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The Truth Shall Set You Free in Blanco

Blanco

Blanco is a 64-page black and white post-apocalyptic sword and sorcery graphic novel currently being funded through Kickstarter. Co-created by writer Marco Lopez and artist David Brame, it features lettering by DC Hopkins and is edited by Derek Ruiz.

In a post-apocalyptic future where mankind has long since been dead and Medieval Kingdoms, control their people with an iron fist. The religious rule is the order of the day and Blanco, is one of the most beloved warriors in the Kingdom of the seraph Azrael.

He and his brother Cain hunt the heretics who dare defy their father’s law. Zealots of a new apocryphal belief that is spreading across the Five Kingdoms and the Middling Lands.

When Blanco discovers a band of heretics is heading through the Outer Zone to a safe haven, they call New Eden. He decides to make an example of them, but what he finds in the Outer Zone will literally change his perception of the world he lives in.

We got to chat with the creative team about the series, its influence and the democratization of comics.

You can back Blanco now and help it reach its goal of $3,900.

Graphic Policy: So, tell us a a bit about Blanco.

Marco Lopez: Well, not to repeat what I said in the campaign. But Blanco is about a Nephilim in the service of the Kingdom of the Seraph Azrael. And he is one of the most beloved soldiers in his father’s service and a fundamentalist who blindly follows his father’s will. But eventually, that blind faith is going to open him up to a truth that, as the old saying goes, will turn his world upside down.

David Brame: Blanco was Marco’s idea. He contacted me and I thought it was a brilliant idea and decided to put my sauce in the mix.

Blanco

GP: Where did the idea come from?

ML: It’s been so long since I came up with the idea of Blanco that I don’t remember the exact details. I vaguely remember thinking about the old 70s Jack Kirby DC comics. The whole 4th world and other titles he created. I’m a huge fan of pulp storytelling. Whether it’s The Shadow or The Phantom or Conan, John Carter and Tarzan. I love the whole aesthetic. I think it mostly came from my love of Kamandi, OMAC and Hanna Barbera, and Ruby & Spears action-adventure cartoons. I also wanted to do something that was postapocalyptic where the world reverted to a past time. It doesn’t really make any sense that we’d revert back to medieval or 18th-century tech or whatnot but, I loved that about cartoons, and I wanted to do something similar. Kamandi but without the last human boy as the lead. All of man is gone, and all that’s left are humanoid animals. Or so they’re led to believe.

DB: I’ve always wanted to work together with someone who wanted to do an andro/anthro story and Marco and I vibed really well on what kinds of stories we liked to tell. We both had a love of ban Dessine and European comics. Large format, cinematic storytelling, sweeping saga-like beauty—we are blending 70s pulp sword and sorcery with contemporary euro stylization all bookended by post-apocalyptic furry content. What’s not to love.

GP: How did the team come together for this?

ML: David was the original artist back in 2010 when I first came up with Blanco but, he had to drop out because of a job opportunity. Fast forward 9 years later, and I was pitching this to publisher 133art. I think I talked to David a bit about it back then, but I don’t think either of us made the connection on the 2010 version. I mean, it had been 10 years. 133art was really high on David drawing this, and so was I, and David loved the idea, so he came on board but then 133art had to back out when they started their distribution arm. So, I talked to David about it, and we took it over to Subsume, and the rest, as they say, is history. During all this, I did find those old designs and realized David was the artist back then. I hit him up about it, and we had a good laugh about how the world is so small. It really shows you this was meant to be that 10 years later, we’re working together again on Blanco.

DB: I partied a lot back then so there is a solid decade of fuzzy memories. I vaguely remembered the Blanco project when Marco hit me up but then things clicked in place once I saw the artwork. My first thoughts were “cool idea—but we can do better” fast forward a few scribbles and doodles and chats we developed the Blanco pages we are previewing.

GP: There’s a lot of fundraising platforms out there. You originally chose Indiegogo but switched to Kickstarter. Why the change?

Marco: The main reason for the change was the political turmoil that was going on back in January. It was the main talk on social media, and unless you’re a name creator, it’s easy to get drowned out in all that talk. Also, we decided to drastically lower the goal. Our aim is just to get this book out. Get it funded. Get it out. There are other avenues after Kickstarter’s success in which we can further release the book.

Also, while I think Indiegogo has better options and is easier to set up and navigate than Kickstarter. Kickstarter is the leader of the pack here. So, it was best when relaunching to start there first. We’re not leaving IGG behind. Our plan is to either go IGG In Demand after the close of the campaign or create an IGG when we reach the goal and have it run for the remainder of the KS campaign and then have that go In Demand.

If you have two top platforms for raising funds, there is no reason to not use both. It would be idiotic to do so otherwise.

David: We agreed the timing and the platform wasn’t a great fit. So we tried again!

GP: Out of the two platforms, what are you noticing the big difference is?

Marco: For me, I think there’s a larger audience for comic books and graphic novels on Kickstarter. Though that’s rapidly changing over at IGG. It’s basically the difference between, let’s say, CGC and CBCS when it comes to who you want to go with grading your comics.

CGC is the older and more trusted brand. But that doesn’t mean you should discount CBCS. Also, I think Indiegogo tends to favor more slam-bang action-type comics. That’s not to say KS doesn’t either, but if you’re a nobody putting out that type of comics, IGG might be more for you.

David: I honestly haven’t put my finger on it. I think any quality project with good visibility can be crowdfunded on any platform. I suppose it seems to be more about luck timing and the hard work that precedes the launch as well as the deliverables. I think most people are hungry for content right now especially those in the sword and sorcery fandom and we are happy to give it to them

Blanco

GP: You mention it a bit on the project page, but there is a lot of comics released, and crowdfunding platforms provide another avenue for consumers. What are your thoughts about the choice’s creators have today for their releases?

ML: Unless the only thing you want to do is write for Marvel and DC. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But you need to get your work out there and build a fanbase. And crowdfunding helps with that. Even the most popular webcomics eventually crowdfund collected print editions or merchandise. Crowdfunding is making it easier than ever to self-publish and build yourself into a force to be reckoned with. It’s not easy, of course, or everyone would be doing it. But it’s another arsenal in the distribution of stories. Especially if you can’t do it all yourself in comics.

DB: Crowdfunding is a boon for independent creators. Initially relegated to hawking your merch in sweaty artist allies and praying for the big 3 to pick you up, being an indie comic artist was a tough road. I would say with all these new accessible options for distribution, printing, and dissemination being an Indie creator now is only based on visibility. We are finding that there are niche markets and subcultures in the comics spectrum everywhere. The crowdfunding independent model has allowed us to tell a plethora of stories and we are excited Blanco gets to be apart of that.

GP: Do you think crowdfunding has democratized the comic industry in a way with consumers voting with their dollar to make projects happen?

ML: I think it has because that is always the answer to any entertainment industry. Does it sell? If the publishers don’t believe your idea or story will sell, you can prove it to them. The American comic book industry still isn’t there with the wide variety it should be publishing. Like, say Manga, or European comics. But it’s getting there, and until it does. Crowdfunding proves even the weirdest or controversial, and even old-school ideas are worthy of people’s money.

DB: Absolutely democratized. However, We are still left with the pay to play model—meaning if you have more money or resources to advertise or connect to your audience you’re likely going to have a higher success rating even within the indie world. But with that said as creators, our goal is to entertain and to craft new and interesting ways of telling stories. Blanco is for sure something that’s not a wasted vote.

GP: You describe the series as Conan with great anthropomorphic characters. Did you always want to do anthropomorphic? Were there thoughts of just using humans or some fantasy race?

ML: The characters were always going to be anthropomorphic. You can thank a childhood of Don Bluth, Rock and Rule, Disney Afternoon, and other animated films and series. It’s always been my dream to combine the aesthetic of something like those titles in a brutal adult world.

DB: For sure. As a young artist from the 80’s lots of start with Disney and Nickelodeon as our understanding of cartoonish characteristics. I’ve always wanted to make anthro work and even more after seeing what was being done with Manga, Anime, and Blacksad.

GP: With that, were there thoughts about the animals and their representation? There’s a lot of stories with anthropomorphic stories where the animals themselves have a deeper meaning.

