Indie Comics Showcase #123: HP Lovecraft, Vampires, and Soccer Manga!

 

 

Welcome back to another installment of Indie Comics Showcase, the weekly blog where we signal boost a few truly independent comics that are currently crowdfunding their projects, crowdsourcing their funding in some way, or just completely self-publishing on their own. Every little bit of support for these creators matters, from a single dollar pledge to the twenty-five dollar bundle, and of course the higher tiers are usually fun too! Even if you can’t back a campaign or buy a book, you can share or tweet about these projects to your friends and followers. 

 

On Indie Comics Showcase, we interview the creators, show off some art, and tell you how you can check out the product for yourself. Below 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!

 

H.P. Lovecraft’s Beauty and the Beast

by Trevor Markwart

 

Chris Braly: Tell our readers your elevator pitch for H.P. Lovecraft’s Beauty & the Beast – Briefly tell our readers the pitch.

Trevor Markwart: Imagine if H.P. Lovecraft had been commissioned to write a weird fiction version of the most famous fairytale. It had been lost to history and is now being recreated from only the surviving notes as a limited comic book series. It’s the 1930’s. Omorphia (Beauty), a student at Miskatonic University, desperate to save her mentor professor’s job and department, takes up a position at the mysterious Beast’s mansion where he conducts experiments trying to master time and space — while having unwholesome plans for her. The entire dark fairy tale is filled with Lovecraftian cosmic horrors and, this being Lovecraft, has far from a conventional “happy ending”.

 

CB: What was the genesis for this project, where did the idea for this comic come from, and what led to you deciding to crowdfund it?

TM: I have always loved the 1946 film of Beauty and the Beast by Jean Cocteau. And have been kind of repulsed by the Disneyfied version(s). Traditional fairy tales are often really dark and gruesome, and I love that. I had thought originally that I might do it as a werewolf story. But I had been really getting into old radio plays of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, and new renditions on podcasts, and one day it struck me to combine the two. I was kind of amazed that nobody had done it.

As for crowdfunding, well it seems to be thriving for comics during the current situation, while established traditional publishers seem pretty resistant at the moment. Even to something which seems naturally “commercial” — which is not a dirty word if it’s come about honestly by a creator. I have been, I guess, the lead artist on a string of successful Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns, so I thought I’d try my own. The first issue was a success, so now this.

 

 

CB: What kind of comic fans do you expect this comic will entertain the most?

TM: I hope Lovecraft fans will get a kick out of it. Of course, Lovecraft would have resisted the idea in all likelihood, but if you can imagine him down and out and broke as usual and getting offered a truckload of money and carte blanch to do it his weird fiction way — that’s what I’m going for. Horror and SF fans in general, I hope. I seem to be getting some good feedback and audience from people who love the classic story and want something less innocent than the Disney. People who like their fairy tales dark.

 

 

CB: Let’s get into the creative and production side a little. Tell us a bit about your creative team that have contributed to this project?

TM: There’s only me. I do everything.

 

 

CB: Wow! What’s your workflow like? How do you like to work?

TM: I am a traditional horror comics artist. I mean I go beyond anybody I’ve ever heard of. I even work on giant Golden Age size bristol board paper like the EC artists did. And I ink with real ink and real brushes and dip pens. My favourite current tool is exactly the same brush that Graham “ghastly” Ingels used back in the day. I colour and letter digitally, because that just can’t be beat.

Writing I do more Marvel style. I write up the book in a couple of pages of description. Then break it down into pages, thumbnail sketch it all, then pencil and ink the pages in batches of 4 or 5. Scan, colour, then write and letter. That way, visuals are first. I have a background as a produced horror screenwriter and have tried to write everything out first much like that, but it doesn’t flow naturally for me when it comes to comic books like it does with screenwriting.

 

CB: What have you been learning from crowdfunding and creating through this process?

TM: It’s a cliché way to put it, but crowdfunding is all about three things: Publicity, publicity, and publicity. If nobody knows you exist, you don’t. You dwindle in obscurity, a dozen pages in on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and nobody can find you.

I also learned that I would rather focus on being a creator rather than a publisher. Mostly because of the frustrations which are out of your control as a publisher. Printers are universally an issue. Even really nice, well meaning people can frustrate your timeline. The post office is one big frustration. There’s a lot of patience required so you don’t blow up on people. That accomplishes nothing. To be fair, it often isn’t their fault your book has been delayed a month — believe it or not.

