Welcome to the October 19, 2016 edition of Recommendsday!
This week I have a special recommendation for you. Seasons is a webcomic drama written by Nandor Fox Shaffer, with art and lettering by Anthony Gonzales-Clark. Seasons is a gripping tale featuring amazing art and storytelling. I couldn’t resist the chance to ask creators a few questions about the journey they’re on. So, I got in touch with Nandor and Anthony to find out a little more about Seasons and it’s origins. This is an exciting interview that gives a look into how Seasons came to be and the struggles the creators face. So, check out what they had to say, read Seasons and be sure to find Nandor and Anthony on social media via the links at the bottom of the article.
NANDOR: Of course. SEASONS is a comic book drama that revolves around one man, Fletcher Hart Iiams. He’s kind of your everyday, average young man who, like a lot of young men in their formative years from 18-24, is at a crossroads in his life. And, also like a lot of young men and women of today, he feels misunderstood and is unsure of his identity, place, and purpose in the world. I think it would be safe to say that most people in this age range don’t fully realize how defining and influential these years can be on one’s worldview and personality as well, and this is where we find Fletcher in the first story – living the routine, run of the mill, mundane day-to-day lifestyle without much care for where he’s at or his future. So that’s where we begin, and SEASONS is the story about how this one man can redefine his identity, place, and purpose in the world. This overarching narrative will be told in four parts – Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter – which will all be four separate, but interconnected stories. The reader will follow Fletcher throughout one year of his life in real time and witness the literal and allegorical “seasons” he goes through that will test him, mold him, make him, and break him. Each story will explore different themes, with the first, Spring, exploring Fletcher’s emotions, psyche, motivations, and darkness he, as well as many, many people, hide away. Spring is exposing who this guy really is and what he’s been through. Furthermore, Fletcher gains a set of (super) powers to help him through each season, and as one season transitions into the next, he gains a new set of powers. So as the world changes, so does Fletcher himself, and so do his powers.
The origin of SEASONS came about through a number of little things, but the two biggest ideas that really set it off for me and got me excited were the ideas of a regular guy like me gaining a new set of powers with every seasonal transition and following someone closely for one whole year – witnessing who they were, who they are, and who they could be in real time. Also, I really just wanted to write something and anything. I always wanted to write novels, but when these ideas came to me – I honestly don’t know where they exactly came from or what inspired them – I knew that they could only fit and work within the comic book medium. After sitting down and really thinking about it, I thought this story was just absolutely perfect for embracing the medium and pushing it to some lengths. I thought to myself, “What if I could follow someone month by month in real time? What if one week in October 2017 that I was currently living in was being lived by someone else in a comic book I was currently reading at the same time? What if I could be a part of that?” Since comics release on a monthly basis, I was very interested if something like that was possible to do, and I would hope others would be interested and excited by that idea as well. And although I’m not able to show the reader what someone does exactly day by day or week by week due to plot structure, I believe I figured out the best formula that still hits those same buttons.
Anthony, what made you decide to do this project? What’s special about it that made you say, ” I can add something of value to this.”
ANTHONY: You never know how any of things are going to turn out. There’s the initial reason, money, that gets you started. Then you meet the people involved, they grow on you, and you discover they really got their head on straight.
Money was the deciding factor. It still is the deciding factor. I know that sounds very bourgeoisie, to use a term from the creative elitists. But it’s the truth. A paying internship was ending and I needed a job. Specifically, in art. Nandor emailed me and here we are.
I didn’t know him. That didn’t matter. I have a wife, a car payment, rent, and other bills to pay. Six or Seven months prior to this, I stumbled upon Jason Brubaker’s Unnatural Talent and it reinforced my whole perspective on the business of comics. Equipped with this knowledge, I needed to make a change. I found out I was doing everything wrong and I was really behind where I needed to be in all the important categories: career, artist, husband, provider. I could go on.
As we moved forward with the project my desire for money hasn’t dissipated, I don’t think it ever will, why should it? But my passion for the project itself has increased. The story is good. I have spent twelve hour days at times to really bring out the story in each page. Nandor has scenes that make me not want to quit drawing until I get it done and some scenes bring out my lack of professionalism. Money can get you to put pen to paper and keep the lights on to see that paper and a really good story will really test you to question yourself and your talent.
Nandor, you’re a young guy, how long have you wanted to tell comics stories like Seasons? Is the publication of Seasons the realization of a dream?
NANDOR: It’s only been two or three years since I fully knew I wanted to be a creative writer. I used to write a lot of blogs on video games and thought of going into journalism for a time, but the more comics and books I read and the more movies and tv shows I watched, I couldn’t escape how powerful stories were and how much they’ve affected my life and who I am. So I’ve wanted to be a creative writer for a couple years, and I felt writing comic books was the right place to begin at. SEASONS is really the first time I’ve done anything creative with literature ever (besides writing music with my brother) so I’m ever experimenting and learning with the medium and creating in general.
Yeah, being only 19, I feel extremely privileged with the course of the book so far and how far its come in the short amount of time in the public eye. Watching it evolve from a few scribbles on notebook paper at the age of 17 to a fully presentable comic now is one of the best feelings in the world. I’d say one half of the dream has definitely been realized, but the real and complete dream will be realized when I’m able to get a physical copy of SEASONS in my hands (haha). I think when that happens, I’ll truly feel like I’ve arrived and made something that I can hold and show first-hand to people.
