How OE changed my perception of Comic Books

How OE changed my perception of Comic Books

As I told you on the first article of this new segment, I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and I Didn’t Know it for quite a while.

Things sort of slowly became clearer during my college days, but it wasn’t until starting to work in the biz that I truly began to dip my toes back in the dynamic comic book waters.

I still remember the moment of opening the folder with all the projects in the pipeline and flying through them all. One of the stories that was more developed at the time was Ithaca. I read it all in one go and was hungry for more.

At Outland Entertainment, I was presented a huge array of creatives each one with a very unique voice, be it as a writer or an illustrator. Mars 2577, Nightfell, Blacklands, Aegisteel, these are all projects that showed me the different facets of comic book creation.

It wasn’t just sci-fi or violence: no, there was room for a multiplicity of genres and visual styles of every kind.

When some of our IPs started coming out as webcomics on a weekly basis, I had to do some market research of what was going on in this field. That led me to multiple webpages like HiveWorks. And there I was baffled by the choice! So many artists, so many genres and styles of writing and artwork.

It was a big turning point: no longer did I had to rely solely on my friends reviews, but I had first-hand overview of so many projects! I got to interview all the creators from O.E., here for the blog. I have always loved the backstage! How someone became who he is professionally? Where did the idea of the story come from? And I was lucky enough to ask all these questions. In return I dare to say that my knowledge of the comic book universe increased exponentially!

And where has that lead me? To a huge appetite for reading more and more comics, of course! It wasn’t instantaneously, but I found myself perusing the comics section of the bookstores not only “out of professional interest” but because I found them inspiring.

This must be obvious for most of you , but before starting at Outland Entertainment, I didn’t know how similar the cinematographic language was to the one used in comics. They remind me of a really fancy and detailed storyboard. I know, I know! They’re much more than that! They’re an artistic medium of their own. But through the eyes of someone who came from an audiovisual production background they really hit home.

I suppose that being a transmedia creative producer also feeds this need. I’m now itching to work up a universe where a comic book will help explore things even further. And if you ever attended a book fair, you’ll see that all of these artistic forms are connected nowadays. Take the London Book Fair, for example. They run the London Book and Screen Week simultaneously. You have professionals from game studios at the actual fair and lots of extra events that join this two worlds, once so further apart, of pages and screens. Comics are finally being increasingly recognized for the dynamic and expressive format they are.

 

But I’ll talk about these changes further along the line!

Now, take a moment and check out the interviews I mentioned! There are a lot of creatives: authors, illustrators, designers…whose stories will inspire you.

And if you haven’t read the first post of this series give it a go and learn how I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and Didn’t Know .

S.G.

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.

Jeremy Tolbert – Co-writer of Nightfell

Jeremy Tolbert – Co-writer of Nightfell

Writer or scientist: Jeremy Tolbert joined both on his science fiction works. Now venturing into fantasy and time travel, Tolbert is writing for a range of different audiences.

 

Where did you come up with the concept for Nightfell?

The core of this project from the beginning was a handful of concept sketches that Nic had prepared, along with a title.  They had some general ideas about something involving the undead, and Nic had some great sketches of undead warriors.   This was our starting point, and from there, it was up to me to build a larger concept.

For me, the main thing I wanted was to do somewhere where the undead weren’t the bad guys.  Traditionally, bunch of rotting corpses, you think, okay, yeah clearly these are the evil dudes.  This time, I wanted a story where it made sense that the zombies and what-not were fighting for the side you could get behind, at least at first.

But as I thought about that further, I realized I don’t really like the typical black/white morality of the old school epic fantasy.  In the post-Game of Thrones era, you can’t just paint one side all good or evil, so I started thinking about my other side, the berunmen, and from there, a lot of the other concepts of the world, such as the Nightfell itself, developed.

 

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

My ideas are not that precious, and I basically saw my role on this project as a collaborator who brought a certain expertise with story to the table, but beyond that, I was willing to listen to any feedback.  Nic’s made changes here and there to page layouts and so on, but in my opinion, he’s improved the project every single time from whatever my lesser vision was.

Collaboration for me has been a wonderful experience, overall.  I really hope to work with everyone involved more in the future.  As a short story writer, I spend a lot of time in my own head.  I find working with others to be refreshing.

 

Did you always envisioned it as a webcomic?

I wrote it to be structurally flexible.  The 9 panel grid we used lended itself well to the webcomic format, but I also structured it in 10 12 page chapters so that it could either be collected as a single graphic novel or broken into 2-chapter issues.  Our goal was have some flexibility there.

 

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

I’ve been reading webcomics since the early days of Sluggy Freelance back at the dawn of the internet. I think comics don’t care what the medium is; sequential art can tell a story on a cave wall or a digital screen equally well.  The medium might present some interesting challenges here and there, or even some new tools or advantages, but fundamentally, I think comics can survive and thrive on anything.

