Category Archives: Interviews

Nowhere Man Jerome Walford

Talking About the Award-Winning Nowhere Man

I first heard about Nowhere Man almost two-years ago when Jerome launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring the graphic novels to print. This led me to my first interview with Jerome. Since then, the series itself has gone on to garner a lot of positive press including a Glyph Award.

What piques my interest is the science fiction angle which reminds me a little of Ghost in the Shell. [via Geeks Unleashed]

You recently earned the Glyph Comics Award for Best Male Character for Jack Maguire of Nowhere Man. Can you tell us about that?

The Glyph Comics Awards seek to spotlight the accomplishments of African-American comic artists and noteworthy comic characters of African-American descent, by doing so, this benefits the entire comics community. A panel of judges reviews submissions from mainstream, small press and independent publishers awarding winners across a wide range of categories. Previous Glyph Comics Award winners in the Best Male Character category include Miles Morales from Ultimate Spider-Man published by Marvel Entertainment. Nowhere Man Jacked Up

When it was announced that Jack Maguire was nominated for the Best Male Character Award, I was surprised and excited. Right away I realized what a privilege it was that Jack was nominated, and fairly early in the publishing run of the “Nowhere Man” Series.

I was in attendance at the award ceremony in Philadelphia. When they announced Jack Maguire as the winner. Wow! It was a great moment. I’m very thankful to all the fans that have believed in this character, the series and Forward Comix over the years, particularly the Kickstarter backers who invested in making “Nowhere Man” a reality.

What is it about Jack that makes him such a great character?

Many of the readers have told me that they find Jack Maguire very relatable. Whether it’s attempting to live up to someone else’s dream yet getting lost in their shadow, or trying to protect those we love by not letting them in, I think everyone knows what that feels like. To see those motivations in a comic character helps us to bond with that character. It is a real joy to see that happening among the readers.

Jerome is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for books 4-6. It ends June 7th so go check it out!

Who are some of the other prominent characters in this series?

I would say there are at least five prominent characters in the series, as well as solid set of likeable supporting characters. The other four that are crucial to the series are:
– Detective Rose Yancey: Jack’s partner and love interest.
– Zade: The assassin that inhabits and transforms Jack in order to hunt criminals.
– Captain Simon Whittaker: Head of the police precinct and uncle to Rose.
– Caris: A mysterious character that is attempting to communicate with Jack.

Without giving out major spoilers, what’s changed for Jack between the first trilogy and this new series – Jacked Up?

Nowhere Man You Dont Know Jack At the end of the third book in “Nowhere Man: You Don’t Know Jack”, things took a sharp turn. Rose emerged as being a driving force in the events that unfold and that trajectory will continue for her. In fact, the first book in the second volume is narrated from her point of view. The second book in the “Jacked Up” volume will finally answer, how Jack and Zade came to be in their present state, we will also learn a lot more about Caris with some sequences that will be more experimental and a lot of fun to produce. Book three will be action-packed as Jack races against all odds to complete his task.

You’re doing another Kickstarter campaign for books 4-6, are you still planning a 9-book series or has this grown beyond that initial plan?

A nine-book series is still the plan. I am finishing up the art for books five and six. Each book is 50 pages or more. Book four is on schedule for July of 2014, with books five and six to follow before the end of the year. The Kickstarter campaign essentially sets up a subscription. Backers at a certain level will receive the books on an estimated bi-monthly schedule, either in digital or printed format.

The complete script for books 7-9 is just getting under way. I want to cram in layers of storytelling, the best art I can produce and some experimental approaches. There is a lot of momentum because the fans are really behind it and “Nowhere Man” has been getting a storm of positive reviews over the past three months. The Glyph Comics Award has been a huge boost as well.

Which aspect of the creative process do you enjoy more – the art or the writing?

Art and illustration is my background, so I will probably always enjoy that side of things more, that is where a comic story comes to life. However, I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with being called a writer and I’m taking a lot of steps to sharpen my writing skills. Great comic art supported by solid writing is what makes for a great comic story.

How do you feel about the growth of digital comics and graphic novels?

