Friday, July 14, 2017

Kickstart the Week(end) with Prometheus #1

By: Nicole D’Andria

The legend of Prometheus continues in this new comic book series. Follow him as he journeys through the modern day, John Wick style!

In the Greek legend, the titan Prometheus stole the flame of knowledge and gave it to mortals. He was punished by the Gods, who made him suffer for eternity by having an eagle constantly tearing at his liver. This series follows Prometheus after he’s freed from his prison under mysterious circumstances. He looks to see how his gift to humanity was received, and finds our modern world, which is… far from his liking. It turns out the flame of knowledge has been stolen. So Prometheus plans on going John Wick on humanity and stealing the flame of knowledge back.

The Eagle

Prometheus #1 is the first in a five issue mini-series. It is 23 pages long and marks the beginning of Prometheus’s journey to right what he sees as the wrongs of humanity (mainly pop culture, anti-intellectualism and classism). The mini-series is written by Ryan Little, who I previously interviewed about his two other Kickstarters, Lonesomes #1 (a collectible monster comic where the monster is drawn to the main character’s loneliness) and Monster of the Week #1 (a giant monster comic with an Adventure Time tone). The artist is Chris Shehan, who previously illustrated Heirs, a sci-fi story about an alien race that came to Earth when civilization began and made the human race their slaves.

The project has a $1,500 goal that must be met by August 10, 2017 at 12:16 PM EDT. Rewards include a digital PDF ($5) or signed hard copy ($8) of Prometheus #1, plus a signed physical copy of Little’s other work, Lonesomes #1 ($14) and Monster of the Week #1 ($20). There will also be a sketch cover for Prometheus #1 ($40 for early birds and $50 for late comers). View their Kickstarter page for more details.

I’m talking with writer Ryan Little and artist Chris Shehan about how the myth of Prometheus began and how this tale will take it in an all-new direction:

Ryan Little

Me: How does Prometheus differ in this story from the myth and who are some of the other supporting characters we can expect to see from the legend in this book?

Ryan Little: Prometheus is mostly a continuation of the Greek myth, so we'll largely be treading fresh territory. We meet Prometheus moments after he's escaped what was supposed to be his eternal prison and will then follow him on a new quest when he sees the flame of knowledge he suffered so long to give to mortal man has gone missing.

The place where I did take liberties, however, is in Prometheus' actual captivity which we'll learn about as the story progresses. In the original myth he was chained to a rock where an eagle would devour his liver. Each night the liver would grow back, then the process would repeat. In my story, however, Prometheus was locked in a pulpy, Raging Bull style boxing gym where he was forced to fight against a hulking, inhuman behemoth in an Eagle mask. This Eagle, however, would only hit him with shots to the liver, which are notoriously dangerous in boxing, until he died. Then his body would be dumped into a sauna until it regenerated and he'd be drug back into the ring again.

Me: Why did you pick this myth in particular to create a comic book about?

Little: I love finding fun, adventurous ways to dive into complicated subject matter. Prometheus is a comic about this hardened brawler who is devastated when he finds out life on Earth isn't what he thought it was going to be. I think that moment is something everyone can relate to. More importantly, I think it's something that's worth meditating on and exploring as long as you can find a way to make it palatable. Enter Prometheus.

I had been kicking around the idea of doing a modern spin on a Greek myth and realized Prometheus was a character that didn't get much attention. When I really thought about his story and how he sacrificed everything to give humanity a chance, I couldn't help but wonder what he'd think of the modern world. The idea really excited me which is why I jumped at the idea to bring him to the modern world and smash his expectations against our reality. He's physically hardened by his centuries of suffering at the hands of the gods, but nothing prepares him, just like I'm not sure anything can truly prepare us, to face our real world. His journey will pit him in plenty of battles, but more importantly it'll force him to see our world for what it is and decide how to carry on with that information. I think showing a hero of mythical proportions grappling with such a human dilemma was an opportunity too good to pass up.

Prometheus #1 Page 1

Me: Are there any other myths you plan on making comics out of as well? Would it connect with this story?

Little: There aren't any myths per say at the moment, but my next book, which I'm also doing with the glorious Chris Shehan, is a pulpy spin on genies. I adore the idea of exploring people whose soul occupation has been fulfilling the deepest desires of their various owners for hundreds of years. Notice I say fulfilling desires and not dreams, because those things are rarely synonymous. 
Me: You call this a “John Wick style fantasy revenge odyssey.” How exactly can we see John Wick reflected in this story and what about that movie inspired you to adapt it to this story?

