Indie Comics Showcase #134: Sunsworn, 6 Gun Gorilla & the Littlest Barbarian

 

 

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!

 

Sunsworn: Wings of Vengeance
by Red Gaze

 

Check out the campaign here!

Chris Braly: Tell our readers your elevator pitch for Sunsworn: Wings of Vengeance. Briefly tell our readers what’s up.

Red Gaze: Sunsworn is a rich new universe set in the space fantasy genre. Wings of Vengeance is an action-packed stand-alone story set between the events of the first and second novels (Edge of Annihilation & March of the Dominion). Aztur Sunsworn and his companions venture to a remote resource world held by remnants of the Violet Circle, invading force that threatened the Astral Union in Edge of Annihilation. Here, they will face the sinister K’var and his savage Drakhor minions as they attempt to retake the planet and rescue one of the last remaining Disciples of Uul!

 

 

CB: When and how did you first get into comics creating? Or is this your first major project?

RG: I’ve been creating my own characters, worlds and universes for 30 years. It all started with Dungeons & Dragons and expanded from there. I’ve always been a fan of scifi & fantasy novels and superhero comics. When the tried and true franchises that we know and love began to spiral into shadows of what they once were, I knew it was time to act. I wrote Edge of Annihilation and decided to dip my toe in the cool waters of crowdfunding. The result was very encouraging. 

 

CB: Is this your first adventure in crowdfunding? How did you first get into this and how did it lead to this?

RG: I successfully funded Sunsworn: Edge of Annihilation last year. I’d been following and covering Comicsgate closely, promoting campaigns I believed in and backing many new creators with great stories to tell. I wasn’t sure how well a novel would be received in the realm of comic lovers, but the people answered that call for fresh, new entertainment. In between novels, I aim to create comics set in the same universe- one-shot, self-contained stories expanding upon the lore. Wings of Vengeance is the first.

 

 

CB: Where did the idea for Sunsworn: Wings of Vengeance originate?

RG: The Sunsworn Universe sprang from a roleplaying setting I created almost 20 years ago. It was influenced by once-great properties such as Star Wars, Green Lantern, He-Man, ThunderCats and many others. This universe was just collecting dust on my shelf, so I brushed it off, revamped many aspects, and set to work creating new characters to love and new worlds to explore. The result is Sunsworn.

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

RG: As I mentioned above, fans of Star Wars, Galactic Superhero adventures and Masters of the Universe will see something familiar, but entirely different to dig into and enjoy. There’s action, intrigue and developing characters you will get to know, as well as memorable villains and endless dangers lurking to challenge our heroes. Anyone who loves epic space fantasy adventure in an ever-evolving universe will love Sunsworn.   

 

 

CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team / other creators that have contributed to this?

RG: I created and developed this universe to delve into, but I was never alone in the process. I had a wonderful team of artists join me in making the visual companion for the first novel, and several remained to help me flesh out the Wings of Vengeance. The newest member of the team is NyRiam (of Bonds), who is drawing the interiors of the book. She also created and colored the main cover, contributed a lot of traditional art to the campaign, and made the Sirens of Sunsworn prints. She also designed the campaign page itself. Her beautiful style really brings every page to life, and she is a joy to work with. Our collaborative process has been fantastic. 

Mika Fusco of Barbusco Studios is adding dynamic color to NyRiam’s gorgeous pages. The two compliment each other on a spectacular level. I’m very happy to have Mika on this project! Vinnie Tartamella (City of Venus, Through the Woods, Shadow of the Kraken) has been helping me with Sunsworn since Edge of Annihilation. He created the eye-catching cover for the novel and contributed a variant cover and sketch cards to the current campaign. His work is legendary and speaks for itself.  Carla Tornielli (Grim Reaper, Witch Hunter) added her manga touch to the project with three Sirens of Sunsworn trading cards.  Everyone who contributed to Wings of Vengeance has gone above and beyond. I couldn’t be more grateful for this team.

 

CB: What else are you learning from crowdfunding and creating through this process?

RG: I’ve learned that there are a lot of like-minded people out there with tremendous talents and ideas. We all want the same thing: quality entertainment. And I believe many of us are not only achieving, but exceeding that goal. The creative process involves dedication and a lot of long days and short nights, but the end result is worth it. We are doing what multi-billion dollar corporations cannot. We’re giving the people what they really want.  

 

 

CB: Thanks for chatting with us! Good luck and we are rooting for you! Any final words?

