Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Kickstart the Week with Blood Red Moon

By: Nicole D'Andria

This week’s featured Kickstarter is Blood Red Moon, a horror series about Viking warriors trying to become all-powerful with the help of a werewolf. I spoke with the creative team of the series which included Victor Wright, Carlos Villas, Ryan Brown and Brant Fowler. Get ready to howl!

The Kickstarter is for Blood Red Moon #1, a 28 page long issue. The story features a group of Viking warriors who capture a werewolf with plans of having him turn their people into ultimate killing machines. They force him to marry into their clan but slowly the werewolf comes to accept the situation when he sees he may be able to take advantage of them.

The writer of Blood Red Moon is award-winning comic book writer and novelist Victor Wright (Esmee a.k.a. Jack the Ripper meets Vampires, T.E.A.L.—Total Elimination of All Life featuring zombies in the future and the trilogy of novels called Light of Darkness). The artwork and colors are by freelance artist Carlos Villas. Cover artist Ryan Brown (2000AD, V-Wars) created a special limited edition cover for the first issue. Our very own Brant Fowler did the lettering for the issue and he designed the logo for the series.

Blood Red Moon #1 is basically finished and will soon be ready for print. The Kickstarter is to help the project become a physical reality. The creative team has already met their goal of $1938 however if they reach their stretch goals of $2,500 and $5,000 they will give pledgers additional rewards. Currently, for £5 (which converts to about $8), you can receive the PDF for Blood Red Moon #1. For £10 (about $16) you’ll get a physical copy of the book. 
Their Kickstarter will remain open to pledges until August 13, 2015 at 3:35 pm EDT. 

The book will be available in September 2015. You can pledge their Kickstarter here.
Read my interviews with writer Victor Wright, artist Carlos Villas, cover artist Ryan Brown and letterer Brant Fowler below.

Victor Wright

Me: How would you go about taming a werewolf?

Victor Wright: Well that’s a tough one because I don’t think it’s possible.  All you can do is tap into his/her animalistic behaviour and try to work with that.  In Blood Red Moon they have no intention of taming the werewolf as they need him to be aggressive and ready to attack.  They turn themselves into werewolves in order to fight as a pack.  So by day they travel to their adversaries’ whereabouts and by night they fight.  Our werewolf is wed into the clan – so his animal instincts can sense that his wife is carrying his child hence why he will not attack certain people.

Me: If you did successfully tame a werewolf, what would you have it do for you?

Wright: If it were possible to tame a werewolf I’d have him go into the world of Minecraft and tear it up.

Me: You mention on the Kickstarter how several of your other award-winning works will be given as rewards.  Can you describe some of these works and why readers will enjoy them?

Wright: Readers can get an assortment of my comics and books as rewards.  Some of the ones up for grabs are T.E.A.L. (Total Elimination of All Life), a zombie, sci-fi bloodbath set in the future.  Esmee is a firm favourite with my horror followers – it’s a twist on Jack the Ripper, but with vampires. And I’ll be giving away the trilogy of books in the “Light of Darkness” series.  LOD is about a young girl whose father disappears in a black mist, as she grow up a series of crucifixion murders happen around her and she realizes that her father is connected with them.  She also finds out that there is something very different about herself.  That’s all I’m willing to divulge lol!

Me: The Light of Darkness is a series of paperback books. Do you enjoy the process of writing novels more or less than writing comic books?

Wright: I’m happy writing either.  With a book I can put my story into your head and you can imagine what people and places look like - you decide how the world they are set within feels.  With a comic book I can show you how it unfolds in my head.

Me: Having done a lot of horror related projects involving zombies, vampires and now werewolves, what is it that attracts you to write about these classic monsters?

Wright: I write three genres – war, horror and crime.  The horror stuff is most probably my favourite.  With each story I try to deliver something a little different from the stereotype you normally get.  It doesn’t have to be all gore either – there are plenty of things that will freak you out without tearing people limb from limb.  And of course the fact that my head is filled with weird stuff that needs to go onto paper before it’s forgotten.

Blood Red Moon #1 Page 2

Me: How do you know whether an idea you have should be a novel or a comic book?

Wright: I think differently about the two medias.  The audience for both can be quite different.  However, I am starting to convert some stories across both formats.   For example you can buy the Light of Darkness series in comic format and in book format.  There are subtle differences in the way I tell the story, but it works.  Sometimes I write a comic then realize it would be a great book—The Lawless Ones, which is a comic, I really want to write as a novel as I know it will broaden the audience for the story and would make a great book.  Currently I’m working on a book called The Trees that Bled – it’s about Satanism.  The more I’m writing it the more I can see it as a graphic novel.

