Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Indiegogo the Week with Death Dreamer

By: Nicole D’Andria

Are you ready for a dark graphic novel filled with murder and embalming? Death Dream is the first graphic novel written by Scott Ian Lewis, frontman and vocalist for the metal band CARNIFEX. I spoke with him and some of the art team regarding the books dark origins and some other gruesome details!

Death Dreamer Vol. 1 is a 54 pages graphic novel that follows the lives of embalmer Troy Graves and Dr. Julia Sams. After the murder of a city councilman, the two find themselves drawn into a conspiracy that may have a violent end in store for them.

In addition to writer Scott Ian Lewis, the graphic novel is illustrated by Chris DiBari (Hoax Hunters, Magdalena) with colors by Simon Gough (G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes, Ringside).

The Indiegogo campaign, which is trying to raise money for the creative team on the book, has a flexible goal of $30,000. Rewards include a 11" X 17" poster with artwork by Chris Shehan ($5), a signed and hand-numbered edition of Death Dreamer Vol. 1 ($30), as well as an authentic evidence bag, cemetery Pen, and hand-numbered toe tag
($65). If you’re interested in checking out the rest of the rewards, check out their official Dreath Dreamer Indiegogo page.

But before you do that, enjoy an interview with writer Scott Ian Lewis, artist Chris DiBari and colorist Simon Gough!

Me: How would you say your experience as a frontman and vocalist has influenced your writing on Death Dreamer?

Lewis: There are a lot of parallels between writing and releasing an album and writing and releasing a graphic novel. From the writing of the story to everything after that. Turing the script into panels, laying out the book itself are all really similar to planning and releasing an album. Even though it was a graphic novel not an album the process felt very familiar to me.

Me: You included in the pledge rewards an authentic evidence bag, cemetery pen, and a hand-numbered Toe Tag. How were you able to get these and what inspired these rewards?  

Lewis: Everything is available on the internet! We are able to source them online and they fit perfectly with the theme of the book and it ties in with one of the main characters.

Me: Why did you decide to work in a mortuary and why did you eventually decide to leave that profession?

Lewis: I don't know that I "decided" to work at a mortuary. I left high school at 16 and a friend of mine was doing removals. They had an open position and I started doing removals at 16. From there I went on to be a Funeral Director for two years. During that time I seriously considered getting my embalmer’s license but there was a lot about the work that I didn't connect with and I left for a better paying job. Then shortly after that Carnifex began touring full time.

Me: Can you tell us about your most memorable experience when you were working in the mortuary?

Lewis: I'm not sure that I could distill that entire experience down to a single memory. It was a job that left a lasting impression on me. And frankly, most of the moments that left the biggest mark were not good memories. 

Me: What can you tell us about your protagonists, Troy Graves and Dr. Julia Sams?

Lewis: Troy Graves is an embalmer with a long and dark history with violence but I would call him a survivor, not a victim. Where we pick up with him he has a chance to start over but his fresh start is short lived as he's pulled right back into the type of violence he was trying to escape. Dr. Julia Sams is a Medical Examiner and is much different than Troy in that that she has a very black and white outlook on the world. She has a military background that's left its mark on her and a large part of her motivation throughout the story is based on regrets and trauma from her past as well.

Perk #1 - $5

Me: Why did you decide to name the main character Troy Graves? Did you make any connection between him and the real-life serial rapist/murderer of the same name?

Lewis: The name is not connected to any real person. I chose Troy because I was looking for a lead character name I hadn't seen around in a while. Graves was a nod to the profession and the last name I always wanted as a kid, just for fun.

Me: What was it about Chris DiBari, Simon Gough, Chris Shehan and Taylor Esposito's work that made you think each of them would be perfect for this project?

Lewis: This has been an independent project from day one. So I had to connect with artists that were willing to take a chance on working on an indie project. Christian not only did amazing work on the page but also was amazing to work with as we adapted the story from a TV script to a graphic novel. Simon and Taylor both did amazing work and were recommended by Christian. Chris Shehan I found through twitter and I immediately connected with his style. Really fantastic work all around.   

Me: You mentioned that you adapted the story from a TV script to a graphic novel. Why did you choose to change it from a TV script to a comic script?

Lewis: I wanted the story to exist beyond just a file on my laptop. And to see so many great stories being told in a graphic novel format I knew it would be able to convey the tone of the story without losing anything. And it was something I could do without getting a "yes" from anyone. I could hire all the artists myself and self-release it, as we're doing. Interestingly enough, in many ways, the process of adapting Death Dreamer to the graphic novel format improved the story quite a bit.  

Perk #5 - $70

Me: If Death Dreamer did become a TV show and you got to pick whoever you wanted to play Troy Graves and Dr. Julia Sams, who would you have play them and why?

Lewis: That is a fun question. For Graves I'd have to go with Jake Gyllenhaal, he is a favorite actor of mine and through the writing process, I pictured him playing the character to help get the voice of Troy just right. Dr. Sams is a bit more challenging. Rachel McAdams could work. Condola Rashad would be amazing, Eva Green would really compliment the tone of the story.    