In my opinion, digital comics and graphic novels are probably the wave of the future. It is quite possible, and not too long from now, that monthlies will be digital only, while trades and graphic novels will be the content that go to print. Digital is a wonderful platform to catch up on a monthly series of interest, widen availability and introduce new content to new readers. However, there is something special about a physical collection, large graphic novel or omnibus – feeling the weight of the work in your hands. That is a simple joy that can not be replaced.

Will you be attending any comic events this year?

I will be doing a series of shows along the east coast. Shows confirmed so far include: New York Comic Con Special Edition in June, Boston Comic Con in August and Urban Action Showcase in New York in November.

What comics are you reading these days?

I am currently re-reading some of my favorites, which include a few books by Jean Giraud (Moebius) and Neil Gaiman, as well as some anthologies, such as “Flight” and “Comic Book Tattoo”. I recently got a copy of “Miranda Mercury” by Brandon Thomas, which is awesome and I’m looking forward to picking up and copy of “Godzilla: Awakening” featuring the inspiring work of Eric Battle.

Is there anything you’d like to mention?

Thanks for the interview and for keeping up with the series. It is always nice to reconnect with bloggers, fan sites and news outlets that have been following “Nowhere Man” from the beginning. Hopefully all the individual books will be enjoyable. The series should make for one amazing journey.

The Kickstarter campaign ends June 7th! Catch it time and be part of making volume two come to life.

To learn more about Forward Comix, visit www.forwardcomix.com

Jacked Up

Bricks of the Dead

Dave from Bricks of the Dead Talks Zombie LEGOs

Many of us are zombie fans and if you’re like me you probably played with LEGOs as a kid. I had buckets of the things, mostly bought at garage sales from rich kids, and I spent hours building huge castles and spaceships. I’d go on building sprees where I’d use every single piece I had or make as many different spaceships as I could. Or I would build sets to use with my other toys.

Even until recently, I had quite the LEGO Star Wars collection. I had the big Batmobile too. But I sold them when I knew I was moving to Korea.

Anyway, I was searching out zombie blogs and came across Bricks of the Dead. Zombies + LEGOs = Badass Mashup

I knew that I just had to share it with you! Luckily, Dave was cool enough to agree to an interview. So, here we are.

Be sure to drop by Bricks of the Dead and enjoy the story.

Bricks of the Dead Interview

Tim: You’ve been doing BotD for 4-years now, how long do you plan to continue making episodes?

Dave: That’s a hard question to answer, honestly. I don’t really have an end-point in mind for the story, just some plot developments I want to get to over time. I change things from my original plan quite a bit too. I suppose I’d have to say “when I get sick of it”. If I hit the point where I don’t enjoy making the comic anymore, I’ll call it quits.

Have any interesting opportunities or friendships come about from running Bricks of the Dead?

Absolutely! I’ve met a ton of really cool people, many of whom I talk to by email and text quite regularly. That’s been the most unexpected positive side-effect of doing the comic. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with a few publishing companies and developers for reviews, which has been really interesting. You get a bit of insight into things that you tend to take for granted. It’s a lot of work to put out a book, movie, or game, and a lot of that work is stuff you’d never think about unless you were in the industry or knew people who were.

You have buildings, vehicles, and houses, how big is your LEGO collection?

I’ve got a fair bit of LEGO. I still have all my collection from when I was a kid, minus a few of the pieces the disappeared over the years. Since then, I’ve been supplementing pretty regularly. I break down most of my sets, with the exception of the modular buildings, and keep everything as organized as possible. I’ve got lots of organizers and bins, but there never seems to be quite enough. Luckily, I’m obsessive compulsive enough that I don’t mind sitting around and organizing. The short answer: quite a bit, but never enough.

Bricks of the Dead

What do you like about zombie stories?

I’d have to start with the monsters themselves. Zombies are just creepy. They’re human enough to be unsettling, and that makes defending yourself harder. In the beginning, people will hesitate because they’ll still believe they’re somewhat human. I tend to favor the slow, shambling style of zombie, because I find that creepier. Sure, you can get around one or two, but once you settle in place, the zombies start to surround you. Eventually, there’s a thick blanket of them around you, keeping you there unless you’re feeling suicidal. There’s a lot of psychological challenges for characters here: feeling trapped, personality clashes with others there, hunger, thirst, dealing with the noise from the zombies outside. It’s a lot to deal with.