 

 

CB: How much more of this story would you like to tell?

TM: This is going to be a 4 issue comic series. So it’s self-contained. But of course, there’s going to be the bidding war for the film rights between Del Toro and a whole list of big names and seven figure deals. I’ll have to contend with that, I’m certain. That and relocating the bottle of whiskey I’m drinking right now.

 

CB: Thanks for chatting with us! Good luck and we are rooting for you!

TM: Thank you for sending me a lifeline. Doing a crowdfunding makes me feel desperate before it even starts.

 

 

 

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The Vampire Verses: Blood Rites
by Frank Fort

Check out the campaign for the art and sketchbook here!

 

Chris Braly: Tell our readers about The Vampire Verses!

Franke Forte: The Vampire Verses is a vampire/horror comic that I created in 1994 and was published in 1995 by CFD productions (Formerly Cry For Dawn) and then Asylum Press in 1999 and beyond. The series was inspired by many anime series at the time including Wicked City, Demon City Shinjuku and Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend. I was also inspired by comic creators Berni Wrightson, Tim Vigil, Kelley Jones, Mike Mignola and others. I attempted to use all of these influences and create something of my own. What erupted from my hand and mind was The Vampire Verses. This Kickstarter is for the The Vampire Verses:Blood Rites Sketchbook and Art Book which will get people reacquainted with the series. But you can also get Vampire Verses issues 1-4. The Vampire Verses issue 5 is in production now and will be Kickstarted next.

 

CB: What kind of comic fans do you expect this comic will entertain the most?

FF: I think it will be embraced by fans of 90s bad girl comics for sure, but The Vampire Verses also had a complex plot and story that weaves in and out of personal tragedy, a quest for power and the occult. So there are characters that you can care about, but also ones you will loathe.

 

 

CB: Let’s get into the creative and production side a little. Tell us a bit about your creative team that have contributed to this project?

FF: It’s mainly me doing to writing, drawing, lettering and tones. I had a few art assistants and Bob Murdock was helping me with the inks a little here and there. Bob had passed away in 2002, so for the rest of the series it will be all me.

 

CB: This is actually a redux project for you. You’ve since gone on to do production work in film and television. What led you back?

FF: Well, for one, COVID, Haha! I mean the storyboard work had dried up, so i was “stuck at hone” as they say and I started messing around with comics. Doing storyboards for film and Tv us fun, but I Looooove comics! My film and TV credits include: Lovecraft Country, Fantasy Island, Solar Opposites, Dreamwork’s 3Below, Bob’s Burgers, Insidious 4, Lego: Guardians of the Galaxy, Despicable Me 2, Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out, The Super Hero Squad Show, Marvel Heroes 4D, and Lego Hero Factory. My comic book credits include: Heavy Metal Magazine, Bob’s Burgers, Warlash, DTOX, Zombie Terrors and Chicken Soup For Satan among others.

 

 

CB: What have you been learning from crowdfunding and creating through this process?

FF: For one it’s a lot of work. The promotion and networking is a full time job for sure. But I’m learning that with indie comics you need to be connected with the other comics creators on Kickstarter. There’s a communal atmosphere there where everyone helps each other out and cross promotes. I’m doing a lot with my social media, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, but all those posts don’t seem to be bringing in the backers like I had hoped.

 

 

CB: Thanks for chatting with us! Good luck and we are rooting for you!

FF: Thanks–If there are any current comic book Kickstarter’s out there who want to cross promote, please hit me up. My social handles are:

 

Check out the official website at AsylumPress.com

 

 

 

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EYE X FOOT

by Mzatiwathu Banda



 

Check out ‘Eye x Foot’ on Amazon

 

John Lemus: Welcome to a Indie Comics Showcase! I am happy to be discussing your indie manga EYE X FOOT today.

Mzatiwathu Banda: Thank you for having me and I’m glad I’m here and happy that Eye x Foot is featured on Indie Showcase. Who’d have thought that people outside of my dorm would take any interest in my manga, haha. Really dope to be here and talk to you today.

 

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

MB: Where to start… I am a Malawian currently going to school at Huntington University in Huntington Indiana. I always tell people that I’m chasing the Japanese dream in America. I’m a Marketing and Management major and I played four years of college soccer here in America. Back in Malawi I lived, ate and pooped soccer and to a degree I still do. I support the greatest team in the world Liverpool FC. I don’t know if I always thought I’d be a writer but I always had the ability to tell stories and I remember at a young age I’d draw these ugly Dragon Ball style comics for myself and they were so bad… but maybe that was a sign that I’d be writing comic books in my 20s, haha!

