Guest Comic – The Chronicles of the Tal Nor – Feature 2

This is feature 2 out of 2 for The Chronicles of Tal Nor, courtesy of T. Perran Mitchel. You can find his work here Tal-Nor.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @TPerranMitchell.

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Interview with Paul Hobbs, Writer and Illustrator of Robot Love Cow

Paul’s artwork will be posted shortly. In the meantime, enjoy this interview!

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Hello there, and welcome to redemptionwebcomic.wordpress.com! Could you start by telling us the name or names of everyone on your creative team?

My name is Paul Hobbs, writer and illustrator with my brother, writer, Kevin Hobbs. He was the one who came up with the story for our book, “Robot Love Cow,” which was initially conceived as a short film we had planned on making.

We also worked together to come up with our series, “Finch, Former Sidekick,” later titled, “Finch and the Sidekicks.”

Where are you all from?

That’s a long story! We moved around a lot growing up. I was born in Independence, Mo. And Kevin was born in Jacksonville, Fl. We grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and spent a lot of time in the south, and in the Chicagoland area. We moved back to the Kansas City area, where I met my amazingly supportive wife, and where Kevin lives now. My wife, Sarah, and I live outside Austin, Tx with our dog, two cats, and five beehives.

Share a little bit about yourself: childhood, education, family life, etc.

Like I said, we moved around a lot growing up. I also got to travel abroad through Asia. I went to four different high schools, but comics and art were always a constant for me. I was lucky. Unlike a lot of parents, mine were incredibly supportive of me persuing a love and interest in the arts. I was fortunate enough to attend Columbia College of Chicago, where I studied animation and screenwriting. I found that I loved the writing and storyboard aspect of filmmaking, which translates so well into making comics.

Tell us your latest news. What kind of projects do you have going on?

I’ve got two projects in the works right now. We are getting ready to release a big compilation of our Finch, Former Sidekick stories from the past eleven years… except issue #3. It’s just bad. Kind of funny, but just awful!

I’m also working on a follow-up to a comic I did called, “Adventures of Hanuman,” based very loosely on the Hindi character who is a super-powered monkey. He’s a fun, virtuous character, and an homage to when comic book heroes were straight-forward good guys.

That follow-up issue will feature most of the Finch, Former Sidekick characters and be an homage to old 1950’s scifi movie serials.

When and why did you begin writing/drawing?

I started when I was very young…when I was old enough to hold a crayon! My mom said I would go through coloring books like crazy.

I loved, and still do, science fiction, cartoons, and comic books. They were a great escape for me as a shy kid, and I would obsessively draw my favorite characters, which were often Superman, Batman, Wolverine, and Spock.

What inspired you to start expressing yourself artistically?

I think it was that I had a lot of positive encouragement when I was younger. I could create something and enjoyed doing it.

As a kid, I loved comics and Mad Magazine was a huge influence on me. They really inspired me to tell stories and to keep drawing.

How has your style changed since you began?

I embraced the simple, yet exagerated imagery in cartoons as an animation student. I also came to love how the starkness of black and white can enhance a visual image and story.

What do you find the most challenging and/or rewarding about writing/drawing?

I have to recognize my limitations. Sometimes when I’m writing, I have to ask myself, “can I make this look good on the page?”

The most rewarding part is just having created something and seeing traffic on my blog from all over the planet!

How much of your work is based on reality, whether it was experiences or people you know/knew?

I would say that all of it, even the crazier stories we’ve done are based on situations we’ve been in, or just born out of our own philosophical ideas and beliefs. The two that are most literally based on actual situations I’ve been in are the Finch, Former Sidekick stories, “Sick Day,” and “Drive-Thru Drive.” I just like telling the kind of stories that entertain me.

What have you learned while working on your latest project?

Puting together the Finch anniversary book, and finding some unfinished pieces that I’d like to revisit, have shown me how much I’ve grown as a storyteller and artist. Moreover, it’s shown me how much I’ve grown as a person from who I was when I wrote those as a younger person.

Do you have any advice for other writers/artists?

