Indie Comics Showcase #74




Hello friends and readers, welcome back to the first Indie Comics Showcase of the new decade. 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 backing one of these campaigns!


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!



with Zachary Arenson and Ana Critchfield

Marie makes prosthetic arms for a living while hiding in the outskirts of Sanjul. Suddenly, she is visited by a mysterious man with no hands. The two are wildly thrown into a series of events that involve possession, bizarre powers, and attempts on their lives. Black Briar is an action-horror comic that is portrayed as an evolutionary tale. Through each chapter, writer Zach Arenson reveals his inspirations through the world he’s created. This chapter of Black Briar is the first chapter in a planned ongoing series. Each chapter will be in black and white and consist of 30(ish) pages. However, this first chapter is 21 pages due to budget constraints. It has been almost entirely lettered and is currently being proofread and quality checked. This Kickstarter project is focused on continuing the Black Briar chapters after chapter 1.


Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.

John: Zach, Ana Welcome to and thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. I am happy to be discussing your Indie Comic BLACK BRIAR with you today.

Zach: Likewise, it’s always great to see people interested in the comic!

Ana: Thank you for having us.



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

Zach: I’m a college student from the University of Washington in the Seattle area. I like to write stories for comics and videogames as a hobby.

Ana: And I’m a freelance illustrator/comic artist out of Portland, OR

John: Alright, let’s get down to it. Without giving away TOO much, what can you tell us about BLACK BRIAR? 

Zach: Black Briar is a comic about a prosthetic engineer hiding in the outskirts of a dystopian desert. Black Briar’s setting resembles a wild west setting but with strange, horrific monsters roaming the land. Marie is visited by a mysterious man with no hands who wants to purchase some prosthetics from her. The two are wildly thrown into a series of events that involve possession, bizarre powers, and attempts on their lives.

Ana: Zach contacted me last summer about illustrating his story and we’ve been working together since. We’ve just finished the first chapter. We’re getting to know the characters, setting the vibe.



John: Can you tell us a little bit about how BLACK BRIAR came to be?

Zach: I created the story as a way to learn about certain aspects of life and the world that I believe are very important.Black Briar tackles those societal and personal issues in a fantasy setting. The characters are inspired from the perspectives and events that helped shaped my friends and family’s lives.

Ana: Zach had some concept sketches and references from the get-go. I got a nice amount of artistic freedom with things like the armor. It was cool going back and forth as we fleshed everything out.



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

Zach: Lots of Deadpool, and a Japanese manga called Berserk.

Ana: I would go to the public library every weekend as a kid and read stuff like “Runaways” and “Uzumaki”

John: What are some of the comics that have made the biggest impact on you?

Zach: Berserk and BLAME! inspired me to take the next step of creating a real comic. Those two comics really taught me how complex the medium of comics is when worked on by passionate people. While I tend to prefer Japanese comics, such as the two mentioned, I enjoy a lot of western artistic style choices better. Comics like Deadpool, Spiderman, and Wolverine are my go-to’s when looking for more western-focused inspiration. I’ve become really fascinated with societal and personal issues over the years. I believe that I want to tell a story based on my experiences and the people who are important in my life.

Ana: I think the world building and characters are truly compelling. Also, I really enjoy drawing the armor.  



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

Zach: When working, I try to find inspiration within real life by listening to music and reading historical articles.With history, I tend to focus on area such as Europe and eastern Europe. However, I end up listening to anything from classical to 80’s pop music depending on what’s most relevant to what I’m researching. However, sometimes I like to take breaks and watch Avatar: The Last Airbender or JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure to get more inspiration from wild and unique fantasy stories.

Ana: I’m usually listening to Spotify playlists that I’ve made to set the mood. I have playlists for action scenes, horror, etc.  



John: Zach, Ana, you both have rather unique styles in the writing and art. Can you tell us a bit about you developed them?

Zach: I started by just writing whenever I had the spare time. I practiced writing for a long time on my own. Eventually, I found the enough confidence to bounce my ideas and writing off my friends. From there, I improved my technical writing skills in college and eventually worked up to the skill level I’m at now.

Ana: I’ve been making stuff since I was a kid and have always been drawn to comics and storytelling. I also try to stay up to date on what’s new in the genres I’m interested in.




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

Zach: My creative process is broken up into four steps: Thinking, envisioning, creating, and checking my work. Thinking is mostly remembering experiences that interested me or moved me and finding ideas that correlate with that. When I have enough of an idea, I reinforce them by referencing historical events and inspirational content I find fascinating. Envisioning is where I mostly stare at concept art while listening to music for hours. Once I envision the idea, I begin writing for a few days into a document that slowly fleshes out into a story. Afterwards, I reflect and look back on my work to see if I’m satisfied with the outcome.

Ana: When I am not being provided references from someone I’m working with, I get inspiration from my surroundings – mostly through dreams and music. Then, I gather any needed references and sketch. I edit and put in my line work. Finally, I’ll shade, color, edit again, and finalize the piece. 


