Monday, November 23, 2015

Kickstart the Week with Seamstress

By: Nicole D'Andria

This time on Kickstart the Week I’m showcasing Seamstress, a comic book about two women, Polli and Cassi, who make costumes for superheroes and supervillains. I spoke with the writer of the series, N.S. Kane, and the inker, Cristian Docolomansky.

Supers always seem to have a dozen costumes waiting for them when they get their current suit riddled with bullets or burned to a crisp—you know, a typical Friday night for a super. Cassi (Castor the mortal) Lyra and Polli (Polloux the immortal) Nova are two seamstresses and estranged sisters. Cassi works for heroes and yearns for her family. She is a recluse who enjoy spending time with machines rather than humans. She doesn’t really care for fashion and is addicted to soda. Polli works for villains, fame and glory. She is a fashionista and a rich snob. Polli has an unpredictable temper and is addicted to coffee. The two sisters must work together when they are exposed to the public eye.

The head writer of Seamstress is N.S. Kane (Nyte Owl) and her partner/co-creator is Kate Kane. The art team includes: Federico Zumel, a penciler from Argentina who has worked for various publishers including Penny Farthing Press, Approbation Comics, Forcewerks, Picklepress and Bughouse Comics; Cristian Docolomansky, an award-winning inker from Chile who has worked for Futuro Esplendor Publishings, Double Barrel Theater, Emerald Star, Beyond Reality Media, Ecv Press and Bad Cog; and Bryan Arfel Magnaye, a colorist who has graced the pages of comics from companies such as Red Anvil, C&W Creations and Zenescope. Taylor Esposito handled the lettering. He is the creator of Ghost Glyph Studios and has done work for DC Comics.

This Kickstarter is for the first 20 page issue of Seamstress plus limited artwork and future issues. There are four covers that were hand drawn, digitally inked and fully colored. The first volume will be seven issues long and the entire series is going to be 28 issues total.

Most of the funding will go towards the reward for backers with another lesser percentage going towards artwork, printing and fees. The rewards go up to $1,000 or more and include pin-ups, shirts and costume making tools. For $5 you can get a digital copy of Seamstress and for $15 you can get a physical copy along with a pins kit and custom tape measure. The project will be funded if at least $3,553 ($5,000 AUD) is pledged by November 29th, 2015 at 10:14 PM EST. You can back the Seamstress Kickstarter here.

I interviewed writer N.S. Kane and inker Cristian Docolomansky about Seamstress and some of their favorite costumes.

N.S. Kane

Me: What inspired the idea of the series being about the people who make costumes for superheroes?

N.S. Kane: Long story short, I used to be a hard core competitive cosplayer but the years of bias took a heavy toll on both myself and my partner so we decided to look for something to bring back the fun in cosplaying. My partner wanted someone black and red so here enters Batwoman and from then on comics have been my life. Making costumes is what we did, we took outfits from a page and made them real, well mostly my partner Kate Kane did all of my sewing (yeah I’m that terrible at it). That’s when the idea got me wondering, surely not everyone is as rich as Bruce Wayne and has their own man servant at the ready, how do they get their costumes made? Which then opened up a can of worms I call Seamstress.

Me: Can you talk about these “years of bias” that you went through which made you lose interest in cosplay and what you think about cosplay today?

Kane: In Australia the community is reeeeaallllyyy small, like I mean we are not even one quarter of what American cons produce so you can imagine the percentage of people competing gets smaller. Because I was doing the high level competitions, which we only had two at the time, once you started getting decent outfits, people chose a side, either they liked you or hated you and honestly it was hard to keep up with who thought what. I’m not saying all cosplay is bad; in fact, I really enjoy it now as I have switched from the rigged anime/manga strict guidelines of the major competitions to comic characters and I have had more fun now than ever. Only a handful of people soiled it because they couldn’t handle someone in the spotlight and after years of threats online and verbal abuse at conventions, I called it quits for my health. Best decision I have ever made.


Me: Polli and Cassie seem very different from each other. Can you talk about their differences and how they put a strain on their relationship?

Kane: Totally chalk and cheese with these two, they may be twins but apart from their looks you wouldn’t know they were related at all. It’s harder for Cassi more than Polli to deal with this for when exposed, Cassi wants to create a connection to the only remaining part of her family but Polli wants nothing to do with her. In fact, she finds it extremely aggravating that someone else is out there with her face making clothes just as good, if not better than her. For a good long while in the first story arc, these two do not get along and I think that only adds more spice. Not everything has to be sugary sweet between families and this relationship pushes that line of how far blood ties can stretch before they break.

