Indie Comics Showcase #48

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

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

 


MIDNIGHT: DANGER ZONE ONE:
VOLUME 2 – Law & Disorder

 

Danger Zone One has been an ongoing, weekly updated, Indie Manga/ Web Comic about Officer Reena Saffron and Madison Wynter. It’s an action packed adventure with wonderful characters,  amazing art, and a wholly original story. The campaign for Volume One was one of the very first crowdfunding projects we covered on Indie Comics Showcase. Now as we are approaching the anniversary of the release of Indie Comics Showcase, I’m very happy and proud to share with you all little bit about Midnight, one of the creators of Danger Zone One. I hope you enjoy. You can follow along on their adventures here. and show them some support by becoming one of their patrons here.

VISIT THE KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN HERE!

I spoke with the writer, who goes by “Midnight”

 
John: Midnight, Welcome and thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. Today I would like to talk about DANGER ZONE ONE VOLUME 2, Your indie manga series.
 
Midnight: Thank you for the opportunity!
 
John: Tell our readers a little about what you do and what Danger Zone One is.
 
Midnight: Well, I’m the writer of Danger Zone One, a weekly webcomic that follows the adventures of Reena Saffron, a rookie officer with the Pallad City police department, and her loose cannon partner, Madison Wynter.
 
John: What are some of the first comics or manga that you remember reading?
 
Midnight: The very first comics I recall reading were Batman (the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle era) and classic Spider-Man. I remember being particularly fond of Marvel Tales, which reprinted very early Spider-Man issues.
 
As for Japanese manga, Guyver was one of the earliest titles I had read, back when VIZ was publishing it. Now, sadly, long out of print…
 
 
John: What’s the comic or manga you remember having the biggest impact on you?
 
Midnight: Mark Gruenwald’s run on Captain America had a massive impact on me. The consistency of his writing rarely, if ever, faltered—and the way he incorporated characters into his story lines were always done in a meaningful way. Gruenwald often tried to develop and expand upon Cap’s personality, and his respect for “in-universe” continuity showed that it wasn’t just a throwaway writing gig to him—he actually cared about the characters and plots. His frequent nods to Jack Kirby’s earlier work on Captain America were often evident as well.
 
For Japanese manga, Go Nagai’s impressive catalogue of titles remain a huge inspiration. His disregard for conventional storytelling and eagerness to push the envelope has always resonated with me. I admire his commitment to not playing it “safe” just for commercial appeal.
 
 
John: Without Spoilers, what can you tell us about DANGER ZONE ONE VOLUME 2? Where it’s been, where it’s going, and your plans for the future?
 
Midnight: DANGER ZONE ONE, VOLUME 2 continues the further adventures of officers Reena and Madison as they combat crime in Pallad City. This volume collects 6 chapters, which finds our two protagonists pitted against a variety of new obstacles. They’ll investigate a theme park where not all is as it seems, try to stop a runaway experimental tank, and hunt down a robotic police canine unit. A central theme in VOLUME 2 is technology run amok. DANGER ZONE ONE takes place in the near future, so the presence of advanced tech is a major factor in the characters’ lives. How some of that technology could also have a darker side is something that will be explored.
 
As for future plans, DANGER ZONE ONE updates weekly as a webcomic and I have no immediate plans to stop any time soon. After VOLUME 2 I’m hoping to do some longer multi-part story arcs that go deeper into the lives of Reena and Madison. One of the hurdles a weekly webcomic faces is that each page needs to adhere to a “cliffhanger” format, to get readers eager to see what will happen each week. I’d like to slow it down a bit and explore the characters’ backgrounds more in upcoming chapters.
 
 
John: What does DANGER ZONE ONE VOLUME 2 mean to you, what about it makes it a story you want to tell?
 
Midnight: I wanted VOLUME 2 to take a different path than the first volume. Reena and Madison went up against a stolen power suit in VOLUME 1 but, for the most part, out-of-control technology wasn’t a major factor in subsequent chapters of that volume. In the world of DANGER ZONE ONE, advanced technology is commonplace, along with breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, and I wanted to dive into the hazards that some of it could represent. For example, one chapter in VOLUME 2 deals with a renegade T.O.T.O. (tactical oppressive terrain operative) unit—basically a robotic police canine—which has gone rogue.
 
 
John: I’ve greatly enjoyed keeping up with the web comic as well as watching your progress videos. What’s been your favorite part about working on DANGER ZONE ONE
 
Midnight: Firstly, thank you for sticking with the comic! My favorite aspect of working on DANGER ZONE ONE has been coming up with various stories plots and writing the scripts. I also enjoy working with the many talented artists who’ve each contributed their own unique stamp to the comic. While Salaiix is currently the main artist for DANGER ZONE ONE, we’ve had numerous guest artists work on various chapters. I know it’s typically something that doesn’t happen in the world of Japanese manga, where it’s almost always one artist (and their many assistants) that stay on a specific manga title, but American comics have a long history of ever-changing artists. Just because issue #274 of IRON MAN has one artist, doesn’t mean #375 will have the same. For DANGER ZONE ONE it’s always fun seeing what new artists bring to the project.
 
John: What are some of the things that have served as a source of Inspiration when working on DANGER ZONE ONE VOLUME 2? Do you read anything, watch any shows, listen to music as you work?
 
Midnight: ‘80s/‘90s manga and anime served as a huge inspiration for DANGER ZONE ONE. Anime titles like DIRTY PAIR, BUBBLEGUM CRISIS, and CYBER CITY OEDO have had a definite influence on the comic.
 
While writing, I sometimes listen to music—though not always. It’s very dependent on where I am in the writing process.
 
John: Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
 
Midnight: I’m always, always writing down notes, ideas, and snippets of dialogue that I want to incorporate into a future story. DANGER ZONE ONE is only one of many projects I’m working on, so I have numerous notebooks filled with concepts that are currently in mid-production.
 
As far as writing goes, my creative process usually first consists of taking those notes and mapping out a very detailed outline. Once I’m satisfied with the outline I’ll move on to the script process. When working with a talented artist like Salaiix, he’ll sometimes suggest adding additional elements to the pages, often to spice up the visual flair or enhance a scene. It’s always a pleasure to work with an artist like that.
 
John: What have some of your influences been over the years and how have they affected your work?
 
Midnight: Oh, there’s so many. I love horror films, especially those from the 1980s, and I think a good deal of that shows up in DANGER ZONE ONE (especially the Nightmare Island chapters from VOLUME 1). I’d say my fondness for ‘80s cinema, in general, is prevalent in my work. Not just Hollywood movies, but Hong Kong and Japanese cinema of that era were equally influential.
 
John: What are your hopes for DANGER ZONE ONE VOLUME 2 and for the future?
 
Midnight: At present, I’m hopeful DANGER ZONE ONE, VOLUME 2 will reach its Kickstarter goal. Regardless, the comic will still be produced weekly on the DANGER ZONE ONE website over at www.DangerZoneOne.com thanks to our Patreon supporters. We’re nearing our next Patreon milestone as well, which I’m hoping we’ll reach this year. If that happens, the comic will begin updating twice a week. This will enable us to get through chapters at double the speed, and allow for much more content.
 
John: Is there anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?
 
Midnight: I often get asked about webcomic tips from those who are just starting out. If there’s one piece of advice I could give to fellow webcomic creators, it’s that they should always create their own website to feature their comic. It’s a great idea to mirror your comic on other comic sites, but relying on venues like Line Webtoon as the *only* outlet for your comic to be seen online is a risky move.
 
Another problem with many of these sites is that they, in effect, employ the notorious “work for exposure” model. Unless a creator’s comic is featured—and only 5% or so are—everyone’s work is bolstering sites like Line Webtoon and giving these companies tons of free advertising revenue with little actual support for the vast majority of indie creators. You also run the risk of being delisted at the whim of any moderator. Running your own site to host a webcomic completely circumvents this.
 
John: Once again Midnight, I would like to say thank you for being a part of indie comics showcase. We can’t wait to revisit the world of Danger Zone One, once the campaign is out. I’m sure it’s going to do great!
 
Midnight: As always, thank you so much for the support, I appreciated it!
 
      
 
____________
 

Curtis Clow’s BEASTLANDS #1:
A Heartfelt Fantasy Adventure

In a unique fantasy world, a boy must journey to save his companion beast and get his friends back.

Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.

