Monday, January 14, 2019

Kickstart the Week with Amelia Sky #3: The Monster Within Tells You

By: Nicole D’Andria

We’re back in the apocalyptic world of Amelia Sky! This time I’m interviewing the entire creative team, from writer to artist to letter to editor, about the alien happenings in this horrifying world!

Amelia Sky #3 continues the sci-fi/horror story of the titular Amelia, a young girl who wakes up in a world nearly devoured by terrifying Shriekers. Suffering from amnesia, Amelia must travel through this dangerous world to find her parents. Along the way she’ll make (and maybe lose) friends, fight for her life, and learn secrets that may change everything.

This series is written by Jermaine M. Boyd with color washed artwork for this issue done by Gwynn Tavares. Letters are by Kuen Tang and Brittany Matter handles editing duties.

The creators of Amelia Sky are trying to raise $5,200 with this Kickstarter by January 27, 2019 at 1:44 AM EST. If they do not meet their goal the first time around, they plan on revamping their campaign and relaunching it the week after it ends.

Rewards for the Kickstarter include digital ($5) and physical ($10) copies of Amelia Sky #3, plus digital copies of the previous issues to get you caught up ($15), concept photos ($20), exclusive bookmarks ($30), buttons & laminated covers ($40), plus even more. If you’re reading this and interested in checking out the rest of the rewards for this horrific apocalypse, visit the AmeliaSky #3 Kickstarter.

Update (2/12/2019): The first Kickstarter was unfortunately unsuccessful, so the creators relaunched it with a new $4,500 goal. You can pledge the new Kickstarter up until March 13, 2019 at 10:08 PM EDT here.

I interviewed Jermaine Boyd, Gwynn Tavares, Kuen Tang and Brittany Matter below!

Jermaine Boyd

Me: For readers unfamiliar with the Amelia Sky universe, what do they need to know about issues 1 and 2 to understand issue 3?

Boyd: Yes, the path that leads to Issue #3 will help readers understand the state of the world after the Shrieker apocalypse. Issue #1 and #2 establishes just how empty the world has become. While driving home that there are still some pockets of good that exist. 

Issue #3 takes you a little further out into the wild. The pockets of good are few and far between. We begin to learn that the Shriekers haven’t just devoured most of humanity. They’ve caused most people that still exist in the world to be brought to insanity by fear.

Me: You mention that you were inspired by women like your mother and your sister. How did they specifically inspire Amelia Sky?

Boyd: Growing up in a single parent household meant my mother was a very central pillar to who I am today. When I was a child her strength and her will power inspired me. She was the first superheroine I ever knew existed. A feminist, an artist, and a healer were her super powers. And no matter how many villains gathered around her, she always found a way to win. My mother taught me this: no matter how dark things become, there’s always a way out. There’s always a way to win.

Her words of wisdom have always inspired me. I always knew I wanted to share some of the gifts she instilled in me with others. I’ve always wanted to inspire others the same way I was inspired as a child.  

Me: Of all the women in Amelia Sky, who would you most want to travel with if you were in their world and why?

Boyd: It would have to be Amelia. I say this because I know the future. I know what she is and what she’ll eventually become. I would say this even looking at where we are now in her storyline. As her powers unfold the readers will begin to see how she’s specifically crafted to kill these seemingly indestructible beings.

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

Boyd: The uniqueness of Amelia’s story within the sci-fi and horror genres is evident as soon as you see the cover for issue #1. The world was created to show how women of all creeds and colors could unite and save the world. If not better than any male counterpart apocalypse story before it. This story has a special ability to cut across all genders ultimately. My hope is that its message of equality will send a shockwave through the male dominated comic book industry. I hope its ripple effect causes new and amazing indie female artists that haven’t been seen to come into the light.

Me: What advice do you have, in addition to the advice you’ve previously given us for issues 1 and 2, for aspiring comic book artists?

Boyd: My advice would be to always create a story that not only inspires you but inspires others. Something that’s unique and everlasting won’t be worth anything if it doesn’t come from something more.  

Gwynn Tavares

Me: How would you say your art has evolved in the Amelia Sky series through issues 1-3?

Tavares: Hugely, I mean, there is still stuff I want to be better at. The high demand and work turnout is just incomparable to anything. I work about 10 to 12 hours a day just drawing; I cut down from 15 to avoid burnout, but 11 is the sweet spot. Once I exceed that, things start to get a little...weird. I still get burnout though. I can see when my work starts devolving and it’s a constant fight to keep my brain from nose diving into exhaustion towards the end of a comic. It takes a lot of focus. I work on other little art projects, both personal and paid, after I put in a full day of drawing comics just to trick my brain into thinking it gets a break.