Anthony, how long have you been working towards becoming a sequential storyteller? What’s that journey been like?
ANTHONY: I didn’t know it at the time. But, forever? No. I grew up watching movies. I was fours years old when parents moved my sister and I into my aunts house. I can’t really remember when I had all this time or how I got away with watching the kinds of movies I watched. Imagine your at your aunts house unsupervised, she has a whole library full of movies. Your four! You know these black rectangular object play pictures on the TV. That’s all you need to know. You pop in Full Metal Jacket or Aliens then The Thing or Evil Dead. Yeah. You may be thinking, what a terrible mother I had. Well you may be right! I have often questioned my mother and the response is always, “Well you turned out just fine.” And I did. I think. This really shows you the different worlds people live in just a generation or two ago. Is it any wonder that generation I grew up in is making a comeback; member berries, Stranger Things, style of music, punk rock. Anyways. This all has a point! Movies. My opinion on storytelling, how it works, what it does to people, how to see when a story is unfolding the right way, has stuck with me ever since I was kid. I started to see it in people growing up, noticing body language and cues when to shut up. How narratives shape our minds today. You just have to turn on the news and see the latest narrative they want you to believe. Some well crafted story that hits all the marks to get you thinking the way they want you to think. Now lest you think I’m crazy. Stories have shaped out minds and the way we think since the Bible. Stories are important. They are the only way to properly convey what it’s like to be a human. To tell God what it was like here on earth. I believe, you can only show inexplicable effectively through art. Many of the wrong kinds of people know that the culture is important, the arts are important and so they utilize it. Many people stay away in fear they might be corrupted. But in doing so they have ejected themselves from the American conscious. What kind of journey has that been like? Maybe I’ll draw you a picture one day….
What kind of challenges have the two of you faced with this project? Have those challenges shaped your processes and the way you’ll approach projects in the future?
NANDOR: I can definitely name a few. Because this is my first creative project and my first stab at comics, I really had to learn a lot about how to put together a comic book script, what style of narrative I wanted to tell, finding the right artist, setting up a website, and a lot of little things here and there. In regards to the story, let’s just say I’m a slow writer. I know where I want to go, but how to get there is always where I experience writer’s block. Getting past that and finding enough time has been a reoccurring challenge, for sure. But I can tell that the more I write, the better and faster I’ll get for the future. Maybe the biggest challenge was finding the artist for SEASONS and maintaining a collaborative relationship. In one of my blogs that I posted on the website (seasonsthecomicbook.com) – “How I Met Anthony” – I mention how I experienced a “misfire” with another artist. That experience really taught me how to approach this as a “business” and how to better communicate with an “employee,” so to speak, which is something I’ll be taking with me from here on out. Thankfully, Anthony has been kind and patient with me through this whole thing (haha).
ANTHONY: The biggest challenge I have is limiting myself. I spend way too much on a single page sometimes, two sometimes three days. I get caught up in trying to make it look perfect. It’s has to look perfect! I get a good idea, I run it by Nandor, we are good to go, so I just put the time into doing. I’m trying to get better as a comic book artist and I keep wanting to put every little detail where it needs to be but sometimes I don’t have to. What I have learned so far with this project is that I need to practice, practice, practice. Keep sketching and learning new things. Want to learn how to draw hands? Draw your own then over and over again. I have this story of me and my aunts backyard. I lived there in a shack in the backyard for a short while. I started my first comic book there. I couldn’t get the feet correct. I had to keep looking up pictures on my phone, because I didn’t have a laptop then and the computer was in my aunts room all the way in the front of the house. So I just propped up a mirror and sat on a chair and kept drawing my feet till I knew how to draw every dynamic pose the foot could perform. When it comes to your project, make sure your ready to go. You save time and the focus can be directed elsewhere.
What’s the endgame for Seasons? How long will it run? You’re planning to Kickstart a printed edition eventually?
The first story – Spring – will run for four issues (105 pages). The series as whole – including all four books – will be the equivalent of 16-20 issues, around there. And yes, the endgame will be to release printed editions of all four books. We’re starting SEASONS out as a free webcomic with the intention of building a big enough fanbase where we can crowd fund the first story by early next year via Kickstarter. Hopefully, after that, the other three books can go directly to print with those funds. But I’m not totally against a publisher picking SEASONS up. I would be quite thrilled if that happened in all honesty.
When readers sit down and read through Seasons, what do you hope they’ll take away from it?
Great question. A very important one, too, because I want SEASONS to send a message to its readers. With the first story, I would hope it would make the reader examine his inward spirit and motivations. I also would like the reader to look at people around them differently and try to find the will and sincerity to truthfully care for themselves and others. In terms of the entire series? I hope readers know that in life’s struggles they’re not alone and that there’s more to life than what we see physically with our own eyes. I want them to take away that there’s something better.
Nandor’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/
Anthony’s Instagram: https://www.
So that’s it for this week, folks. Thanks for stopping by #recommendsday. Until next time, go forth and Unleash Havoc.