I’ve scripted many comics in the past eight or so years, although none ever saw completion as both my time and Leanne’s time was extremely limited. Leanne is a superb artist, driven by her love of pop-culture, action adventure, super heroes, Power Rangers, Street Fighter and the like. It’s been clear since she started drawing superheroes in her early teens that her path as an artist would lead in the direction of comics, action figures and video games. However, the risks involved in taking the plunge as a full time professional artist are enough to make even the most optimistic curl up into a little ball.
It’s been tough trying to synchronize my desire to write, and her desire to draw because of day jobs and Leanne’s commitments to much better projects. But we both hold out that someday we will be able to bring to life a few of the stories we’ve been dying to tell.
So, with that in mind, early this year I decided I was going to go ahead and do my own comic. I would pay for the thing myself and make it as professional as possible. An interesting thing about my Sovena Red project is that it was not my first, second, or even third idea for my first ever completed comic book. I started out with my strongest idea, which I believe has the most potential for a series (thinking big like any naive newcomer would). It would have been a super-hero detective series with an interesting angle. It seemed to be the idea that would generate the most general interest as an Indy title.
However, Leanne and I both agreed that we wanted this particular title to be a collaborative one where we helmed the project together as husband and wife. Owing to her busy schedule, Leanne would not be able to start on it until 2010. We agreed that I would come up with an alternative project and use another artist.
It was difficult to settle on a secondary comic project that I didn’t desperately want Leanne to draw. I tried various ideas, each of which I loved, but ended up putting on the back burner in the hopes that someday Leanne could be the illustrator. Finally, after scripting several different projects, I settled on developing a comic around a child superhero I had created sometime back in 2003, named Sovena Red.
The ‘all ages’ adventure style of Sovena Red’s pre-teen / teen super hero subject matter would have suited Leanne’s cartoony open style perfectly. So heading into this sort of a book without her at my side meant I had to find someone else in whom I had the confidence to deliver that energy and characterization that was vital to the story. After a couple of false starts, I stumbled across John Amor.
John is from the Philippines, speaks perfect English, hosts his own comic book podcast, and gave up law school to dive into developing his comics career. He’s partially color-blind which has led to his great strength as an Inker making his pieces punchy and burning each panel into your retinas in a strangely pleasurable way.
Originally I had ran my 4th comic idea by John before I settled on Sovena Red. At the time I was leaning towards a zombie project which would blend cartoonish elements with this well established genre. However, I knew in my heart that it was a bit too indulgent and that the cartoon element might marginalize or alienate traditional zombie fans. The irony is that I don’t know whether Sovena Red would strike a better chord or not, but of the two projects, I could only afford to truly invest in one or the other. Sovena won because it would provide me with the perfect example of the sort of story I’d most enjoy writing if, as a bottom line, it only ended up being a portfolio piece. Back in the late 90s my goal was to become an animation script writer, and that drive towards all ages stories never left me.
Fortunately, I found an angle on Sovena Red which gave the story that extra ‘je ne sais quoi‘. That’s me trying to sound cultured and witty. That ‘something extra’ that is hard to describe was the added narrative hook in the form of a fairy tale perspective on a spandex hero.
John provided me with character designs that brought the supporting cast to life and made the project start to feel tangible. After a few unforeseen delays, John was finally able to start working fully on Sovena Red and so far his pages have been nothing short of stunning. Now I’m finding myself starting to question the very need for a colorist as the side effect of the strong inking is that the pages work perfectly well in black and white. Unless I can find the perfect colorist who can really blow me away, I’m fully considering the possibility of withholding colors for a possible deluxe edition sometime next year.
My plans for Sovena Red are initially a straight to IndyPlanet publication, followed by a TPB which I will pitch at book fairs, and a Manga digest format that I will pitch at Anime conventions. Depending on the strength of a grass roots promotion I will consider pitching it to comic book publishers as well. My bottom line is that Sovena Red is my first comic book and it goes straight into my portfolio of published work. Hopefully someone will genuinely enjoy the story and the character and then my work will have been done.
Oh, and if you are interested in Sovena Red and would like to contribute a pinup or sketch then I would love to hear from you.