By: Nicole D’Andria
Learn more about the comic book company Higher Universe Comics from co-founder and writer Brandon Rhiness. He’s talking to us today about what it’s like to run a comic book company, his web series, the publisher's future plans, and more!
Me: Why were you inspired to create Higher Universe Comics and how did you go about creating the company?
Brandon Rhiness: I met co-creator Adam Storoschuk around 2003. We had similar interests and I was a writer and he was an artist. We both liked comic books and he had all these drawings of characters he created, but he didn’t know what to do with them. So I ended up writing stories based on them and we ended up creating a whole comic book world.
We never really planned to do anything with our creations. We really just did it for our own amusement. We had pictures and a bunch of scripts I’d written, but that’s it.
It wasn’t until 2011 that we finally decided to make a go of it instead of just talking about it. So we hired an artist and started making our first comic MISFITS #1 using all the characters Adam had created years earlier.
Simultaneously, we started making STARGIRL, a series I created on my own.
Once those two comics were done, we started selling them and continued making more. In 2015 we incorporated the company as Higher Universe Inc. and continue to operate as Higher Universe Comics!
Me: Who are some of the other members of Higher Universe Comics?
Rhiness: Adam Storoschuk and I are the only two official members of Higher Universe Comics. We do hire artists from around the world and have a pretty solid team including Trevis Martinez, Nick O’Gorman, Eugene Betivu, PD Dedelis and Carlos Trigo.
Since we started making films, we’ve brought on some amazing film people including Afton Rentz and Morgan Yamada.
Me: You also work as a screenwriter. Can you talk about one of your works?
Rhiness: I used to write screenplays when I was younger, but as with comics, I never took it seriously. Then in 2015, after seeing some success with the comics, I decided to give screenwriting a shot again. It’s only been a year and a half, but I’ve had a few feature-length screenplays optioned and quite a few shorts optioned, sold or produced.
One project I’m really excited about is called Super Drycleaners. I was hired by Barb Briggs from Asvoria Media to write the series based on her idea. I wrote 6 episodes of it. The show is about two teens who work at their grandmother’s dry cleaning store that caters to superheroes. So the teens sneak out at night in the superhero costumes and get into adventures.
The show has been funded and the first 3 episodes will be shooting in early 2017!
Me: Is there any intersection between your screenwriting and comic writing? Do you plan on turning any of your comics into films?
Rhiness: There are tentative plans to make films and TV shows based on the comics, but for now they’re mostly separate. We did make a Mental Case comic book based on the web series of the same name that I write and direct. It stars Afton Rentz and Morgan Yamada, who are also co-producers.
Me: If you could pick one of your comics to turn into a movie, which one would it be and why? Who would be your dream cast?
Rhiness: It would be a toss-up between Misfits and Stargirl. Although I might have to change the title of Misfits since there’s already that British TV show called Misfits. Lol.
I like Stargirl because it’s just a fun space adventure story. Misfits is cool because it’s half superhero stuff, and half what superheroes do when they’re not “superheroing.” The Misfits spend a lot of time at the bar, and that’s kind of more of the focus of the series. I think it would make for a great TV series. I’m starting to get things going on that.
As for a dream cast…I don’t know. Lol. I’m kind of different in that I don’t imagine A-list actors playing rolls in my movies. I imagine actors I know and have worked with. Lol. So there are actors here in my home city of Edmonton, Canada that I would cast in Misfits or Stargirl.
Me: What are some of your future plans for Higher Universe Comics?
Rhiness: We’ve got some new comic books coming out next year including Chainsaw Reindeer and Elvis the Zombie. Elvis is a supporting character in Misfits who people seem to love. So we gave him his own comic.
We have a new web series that we’ll hopefully be shooting next year. And we started an animated series for our character Stoner Kid. You can find them on YouTube.
I also wrote my first “children’s” book called You’re the Reason Mommy Drinks. It’s not really a kid’s book. It’s a joke kid’s book for adults. It’s finished now and should be available on Amazon at the time this interview is published. I recommend buying it for any mothers you know. They’ll get a kick out of it! :)
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?
Rhiness: I used to be one of those people who would talk about their dreams but not actually do anything about it. That all changed the day I decided to dive in and work hard and make it happen for myself. And it’s amazing how far I’ve come. When Adam and I first started making comics, we paid our artists out of our own pockets with money from our paychecks. We stopped at nothing to get our comics finished and out into the world. If you want to do it, start doing it.
And feel free to contact me if you want any more info on how I made it happen. :)
Me: Thanks for your time Brandon, and best of luck to you and Higher Universe Comics’ future in 2017! You can check out the Higher Universe ComicsFacebook page or Brandon’s Twitter to learn more.
If you’re interested in seeing more of Brandon’s videos, here are some links to his short films: