NEW

Announcement: VIKINGVERSE COVER ILLUSTRATION RELEASED!

ANNOUNCEMENT Official summary of ALL FATHER PARADOX along with color cover illustration! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard,...

Announcement: New Comic Coming from Outland Entertainment!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Announcing Riddle of the Loremaster, an all new original comic series written by Melanie R. Meadors, with art by Nicolás Giacondino! Here is a sneak peek at some of the promo art: Riddle of the Loremaster is a comic for mature readers set in a fantasy...

Women in Dark Fantasy Have Changed by Linda Robertson

In doing a bit of research looking for a dark-fantasy-related topic for this article, I sought something that I knew at least a bit about, something I felt strongly about, and something where I could add meaningfully to the conversation. Many things were considered,...

Alethea Kontis on Imposter Syndrome

Earlier this year, I met the only student Katy Kellgren ever had. He told me he just about had to bully her into being his teacher. This amazing, multiple award-winning voice actress with hundreds of audiobooks under her belt truly didn’t believe she knew anything...

Announcements: HATH NO FURY Has Arrived in the US!

Backers of the paperback and hardcover editions of Hath No Fury will be happy to learn that the books have arrived at the printer's headquarters in Chicago! Now, they just need to be sent to our head honcho Jeremy Mohler, and then they will be sent out to backers...

Fairies with Dark Faces by I.L. Cruz

I like fairies—not a difficult admission for a fantasy writer—and I don’t mean the safe Victorian ones with gossamer wings that spread sparkles when they walk. I mean the ones that steal little children and make Faustian bargains. They were ancient and magnificent and...

Announcement: Launching New Transmedia World, VIKINGVERSE

Announcements Introducing the beginning of a new transmedia project with fiction, comics, and games in development! VIKINGVERSE From a concept created by Ian Sharpe, Vikingverse is going to launch this fall with a novel called All Father Paradox. Here is the line art...

The Secret Origin of “Daughter of Sorrow” by Maurice Broaddus

“Mr. Broaddus, you need to start a Creative Writing Club.” Thus began a four week campaign in which different members of my eighth grade class wore me down and I agreed to run an after school program. We ended up with nearly a dozen intrepid souls in our merry band,...

Knaves Has Funded, and Then Some!

Thanks to our awesome backers and readers, the Kickstarter for our anthology, Knaves, has been a success! Four hundred eighty-nine backers came together and invested $15,342 to make Knaves happen. Not only will this anthology be produced, but the authors will all get...

You Like Me Because I’m a Scoundrel

I remember watching Phantom Menace in the movie theater wondering what the movie was missing. There was awesome Jedi action (and way better choreography than the original trilogy). The music was fantastic. Tatooine looked pretty much the same, and pod racing was...
Fairies with Dark Faces by I.L. Cruz

Fairies with Dark Faces by I.L. Cruz

I like fairies—not a difficult admission for a fantasy writer—and I don’t mean the safe Victorian ones with gossamer wings that spread sparkles when they walk. I mean the ones that steal little children and make Faustian bargains. They were ancient and magnificent and knew worlds beyond our own. Is it any wonder they acted like gods?

What attracted me to the idea of fairies weren’t the fairies themselves. It was the idea that they were hidden, usually in plain sight, and only the initiated would be able to find them. It was a test of worthiness and the outcome was never guaranteed to be a good one. Catching a leprechaun earned you a pot of gold, but if you weren’t careful it also came with a curse. No one ever said adventure was a good idea.

But as I got older, I was pulled away from the fairy world. I could say I outgrew it, but that sounds sad, like someone who no longer catches wishes on the wind or searches for four-leaf clover. No, I moved away from fairyland because no one there looked like me. My roots are Latina and I knew very early that all those fairies—pixies, gnomes, sprites—were not mine. They were Northern European with pale skin, long, straight hair and bright, light eyes. Just as I knew I would never be compared to Snow White, I knew fairies were just as far from reach.

That didn’t stop me from wanting to write myself and people like me into the stories. I wanted a mythology, folklore that looked like the fairyland I’d grown up loving. And then I discovered something wonderful. Fairies are for the rest of us. The trick is to expand the idea of what constitutes a fairy

One of the early inhabitants of Puerto Rico was the Taino. They had a rich culture and heritage and during my studies I discovered something that looked familiar—beings that only walked the mortal realm after sundown. They were shapeshifters, pranksters, and could be benevolent (when moved to be) or malevolent (when crossed by mere mortals). During the day they lived in a realm called Coaybay, which was considered “the other side of the island”, as though people could get there. The ruler of their realm was called Marquetaurie Guayaba and he had a dog Opiyelguabirán who guards the entrance to Coaybay. In the stories the realm was only for the dead when their goieza, or souls, left their bodies. Then the goieza were judged and the good ones became hupia, while the bad ones became Maboya. Both could be identified by the lack of a navel and were attracted to guava.