John: Curtis, Welcome and thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. Today I would like to talk about BEASTLANDS: A Heartful Fantasy Adventure.

Curtis: Thanks for having me! It’s always a delight to talk comics, especially mine! ha

John: Curtis what can you tell us about yourself?

Curtis: I’m a professional comic writer who’s dream is to write comics full time. I’m obsessed with comics; reading them and making them. It’s my passion and I feel it’s my life’s purpose.

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

Curtis: I read a few issues here and there when I was a kid; wolverine, spider-man, and silver surfer ring a bell. But I didn’t really have the resources to get many comics when I was a kid, even though I did feel a pull towards them. It wasn’t until my early twenties when I started reading comics regularly. First starting with indie comics and then discovering Images catalog and being especially enthralled with Rick Remender’s work.

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

Curtis: Rick Remender and Sean Murphy’s Tokyo Ghost. It’s probably my favorite comic. Besides being beautiful, it deals with a lot of mature themes and subjects. It really opened my eyes to what comics can be and how impactful they are.

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

Curtis: Issue 1 has just released and we’ll be releasing issue 2 on kickstarter in July. We have about 10 issues outlined, but i’d love to do more if we still have an audience and the team is still intact. Beastlands is set in a fantasy world where some people have these companion beasts called “Keepers”. It’s about a group of three teenage friends on an adventure and trying to uncover a bit of a mystery. All while facing a villainous king, who’s trying to outlaw Keepers.

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

Curtis: It’s a bit of a personal story. It’s about appreciating what you have before it’s too late. I was able to get my first dog a few years ago. Sadly she was hit by a car when she was young. Luckily she survived and made a full recovery. But it was rough after the accident. She wasn’t able to walk for many months and caring for her was a lot of hard work. But I think it only strengthened our bond. I wanted to try to portray that kind of relationship in this story. All while sticking to that theme and adding in a crazy fantasy world.

John: BEASTLANDS looks like a gorgeous comic that puts a new twist on the Boy and His Dog stories, like White Fang,  Alpha, and even Beast Master & He-Man to certain extent. Tell us, which has been your favorite?

Curtis: I’ve actually never heard of any of those! haha. I grew up with pokemon in the 90’s and still love it to this day. That’s probably influenced Beastlands a little, even though the world and creatures of Beastlands are very different. 

John: How does BEASTLANDS standout from them and other fantasy novels

Curtis: Beastlands has a lot of heart. The world and creatures are also very grounded. All the beasts are based off of real world animals. It’s also pretty mature, but the main characters are 3 teenagers. It’s what I remember life being as a teenager/high schooler. I think you’re a lot more mature at that age and deal with a lot real life stuff compared to what’s often portrayed in entertainment.

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

Curtis: I read a ton of creator owned comics. So I’m sure a lot of those influence me. I always try to study comics when reading them, trying to get better at my craft. Stuff like pokemon and game of thrones definitely influenced Beastlands. I love listening to movie or game soundtracks when writing. Especially Hans Zimmer!

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

Curtis: I have a notebook filled with ideas like Beastlands. Before putting too much time into developing one, I try to find the perfect artist for it. Once I find an artist who’s in it for the long haul, then I start with a pitch doc, outline, and finally getting the full scripts done.

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

Curtis: People like Jason Brubaker and Rick Remender are big role models of mine. Jason showed me that you can always just crowdfund self publish your work yourself. He taught me to just make stuff, no matter what! Rick’s stories and work ethic is eye opening for me. I love sci-fi and fantasy, and his stories are some of the most creative stories set in those genres. He also rights a crazy amount of comic series at a time and talks about working a crazy amount of hours a day on his comics. That shows me how much work it takes to be successful in comics and motivates me to work harder!

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

Curtis: For now we’ll keep crowdfunding and self publishing Beastlands. But hopefully in the future we can find it a home at a publisher! And continue the series to maybe 20 or 30 issues.

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

Curtis: Beastlands #1 is available now on Indiegogo and Beastlands #2 will be available on Kickstarter in July! Just go to BeastlandsComic.com

John: Once again Curtis, I would like to say thank you for being a part of indie comics showcase. We would also like to say congratulations as, as of the writing of this, the campaign has surpassed the initial funding goal! So Awesome!