Comics are unlike any other form of art I have done. It is just creation; I used to be a sculptor. When I started out the guy I worked with making these huge public installations would always say that sculpting is 1% creativity and 99% hard work. With comics it’s just all creativity. One is constantly trying to keep it interesting; camera angles, consistency with characters and dialogue and every little thing has to be executed just right or all your hard work is for nothing. When I was a sculptor, I remember hitting a nine-foot pile of clay with a rock for a solid month and going out for leisurely long lunches while I waited for urethane to set up in a mold. Don’t get me wrong, I still put in that 60-hour work week. But with comics, I have never been a better and more terrible artist. It really lets you know your flaws.

Amelia Sky #3 Excerpt

Me: What was your favorite page to illustrate in this issue of Amelia Sky and why is it your favorite?

Tavares: Oh god, I feel really bad about this, ‘cuz it’s such a visceral scene. It is also not all that well drawn. But, it’s the scene after Eleanor wanders through her friend’s abandoned convenience store and finds her friend had killed herself in one of the bathroom stalls. I was working on another comic book at the same time because I was almost finished with Amelia Sky. I was completing two pages a day, I was on this weird drawing streak and this page kind of came out of nowhere; it is drawn gritty and it is horrible and sad and just bleak. It wasn’t a jolly good feeling completing it, it was a sort of realization. I think about it sometimes even though it has almost been a year since I drew it. It just doesn’t feel like something I drew.
Me: Of all the women in Amelia Sky, who would you most want to travel with if you were in their world and why?

Tavares: That world is so terrifying. Not Eleanor ‘cuz she wants to go around and do the right thing and maybe, just maybe, I could convince Amelia that we should hang out in an underwater sea bunker 'cuz she is still unsure about who she is, so I think she could fall for being a super coward with me and just hide.

Haha, I am like all the people who suck in that story. The ones who see something bad happening and just hide and go crazy. I'm not that way in real life, as a kid barged into the middle of fights and yelled at bullies, but, alien monster invasion is where I draw the line. That's my “nope”.

Amelia Sky #3 Excerpt

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

Tavares: I've recently had enough money to start pledging to people’s projects again! And I love it. I love knowing I am able to support some great creative minds. It feels good too. I just helped out on a thing for a guy who is taking the next step in his coffee company, and it was just like, “Yes! The world needs more coffee! The world needs better coffee!!” I know a lot of terrifically creative people and a lot of them just give up before they start projects; it’s heartbreaking. I have talked and tried to motivate many of them when they came to me for advice, but my words fall dead no matter how excited they seem.

People who do things like GoFundMe or Kickstarter are really hard workers creating something cool. Kickstarter isn't like it was when it started, people aren't just throwing money around for something like a potato salad that rakes in $50 grand. The people doing projects on there are really busting their buns creating something they believe in, something they want to give the world. The money is just a part of that fight.
Once I have the time I really want to work on an art project where all the money goes to ocean conservation. People can get a comic book and then also save the planet. It’s such a wonderful platform to support the things you enjoy.
Amelia Sky #3 Excerpt

Me: What advice do you have, in addition to the advice you’ve previously given us for issue 2, for aspiring comic book artists?

Tavares: Since you have all taken my advice from issue 2 and have successfully trampled all those nagging things that were keeping you from drawing every day, it's time for my issue 3 advice:

Travel. Traveling and drawing is more affordable than having a regular job and rent. Check, they are super cheap. I just got a $250 plane ticket to France from them. I know I sound a little crazy, but, I meet artists all the time while traveling who are doing the same thing. I met this writer who babysits summer resorts in the winter and writes all winter long. Just like in The Shining, but without that pesky spouse and kid to have to murder. So, she gets a lot of work done and she does it while not having to pay rent.
Art is a wonderful thing to dump your time into, and everything you do is a huge investment that builds a body of work that can bring in jobs. It is the only job I have ever had that the harder I work the more I get out of it. Most jobs are never like that; I have worked myself to injury for jobs and was treated no better than people who didn’t lift a finger. I didn’t mind that, it was my choice to work that hard, but, why spend your time on something that brings you nothing? With art, I can assure you that what you put in, you will get out. It is a reward system that actually works.

Show the art you're proud of to everyone, disappear or redo the art you're ashamed of. I see people that are great artists all the time just shrug around and they don’t do anything with it. Some people love sitting around for hours talking to me about powering though the first steps to their life as an artist but they never take those steps. They blame others for getting in the way or life being too busy or all sorts of tiny excuses that I and a ton of other artists trample every day. There will never be a perfect time. You will never wake up, jump out of bed and think “I feel it, today is the day I start drawing 15 hours.”

I’m not sure, maybe you have to love it more than you love anything else. I’m not sure if I am set up to give advice. I can remember what it’s like to hate sitting down and drawing, feeling like a failure, not knowing why the pen, my hand and my brain were so disconnected. I’ve done that dumb thing where you stand in the shower crying your eyes out using up all the hot water because I didn’t know why I couldn’t just sit down and draw. I don’t know the key to that; I thought I did. There is a huge frustration with knowing what you're capable of and not knowing why you can’t just do it.

