By: Nicole D’Andria
This time I’m kickstarting the week with Age of Revolution: Volume One. This Cosmic Anvil publication is a Welsh-based fantasy manga-inspired comic book series. I spoke with the writer and the artist of Age of Revolution, who are also the founders of Cosmic Anvil.
Age of Revolution: Volume One is set in an alternate world where all scientific knowledge has been erased from humankind’s mind. This spawned two factions of believers. There are the Scientists, people who believe they are meant to rediscover the science that has been forgotten. Then there are the Spell Casters, people who believe magic should govern the world and science should stay forgotten. These two groups caused the Great War which lasted 100 years.
This story takes place after the war. Tensions are still high and violence continues to occur. The story focuses on five character brought together by the World’s Military to battle the forces of evil called S.C.A.R. The first volume of Age of Revolution collects all seven issues of the story.
Age of Revolution is written by the co-the founder of Cosmic Anvil, Huw Williams (see the official Cosmic Anvil website). The illustrations are done by the other co-founder of Cosmic Anvil, Hannah Collins (see more of her artwork). Another part of Cosmic Anvil is Jess Hardcastle (N00b Reviews and more). She is responsible for sales and marketing.
The money raised on their Kickstarter will be used for the following:
The £1,500 target covers Kickstarter fees plus printing at least 100 copies of Age of Revolution: Volume 1, buying more merchandise (stickers, badges, posters, etc.), posting Kickstarter rewards and attending Comic Cons and book signings to promote and sell the volume. Stretch goals include a hardback cover at £2,000 and for £2,500 the volume will be super-sized. The last stretch goal will be at £3,000 and the volume will be translated and printed in Welsh as well. This means Age of Revolution could be the first 'Wanga' (Welsh language Manga) series!
The project will be funded if at least £1,500 ($2,317) is pledged by October 15, 2015 at 5:26 AM EDT. For $1 you will receive a thank you in the book. At $10 you will get not just a thank you but also digital wallpaper and a digital copy of Age of Revolution: Volume One. You can also get a cartoon portrait of yourself for $15. There are even more awards going up to $200. You can view the rest of them and pledge money to Age of Revolution: Volume One on their Kickstarter page.
For more information about Age of Revolution: Volume 1, I spoke with both Huw Williams and Hannah Collins:
Me: If you had to pick one character from Age of Revolution as your favorite character to draw, who would it be?
Hannah Collins: Although I tend to find women easier to draw than men, Caesar Fletcher is actually my favourite currently to draw. He’s featured very heavily in the first few issues we’ve released so I’d expected to get sick of drawing him by now, but because of the way I designed him, luckily he’s always fun to draw. He’s pretty much a parody of John Constantine and just about every gruff-talking ex-cop stereotype you can think of!
Me: What was your favourite page to draw in this volume?
Collins: Ooh that’s tough! There are a few pages I’m really proud of, and also a few pages I kind of want to have another crack it. I think I’m going to go with a page from Satoshi’s introductory story where General Emrys is talking to him about his parents, and I decided to go super-Shojo with it and have them floating above him kind of in a ghost-like way. I embellished it with loads of swirls and stars to make it look as warm and pretty as possible to convey the feeling of the memory of Satoshi. It was something I could see really clearly in my head, and I was really satisfied that I managed to get it on paper exactly how I wanted it.
|From Age of Revolution: Volume 1|
Me: Can you talk a bit about how you founded Cosmic Anvil with Huw?
Collins: I met Huw in university in Lancaster. I was studying Fine Art and Creative Writing, and he was studying Film and Cultural Studies, and we ended up in the same halls together. We didn’t truly bond though until he caught me watching the Teen Titans movie alone in my room, and instead of taking the piss out of me (like I expected him to do) he asked if he could join me. That was when we realised we were both huge geeks!
At the end of our final year, we were both totally daunted at the prospect of leaving full time education forever and having to be actual adults with boring jobs. Huw told me he had an idea for a comic book and he needed an artist. Initially, I was hesitant as I’d never drawn a comic before, but in the end I gave it a go. I didn’t really expect much to come of it. I was working a part-time job at a charity doing admin, and doing the comic pages was something I looked forward to coming home and occupying my evenings with. Meanwhile, Huw got a marketing job working in Wales at Welsh ICE, which is an incubator space for start-up businesses, and was encouraged to pursue the comic book project as more of a business. And that’s how Cosmic Anvil was born. Since then, we’ve started crowdfunding for the first volume of Age of Revolution, we’re doing a monthly newspaper strip, and we provide comic book making workshops to schools in the local area.
Me: The Kickstarter said you had a ‘high-contrast’ style. How would you further describe your art style in Age of Revolution?
Collins: I’ve always loved black and white in comic books, there’s almost a purity to it I think, so when I started reading Huw’s scripts I instantly recognised the influences of manga such as Dragon Ball and I knew that black and white would be a great fit to match those influences for the art.
