A lot of us dream about putting pen to paper and making our own comics.
Steve Bryant decided the dream wasn't enough and has gone several steps further. You may have seen his work on Athena Voltaire on the web or in printed form (available in TPB: Athena Voltaire: The Collected Web Comics and Athena Voltaire: Flight of the Falcon). Steve's looking to bring the world even more aviatrix goodness and you may be able to help.
He was kind enough to do nine questions with us.
And so, without further ado...
Nine Questions with Steve Bryant!
CM: As a horribly irresponsible interviewer, I haven’t actually read Athena Voltaire. So, here’s your chance to sell me and anyone else that hasn’t read your book. Why should we pluck down our hard earned and/or government subsidized sheckles for Athena Voltaire?
SB: Athena Voltaire is a book about a 1930s globetrotting aviatrix who fights Nazis and supernatural creatures. That’s the book in a nutshell. I’m just having fun trying to tell good, pulpy adventure stories.
CM: The word ‘pulp’ comes up a lot when people discuss your work. What does the word mean to you? What draws you to it?
SB: Boy, it does come up a lot — I just used it, in fact!
Historically, the pulps were a stage for mad ideas and adventures to be belted out at a fast and furious pace. Sometimes they were episodic, and other times they were self-contained, but there was always a frenetic energy to the material, like it was careening toward a climax. The Shadow and Doc Savage, obviously were pulp characters, but authors Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs also wrote for the pulps. But that energy is a quality that I try and instill in AV.
Some people use the term “pulp” interchangeably with “cliffhangers” or “serials” in reference to material that reflects a certain era. I think that’s certainly something AV has in common with the pulps.
To me, “pulp” means all of the above, and more. It’s a pacing sensibility, and an era, and so many bigger qualities too. I think of adventure, and action, too.
The bottom line, for me, is to tell stories about compelling characters in extraordinary situations. That’s my mantra, since I think it’s the heart of all fiction I enjoy — pulpy or not.
CM: You have a Kickstarter campaign going on right now. What’s the deal? What is Kickstarter and what are you looking to accomplish?
SB: Kickstarter.com is a funding platform for artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, explorers, or anyone with a dream to make the impossible, possible. Think of it like a PBS telethon, except instead of tote bags, you can get sketchbooks, exclusive hardcovers, original art and more—you can even get your name in the comic.
With Kickstarter, my goal is to get enough donations to be able to set aside the actual time to work on AV, instead of cranking out a panel or two in my off-hours. I’ve been chipping away at the project like that for a while now, and haven’t gotten as far along as I would like. The Kickstarter funding would also go toward having the book colored, as well.
CM: Athena Voltaire started as a webcomic, but has gone on in the form of single issues and trade paperbacks. Do you prefer any of these packages over the others?
SB: I love the immediacy of the webcomic form, but there’s something cool about seeing a 32-page comic on the shelves. Of course, I really like having trade paperbacks on the bookshelf, too.
I guess you can say that I like all the formats. It’s tough for an indie creator to get noticed, so the more available avenues to introduce new readers to your work, the better.
CM: Athena is known for her piloting skills. Do you fly? What does the idea of flight bring to the story?
SB: I don’t fly. Actually, Athena being a pilot was intended to separate her from just being a “female Indiana Jones.” By making the character an aviatrix, it creates a logical reason to put her in all of these interesting locales and a good set-up for a lot of adventures. Plus, it’s an homage to the great history of female pilots in comics, from Valkyrie to Russell Keaton’s Flyin’ Jenny to Diana Palmer in The Phantom. And more that I’m forgetting, I’m sure.
CM: A lot of small press folks (and some big ones) seem to be angling for that movie deal and accompanying movie check. Is that a goal with your work? Are you content sticking with comics or will you not rest until we all have our own Athena Voltaire Snuggie?
SB: I write and draw Athena Voltaire because I love comics. If nothing ever comes of it aside from me spinning these little adventures, I’m cool with it.
That said, very few independent comics break even, let alone make a profit. Something like having AV optioned for film or television—or more—would ultimately insure that I’d be able to devote a larger portion of my time to producing the book.
CM: You have quotes from people like Mark Shultz, Warren Ellis, and Matt Fraction out there promoting your book. How did you land those? Did they offer them willingly or do you have compromising photos?
SB: No compromising photos. Mark’s become somewhat of a mentor to me, so obviously his quote means a lot. The Warren Ellis comment originated from his old Bad Signal mailing list, where he asked if anyone produced webcomics. If he liked the comics, he’d say something about them and I was fortunate that he liked AV. The Matt Fraction quote came from me seeking him out at a show (around the time that he released either Five Fists of Science or Casanova) because I really dug his work. I gave him copies of my book and asked him to give me a quote if he liked it.
They’re a bunch of great creators and stand-up guys, regardless of if they provided me with quotes. It means a lot that they took the time to look at my work.
CM: Even with all you do on the book, you bring in some other folks to help with the finished product. Mutual friend J. Matthew Crawley is set to letter your next book. What on Earth made you decide to give him the gig? Does he have incriminating photos?
Again, no incriminating photos.
I’ve always done my own lettering, but really like the work that Josh has done for Fear Agent and, particularly, Jim Heffron’s Lawdog Comics imprint. Josh has a great sense of design and was kind enough to sign on to letter Cipher, an upcoming series I’ll be doing through Ape Entertainment. I’m co-writing that with Molly McBride (my Athena Voltaire editor) and it’s being drawn by JunBob Kim.
CM: Athena Voltaire isn’t your only project. What else are you working on?
SB: There’s the aforementioned Cipher, a modern-day ensemble adventure series. It’s kind of a cross between Hellboy and the TV show Alias. And I’ve just started writing a project I’ll be collaborating on with a terrific artist, Kyle Latino, that I can’t talk about yet. But I’m really psyched about it.
Thanks again, Mr. Bryant, for humouring us madmen!
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