Me: Who are some of your inspirations as a writer?

Wright: People think that because I write horror it’s what I would read or like.  It is, but mostly in comic format and on film.  Book-wise I tend to read a lot of history and factual works, but I’m a big fan of Jonathan Maberry, Robert Kirkman and of course George Martin.

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?

Wright: All I can say to anyone wanting to write either comics or books is hurry up and do it as I’m waiting to read your great works!  You’ll only regret it if you don’t write and remember you only get better by doing it regularly.

Carlos Villas

Me: How would you describe your art style and how it matches the mood of the series?

Carlos Villas: I wouldn't know how to exactly describe my style (if i have any at all).  I’ve always wanted to keep a balance between technique and strength, trying to achieve transmitting the feeling or idea I want with the best possible technique, so I started with an expressionistic way of painting and tried to get it closer and closer to the vision I have in my head by trying to improve technically.  

What’s really clear to me is that I love to do paintings that are a PUNCH TO THE FACE, something that really hits you and makes you want to see what`s happening in there… and I think that’s where my artwork fits right in the mood of Blood Red Moon.  Victor and I want to make this story as raw and strong as possible, and I think we are slowly but surely taking it there.  I love this Picasso quote: “…after all, you can only work against something, even if it`s yourself.”

Me: What tools do you use when creating your artwork?

Villas: I have been a traditional artist all my life, and I just started teaching myself digital work for around two years and fell in love with it instantly.  At the moment I work in Photoshop and I still have a lot to learn about all its tools and possibilities.  I think it’s the best software out there for the job.  You can just go ahead and paint like you do with oils or acrylics, throwing paint and moving it around with a brush (with the bonus of a lot of pretty cool effects!)

Blood Red Moon #1 Page 7

Me: What kind of genres do you enjoy doing artwork for the most?

Villas: Without a question horror, I just love doing monsters and creatures!  And then anything that has action and fantasy.  The truth is that I love any commission that gives me freedom.  I like to do my thing.  

Me: If I asked you to draw anything you wanted to right now, what would you draw?

Villas: I have done this exercise a couple of times and I always end up drawing a creature or monster.  I just love to explore textures and expressions on them.

Me: I noticed on your ArtStation profile that you have art pieces featuring characters from television shows and movies. Who are some of your favorite non-comic book characters to draw?

Villas: When I was younger I loved to do The Thing, Hulk, Thor….  Now that I think about it, even then I was looking for a cool creature or monster to draw!  Now I’d rather do my own creatures and monsters.  For some reason I haven’t been drawing a lot of famous characters, maybe because I would love to redesign them “too much” or maybe because I don’t want people telling me that “my version” doesn`t looks as it should.  I love to decide how my creatures should look.

Me: Living in Mexico City, do you think your artwork has a different feel to it than artwork from other parts of the world such as the United States or Europe?

Villas: Good question.  I think an artist would always like to think that he and his artwork are unique and special.  We have some amazing background and culture in Mexico that I’m sure shows somewhere in there, but by now I think the Internet makes the whole world a small pond, and we can all choose our influences, as well as our food, from anyplace we want.

Blood Red Moon #1 Page 12

Me: What page did you enjoy drawing the most in Blood Red Moon and why was this your favorite page to draw?

Villas: The cover!!! I always the cover, I`m a cover artist first and foremost!  Then page 1, 2, 3….  This is my real first go at sequential artwork, so I loved the first page because I really tried to do a good comic page!  Same thing happened with page 2, 3….  I`m trying to make interesting pages that I would love to see and read, and I really want people to see a difference from page 1 to page 22.  I’m learning like crazy doing these sequential pages!  I should be paying for this! (Don`t tell Victor.)  I`m feeling more confident and becoming better and faster on each page.  I just can`t wait to see where this book will take all of us.

Me: Who are some of your inspirations as an artist?

Villas: A lot of them!!  There’s so many amazing artists out there that I wouldn`t know where to start.  I remember being mesmerized by Frazzeta as a child.  I kept buying his books and copying them page after page.  Just to name a few I could say Bernie Wrightson, Jerad S Marantz, In Hyuk Lee, Odd Nerdrum, Giger, Simon Bizley, Max Verehin, Dave Rapoza, Alex Garner, John Bolton, Adrian Smith, Kd Stanton, Adrian Smith….  I could go on forever.

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book artists?

Villas: I guess the best advice anyone has ever given me that works for anything in your life is…just keep working and go for it, outwork everyone else.  And be a nice guy.

Ryan Brown

Me: What are the qualities you think are most important when creating a cover for a comic book to entice a reader to pick up the book?