The story influences are also very eclectic, and I think that also happens to match with my art style! I love experimenting with mixing hand-drawn and digital techniques. I try out a mixture of different pens and software in each issue to try and make it even better than the last one. It doesn’t always seem to work to everyone’s taste though. In the earlier issues I experimented with using black and white photographs as backgrounds, which one reviewer criticized as "lazy", but I think if you don’t try to be a little different then what’s the point? If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work. I just like to have fun when I create art. If it ever becomes a boring process, then I don’t see the point in doing it anymore.
|From Age of Revolution: Volume 1|
Me: What is the number one reason you think people should pledge to Age of Revolution?
Collins: I would love people to pledge because they genuinely like what they see and think it’s deserving of their money. Every time someone gives us even 50p for a badge at our convention stall it means the world to me as it validates all the hard work we put into it. We’re not doing this to become rich and famous, we’re doing it because we love it, and we hope that other people will love it too.
Me: Can you talk about some of the freelance work you’ve done in the past with children’s books, logos, and character concepts? What is some of the most memorable work you’ve done?
Collins: Aside from the fact that I love to make art, the reason I decided to freelance is because I wanted to be doing different things every day, and that’s certainly been the case so far looking back through my portfolio. Children’s books and comics are my main passion, but I have to say the most memorable work I’ve done recently was a one-off piece for a client’s son who was turning 13-years-old.
She wanted me to create a special piece of art that incorporated all of his favourite characters from video games and films, and when she gave me the list I was instantly like, “How am I going to do this?!” The list included everything from the Alien Xenomorph to Star Wars, to Batman, to GTA, to COD, to the Hunger Games. I said to Huw that it was either going to look like a total mess or a geek’s wet dream of a film poster. Luckily I think it turned it out to be the latter!
I took inspiration from the classic Star Wars film posters from the 70s/80s for the look and composition of it, and the client was really happy with the result. Solving a problem like that as big a part of the creative process as actually doing the work, and I’d love to be given another similarly crazy commission again as it was incredibly fun to draw!
|From Age of Revolution: Volume 1|
Me: On the Kickstarter it mentioned how you would copy panels from your favourite Batman comics. What was it about these panels that you loved so much?
Collins: Batman was the first superhero comic I ever read, ever bought, and ever loved, so any panel with him in it is good to me! The comic artists I was particularly drawn to when I was younger were those who had very distinctive styles like Jim Lee, Frank Quitely, Frank Miller, Dave McKean, Tim Sale and Darwyn Cooke. In their different ways, they all bring out the most important visual elements in him as a character: darkness, contrast, tragedy, hope, fear, and brutality.
My favourite thing to copy from was an anthology of one-shot stories from the Batman: Black & White series. As the title suggests, all of the art is in black and white, and it was almost like a showcase of talent of all the best writers and artists in the industry. I once spent two weeks creating an A3 doodle made up of different panels and faces from my favourites stories as a kind of homage to it.
|From Age of Revolution: Volume 1|
Me: I know on your personal blog IWANTWINGS you often write what you describe as “feminist musings” on various media including Disney films and anime. Can you talk about some of the articles you’ve written about this and their importance to you?
Collins: I’m as passionate about writing as I am about art, and after I left university I needed an outlet for my analytical writing alongside my fiction writing. Feminism and pop culture are two of the biggest spheres of interest in my life, and I’m also a big believer in the idea that pop culture both reflects and influences what goes on in society, which is why I decided to use the blog mainly to explore representation and misrepresentation of gender in my favourite mediums. I do write about other subjects sometimes though, and last year I attracted a lot of unexpected attention when I wrote an open letter in response to an Internet group called ‘Women Against Feminism.’
I’m currently writing an on-going series exploring the representation of gender in the Disney Princess film canon (from Snow White to Frozen), called ‘Wicked Wiles’. These films are what I and generations of girls stretching back over 70 years have been weaned on as children - which is kind of a big responsibility for a company - and so I was interested to find out exactly what kinds of messages they had been impressing upon us. I use an analytical questioning system similar to the Bechtel test to find out the gender balance of each film; who drives the plot; and generally how women are treated in each film and then give it a positive, negative, or neutral classification in the end in terms of gender representation. It’s fascinating watching your old favourites again with so much scrutiny! The series is also being published on the Fanny Pack blog, which is a communal blog for feminist writers.
Me: What are some of your favourite kid’s cartoons and do they ever influence your artwork in any way?
Collins: I watch more kid’s cartoons than most adults probably should so that’s a hard question! My current favourites are Steven Universe, Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, Bravest Warriors, and Regular Show. My all-time favourites are probably Avatar: The Last Airbender & The Legend of Korra, Batman: The Animated Series, Young Justice, Teen Titans, Spectacular Spiderman, Powerpuff Girls, Spongebob Squarepants, W.I.T.C.H., and just about every Disney and Pixar film. I’ve probably forgotten a few!