Me: Who are some of the other characters besides Polli and Cassie in the series and what can you tell us about them?

Kane: We have some crazies coming up! Mr. Angel, who appears in issue two, is a fundamental trouble maker and ultimately the one who starts all this chaos. Not giving too much away, he’s very charming, flirts with anything that walks and is a hero turned villain. As well as him, there is a whole community of people that will slowly bleed into Polli and Cassi’s world: punk Hairdressers who are rockability junkies, a mild tempered tattooist who has a shady side, cobblers who resemble hermits more than shoe makers and milliners who are neurotic about who can wear their hats. The entire cast is full of quirky and crazy characters as the girls dig deeper into a world they never knew existed that specifically was created to make heroes and villains look so damn good.


Me: How did you meet and start working with the creative team on Seamstress?

Kane: When I started the idea of Seamstress I put out a call for an artist. Federico snapped me up within hours of the post and I haven’t looked back since! After the pencils were completed, we both felt that we needed someone who would ink the work with justice so we put out a test page and from the dozens of artists who took it, we chose Cristian who has been an absolute gem to work with. Bryan then approached me for the colouring gig and with his impressive portfolio I couldn’t say no. Finally I was lucky enough to find Taylor. Fresh from finishing work with DC, he was more than happy to letter the comic and join our little family. I couldn’t be happier with how the artwork has evolved and to bring the girls out on the pages exactly the way I had pictured them in my head has made me so proud. I feel the team have gone above and beyond and I know there will be many more issues of joy to come working with these guys.

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should pledge money to Seamstress?

Kane: It’s different. Everyone writes about heroes and villains, cops and killers or even fantasy babes from out of space, but no one writes about the people behind the curtain, the people that aren’t super that are just normal people who work hard and try to live. These girls and their little world help others and I wanted people to enjoy the other side of the coin, not just the glamour of powers and fight scenes, though it will have plenty of those too. I wanted readers to sink their teeth into a story and find the excitement in something totally out of left field.

Matthew Tow Sketch Cards Polli and Cassi

Me: If Polli and Cassie each got to choose a hero or villain's costume to redesign, who would each of them choose and why? What would their redesign look like?

Kane: Ha! Ok Polli would have to have Poison Ivy; I could see those two getting on like a house on fire! They would be flirting and sipping wine while designing, then Polli would insist Ivy stay in her private suite. Plus the fact that Ivy manipulates plant matter would just give Polli a zillion and one ideas for fabric choices. If she was going to redesign the outfit, she would make a more practical suite that utilized the plant matter better and then she would just have to make her a ball gown as well. Pollli can’t resist a beautiful model for her own selfish parade.

Cassi I would say Powergirl, that woman breaks her outfits more times than people break pencils. Cassi would always be working and I think it would be an epic challenge for her to make something that would actually last more than one fight for her. Cassi also doesn’t like talking to people much but I think that with Powergirl’s casual attitude she would be one of the few heroes Cassi would be able to connect with.

Me: What is your favorite superhero costume design and why is it your favorite?

Kane: Batwoman hands down! I love everything about her and the fact that she’s a bat is just the icing on the cake. She doesn’t have to have powers to kick some butt and the fact that everything upon her outfit, at first glance, looks stock standard, you see the intricate details and advanced technology behind each piece she wears. I fell in love with the complexity of not only the character but her alter ego as well.

Me: For those interested, how would you recommend getting into competitive cosplay?

Kane: Not unless you have the skin of a rhino. You have to be brutal, keep up with the latest techniques for making outfits and always inventing new ways of making costumes. I developed my own resin and it still wasn’t recognized for the effort. Plus be prepared to have NO sleep and NO money, my sets were more than $3000 so that’s $1000 per minute I was on stage. You will also have to really get to know the right people, but be warned they may not stay friends forever and words online can do more damage than good.

N.S. Kane Twitter Avatar

I recommend people enjoy cosplay, get a group of friends together and make team outfits to have fun in, go out, do events and photoshoots and those memories will last longer than medals. I have a Gotham group down here in Australia called Gotham Knights and we do charity functions as well as conventions. I love my Batman, Harley and Aquaman so much and I’m so proud I get to wear my Batwoman cowl for them.

Me: What is the best cosplay you have ever seen?