ML: No, there isn’t really anything behind the different humanoid animal species. They’re not supposed to parallel any human ethnic groups of today or cultures. The one difference, though, is they’re all mammals. You won’t see humanoid birds walking around or anthropomorphic reptiles.

DB: Marco had no directions for me in terms of the animals belonging to specific tribes or whatever there’s just barbarians and not barbarians. Visually though I needed linchpins to help craft the setting, visual mechanics, and how this post-apocalyptic place came to be. Each place we visit will have remixed elements of lots of ancient and contemporary design—I used lots of Bantu, Igbo, Mongolian and Korean elements. Blanco was originally based off a wolf but there are so many wolf stories I opted to base his design on an African Wild dog. I took it a step further and decided the clothing artifacts weapons everything will be distinct to help immerse readers into the world of Blanco.

GP: You mention Conan, Secret of Nimh, and Brian Jacques Redwall as influences, what else are some of the stories influences and inspiration? And are you trying to traumatize people my age with Secret of Nimh!?

ML: Blacksad is an influence, but you won’t see it until the third volume. I’m also inspired by Oscar Martin’s Solo. Everyone in the U.S. should be reading that. He’s an amazing artist and storyteller. Everything Jack Kirby did at DC comics in the 70s. Like I said before, the old action-adventure Hanna Barbera and Ruby-Spears toon and John Carter. And yes, I am trying to traumatize people our age. haha I loved me some Bluth.

DB: I may have a heart of stone because I missed out on the trauma I was like ‘oooh mice’ Blanco will evoke feelings of darkness and brutality but also moments of quiet austere beauty. I have been looking at a lot of HR Geiger, Paul Pope, Jeff Smith, Bill Watterson, Gojima, Otomo and Jae Lee leading up to Blanco as well streaming as many Attenborough docs I can find.

GP: I see the religious rule and I can’t help but think there an overarching influence of religion in our real-world society. Is there some greater themes/meaning to the series or is it just entertaining sword and sorcery?

ML: There will be in the story things I touch on. I grew up Catholic, but I grew up in an open-minded household. I never had communion and was always taught to challenge ideas. But I also grew up with a fascination with religion and the bible. Why people turn to religion and the use of religion for control. I read the Book of Revelations during a major hurricane when I was a teen in Puerto Rico. But as a writer, I believe that in any story character should be first, plot second, and what you’re trying to say third. Anytime you push what you want to talk about in society upfront. Then you’re characters just become a soapbox, and people stop caring. Make them care about the characters, and the rest will find its place.

DB: I have no religious message to convey other than through the art historian aspect of remixing these motifs.

GP: You mention this is hopefully the beginning, how much of the series and world do you have sketched out? Is there a “Blanco bible”?

ML: I’d like to do at least 8 volumes. Each one is the equivalent of a three-issue mini-series. After volume one, I have volumes two through four roughly mapped out, and I know where the series ends and where Blanco ends up. And yes, I have a rough bible and a series of notes I keep every time a new idea, plot, or character piece pops into my head. So, hopefully, with everyone’s help, this first volume becomes a smashing success and will lead the way to more. Adonai speaks to us in our sleep. Adonai wants us to tell the stories of Blanco’s world. Of the world to come. Help us fulfill Adonai’s wishes.

DB: I would love to retire doing Blanco stories. My dream is to have quarterly issues that people ravenously devour and flame me online wondering why there can’t be ten of me making more! But I’ll settle for 8 issues, some spin-offs, and maybe an omnibus hardcover reprint someday in the future.

GP: Thanks so much for chatting and we’re excited to read it. Backed!

Exclusive: Heather Antos Takes Us Into the Shadowy World of Shadowman

Shadowman #1

Shadowman #1 debuts on April 28th! The debut issue from master of horror Cullen Bunn and acclaimed artist Jon Davis-Hunt, with color by Jordie Bellaire and lettering by Clayton Cowles will soon be unleashed on the world.

Jack Boniface is SHADOWMAN, a powerful protector who keeps humanity safe from the demons that claw at the fabric of our reality.

The forces of darkness are awakening and they are hungry for life. Will Shadowman be able to save us all, or will the darkness devour the world as we know it?

We got a chance to talk to editor Heather Antos about the series and its place in the Valiant universe.

Graphic Policy: Hey Heather, hope you’re well! Being completely honest, this book was better than I ever expected – y’all must be excited to finally have it seeing the light of day?

Heather Antos: I’ll take “better than expected” any day — and I expected it to be great! So, huzzah! I am beyond thrilled that Shadowman #1 has finally hit the stands. I first approached Cullen about this project…gosh…a little over TWO years ago now? After pandemic delays it’s hard to believe we’re finally out there!

GP: If you had to describe Shadowman to a new reader, how would you do it?

HA:  A quick TL:DR on Shadowman: Jack Boniface is a musician by day, and a demon hunter by night, essentially (Okay, it’s a liiiiiiiiiittle more complicated than that). He was born into a legacy of protecting the realm of the living from the darkness of the Deadside partnered with the Shadow Loa Bosou, but it’s not the lifestyle he would’ve chosen for himself. Torn between the life of the living and the world of the dead, Jack has to put his responsibility to protect humanity above all else. He’s a little bit Voodoo…a little bit rock ‘n roll, ha!

Shadowman #1

GP: How did the collaboration with Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt come about?

HA: Cullen Bunn and I are longtime collaborators, but I’m even a longer time fan of his horror work. For years we talked about trying to do a horror project together but it just never quite worked out…until Valiant. When I started at the company Shadowman was top on my list of characters I wanted to take a stab at — he was the first Valiant character I ever read, after all — and I knew exactly the writer for the job. As for Jon, we had never worked together previously, but I was an instant fan of his work when I saw him in Vertigo’s THE CLEAN ROOM. His open line inking style is great for horror as it misleads the reader into thinking everything is “safe”…and then you turn the page and see the grotesque horror unleash! He’s truly genius in his storytelling and is absolutely bringing his A-game in every panel.

GP: Shadowman and horror feel like chocolate and peanut butter (though maybe fire and brimstone is a more appropriate analogy…). Where did the direction for the comic come from? Was it something you had in mind before Cullen came on board?

HA: Sort of? I mean, yes, I knew I wanted to take Shadowman in a more distinct horror direction going in, but I also knew that Cullen Bunn was the writer I wanted to approach off the bat. Luckily, he said yes and turned in the most perfect pitch. The rest is history!

Shadowman #1

GP: The first issue is (almost) a complete story in and of itself; was that a happy accident or part of a larger plan?

HA: Making sure each issue was a complete story was absolutely a discussion Cullen and I had during the development of this series. One of the biggest things I wanted to make sure we explored in this series is how the Deadside looks and affects other parts of the world outside of New Orleans. The veil between worlds is wearing thin, so in each issue we see Jack travel the world in order to hunt down whatever it is that is causing these “cracks” to break between dimensions.

GP: There’s a fine balance between horror and crossing that line into gore. Is that something you’re thinking about with the series?

HA: One of the cool things about the Horror genre is that the word “horror” paints a different picture in every person’s mind. For some, it’s 90s slasher films…for others, jump scares…monsters in the night…supernatural beings…tension building thrillers…and we want to explore them all! Like every issue is a complete “episode” that adds to a larger story, we wanted to explore the different ‘tastes’ of horror throughout every issue as well.

GP: Shadowman stands out as the “horror” series of the Valiant Universe which right now is very superhero and sci-fi based. What type of work, if any, goes into making sure this series still “fits in” with the rest?

Shadowman #1

HA: What I love about the Valiant universe is the central themes of the characters have less to do with “genre” and more so to do with the characters and the roles in which they find themselves. Exploring themes like “what is the responsibility of power” is a stronger component to tying the universe together — something we see in spades with Shadowman.

GP: This might be the first time I’ve ever felt sorry for a demon. Not to spoil, but there’s a touching moment in all of the horror from an unexpected place. When developing the first issue, what was your reaction to that part? It feels unusual (in a good way) for this genre of story.

