Welcome back to another installment of Indie Comics Showcase! The weekly blog where we try to spotlight and signal boost indie comics that are currently underway with crowdfunding campaigns, are crowdsourcing their funding in some way, or just completely self-publishing on their own. Every little bit of support counts, from a single dollar pledge to the twenty-five dollar bundle, and of course the higher tiers are usually fun too! In fact, some of these campaigns have got some great higher tiers which add even more value by offering stuff you cannot get anywhere else.
On Indie Comics Showcase interview the creators, show off some art, and tell you how you can check out the product for yourself. Once again, 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!
Blade Devil: Ghost of The Past
What would you sacrifice to save a loved one from a fate worse than death? That is the question Ashyara faces on a daily basis in this broken, dying world. Mortally wounded and running out of time, she was forced into a deal with the devil. Now she continues her quest well beyond her natural lifespan.
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John: Welcome to and thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. I am happy to be discussing your Indie Graphic Novel BLADE DEVIL: GHOSTS OF THE PAST with you today.
RGE: Glad to be here doing my part to make entertainment entertaining again!
John: Before we get started I was hoping you could tell us a little bit about yourself .
RGE: I’ve been around on YouTube for about 7 years now trying to fight against the destruction of our hobbies. However, it’s now obvious that the current stewards of these hobbies intend to keep bending over, so I’ve decided to be the change I want to see and make my own. We’ll get our hobbies back one way or another, all we need to do is make products people actually want and let the free market do its job.
John: What can you tell us about Sick Fox Studios?
RGE: We’re planning for the future, and part of that was starting a company that will hopefully handle multiple projects/IPs one day. Right now Blade Devil is our only active project, and in addition to being excellent on its own we intend to use it to showcase great new creators that have been passed up in favor of cheap tumblr artists in the mainstream industry. Unfortunately art is a very crowded market, so even if you have way more talent than your competition chances are you will fade into obscurity if you can’t get your work out in front of a lot of people. That’s where we come in.
John: Without spoiling the story, what can you tell us about BLADE DEVIL: GHOSTS OF THE PAST?
RGE: Blade Devil is the story of Ashyara sacrificing her humanity to save her sister from a fate much worse than death. Time is running out, the world itself is broken and dying, and to make matters worse she’s one of many normal people in a high fantasy world populated by demons, dragons, and other way more powerful beings. She doesn’t have the strength to stand up to the most powerful beings in existence, as she learned the hard way already, and had to make a deal with the devil to keep on fighting.
While she is fighting progressively greater evils to save one specific person before it’s too late, her actions end up helping what’s left of the world and bringing hope that total destruction may be averted. She’s a hero at heart and doesn’t stand by doing nothing when innocent people are suffering, even at the cost of accomplishing her own goals. But the allies she makes along the way will (hopefully) more than make up for that.
John: Can you tell us a little bit about how BLADE DEVIL: GHOSTS OF THE PAST came to be, how the characters and story were conceptualized?
RGE: The world, a lot of the major characters, and the story itself ended up coming about independently. I’ve ran a few D&D games and created my own setting instead of using existing ones, so world building was taken care of (after some heavy modification of course). I’ve been creating characters for dungeon crawler games for years and giving them backstories, personalities, etc. as I progressed, so had to adapt those to the world I created so I can insert them here. The main story I’ve been working on for a few years and intended to use it for an RPG eventually, but then this opportunity presented itself.
There have been A LOT of changes from what I originally had in mind though. Even Ashyara, the main character, is completely different from how I imagined her both physically and in personality. She was originally supposed to be more of a stealthy assassin type character, but for the story I had in mind (and after a few iterations with the artist) she turned into what you see now. We figured this version of her would work a lot better in every way and adapted, while the original version has been shelved for now to maybe be used again for a different story.
As for her personality, she originally started out a lot colder and slowly warmed up to the others as the story progressed. She’s been around for a long time, and has seen/experienced just about everything, so that made sense. BUT it didn’t make for a very likeable/relatable character at the start, which is when it’s most important to hook readers. So changes had to be made. I could go on about the writing process forever, but don’t want to bore you all to death. In short, it’s been a multi year process of bringing a lot of different parts together.