There is something I see all the time with people on social media and it’s about them hiding in bed because they don’t want to hang out with friends or socialize. I get it, when I bagged groceries the thought of going out into the world and doing something where I had to stand and use my brain for words was exhausting. The only difference between that and work was that I didn’t have to wear a name tag.

I think there is something to that though. I’m going to do that silly thing motivational speakers do, where they quote someone all pretentious like, but: the Dalai Lama once said, “The way you wake up every morning is what you bring to the rest of your day.”

Kuen Tang

Me: How did you become involved with Amelia Sky?

Tang: If I remember correctly, Jermaine contacted me after reading an article about me at ComicsAlliance, then checked out my website after.  He was so polite and invited me to re-letter a page from issue one. After I did, he loved it and asked me to join the team right away. I was very glad as I really loved the story and the art.

Me: What kind of lettering style did you choose to go with Amelia Sky and how did it go with the vibe of this particular apocalyptic universe?

Tang: Amelia is like a suspense/horror film that keeps readers on the edge of their seat. In order to set the proper mood for the suspense, without the support of sound effects in a movie, I had to find something special to guide the readers and create that suspense. I was inspired by my favorite letterers Rus Wooten (The Walking Dead) and Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night). To match the art, story and mood, I played with color and irregular shaped speech balloons, bold color and interesting font to adjust the fear and loud suspense accordingly… and placement of the balloons carefully to lead the reader’s eyes to the place of action.

Me: Of all the women in Amelia Sky, who would you most want to travel with if you were in their world and why?

Tang: I would love to travel with Amelia. Her life is so interesting, never a dull moment and a unforeseen twist at every turn… traveling with her is like testing one’s inner strength and courage, measure one’s resiliency, and proving Darwin’s theory of evolution: the strongest survive.

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

Tang: People should pledge to Amelia because this comic has unbelievable twists and turns in the plot. It will keep you guessing and in suspense… it’s like watching all of your favorite suspense horror movies all at once.

Me: What advice do you have for aspiring comic book letterers?

Tang: Follow your gut and be the camera man of the comic. Not everyone can be a letterer without understanding the art of this trade. Reading more comics from great letterer will help you sharpen your own skills.

Brittany Matter

Me: How did you become involved with Amelia Sky?

Matter: Jermaine found me on LinkedIn! We started talking about the kind of editing he needed for Amelia Sky #2, and then I ended up helping with its Kickstarter shortly thereafter.

Me: Of all the women in Amelia Sky, who would you most want to travel with if you were in their world and why?

Matter: I would totally travel with Eleanor and Ace because they are survivalists, and I’m totally not at all. Though I can can. Badum-tss.

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

Matter: Amelia Sky is getting even creepier and if you like stories that make your skin crawl, this is the issue to back!

Me: What editing mistakes do you notice the most when you’re working with comics?

Matter: Continuity Errors: Sometimes it’s the little details that end up contradicting major plot points, and no one wants that. I think there’s a lot to balance with script writing, like creating panels with clear direction, remembering each character’s voice, world-building, sound effects, etc. The writer is juggling a lot before they get to collaborating with their co-creators, so they miss things that could be vital to their story.

Overwriting: Overwriting is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a problem in comics when writers bloat their panel descriptions with too much character information, for example. Whether it’s including a range of emotions or one character physically doing too many things, this overwriting leads to confusion for the artist who doesn’t know which emotion/action to convey.

Formatting Errors: These errors include narration captions without character names and misnumbering the lettering elements.

Outdated Scripts: I typically edit scripts but sometimes writers want me to review the art after it’s done, specifically before the lettering stage. As such, the script and art don’t match up since things can change after a collaborator is added. So the letterer ends up working with an outdated script that doesn’t match the art leaving them confused with where things go if the art and panels are drastically different than the script.

Me: What advice do you have for aspiring comic book editors?

Matter: For those looking to become editors, I recommend going to conventions and meeting people. I got my first comic book editing gig by going to a con and getting to know creators. It also helped that I mentioned I was an editor seeking work and I had business cards at the ready.

Furthermore, I suggest reading comics and scripts. It sounds obvious but there’s a lot to learn from reading and subsequently analyzing them. Doing so will showcase what works and what doesn’t in terms of pacing, character voice, world-building, formatting, and organization. Some good places to start include Comics Experience where they maintain an archive of scripts and CreatorResource where they have contract templates and creative resources.

Me: Thank you, everyone, for adding to the post-apocalyptic landscape of comics! If you’re reading this and interested in checking out Amelia Sky, see the third issue’s Kickstarter 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.

Other “Kickstart the Week” features:

No comments:

Post a Comment