 

JL: Without giving away any spoilers, what can you tell us about EYE X FOOT?

MB: This is hard because I know so much… maybe too much, haha! Eye x Foot is a futsal manga that is about two boys Dieudonne and Keisuke. One of them is troublesome and basically homeless and the other is an orderly and is a futsal genius. They both want to be futsal playmakers… the guys who make killer passes like Iniesta or Xavi but they lack the ability to be that. Dieudonne has great foot skills, particularly in a dribbling sense but he lacks vision and can never see passes; Keisuke has great vision and can basically see the future of the court but he has terrible foot skills and can’t hit a ball to save his life. They decide to merge their talents. Keisuke will be the eye directing passes and Dieudonne will be the foot actually kicking the passes together they are Eye x Foot. Of course, there are secrets that the both of them hold that will make this journey as Eye x Foot one that will be hard for them to navigate as they try and get the Furudate team to National Futsal glory in Japan.

JL: Can you tell us a little bit about how EYE X FOOT came to be, how the characters and story were conceptualized?

MB: I had just finished Kuroko no Basket with my younger brother back in my sophomore year of high school. And after finishing it I was like damn why are there no cool soccer anime that get you hype like this. I started thinking about stories and I realized soccer is too big of a sport to get good solid storytelling. There’s a reason all the great sports stories are oof boxing and basketball because there are less characters to deal with because the sports have small numbers. Dealing with 11 characters and making them all worth caring about is difficult. But thankfully indoor soccer is 5v5 so you get the small numbers of basketball but it’s soccer. The story was originally a superhero-futsal-sports manga type thingy but that was doing too much and got scrapped.

 

JL: What are some of the first Comics or Manga you remember reading?

MB: I remember reading a bunch of miscellaneous Uncanny X-men comics that my uncle had back home in Malawi when I was like 7 or 8. Finding a comic book in Malawi is like finding a gem so I read and reread them over and over again. I also vividly remember my mum getting me Venom vs. Carnage when she came back from Australia(she was doing her Master’s). I remember the story and loving the art still today. I was in love with comics so I begged her to bring some when she came back and I got Spider-man, Hulk and Venom vs Carnage. Whilst reading them I just got inspired they were the coolest thing ever to me and still are!

 

JL: What are some of the comics or manga that have made the biggest impact on you?

MB: This is a hard question. Definitely Scott Snyder’s Court of Owls. It is one of the best stories I’ve ever experienced of any medium. I think it was one of the first comic books that showed me that comic books could be complex and incredibly intelligent and entertaining too. Uncanny X-Force by also did what Court of Owls did excellently too. The Deadpool Kills series just because it’s use of visuals and dialogue for comedy is excellent. Blue Lock is definitely the biggest impact manga wise it’s a soccer manga that looks at the sports genre in a unique way, instead of focusing on the team aspect it focuses on individuality; and the art is just fantastic!

 

JL: What does  EYE X FOOT mean to you, what about it makes it a story you want to tell?

MB: Eye x Foot is my baby in a sense, haha! I just enjoy the feeling of writing it and at times it almost tells itself. I think the reason it does tell itself is because it’s biographical. One of my friends Sam Spencer, who will be a world-renowned poet one day, said that the first story you write is about yourself and that’s true here. Dieudonne is basically me in many aspects, in fact his name is my middle name. The situation he is in at the beginning of the story is similar to one I experienced in my own life. A lot of the characters are based on some of the great people I’ve had the chance to meet and I think these people are worth being in a good story. That’s a strange answer but that’s it. I also think futsal deserves more appreciation, it’s a beautiful game, that’s a lot of fun.

Also, in high school I wrote comics but stopped because I didn’t think it was cool or some wird notion like that. Then I was hacked by two dudes with machetes, back in Malawi, leaving me almost dead. The cuts were so bad from the attack that you could see my skull and my shoulder was torn to bits. I lost so much blood that I got malaria +4 which is fatal… it was wild. After coming back from that I pledged that I would get serious about writing and Eye x Foot was one of the first ideas that came to me and I felt like because of that people had to see it.

 

JL: What are some of the things that have served as a source of Inspiration when working on EYE X FOOT, do you read anything, watch any shows, listen to music as you work?

