This week on Recommendsday, I’m bringing you something near and dear to my heart. A successful storyboard artist and Dreamworks animator, Jason Brubaker first gained notice on the comics scene when he began publishing the webcomic ReMIND. He we would go on to receive a Xeric Grant and break down the walls of possibility for Kickstarter comics with numerous mega-successful campaigns.
With Sithrah, Jason is telling a unique and moving tale unlike anything else I’ve read. It’s a story about a headstrong girl named Vonna who’s searching for her father after a plane crash that separated them. With the help of an enigmatic and courageous brother figure Dino, and her guardian angel Sithrah, Vonna unblinkingly stalks headlong into danger–willing to risk everything to find her dad. Sithrah is a story wrought with emotion that will make you sad, excited and nervous as well as make you laugh in equal helpings.
There are so many great things that I could say about Jason, Coffee Table Comics and his comic Sithrah, that I almost don’t know where to begin at all. Jason doesn’t just make great comics and content. (Most of which he gives away for FREE, by the way.) He’s also building an exciting community of genuine artists and creatives unlike anything else I’ve been a part of. Via his three days a week live stream and Facebook group, Unnatural Talent, an exciting and inclusive world is growing around him. To read his work and be part of the Coffee Table Comics community is to be treated as family and welcomed as a friend. I’m not just a member of CTC at large but also a patron of Jason’s on Patreon and I can’t give it a larger stamp of approval. If you want unprecedented access to a creator’s process and an exciting, supportive experience that will propel you into your own creative endeavors, look nowhere else. Jason, Coffee Table Comics and Unnatural Talent offer it in spades.
I’m always thrilled to get the opportunity to interview people and find out more behind them and the things they create. So, check out this interview with Jason AND be sure to check out the newest installment of Sithrah, which publishes every Monday on Webtoons. I #Recommendsday it!
Jason, for anyone not yet familiar, can you tell us a little bit about Sithrah? What are the origins of the idea and what was about Sithrah that made you say: “This is the idea I’m going to bring to life!”
FAITH. Faith in God, that God is this invisible thing that’s present in all of our lives that pushes and pulls us and that there’s this invisible spiritual battle always happening. I feel like I’ve experienced it all throughout my life in many different ways. I just really want to show people that visually through this comic Sithrah. What’s interesting is that making the comic, itself, has been all about faith! Moving to Idaho, putting our house on the market, leaving Dreamworks, telling my wife Cheli “Hey, let’s move to Idaho!” and so much more crazy stuff! The message is all about Faith. Just how Sithrah starts is based on the scripture: Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is being sure of what you hope for and positive of what you cannot see.” — Really that’s the whole book, but there are many different twists and turns and interesting things that have happened with the story naturally. It’s a story about a girl who truly believes she’s going to find her Dad. Even though the readers are pretty sure she won’t– she still has faith. I think that’s how life is, really. It’s just about having faith and going for it.
When I moved to LA I fell in love with Miyazaki’s stuff. I still love the way he tells a story and how compelling the story and characters are. Miyazaki’s culture is very rooted in faith and spirituality and even though it’s told in a way that’s way different than the way our Western culture views it – it’s still beautiful and entertaining to watch. So, what I wanted to do was try to tell a story in that same loving approach as Miyazaki, but with my own unique beliefs. That’s the mood I’m trying to set: “If I can get close to a Miyazaki feel then I’m doing okay.”
You’ve been creating comics with levels of success since your childhood. But with Remind, it seems like you established a process for how you want to create comics. With that in mind, what kind of new challenges have you faced with Sithrah? Have those challenges shaped your processes and the way you’ll approach the rest of Sithrah and other projects in the future?
The biggest challenges now are: Not burning out and still trying to get the studio in a place where it’s fully funding itself without any outside help. Like, Webtoons. It’s great that they’re helping us out but we’re still tied to those chains. We still have to please them to keep afloat. So, we need to continue to build a fan-base and continue to make the best stories. I can’t worry about what people think about my message or what I create. I can’t apologize for my stories or whether or not it’s mainstream. I won’t be motivated enough if I do it for the money.
I really like mixing prose into my comics now. Sithrah has shown me that. Prose is really helpful to storytelling. I feel like it’s just going to be a part of everything I do now. It’s fun and it feels like an element I can play with a lot. Also, double page spreads! Those are all things that I like using in my comics. I feel like you need to “smack someone in the face” sometimes when it comes to delivering your message. Prose and double-page spreads help with that.
What’s the long-term plan for Sithrah look like? It’s being published on Webtoons and you’ve already Kickstarted the first two books in the series. How many books will Sithrah be and when will the next Kickstarter launch?
For book 3 we’re planning on launching it in February of next year (2017). I want to try having a 3-week campaign instead of a month-long campaign. I want to fulfill all of the book 2 orders first and get them sent out to everyone before the holidays. It’s always nice to raise all the money in the beginning of the year and spend it before the end of the year so you don’t get messed up on taxes 🙂
Sithrah is going to be 6 books. Unless one of the last books ends up being so long that I have to double it, but I don’t see that happening unless something really unexpected happens.
When I think about comics and books I’m always trying to figure out — “If I was going to a convention, what stands out, punches me in the face, and totally makes me want to buy it?” — Because it’s totally original and stands out so much and has all of these combined elements that impress and inspire me. There’s no excuse for not making something original like I’m describing. I want to break down every reason why someone wouldn’t want to buy my comic and make it with those thoughts in mind. I want to pull off being able to make art that makes people stare at it and wonder how it was made. If I can do that kinda thing in comics and kinda blow people minds — and not in a Dreamworks or Marvel Comics way . . . but in my own way. Something unique and something that makes people wonder why it hasn’t been done before. I think in any career you have to have your own unique pride for what you do to make something people will be happy with.