Kane: Oh lord!! There are some really amazing cosplayers out there but I think one I really admire is “The true Aquaman” and “Joshua Hart Designs”. Both of these men are extraordinary, The true Aquaman because he cosplays for the love of the work, not the fame or glory but because he wants to lift peoples spirits with his outfits, and Joshua Hart because he isn’t afraid to step over the threshold. As a man he creates the most elegant outfits, all because he has a passion for the designs and the fabrics which to me is exceedingly admirable. So to these gentlemen I say well done! 

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

Kane: Create as much as you can. Don’t ever lose faith in your work no matter how many times you fall and how many times people try to push you down with it. If only one person believes in your work and likes it then that’s all that matter because you have created something for them. It’s hard work but if you let the tears pour into your work then in the end you will find that everything will be worth it. 

Cristian Docolomansky

Me: How would you describe your art style in Seamstress?

Cristian Docolomansky: Seamstress has been a very enthusiastic challenge for me. I have worked with penciler Federico Zumel in the past so I knew how to fit the inks and enhance his pencils here and there. We teamed up like a real gig here, with a tight deadline for the first issue. We worked tight despite the distance (he lives in Argentina and I am living in Santiago de Chile) but we were pushing each other to achieve the best on the pages. We were constantly chatting about bits and pieces to improve and things he liked or needed correction on in order to get the best result. 

Style-wise, Federico's penciling style is very dynamic, explosively detailed and eye-catching, I see an early Image Comics (Top Cow era Marc Silvestri, early David Finch, Brandon Peterson et al) vibe on his penciling so I decided to focus on the inking part just like the professional inkers of those masters. I actually bought a Marc Silvestri / Scott Williams Cyberforce Original page to have it as a reference for the gig! So having inking references from BATT, Jow Weems but mostly Scott Williams helped a lot to separate main characters at the foreground of the page from the backgrounds, giving extra attention to the environment.

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should pledge money to Seamstress?

Docolomansky: I think it is a catchy story with appealing art. Seamstress is more than two seamstresses who tailors superhero/supervillain costumes. It’s two ways to face challenges with two strong but different characters. I think Federico's style would be a very good selling point to comic readers who wants to search for new and exciting comic talent. 

Me: What is your favorite superhero costume design and why is it your favorite?

Docolomansky: Overall? Well... off the top of my head... I started reading Marvel Comics at the mid 80's in Spain, so I like the original costumes. I have always thought that the original Spider-Man costume was ahead of its time. What a great view Steve Ditko had creating (and/or co-created with Stan Lee) that costume! It's eternal. You might change it, evolve it, put it onto the big screen, but the original will always be the best.

For my second pick...I was very drawn to the Image Comics’ 90’s boom. If I have to take something from there I think probably Zealot and Grifter (for being two costumes that work together chromatic-wise) and Sam Kieth's The Maxx for being extra nuts.  

Me: If you could choose a hero or villain's costume to redesign, who would each of them choose and why? What would their redesign look like?

Docolomansky: Well, well, well... I think original works best. I am a crazy nostalgic comic book reader and not very fond of new changes in characters that were originally created that way. Having said that, I also believe this is a medium in constant evolution, so one of the key changes to bring our beloved characters to new readers is by improving the visual look of them. So, if I had to change something about characters, I think I would dare to suggest to change the entire DC Trinity characters (Superman - Batman - Wonder Woman). We live in darker times and it seems that they will be even darker in a new future. I think that the vibrant looks of those three (and in extension the rest of the main DC Olympus) should change with the tides instead of making them younger and brighter... to embrace the DKR kind of vibe.

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

Docolomansky: Inspirational words? Hire Me! 

I mean... I am also an aspiring comic book artist. I have only been in this business for three years. So what inspires me is actually what inspires everyone else who wants to make it big in this wonderful medium: Teach yourself, be patient, be VERY patient, don't skip stages, work constantly, don't be afraid of harsh critiques, meet people, collaborate and create new comics, establish a work ethic and a work page rate, make yourself your best PR and for the love of God, don't take your mom's comments as the only ones, you are still in need of improving. 
Me: Thanks for your time Nicole and Cristian! If you want a Kickstarter with style, back the Seamstress Kickstarter 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  

Other “Kickstart the Week” features: 
Assault on Fortress Doom
Karl Vincent: Vampire Hunter: “Foul Blood”
Super! Volume Two: The Secret is Out!
Fractal No. 1 – Waves in Tyranny

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