Always keep working at it. No matter if you are a professional, working artist, or a guy like me with a family and fulltime job not in the arts, love what you do and keep expressing yourself.

Most importantly: seek feedback if you want to get better. Share your work and be humble enough to listen to feedback and be willing to learn.

Do you have any links where we could find your work?

You can find our work on Amazon, and at finchcomic.blogspot.com. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram as @finchcomic.

 

Interview with Alexander Aghayere, Creator of GRIM GENESIS

Hello there, and welcome to redemptionwebcomic.wordpress.com! Could you start by telling us the name or names of everyone on your creative team?

My name is Alexander Aghayere.

Where are you all from?

I am from Aurora, IL— a small town about an hour away from Chicago.

Share a little bit about yourself: childhood, education, family life, etc.

I was raised in a very open and loving household with my older sister. My dad was originally born in NIgeria, where his household life as a child was practically “black” to my “white”. However, in contrast, my parents made it really important that me and my sister knew we were loved and more than that fully supported in whatever we loved. Unfortunately that didn’t stop me from being misunderstood early in my childhood especially in school. I had no sense of how others felt about me when I was young so as a result I never really understood myself. Art really saved me from that.

Tell us your latest news. What kind of projects do you have going on?

So, aside from my graphic novel, Grim Genesis, which is still in progress. Im also a fine artist working on building my portfolio for the gallery scene. I recently was invited to sell my work through Artbuys.net and artworldcollection.com, two prominent art publications, so that’s pretty cool.

When and why did you begin writing/drawing?

I fell in love with cartoons, like real love, when I was in junior high. I found the ability to create a whole world, a whole actual story extremely interesting. I also had been a fan of comics for some time so when the two loves collided in high school I found a voice and a reason/ muse to tell my own stories, whether it be through fine art, illustration, or most presently, Grim Genesis

What inspired you to start expressing yourself artistically?

Art really is a mirror. When we look at any image we don’t just see the art and the narrative and or feelings it holds, we also see ourselves by reflecting on our perceptions of artworks. It’s with that idealism that I found art to be my craft of expression, I loved seeing my feelings, raw and unfiltered. Art honestly showed me who I am.

How has your style changed since you began?

It’s strange when I think back, I really don’t think that I had a style through all of highschool and a lot of college as well. Grim Genesis truly came from the “heavens” solidified a perspective within my artwork that eventually turned into a style that I feel is really recognizable as my own.

What do you find the most challenging and/or rewarding about writing/drawing?

I think the biggest challenge of creating anything is being able to balance creating something for yourself that is genuine and authentic for yourself only, instead of for others or commercial success. People can tell the difference, I feel. I know I can with my own artwork. Luckily I feel that writing and drawing is much more rewarding than it is negatively challenging. I love storytelling and I honestly think there is no better way to do that than through comic books and graphic novels.

How much of your work is based on reality, whether it was experiences or people you know/knew?

When I think about it I feel that it’s about 50/50 between my own experiences and things i’ve either been inspired by or made up. Naturally, I think farther into that question and come to the conclusion that I don’t think that there is much of a difference. We are all connected, the ability to express emotional empathy is proof of this. I truly believe that my story is not really “my story” alone, there is only one story with multiple perspectives and billions of actors.

What have you learned while working on your latest project?

Going big is worth it, every time. When I started Grim Genesis I had nothing but nostalgia fueling my reasoning, I wanted to do something to help escape the close mindedness of college, subsequently, I brought to light a story that I feel has taught me how to survive, how to actively live.

Do you have any advice for other writers/artists?

Make. Keep making, for only you so others can get learn from your perspective. Also, don’t worry about making good looking art, that goal is overrated and is objectively impossible to achieve without giving up who you are.

Do you have any links where we could find your work?

Go to my website Supreme.Grim, and you can see all of my illustrations, fine art and other things.

The Origins of REDemption Part 6

When last we left, I had decided to forge ahead with the story without Nick. My friend and former Vanderheyden Hall coworker Clarence was an amazing artist, so I had asked if he wanted to draw it. He asked for details of the story, and I gave him the outline for parts 1 and 2. To my joy, he got back to me and said he was VERY interested.