 

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

I’m more of a science fiction guy than just about anything else.  I’m a pretty logical thinker so even in my more fantasy-ish worlds like Nightfell, I tend to think in very scientific ways about the world-building and so on.

 

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

I wrote a 20 page “book” of the adventures of a elf wizard and his sentient cougar sidekick in the 1st grade.  I’ve wanted to be a writer for about as long as I can remember.  I also wanted to be a scientist.  So science fiction was a natural choice.

 

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

I honestly can’t recall the first.  It was probably something by Dr. Seuss.  I do know the very first science fiction book I read –Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey.

 

And comics: which were your favorite ones?

I was late getting into comics. Most of my reading growing up was via the library, as we were very poor and didn’t have a lot of money.  So I was in my late 20s before I started actively reading comics.  My gateway drugs were Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis – pretty much anything by that guy floats my boat.  Y: the Last Man was another big deal for me early on.

 

Nowadays, what can we find you reading?

I get a handful of comics every week – I’m the kind of guy who likes to pick up the first issue of just about any series with a concept I find interesting, so a lot of Image books.  I am also reading 365 short stories this year, mostly science fiction and fantasy, so you’re likely to find my nose in the pages of a science fiction magazine.  Figuratively speaking – I read everything that’s not comics in electronic formats these days.

 

Are you a person of idols?

Sure.

Who were your childhood heroes?

Charles Darwin,  Arthur C. Clarke, Anne McCaffrey,  Gary Gygax, and so many others.

And today? Who do you look up to?

Anybody who works for a living, honestly.

 

What made you enter the comic universe of storytelling?

I was fascinated by the opportunity to have an artist interpret the pictures in my head and draw them.  Collaboration between different artists is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I really love the more cinematic storytelling style of comics, as compared to regular prose work like I usually do.

 

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

Well, as my first comics project, Nightfell stands out for sure.  Working with everyone, watching as each new page from Nic has come in, has been a dream come true.  I hope my story work can live up to the amazing artwork!

 

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

I’m really looking forward to a young adult time travel novel I’ve been working on for several years.   It’s kind of like Jurassic Park meets Treasure Island.

 

Thanks Jeremy for letting us get to know you a little better!

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.

Gabe Schmidt – Creator & Writer of “Mars2577”

Gabe Schmidt – Creator & Writer of “Mars2577”

Gabe Schmidt love for Greek gods and science-fiction from an early age may have propelled this talented author into his writing path. Let’s find out a bit more of his history.

Where did you come up with the concept for Mars2577?

10 years ago, I was traveling on a trip with my parents to visit my older sister in Washington, D.C.  It grew off of the fact that there’s a place on Mars called Mount Olympus, and I began to think of a sci-fi setting where Greek gods are simply rulers over different areas of life.  On the long drive, I wrote down in my notebook the different roles that could be played by Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, and Hera.  While I liked the setting idea, when I thought of stories, I wanted them to be about the heroes of Greek mythology living in this world created by the gods.

Did you always envision it as a webcomic?

Definitely not.  It started off as a regular book.  Back then, there were only three other people who read any of it.  One of them, Shamus, suggested it as a comic book instead.  He hooked me up with an artist he knew, but the artist was not consistent enough to get any work done beyond the slightest glimpse of concept arts.  It was for the best anyway; the story has evolved a lot since then, in both my writing ability and the plot itself.  I did keep my eyes open for other ways to tell the story, though, and when the chance to work with Outland Entertainment presented itself, I leapt at the opportunity.

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

I am honestly not familiar with the debate around digital comics.  However, I have been reading webcomics for a very long time.  While the first ones I read were basically daily jokes (Penny Arcade, PVP), some of them were long and developed plots with plenty of jokes so it was easy to transition from the normal webcomic group (Order of the Stick is my favorite of these, Goblins is also good).  While the former had the feel of newspaper comics (with material you would never find in so public a forum), the latter felt more like normal comic books that knew how to crack a joke.  I think it is inevitable that digital comics are a core part of the comic community, whether or not anyone decides to debate it along the way.

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

Why?

Science Fiction has always been my absolute favorite, in both writing and reading, but I try to diversify my interests as much as I can.  Vonnegut has had a lot to do with my love of science fiction, and I was reading a lot of his works when I first started getting back in to writing in high school.  The ability to use science fiction as a vehicle to discuss any topic you want without the restraints of modern-day technology or world situations is something I’ve always found liberating.

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

When I was in elementary school, there was a standardized writing essay for the state or the federal standards.  Don’t remember all of the details for sure, but I remember the topic was “What I Did Over Summer”.  I asked the teacher if it had to be real or if it could be fake, and she said it shouldn’t matter.  I wrote about how I was abducted by aliens and kept in some alien zoo.  (This may explain my later attachment to Vonnegut, as something similar happens in Slaughterhouse Five.)  The essays were sent away and processed by someone or some committee I’ve never met, and I received a low grade, closer to a C or C- in normal standards.  The negative reinforcement discouraged me from writing for years, until I got in to high school, when I restarted my old passion.  Now, of course, I realize that negative criticism is essential for becoming a better writer; when someone reads my work, I’d always rather hear what they didn’t like than just a general, “It was good!” with no further explanation.

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

I’m sure the very first book ever read to me was something along the lines of Dr. Seuss, and I know Goosebumps was some of my early reading.  However, the first book that I specifically remember reading was Jurassic Park, after seeing the movie many times in theaters, when I was eight.  I didn’t understand a lot of the scientific mumbo-jumbo, but it put me on the path to pursue that understanding, and it also gave me a good introduction to science fiction.

And comics: which were your favorite ones?

I didn’t actually start reading comics by issue until I was 16, and I’ve since gone back to reading comics by the trade instead.  My top five trades, in no particular order, are Green ArrowArcher’s Quest, Maus, Saga Vol. 1, Criminal Vol. 1 and 2, and Habibi.  As far as superhero comics, in addition to Green Arrow, my favorites were the Punisher MAX series and Marvel’s 1602.

Nowadays, what can we find you reading?

My four favorite authors are Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and I inevitably go back to reading a book by one of these four between other books.  Recently I’ve been trying to diversify my reading list across different subjects, from The Elegant Universe to Heart of Darkness, from The Journey to the West to Snow Crash.

Are you a person of idols?

I am.  I love the gods of mythology, the heroes of stories, and the protagonists of real life.  I have a tattoo of Anansi, a god of storytelling and trickery, the very type of idol that sings to my soul.

Who were your childhood heroes?

Definitely Batman, from Batman: Animated Series, and Joker, from the same.  Han Solo of Star Wars and Jack Burton of Big Trouble in Little China.Beast from X-Men and Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  (There’s a chance I was always destined to be a nerd.)

And today? Who do you look up to?

It may be generic, but my parents.  My dad is the embodiment of a hard worker, and he would do absolutely anything for his family.  My mom was one of the first strong women (of many) that I’ve known, and helped establish that from the beginning of my life, so I’ve never struggled to write female characters with depth who are more than just a Damsel in Distress.  (Or, at least if they start that way, they evolve out of that state.)  My sister, Rachel Schmidt, is also on the list, as she is a successful artist out of Washington, D.C., proof that if you work hard and have an amazing amount of talent, you can go far in the creative world.

What made you enter the comic universe of storytelling?

I practically grew up out of my local comic book shop.  While I didn’t start my own pull list until I was 16, all of my other hobbies (card games, miniature games, roleplaying games) were played at Gatekeeper Hobbies from the age of 10 on up.  I wasn’t the first one to think of putting Mars 2577 in a comic form, but I feel like the medium is both natural for the material as well as something I had been familiar with for years.

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

Mars 2577 is my first big project to get published, so it will always have a special place in my heart.  Hopefully other projects of mine will show up before too long, but we’ll just have to see.

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

I always end up working on more than just one project at a time, but there is one I’m trying to channel most of my writing energy in to.  The project that I am focusing on writing the most right now is called Shattered Worldsoul.  It is a post-apocalyptic novel revolving around eight different characters, in a town being harassed and eventually attacked by bandits.  It started as two linked short stories.  The first tells the story of a man waking up in the back of a van, not remembering anything of his life from before that moment, and immediately falling in love with the woman driving the van.  The second tells the story of the woman, who had lived a hard life, and who met the man when he was in love with a different woman half the world away.  When he was having surgery that would cure his amnesia at the cost of triggering it one final time, she broke in and burnt all of his notebooks about the woman he originally loved, so she would be the world for him.  From there it’s evolved a whole cast of characters and outlines for 66 chapters (although significantly less than that is written so far).  Hopefully, when that’s finished, readers familiar with Mars 2577 will have another fun setting from me to read.

Thanks Gabe for letting us get a glimpse of your creative world!

 

S.G.

Flight of the Binturong

Flight of the Binturong

Another project we’ve been working on for the last couple years is a webcomic called Flight of the Binturong from writer Sal Crivelli.  Outland was hired to handle the art for this project.  Here’s a little bit about the project –

IT’S THE FUTURE

But don’t worry. A lot’s still the same.

No evil Empire. No oppressive theocracy. No galactic struggle. The government’s too bureaucratic for all that noise.

The Binturong is a mechanic ship with a crew of four. In the heyday of interstellar repairs, if your ship needed fixing, rigs like The Binturong would come to you, make repairs, and send you on your way.  Nowadays, newer ships (along with most technology made in the last few years) have self-diagnosing AI that assesses, isolates, and self-repairs. It makes for safer, further space travel (and longer unemployment lines).

Flight of the Binturong is a once-a-week comic, which will update every Tuesday.

Inspired by the works of James Cameron, John Carpenter, and Joss Whedon, we’re hoping to bring you a comic that invokes that old feeling of cool, gritty space, while hopefully taking you on some new, exciting adventures.

If you would like to read more about the project and see more samples of the artwork we completed, please head over here or check it out on our portfolio page!

Thanks!

JM