t die under the sun or fly or transform into any animals.
Then we have the werewolves of Woodland Creatures: they are humans just like us, but with heightened senses (so their hearing and sense of smell is better, they can see in the dark, they are stronger and more agile…) and instead of turning into wolves, they can transfer their consciousness into wolves that they have as companions (similar to familiars).
John: Fascinating. Tell me Cristina, what do you think the future holds for Woodland Creatures?
Cristina: At the moment I just hope that the Woodland Creatures graphic novel project is successfully funded through Kickstarter so that we can actually finish it; that’s all I’m hoping for right now. If we achieve that, I would just want the backers to love the graphic novel and for more people to find out about it and enjoy it.
Eventually I would also love for a publishing house to be interested in translating the paperback edition into English and to have it in bookstores outside of Spain, but if the comic was a success I would be happy enough just with that.
A movie would be the ultimate dream, obviously, but I know what the odds of that happening are!
John: Haha! Who knows? Is there anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?
Cristina: I would just like to ask readers to give me a chance. Just to go out and check the project on Kickstarter, read the synopsis, the story and the updates, and decide, based on that, whether it is something that they would want to get their hands on. I think that so many people don’t even bother looking you up unless you are a known author or recommended by someone important or a publishing house, and it is a shame because they might be surprised. I know because I have been in the same boat, I have passed on authors in the past because I hadn’t heard about them or they were “just indie authors”, and when I have finally decided to give them a chance, I have regretted not doing it sooner.
Very often, the only difference between a good, known, published author and a good indie one is the amount of money that they can put towards promotion.
John: Well said. Once again Cristina, I would like to say thank you for being a part of indie comics showcase. We wish you the best of luck on this campaign and all future projects.
Cristina: No, thank YOU for giving me a chance! You wouldn’t believe the amount of comic book websites that I have contacted which haven’t even got back to me (spoiler: 90% of them).
John: We are rooting for you Cristina!
Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.
Well dear readers, I know I’m not a journalist or a professional reporter. I’m technically not even a blogger. I’m just a dude trying to help indie comic creators find supporters and readers for their passion projects. So I want to thank you all for helping me do so, and once again thank you for being the best part of Indie Comics Showcase.
Till next time. When ever that will be. This is the Walter Cronkite of independent comics signing off.
HAHA! Does anyone remember how Walter Cronkite actually use to sign off? I suppose many of you don’t even know who Walter Cronkite is…
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