Me: This is the first volume of Death Dreamercan you give us a little sneak peek at what is to come in the future? Do you have a second volume planned or a spin-off book?

Lewis: The hope is that we can do a six-book limited series. This story is very much just the start. The fun thing about the thought of being able to do the rest of the series is how much darker and crazier I can take this story. I held back a lot of stuff that I'd love to be able to show everyone now that they've met the characters and have been introduced to the world of Death Dreamer

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

Lewis: This is a totally independent project. There is no publisher behind the scenes or funding. I've paid for as much as I could out of pocket and everything contributed goes to pay for the amazing art and production costs. So if you love comics, buying a copy will go a long way in keeping all the artists working and keep independent comics getting made.

Me: You mentioned that people can also pick up this book at SDCC. Where will you be there and what exactly can people get from you?

Lewis: I'll be doing a number of signing that will be announced on my socials shortly. 

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

Lewis: Do whatever it takes to make your book happen. If you have a vision find like-minded people and make it happen. Don't wait for anyone to give you a "yes". 

Me: How did you become involved with the Death Dreamer graphic novel?

DiBari: Scott had hit me up on twitter last year after seeing some of my art posts. We briefly talked about me doing this, but at that time I was busy wrapping up a Hellraiser story and Magdalena. In the late Fall, when my schedule was open, I hit him back and we went over it on the phone.

Me: How would you describe your art style in Death Dreamer and how does it differ from some of your other projects, such as Magdalena and Hoax Hunters?

DiBari: Neo-Noir with some horror elements. I needed this to be somewhat cleaner, very clear as to what’s happening—I'm usually more gritty, dirty with the inks when I'm drawing horror. But this has some moments when things get messed up—so, it does tap into that horror style here and there.  

Me: What was your favorite page to draw and why that page?

DiBari: Fight scene, two people struggling with a limited amount of time and weapons, say—there’s only one knife, and it was knocked over in the middle of the struggle between these two characters beating the shit out of each other. From the 1st panel to the last in just one page, if I can pull off that scene, I'm happy. 

Perk #7 - $75

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

DiBari: It's an original content, not like anything out there right now from most comic publishers. To be honest, this was the best way to tell the story without interference.

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

DiBari: Draw every day, study film, storytelling—life around you. Let the style come to you after you figure out all the fundamentals. Work hard, it'll pay off later.

Me: How did you become involved with the Death Dreamer graphic novel?

Gough: Through the artist, Christian DiBari. We started working loosely together a year or so ago, just warm-ups and little sketches for coloring practice on my part. We kind of clicked as we both love horror and sci-fi, and had similar views... this (Death Dreamer) was our latest venture together (our last sequential gig was for the Hellraiser Vol. 2 anthology from Clive Barker himself). Christian basically put me forward to Scott and he thankfully liked what he saw! It went from there.

Me: How did you come up with the particular color palette for Death Dreamer?

Gough: I'm not entirely sure there were any influences for me really, not directly anyway. I watched a bunch of similarly themed movies to get a feel for things (Se7en was a great go-to), to push me in certain directions. I use outside sources quite a lot now to kind of guide me, aligning the sources thematically with the work I'm doing. There are a few instances of blood through the book, not often, but well placed. I found it was going to be important to play on those when the time came. Green is an obvious complimentary for those scenes with the blood, and was something I played with often in the darker scenes, or the more somber moments. But, overall, it was important to ground the book in a more natural color scheme, as it's not something with a fantastical element.

Me: What was your favorite page to color and why that page?

Gough: That's a hard one to answer. I'd probably go with page 53, as it's got a great death scene involving some pyrotechnics (no spoilers)! I got to have a lot of fun with that... not often I get a grim death scene to color up!

Front and back cover proofs

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

Gough: Because it's fresh! I get a lot of scripts, and ideas pitched at me. I've had one a week for 10 years probably. After a while, you need to step back and assess what jobs you want to do... That's why you freelance, because a big part of it is job happiness, and that means getting to choose the work. Death Dreamer was a great start to a story with more to be told, and I wanted to know what was gonna happen next. It's not the usual comic, there are no generic elements to it. Scott managed to put together a very interesting story, with some really fleshed out characters.

On a second note... Christian DiBari!! Have you seen the guy’s work? Guy paints with his fingerprints for crying out loud... people should pay to read that even if they don't like reading! The book is top quality from cover to cover, I'm very proud to have been onboard for it, and I know when people read the book, they're gonna really feel that.

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

Gough: Inspirational words—liquid stimulants. Late nights. Napping. Sugary treats. Chasing invoices (not in this case though). References for everything from cars to dilapidated huts. Experimenting when you can. Walking, and taking breaks. Stretching. Maybe get a cat... Oh, and Colour Theory (I think that one's important actually!!).

It's not an easy job, as I expected it to be. But it is very rewarding being a part of an industry that produces things I love. And now I get to do what I love, something I did not expect in this life.

Me: Thank you for giving us some gritty details! If you’re reading this and interested in Death Dreamer, check out their Indiegogo campaign here.

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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