Blue Valkyrie #1 - A Sci-fi Action Comic
Blue Valkyrie #1 - A Sci-fi Action Comic
The story of a hardened infantry captain, betrayed and left for dead-and the chilling plot she uncovers in her quest for revenge.
The story of a hardened infantry captain, betrayed and left for dead-and the chilling plot she uncovers in her quest for revenge. Read more
“Betrayed and left for dead, can Captain Jessica Torrence and her new crew find the traitor and get revenge for her surrogate family?”
About the Story
Dropped into an active war zone, Jessica Torrence and her company of Blood Orchids fight the Russian occupation of Alliance outposts. When they are caught in a sudden ambush, Jessica is the only member of her crew to make it out alive. Given a chance to find out who was responsible for selling out her company, Jessica and a new rag-tag team of mercenaries seek revenge, redemption, and maybe even a quick meal.
About the Campaign & Rewards
All backers for Blue Valkyrie #1 will be mentioned on the Thank You page of the comic.
!!Bonus!! Roundtable: On Nocturnal & Comics
As a bonus for interested readers, the Nocturnal team had a roundtable on comics and the industry since all members of the team have been involved with it in surprising and substantial ways. The members featured below are Charles "Jacob" as the writer of Blue Valkyrie, Amanda as the editor, kradeelav as the artist, and Phill as the business manager. Without further introduction, our first question -
Welcome, and thanks for doing this! As a way to introduce yourself, what would you say was the initial influence that interested you in comics?
Amanda: While I did grow up watching superhero cartoons, I honestly didn’t read many comics. My first love has always been novels. I think I had this idea that comics weren’t really something that I would find interesting. In college, I had to read Maus for a class and it completely changed my idea of what a comic could be. Now that I’ve read a few more, I’ve realized that there are so many stories that can be told through comics, and being part of Nocturnal has allowed me to be a part of telling some of those stories. I love reading comics that are inspired by real events, and making connections from comics to the real world. One of my biggest interests is seeing how society influences art, and vice versa, and I can see those influences in comics too.
Phil: For me, I was really young and I had become attached to characters through video games and cartoons that were coming out at the time (predominantly TMNT and X-Men,) then when I had seen almost all that those games/shows could offer, I started jonesing for new stories involving all these characters I'd grown to love, and that lead me pretty directly into comics, where the art and storytelling hooked me and has only gotten a tighter grip on my soul ever since, haha.
Charles: Comics are actually a relatively new thing for me. I always loved novels and movies, but it wasn't until recently have I delved into the realm of comic books. Becoming a part of Nocturnal Productions has lead me to new friends and adventures that have really opened the door for me. I think I've always been a writer, and a story teller, but this is my first attempt at such an awesome media that is comics. It's an amazing feeling creating characters and new worlds, but even more so seeing them come to life on a page. It's a lot of hard work to keep up with it all and at times can be a little overwhelming, but being brought together with a team of people who are all such avid comic lovers has really made me see the value in every page, panel, and letter.
krad: I was one of those greasy nerds in my childhood that lived on 90’s version of Star Wars EU novels, comics, and games, but the interest in comics specifically didn't really start until I ran into oodles of manga, Korean manhwa, and French graphic novels of the bandes dessinées persuasion. The sheer variety of stories and art styles blew my mind, and told me there was way more out there than superheroes. I like my complicated villains more, anyway. ;)
Charles - as the writer, we have to ask - what was the initial inspiration behind BV?
A couple of years back, Phil Montgomery and I had toyed with the idea of partnering up on a sci-fi novel. That was to be our first attempt at a traditional science fiction story. Then a few months later after a little too much television, (I went on a bit of sci-fi binge watch with him) I sat down and wrote out a very short little page and a half and submitted it to our group. Phil asked me if I had any interest in taking the prose and turning it into a comic script. It wasn't until much later that we decided to merge the two ideas and create this cohesive universe.
How do you keep yourself motivated, full of ideas, and free of writer's block?
Oh man. Music helps. Different kinds of music help with different projects. I actually have a few playlists set up for each individual story idea. Personally, I have to be able to just step away from everything for a while. I just go outside, look at the trees, listen to birds, it helps me settle in to that creative mode. Oh, and chocolate. Dark chocolate is a great thing to have on hand when conquering any endeavor.
As you've been working together with your creative partner for an editor, what’s it like to mesh your writing styles together? How would you describe your styles as they are on their own vs. combined?
Well for me it feels a lot like a finely tuned assembly line. I'll start with an idea for a scene of character and do my best to gather up all the right pieces and parts. Occasionally I'll try my hand at mushing it all together into a coherent thought, but I get the best results when I can get my wonderful editor’s eyes on it. I usually write the prose of the stories as if it would turn out as a novel, but it's my editor who shapes it up into script-form and makes it art-ready. It helps to have a steady hand here to help me slow down and be more mindful of each scenes details and subtle nuances.