I tend to find myself influenced more by the pacing and facial expressions of cartoons more than anything else. Lots of the expressions I use in my newspaper strip (Lemon’ead & Beefy) are inspired by Spongebob and Adventure Time in particular. Those shows both use that technique where they zoom in on a character’s face and it’s drawn in gross detail, and I think that’s due to the fact that Pendleton Ward obviously worked on both of them.
The other thing I guess is the Eastern influence on some Western shows which I took as inspiration for the Age of Revolution manga style. I first noticed it in Teen Titans. Character designer Glen Murakami’s blended so much anime into the look and feel of the show that the style became known as ‘Murakanime’, which he carried over into Ben 10 too. The same is true in the Avatar series – so true in fact that people even mistake it for anime. Even now, I notice that shows like Steven Universe have loads of anime touches in them, both aesthetically and thematically. I think it’s because the generation who grew up in the anime boom of the 80s and 90s – like me – are now working in the industry and have clearly carried their influences with them.
|From Age of Revolution: Volume 1|
Collins: Only do it if you’re prepared to work long hours, not have much money, and really have a passion for it. I know that’s not very inspirational, but it’s true! Also, I’d recommend working with at least one other person on it. Sharing the workload is so much better than going it alone – especially when you’ve got to take a toilet break at a convention and no one to watch your stall for you!
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book artists?
Collins: The mistake people often make about art is that it’s 90% talent, 10% work. It’s the other way around. The talent is what will give you that initial spark, but if you want do anything with that spark, you have to put in the hours to hone your craft. Practice, perseverance, and passion. I’ve been drawing since I was 6-years-old and I know I still have a lot to learn and a lot to improve on. Also, don’t worry too much about ‘finding your own style’ either, that’ll eventually emerge naturally with time. Finally, I’d recommend drawing for pleasure. You should definitely take life drawing lessons and learn your anatomy and all that, but if you’re not having fun as well, why do it?
Huw Williams: Hmm, this is a tough on for me as both sides have their pros and cons, their villains and heroes. So I guess I’d have to make my choice based on style and abilities…I’d like to see myself battling bad guys next to General Gannon, with nothing but a set of brass knuckles and my determination.
Me: If you had to describe each of the five characters on the team in one sentence, what would you say about each of them?
Takeo: An arrogant and powerful martial artist, ready to prove himself to the world.
Caesar: A bad-ass ex-cop, driven by his own personal vendetta.
Satoshi: An orphaned genius who I still trying to find his place in this world.
Chiharu: One of the best Black Ops agents in the military, a great warrior, but never afraid to show her girly-girl side.
Yuki: A quiet and stoic individual with a gentle heart of gold.
Williams: Why are they fighting? They’re all teammates. If they all fought in a battle royal, I’d say Chiharu, her stealth and superior training would win her the battle, but that might all change as the story goes on :3
Me: What is the number one reason why you think people should back Age of Revolution?
Williams: We have received a lot of positive reviews for our first five issues, but there is so much more story to be told, so many more interesting characters to meet. This backing will help us carry on telling the amazing story of Age of Revolution.
Me: In what ways does manga inspire your work?
Williams: Manga inspires every element of my work. Age of Revolution isn’t just a comic that has manga styled artwork; manga is on my mind when I’m writing it as well. The action is outrageous and the comedy is tongue in cheek, just like my favourite manga.
If I ever have writer’s block I turn back to the things that inspire me, and most often or not, it’s Manga.
|From Age of Revolution: Volume 1|
Kinnikuman, One Piece and Toriko, as these are my three favourite manga that I am reading at the moment, and if I don’t have them I will need to leave the island.
Dragon Ball Super I am currently watching, so I will have to watch it, plus Dragon Ball is amazing.
Attack on Titan, I have to know what will happen next!
Finally, I will choose something I’m not watching. Kill la Kill will have to be my third as I watched the first episode and loved it, but just haven’t returned to it.
Me: What inspirational words do you have for people aspiring to create their own comic book company?
Williams: Do it! It might be simple and it might not be that original, but this is the best I can do. If you have the grit, the chance and/or the talent to do it, do it!
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?
Williams: I would repeat the above, but I would like to add something for the writers. The main enemy to creativity is a lack of persistence. The one thing you have to do as a writer is keep going. Keep writing, keep reading, keep watching (film and TV). If you get negative feedback, learn from it, and write some more. Keep doing what you’re doing and you will see the results.
|Hannah Collins and Huw Williams|
Me: Thanks for your time and for working towards making Wanga possible! If you’re interested in owning it, check out their Kickstarter page here.
Do you have a Kickstarter? Want to be interviewed about it and have it showcased on “Kickstart the Week?” Let me know in the comments below or message me on my personal website www.comicmaven.com.
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