I got to work and tore through Part 2. The only section where I had trouble was the opening. Once I figured my way around that, the rest of the story wrote itself.

That is…until I got to Part 3.

I knew the Immune Child would be born by the end of Part 2. That was going to be the closer. This meant that Part 3 would be when Molly and her team start searching the West Coast for a geneticist and a lab where they can test the child’s blood. Keep in mind I also saw far ahead in the story, to a point where the Immune Child has grown up and become a jerk; he takes off on Molly and company.

In other words, he had to be OLD ENOUGH to take off. And at the beginning of Part 3, he was just a baby. That’s a hell of a lot of time to kill!

Before I even got to Part 3, I had a vague idea that Molly and her team would get in various “side adventures” during their search. After all, there’s no way you can go up and down a post-apocalyptic wasteland without running into adversaries that are NOT tied to your main mission. (This was reflective of yet another influence of Dungeons and Dragons: when running a campaign, there is something called a “random encounter” table, where the person running the game [known as the Dungeon Master] rolls dice to determine if the party runs into enemies while traveling to the next destination on their quest.)

However, what I hadn’t thought about was just how many side adventures to put them through. If the baby is a newborn at the start of Part 3, and I planned on the Immune Child taking off when he was 16-18 years old…well, shit, that’s a hell of a long time, which could result in a hell of a lot of side adventures! That’s anywhere from 5,840 to 6,570 days! And in a crazy world like the one I had invented, they could potentially get in a new adventure every single day!

Unless I wanted the comic book to be a half a million pages long, I needed to get a grip on how I was going to approach Part 3. I decided to put the project on hold until I figured this out.

Weeks went by. I grew more and more frustrated as time went on. Eventually I started reaching out to friends, even ones who I knew didn’t have a creative bone in their bodies, just to share the problem with them and see if one of them might accidentally say something that caused a breakthrough. I also figured that maybe the more I talked about it, the more I would think about it, and an idea would suddenly come.

Well, it did, but not during one of the times when I was carrying on endlessly about it.

I remember it so well. I was heading into my martial arts class when the whole thing blossomed in my mind like an atomic cloud. One minute there was nothing there. The next minute, the ideas were coming so fast and furious that they were searing my brain.

Every 4 years.

I could come up with 4 medium-sized side adventures that happened every 4 years. By that point, the Immune Child would be 16 years old. Then I could have one final event happen when he was 18. That would be Molly’s team attempting to blow up the quarantine wall. (Why 18? Because in our modern society, that is the age when people are legally recognized as “adults.”)

I want you also to notice the significance, dear readers, of what I laid out here. There were 4 side adventures, which we can also call “events,” while the team traveled the wastelands. Then the wall destruction mission was a fifth event.

Five major events.

The story was split into five parts.

See what I did there? 😉

Suddenly I had my outline for Part 3. Ideas for the 4 side adventures were pretty easy to whip up. When I got home that night, I set about writing a more detailed outline of Part 3. I knew that the Immune Child was going to be grown (and a jerk) by the end of this section, so that also helped me create an outline for Part 4. At this point my memory is a bit foggy, but I believe I was also able to roll right into the outline for Part 5 as well.

One other thing to keep in mind: the other piece of the story I was juggling involved that Unexpected Enemy. At this point I still had that antagonist making an appearance in Part 3. Over time, this would change, but I will get to that later.

I shared the new Part 3 outline with Clarence. It made his excitement for the story grow by leaps and bounds. His reaction convinced me of what I already knew: that I was really on to something special with this story.

Only time will tell if you agree. 🙂 Stay tuned for Part 7!