Of course, characters have a lot of other things to worry about beyond zombies: hostile survivors, lack of supplies, personality issues within the group, et cetera. There are a lot of different avenues to explore in a zombie story, and every character is different, so their reactions to each situation is unique. There’s just a lot of storytelling potential.

Ted reminds me a little of Dan Rather. Did you have an anchor in mind when you created him?

I didn’t have anyone in mind specifically when I created Ted; I just wanted to play with the trope of the clueless, self-obsessive news anchor. Ted’s a coward and kind of an idiot, but I hope to redeem him a bit as the plot moves forward.

For the character faces, did you have to draw any of those? Or are they all stock LEGO creations?

They’re all stock. I can’t draw, try as I might. I considered Photoshopping the faces, but I wasn’t able to do it well in my early testing, so I settled on just using stock faces. Luckily, LEGO has gotten a lot better about giving us more expressive faces, especially for men without glasses or facial hair. I wish there was a bigger selection of women, and hopefully that will be the case eventually.

Other than survival, what themes does your comic hit on?

I try to hit on a lot of different things. Group dynamics, for instance, have always been interesting to me, so I really try to focus on that. I like to see what happens when you mix together very diverse people. Everyone has different goals and motivations, and a lot of people think they should be in charge, or harbor some sort of resentment for authority. Put enough people in a house surrounded by zombies, and you’ve got a pressure-cooker situations.

Do you have a favorite character?

I certainly do: I’ve always had a soft spot for Sam. He’s sort of soft and docile, but that’s because he’s had a lot of loss and doesn’t really know how to cope with it.

How much story planning do you do? Or do you improvise a lot?

I’ve got a lot of the big story movements mapped out, but I try to leave a lot of room to fill in the blanks in between. I think this works pretty well, because it allows me to be creative and come up with new ideas, but also keeps me moving on the story I set out to tell.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about BotD?

The comic is a ton of fun to do, but for people out there interested in starting their own, I’d say don’t underestimate the amount of work that goes into it. You can put together one comic pretty quickly, and it seems easy to do, but keeping it going over the long haul is a job. It’s a rewarding job, but it’s still work.

Dave, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Keep up the great work, BotD is a cool project!

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.

Bricks of the Dead Episode 9 picture used with permission.

Talking About The Secret Seekers Society with Author JL Hickey

The Secret Seekers Society by JL Hickey I first found out about The Secret Seekers Society on Kickstarter where Joe was seeking funding to help publish his book. Turns out he read my post and offered me a copy of the book as thanks.

I read it and thought it was a really good story. If you’re into fantasy and paranormal stuff then you’ll like Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro.

Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro follows the young protagonists Hunter Glenn, and Eliza Lynn through an adventure ripe with adversity, paranormal monsters, secret societies, and most haunting of all, a life without their parents.

It all happened one fall afternoon when they learned that their parent’s plane had gone down overseas, never to be seen again.

The book follows the siblings as they are dropped off at their new guardian’s home, an ancient and creepy mansion known only as the Belmonte Estate. Here they unravel the secrets of their parent’s true identities, the origin of the mysterious Mansion, and their inheritance into an ancient secret society of monster hunters known as Seekers. [More on Goodreads]

How did you decide to become a writer? How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since grade school. I remember writing short stories about my friends and I exploring pyramids and battling off mummies and ancient curses. I never stopped writing; it’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember. It did however take on many different variations over my life.

In middle school I was drawing and writing comic strips. When high school hit, the internet was rapidly growing in popularity, and I spent many nights up late writing for different websites. I kind stopped for a few years while I was trying to find myself in college. It wasn’t until I took a creative writing course in my sophomore year that I found out I really had some talent. Peers would approach my after class telling me how imaginative I was, and how they wish they could write like me. It was kind of shocking. I was never one to share my works with anyone.

I wrote my first every short story and saw it published in the college’s literary magazine, and I decided despite what anyone said, I was going to chase my dreams and major in Creative Writing.

The Secret Seekers Society is your second novel, how did the writing process compare to the first book?