MB: I listen to a lot of MF DOOM, I love the way he was different. He would rap common rap idioms in ways that seem topsy-turvy like “DOOM brung that bum, there goes that news van again/act like you knew like Toucan Sam and ‘em.” He’s saying what a lot of rappers have said about hitting other rappers in that line but there’s a lot of double entendres and even onomatopoeia. That’s how I want my stories to be like a DOOM song fresh but common. I’m inspired by Bas too love his music it’s so chill and has a creative energy to it. Attack on Titan is a big inspiration. It just knows how to create tension and masterfully make small details matter. The people around me inspire me too. My friends Nate and Sam both write and when I see them write it inspires me to keep going because I see them continuing to write.

 

JL: You a have rather unique style in your writing and art. Can you tell us a bit about you developed them?

MB: My writing ha evolved a lot since I first wrote this chapter of Eye x Foot. I try and capture real voices but spice them up. Most in all its character based I want the characters to have stylistic differences in a sense so that you know it’s them speaking. This is a truth of life people speak in different styles almost as though life were written by many authors, haha! I try my best to make sure that my written reflects that. My artist, Apeng, is amazing. I noticed his work on Akai which is another good series and thought his style would fit my manga so well. And it did! Apeng has this great ability to put life into characters and make the futsal look dynamic and exciting. I’m very happy that he’s my artist and can’t wait for him to bring life to more chapters of Eye x Foot!

 

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

MB: My creative process… let me see. I begin with small thumbnails of the pages in a notebook. The pages contain panel layouts and very rudimentary sketches of the scenes that will go into the panels. They also contain the type of shots that we will view the panel from (POV, establishing, wide, etc.). From here I keep the story as far as dialogue all in my head. So I do all the thumbnails for the chapter first. I don’t take any notes or anything I just store it in my head. The reason for this is that I believe a story should have the ability to stay in your head without the use of the book itself. If a story needs notes for me to remember it then it probably isn’t very good. After all the thumbnails I write out the scene descriptions and dialogue that I’ve stored up. From here I have my friend Nate Orecchio read it and he edits it and makes it better. If it wasn’t for him I bet Eye x Foot would be total garbage, haha!

 

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

MB: Some influences of mine. My mum is definitely one. Growing up poor in Malawi it can age you very quickly. And I did grow up very fast because of the poverty there. But my mum loved me and my brothers and made sure we had fun things that kids experience like comic books and cartoons. Steve Spencer my friend Sam’s dad. Good guy who taught me what it meant to be a man. Considering I did not grow up with a dad past the age of 8 his contribution to my life is something I cannot articulate in words even with all my writing talent. My coach Russel Lawson is another one if it were not for him I would not even have been in America and found my artist still. Very good man and always good to talk to him. He taught me to find a routine and stick to it. And he would demand excellence from me at practice or games regardless of whether he was playing me or not. I bring the same attitude to writing. I  write routinely everyday(try to) and I try my best to produce good work. This might seem like the fun would be removed from writing but it is not. I think the best fun comes when I’m trying to make a story that is enjoyable and I’m putting my all into it.

 

JL: What are your hopes for EYE X FOOT for the future?

MB: My hopes… it’s strange to say because it sounds like a dream of grandeur right now but an anime would be dope. There will be an anime one day I believe but that will be a long way away. I’ve written 28 chapters so the plan is to just write it and keep writing… as long as I can afford it, haha! I just want to keep writing and writing until I can’t. I love writing it and seeing where the characters will take me next. The next issue should be starting production at the end of February so there is more on the way!

 

 

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

MB: I’d like to thank Futty Central if you’re a soccer fan, particularly a North American soccer fan, hit up the Instagram page @FuttyCentral they promote my stuff and have been huge getting it out and my manga is their official manga. And I definitely want to thank everyone who has bought Eye x Foot so far and hope they’ve enjoyed it. It really means a lot to see people show my work some love and hold it in their hands. And to those who haven’t gotten it get yourself a copy because you’re missing out!

 

JL: Once again Mzatiwathu, I would like to say thank you for being a part of indie comics showcase. We wish you the best of luck with EYE X FOOT and all future projects.

Mzatiwathu: Thank you John. Good to talk to you and I wish you the best as well and I can’t wait till we meet again.

 

Check out ‘Eye x Foot’ on Amazon

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

 

 


Follow Indie Comics Showcase on Twitter at @Indie_Comics and reach out to them if you want us to consider featuring YOUR crowdfunding comic project!

 

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