John: What are some of the first comics you remember reading?
RGE: I started reading comics pretty late. Since I spent most of my childhood overseas, I had no easy access to American comic book shops. So I got my start with webcomics (some of my favorites being Order of the Stick, Turn Signals on a Land Raider, Erfworld, and Gone with the Blastwave) and manga (Berserk, Claymore, Franken Fran, Coppelion).
Whenever I read American comics now, what really sticks out is how fast paced they are compared to manga or most webcomics, though making my own I understand why. Doing high quality colored art takes way too long to take our time progressing the story like manga does, so we had to compromise. Oh damn, there I go getting into writing again, better stop here.
John: What are some of the comics that have made the biggest impact on you?
RGE: Coppelion and Land of the Lustrous both hit me pretty hard. All the main characters in Coppelion head into an irradiated wasteland with the knowledge that this is a one way trip, but they have a job to do and people to save. I especially loved the Shion rescue arc, where two characters who were previously mortal enemies were risking their lives for eachother. When Shion decided to sacrifice herself to save Aoi from going through the same torture she was put through, despite hating her guts until a few days ago, I damn near cried.
Phos’ progression in Land of the Lustrous has a lot of parallels with Ashyara’s in Blade Devil now that I think about it, which could be why I loved it so much. She started out extremely weak, but wanted to help protect her friends. Eventually she got the power she wanted, but after sacrificing so much of both her mind and body everyone wonders if it was really worth it in the end. It’s quite jarring comparing the happy-go-lucky ditz at the beginning of the story to the tortured Frankenstein’s monster she has since become.
John: What does BLADE DEVIL: GHOSTS OF THE PAST mean to you, what about it makes it a story you want to tell?
RGE: Ghosts of the Past doesn’t just refer to a few of the characters appearing in the book, but also a return to form for the industry. We’re going back to the days entertainers focused on entertaining, not destroying their platform to push an ideology. In place of that we want to tell a story of selflessly going through hell for the sake of someone else. Coppelion, Land of the Lustrous, and other stories left a large impact on me, and I want to see if I can manage the same.
I’m so glad the campaign has been going well, because while the story is packed with action and fanservice, the full extent of the tragedy behind it all is a slow burn that will take some time to build up to. I would love nothing more than the opportunity to tell this entire story withouy having to rush or cut anything.
John: What are some of the things that have served as a source of Inspiration when working on BLADE DEVIL: GHOSTS OF THE PAST? Do you read anything, watch any shows, listen to music as you work?
RGE: As the writer I can’t do anything that would split my attention while I work, which is why I’m often quite slow myself… but when it comes to inspiration, I take that from everything. Good stories arent limited to one genre, medium, etc. I still watch a lot of anime and read manga, I read fantasy novels (still love the old Magic: The Gathering books, everything up to and including the Apocalypse saga is excellent), play RPG’s, etc.
I’m taking a lot of inspiration from other dark fantasy stories like Berserk and Claymore, but also stuff outside the genre like Land of the Lustrous, Coppelion, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, etc. If you want to be a good writer, then the best thing you can do (after getting a lot of related real life experience) is consuming as many stories as possible, across all genres and mediums, and taking note of what you liked best.
John: You a have rather unique style in your writing and art. Can you tell us a bit about how you developed them?
RGE: Well I’m just the writer, but my artist is a huge DBZ fan so it made sense for him to take a lot of inspiration from Akira Toriyama. As for my writing, I’m trying to copy what I like most in other people’s writing and avoiding what annoys me. For example I’m not a big fan of info dumps, I’d rather leave things a mystery and explain them naturally as part of the story. I could give a large info dump, OR I could have readers learning more about the characters, world, etc. as they go. The fact that people are curious and asking questions is a good thing, it’ll keep them reading so they’ll find out!