HA: Even in horror, there are two sides to every story. And without spoiling TOO much from this first issue (GO READ IT, PLEASE!!!!), it’s important to remember that not all is as it seems on page 1. Shadowman has a mystery on his hands. Why is this demon in the living Earth? And how can he stop it from happening again? What brought it here…now?

GP: If you had to design a soundtrack/playlist to read Shadowman to, what would you include? 

HA: I hear the big fans over at A SOUND OF THUNDER have created just the song for this — “The Veil (Theme from Shadowman)”! Also, from my own collection, I’d HAVE to add Coheed & Cambria’s “The Dark Sentencer”.

GP: Thanks so much for chatting. Now that I’ve read the first issue, I can’t wait to read more!

The Bad Idea Crew Reveals Some Very Good Ideas. We Get the Scoop on the New Publisher

We were joined by the Bad Idea crew to talk about the comic publishing company that’s doing things a bit differently. The publisher sees its first comic release this week with ENIAC #1.

Joining us:

  • Dinesh Shamdasani – Co-CEO & Co-Chief Creative Officer
  • Warren Simons – Co-CEO & Co-Chief Creative Officer
  • Hunter Gorinson – Publisher
  • Joshua Johns – Director of Marketing
  • Atom Freeman – Sales Consultant

Since the filming, we learned how the publisher will handle new printings of their comics.

So dive in and find out about a comic publisher that’s shaking up how it’s done.

Stick around after the interview to see the comics coming only to comic shops.

Denton J. Tipton Talks Editing Comics, Chasing the Dragon, and his Imprint Magma Comix Plus Art Preview Commentary

Magma Comix is a new line of creator-owned comics imprint of Heavy Metal Entertainment headed up by Denton J. Tipton. The first title, written by Tipton, Chasing the Dragon debuts on February 24.

We got to talk to Tipton about the new imprint, his creator-owned series, what does it mean to “edit” a comic, and what does he do as head of an imprint. Find about all of that and more!

Magma Comix launches in spring 2021, and titles include:

Amber Blake: Operation Dragonfly by Jade Lagardère and Butch Guice – on sale March 31, 2021
The Modern Frankenstein by Paul Cornell and Emma Vieceli – on sale April 28, 2021
Chasing the Dragon by Tipton and menton3 – on sale February 24, 2021

Plus, check out a preview of Chasing the Dragon #1 below with commentary from Tipton!

Page 12 introduces us to Chasing the Dragon‘s female lead, Jyn. This her first day on the job at the Obsidian Castle, the seat of power in this world. Jyn’s “job” is sex slave.

Page 15 gives us a good look at our male lead, Andre, in his natural environment, an alchemical lab. The old man is his mentor, Master Alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, who serves the Duchess residing in the Obsidian Castle.

Page 17 is a minor spoiler showing Andre and Hermes visiting the Obsidian Castle, where they’re sure to cross paths with Jyn, and the Duchess, of course.

Dennis Hopeless and Heather Antos Talk Upgrades, International Threats, and Milk and Pie in Valiant’s X-O Manowar

X-O Manowar #4 cover by Christian Ward
X-O Manowar #4 cover by Christian Ward

Does Manowar make the armor? A new threat towers over X-O. Will he have the strength to bring the titan down? Out this week X-O Manowar #4 saw Aric taking on multiple threats as he attempts to figure out what it exactly means to be a superhero. All of this while the media and world is watching him. With threats both domestic and abroad what does this mean for Aric, X-O Manowar going forward? And what’s up with the armor upgrade?

We discuss this and more with X-O Manowar writer Dennis Hopeless and editor Heather Antos. Plus check out the fantastic art from Emilio Laiso!

Warning, some minor spoilers below!

GP: Hey folks! How’re you both doing on this sunny (for me, anyway) day?

Heather Antos: Well, it’s been below freezing the past several days here so…cold? I’m cold.

Dennis Hopeless: Yeah, it snowed here last night so my day started with shoveling. But at the moment I’m working across the room from the couch fort my kids just built… So I’m very amused.

GP: Last issue we saw Shanhara get an upgrade – can you walk us through how that came to happen from a creative perspective?

HA: If I recall correctly, this was the culmination of a bunch of different conversations between Dennis and I in regards to where we wanted to see Aric and Shanhara’s story go. But I can’t really get into the details just yet…the upgrade of Shanhara is only just the tip of the story iceberg to come…

DH: Yes indeed. One of our major goals for this series was to explore and expand the bond between Aric and Shanhara. The partnership, the friendship and crucial trust between them is our cornerstone. Everything happening right now, including the suit upgrade, is a step down that road.

X-O Manowar #4

GP: How much of a hand did you have in designing the new look for Shanhara? What was that process like for the team?

DH: >CRACKS KNUCKLES< I typed a vague panel description and got all the way out of Emilio’s way.

HA: I was fairly hands off, myself. Emilio is a phenomenal artist so I trusted his instincts so long as the design fit the call of the story Dennis has been building. It needed to look sleek and modern — almost how Troy would design the suit if he could — while still honoring the classic suit that we all know and love. I think Emilio nailed it. 

GP: When designing a new look, how much of that is driven by the narrative and how much of it drives the narrative?

HA: It all depends on what story you’re telling, but I find it can be a bit of both, you know? The story that comes before is going to inspire the build up of the new look the artist comes up with….but then the new design can very often inspire new stories that will come after. It’s cyclical and such a cool part of comics!

DH: Every bit of it is collaborative, in that it’s a conversation. I try to explain what I see in my head and why we’re doing the things we’re doing, but artists like Emilio almost always bring better ideas and designs than I could dream up to the table. Oftentimes, I’ll get new (better) ideas for future story beats based on the art choices. Greater than the sum of our parts.

GP: Can you tell us whether the new look is a permanent change?

HA: Nice try, but you’re getting no spoilers out of me! 

DH: Nothing is permanent. Ever.

X-O Manowar #4

GP: You’ve been taking Aric toward a more traditional style of superhero, but in this issue we actually see him apologise for not doing enough; how will that level of expectation play into the series as it progresses?

DH: I mean, yeah, it’s an impossible job… Even for Aric. But also, Aric is starting to learn how to properly communicate with the public. Troy is teaching him that it’s easier to help people who already trust and respect you… And in the age of mass media, you have to gain that trust in a few different ways at once. “I’m sorry I didn’t do better,” carries a lot of weight.

HA: I can’t even begin to imagine what the pressures of being a superhero are — and here we’re really exploring just the tip of the burden Aric has put on himself.   

GP: Heather, you edit this series as well as other Valiant ones, how much coordination is there between the various series? Are you all thinking through the impact of these changes on the rest of the Valiant universe

HA: Always. It’s super important for editorial to always be aware of what is going on in the other parts of the universe at all times and how that will impact not only their own books, but also the other editor’s books as well. There’s a ton of behind-the-scenes communication between offices about how to best integrate together. 

DH: And it’s important to me to position X-O as a much stronger and more important figure in the Valiant Universe than say… Shadowman. Because Cullen Bunn is a monster and must be defeated.

GP: We’ve seen Aric take on international threats over the course of the series; will you also have him confront domestic terror threats?

HA: I mean, in a way that’s sort of what we’ve seen with Yakiov already, isn’t it? X-O Manowar may be this great superhero that can protect us all from a galactic level, but at heart he’s a man of the people — and those he considers his family will always come first. 

DH: If it were up to Aric, he’d help/save everyone everywhere all the time. Shanhara spends a lot of time tamping down those expectations. But absolutely, yes, we have BIG BAD local threats coming up soon.

X-O Manowar #4

GP: Dennis, the last panel is quietly terrifying; how much direction did you give Emilio Laiso on that?

DENNIS: I just looked at the script and I typed 11 words for that panel. Emilio is very very good.

GP: I have to ask – what made you write Vlad Yakiov as having milk and pie as he’s waiting for his plan to unfold?

DH: A friend of mine once threatened to create a blog called DENNIS HOPELESS IS HUNGRY because I write a lot of eating scenes into my books. It’s not something I started doing on purpose, but I do think little mundane bits of humanity can add a lot of nuance to dialogue-heavy scenes. In this case, Yakiov is terrorizing this family after destroying their neighborhood… And now he’s eating their food. It’s equal parts creepy and disrespectful and shows us just how confident he is that he’s going to win.