The more I read, the more I saw similarities to other fairy stories I’d read. Their changeable nature. The ability to do kind and cruel things. Having a kingdom, tantalizingly close to the world of man, complete with a ruler. Only emerging at night and having a distinguishing feature. These were spirits of the dead, but they never moved on and after centuries they forgot where they came from and became spirits of the forest, the rain forest. It sounded like fairies to me. And I wondered, what if I had been asking the wrong question? Maybe every culture has a fairy and I didn’t know because it’s not out there to find. But it is. I just had to look for it. Kind of like fairies—close at hand, but only for those who know what to look for. They don’t make it easy, but if you’re one of the chosen, you may get a glimpse of a fairy that looks like you.

 

About a Smuggler’s Path by I.L. Cruz (coming soon!)

In Canto, magic is a commodity, outlawed by the elites after a devastating war and brokered by smugglers on the hidden market. But some know it’s more—a birthright.

Inez Garza moves through both worlds. She’s a member of an old, aristocratic family and she works for the hidden market as a magical arms dealer. Inez must keep her smuggling of magical contraband a secret for her sake and her family’s safety. Her worlds stay separate to hide her real purpose—funding The Heir Apparent, an underground group determined to return magic to the people at any cost.

But the discovery of a relic from before the war threatens her delicate balance.

Inez’s inherent magic, which lives in all the Canti, has been awakened by an ancient cowry shell. Now the Duchess’s daughter and smuggler must add another title to her already precarious position—mage, a capital crime. This could bring her to the attention factions at home— both the rebels she secretly supports, and those at the highest levels of government, doggedly holding to the status quo to avoid another magical war—and abroad.

And Inez must decide who she can trust and what her powers mean for her future and the future of Canto.

Announcement: Launching New Transmedia World, VIKINGVERSE

Announcement: Launching New Transmedia World, VIKINGVERSE

Announcements

Introducing the beginning of a new transmedia project with fiction, comics, and games in development!

VIKINGVERSE

From a concept created by Ian Sharpe, Vikingverse is going to launch this fall with a novel called All Father Paradox. Here is the line art for the cover-in-progress by Jeremy Mohler:

All Father Paradox is coming in October!

Odin has escaped his doom at Ragnarok. Now, history has been thrown to the wolves.

In the All Father Paradox, Ian Sharpe reveals a parallel universe where Vikings rule seas and stars with restless fleets. In a series of interwoven sagas, a young Norse prince plots to shatter empires and claim the heavens; a newly qualified professor finds the key to new horizons but unlocks a ceaseless hunger; and a bold empress discovers there is a price for immortality, one her ancestors have come to collect.

A Letter to My Past Self

A Letter to My Past Self

Dear Greg (in 1986),

So you’ve just turned fourteen, and you’ve just entered your freshman year of high school.  I wanted to send you…well, not a pep talk, exactly.  You’ve never liked or trusted those; they’re treacherous, and too often they’ve been empty promises, or outright lies.  But I’ve got perspective now, perspective you don’t yet have, and God knows you could use some.  I remember that year.

I would be lying if I told you the months ahead are going to be easy.  In fact, in a lot of ways they’re going to be brutal.  You know as well as I do how out of step you often feel these days, gangly and uncomfortable in your own skin, a book-lover and game-player and role-playing enthusiast and all the other things which are the opposite of popularity-producing.  You like people, but they don’t always like you—or at least some of them. (You think it’s most of them, but you’re wrong there.  And you’re not the only one feeling that way.)  Those people will make fun of you a great deal, and worse.  You’ll be bullied, hit in hallways, pushed in lockers, have your lunch spit in, your backpack ripped, your glasses broken.  And you’ll be so goddamned passive (everything in that last sentence was done to you, enacted upon you) when all that’s happening, so uncertain of how much is your fault (just so you know: none of it is. None.), wishing you could use your intellect and general good will to override the anger and hatred and vitriol.  You won’t be able to, though.  You’re not old enough, and neither are they.

Mom and Dad won’t be able to help.  They’ll mean well, and they care about you, but in some ways they’re as awkward as you are, as uncertain what to do with your messy emotions (and Christ, are they messy) as you are.  Other adults—teachers, principals, other figures of authority—will do what they can, when they’re not busy blaming you for being punched in the stomach or slapped or unceasingly, mercilessly, unendingly mocked and humiliated.  And you will have some friends, some places of refuge in the storm. Take shelter with them as often as you can.

And take heart—because the real reason I’m writing this is to tell you to hold on.  You won’t see it now, but you’re building something within yourself; knowledge, wisdom, and a fundamental understanding of what real strength actually is.  You’re developing empathy, and the ability to transform that empathy into advocacy for others.  Don’t give up your music (ever!); don’t give up your writing (never!); don’t give up your reading, or game-playing.  The Dungeons & Dragons Red Box you bought a couple of years ago?  When you get older, you’ll meet some of the people who worked on that.  The map of the Forgotten Realms you’ve got on your wall?  The man who created that will become not only a friend but a colleague.  You’ll do readings with him eventually; you’ll work with him on projects.  Believe it or not, he’ll invite you to become part of a new world he’s created; he’ll publish a trilogy of your books, and he won’t do so out of pity, but out of genuine respect for your skill as a writer and a desire to draw upon your own base of readers (you’ll have one!).  He’ll call your book good, even great—in public, in front of everyone!  And others will agree.

There’s more. You’ll have a wonderful and growing group of friends, on and offline (you’ll understand the online part later—give it maybe ten years or so), and you’ll play games with them, and laugh and have fun just like you (sometimes) do now.  You’ll have a wonderful family—not seamlessly perfect, but loving and caring and warm, with two wonderful children, and a house, and a job as a writer and teacher, like your mother and father, able to learn from their example in both strengths and weaknesses.  And most of all, Greg, you’ll be able, thirty years from now, to talk about this, to open yourself up to others without fear or uncertainty or doubt (okay…maybe a bit of doubt, but you’ll get past it).  And maybe talking about it will help others who feel the same way you often do now; maybe it will help them think of a future beyond, well, whatever this is.  It can’t hurt.

So…be well.  Take care of yourself.  Trust in your path.  It will be rocky and rough and difficult.  But you have people who do and will care about you.  Have faith. It is often hard to see, even harder to feel.  But it is also, sometimes, rewarded.  I promise you it is well worth the chance taken.  Until then, remember this: you matter, all of you, now and in future.

Much love,

Greg (in 2016)

***

About Gregory A. Wilson:

Gregory A. Wilson is Professor of English at St. John’s University in New York City, where he teaches creative writing and fantasy fiction along with various other courses in literature.

His first academic book was published by Clemson University Press in 2007; on the creative side, he has won an award for a national playwriting contest, and his first novel, a work of fantasy entitled The Third Sign, was published by Gale Cengagein the summer of 2009. His second novel, Icarus, will be published as a graphic novel by Silence in the Library Publishing in 2015, and he has just signed a three book deal with The Ed Greenwood Group, which will be publishing his Gray Assassin Trilogy beginning with his third novel,Grayshade, in 2016.

He has short stories out in various anthologies, including Time Traveled Tales from Silence in the Library, When The Villain Comes Home, edited by Ed Greenwood and Gabrielle Harbowy, and Triumph Over Tragedy, alongside authors like Robert Silverberg and Marion Zimmer Bradley, and he has had three articles published in the SFWA Bulletin.

He is a regular panelist at conferences across the country and is a member of the Gen Con Writers’ Symposium, the Origins Library, Codex, Backspace, and several other author groups on and offline. On other related fronts, he did character work and flavour text for the hit fantasy card game Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, and along with fellow speculative fiction author Brad Beaulieu is the co-host of the critically-acclaimed podcast Speculate! The Podcast for Writers, Readers and Fans, a show which discusses (and interviews the creators and illustrators of) speculative fiction of all sorts and types.

He lives with his wife Clea, daughter Senavene–named at his wife’s urging for a character in The Third Sign, for which his daughter seems to have forgiven him–and dog Lilo in Riverdale, NY.

Visit Gregory’s personal site: http://www.gregoryawilson.com/ and check out his book, Grayshade.

Rejections: The Building Blocks of Collections by Maurice Broaddus

Rejections: The Building Blocks of Collections by Maurice Broaddus

Short stories are my first love. As much as I enjoy writing novels and novellas, I keep coming back to short stories. That’s why my first collection, The Voices of Martyrs, means so much to me. But as I’ve reflected on the long journey in getting here, I keep coming back to one thought: rejections are a part of a writer’s life.

Number of short stories I have written: 87

Number of times I’ve sent stories out: 594

Number of acceptances: 67

Number of rejections: 527

By my rudimentary calculations, I have about a 13% acceptance rate over the history of my career. I have no idea where this ranks in terms of being typical. I’m no Jim C. Hines or Tobias Buckell or else I’d crunch these numbers to death. I know that if I were to grant my acceptance rate over time, you’d see an ascending curve as the acceptance rate in my first five years is quite different from my most recent five years. When I was first starting, I was sending stories out to every market I could think of. It took a while to get a feel for what kinds of stories particular markets were looking for. So being better at matching stories to potential markets helps.

The other thing that has helped is that I get invitations to submit to projects. While no guarantee of an acceptance, it helps the odds (like an editor already familiar with my work wanting me to write something tailored to them). All that said, that’s still 527 times I’ve received a rejection. Five hundred twenty seven times I’ve had to read “no” and feel that sting that you never get used to.

There can be a difficult learning curve to rejections. It takes a while to emotionally realize that the rejection was of the story, not of you. Different kinds of rejections tell you different things. A lot of quick arriving form rejections may be telling you that the story’s not ready (or tat the market is brutally efficient). I have sold every story that I wrote in college. The last one sold five years ago (well over a decade since I first wrote it). They’ve gone through maybe ten drafts each. I stuck with them because I believed in them and because the rejections went from forms to personal comments. Those stories which never moved past the form rejection stage, after a dozen send outs, I took a hard look at. They simply weren’t good and have been trunked (there are ten short stories that will never see the light of day).

Over the last couple weeks I’ve sent three stories off into the wild. One I’ve already heard back on with a “maybe … if you’re willing to edit.” The other two I’m simply waiting to hear back on (read: I’m working on new stories to distract myself). I’ve also sent out rejections to all but a dozen or so authors for the April issue of Apex Magazine which I’m guest editing. I’ve had to reject some great writers and close friends whose stories simply didn’t work with what I was looking for.

You will be rejected. It’s part of the writing life. It feels personal (especially when you’ve poured your soul into it, bleeding over each page), but it’s not personal. It’s about the work. Not every rejection means the same thing. Before you reach to drown the grief of your baby being rejected, parse it for what it means to you and where you are. Rejection can refine us, letting us know when a story is not ready. But that rejection could just mean “not for us.” Or “we ran out of room.” Or “we just brought a story similar to this.” Rejection can teach us things, but sometimes the biggest lesson is about perseverance. About getting up, dusting yourself off, and sending your story out again. Because, like much of life, a successful writing career is about determination. Those eventual acceptances are how collections get made.

###

About The Voices of Martyrs:

“An outcast in the distant past struggling to survive. A religious captain rationalizing away the evil of the slave ship he commands. A future biomech warrior in a literal culture war. The stories in The Voices of Martyrs again prove why Maurice Broaddus is one of the most exciting writers of today’s genre fiction. His vision spans space and time while staying grounded in the stories–in the very voices–which make us fully and tragically and hopefully human.”

–Nebula Award-nominated author, Jason Sanford

We are a collection of voices, the assembled history of the many voices that have spoken into our lives and shaped us. Voices of the past, voices of the present, and voices of the future. There is an African proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates as “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” This is why we continue to remember the tales of struggle and tales of perseverance, even as we look to tales of hope. What a people choose to remember about its past, the stories they pass down, informs who they are and sets the boundaries of their identity. We remember the pain of our past to mourn, to heal, and to learn. Only in that way can we ensure the same mistakes are not repeated. The voices make up our stories. The stories make up who we are. A collected voice.

The Voice of Martyrs is available online and wherever books are sold. Order your copy here!

About Maurice Broaddus:

With sixty seven stories published, Maurice Broaddus’ work has appeared in Lightspeed MagazineWeird TalesApex MagazineAsimov’sCemetery Dance,Black Static, and many more. Some of his stories have been collected in The Voices of Martyrs. He is the author of the urban fantasy trilogy, The Knights of Breton Court trilogy. He co-authored the play Finding Home: Indiana at 200. His novellas include Buffalo Soldier, I Can Transform You, Orgy of Souls, Bleed with Me, andDevil’s Marionette. He is the co-editor of Dark Faith, Dark Faith: Invocations, Streets of Shadows, and People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror. Learn more about him at MauriceBroaddus.com. 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MauriceBroaddus

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mauricebroaddus

Elflord – Issue 01 Preview

Elflord – Issue 01 Preview

Hello folks!

The next Kickstarter project we’re in the middle of running is for the continuation of Barry Blair’s fantasy epic, Elflord. Being closest to Barry and his projects, Mat Nastos is the mastermind behind the writing. Tony Vassallo is handling all the pencils, Sian Mandrake on the colors, and Ed Dukeshire on letters.

This is an outstanding team we’ve got on this book and it’s turning out amazing. So seriously, go check it out and help us fund it!

Here’s the video about the Kickstarter!

You can also check out the first ten lettered pages below!

And please, ask questions and let us know what you think!

Steven Dudley – Nightfell Producer

Steven Dudley – Nightfell Producer

Down to earth, but with a flare for fantasy, Steven Dudley explains how he got himself producer of a fantasy webcomic.

How did you find yourself producing Nightfell?

I was approached by my friend Jeremy MohlerHe’d asked roughly a year before the Nightfell project began if I was interested.

 

Did you always envision it as a webcomic?

Not always.  Jeremy told me the project would be presented as such early on.

 

There’s a whole debate around comics becoming digital. Do you think webcomics are the gateway for this new digital world?

Yes.  Everything is going digital.  With that said, I don’t believe web comics will ever phase out hardcopy, but, will act as an extension – a compliment.

 

Do you find yourself more driven towards a specific genre(s)? Which one(s)?

Yes, I lean towards fantasy. 

Why?

I was the typical kid who was awestruck by the Hobbit.  I do like other genres though, but, yes, fantasy is my favorite.  I’d also started playing D&D early on and so many good memories from that.

 

Was it always your intention to work in this creative field?

No.  I never thought I’d be a part of a project in this way.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised since I have so many very talented artist friends.  I feel lucky.

 

What was the first book you ever read (or was read to you)?

A book about bigfoot.

And comics: which were your favorite ones?

Spiderman and Batman.  I’d also read the Savage Sword of Conan from time to time.

 

Nowadays, what can we find you reading?

Books regarding the nature of reality and primitive living skills.

 

Are you a person of idols?

If you mean “do I idolize people”…. Nope.  But, I admire great art and people can be great works of art if they choose to be.

 

Who were your childhood heroes?

My dad, my grandpa and my uncle.

And today? Who do you look up to?

I can’t say I look up to people.  I can only say there are a few I highly respect.

 

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

A short story about a mech warrior.  I’d written it for a programmer friend of mine who was getting some of his code placed in a magazine back in the 80’s.  The short story was published with it as an introduction.  Was an exciting event for me since I was only a kid.

 

What kind of games do you play? Board or Computer games?

I play both.  Not big into first person shooters though I’ve played many.  I’m looking more for computer games that create randomly generated worlds and can be delivered from private, dedicated servers.  I’m bored with the way marketing has dictated how computer games are created.

As far as board games go, I own many and like various kinds, though War of the Ring and Battlestar Galactica are a couple that have me hook-line-and-sinker.

 

So… can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward in the short run?

NightfellIt’s the only project I’m involved with at the moment and I think it’s an absolutely great story.  The world needs Nightfell.

 

Thanks Steven for telling us about your story!

S.G

P.S.: If you enjoyed reading this interview take a look at the other ones we have from illustrators to writers, passing through game-designers and authors.

Aegisteel – Issue 00 Preview

Aegisteel – Issue 00 Preview

AEGISTEEL is the first wholly original property published by Outland Entertainment, written by Mat Nastos, illustrated by Alan Gallo and myself (Jeremy Mohler), and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

I can’t begin to express how excited I am to have Outland publishing this beast and to have helped design and bring Mat’s world to life. It’s been a lot of fun having the chance to play in this world and I’m looking forward to sitting down and digging into the actual main series. I’m just now getting started on layouts for the first issue and man, it’s going to be fun!

AEGISTEEL has had something of an interesting course to life. I talk a lot about it over here, actually. I also share a lot of the character designs and concepts that I worked on with the writer, Mat Nastos, so be sure to check out that blog post.

A little bit about the world –

AEGISTEEL is a spellpunk adventure set in the world of the Aegisteel Empire, a society of steel and magic built on the backs of its soldiers and terrible war machines. Think of it as DIRTY DOZEN meets SMOKING ACES set in a war-torn SPELLPUNK world.

When the Theln Empire captures the ancient Aegisteel forges at Nelvynnal, veteran marksman Broderick Longbarrel is released from Blackgate Prison and given one last chance for redemption. Tasked with infiltrating the ancient and impenetrable fortress, Longbarrel ans five former death row inmates must succeed before the Theln can begin production of the giant war-golems that could shift the balance of the war.

Below are the layouts and some additional designs I did for the project –

And below are the first eleven pages, fully colored and lettered!

The book is also now available digitally over here!

You can also purchase the limited edition Amazing Las Vegas Convention cover in print here!

And you can also get a 14″x20″ poster over here!

Hope you like it!

JM

Elflord: Past & Future  by Christopher Helton

Elflord: Past & Future by Christopher Helton

Let’s talk today about Elflord a little bit, since a relaunch of it is currently being Kickstarted by the people here at Outland Entertainment. This was probably Barry Blair’s most popular project, I think because of the popularity of the fantasy genre.

Tonally, this comic had a lot in common with the old Rankin-Bass adaptations of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. There is a general feeling of lightheartedness to the story, but there is a great deal of darkness that lurks just beneath the surface. Like Tolkien’s hobbits, the elves of Blair’s stories reflect a childlike innocence that becomes corrupted by the world around them. It is almost as if this is a metaphor for adulthood or something   Elflordoriginal_3.2Elflor_original5

I will freely admit that there are some uncharitable reads of the Elflord stories, due to the youthful and androgynous manner in which Blair drew his elves…and the situations that he sometimes put the characters into, but I think that is being uncharitable to Blair.

Fantasy was in the air for comic creators at this point in time, probably due to the rising popularity of the Conan and Red Sonja books and magazines put out by Marvel, in addition to the above mentioned Rankin-Bass cartoons. DC Comics was also doing new fantasy titles like Arak or Amethyst over on their side of things. Not only was Blair doing Elflord, but there was the humorous Trolllords comic from Apple Comics (also one-time publisher of Elf Quest) and The Realm from Arrow / Caliber Comics. Not to mention the granddaddy of elf comics: Elf Quest. Much like in fantasy literature, each of these comics had their own approach to fantasy. Elflord blurred a lot of the genre lines by taking parts from more Tolkien-esque high fantasy and the more swords & sorcery approach of writers like Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan).

A lot of the visceralness of the Elflord comics are taken from the swords & sorcery tradition. Characters get drunk in taverns and find themselves in brawls, taking a page directly from the works of Howard. While at the same time, there are immensely huge events happening with kings and nations and powerful magics that provides the backdrop for the stories of the individual characters. Yes, Elflord did draw heavily upon the inspirations of Elf Quest for this, but at the same time Blair filtered all of these concepts through his own imagination to create something unique from its inspirations.

Whether in the classic Elflord stories, or the upcoming Elflord Reborn comics, fans of comic fantasy will find something of interest in the worlds of these comics. There are well-developed characters, with unique personalities, and a rich world with a deep history. There is action. There are intrigues. There are stories that draw in the reader and suck them along through the adventures of the characters. If you are a fan of fantasy literature in comics and you haven’t yet read Elflord, you are certainly missing out on a great adventure.

 

Christopher Helton writes about pop culture, comics and gaming at his long-running Dorkland! blog, and as a writer for the Bleeding Cool website.

 

Check out last weeks’ posts: Barry Blair 101 by Christopher HeltonBarry Blair: What to read first? by Christopher Helton, Barry Blair’s Samurai by Christopher Helton!

 

Scott Colby – Co-Writer of N0.1R

Scott Colby – Co-Writer of N0.1R

Finding a creative outlet in writing from a young age, Scott Colby is already releasing his 3rd novel later this Summer. However, N0.1R was his first comic book venture!

 

Where did you come up with the concept for N0.1R?

N0.1R was originally the idea of the book’s artist, Nic Giacondino. He had a heck of a world and an idea and just needed someone to help flesh it out a bit more. That turned out to be my job. His concept left me with a few questions about the world and the characters, so I got to work answering those myself and the final product was born.

How is it to collaborate in the creation of a story? Is there too much compromise?

I really like collaborating on a story. Sure, there’s compromise, but more often than not something really cool comes out of the combination of two disparate ideas about something. It’s rarely one side or the other coming out on top.

Did you always envisioned it as a webcomic?

That was what I was told it would be.  🙂

There’s a whole debate around comics becoming digital. Do you think webcomics are the gateway for this new digital world?

Definitely. The great thing about the internet is it’s a giant, never-ending rabbit hole. You never know what you’re going to find—or who’s going to find what you put there. Combine those traits and you’ve got a great platform for comics moving forward.

Do you find yourself more driven towards a specific genre(s)? Which one(s)?

A lot of what I write is fantasy, but I try not to get stuck on any one genre. I’ve done a little bit of everything.

Why?

I was just thinking about this the other day. I enjoyed the fantasy genre when I was younger, but lately I feel like it’s lacking depth. Working in that particular genre is a great chance to really challenge accepted norms and build something surprising and new—which are things I feel like a lot of fantasy authors just don’t do.

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

I was always that smart kid who finished his work first, so I needed a way to pass the time in school. I couldn’t draw at all, so I started writing. I can’t remember my first story, but I’m pretty sure it happened in third grade.

What was the first book you ever read (or was read to you)?

No idea.

And comics: which were your favorite ones?

I haven’t read a ton of comics, but I was always partial to the X-Men. Such a cool universe with a great cast of diverse characters.

Nowadays, what can we find you reading?

Lately I’ve been on a science fiction kick—Marko Kloos, John Scalzi, Iain M. Banks. And I read nerdy baseball websites like it’s going out of style. Not that it’s ever really been in style.

Are you a person of idols?

Not really.

Who were your childhood heroes?

Optimus Prime and Bret “The Hitman” Hart.

And today? Who do you look up to?

Anyone who can make a living writing his or her own stuff.

What made you enter the comic universe of storytelling?

I wrote some prose for Jeremy Mohler way back when, and he offered me the chance to write some comics, I decided it sounded like fun.

Of all the projects you’ve worked on, is there one that stands out from rest? Why?

Probably my first novel, Shotgun. That thing took forever. My style’s changed and improved (I hope) since then, but you can definitely catch a few glimpses of where I was going.

And now a peek into the Future. Can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward to?

I just finished the first draft of my third novel, Diary of a Fairy Princess. It’s the most absurd, ridiculous thing I’ve ever thought of. It’s great. It constantly makes me laugh while I’m revising it. Half of it’s written in a spoiled princess voice I had a ton of fun working with. I suspect readers are either going to love it or hate it with few opinions in between—and I really can’t wait to see which way it goes. Hopefully it’ll be available by the end of the summer.

Thanks Scott for giving us access to your creative universe!

S.G

P.S.: If you enjoyed reading this interview take a look at the other ones we have from illustrators to writers, passing through game-designers and authors.

Nicolás Giacondino – Creator & Artist (Mars2577, Nightfell, N0.1R, …)

Nicolás Giacondino – Creator & Artist (Mars2577, Nightfell, N0.1R, …)

Nicolás Giacondino is a talented Argentinean artist that has taken Outland Entertainment by storm. His unique style fits unseemingly into a vast array of projects without ever losing its authenticity.  

You’re working in several comics here at Outland Entertainment. From being the artist in Mars2577 to co-creator and illustrator of Nightfell and N0.1R.

How is it to collaborate in the creation of a story? Is there too much compromise?

Collaborating with other authors (be it writers, artists, colorists, etc.) has to be an organic and loose experience. You have to be open to the ideas sent your way and offer what you think are valid points to improve the story. And yes, there’s a level of compromise, but always to the work itself; you never have to become too attached to your own conceptions and ideas so much so that they’ll clash with the others’ or create tension. If it’s better for the story, then you have to incorporate it.

Speaking specifically of the projects I have here in OUTLAND, the back and forth between all the parts involved in the creation process has been amazing. Everyone’s extremely professional and at the top of their game in their respective areas, offering great advice and also knowing when to give the other the upper hand if something will work better for the saga. In my case, being the artist, I will provide visual cues and ideas for the writers to interpret and reimagine. They then send me their own takes and I’ll assess the suggestions and improve the material so that we’re all on the same page.

It’s my opinion that collaboration is the best experience when making comics. It forces you out of your comfort zones and exposes you to new and radical ideas, which help you to evolve your artwork.

Does it help or hurt knowing in advance that you’ll be the one giving a concept its visual life?

Definitely helps. I’ve dabbled a bit in writing (I have a published graphic novel penned by myself), but my primary concern has always been the artwork. So, being able to focus and work solely on the visual aspect lets me do my best knowing the other parts of the project are taken care of.

I also love to give the writers or collaborators in all the projects I tackle the utmost respect to their vision. I have a very unique style, but I’m open to it bending to the requirements of the story. You can never get something illustrated 100% as the writer imagined it; but I try to come to at least 99%.

Did you always envisioned these projects as webcomics?

Well, I always envisioned them as comics.With the climax of the digital age all around us, webcomics were the default option to get the project out there in the world. That said my intent is that we may be able to see these stories in print too.

Ours is such a strong medium, so full of possibilities that I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 

There’s a whole debate around comics becoming digital. Do you think webcomics are the gateway for this new digital world?

Webcomics have taken things a step beyond in that they allow a larger number of artists and writers to express their vision without having to go through the filter of a major publisher or a ‘house style’. For me, personally, that’s been very advantageous and liberating. My style isn’t what you’ll usually find in the cover of the big companies, but published independently it has found a great audience that luckily grows larger every day.And I’ve seen the same happen to other artists and creators, who are able to reach a much more massive audience than they could’ve dreamed of.

Do you find yourself more driven towards a specific genre(s)? Which one(s)?

I’ve always been very passionate about science fiction and have been fortunate to be able to tackle projects related to it through the years.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy working in other genres, such as Fantasy or Steampunk. I’m always curious and willing to try things out and my style is very adaptable to many different kinds of stories. Horror, for example, isn’t something I’d done. But through Outland, I was able to illustrate two tales in that genre that were very exciting!

Why Science Fiction?

Science Fiction, for me, allows you to contemplate very interesting, radical ideas and philosophical issues with more ‘purity’ than in any other genre. The far future or the dystopian near future peels our preconceptions on any given subject so that the message is carried across with more strength, allowing the reader to think about the implications of the narrative devoid of his personal stakes in it. For example, cloning is a very tricky subject in the contemporary world; there’s lots of ethical and moral questions being addressed and everyone has a political, human or religious view. If I transport them into a distant planet or time, cloning then becomes something abstract, an idea that can be dissected within the boundaries of that new world. Yet, the consequences and realizations that you bring back with you when the reading experience is over are carried into our contemporary world, hopefully giving people a new perspective on the matter.

When did you begin to show your artistic capabilities?

As I always say, I started drawing as soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil. And, asking my parents about my passion, they tell me it goes indeed that far back. I had a few other interests during my teenage years, but drawing is what’s always driven me.

What’s your favorite childhood moment related to comics or drawing?

Well, living in Argentina, sometimes we didn’t have access to all the latest material being published in the US. But there was a point in the 90s, when the arrival of comics would be almost instantaneous upon release, which caused me to open up to some major influences.

I remember a day in particular, when I was walking down a street from school and came across a newspaper stand and amongst the magazines and usual comics, there was the first issue of Jim Lee’s run on X-Men. I flipped quickly through the pages and dredged up whatever money I had in my pocket and bought it. Inside, there was an interview with Lee himself, talking about his process and whatnot and that’s when I decided I’d wanted to do this for a living. Up until that point, drawing comics was a hobby, but that issue of X-Men and Jim’s words changed my mind completely and set me on my path to become a professional.

Growing up, did you read a lot of comics or were there other activities that you preferred?

Like I said, there wasn’t a lot of material back when I was growing up. Mostly old DC paperbacks and some indie stuff. Argentina once had a huge comics industry and a lot of amazing talents came from here south into the international market, but after the dreaded dictatorship of ’76, it was all but dismantled. In fact, my hometown only had one comic-book store, which I discovered when I was 18 years old. But I was always interested in whatever I could find, so yes, I did read a lot of what was available.

As for other activities, I also enjoyed music passionately. I played the drums in bands all through high school and considered it a career option at some point, but as I said earlier, drawing always kept me coming back. Whenever I’d have to design a poster or CD cover, I’d remember why I loved it so much.

What about beloved artists? Any childhood idols?

Jim Lee was my absolute hero, as I mentioned before. But I also followed the work of other classic artists that helped me shape my style a lot, including Jack Kirby and Bruce Timm, two of my most important influences.

Later in life and as I found more and more material to read, I found the likes of Frank Miller, Neal Adams, John Romita and so many others. From my country, I also loved the work of Carlos Meglia and Enrique Breccia, both of whom I had the chance to meet personally. The latter became my mentor when I participated in one of his illustration and comics seminars.

Did you always want to work on this creative field?

At first, I didn’t even know that was possible. I’m not sure it is now either, haha!

I always sort of took comics for granted. I mean, I knew they had to be drawn and written by someone, but I never dug deeper into what professionals in the field actually did; I just enjoyed them and figured there were a few lucky fellows who were able to work on these amazing magazines. It wasn’t until the boom of Image Comics and artists making a big splash away from the major publishers that I realized this was something you could do for a living. So, upon that discovery, I started reading and studying more and more, trying to find ways to make it as a professional comic artist.

Going back to your own work: illustrating, coloring, lining,.. Do you have a favorite?

I enjoy the whole process, from pencils to colors. But inking has always been the part that I enjoy the most. In fact, Outland has given me the chance to work a lot in black and white and showcase my artwork as such, which has been a huge pleasure. Line weight, spotted blacks, crosshatching… those basics of inking make me truly happy when I’m doing a page.

 

And projects? Is there one that stands out from the rest?

They all have unique qualities that I think make them amazing, but if I had to choose one in particular I’d say Nightfell is the one that stands out the most.

Why is that one different?

Because it flips a common trope which we all know: that zombies eat the living. In Nightfell, the undead actually protect us and are our last line of defense against darker, more sinister creatures from below. That basic premise brings about uniqueness to the work that I think makes it truly original.

Also, it has deep roots in the Sword and Sorcery genre and it was conceived to be read as either a regular comic-book or a strip (which is how it’s being released in the website). That is also something that hasn’t been seen for quite a while and a format that both Jeremy Tolbert the writer and myself enjoy enormously.

From making the pencil sketch to applying the last smear of color what is your process?

My take on a page usually starts with reading the script and making a mental image of how the composition should work. I visualize the panels and what the writer’s vision is and then I map that out in panels across the page.

Once the panels are laid out, I go in very quickly and sketch out the basic perspective and character interaction and make sure everything works and is where it should be. When I’m satisfied with the storytelling, I tighten up the pencils and send them to the Editor and writer for approval.

If approved, then I move onto the final inks. With Outland, this has been the final stage in many projects and so once it’s done, I send it as a hi-resolution scan for it to be colored and lettered.

If I’m illustrating the whole, then I take special care to not outline certain things I will leave specifically for color to define. I then go in and add the volumes with grayscale and once that’s done I’ll put in the colors and details.

Do you follow a painfully strict plan or is it a more of organic process?

I’m very strict in the process. I found out that it is the best way to meet the deadlines and focus properly on every step.

So… can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward in the short run?

I’m very much looking forward to showing audiences the projects we’ve been working on so hard. Especially Nightfell and N0.1R, a crime story set in a world where organic life is nonexistent and robots rule in a mimicry of our 1940s.

There’s always something else in the pipeline, but I can’t really reveal much other than there’s exciting times ahead!

 

Thanks Nicolás for giving us a small peek into your creative world!

Thank you and I hope you enjoy the stories we’re working on!

 

S.G.