John: Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
RGE: First I have the whole high level story planned out, including the beginning and end, along with most of the major events (character introductions, deaths, growth, transformations, etc) that happen along the way. Then I break them up into arcs, then further into chapters (Ghosts of the Past is chapter 1 of a 3 book arc), and start creating a “Marvel style” script. By this I mean I give my artist a rough description of what happens on each page, sometimes broken down by panel (with more specific details depending on how important they are). Then after getting back a rough storyboard I start adding dialog, which changes a few more times as we iterate towards the final version.
John: What have some of your influences been over the years and how have they affected your work?
RGE: For the setting, I took a lot of pointers from Claymore, Berserk, and even Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. The world is pretty much uninhabitable for regular people anymore, and they need heroes to keep them safe, even within their walled cities. Story wise there are the previously mentioned Coppelion and Land of the Lustrous, but also Spawn and Jojo. Ashyara uses her own soul as fuel, so she has a hard limit just like Spawn does. And as dark as the world is, I hope that populating it with colorful characters like in Jojo will help balance that out a bit.
John: What are your hopes for BLADE DEVIL: GHOSTS OF THE PAST for the future?
RGE: I’m hoping that we retain (and grow!) interest in the story long enough for me to finish telling it in comic book form. It wont be anywhere near as long as One Piece, so I hope to pull that off. Also if possible I’d like to expand into other media. A video game is most likely going to happen at this rate, but if we could also get an anime made one of these days that would be a huge indication that we did something right. And of course I’d LOVE to see Ashyara and friends in anime form.
John: Is there anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?
RGE: We’re in this for the long haul. There’s a lot of story to tell and as long as there is interest we’ll keep going to the end. And don’t worry about Blade Devil ending, as this isn’t just Ashyara’s story, but also the origin story of the next great hero! I look forward to talking with you guys again in the future, maybe after the launch of Book 2!
SOULBOUND ISSUE #2
by Paula Richey
SoulBound 2: Escape continues Becca’s story as she’s stranded in a realm of magic and monsters – and introduces greater perils!
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John: Paula , Welcome back to and thank you once again for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. I am happy to be discussing Escape which is the second installment of your young adult fantasy series SoulBound, with you today.
Paula :Hey John, thanks for having me!
John: Before we get started can you catch us up to how and what has changed since we had you on the first time?
Paula : Last time, SoulBound 1: Adrift was my first comic and my first crowdfund, and I was pretty nervous about its reception and whether I even belonged in comics at all. I was aware that I was doing things differently than most people, and I didn’t know if I was right or wrong with my approach.
This time, I do have the benefit of the first experience, and I spent a lot of time working out my new approach for this year and the remainder of the series. I’ve set my goal higher, as shipping and printing costs have risen, but it’s still a pretty modest goal.
John: Without giving away too much, what can you tell us about SoulBound 2: Escape? Where it’s been, where it’s going, and your plans for the future?
Paula : SoulBound 1: Adrift introduced us to Becca, a college student whose increasingly disturbing nightmares of another world turn out to be real. She arrives in this other world and is immediately in trouble, though she’s a bit disoriented and doesn’t quite realize how much trouble she’s in.
SoulBound 2: Escape is where we get a proper look at our second hero, Torrin. Where Becca’s introduction borrowed elements of isekai portal fantasy, Torrin’s is seasoned with classic second-world sword and sorcery pulp influences. Cleverness, competence, courage and a rather chivalrous sense of responsibility for Becca despite the dire circumstances all help establish his character.
I’m so tired of the trope where women are uber-competent and men only get in the way. It’s been done to death and it kills the tension of my favorite tropes. I wanted to showcase Torrin as a guy who never quits. He’s always working to overcome obstacles – and when he fails, it’s because the obstacles are believably that serious, not because the plot said so.
In this issue, we get to see more of the dangers of the Other Realm – and the beauty of it as well. It’s a fully-realized world, inhabited by those creatures, civilizations, and myths that are lost to our world but have one last chance to thrive there. The Other Realm is balanced on the final precipice before oblivion, and that makes it not only a physically dangerous place, but perilous to the soul as well. As the series continues, we will begin to see how crucial it is for Becca to return home before her soul attempts to wander back, to be lost in the void between realms forever.