HA: This was all Dennis! But I loved it — it’s almost comical, in a way, but also scary, too. This big scary monster of a man walking into your home and just casually starting to eat your food as he threatens your life and the lives of your loved ones? Terrifying. This big scary monster of a man doing a spittake once he realizes he’s been so easily duped? Hilarious!

GP: Thanks for answering our questions and can’t wait to see what’s next!


Purchase X-O Manowar #4: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Take the Scout’s Pledge with David Pepose as He Chats Scout’s Honor

David Pepose is the writer behind such series as Spencer & Locke, Going to the Chapel, and the recent Kickstarter release The O.Z.

He has a new series launching this week, Scout’s Honor, that imagines a world where society has been built off the rules from a Boy Scouts like organization.

We chat with him about the new series as well as his experiences being an indie creator.

Get his series:

Spencer & Locke
Spencer & Locke Vol. 2
Going to the Chapel
The O.Z. #1

Scout’s Honor #1:
comiXology
Kindle
Zeus Comics

Website

The Truth Shall Set You Free in Blanco

Blanco

Blanco is a 64-page black and white post-apocalyptic sword and sorcery graphic novel recently launched on Indiegogo. Co-created by writer Marco Lopez and artist David Brame, it features lettering by DC Hopkins and is edited by Derek Ruiz.

In a post-apocalyptic future where mankind has long since been dead and Medieval Kingdoms, control their people with an iron fist. The religious rule is the order of the day and Blanco, is one of the most beloved warriors in the Kingdom of the seraph Azrael.

He and his brother Cain hunt the heretics who dare defy their father’s law. Zealots of a new apocryphal belief that is spreading across the Five Kingdoms and the Middling Lands.

When Blanco discovers a band of heretics is heading through the Outer Zone to a safe haven, they call New Eden. He decides to make an example of them, but what he finds in the Outer Zone will literally change his perception of the world he lives in.

We got to chat with the creative team about the series, its influence and the democratization of comics.

You can back Blanco now and help it reach its goal of $12,000.

Graphic Policy: So, tell us a a bit about Blanco.

Marco Lopez: Well, not to repeat what I said in the campaign. But Blanco is about a Nephilim in the service of the Kingdom of the Seraph Azrael. And he is one of the most beloved soldiers in his father’s service and a fundamentalist who blindly follows his father’s will. But eventually, that blind faith is going to open him up to a truth that, as the old saying goes, will turn his world upside down.

David Brame: Blanco was Marco’s idea. He contacted me and I thought it was a brilliant idea and decided to put my sauce in the mix.

GP: Where did the idea come from?

ML: It’s been so long since I came up with the idea of Blanco that I don’t remember the exact details. I vaguely remember thinking about the old 70s Jack Kirby DC comics. The whole 4th world and other titles he created. I’m a huge fan of pulp storytelling. Whether it’s The Shadow or The Phantom or Conan, John Carter and Tarzan. I love the whole aesthetic. I think it mostly came from my love of Kamandi, OMAC and Hanna Barbera, and Ruby & Spears action-adventure cartoons. I also wanted to do something that was postapocalyptic where the world reverted to a past time. It doesn’t really make any sense that we’d revert back to medieval or 18th-century tech or whatnot but, I loved that about cartoons, and I wanted to do something similar. Kamandi but without the last human boy as the lead. All of man is gone, and all that’s left are humanoid animals. Or so they’re led to believe.

DB: I’ve always wanted to work together with someone who wanted to do an andro/anthro story and Marco and I vibed really well on what kinds of stories we liked to tell. We both had a love of ban Dessine and European comics. Large format, cinematic storytelling, sweeping saga like beauty—we are blending 70s pulp sword and sorcery with contemporary euro stylization all bookended by post apocalyptic furry content. What’s not to love.

GP: How did the team come together for this?

ML: David was the original artist back in 2010 when I first came up with Blanco but, he had to drop out because of a job opportunity. Fast forward 9 years later, and I was pitching this to publisher 133art. I think I talked to David a bit about it back then, but I don’t think either of us made the connection on the 2010 version. I mean, it had been 10 years. 133art was really high on David drawing this, and so was I, and David loved the idea, so he came on board but then 133art had to back out when they started their distribution arm. So, I talked to David about it, and we took it over to Subsume, and the rest, as they say, is history. During all this, I did find those old designs and realized David was the artist back then. I hit him up about it, and we had a good laugh about how the world is so small. It really shows you this was meant to be that 10 years later, we’re working together again on Blanco.

DB: I partied a lot back then so there is a solid decade of fuzzy memories. I vaguely remembered the Blanco project when Marco hit me up but then things clicked in place once I saw the artwork. My first thoughts were “cool idea—but we can do better” fast forward a few scribbles and doodles and chats we developed the Blanco pages we are previewing.

GP: There’s a lot of fundraising platforms out there, why did you choose Indiegogo?

ML: I tend to go against the grain a lot of times, and I wanted to try a different platform. I mean, technically, for comics, in my opinion, there are only two (IGG and KS). I’ve used Kickstarter before, and it’s fantastic, but there were a few benefits IndieGoGo had. My favorite is being able to go InDemand after we’re funded, so we can keep taking pledges while in production. The other was they take a slightly less percentage than Kickstarter. And after people purchase a perk, they immediately take funds. The other was the ability to immediately put up a pre-launch page and start collecting e-mails until the campaign was ready to launch. With Kickstarter, you have to finish your campaign then submit it. Then when it’s approved, you can start a pre-launch page. I know Kickstarter is the larger platform of the two, but I like being the underdog. Hopefully, I chose correctly. haha

DB: Whether it’s IGG or Kickstarter or any other crowdfunding experience—I think as long as you have a link to share to support Blanco we’ve made the right decision.

GP: You mention it a bit on the project page, but there is a lot of comics released, and crowdfunding platforms provide another avenue for consumers. What are your thoughts about the choice’s creators have today for their releases?

ML: Unless the only thing you want to do is write for Marvel and DC. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But you need to get your work out there and build a fanbase. And crowdfunding helps with that. Even the most popular webcomics eventually crowdfund collected print editions or merchandise. Crowdfunding is making it easier than ever to self-publish and build yourself into a force to be reckoned with. It’s not easy, of course, or everyone would be doing it. But it’s another arsenal in the distribution of stories. Especially if you can’t do it all yourself in comics.

DB: Crowdfunding is a boon for independent creators. Initially relegated to hawking your merch in sweaty artist allies and praying for the big 3 to pick you up, being an indie comic artist was a tough road. I would say with all these new accessible options for distribution, printing, and dissemination being an Indie creator now is only based on visibility. We are finding that there are niche markets and subcultures in the comics spectrum everywhere. The crowdfunding independent model has allowed us to tell a plethora of stories and we are excited Blanco gets to be apart of that.

Blanco

GP: Do you think crowdfunding has democratized the comic industry in a way with consumers voting with their dollar to make projects happen?

ML: I think it has because that is always the answer to any entertainment industry. Does it sell? If the publishers don’t believe your idea or story will sell, you can prove it to them. The American comic book industry still isn’t there with the wide variety it should be publishing. Like, say Manga, or European comics. But it’s getting there, and until it does. Crowdfunding proves even the weirdest or controversial, and even old-school ideas are worthy of people’s money.

DB: Absolutely democratized. However, We are still left with the pay to play model—meaning if you have more money or resources to advertise or connect to your audience you’re likely going to have a higher success rating even within the indie world. But with that said as creators, our goal is to entertain and to craft new and interesting ways of telling stories. Blanco is for sure something that’s not a wasted vote.

 GP: You describe the series as Conan with great anthropomorphic characters. Did you always want to do anthropomorphic? Were there thoughts of just using humans or some fantasy race?

ML: The characters were always going to be anthropomorphic. You can thank a childhood of Don Bluth, Rock and Rule, Disney Afternoon, and other animated films and series. It’s always been my dream to combine the aesthetic of something like those titles in a brutal adult world.