Ryan Brown: In my opinion, first of all you need a striking image, something that will catch the reader’s eye.  It’s all about contrast in light and dark, a contrast in color—for example warm and cool—and a contrast in still and movement in the lines among other things.

Me: What is your favorite comic book cover of all time and why?

Brown: I don’t think I have a favorite as there are a lot of covers I like for different reasons. For example, I like Simon Bisley’s covers for their drama, Glenn Fabry’s covers for their anatomy and detail, and Greg Staple’s covers for their realism.

Me: I know you're no novice to drawing horror covers considering you drew the covers for V-Wars. What did you think are some important elements to remember when drawing the cover for a horror comic book?

V-Wars #1 Ryan Brown Cover
Brown: Horror needs to relate to the viewer or reader. The more relatable you can make it, the more frightening it will be. Most people are afraid of death because it’s the great unknown, so having some of the unknown in your cover can help get the viewers’ mind working. It gets him to engage with it. It can also be something as simple as an expression and how the viewer reads into it.

Me: Do you have a favorite genre of comic book to create a cover for? If you do, what is it and why is this your favorite?

Brown: I don’t think I have a favorite genre. I like to work on anything and everything. I think that way it pushes me out of my comfort zone and I learn more.

Me: What are some of your favorite covers that you've done?

Brown: Usually it’s the cover I’ve just finished as I’ve invested so much time and effort in it. Then I try to look forward and not back.

Blood Red Moon #1 Ryan Brown Cover

Me: What advice do you have for people interested/working on cover art?

Brown: The most important thing is to work hard and try and learn as much as you can from everyone. You don’t need any fancy equipment, all you need is a lot of time and effort. You need to understand there are a lot of people out there that want to work in comics and if you are not trying your hardest they defiantly are. For a long time it’s hard going. You may not see a lot of progress but stick with it and never give up on it.

Brant Fowler

Me: How did you get involved with Blood Red Moon?

Brant Fowler: I've worked with Victor Wright on a few other projects in the past, so he approached me to design a logo and create a lettering style for the project. We work well together, so it was a no-brainer, especially with the stunning artwork on the book.

Me: What are some of the aspects to lettering that you think are most important for people who are lettering their own comic books to know?

Fowler: The most important aspect of lettering is to remain as invisible as possible. What that means, basically, is that you don't overshadow the art, you enhance it. You do your best to make the art and the script the stars. Lettering is just a vehicle to display the text in an interesting way, but done so in a way that doesn't obscure the art, or does so as little as possible. That's what I try to do with my lettering, and hopefully I'm successful at it more than I'm not. :)

Me: What are some of the steps to creating an interesting logo?

Fowler: The logo is the branding. It's how you recognize a book, especially in the world of comics. The logo is right there on the cover. It needs to convey the tone of the book, be clearly legible from a distance, and be eye catching enough to catch a potential reader's eye. If any of those elements are missing, you have a problem. Whether you start with a base font, or you hand-draw it first, or design vector from scratch, those are the key things you need to concentrate on.

Me: Why did you decide to make the Blood Red Moon logo look like it does?

Fowler: With logos I design, I like to know as much about the project beforehand as possible. Most of the time, an idea will strike me after hearing or reading the concept, and I'll start sketching out ideas either in Adobe Illustrator or by hand.

With Blood Red Moon, knowing the theme of Vikings and werewolves, I wanted to convey that imagery the best I could. I immediately thought of distinguishing the font styles, using a more Viking-like font for "Blood Red" and using a more blocky font for "Moon" since that really says "werewolf". From there, the color choices were easy: use red for "Blood Red" and an off white for "Moon". Simple enough. But something wasn't looking right. 

It was actually my good friend and professional colorist Lisa Moore, in this case, that suggested the blood dripping over the moon. I went through a few versions of that before settling on the base of the drips you see in the logo. She then graciously helped me with some of the shading to give it some depth.  At one point, Victor had asked for slash marks through it, which I tried, but it just didn't look quite right. Thankfully, he really liked the end result of this one.

Me: What words of advice do you have for comic book letterers?

Fowler: Always keep learning and improving your craft. There's always something you could do better. Respect the artist's vision for the page and pay attention to the important aspects of each panel. Read the script as you letter and try your best not to cover important objects or characters in those panels. Also, lead the reader's eye from balloon to balloon, panel to panel as much as you can. There are tons of tips and tricks you can learn via websites and books, but practicing is the best way to improve and learn those nuances.

Blood Red Moon #1 Limited Edition Print

Me: Thanks for taking the time to tell me about Blood Red Moon Victor, Carlos, Ryan and Brant. Looking forward to seeing Blood Red Moon in print this September!

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.

Other “Kickstart the Week” features:

No comments:

Post a Comment