Curtis: Thank you! It’s always a pleasure when someone wants to talk to me about my comics! I appreciate you taking the time!

Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.

______________

SOULFINDER: Demon’s Match
by Douglas Ernst

Why do bad things happen to good people? 

That is exactly what Father Patrick Retter, a Catholic priest who was wounded in combat during his youth, is asked at the start of Soulfinder: Demon’s Match — and it is the question he must grapple with after he becomes involved in a series of supernatural events.

Check out the campaign here!

Here’s our interview with writer / creator, Douglas Ernst!

John: Douglas, Welcome and thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. Today I would like to talk about SOULFINDER: DEMON’S MATCH, you story about a major order of exorcists — all combat veterans — battle evil that most people cannot fathom.

Douglas: Thanks for taking the time to interview me! I really appreciate it. It’s been tough to keep this project a secret for so long.

 

John: Douglas what can you tell us about yourself?

Douglas: I’m a writer by vocation, but this is my first foray into comic books. One of the coolest jobs I ever worked was the overnight shift at Target, although if we fast-forward in time a bit I ended up in Washington, D.C., writing for a newspaper. I spent a few years as a mechanized infantryman in the U.S. Army before heading off to the University of Southern California. I also try to be a better man each day than I was yesterday.

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

Douglas: I had a lot of comics read to me in the early 80s by my oldest brother, and then, at some point, I literally learned to read on Iron Man and The Amazing Spider-Man. People who watch my videos have seen me hold up ASM #251 on occasion. I love that issue! The cover, with Spidey’s hand bursting forth from the water with Hobgoblin’s mask — classic! As I got older, I fell in love with Todd McFarlane’s work with just about everybody else. ASM #312 with Green Goblin and Hobgoblin on the cover was always pretty cool. Those were the days!

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

Douglas: I’m sorry if it sounds like a copout answer, but ASM #’s 121-122 always stuck with me. The death of Gwen Stacy made me think about death in ways that I hadn’t before. I was still a kid, but I guess old enough to really start thinking about death in a more serious way. I’m sure it affected me in ways that even now, at age 40, I don’t really understand. That’s some pretty powerful writing.

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

Douglas: The story really started to take shape in early 2018. I had random ideas swirling around in my head for a while, but it didn’t really come together until I started talking to artist Timothy Lim in a serious way about faith, philosophy, politics, and the comics industry. I love the idea of combat veterans who go on to essentially become special operations forces on a spiritual battlefield. There is a wide range of stories I could tell with Father Patrick Retter, Father Reginald “Reggie” Crane, and Officer Gregory Chua. These guys basically become a band of brothers by the end of it all and I could go in a number of directions. Before I even mentioned it to him, colorist Brett R. Smith said it would be a cool idea to explore Reginald Crane’s past in Vietnam. We’re definitely on the same page!

John: What does SOULFINDER: DEMON’S MATCH  mean to you, what about it makes it a story you want to tell?

Douglas: That’s paradoxically a very tough and very easy question. As I’ve said on my YouTube channel, the book starts out with the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I think that’s pretty much a universal question. I also wanted to thematically convey the idea that there is enormous virtue to be found in carrying our individual crosses with grace and dignity. I honestly do not believe someone needs to be religious to appreciate that idea, and I only say that because some people are asking if my book is overly religious in nature. It’s informed by my Catholic faith, but I tried very hard to tell a story that resonates with a broad spectrum of society. I wanted to tap into ideas that can bring people together. I hope people will see a layered approach to my writing that allows the reader to enjoy it on whatever level he or she chooses.

 
John: SOULFINDER: DEMON’S MATCH has quite an interesting premise.

Douglas: It makes sense to me that men of faith who fought in physical wars would be drawn to the priesthood as a way of engaging in spiritual warfare. The strife we see in everyday life, to me, is a physical manifestation of our psychological and spiritual battles. The invisible war often spills over into the world we can see. These men can see the spiritual bombs exploding all around us that we’re oblivious to on a daily basis. Again, someone who isn’t religious is perfectly free to discount the “spiritual” part of my answer and focus solely on the psychological. I’m happy to have spiritual conversations, but my creative work seeks to give people ideas to explore. I’m not there to finger-wag or shame anyone for holding a different worldview.

John: How does SOULFINDER: DEMON’S MATCH standout from them and other fantasy novels

Douglas: I can’t really speak on other fantasy novels or their quality — I don’t want to knock another man’s work here if I can help it — but I will say that I felt an enormous responsibility to give my subscribers something special. The creation of Soulfinder: Demon’s Match is in many ways a culmination of ten years of frustration with the comic industry, cronyism in the media, etc. People told me to put up or shut up. Critics told me I was “jealous” of other creators, which is weird because I have a career in a completely different field. I wanted to write something that I would want to buy in the comic shop, and I wanted to on some level give a voice to everyone who has the same complaints I do about the industry’s current status quo. I wrote with a sense of urgency that is unique to this independent comics movement.

 

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

Douglas: Good question. I suppose some of the books that helped inform my writing might include the following: Black Hawk Down, by Mark Bowden; The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien; The Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton; and Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin. Again, these are books that really affected me in ways that I don’t even grasp because much of it is on a subconscious level. I know enough, however, to know that it rearranged my thinking in ways that allowed for Soulfinder: Demon’s Match to happen.

I also like your question about music. I listened to quite a bit of music while writing the script. I try and listen to music that captures the “feel” of a scene. I listen to a lot of instrumental stuff, movie soundtracks, etc. I listened to a lot of Claude Debussy, Hans Zimmer, and Ennio Morricone for this story. 

 

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

Douglas: I generally need large chunks of time to write. I can’t write for 30 minutes or an hour and stop. I need at least four hours of writing in order to make it work. I prefer going eight hours or more when possible, but these days that doesn’t always happen. I can spend a very long time thinking about a single page. I get lost in thought and suddenly it’s like, “Oh. Wow. Where did the day go?” I like to flip through all my books and look at highlighted passages that were highlight precisely because I knew I’d want them available in the future during a writing session. I could talk about this for hours, so I better not ramble. In short, I’m always trying to write something that I think would be really cool — but I try to be my own harshest critic. If someone critiques my work, then there’s basically nothing they can say that is harsher than what I’ve told myself during the creative process. I try to be brutally honest with myself and always stay true to the character. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, then I’m sure people will let me know and I’ll learn from the experience.

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

Douglas: Creative influences? Spiritual influences? I suppose they’re both tied together… I think people will see that my faith has certainly shaped who I am. People who know me also get that my time in the military as a young man caused some fundamental shifts in my character. I become much more disciplined due to my time in service. I become much more focused, and it’s benefited me for decades. Finally, I would say that members of my family who have shown strength in the face of adversity have had a huge influence on me over the years. If you know something who has a particularly heavy cross to bear, it allows an opportunity to put things into proper perspective. Many of the things I think are crosses really aren’t when I compare them to those around me.

 

John: What are your hopes for SOULFINDER: DEMON’S MATCH and for the future?

Douglas: My short term hope for Soulfinder: Demon’s Match is that my customers see how much effort went into giving them a meaningful product. I don’t mean that in a pretentious way, either. As I’ve said across multiple platforms, I truly care about the craft of storytelling and the ways, in the aggregate, storytellers shape our culture. I don’t want to be writing something that plants poisonous seeds anyone’s mind. I want the psychological seeds I plant in someone’s head to bear good fruit. I want the best for my readers, and I hope they understand that I really do care about them. If that sounds cheesy, then so be it. I mean it. I want all my readers to succeed, and I want to give them stories that are worth their time.

 

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

Douglas: I would like anyone who is on the fence about backing the book to know that Timothy Lim and Brett R. Smith are two of the hardest working men I have ever met. They push themselves every time they pull up a chair and start working. Similarly, Dave Dorman’s cover art for our book turned out great because he’s a total pro. The same can be said for Matt Weldon, who provided additional art. In short, I was blessed with an amazing team. People who take a chance on us will not be disappointed.

John: Once again Douglas, I would like to say thank you for being a part of indie comics showcase. As of the writing of this your campaign has surpassed the initial funding goal, so congratulations.

Douglas: Thanks again for taking time out of your day to craft such thoughtful questions. I really appreciate it.

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

 


Follow Indie Comics Showcase on Twitter at @Indie_Comics!

John Lemus

John Lemus

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

JUST KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON