“I just want to put out one heck of an awesome comic book that keeps everyone excited and on the edge of their seat and coming back for more!”
Kyle Ritter started his professional comics career doing work for Valiant and Dynamite Comics. He eventually got a big break as a colorist for DC Comics, working with such popular superhero characters as Batman, Aquaman, and Flash. He recently did some very prominent indie color work for veteran creator Ethan Van Sciver for the Cyberfrog comic book revival that Van Sciver successfully crowdfunded to the massive tune of well over $600,000. Kyle, inspired by this current trend of creators crowdfunding their comic book projects, has decided it’s time for him to bring his own creation to life through Indiegogo, and that project is called StarBlades!
I was able to chat with Kyle over the weekend to talk about his career, some of his favorite comics, and how his first crowdfunding campaign is going.
Chris: Kyle, from what I’ve learned, you’ve been working in the comic book industry for about 8 years, with your first professional gigs at DC Comics. Tell me how you got your first break into the industry.
Kyle: Chris, first thank you for giving StarBlades a shout-out. I really appreciate all of the support! Hi-Fi Comics was my first job back in September 2010. They provide supplemental work on comic books for publishers like DC and Marvel and I worked as a colorist as part of that team. Then, in the winter of 2011, I was hired by DC Comics to work on Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman, Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons, Justice League Dark and others.
Chris: You’ve most recently been doing a lot of independent work on several crowdfund projects. Tell me how that started and what you enjoy about it?
Kyle: My first indie gig was coloring Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney for Ethan Van Sciver. I had done a few commissions for Ethan in the past, so when he was looking for a colorist for his new book, he reached out to me. He gave me a cover to test my coloring on and luckily he liked my work and decided to hire me for Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney.
His project has been amazing to work on. The fans have been so supportive. It’s also led to other connections and jobs, like the wonderful gentleman Mike Miller. He hired me to color some book covers for his new comic, Lonestar. I really enjoy the level of talent working in this indie scene! It’s been so much fun to work in this industry.
Chris: When did you first get into comics as a fan?
Kyle: My love of comics started when I was 4 years old. My parents would buy me a ton of paper and markers for drawing and coloring. After school, my dad would stop by the comic book store to buy me Superman and Batman comics once a week. When I was a teenager, I started reading Green Lantern: Rebirth. It really inspired me to become a comic book artist and colorist – so this is all because of Ethan Van Sciver! Eventually I traded in the paper and crayons for a Wacom Cintiq and Apple computer.
Chris: Must have been providence! Let’s talk about your own project, StarBlades Volume One, which is now crowdfunding on Indiegogo. What can you tell us about the story?
Kyle: The story has been a labor of love. There’s a lot of 90’s influence in the character designs as well as the storytelling approach. The idea of the dragon that’s in the story was actually something I had created a long time ago while my idea for Star Wolf came about from just brainstorming on Twitter. Everything else just seemed like an organic, natural fit. I think the primal animal element was the thing that really brought it all together. After that, everything else just sort of fell into place.
Eventually within the StarBlades universe, I want to explore the characters’ individual backstories. I have a bunch of stories that I’d like to tell at some point. I would really like to show the story of young love between the characters Warrok and Anora and how it went wrong. Tyrus has a past life as a master thief, and how he lost his hands and how Warrok helped him escape from prison and become a hero. There is so much backstory! One of the most fun things about writing this book is that I get to keep layering in all this mythology and evolving the characters as the reader learns new things about them.
Chris: Amazing! What exactly inspired StarBlades?
Kyle: It actually came about from a dream I had. I woke up and thought, “Oh I need to write this down!” It also takes a lot of inspiration from TV shows I loved as a kid. There’s a bit of Power Rangers, Dragonball Z, and X-Men in there. It even has a lot of late 90’s Top Cow influence too. In the simplest terms, it’s essentially a superhero book with fantasy elements.
Chris: That’s cool, Kyle! Tell me about your creative team; are you writing, drawing, coloring, and editing everything?
Kyle: I’m handling everything! I’m really working hard to give customers the best product I can. I just want to create comics that make everyone happy. That’s why I created StarBlades for you all. It has always been my dream to one day create a comic book and at 29 years old, I am blessed to finally get there.
Chris: Love it, Kyle! So tell us how the campaign is doing. Have you been surprised at the response?
Kyle: The project is doing great! My fans have been so supportive and Ethan has been there to help with a lot of awesome advice. Life is good when you have real people who love you, Chris. Love and caring make the world go around and my world is just amazing and rocking because of real people. I am extremely humbled by the positive response StarBlades has received. Love to the people, they rock!
Chris: That’s awesome! Are you starting to think about volume 2 yet?
Kyle: Yes! I already have big plans for StarBlades 2 and 3, but I’m keeping those details under wraps for now.
Chris: Good deal. I think your color work speaks for itself. It’s beautiful, but I don’t think many people knew how talented you are as an illustrator in your own right. Have you done pencils or inks professionally before this amazing work that I’m seeing on these pages?
Kyle: No. When I was approached by the other comic companies, they were only looking for colorist. They usually have their own teams already set up, so I was hired for coloring. Of course, I had been doing my own line art for fun, but had done nothing official – until now.
Chris: It’s outstanding work, man. I presume it’s common knowledge to many that you’re deaf (your @deafcolorist social media account doesn’t hide it!). Can you tell me what you’ve done to overcome any natural challenges when communicating with your comrades, fans, and creative team?
Kyle: My parents never let me think my deafness would control my life – instead I would control it. They helped me keep faith in myself and my talent and look where it got me today. Wow! I use my computer to talk to people through email, Twitter, Facebook…. It works out very well when I have to do business.
Chris: So tell us about your creative process. Where do you begin when you’re doing your own art from idea to finished product?
Kyle: There is a lot of work that goes into art from beginning to end. Usually, I do research on my computer first, whether it is looking up colors for textures of skin color, or animal colors, or metal colors, etc. I use a color wheel on my computer to help make the best possible pairings I can. Also, pictures with many panels on the page means you have to be careful where you place your light source so that it will pass through panels correctly. Then there are some artists will ink where a colorist would want to apply color. So each of these are all things I must consider when making my own pieces.
Chris: Tell me about how you work with other artists that hire you to do coloring work.
Kyle: I have always gotten along great with everyone. We have mutual respect for one another and work as a team–that is so so important. The process for me usually begins after the story is written. The penciller then does the layouts, the inker goes in works his magic and then I am sent the pages to color. Of course, you have the editor to review it all and the letter to help tell the story. For my part, I use Photoshop for coloring and I do all my sketching and inking on Clip Studio Paint.
Chris: What else would you like to tell our readers about StarBlades and the campaign?
Kyle: I just want people to know it’s action-packed, with lots of surprises between StarBlades and all the evil that’s out there. Plus, I think the underwater world in the story is very, very interesting. I just want to put out one heck of an awesome comic book that keeps everyone excited and on the edge of their seat and coming back for more!
Chris: What’s next for Kyle Ritter?
Kyle: Hopefully, more work with Ethan and, of course, StarBlades Volume Two!
Chris: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Kyle. I think the book looks great. Looking forward to reading the whole trilogy.
Kyle: It was my pleasure, thank you, Bleeding Fool, and the fans for loving all my hard work, and let’s keep comic books alive and keep life real!