 

~~~~~Steve

 

The Origins of REDemption Part 5

In the last segment, we learned how I decided to restructure the story from 3 parts to 5. I showed my ideas to my friend Nick, and he did not agree with me on several points.

In my version of the story, Molly helps to raise the Immune Child, but she treats him more like a possession than a human being with feelings ‘n’ stuff. Over time this changes, and she starts to unlock the part of herself that can actually feel again.  In other words, she is REDEEMED. (I put caps there to stress that this was the first appearance of the theme of redemption.)

I showed it to Nick. He said, “I don’t think Molly and the kid should ever meet.”

I said, “But…she’s there when they deliver the kid against her wishes.”

“Okay,” he replied. “Let me rephrase. She shouldn’t be in his life anymore when he gets old enough to remember her.”

At this point I’m thinking: All right, maybe he just doesn’t see the big picture yet. Let him read on.

Next part of the story: as I mentioned in the last post, Molly and her team face an Unexpected Enemy. In the original version, the Unexpected Enemy comes along when Molly’s team runs a mission where they try to destroy the quarantine wall. I imagined a scenario where the wall was blown up, and the Unexpected Enemy died in the blast.

However, as I said before, this structure was cramming far too much stuff into Part 2. Therefore, I dragged out the Unexpected Enemy story arc, and it wound up lasting until Part 5. In fact, it took that long to get a clear look at this other foe. Regarding this change, Nick had no input either way.

Moving along. We get to the point where the Immune Child grows up and becomes a jerk. For reasons I would rather not disclose here (because that would be a MAJOR spoiler),  he takes off on the group. They have to pause everything they are doing so they can hunt him down again. The search takes a while.

Now here is where I was stumped. If the Immune Child refused to be a part of the group, then how would they convince him to come back into the fold?

I ran it by Nick. His solution?

They don’t convince him of a damn thing. Instead, they KILL him. Then they take the blood out of his body and resume searching for a lab where they can test it.

I said, “Wait a minute. Killing him makes no sense. If he is alive, then he can keep reproducing the blood that could save humanity. If he’s dead, then the only supply they have is the blood in his body when he dies. And how would they preserve it? Eventually it would degrade.”

I waited, but Nick was at work and couldn’t reply. However, I did have one more thing to add: “Also, the idea of the Immune Child coming back into the fold to help the mission is another example of the theme of REDEMPTION. He goes off like a selfish brat, but then he comes back for the greater good. Do you see what I’m getting at?”

Eventually Nick wrote back. All he said was, “Yeah I get it. I just want to make sure the story is right.”

Huh? Wha?

I didn’t understand what he meant. Make sure the story is right? Well, since we are the ones creating it, aren’t WE the ones who determine that?

By this point, I had also reached out and was talking to an artist friend of mine named Clarence. He had drawn some basic sketches of a couple characters, and I was excited to have him on board. I talked to him about what Nick said. Clarence had the same judgment of it that I did: Nick shot my ideas down, but offered no alternatives up to replace them. When *I* came up with a new idea, he would shoot THAT down…and again, make no suggestions for replacement.

Finally, I had to make a call. It was tough, but I had to decide to continue on without him. The bulk of it had been my idea anyway, so I didn’t think (and still don’t) that I could get in any kind of plagiaristic trouble. As for acknowledging the ideas he gave, I can do that for sure. Without Nick, I don’t know that I would have thought of the quarantine wall, nor would there have been the concept of the Immune Child growing up to be a prick. So he deserves credit for that.

With Nick out of the fold, I realized two exciting things: not only could I write the story however it made sense to me, but I could RENAME it!!!!

So, INFECTDEAD went out the window. But what to replace it with? At first I had no idea. Since “redemption” was a major theme in the story, I considered calling it REDEMPTION. However, at the time there was a video game out called RED DEAD REDEMPTION. The timing seemed too close to me, and I did not want to be harassed with the question, “So is this an extension of that open-world Western video game???”

More thinking. I wanted REDEMPTION in the title. Then I thought: how about REDEMPTION AMONG THE DEAD? It could be abbreviated RAD!!! How cool would that be?

Actually, not very cool. Now instead of having just one word in common with that video game, the title had TWO words in common! Back to the drawing board.

I thought back on the 5-act structure and how that came from Shakespeare, so for a while I jokingly called it SHAKESPEARE WITH ZOMBIES. However, that was just a place holder until I found a real title. With no clear answer in mind, I decided to abandon the title search and just did what was most important: I got back to writing the story.

However, after Part 2, that didn’t prove to be so easy either. Stay tuned for Part 6!