DB: For sure. As a young artist from the 80’s lots of start with Disney and Nickelodeon as our understanding of cartoonish characteristics. I’ve always wanted to make anthro work and even more after seeing what was being done with Manga, Anime, and Blacksad.

GP: With that, were there thoughts about the animals and their representation? There’s a lot of stories with anthropomorphic stories where the animals themselves have a deeper meaning.

ML: No, there isn’t really anything behind the different humanoid animal species. They’re not supposed to parallel any human ethnic groups of today or cultures. The one difference, though, is they’re all mammals. You won’t see humanoid birds walking around or anthropomorphic reptiles.

DB: Marco had no directions for me in terms of the animals belonging to specific tribes or whatever there’s just barbarians and not barbarians. Visually though I needed linchpins to help craft the setting, visual mechanics, and how this post-apocalyptic place came to be. Each place we visit will have remixed elements of lots of ancient and contemporary design—I used lots of Bantu, Igbo, Mongolian and Korean elements. Blanco was originally based off a wolf but there are so many wolf stories I opted to base his design on an African Wild dog. I took it a step further and decided the clothing artifacts weapons everything will be distinct to help immerse readers into the world of Blanco.

GP: You mention Conan, Secret of Nimh, and Brian Jacques Redwall as influences, what else are some of the stories influences and inspiration? And are you trying to traumatize people my age with Secret of Nimh!?

ML: Blacksad is an influence, but you won’t see it until the third volume. I’m also inspired by Oscar Martin’s Solo. Everyone in the U.S. should be reading that. He’s an amazing artist and storyteller. Everything Jack Kirby did at DC comics in the 70s. Like I said before, the old action-adventure Hanna Barbera and Ruby-Spears toon and John Carter. And yes, I am trying to traumatize people our age. haha I loved me some Bluth.

DB: I may have a heart of stone because I missed out on the trauma I was like ‘oooh mice’ Blanco will evoke feelings of darkness and brutality but also moments of quiet austere beauty. I have been looking at a lot of HR Geiger, Paul Pope, Jeff Smith, Bill Watterson, Gojima, Otomo and Jae Lee leading up to Blanco as well streaming as many Attenborough docs I can find.

GP: I see the religious rule and I can’t help but think there an overarching influence of religion in our real-world society. Is there some greater themes/meaning to the series or is it just entertaining sword and sorcery?

ML: There will be in the story things I touch on. I grew up Catholic, but I grew up in an open-minded household. I never had communion and was always taught to challenge ideas. But I also grew up with a fascination with religion and the bible. Why people turn to religion and the use of religion for control. I read the Book of Revelations during a major hurricane when I was a teen in Puerto Rico. But as a writer, I believe that in any story character should be first, plot second, and what you’re trying to say third. Anytime you push what you want to talk about in society upfront. Then you’re characters just become a soapbox, and people stop caring. Make them care about the characters, and the rest will find its place.

DB: I have no religious message to convey other than through the art historian aspect of remixing these motifs.

GP: You mention this is hopefully the beginning, how much of the series and world do you have sketched out? Is there a “Blanco bible”?

ML: I’d like to do at least 8 volumes. Each one is the equivalent of a three-issue mini-series. After volume one, I have volumes two through four roughly mapped out, and I know where the series ends and where Blanco ends up. And yes, I have a rough bible and a series of notes I keep every time a new idea, plot, or character piece pops into my head. So, hopefully, with everyone’s help, this first volume becomes a smashing success and will lead the way to more. Adonai speaks to us in our sleep. Adonai wants us to tell the stories of Blanco’s world. Of the world to come. Help us fulfill Adonai’s wishes.

DB: I would love to retire doing Blanco stories. My dream is to have quarterly issues that people ravenously devour and flame me online wondering why there can’t be ten of me making more! But I’ll settle for 8 issues, some spin-offs, and maybe an omnibus hardcover reprint someday in the future.

GP: Thanks so much for chatting and we’re excited to read it. Backed!

Christmas time and Holiday Cheer with cosplayer Brielle Arts

Far away and deep inside Western Europe, there is a workshop that works all hours of the night to bring these fantasy amour characters to life. No, it’s not made by elves but by a persistent young woman who has cosplay blood flowing through her veins. She’s young and talented and she is here to do Raven Steel’s Holiday interview. Please show your love and your Christmas cheer to my next guest with us today, Ms. Brielle Arts.

Raven: Welcome Brielle Arts to sanctuary of solitude. What happens here, stays here unless you open the door. 

Brielle: Thank you Raven Steel for having me do this interview. I happy to do this!

Raven: The honor of interviewing BrielleArts, is all mine. You do have my plate of cookies and milk, right?

As you may not know before I begin all of my interview questions, I offer some words of advice, a ballad of encouragement when you find yourself at crossroads during your career. I hope you’ll take these words to heart whenever the world becomes too much to bear and you need that little push to get you back on track. So here goes, You cannot sit and wait for inspiration to come to you. You have to get up and go after it with a heavy club”.  Kinda of like a Polish Christmas tradition.

I think we can all agree,  I have been a good reporter this year. Would you be so kind and tell me all about you?

Brielle: Well, I was born and raised in Poland.  I dream about moving to another country someday just to try something different. Nevertheless, Poland is a wonderful country, and I’m not sure if I would ever leave it.

Raven: Your color eyes and hair?  

Brielle: Hmm difficult question, I’m not sure what color my eyes have, sometimes they seem grayer, sometimes bluer, sometimes they fall into shades of green

Now about my hair color, that’s an even more difficult question because I change my hair color so often. I currently have my hair color as ginger.

Raven: How tall are you? 

Brielle:  I’m 162 cm tall, but always say I’m 165 cm, I don’t know why (5 feet 4 inches).

Raven: Do you speak or write any other languages?

Brielle: Do computer programming languages also count?  I’m joking. I speak and write in Polish, English, a little German, Spanish, and I also know a little Russian. I’ve always wanted to learn Japanese, but unfortunately, I can’t find time for it.

Raven: What does Brielle Arts love seeing during this Holiday Season? 

Brielle: The two things I love during the Holiday Season are these. Because of the little child inside me,  I like  everything that is lit, sparkles, and plays beautiful melodies, for example glowing music boxes playing “Let it snow” or “Jingle Bells”, or the lights on Christmas trees. I love Christmas trees.

The other thing I love during the Holiday Season is watching all the Holiday movies and cartoons like Mr. Grinch. That green creature is my favorite Christmas character. In Poland, we also have a “Common Tradition” of watching “Home Alone” with Macaulay Culkin as Kevin. Maybe it is funny but many people in Poland cannot imagine Christmas without seeing that movie.

Raven: What sort of music do you love to listen to? 

Brielle: I really like to listen to metal and rock music, unless you ask about Christmas then I like to listen to metal remixes of Christmas songs and carols.

Raven: What makes you nerdy or geeky?

Brielle: I’m just a nerd who plays games, reads books, watches movies, wears cosplays and goes to conventions, and buys a lot of unnecessary figurines, keyrings, mugs, and other pretty things related to pop culture.

Raven: Are you a social butterfly or a quiet mouse?

Brielle: It depends. Sometimes I go for the entire day without saying a word, but most often I say a lot of things when I’m feeling great and with good company. I can say that I’m a mutant mouse with butterfly wings or something like this.

Raven: What got you into Cosplaying?

Brielle: Since I was a child, I liked sewing and doing various handicrafts, I also liked some costumes and I really liked dressing up, Carnival and costume parties at school were my favorite events of the year. And one time, when I was attending my first convention ever in my life.  I said, “Hey, maybe I’ll dress up as some character?” The costume then, but it turned out to be quite expensive, so I decided to make one myself.  I still do some cosplays that I’ve developed in my workshop.

Raven: A workshop. I must see this workshop of yours.

I’ve noticed many of your cosplays are Props and makeup. What characters give you the biggest satisfaction in creating a cosplay?.

Brielle: I think that the characters who have some interesting makeup or large armor give me the greatest satisfaction. Even though prop/amour characters are very uncomfortable to wear at a convention or doing a photoshoot.

Raven: Are you attracted to these characters or something else?