My first book’s creation from start to finish was a mess. I was so naive back then, and to be honest, I was still developing a lot as a writer. Honing my skills, my voice, pacing. I believe the first book has lots of potential, it’s as imaginative as ever, but being young and unpolished, it’s all hidden underneath some cliche’s. There was no structure to implementing my ideas, I would literally sit down and just see where my pen took me. It’s fun to write like that, but without the process behind the narrative, it can create more of a hassle than any type of help. It’s like driving with a blindfold, you never know where you’re going to go, and it’s easy to drive head first into a wall. Secret Seekers Society was written in six months, compared to 4 years for my first book. It was well thought out and structured. Much easier to write.

The main characters, Hunter and Elly, are based on your niece and nephew. Was it difficult writing about people you know?

Secret Seekers Society No, it was quite easy. If I ever had writers block, I would just hang out with my niece and nephew and listen to them talk and act like the crazy kids they are. Talk about real life characters. A lot of people in my life are represented by characters, whether they realize it or not. I also pull from some famous people who have influenced me as well, fictionalized of course.

What was the most challenging part of the book to write? Writing the book was easy. The self-publication and promotion have proven to be by far the worse/hardest part of being an author. Here I have this book gaining rave reviews from all over the world, yet no one even knows it exists. Major publishers won’t even look at me yet, because I have no name or literary mags outside of my college experience. They also keep claiming that YA is not popular anymore, and they want something more mature. Which, if they read the book would realize despite the characters age range, there is a lot going on in the book for readers of all ages.

What did Hunter think of your inclusion of Liv as a love interest in the book?

As much as I wish he even knew about him having a crush, I would suspect he is clueless. My niece and nephew have not read the book yet. To be honest, Hunter is a mixed bag of characters. Yes, he definitely is a fictional version of my nephew, but he is also a fictional version of myself as a child. I can’t speak for Hunter and how he would act around a girl, I definitely know how I felt at that age, awkward, confused, scared, intimidated.

I think Plato is a really interesting character in the book. Will you be exploring more of his background in future books?

I get a lot of feedback from Plato being one of the most popular characters in the book. Plato is definitely a secondary character in the series, but as the books progress they all flesh out more. Plato is an automaton living in an emotional world, something he struggles with daily. His origin and needs as an individual begin to surface in the second book.

Looking back on The Secret Seekers Society, what is your favorite part or aspect of the book?

I love this book in so many ways. It’s hard to narrow it down to one. If I can cheat, I will say the overall mytho’s I have created surrounding around the mysterious Estate and the people who inhabit within its walls. There is so much intriguing things going on, sometimes as I go back and edit my work, I am shocked it came from me.

What does being a paranormal researcher involve?

It involves a lot. Being a paranormal researcher (I head up a group in Michigan, MIParanormal) I am able to pull a lot from my own research into my works. The second book delves deeper into the paranormal spiritual realm, which is what I spend most of my time as a paranormal researcher investigating.

When can we expect to see The Secret Seekers Society and Solomon’s Seal?

Here is a little hype:

Following directly after the events of the first book, the children start their new lives as future members of the Secret Seekers Society! But first, the children have to go through six years of training, known only as the ‘Enlightenment’. What will the children learn about in their first year? What new friends will they meet?

The story delves deeper into the spiritual realm of the paranormal. Learning about a magical and ancient ring known as Solomon’s Seal, (known to grant its wearer the ability to speak to animals and spirits) the children must decide if playing with the spiritual realm and potentially speaking to their parents one last time, is worth the risk of putting their souls in danger.

With rumor’s spreading that their parents were “double agents” and working with the evil Aten Corp. the children our desperate for answers.

Is the ring real? Does it truly grant its wearer such powers? Or does Solomon’s ring hide a deeper evil?

Get ready for the ride of your life, as nothing is ever as it seems inside of the Belmonte Estate. If you thought there were secrets abound in the first book, just wait until the children unravel even more about the Mansion’s history, the origin of Professor Calenstine, his relationship with the evil Aten, and the truth about the mysteries of the world.

Its called the ‘enlightenment’ for a reason.

[EDIT: The sequel to Beast of Bladenboro is out now. Download Secret Seekers Society and Solomon's Seal]

Thanks for sharing this with us, Joe!

To find out more about JL Hickey’s work visit his website – SecretSeekersSociety.com
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