Amanda - as the editor for BV and close collaborator, I have to ask you the same thing. What's it like to work together?
It’s definitely been an interesting journey writing with Charles. Up until this point, my writing was strictly academic. I’ve never thought of myself as a creative type, but writing the script was a way for me to flex those creative muscles I didn’t know I had. Our process might have been a bit different from that of other writers, since Charles did the prose and then I wrote the script based off of that. I didn’t have a lot of experience with comics before this, but I have read a lot of plays, and that really came in handy when I was writing the script. I do really enjoy scripting Blue Valkyrie, and I think Charles and I make a pretty good writing team. It was a lot of fun to break the scenes down into the different panels, and help the story to flow the way I saw it in my head.
This will likely sound like a pretty silly question, but can you tell us a about the nuts and bolts of what you do as an editor, aside from the obvious (that is, “edit”)?
For us at least, editing is a role that we all have a part in. When one of our writers has a new story idea, we all have input on it; whether or not it’s interesting, any suggestions we might have for changes, stuff like that. It’s always a good thing to have more eyes on a project, because no one is perfect and there will be mistakes. If we want to make the best product we can, it’s important that we catch those and improve the product. Since our writers are all part of the Nocturnal family currently, it’s also important that we support each other when one of us does have a new idea that they’d like to explore. I’ve also done a lot of the “behind the scenes” type work, like communicating with the artist, coordinating schedules, and setting up the Kickstarter page. Since we are a small company, we all wear a lot of different hats.
What inspires you as an editor? (Other books, areas of study, etc.)
This is going to sound totally dorky, but one of my high school English teachers. He really helped us understand how to make a sentence more interesting, and it’s something that has stuck with me. I also read a lot of books as a history major that were collections of essays written by first hand accounts, and I hope to become an editor like that; someone who can find stories that are similar, or about a common topic, bring them together, and just let the stories speak for themselves.
Phil - while we're on the topic of collaborating, what’s it been like finding writers and artists to work with? How’ve you gone about that?
It's been fun but also frustrating, haha. It's so awesome to meet and speak to so many talented and creative people, but things don't always work out with both parties having time or resources to devote to a project the way it deserves, and so the search has to continue, but then sometimes you find someone special and things click, and you can't imagine working with anyone else and that makes the frustration and the time spent searching well worth it!
Speaking of collaborators - krad, since you're the artist, and I know every artist works differently, would you mind me asking what is your comic process like from receiving the script to finish?
We review the script first in a series of meetings; pointing out the themes and mood that Charles and the others want to relay, tweaking some of the dialogue to better fit word bubble flow, talking a little about the before and after context of events, so if there's anything to foreshadow, I can. Then I'll thumbnail a page (focusing on panel flow), refine that to a sketch, and then what I call 'greyscale sketches' - a fantastic point to check the values, how large the bubbles need to be, and whether or not a page is actually serving its purpose. Once when Charles and the others approve of the greyscale sketch, then it's just a matter of refining the lines and colors - the hardest part is always in that front half.
Interesting! How much of your day is devoted to drawing?
It depends - weekends are generally more drawing-friendly where I can easily clock into 6-8 hours, wheras weekdays I focus more on the business aspect such as answering emails, meetings, making various graphics, and juggling a full-time design job in between. Perfect practice makes the best practice, though - so I always try to slide in an hour or two every day, even if it's just warmups or studies.
What are your artistic influences?
My tastes tend to be pretty predictable - give me explosive action, vain villains or monsters that carve a swathe in the cast, and drop-dead gorgeous moody art that isn't afraid to make a statement. Hellboy, the old 90's disney movies, obligatory Star Wars, and Hellsing (which has a stubbornly large chunk of my heart despite it being the most trashy-over-the-top manga you could ever read).
Phil, since we're talking about media that inspires us - it's also an open secret among the team that you're an avid comics reader, even compared with the rest of us - what are some of your favorite series?
I'm gonna try to keep this short because I have a hard time shutting up when it comes to comics, haha. I love all forms, even superhero comics, but when it comes to what I find the most inspiring, I lean towards the Strange/Supernatural, Detectives and Criminals, or visceral and heartfelt Slice of Life stuff. Anything by Ed Brubaker, Steve Niles, Warren Ellis, Jason Aaron or Rick Remender. I’d have to say my current favorite is BLANKETS by Craig Thompson, which might seem weird after naming all those other writers.
About the future of the industry: there is obviously a big push to digital right now. Do you see things moving expressly away from print, or the genre “tipping” one way over the other?
I think the push to digital is great for the medium, and I hope it continues to grow and reach more people, because the more the merrier. Our pop culture has been embracing the Marvel movies, and hopefully that regard will extend to more comics-based TV/Movies, but either way it has definitely opened new people to the idea of reading comics. Whether they prefer to buy from Comixology or from their local comic book store, at least they're buying comics. I think there will always be people who prefer one over the other, and there is probably a good amount of crossover from people who get a taste of a single digital issue and decide to buy a physical trade to get the whole story or trade with friends, but it's all for the betterment of comics. As long as we share, and tell our friends, and talk about these awesome stories we love, then our beloved comics will always continue to live on.
Before we wrap up, are there any other projects you’d like to tell your fans about?
Amanda: There are so many great stories we have to tell, it’s hard to choose just one. I’m really excited about a new story we have in the works that’s set in the Junoverse, and is inspired by some awesome historical women. I’m very proud of how many stories our writers want to tell, and how many genres those stories span.
Phil: As the leader of Nocturnal, I would be remiss if I didn't mention other Nocturnal projects we have in the works, such as SAMURAI ODYSSEY which I myself am writing in collaboration with wonderful Texas artist DEVIN KRAFT, the creator of DRAGON SLAYER and SILENCE.
Charles: Well one of my favorite things about comics is being able explore entire universes in a way that films can only scratch the surface of. We have a great many irons in the fire, not all of which are tie ins with Blue Valkyrie, but they definitely will knock your socks off. We're working on a few special projects covering genres like adventure, horror, action, and even a pretty damn good crime drama.
krad: Definitely echoing Amanda; the team's dropped some rad hints about a Junoverse story with parallels back to a certain allied faction in WW2 that has me on pins and needles in a good way! Outside of Nocturnal, I'm actually launching an action-adventure webcomic with Hiveworks about dictators and demons called IRON CROWN - it'll be out late this spring.
And for the last question - What’s your advice to young creators and women looking to get into this field?
Charles: Read, read, read! Read anything and everything. Not every story is going to speak to you or blow your mind, but it's important to experience art and storytelling in all its forms. Read, and don't stop writing. Don't stop drawing. If someone tells you you're not good enough, keep going. There's only one way to perfect your skills, and that's practice and persistence. There's going to be a ton of challenges. Some of them you wouldn't really expect. I myself am in no way an expert, but in my experience, the best thing you can do is ask questions. If you know someone with more experience, reach out to them and ask them how they did it. There's a lot of helpful interviews and stories from other creatives out there. Other people's experiences are a surprisingly helpful resource.
Amanda: I would say, don’t let a fear of failure stop you from doing something you really want to do. When Nocturnal was first founded, I wasn’t part of the team, but I really wanted to be. I didn’t think I could write, and I didn’t know what exactly I could bring to the table, but I wanted to help people I care about realize their dreams. Little did I know, I would be realizing mine as well. This whole process has been terrifying and wonderful, and there have been times that I absolutely did not know what I was doing, but we have an amazing team, and an amazing artist, who have been very supportive. I would also say, don’t feel intimidated if you don’t read the “right” comics. Especially with all of the indie publishers out there, there really is something for everyone now. So if you don’t want to read about superheroes, but you really like horror stories, or anywhere in between, there is something for everyone out there. Find what inspires you and then work to create with everything you have.
krad: Don't ever let a few knocks get you down - your first attempt at creating a story or a work is probably going to be terrible (everyone's is), but understanding and learning from your past mistakes is a badge you can always wear proudly. Additionally - never be afraid to tell a story that you feel in your bones. I see too many folks who shy away from pushing the envelope; for fear of criticism, not fitting with what’s popular, falling flat publicly, or for a myriad of other reasons - which is a shame. The worst that can happen is a good story not being told.
Phill: My only advice would be to never allow yourself to get caught up and bogged down by not being a “professional” and if Comics, Writing, or Art are what you are passionate about, then pursue that passion with all you've got. Read Comics, Study Art and Visual Storytelling, and write/draw what you want. I spent too long feeling like creating comics was something I could only aspire to, when I could have been doing it since I was in elementary school when I wrote my first stories. If you want to make comics, there is nothing stopping you but the limits of your own passion and creativity. Go for it!
Thanks for your time and words, everyone!
About the Creators
Risks and challenges
The goal of this Kickstarter is to earn the funding to produce Issue #1 of Blue Valkyrie. Our goal is to put the book into production at the end of March 2017 and have the books shipped to our backers by the beginning of December 2017. Our biggest challenge right now is the completion of the art for the pages. We are working with an awesome, hardworking artist, and it should take about nine months to complete the art and create our rewards. We will be making some of our rewards by hand, and others we are going to outsource from other companies.
This is the first Kickstarter campaign that Nocturnal Productions has ever done, but we are confident in our stories and our artists.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)