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

Zach: I mention a strong interest in society and people within my storytelling. However, I began writing with no real interest in people at all. I valued friends and family but had a stronger focus on shock and awe devices in writing. I never fully understood how interesting people and their issues could be until I experienced the death of a close family member. Afterwards, I saw life differently, realizing that people are unique, and will all disappear eventually. Now when I write, I strive to constantly improve depicting my experiences and the people in them.

Ana: I’ve been really influenced by Gazelle Twin’s music, other comic writers like Emily Carroll, and movies like Osgood Perkins’ “I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House.”


John: What are your hopes for BLACK BRIAR for the future?

Zach: Hopefully it can become self-sustainable in the future so I can finish the story. I am very excited to see how the entire story arc I’ve written comes out during execution.

Ana: I hope we can continue telling this story. I am excited to see where it ends up.

John: Once again Zach, Ana, 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.

Zach: Thank you for the interview, it was fun answering your questions.

Ana: Thank you!


Check out the Kickstarter Campaign Page for BLACK BRIAR Here.





The Canadian Shield #1 is a 24 page color story of his origins . It deals with him getting his powers and learning to use them and setting up for issue 2 and beyond for him to battle the threats that come at him and he is brought to. I spoke with Rick Piper, the creator, and the founder of publisher Cross Comics, a Christian centered company that wants to bring comics back to where you can tell the good guys from the bad guys, back when the good guys knew right from wrong. With Cross Comics you will get the best of all ages of comics. I spoke with Rick recently about The Canadian Shield.


Check out the crowdfunding campaign here!


Chris Braly: Tell our readers about the Canadian Shield, who he is and what his story is.

Rick Piper:  He is native American from the early 1800’s built like a brick house transported to our present and given suit from the future transported to our present which gives powers beyond those of mortal past, present and future collide. He is the Canadian Shield.

Chris: Can you let us in on who or what inspired you to make this comic?

Rick: Ultimately I think God did, but through various things I grew up watching the superhero cartoons of the 70’s and 8o’s. However, I never actually read a comic until my mom got me some Christian Archie comics which lead to mainstream Archie comics and eventually let to me going into comic book store and getting into DC and Marvel around the time Superman died. I became avid comic read reading whatever I could afford. At some point I decided I want to Christian superhero comic book as that most comic books for the Christian community was bible stories rehashed or based on novels about peoples lives So I started creating character and this was one of the characters I decided to  start with.


Chris: Tell us about your creative team members – who is doing what and how did you all come together?

Rick: I am the lead on the project an old friend name Chris Waters wrote the scripts years ago based on info I gave him as of right I have lost touch with him I have revised the script a few times over the years. I have done pencils  and inks, John Dillard has gone over my inks beefing them up putting in background. A person on YouTube and Twitter calling themselves Poperaven is  doing the colors we all came together on
YouTube also either me or Poperaven will be doing the lettering

Chris: What has the creative process been like? What tasks are you handling for this campaign?

Rick: The creative process has been fun for me. As for the tasks I am handling for the campaign are pretty much everything I think I will be getting the stuff to the printers and be doing the fulfillment

Chris: What stage is the project is in currently?

Rick: Pages are 100% penciled and inked by me. John is about 99% done beefing up inks and backgrounds, Poperaven is at least 40% done colors and the lettering is yet to be started. John Dillard’s 8 page ashcan is about half done and will be black and white

Chris: That’s great, Rick. What kinds of comic fans do you think this might appeal to? And what’s next for you?

Rick: I do believe this will appeal to superhero comic fans. It’s a classic origin in the vein of Detective Comics #33 or any other of the type. Once this project is fulfilled what is next is The Canadian Shield #2 and hopefully the first issue of my character Snow Drift

Chris: Before we wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share about the project?

Rick: Yes! The better the campaign does, the more and more value the backers will get. Also for the month of January I have contest going on for people to enter, which is for them to create their own version of the Canadian shield the look and history and powers. The winner will be determined by straw poll on my channel in February. Whoever the winner is their version of the Canadian Shield will be made into a trading card to go  with all the perks in the campaign except the digital.

Chris: Cool, Rick! Good luck on the campaign and with the Canadian Shield!

Rick: It was great being able to talk to you and share about my project! Thank you Chris for taking the time to talk to me.

Check out the Indiegogo campaign page here!



The Formula #1
by The Johnsons

1990’s Los Angeles, home of the most notorious drug kingpins—and heroes. One night First Responders rush to a fire downtown—a mission that quickly goes awry—killing the city’s greatest Firefighter, and leaving his wife and sons in the care of his best friend, and soon-to-be-Detective Marc Bronson. 10 Years later, Romeo and Jay Jones grow into your average, All-American teens. After a crime epidemic and a designer drug craze erupt in Bayview, Romeo and Jay take the law into their own hands as the vigilantes “Thunderstorm” and “Brigadier.” 

With LAPD Homicide Detectives Marc Bronson and Angel Rivera, the Jones Brothers must find the formula to the perfect storm: and how the elusive crime-lord Dexter Dre pulls all the strings—or if there’s another enemy waiting in the wings. THE FORMULA is a 5 volume police procedural/urban fantasy Graphic Novel, that’s 5 years in the making. Written and illustrated by brothers Fredrick, Aaron and Elijah Johnson, along with colors by Hi-Fi’s Ross HughesAlonso Espinoza and lettered by Toben Racicot.

Chris Braly: Eli, thanks for chatting with me, Eli. Briefly tell our readers what it’s about the Formula!
Eli Johnson: The elevator pitch is something like this: “After a drug kingpin takes control of Los Angeles’ crime underworld and his distinct brand of violence spills over onto the streets, the sons of Los Angeles’ greatest fallen firefighter must avenge his death and save their city.” We truly went through so many versions of that elevator pitch; this is the most recent version. Or something like that!

Chris: Can you let us in on who or what inspired you to make this comic?
Eli: It’s an interesting story. We came up with the story some years ago—divine inspiration, serendipity, however you want to call it. Our dad (and co-writer, Fred Johnson), came up with the initial concept of the whole thing off some humorous sketches he’d made of Aaron (co-writer and artist) and I. Long story short, we flipped the idea into a bit of a monster—a 234 page monster to be exact!
Chris: Tell us about any of your other creative team members – who is doing what and how did you all come together? It’s a bit of a ‘family affair’, correct?
Eli: Yeah, initially we had myself doing episodes 1, 3 and 5, and my brother, Aaron, doing episodes 2 and 4, while we all split the writing duties as it flowed. I say initially because Aaron’s schedule filled up somewhere down the line, so halfway through production I had to do some fill-ins on his chapters; everything looks quite seamless though!
Then we’ve got my buddies, colorists Ross Hughes and Alonso Espinoza, and letterer Toben Racicot. I’d been a fan of Ross’s work from following him on deviantART for nearly 10 years or so by now; I’d recommended him to one of my previous clients to color a book we were doing in 2016 and he knocked it out of the park! Then I flashed the Bat-Signal for him again for 2019’s LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD, when I did that with my friend Corey Pruitt. Natural progression was bringing him aboard for this one as well.

For Alonso, it was a bit similar—followed him on deviantART, big fan. Ross had some scheduling conflicts early on into the project, so we had Alonso sub for him. The placement was convenient as well: Ross colors the first 8 pages, 6 of which take place in the 90s; after that, in the present, we switch to Alonso’s colors. The style change is subtle but works for the story, I think.Toben is another guy I met through client work: after working on DEATHGRIP with Russell Smalley back in 2017, I kept in touch with Toben to hook him up on my future projects whenever clients asked about getting letters on the art. He’s my Go-To guy to this day!
Chris: What has the creative process been like? How does it work exactly?
Eli: We wrote the script, and rewrote it and rewrote it, then we just went to execute. I can’t quite remember if we did layouts for each and every page, but I remember a lot of the interiors have a couple of versions on them and we just ended up picking the best ones.Basically, trial and error.
Chris: What stage is the project in currently?
Eli: Issue #1 is TOTALLY COMPLETE—line art, colors and letters—it’s all done. Once the Kickstarter wraps up, we’ll just have to do the rest of the merchandise (shirts, physical copies, etc), but all the hard work is mainly done. So as soon as we wrap, it’s showtime!
Chris: Awesome! What kinds of comic or art fans do you think this will appeal to? What are some known comics you might compare this to?
Eli: I think THE FORMULA will appeal to people who like fresh voices in their writing, diversity in their characters, a tinge of realism, and lots of fun in their books. I would compare it to Mark Millar’s KICK-ASS (definitely one of the initial inspirations), Brian Michael Bendis’s POWERS… even Brian K Vaughn’s RUNAWAYS. It’s got that punchy vibe to it. Lots of drama, lots of action, a murder mystery, drug deals and fight clubs… what’s not to love?
Chris: Once this project is fulfilled, what’s next for you?
Eli: Well, for me personally, I’ll have to wrap up with LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD #2 (with Corey Pruitt), SHAKA #1 (with Warren Duncan) and probably a couple other things besides that slip my mind. But it’s gonna be a pretty busy year in *and* outside of the industry for me. More details to come as they emerge, of course!

Chris: What else can you share about the project? And do you have any final words for our readers?
Eli: I can’t reiterate enough that the book is COMPLETE—issue #1 is all done, no wait times on it. On top of that, if you support the campaign, you can get a sneak peek of issue #2 AND depending on the tier you support, you can BE INSIDE the pages of a backer-exclusive special prologue issue, illustrated by Aaron and myself. Practically three books for the price of one!Final words? Just a big, huge, massive THANK YOU to everyone who has, is and will support the campaign, whether through pledging to the campaign directly or spreading the world on social media. Every bit helps and YOU ARE APPRECIATED!
Chris: Thanks for chatting with us, Eli! The Formula art we’ve seen looks great. We’re rooting for you!
EliThe pleasure has been all ours, Chris! Thanks so much to you and the BLEEDING FOOL readers for taking the time out for us! Thanks so much again!

Check out the campaign page for The Formula here!


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


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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!