Friday, July 6, 2018

Kickstart the Week(end) with Lifted: Of Gods and Thieves

By: Nicole D’Andria

Today we have thieves-for-hire, led by a teleporting thief who unwittingly will pay a role in a confrontation between the gods! Join me as I talk with creator Shawn Pryor about this journey, which was years in the making.

The story of Lifted: Of Gods and Thieves centers on Sara Jackson, the leader of art and antiquities thieves-for-hire, and the rest of her crew. She steals alongside her adoptive brother Max Jackson, who regrets introducing her to the family business, and high-tech handler Claudette St. Pierre. Her team travels the world to pull off heists based on their clients’ dangerous requests.

Lifted is helmed by creator Shawn Pryor (creator/writer of FORCE, Cash & Carrie) and Chris Murrin (editor/occasional writer of Ghoul Scouts, Athena Voltaire). The comic is illustrated by John Rodriquez (Split) with colors by George Gant (creator of The Reset Button, On the Grint) and Eric White. The letterer is Ringo Award nominee Justin Birch (Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir, Raven the Pirate Princess). The cover artist is Uko Smith, who's worked with various companies like Lucasfilm, Hasbro, DC and Marvel.

The Kickstarter has raised over $7,500 but needs to reach its $8,500 goal by July 8, 2018 at 10:08 AM EDT to be a success! Backers can get the graphic novel as a digital edition ($10) or a softcover copy ($20). There’s also digital and physical deluxe editions available (for $15 and $25 respectively), which include bonus material such as scripts, concept artwork and the phone wallpaper. In addition to numerous other rewards, fans of Shawn Pryor’s can get copies of his other works, including the middle school mystery of Cash & Carrie and the sports book FORCE, both published by Action Lab Entertainment. You can check out the rest of the rewards on the Kickstarter page.

Learn more about the world of Lifted with Shawn Pryor, the creator of the series.

Shawn Pryor

Me: You mention in the Kickstarter that Lifted is a project "years in the making". Can you tell us about when you first got the idea for it and how the process of making it become a reality blossomed from there?

Pryor: Many years ago, me and my friend Keith Cunningham were plotting and scripting an audio drama about a thief-for-hire (Sara Jackson) that has a limited ability to teleport and a team that helps her on every mission to steal art and antiquities. While we were putting everything together, creating characters and storylines, the further we got into the story I felt that it would be better served as a graphic novel and decided to begin the process of making a graphic novel instead.

The main characters of Lifted, Sara Jackson, Max Jackson, and Claudette St. Pierre are inspired from some of my favorite heist and mystery films (Charade, Inception, The Score, The Inside Man) with a touch sci-fi to give the story a special feel. And by making Lifted a graphic novel, you’ll get to see Sara, Max, and Claudette are more than just thieves. They’re a family.

Me: How did you go about picking the creative team for Lifted?

Pryor: The creative team came together in the span of a year or two. As I talked about earlier, Lifted was a project that writer Keith Cunningham and I had made for a radio-drama project that we were going to attempt to produce. Once I decided that we would turn it into a graphic novel, I had met artist John Rodriguez at a convention. He had his portfolio with him and I had asked to see it. His work was fantastic and I had asked him if he was interested in working on the project, and he was down to do it.

We then brought on Chris Murrin to adapt the original radio-drama outline and scripts. Chris is immensely talented and has worked in many mediums as an editor and writer, plus works in television so I knew he’d do a great job. Eric White and George Gant are handling the color work to give the book a distinct vibe and feel, Ringo-award nominee Justin Birch, who has lettered books for many comic book publishers joined the Lifted team a few months back, and we’ve been blessed to have a cover designed by the talented Uko Smith, who has done a ton of concept design work for IDW, Lucasfilm, Hasbro, Heavy Metal, DC, Marvel, and Skystorm.

Me: What are some of the mythological elements readers can expect to see?

Pryor: Devious gods, a character named Bartleby that has elements of Bartleby the Scrivener, elements of Osiris and a few other things that I don’t want to give away. I want people to read the book. :)

Me: Rather than go the traditional publisher route, why did you decide to go through Kickstarter with Lifted?

Pryor: Because I wanted to make sure that I could complete the graphic novel and make sure that everyone on the team is compensated for their time. Plus, for most of us, Kickstarter is where we can find an audience that are willing to look for and want new material to check out and support and they’ve been very supportive of my previous projects, so it made sense to use Kickstarter again to get Lifted off the ground.

No pun intended.

Me: If you had the power of teleportation, what would you do with it?

Pryor: Travel to all types of places because I wouldn’t have to worry about high airfare prices. I’d go to all the restaurants that have been on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and eat all the food. Hahaha. Then I would jump over to Chicago to go to all the museums.

Me: If you could steal anything in the world without any consequences, what would it be and why?

Pryor: I would steal all the original New Gods pages Jack Kirby drew. I loved his concepts and ideas for the New Gods and The Fourth World, and so many creators use his ideas to this day from those pages. They’re gorgeous.

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

Pryor: I personally feel that no one is making a story like this with characters, concept and a story that readers will get attached to and want even more once they finish it. Sara isn’t some type of B-version of Nightcrawler, her character is more than that and her journey from beginning to end takes her on more than just an adrenaline rush. This book is definitely worth your time and money.

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

Pryor: Practice, Patience, Perseverance. When writing, you don’t have to build a world in a day or a character in an instant. Set small goals, accomplish them to combine them into a bigger goal and completed work. There’s no such thing as a perfect first draft or piece, getting something done is better than never doing it at all.

Also, doing a mini-comic or even a web comic is a good way to create on a smaller scale. This way, you can complete a project and prepare yourself for larger works down the road.

Don’t get discouraged. We’ve all had bad days and bad works. All we can do is learn from our experiences and keep writing. Also, read all types of books (comics, prose, etc.) and find out what you’d think you’d enjoy writing or what kind of challenges you want to give yourself. Just write.

Me: Thanks for your time, Shawn!

Pryor: Thank you, and thanks to everyone who has supported Lifted!

Me: If this interview has made you interested, check out these high-teleporting adventures on the Kickstarter page for Lifted: Of Gods and Thieves.

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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