Little: My Prometheus is a complicated hero. When I read the original myth about this titan sacrificing everything to give humanity a chance to rise up, I saw an optimist. He gave people potential! He believed in the possibility that lurks within a mortal person. Then my comic thrusts that somewhat naively idealistic person into our very flawed current world and it devastates and enrages him. He's a fractured, traumatized, grieving person, much like John Wick in the beginning of the first film. Prometheus then, also like Wick, deals with his tragedy by giving himself entirely to his quest for retribution.

Prometheus #1 Page 2

Me: How did you find artist Chris Shehan and why did you pick him for this project in particular?

Little: I've had the script for Prometheus for about four years now, while I searched for the perfect artist. Then Chris answered a random online query for talent I posted and he came crusading into this project like a bat out of hell. From the very first bits of character design I knew he was without a doubt my dream artist. He has a style that can nail all the fierce plot moments as well as the complex character work. I thank my lucky stars every time I get pages that he dug the script enough to lend his immense talent to the book.

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should back Prometheus #1?

Little: I can honestly say this is an experience worth the price of admission. It's a completely original story which I think people will find both refreshing and engaging. More importantly, independent books come from a different process than our professional, mainstream counterparts. Each and every book I put out is my career which is why they all get every ounce of commitment I have. My full creative might is in every fight scene and character moment. I think this is a book that functions on a large adventure scale with an equally brutal and earnest character story snuck in. It's a comic that will make your knuckles white and your heart bleed.

Prometheus #1 Page 3

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

Little: I think I'll refer to The Boss, Mr. Bruce Springsteen, for this once and say "you can't start a fire without a spark." Make something! It is the most glorious feeling in the world. I promise any small book you decide to make will automatically become your favorite. You don't have to light the world on fire with your first book; just finish something. Creative endeavors are like lego sets, just start putting pieces together and before you know it you'll have something big and glorious.

Me: You’ve had three Kickstarters in the past and all of them were successful. Can you offer some tips to new creators on Kickstarter trying to make a successful campaign?

Little: I attribute the majority of my success to the fact that I come to these campaigns with my books completed. It allows me to send websites like yours comp advance copies which makes it easier to build some momentum. There is more content on TV and in theaters than ever before. Better yet, there are hordes of comics coming out each and every week and a lot of them are excellent! It isn't enough to make a good book anymore. You have to make a good book that's worth people's time. That's why I finish the books ahead of time so I can get it into my backers' hands as soon as possible to thank them for their support. 

Chris Shehan

Me: Ryan mentioned you answered his online query for talent, which led to you working on Prometheus. What appealed to you about the query that made you answer it?

Chris Shehan: He said "John Wick meets 300." I said "Hell yes." But really, it sounded like a dream project for me. Everything I had worked on up until this point was in a pre-existing sandbox where other artists came before me. The thought that I'd be the character designer, interior artist, and cover artist for a whole series with a great story felt special. To be THE Prometheus artist and not just A Prometheus artist. I feel like Prometheus is as much mine as it is Ryan's. 

Me: How would you describe the art style you use in Prometheus and why did you choose to use this style?

Shehan: I like to use the words "gritty" and "dark" when I describe my work. When I was in college I actually damaged a nerve in my drawing hand. My art used to be much "cleaner" and more polished, but the nerve damage made my hand shake a lot. It frustrated me until I started seeing artists with a slightly messier (grittier) style tell as great of a story with their art as anyone else. So I've been playing with my style for the last few years trying to make my nerve damage work for me. The good side is, people find and hire me for my style, rather than me having to bend my style for certain jobs.

Prometheus #1 Page 4
Me: What was your favorite page to draw in Prometheus #1 and why?

Shehan: There's a scene where Prometheus wakes up from a really long nap. It sounds silly, but there's something about drawing human moments that I love. For me, it's where the magic is. Like those scenes where Spider-Man is on a rooftop eating a sandwich. I prefer the challenge of making people's subtle emotions feel completely real over a straight up action scene. The quiet moments are where you can really tell a story about the characters.

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should back this project on Kickstarter?

Shehan: I think a cliché answer would be "to support indie comics". So that's not my answer. Prometheus is a story for everyone. I know where the story is going and I'd be a massive fan even if I wasn't drawing the book. You'll want to be part of this, so why not be part of it from the very start? If I have a #2 reason for backing it, it's that Ryan always delivers. I've backed his other projects. He won't let you down.

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

Shehan: Make comics! Make them with your friends, make them yourself, find out how they're made and just make comics. Don't wait. Every page you draw is one page closer to the "dream gig". You can literally be a comic artist right now, just start. This is the best advice I've ever gotten.

Me: Thanks for your time Ryan and Chris, best of luck to Prometheus on his journey to find the flame of knowledge! If you’re reading this and want to see more of Prometheus’ journey, check out the official Kickstarter page.

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 my website.

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