Friday, April 22, 2016

Kickstart the Week(end) with River God #3

By: Nicole D’Andria

Kickstart your week with the final issue of the science-fiction horror mini-series River God. Old and new readers can enjoy the finale of the mini-series as the first and second issues are also available to people pledging to their Kickstarter. I interviewed the writer of the series, Toby Willmott, and the artist, Bryn G Jones.

In River God, readers join two detectives and a group of anti-poaches as they find a great river in Zambezi that hides something extremely dangerous. River God #3 is the longest issue of the mini-series. Because of this, the printing costs for the final issue will be higher than the two previous issues. The comic book will be published by Eleven Comics.

The creative team is trying to raise at least £400 ($575) by May 2nd, 2016 at 8:27 AM EDT. A digital copy of the issue is available for people who back the project for £2.88 ($2). Physical copies are available for £4 ($6). The first three issues will be attainable digitally at £6 ($9). Other awards include prints, postcards, posters, original pieces. Pledge money to their Kickstarter here.

Here is my interview with writer Toby Willmott and artist Bryn G Jones.

Toby Willmott

Me: For people who haven’t read issues one and two, what would they need to know in order to understand issue three?

Toby Willmott: Issue three is a wild ride and there is no time for exposition. In fact, issues one and two were all setup for the big finale, so if you haven’t read them, my advice is to enjoy the action and Bryn’s beautiful artwork. 

Luckily you can pick up the back issues along with issue 3 if you’re new to the series!

Me: Who are some of the most important characters in River God?

Willmott: The most prominent characters are Thabo, captain of the anti-poaching squad, and David and Charo, the detectives. Together they form two parallel stories, which take place on either side of the Zambezi River, though they are all standing in the centre of a tangled web, much bigger than they imagined. As a result there are characters who appear incidental in previous issues who will be responsible for some major turning points in issue three.

Me: Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Willmott: My favourite character to write was actually two characters - David and Charo. As these two cops work in close quarters, they bring out the best and the worst in each other. It was a delight to write their backstory and their banter.
River God #3 Page 1
Me: What inspired the idea for River God?

Willmott: River God started when Bryn wanted to draw heavily armed cops going underground to rescue a kid and fight an alien. My first question to Bryn was “Where does this happen?”

So, we needed a place for the story to happen and a reason for them to be heavily armed. We decided they would be an anti-poaching squad in Zimbabwe. After this, we needed a monster, so we researched the mythical culture of Zimbabwe and we stumbled across Nyami-Nyami, a local legend similar to the loch ness monster.
Me: Why did you pick Zimbabwe in particular?

Willmott: Once we had decided that our main character was on an anti-poaching squad, this gave us some creative limitations to work in. So we did some googling to find out where these squads were being used in real life. Then once we discovered Nyami-Nyami, the Zimbabwean Myth, we knew we were on to something.

By giving ourselves creative limitations it helped us to zero in on a myth which would otherwise have escaped our attention.

River God #3 Page 2
Me: Can you talk a bit about the mythical culture of Zimbabwe and its importance to the story?

Willmott: Zimbabwe is a young country (29 years old) with an old history. It was named Rhodesia until a massive political upheaval turned the country upside down. The myth of Nyami-Nyami has become mixed with that history. 

The River God is said to be the god of the Zambezi River, a spirit with the head of a fish and the body of a snake. Traditionally Nyami-Nyami was the provider of sustenance from the River, but when the Kariba Dam was built in 1955 by a majority white government, its construction was said to have separated Nyami-Nyami from his wife and incurred his wrath, causing deaths and accidents during the dam’s creation.

It is a story rich in fantasy and real-life emotions and politics, so it was the perfect subject for our comic. 

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

Willmott: My inspirational words will come in the form of a question which was asked of me, and changed my writing life forever:

“Do you write every day?”

I can’t tell you how many times I have failed at doing this, but I also cannot number the amount of times that question has inspired me to get back to the desk and work. Keep going!

Bryn G Jones

Me: Toby mentioned the story was inspired because you “wanted to draw heavily armed cops going underground to rescue a kid and fight an alien.” Pretty specific premise – what made you think up that scenario?

Bryn G Jones: I really like it when cops have guns. Not so much in real life but certainly in films and comics. As for the alien: the film Prometheus really stuck with me, as did the original Alien films. I thought that setup would have some fun visuals.

Me: How would you describe your art style in River God?

Jones: I like to think that my art style has a certain science behind it. I think about modeling light and how color interacts in each scene. But I don't reference photos that much so I end up with a cartoon-like result I call 'pseudo realism'. 

Me: It’s really interesting to see a painted art style when artwork is often penciled and inked. Why did you choose to go with this method in particular for this book?

Jones: I find big blocks of ink really hard to work with. Some artists do it really well but I'm much more used to working with mid-tones. I'm quite comfortable with my digital tools and for much of my artistic journey I've seen myself as more of a painter. There are definitely benefits to changing the way one creates things. I'm still thinking about styles for my next project.
River God #3 Page 3

Me: Who was your favorite character to draw and why?

Jones: Definitely Elliot. I really like his hairstyle. The circular lenses on his glasses are fun to draw but require a stencil. His distinctive features make him easier to recognize so there's less chance he'll need a re-draw. Great guy.

Me: Why did you found Eleven Comics and how does this publisher differ from others?

Jones: Being the publisher, I get to decide what to draw or write, and when to do it. That was the main reason Eleven Comics started. I've enjoyed the business side of things but it does get stressful when handing over large sums of money. We're different because we're tiny. Really really tiny.
River God #3 Page 4

Me: You recently wrote your first psychological thriller, The Church and the Dime. Can you tell us a bit about this project?

Jones: I read the synopsis of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. I never committed to reading the trilogy, just really wanted to know what all the fuss was about. His ideas about parallel universes inspired me to write something that took place across multiple universes. The Church and the Dime actually ended up being similar to the film Memento. It was my first full length sequential piece. The main character, Jonny Dime, is a head trauma patient trying to find out who killed his wife. Although he ends up spending more time hallucinating.

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

Jones: Have fun doing it. If you don't you'll probably just burn out. 

River God #3 Page 5

Me: Thanks for your time Toby and Bryn!

If you’re interested in reading more River God before deciding whether or not to pledge, a free sample of River God available on the Eleven Comics website.

Do you have a Kickstarter? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on "Kickstart the Week?" Let me know in the comments below or message me on

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