Brielle: Most often I just like their designs, but I try to choose characters with a certain personality that suits me. I like to bond and feel with the character. I like becoming the character, and it’s not just about the appearance, but about being connected with the character, or something more.

Raven: Is there a Christmas gift you got that made you cry with JOY? 

Brielle: There was such a situation, it might sound strange but I cried with joy when I just got a new backpack. When I was in elementary school, my family didn’t have much money, so I didn’t have any great stuff and my backpack was a tragedy. The backpack was old, worn out, holes were sewn 100 different ways. It was just disgusting, and the kids at school were laughing at me and this backpack. I remember that then I got a brand new backpack for Christmas, it was the best gift, I was so happy that I started to cry. It sounds funny to me now, but I was really excited back then.

Raven: How did you create your cosplayer name, Brielle Arts Cosplay?  

Brielle: My name is Gabriela, I have friends from outside my country who transformed my name into Gabrielle because it is easier for them to remember and pronounce it, and over time they’ve shortened my name, and now it’s just “Brielle”. I like it, so it became my nickname, but unfortunately, many people in my country have a big problem with pronouncing my nickname, so probably in the future, I will change it to a more accessible one for both Polish and foreign fans.

Raven: Has your cosplaying experience provided an opportunity to get more commission work?

Brielle: Yes, before the pandemic I had a lot of commissions, but now that the conventions are not organized, people don’t buy costumes and unfortunately, I don’t have many orders.

Raven: Hired to give gifts to little children, what cosplayer outfit would you wear for that event? 

Brielle: I think I would choose Vi cosplay from league of legends. She has large, mechanical gloves that children always love. So I think they would be delighted to receive a gift from such big hands.

Raven: How do you feel cosplaying Dark, Bloody, or Gothic interest you doing them or just the cute and sexy ones?

Brielle: My favorite types of cosplaying are strong, armored, brave, dangerous characters. I don’t like cute and sexy cosplays, although sometimes  I like various character designs that allow me to do this type of cosplay. I feel much more comfortable doing Bloody/Gory types of characters.

Raven: Is cosplaying in your country very popular? Is it widely accepted? Are fellow cosplayers help each other?

Brielle: Cosplay in Poland is quite popular. Cosplays are being created by many people of all ages. I think since cosplay is becoming widely accepted. Even though there are a few individuals who think cosplay is a kind of “childish stupidity”, it has become more and more popular.

Raven: Booo to those who think its a Childish or Stupid! 

Brielle: Do cosplayers help each other? Yes, very often, there are whole groups that rely on helping each other. Whenever you have a cosplay problem, there will always be another cosplayer willing to help.

Raven: What is the #1 Christmas song you would sing all day long?

Brielle: “Rockin ‘Around the Christmas Tree” but more rock version.

Raven: I’ve noticed on one of your videos, you play with fire? Tell us more. 

Brielle: Honestly, about playing with fire, I don’t do it professionally, I am a total amateur. But the fire has always intrigued and relaxed me, and playing with fire is just something that allows me to chill out and forget about problems.

Raven: Well, I would still invite you to my campfire anytime. It would be very entertaining.

Who should control the types of media a cosplayer be allowed, fan request, or you? 

Brielle: I believe that everyone should decide for themselves. Of course, some fan requests are important, but the final decision should still be up to the cosplayer. Everyone should be comfortable with what they do, regardless of the opinions of others.

Raven: Have you ever experienced any unusual requests (Bet it was Feet)? 

Brielle: I think that every cosplayer girl had some “unusual” request. Quite often I have some strange requests. Several times I was asked to take pictures of my feet, I was asked for pictures in my underwear, for pictures with someone’s name or some fan sign, but the strangest request I got was to send someone my used panties. The person who asked about it was willing to pay a lot of money for these panties. Of course, I declined the person’s request.  It was too strange and too awkward for me to comply.

Raven: Would they be interested in my used boxer shorts? I have no shame in my game.

Raven: If you could give back your fans a Christmas gift, what would it be?

Brielle: I know what I would like to give each of my fans, I would like to give a package containing a handmade Christmas ornament, candy cane, and some sweets, my photos, and a card with handwritten Christmas greetings.

Raven: You have the look at times in your cosplay as a torched soul and other times the look of being cute and cuddly.  Which do you prefer doing?

Brielle: I rarely look cute and cuddly in cosplay. I feel much better when I look badass. I think that cute costumes do not suit me, sometimes I wear such cosplay, I look in the mirror and I have the impression that I look like a complete freak, like some alien. It’s not “me” then. I look best and feel best in costumes that aren’t cute. I prefer IT when people see me saying, “OMG! so amazing, or That’s So Hot”. Then, “Awwww! what a cute little piece of the rainbow”.

Raven: How easy/hard to find a good photographer in Poland?

Brielle: I think finding in Poland a good photographer, who would specialize in cosplay photography is quite simple. In Poland, we have a lot of talented photographers who can create truly magical photos.

To be honest, finding a photographer is easy, but sometimes you have to be patient because it often turns out that this photographer has a full graphic and you have to wait a long time to arrange a photoshoot, or to receive processed photos after photoshoot… Often it also happens that a perfect photographer lives on the other side of the country and you have to travel several hours with a heavy suit to take beautiful photos.

Raven: Pack a lunch and don’t talk to strangers. They may ask for your underwear. 

Is your cat a part of your props in your photo shoots?

Brielle: My kitty is very curious and is always interested in all props during photoshoots in the studio. Sometimes she can be a little bit annoying, but at least she doesn’t destroy my props.

Raven: What places, in your country, have you taken your photos?

Brielle: Hmm. I’ve taken pictures in various places, but mostly in a photo studio. However, I sometimes do an outdoor photoshoot. For example, Vi’s cosplay was photographed in an abandoned warehouse in a river port, Cerys in the ruins of a castle, an elf costume in the forest, and Leona in some park. Whenever I have the opportunity, I choose photos outdoors, because it is a much more interesting experience for me.

Raven: Breaking down your bedroom door, a hoard of Killer Elves is going to attack you. 

What weapon, in your room, would Brielle Arts pick up to defend herself with? 

Brielle: Haha, that’s a good question, I have to think about it … I think a slipper would be a good weapon … It works great for spiders, so maybe it will work on elves too, who knows.

Raven: How do the people of your country celebrate Christmas?  

Brielle: I noticed that people in Poland celebrate Christmas in different ways, it all depends on the region. A large number of Poles are Catholics and all groups celebrate Christmas “like Catholics”, I mean with pagans traditions, which were stolen by the Catholic Church. So, the Christmas tree is decorated and the Christmas carols are sung.

On December 24, when the first star appears in the sky, we sit down to the Christmas Eve supper which consists of 6-16 dishes depending on the region, We share the wafer and make Christmas wishes. The dishes also depend on the region, but there must be fish practically everywhere, as “tradition” dictates preferably carp.

Of course, this is not a real tradition, a relic of the past that has its origins in the times of socialism and the Polish People’s Republic (PRL), because there was almost any fish in the stores, and carp was cheap, so they were told it was a tradition and so far Poles they think it’s a traditional Catholic Christmas fish. I hate Carp because it is disgusting and I have salmon or trout on Christmas Eve.

There are other dishes as well, for example, Dumplings with cabbage and mushrooms, Cabbage with peas, borscht with dumplings, poppy seed noodles, kutia, prune and bean soup. After the Christmas Eve supper, people open presents lying under the Christmas tree, and after that go to church for Midnight Mass. On December 25, on the 1st day of Christmas, there is usually a dinner made of leftovers from Christmas Eve dinner and people spending time with families, and the season for “caroling” begins, children wear different costumes, visit homes, sing carols and collect money. On December 26, the 2nd day of Christmas passes like the 1st day.

Raven: What sort of Polish Christmas traditions do you celebrate? 

Brielle: I think almost all that I talked about before. I always decorate a Christmas tree, make presents for my family, Presents lie under the tree and wait for the end of Christmas Eve supper. We always share the wafer and make wishes. At Christmas Eve supper we have traditional dishes, for example, dumplings with cabbage and mushrooms, dried plum and bean soup, fish, of course, different from this gutted carp. I always spend Christmas with my family. I think that’s all, Christmas is a very important time for everyone and I hope that despite the pandemic that decided to make our life difficult this year, everyone will manage to have a wonderful Christmas.