John: Can you tell us a little bit about how you tackle each installment? How do you keep the story fresh and interesting?
Paula : I want to tell this story as completely as I can, while keeping the pacing tight. SoulBound is outlined as a 10-issue arc, with each issue functioning as a chapter. Each issue defines and solves a central problem for our characters, while generating or uncovering more problems. I believe in sending my heroes out from the frying pan and into the fire in every issue! All the events press ahead toward the story resolution. I really don’t have the budget to meander or add any fluff.
In addition to making sure the story is structured to hit the criteria for a good chapter, I have a theme for every character. You know every person you meet is living their own story – now, what genre story are you living? Becca is living an isekai (portal fantasy) story with family drama and she has her own theme colors in her scenes and her own concerns she focuses on, Torrin is living a sword and sorcery pulp story that tests his mettle and his honor, the sorceress is living a power fantasy where she remakes people, nations, the world according to her destructive whims… muahahaha!
Having both Becca and Torrin as protagonists means that I can alternate between their perspectives according to which of them has the more compelling viewpoint for the events at hand. I have respect and sympathy for both of them as characters, so I’m not going to make one look good at the other’s expense. They won’t always agree, but they’ll each have a strong case for their side of the conflict.
John: Can you tell us a little bit about how you tackled this campaign as compared to your previous ones?
Paula: This time around I’ve definitely allowed more for shipping and packaging! I don’t feel like I have to charge fleamarket prices and eat the cost of packaging. SoulBound is a new story, it’s truly special and it deserves to be told – and I can tell it a lot quicker if I don’t run the budget into a hole every issue. I hope to get Mia started as soon as possible on Issue 3, so that’s my first priority if we make more than the goal.
I’m not nearly as anxious about my place as a comics creator. I’ve had such an amazing response from almost everyone who’s given SoulBound #1 a shot, and I’ve met so many wonderful people. I’m a pretty hardcore introvert but I’ve been working harder on getting out and doing interviews and talking about my work. I’ve proven to myself and everyone else that I can deliver what I promise, and it’s only going to get easier the more I do it. I do think I’ve done better at budgeting and promotion, so next I’d love to speed up production and just keep Mia drawing issues!
John: Have you been reading any mainstream comics recently?
Paula : That’s the trouble; they’re hard to find in the genres I like. I really like contained stories with a beginning, middle, and end, so the ongoing titles are just too huge and convoluted to get into. Snarky, subversive takes are so trendy in the mainstream right now and I’m tired of having my expectations as a reader yanked out from under me just because the writer wants to be edgy.
John: What are your hopes for SoulBound 2: Escape and for the future?
Paula: I hope SoulBound 2 finds lots of readers to introduce to the series, and that it goes over the goal so I can at least get the cover for Issue 3 done. For the future, I hope to continue supporting talented artists and producing beautiful, thrilling, unique stories, not just in comics but eventually in other media as well. I’d love to animate the SoulBound series – I think it’d be so good and I’ve met so many talented, amazing people I’d love to work with to create it! Musicians, voice actors, animators… just no rich producers ready to sign off on it so I guess I’d better work hard and save up.
John: Is there anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?
Paula : I think it’s important as a creator to have a solid grounding in who you are as a person, and understanding for other people as they are. Not only does this help you write better characters, but it helps you define and stay true to your principles in everything else. My principles include never leaving myself in debt, always delivering what I owe on time or early, and that makes me reliable – to my artist, my letterer, my friends, my readers, and everyone else I encounter.
John: Once again Paula , 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.
Paula : Thank you so much for having me! I appreciate the chance to share my stories
by John McGuire
In the tradition of such dimension hopping adventures as Sliders, Fringe, and Exiles comes The Crossing. Its the late 21st century, and the world has changed drastically with the discovery of cross-dimensional travel dubbed ‘Crossing’. This amazing and innovative breakthrough has provided our Earth with a seemingly unyielding flow of resources, through tapping into other, unpopulated Earth’s raw material. While the collective wealth of mankind has seemingly reached another golden age, the desires of men have stayed relatively the same.
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Chris Braly: What is the ‘elevator pitch’ for The Crossing? Briefly tell our readers what it’s about and give us some background on it.
John McGuire: In the not so distant future, scientists have discovered Crossing technology which allows our Earth to connect to the greater multiverse. Dr. James Kincaid was one of the lead physicists on the program but ran afoul of his own ego and a powerful political figure, Senator Rice. All this comes to a head when Kincaid uses the Crossing tech to hide him and his daughter in one of a million different worlds. However, Senator Rice enlists renowned Crossing scientist Jun Patton and FIBU agent Kayla Cooke to hunt him down.
I think I could say that out loud before the elevator doors open!
CB: Can you let us in on who or what inspired you to tell this story and how long you’ve been working on this?
JM: It’s been a few years. My co-writer, Robert Jeffrey II, and I wanted to write something together so we each brought an idea to the table. I brought a post-apocalyptic space story, and he brought The Crossing. With the Crossing, there were ideas for days… and that’s what we did. Emails, in-person meetings, just crazy brainstorming until things began to come together into something more. The pieces then started falling into place until we came to the current story.
CB: Tell us why you felt this should be told in comic book form. Are you a fan of the medium? If so, what are some comics that made an impact on you?
JM: I’ve read comics since I was a kid. One of the best parts of comics is that you never have to worry about your story budget. Whatever you can think of can be made on the page. Plus, when you are working with our artist, Sean Hill, you just know he is going to come up with things on the page that’ll make you excited.
CB: What are some similar comics readers may be familiar with that will find The Crossing appealing?
JM: Well, our biggest love letter with this is the tv show: Sliders, but in terms of comics it would be any Elseworlds or What If? story you ever read. I loved those scenarios where you really could see the butterfly effect in action.
CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team and what other creators (if any) have contributed to this volume?
JM: Robert Jeffrey II is my co-writer. he was a part of the 2017 DC Comics Writers Workshop and appeared in DC Comics’ New Talent Showcase with a story for John Stewart/Green Lantern. He is the creator of the Glyph Award-winning comic book series Route 3. He’s also the Editor-in-Chief of BlackSci-Fi.com. Sean Hill is our amazing artist who somehow manages to take our scripts and turn them into these amazing pages. He worked with Robert on Route 3, with me on an issue of The Gilded Age, and also has a comic currently funding on Kickstarter called The Hated.
Loris Ravina is our letterer who will have the problem of figuring out how to squeeze our words into all those panels Sean draws. Loris has worked with 133art on their RET:CON, Changa and the Jade Obelisk, and Woman of the Woods. Sunil Ghagre is our colorist and from what I’ve seen of the pages he’s already done, the book is in great hands. Matteo Illuminati is our variant cover artist. He’s worked on Evoluzione Publishing’s Mine to Avenge and Arcadia.
133art is our publisher founded by Jason Reeves. Jason has been incredible throughout this process. He is constantly coming up with ideas and artwork for the series and is a true partner in bringing this project to life. And I’m John McGuire. I’m the co-writer of The Crossing. I’m the creator/writer on a steampunk comic, The Gilded Age, and I have also written a pair of novels: an urban fantasy The Dark That Follows and a dark fantasy Hollow Empire.
CB: What else can you share about the project? And do you have any final words for our readers?
JM: This is just issue one of a four-issue series where we are going to follow Dr. Kincaid and his daughter Carla all the way down the rabbit hole. There is a reason for why he’s doing what he’s doing, and he’s willing to go to the ends of all the Earths.
To your readers, we would love for you to check out our Kickstarter. Without people like you, willing to take a chance on Independent Comics, we wouldn’t be able to do any of this… so know that we appreciate it all.
CB: Thanks for chatting with us, John! Good luck and we are rooting for you!
JM: Thank you guys for the interview. The whole Crossing team appreciate that you took time out of your schedules to do this for us!
That’s it for this installment! Support indie comics!!!
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