RG: Thank you for your time, Chris! I also want to thank anyone and everyone who backs all the indie creators out there trying to provide real escapist entertainment. Every purchase, every share on social media, every person who shows up to a live stream, everyone who reads articles like yours- they are the backbone of this community. None of this would be possible without the fans. We are building universes for the next generation, and I thank everyone who is contributing to that in any way!

Check out the campaign here!

@TheRedGaze @NyRiamN @Vinnieart  @BarbuscoComics  @Carla_Tornielli 

 

 

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6-Gun Gorilla: Long Days of Vengeance
by Brian Christgau

Check out the campaign here

 

Chris Braly: Brian, welcome back to Bleeding Fool’s Indie Comics Showcase! It’s been too long. Give me your elevator pitch for Six Gun Gorilla – Briefly tell our readers the pitch.

Brian Christgau: Thanks for having me back! You and Bleeding Fool has been an indispensable asset to the indie comics community and one of the few voices of reason in the wilderness of comics journalism in these bat-shit crazy times.

My elevator pitch for SIX-GUN GORILLA hasn’t changed: “A very big ape with very big guns blowing very big holes in very bad people.” If it ain’t broke…

 

 

CB: Your latest campaign is for issue 8, is that right? How many issues are planned, something like 10 is that right?

BC: Yup! This is the eighth issue of a ten issue arc I call “Long Days of Vengeance”.

CB: What’s the tale for this issue and how can new readers catch up?

BC: The previous issue was called “The Big Gundown” because of the massive body count our heroes inflicted on the villains. They were in the dream stage of their adventure, but now they’re in the nightmare stage, the part of the story where everything goes to shit, and I always especially loved this part in traditional storytelling. There’s a reason why the EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is the best STAR WARS movie.

We’ve seen our heroes kick some major ass, but can they take it? Kumba, our Six-Gun Gorilla, has already been put through an emotional thresher, but when you see what the Cemetery Without Crosses is it’s going to mess you up. This is also where we finally get a chance to know our arch-villain, Lord Chilblain, a British aristocrat who is based on real people, these landed gentry who read too many “Natty Bumpo” stories, stories about the West that were hugely popular in England at the time. They would just up and move to Texas, which is exactly what Lord Chilblain is. He’s exactly the villain that the story called for. If I was going to go big with it, I was like fuck it – let’s go vintage James Bond big. Let’s give this guy this insane lair – but one based in historical fact – and a bad-ass caper.

 

First and foremost this is a Pulp comic. I tried to invest it with some deeper meaning and some heart, but the play is the thing. If we don’t deliver those larger-than-life thrills then we’re cheating the reader. And you make a contract with your readers: if you’re going to call your comic SIX-GUN GORILLA it better be a revenge Western with a fucking gorilla or you done fucked up son.

What I wanted to do with the story was start out small, close, intimate, and gradually widen the scope of the series as it progresses, until it reaches the level of spectacle. And there’s nothing to like about empty spectacle. I thought AVATAR was utter shit. Beautiful fireworks show that leaves you with nothing but an empty sky. So you’re going to see some pretty far out stuff in this, but it’s still grounded by these characters whom the readers have really bonded with.

Given that this is my third campaign and I fulfilled on the last two – and I’m not looking for a cookie or anything – but I think my history of delivering for my backers both in terms of quality and actually getting their books. I like to think that counts for something.

 

CB: Six-Gun Gorilla is an obscure character from a 1939 “Wizard” magazine. Any luck finding out who created him? How did you first come across the character and decide to update and make him your own project?

BC: That’s still a total mystery that’s unlikely to be solved. I’m sure scholars in the field of the British Pulps could probably narrow it down to a stable of usual suspects. It’s also possible that there was more than one author, since it wasn’t uncommon for British Pulp writers to collaborate on stories.

I first came across the title while browsing a website about Pulp heroes. I saw it and just cracked up laughing. I immediately thought of a big silverback gorilla in the Old West thinking, “I’m gonna git them varmints what kilt mah pa!” And then I thought, “Y’now, that could actually be kind of awesome if someone did it and played it straight.”

All I knew was that I had to read that story yesterday. You can imagine my chagrin when I learned that it had never been reprinted and that the only remaining copies were under lock and key in a London Museum. This was disappointing news but being a Horror movie collector I knew what it was like to read about something that sounds awesome and then not being able to get access it. But the damage had been done and that title had been branded on my brain.

I’ll never forget that afternoon. It was lunchtime and I decided to take a ride to a shopping mall that had an Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips, which is my favorite junk food. On the way over I was listening to the HAWK THE SLAYER score – this great, synthy high adventure music – and by the time I pulled into the parking lot I had the entire story. It’s the only time that’s ever happened, that a story just emerged fully formed. I had been touched by the muse, and it was clear that if I couldn’t read SIX-GUN GORILLA then I was going to have to write the damn thing!

 

 

CB: Let’s get into the creative and production side a little. You’ve worked with a few artists through these campaigns, notably the late Adrian Sibar. Tell us a bit about your creative team that’s contributing to this issue? And how did you hook up?

BC: I found Adrian, God bless him, when I put an add on Digital Webbing offering a paying job for a sequential artist. I had it narrowed down to three really superb artists and Adrian won out by a hair because there was a real sense of heart and emotion in his work, and boy did he deliver.

Sadly, tragically, Adrian passed away last year, and any future victories with this book will be bittersweet. Luckily, my good friend Preston Asevedo volunteered to pick up from where Adrian left off, and Preston is, well, Preston. He’s one of the truly great talents to emerge from this new indie comics scene, and his work just keeps getting better. He’s moving into Simon Bisley or dare I say Frank Frazetta territory. I always tease him that I’m trying to get in as much work in with him before Hollywood snaps him up, but I’m only half-kidding!

And Preston is one of those cats that is great to collaborate with because, as he likes to say, when you’re making a comic book you’ve got two storytellers. I’m always preaching about how writers need to not take a dictatorial approach to making comics and fully embrace the collaborative nature of the medium, because that’s when magic happens. I write full-script style and tell the artist to approach the script Marvel-style. If they have an idea that’s better than mine I shut the fuck up and go with it.

 

CB: What’s the workflow like? How do you like to work?

BC: I don’t stick to a strict schedule or write every day or do any of that other stuff writers always tell you to do. I treat it like a hobby and make sure that I’m always having fun, because this is a job where the quality of your work depends on it. I adhere to what I call the Bruce Lee rule: “Play seriously.”

I have Attention Deficit Disorder, but I’ve learned to weaponize it, so I can juggle two or three projects at once. I also have this thing called “hyper-focus” that some A.D.D. folks have, where you can just laser-in on what you’re doing and the rest of the world disappears and you’re in The Zone. And one thing every artist will tell you, whatever medium they work in, it’s that there’s no better place to be than The Zone.

I finished the scripts for the remaining two issues of SIX-GUN years ago, so right now my focus is on the BLOODHUNT/DOC SALEM crossover, which I’m doing with my home-skillets Preston and Simon “Sim” Pothier. That’s just going to be a big, crazy blast – I’m talking monster-mashing mayhem, gun kata, and quite a few surprises that my fellow monster movie fans are going to love. Like Sim said, “It’s a vampire assassin and a monster hunter! C’mon bro, it writes itself!” And he was right! It has been!

 

When they approached me to write I felt like a kid who is taken to a candy store and told it’s all for me. They’ve given me complete creative freedom, but there’s a sense of responsibility there because not only am I playing with two other people’s IPs, I’m playing with my friend’s IPs. But in return I’m also giving them complete veto power in case one of them sees their characters doing or saying something they wouldn’t. They’ve put their sandboxes together and invited me to play in it, so obviously I don’t want to leave a massive cat turd in there.

These guys get it because we all only care about one thing: giving our backers the absolutely best comic book we can. There’s no dick measuring. (Although I think Preston might win that one because he’s part Brazilian.) Sim is doing the breakdowns and Preston is going to do the finishes, so the art is going to look like nothing that’s come before it.

 

CB: Eight issues is quite a good run, longer than some modern mainstream creators get to stay on a character!

BC: Well yeah, when you’re launching another #1 every five issues! They used to call those “limited series” back in the 80’s. Now it’s a sad attempt to court millennial readers who might feel intimidated jumping into a THOR #550, but they’re all reading Manga! They’ve alienated and lost their old fans to court an audience that doesn’t exist.

CB: What have you been learning from crowdfunding and creating through this process? Any best practices you can share? Any mistakes other creators should avoid?

BC: I think some newcomers are starting these big, long sagas when they should establish themselves first with one-shot stories. That’s not what I did, of course, but I think that’s the best path for new creators right now. Don’t be reluctant to reach out to some of the small and mid-range established creators like Preston, Sim and myself. Don’t bother reaching out to the big dogs – they’re doing their own thing and couldn’t care less. But guys like us are highly accessible because we were on the outside looking in just yesterday, so we’re acutely aware of what that feels like. You can learn from our successes, but even more from our blunders.

Right now there’s such a glut of campaigns, but I find that encouraging because it means people are watching our success and thinking, “Hey, maybe I can do that too!” And that’s an incredibly rewarding feeling. There are so many great creators in this scene who are also just great people who relish the opportunity to give back and nurture new talent. Take advantage of us!

 

CB: Do you have any other comic ideas you’d like to explore when this adventure is over, or are there still more 6GG stories to tell?

BC: I could write SIX-GUN GORILLA for another twenty years, but there are a TON of other books I want to do. I’ve got a Historical Drama called ARMINIUS about the Roman defeat in the Black Forest, a werewolf vs. witches story called SOUTH-PAW, a serio-comic MAD MAX rip-off called SLAG VIRUS, an early 80’s style Sword and Sorcery adventure called SLAYERS, and a Mexican Horror Wrestling Movie homage called TEQUILA MOONRISE. It’s just a matter of getting these projects off the ground and, if my luck keeps up, it looks like I eventually will get to do all or at least most of them.

Right now I’m also doing some work-for-hire gigs that are very hush-hush. It’s a very weird feeling, suddenly finding myself in demand as a writer. I’m super grateful, of course, but I’ve got a bad case of Imposter Syndrome, like any minute somebody is going to notice I don’t know what I’m doing and say, “Hey, you’re not supposed to be here!” But I suppose that’s a good thing, since that will prevent me from turning into an entitled douche like Mark Waid or Kurt Busiek or any of these other fools who forgot that they ain’t but a gnat on a dog’s dick without their fans.

 

CB: We are rooting for you, Brian. Anything else you’d like to add?

BC: Thanks so much, brother. I think we’re living through an incredibly exciting time for indie comics. The mainstream hasn’t merely dropped the ball, they’ve shanked it a hundred times and set that sumbitch on fire, and that’s given new creators – small in prestige but big in talent – a chance to step in and fill the massive void they’ve left. Now is the time to watch all this emerging talent knowing that someday you’ll be able to say you were there on day one.

 

@BrianChristgau @nickythepipe

 

Check out the campaign here

 

 

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Mara
by Dylan Goss

 

Check out the Mara comic here!

 

Chris Braly: Tell our readers your elevator pitch for Mara. Briefly tell our readers what’s up.

Dylan Goss: Mara follows the titular character, a young girl from a small fishing village, as she tries to manage the power of an ancestral spirit she wasn’t prepared to receive. As she ventures from the broken tatters of her own little tribe into the larger world on a quest for revenge, she learns how much bigger the world is than herself, and how deeply entrenched her enemy really is. She’s a desert barbarian leading a rag tag group of adventurers against armies, monsters, demons, and even gods.

CB: Is this your first foray into comics? How did you first get into this and how did it lead to this?

DG: Yes and no. I initially tried to get into game development, but it took far too long to realize that I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I’ve been a software developer going on 20 years now, so venturing into video games seemed to be the right way to tell stories. A good story can make a game come to life, but it’s not what makes a game good. In fact, the cutscenes from my biggest attempt to break into game development were also comic pages. That should have been a dead giveaway, but sometimes it takes a while to figure out what fits you.   


CB: Where did the idea for Mara originate?

DG: Mara is loosely based on an old D&D campaign. Tabletop RPGs are nothing if not collaborative storytelling. The character herself has roots in Logan’s X-23. Dafne Keen’s initial portrayal as animalistic, before growing into more of a person, had a significant impact on my portrayal of Mara.  

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

DG: Conan fans will likely have a good time with this, with it having some significant sword – or axe in Mara’s case – vs sorcery elements.   

CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team / other creators that have contributed to this?

DG: Rosi Woo is the illustrator, but she also handles naming and lettering. That’s a big task for one person, but that’s how she prefers it. Being less precise with the script allows more of her creativity to shine through, and I haven’t been disappointed yet. Gregory Thorpe Badrena handles translations for Spanish and Chinese. He approached me first through a mutual friend – I didn’t actually think to translate the comic originally. But having extra readership is definitely a good thing. Rogerio Rios handles Portuguese translations. He’s the artist on another comic team creating Heel Turn. Introducing Portuguese has been a real eye opener for me. I never knew how passionate Brazilian comic fans were. The positive feedback from Brazil has been amazing. 

CB: We’re seeing many creators crowdfunding their comics on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. What made you decide to take a different route?

DG: I wanted to make paying for the comic optional. You know you’ve done a good job if people are supporting you when they don’t necessarily have to.

 

CB: How can readers check it out?

DG: It’s currently being updated on Thursdays for free at https://mara-comic.com  – Patreon is just for early access and bonus/behind the scenes content.

 

CB: Thanks for chatting with us Dylan! Any final words?

DG: We’re always happy to talk to our readers and other people in comics. Drop us a line on social media sometime!

 

@stuffedrock @fibericon

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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