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Indie Spotlight – Introducing The Paranormals

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

the-paranormalsWelcome to the second edition of our Indie Spotlight, a focus on indie comics that are worth your attention.  This weeks spotlight is “The Paranormals” by A. Diallo Jackson and Russell Fox.  Diallo was one of the first people to reply to my post asking for indie creators to send me stuff and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it arrived on my door step.  They decided to not go the digital route and hired Ka-Blam to do the printing for them.

I really enjoyed this book, the writing is great and both the cover and interior are very well done.   It’s a crime/mystery story with a lot of crazy supernatural stuff going on throughout it.   It’s got a very dark feel to it which I love.

We took a few moments to ask Diallo some questions about his creation.  After you read it, click over to Indy Planet and buy yourself a copy

Can you give us a little background on The Paranormals?

Sure.  The Paranormals is a supernatural, crime-noir series that takes place in present day Edinburgh, Scotland. As the story begins, Jenni Mi Heun is confronted with her possible destiny; she may be the reincarnation of Christ or the Anti-Christ.  At the same time a demon hunter, Andre Jai, is sent to protect…or kill her.  He doesn’t know which.  Meanwhile a serial killer is on the loose, and a private investigator, Mason Lynch is on the case.  All of this mayhem brings the three characters together.  Madness ensues.

Who is the creative team?

I am the creator and writer, and Russell Fox (who is the most amazing artist you’ll ever see) does all of the art.  Russell’s artwork has taken this concept to the next level, giving it a creepy, dark feel that fits the tone I always had intended.  Dark, deadly, and serious.  Max Lozada serves as Story Editor.  Leah Novak serves as Letterer and Copy Editor.  For the first issue we got the awesome and amazing Christopher Shy from Ronin Studios to do a really lovely painted cover.  I have to say, I’m truly lucky to be able to not only have found such amazing and talented people to work with, but also that they’ve agreed to commit their time and energy into making this project come to life.  It’s humbling to say the least.

How long have you been working on this project and where would you like to see it go from here?  Do you want to continue with this book or are their other stories you would like to explore?

I came up with the concept in 2003 and originally saw it as a television series and mapped it out as such.  I have a Series Bible that charts the story out for five seasons worth of story arcs taking the characters to various places.  It was pitched and optioned and was well received, but I hadn’t been able to get it made or move any further with it.  So instead of it just sitting in a drawer gathering dust, I decided to take that concept and translate it into a comic book.

Ultimately I would love to see it as an television series. But now that it’s seen life as a comic book, and since people seem to really be responding to it, I wouldn’t mind if we went the “Walking Dead” route, and got a really strong following of passionate fans, then maybe one day head into TV territory.  The reality is that producing this independently gives me the freedom to tell the story the way I want to, and to explore subject matter that you wouldn’t be able to explore in quite the same way as on television.

I have other, more traditional superhero comic series I’m working on launching, but right now I’m having way too much fun in this world of the Paranormals.  Any serialized form of storytelling would suit it best, as I really do like to take the time to explore the characters and what motivates them as much as I do with what’s happening plot wise, while we explore concepts of good & evil, religion, fate, and the universe.  I do know exactly where it all ends up and there is a definitive ending to the story. And let’s just say, my goal is to rip your heart out.  Figuratively of course.  The characters may or may not make it out unscathed, but I don’t want my readers to.

What was the biggest hurdle to getting your first comic finished?

In no particular order.  Lettering, Money, and Me.   “Me” because Russell finished the artwork a few years ago, and it took me a while to save up the money to get the book actually in production.  But then when I had saved the money I didn’t want to let it go!  I got over that though and hired a succession of letterers that didn’t work out for one reason or another which held us up being complete for nearly a year.  Finally I was put in touch with Leah who seems as though sent from heaven above.  Once I made the decision to publish the comic though, and was committed to it happening, doors instantly opened, and whenever there was a hurdle someone was always there to show me another way, and those ways turned out to be even better than I could have imagined.

How many issues of The Paranormals have you done?  Where can people get them?

So far we have the first issue complete and ready to order online at Indy Planet.  If you happen to be in London, you can also check out a couple of shops, Orbital Comics and Mega City Comics.  If you go there and they’re sold out, tell them to order more!

Russell is currently drawing issue #2 as we speak.  And I’m just now finishing up the script for issue #3.  You can also find out more about the comic at our website at www.actionstudioworks.com.    When anyone asks me where they can buy my comic I always encourage them to buy 100 instead.  Nice round number. Haha!

What are you reading currently?

I tend to actually not read a lot when I’m in “writing mode” but I do find some time to dip into some good stories.  I recently just finished Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men.  In my estimation, it’s the first series since the old Chris Claremont days worthy of the title.  Right now I’m in the middle of re-reading The Watchmen which is even more fantastic this time than it was the first time I read it.  My Story Editor, Max also gave me the complete series of “Bone” for Christmas so I’ve started reading that as well, but I’m only in the first few pages of it.

Which creators would you say have had the most influence on your own project?

In terms of writing style it’s across the board.  Frank Miller’s tendency to “go for it” with his dialouge and moments definitely influences me where my normal tendency would be to hold back.  As I’m reading Watchmen, I’m actually realizing that Alan Moore’s writing and plotting (not only in the Watchmen but also his Captain Britain series) is echoing through my keyboard.  If you have a chance to read the novel “Morvern Callar” by Alan Warner, it’s helping me figure out just how crazy Jenni’s life is going to get.  But right now the most influential creator my artist Russell Fox. He’s really altered the way that I’m thinking about the book the most.  Now when I’m coming up with scenes I really give him free reign to dazzle the reader, because he’s that good.  Knowing what he’s capable of sparks my imagination.  We’ve only seen the tip of what he can do in the first issue and every time I get a new page from him and see how he’s interpreted my words I’m truly amazed.

It looks like you chose to have your comic printed by Kablam, how did that process go?  What made you choose that option vs. going digital?

Kablam is a godsend for people like myself.  If you’re just starting out and you don’t want to commit a large amount of cash upfront, it’s a good way to get you headed down the road of publishing without breaking the bank.  It was very simple, and they give you very clear, detailed instructions on what they need from you to get you out of the gate and running.  They print it as needed and take care of all processing and shipping.  The days of indie creators having to make an ashcan comic using their company’s printer are pretty much over.  Now you can make your first impression be a professional looking one.

And as far as not going digital initially, it was just one part wanting to show that I’m serious about this work, but also because there really aren’t that many digital options for independent creators outside of a static web comic.  Most of the e-reader companies out there right now cater to the big guys, Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, etc.  Because of that I’ve got a team working on a branded solution for us smaller guys and gals to give us a helping hand and to level the playing field.  Our ideas are just as valid as the big publishers’ but we might not have the backing and resources to show that in some cases. I look forward to announcing more when we release issue #2 of the Paranormals hopefully next month.

When reading comics yourself, do you prefer to read them as digital or on paper?

My personal preference is paper.  However, as I’ve been lugging around 11 long boxes of comics for most of my adult life maybe I need to rethink that!  While paper is my preference I think you’d be a fool to ignore where the industry (never mind the world) is going.  Digital to me is for quick easy consumption, which realistically is how most people interact with the glut of media out there today; so much of it vying for our quick attention.  Paper for me however is the opposite.  It’s quiet and solitary, in a good way.  You get to read it and figure out what it is that you think about it, without a chorus of comments from other people deciding what you *should* be thinking just beneath the article or art.   You get to close the door, or sit by the lake, or go to the beach and soak it in.  You don’t have to recharge it, or worry about the battery dying, and you can accidently drop it in the pool and not have to go to a genius bar to replace it.  There’s plenty of room in this world for both though.  Everybody has their own preference, and I want to make sure that Paranormals fits into whatever vehicle by which you choose to read it.