Raven: What do you miss the most about cosplaying since the Pandemic? 

Brielle: I think I miss conventions the most. The opportunity to go out in cosplay, take pictures with people, meet my friend’s cosplayers, for the convention afterparty, for cosplay competitions in a classic form, not online. I miss everything related to conventions, I miss my favorite Polish convent “Pyrkon”, I miss it when someone shouts “soon it will be dark” and everyone shouts “shut up” this is a “pyrkon” tradition, I miss singing in the evening “Pyrkon’s Song”. I miss this atmosphere of the convention, that people, despite being tired and sore after a whole day of cosplaying, are still happy and find the power to put on an uncomfortable costume the next day and go to the convention. This year was devastated by the pandemic, but let’s hope that in 2021 I will turn out much better.

Raven: If Raven Steel was a naughty interview all year long, what would you give him?

Brielle: According to Polish tradition, and probably not only Polish, but naughty people also get a twig, which they then beat in the ass. So I think if you are naughty you should also get a whipping twig…

Raven: Sweet. I’m long overdue.

Any sort of advice for aspiring cosplay/prop makers out there? The most important question to ask, Can I get a Hug?

Brielle: Awww of course you can. As for advice for aspiring cosplayers: don’t give up, not everything has to be perfect in the beginning, everyone started and made things that they laugh at when they look at it now. Also, don’t worry about hate, most of the haters have never done any cosplay, so their opinion is worthless. Just have fun with it, cosplay is all about fun.

Raven: Brielle. You will be visited by three Spirits tonight. Expect the first spirit to appear at the stroke of midnight. And tell them, Raven says, “Hello”! That’s all the time that we have. Thank you Brielle for allowing me to do this interview with you.  On behalf of the staff and I, we wish you a Merry Christmas a blessed New Year.  

Brielle: Thank you Raven for having me, I do appreciate it. If you should ever visit us, our twigs will be strong and waiting for your arrival to welcome you! And please vote for me. I am in the Redbull’s  cosplayOn competition. I am one of the finalists. Please click on the link below for a chance to vote for me and make my dream come true.

Konkurs CosplayON: Mamy 12 finalistów!
CosplayON: 12 finalistów drugiej edycji konkursu

Please Like. Please Share. And Above all, please Love this Holiday Season.

This has been a Raven Steel exclusive.

Open an Early Holiday Present with Cosplayer Tenshi Meirou

Forget leaving a plate full of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk for Good ‘Ol Saint Nick. Instead, why not give this exclusive interview from Raven Steel to keep Santa warm all through the night. My next cosplayer guest comes from a lovely country from Hungary. She’s lived there all of her life with her and her husband and has made some of the most beautiful cosplay wear ever seen. She is tall and a full-figured gal, but truly believes body-types should never stop from anyone to create a character he/she loves to portray. So please give your best Holiday Cheer to this wonderfully talented and beautifully alluring cosplayer, Mrs. Tenshi Meirou.

Raven: Welcome Tenshi Meirou. It is a pleasure to finally meet you. Please come sit by the roaring fire and enjoy my Christmas oasis. 

Tenshi: I am so happy and honored to be here doing this interview with you, Raven.

Raven: Your interview is best interpreted as me having a PS5 and the New Xbox series X under my Christmas tree with a year off from work with pay That’s how I’m so excited for this interview.

Tenshi: Thank you!

Raven: As you may not know before I begin all of my interview questions, I offer some words of advice, a ballad of encouragement when you find yourself at crossroads during your career. I hope you’ll take these words to heart whenever the world becomes too much to bear and you need that little push to get you back on track. So here goes, “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great!” So carry a big bow and have lots of quivers.

Now with that being said, please Tenshi, tell me about yourself.

Tenshi: Welcome dear readers, I’m Meirou Tenshi from Hungary. I’ve been cosplaying together with my husband since 2012.

Raven: What does Tenshi Meirou want for this year’s Christmas? 

Tenshi: I just wish 2021 to be better for everyone than in 2020. <3

Raven: Your color eyes and hair? 

Tenshi: I have blue eyes and light brown hair. I like naturality, never dyed my hair.

Raven: How tall are you? 

Tenshi: I’m 176 cm. Is it tall?

Raven: Do you have a special talent that no one knows about?

Tenshi: If overthinking would be a sport I would be no1, haha!

Raven: Do you speak or write any other languages?

Tenshi: I can only speak English other than my mother tongue, but some years ago I started learning Japanese. Sadly it was too hard, but I can translate little parts from the manga if I need it. I’m a real shoujo manga lover.

Raven: For the record, what sort of Christmas gift do the women of Hungary want? 

Tenshi: If she likes you, anything. If she feels you care about her, she’s already happy. (Chocolate of course. :P) But maybe some flowers are something special!

Raven: What does Tenshi Meirou love seeing during this Holiday Season? 

Tenshi: I’m always waiting for some snow as Christmas is coming, but the lights on the streets make me feel the warmth of the holidays.

We live in a small town, in the center you can hear Christmas songs played from the castle.

Raven: What sort of music do you love to listen to? 

Tenshi: I’m nostalgic about music, my favorite songs are still from my high school or earlier years, mainly rock or punk-rock.

But if I need to say one “band” it would be Owl City. It’s something special.

Raven: Is there a deep-dark secret you have been holding all these years and now are ready to confess (Just me being funny)?

Tenshi: Well, If I must confess, I like to help others, do things what they like. But if I say “I will make some sweet for you” I’m lying… I make it for myself. Sweets are life. I just love you enough to give from it. :D

Raven: Is there a candy or dessert you crave during this Holiday season?

Tenshi: We always make “méteres kalács”! I don’t know if it’s a well-known dessert or not, but we always make it around Christmas.

Raven: What sort of places would you show Raven Steel to have a good time or good eats?

Tenshi: I actually would show you my hometown. It’s sweet, calm, our little castle is beautiful and my parents have a restaurant here with some local specialties like goulash in a bread bowl. For one day, everyone would love it.

Raven: What makes you nerdy or geeky or just a beautiful gypsy?

Tenshi: I love a lot of games, anime, and mangas. It’s just hard to make everything that I love!

Raven: Are you a social butterfly or a quiet mouse?

Tenshi: I’m really quiet in person and on the internet, too. I like to hear others more than to talk. Of course not now! :)

Raven: Is there a celebrity star you would be happy to kiss under the mistletoe?

Tenshi: My husband is the biggest star in my life. :D  

Raven: Is there an anime/manga character best describes your personality? 

Tenshi: It’s a really hard question because people are way more complex. But maybe Susukihotaru from Otome Youkai Zakuro.

She’s quiet and nervous with new people or new situations like me but kind to anyone.

What makes her unique is that she has an ability: if she touches someone she can feel that person’s feelings (or even memories from items). I felt it close to me as I’m always interested in what’s in others’ head and/or heart.

Raven: What got you into Cosplaying?

Tenshi: In 2008 I was at an anime convention in Budapest with my friends and saw cosplay for the first time. I told my boyfriend/now husband, Kumori, that I loved it and he said we could try it anytime.

Later in 2012, we went to another con together, me as Tsunade from Naruto and him as Luffy from One Piece. We loved the feeling and continued this creative hobby.

Raven: What is the #1 Christmas song you would sing all day long?

Tenshi: “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree…”

Raven: I’ve noticed many of your cosplays are Anime/Manga characters. Are you attracted to doing them? 

Tenshi: Yes, I’m really in love with Japanese culture and mythology. Japanese stories also make a lot of women characters with a shy, quiet, and kind personality, what is my most loved.

Raven: What character(s) give you the biggest satisfaction in creating a cosplay?

Tenshi: It was surely Ubume from Onmyoji. It was my hardest dress that I ever made but sadly I still need to take a good photoshoot with her.

Raven: To surprise Raven Steel this Christmas, what Hungarian gift would you offer?

Tenshi: We have some really interesting sweets with cottage cheese! (Diabetes, anyone? :D) We also have a special bonbon “szaloncukor” which is traditionally hung upon the Christmas tree (or put under it). We love to eat, haha!

Raven: Being you are a full-figured woman do you feel it is a blessing or a curse when cosplaying? 

Tenshi: To be honest, it’s good and bad at the same time. Of course, I like to feel “sexy” or “good looking” but I don’t like to oversexualize a younger girl character.

The problem is that sometimes my favorites are far from my body type – like Nezuko from Kimetsu no Yaiba. Of course, I made her this year as I wanted, it’s just “not perfect” to my liking. Still love it, I’m just a big critic of my work. I also drop some plans because I realize it wouldn’t look good on me.

Raven: Breaking down your bedroom door, a hoard of Killer Elves is going to attack you. Raven: What weapon, in your room, would Tenshi Meirou pick up to defend herself with? 

Tenshi: Our cats! They are real devils with the speed of lightning.

Raven: How did you create your cosplayer name, Tenshi Meirou?  

Tenshi: In my high school years,  I suffered from depression, I was mostly alone at home as my parents worked so much. I already had Kumori as my boyfriend and I started to write stories about us in different situations and worlds. So I named the angel character Meirou Tenshi, which means “clear angel” and the demon character Kumori, which means “shadow or cloudy”.

As we lived far from each other I wrote about their love cursed by God so they needed to fight for their happiness again and again (quite like Nanatsu no Taizai’s story about Elizabeth and Meliodas. I guess that’s why I love cosplaying Elizabeth.)

Now we use their names as nicknames online. Oh, local thing: Here in Hungary, we write names like in Japan: Family name first.

Raven: Is there a Christmas gift you were completely surprised by? 

Tenshi: When Kumori gave me the Dragon Age Inquisition game! I waited for it to be released, but he was super fast, I was so happy. Still one of my favorite games.

Raven: How do you feel cosplaying Dark, Bloody, or Gothic interest you doing them or just the cute and sexy ones?

Tenshi: My main interest is “cute” or “elegant”. My sexy ones are mostly because it looks good on me or Kumori suggests it, or maybe for a cosplay group.

I also really love gothic dresses, but don’t know too much character for it. Not long ago my Banshee (from Iratus game) was finally a darker photoshoot, and I was pleased about it. Next year we plan to make an Alice, Madness Returns shoot with the girls.

Raven: What was the most embarrassing gift you got on Christmas Day? 

Tenshi: Years ago I got the same book from my mom and my cousins… it was awkward. 

Raven: Is cosplaying in your country very popular? Is it widely accepted? Are fellow cosplayers help each other?

Tenshi: This year has made the Hungarian cosplay community quiet. Some people favored more to go to conventions than to be in cosplay. For me, this year was much more active, because I made smaller projects and I didn’t need to make a bigger one to conventions.

So I feel it is less popular than earlier, but the small groups/friends have stayed together, especially my friends. I can’t say anything about the community, I feel like it’s the same as anywhere else: some people are supportive, some are toxic. But I’m happy that if I tell anyone that I sew costumes, they like it.

Raven: What sort of places in Hungary have you done a photo-shoot?

Tenshi: Sometimes we went out to a forest or once behind the castle, but I’m nervous in cosplay outside as people start to stare and also harder to work with the lights. So we prefer our little home studio or normal photo studios in Budapest. Sometimes we travel here if we find a perfect place.

Raven: Are there any places in the world you would do a photo shoot in?

Tenshi: Sadly, we haven’t traveled anywhere, but Japan is a must-have photoshoot.  I wish to take pictures in beautiful gardens, torii gates, and temples. I’m in love with kimonos and kimono-like dresses.

Raven: On Tenshi Meirou Christmas Special, who would be your celebrity guests?

Tenshi: Tsuda Kenjiro! He’s my ultimate favorite seiyuu. I always recognize him, he has a unique voice.

Raven: How do the people of your country celebrate Christmas?  

Tenshi: Here, Santa Claus arrives on the 6th of December and leaves chocolate at your window. On the 24th, close family members come together and “little Jesus” leaves his gifts to the little ones under the tree.

As an adult, I will spend the 24th with just Kumori (as my dear granny left this year) and visit my parents on the 25th. Nothing special, just spend some time together.

Raven: Is it true that Clinging to your drinking glasses is rude in public? 

Tenshi: Never heard about it, we do it anywhere with stronger alcohol (I’m not a big drinker by the way). :)

Raven: Are the characters you portray reflect your personality or do the personality of the characters you want to become?

Tenshi: I think my most loved characters have a little from me and somewhat I want to be. There are so many situations in which I wish to know how I would behave. I can just hope that if I will need it, I could be brave and confident. What I’m not! :D

Raven: From Charles Dickens a Christmas Carol, what ghost would be interesting to meet?

Tenshi: The 3rd for sure. It’s always interesting to see the future and to know if I want it to be different.

Raven: Was there ever a cosplay outfit that your fans loved but hated to wear? 

Tenshi: Lilithmon from Digimon. It was a lot of work and after we went to a con I just realized that “oh god, my whole chest is seen!”

I started to feel so uncomfortable that I wore a scarf on myself closely all the time. People loved it as it was really popular here when we were kids, and I learned that not everything is good in person what is good in a pictures. :D

Raven: If possible to give back all the appreciation from your fans, what sort of gift would you give them? 

Tenshi: If I could do anything, I would invite them to a drink and talk, get to know anyone at least a little.

Raven: Knowing Raven Steel was naughty all year long, what would you give him?

Tenshi: Santa would give you birch for sure! But I would give you some fancy chocolate. :D

Raven: How supportive has your friends, family, and/or loved one has been to you?

Tenshi: My parents always said that I should do what I want and love. (Still they never really understand why I’m cosplaying but never said to finish it, I already worked that time).

My current friends are cosplayers or anime fans, too, so they are super supportive. And of course, Kumori is my other half, always here to help and take photos of me. (These pictures were all made by him. <3)

Raven: Any sort of advice for aspiring cosplayers/prop makers out there? 

Tenshi: Just start cosplaying! Buy or order from someone, start with a wardrobe cosplay, or even try hand sewing if you feel the power!

But I surely advise everyone to try to make something from their own, at least once. It’s a different feeling to wear your hand’s work, and don’t be ashamed to try!

Raven: The most important question to ask, Can I get a Hug?

Tenshi: Everyone deserves a hug (just ask it kindly)! <3

Raven: How do you say in your language, “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Tenshi: In the Hungarian version this was said:„ Talán ünnepet nem is vehetsz boltban, mert az ünnep inkább benned, legbelül van. ” 

Tenshi: Means: “Maybe you couldn’t buy the holidays in a store, because it’s rather deep in your heart”.

Tenshi: Thank you for your time Raven and everyone who read this much! Stay safe and celebrate with your loved ones! 

Raven: Tenshi, it was an honor to meet you and know a little more about the women of Hungarian. They’re certainly a special kind of European women and is a blessing to have in this world. A Merry Christmas to you and your family and a wonderful 2021 New Year.

Please Like. Please Share. And above all, please Love this Holiday Season.

This is a Raven Steel exclusive.

MMA, Alien, Future State, and Superman, Phillip Kennedy Johnson Talks about his Busy 2021 in Comics

Coming off of his well reviewed indie graphic novel Kill a Man (with Steve Orlando, Al Morgan, and Jim Campbell), Johnson sets his sites on two hot properties… one at Marvel and one at DC!

Joined by artist Salvador Larroca, Phillip launches the Alien franchise at Marvel with Alien #1 in March 2021!

In January, Johnson takes us to the future as part of DC’s Future State! He gives us a glimpse of what might be with Future State: House of El, by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Scott Godlewski and Superman: Worlds of War, by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Mikel Janín.

In March we get the first tease of his recently announced take on Superman in Infinite Frontier #0 with artist Jamal Igle.

Then in March Johnson takes over Superman with artist Phil Hester and Action Comics with Eric Gapstur and is then joined in the coming months by Scott Godlewski (on Superman) and Daniel Sampere (on Action Comics) before reuniting with Future State: Superman: Worlds of War co-creator Mikel Janín on a special project that hasn’t been announced!

We’re talking MMA, Superman, Alien, 5G, and so much more!

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