Passion can go a long way into doing something incredible. We here at FTN see that every day with our guy Todd Black, who not only helps write the news and reviews on our site, but also makes an epic comic book called Guardians!
With him going to C2E2 (the Chicago Comic-Con) tomorrow, we felt it best to ask him some questions about his comic, the industry in general, and role of comics in an incredibly growing market. Check out our interview, then check out Todd and his Guardians via the links at the bottom of the page!
1) The Guardians are very much the archetypal superheroes we’ve come to know over the years, there’s a Golden Age feel to them, that said what would you say this comic offers to others, what makes it unique?
TB: Ha, ha, I have heard stuff like that before. I’ve actually heard Element and Chaos compared to both Batman and Superman, and Thor and Loki. It’s really fun to be honest.
For me though, I’ve always had a fascination with having those look “stereotypical”, then as you get deeper, you’ll see just how non-stereotypical they are. The origin for my Guardians I think is somewhat unique. They were created to protect Delta City, and nothing else. And that leads to the big question that I address in issue #1: “is there more to my life than just my purpose?” It’s a question that’ll be brought up a lot, and the Guardians each have a very different opinion to what the answer is.
Also, the relationship between the Guardians I feel is unique. They are brothers, and I honestly can’t think of too many comics that have a true brotherly relationship for the main characters that isn’t dysfunctional. For the Guardians, that’s not the case. They trust each other with everything they got. They have no reason not to. Yes, they disagree on things, but rarely are they ever mad at each other. That trust and brotherhood is a core aspect that I am going to love exploring.
2) In terms of tone and perhaps even the look, what were your influences on this title?
TB:Well I’ll be honest, the look is something I knew I had to have right. I didn’t just want it to be something “good-looking”, I wanted it to be something I would enjoy reading. And my artist Alex Garcia has gone above and beyond my hopes for this series. He became the full-time artist in Guardians #1, and slowly but surely his craft improved into a near jaw-dropping style that I can’t imagine Guardians being without.
If I was ever fortunate enough to get hired on at DC or Marvel or any other big publisher? I would ask for Alex to be hired as well. He’s earned it.
As for tone. I wanted a comic that everyone could read, but based on age, they’ll understand more and more of what’s going on. I have some heavy themes in the book. Religion, science, faith, purpose, etc. But I didn’t want this to be a solely adult comic, that’s not fun to me. So I made a comic that has the tropes you love in comics, but with story that makes you ask questions. That was very important to me.
3) There’s often a criticism in comic books that the villains can overshadow the heroes. With the character of Tempest, in particular, how difficult was it getting the balance right as he was the first villain the heroes faced?
TB:That’s a good question, as it’s almost crucial to the first arc that introduces the first supervillain. For Tempest, I really wanted a character that you knew was deadly, one that could match the Guardians. Which is why his intro was done the way it was, to show that even with powers, he wasn’t going to be taken down easily. That being said, I didn’t want the struggle of the Guardians to be lost in Tempest’s “presence”. So I tried to show him madness to a full extent, all the while showing what the Guardians had to do to stop him.
Tempest is going to be a big part of Guardians lore. When he returns (yes, WHEN!!!), it’s going to be revealing, and, impactful.
4) Do you have other titles planned or are you focussing solely on The Guardians at the minute?
TB:I dream of making more titles! Lol. I honestly have two or three ideas for Guardians spinoffs that I’d like to do. All based on characters that we’ll meet down the line. That happening though will depend on the fanbase, their love (or hate) of the characters, timing, and money.
For now though? Guardians is my pride and joy, and I’ll making them for a while.
5) There’s an old joke that if you want to make a small amount of money in the comic industry, start off with a lot of money. As up and coming artists what do you see as the opportunities out there at the minute?
TB:That is the question isn’t it? For me as the writer, the hardest reality to come to grips with, was that no true comic artist would work on my comic for free. Which honestly is why it took so long for Guardians to get made. But after working a job for a long time, and getting money saved up, I focused in, set a price I was willing to pay, and got it done. And yeah, I didn’t make money like I wanted to, and I had to stop Guardians for a while. But I persevered, and kept going, and now me and Alex have an agreement that helps us both out.
For anyone that wants to make comics, the best advice I can give is: Do everything you can to do it. If you’re an artist looking for work? Do a bunch of pages showing your talents and skills. That’s what the writers look for. Show the different styles you can do. Draw well known characters to get peoples attention. And always, ALWAYS, be open to criticism so that you can get better when the need arrives.
For writers? Don’t give up on looking for an artist. But also, don’t settle for an artist just because they applied. If their style doesn’t suit you? Don’t accept it. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s your comic, and you’re going to not only have to look at it every day (when you make it), but you’re going to have to show it off. And if you’re not proud of what you see? Then you’re not doing it right.
Never give up. I almost did several times. But I get going, and now my comic has 8 issues, with a 9th on the way. That’s 8-9 more than most people have.
6) What comic book titles are out there at the minute that are getting your attention?
TB:Oh I read a bunch of DC and Marvel, and I enjoy plenty of titles on both sides. The fun part is asking “which would I write if I was at Marvel or DC?” And that’s the tough question. To be honest, I would be more than willing to create a new solo comic based on an existing character that doesn’t have a solo comic, or hasn’t had one in a while. Look at Marvel with Storm, Ms. Marvel, or DC with their upcoming Cyborg and Black Canary series. Those are new adventures I would love to do with an existing character.
7) The comic book market is over saturated and the bubble’s about to burst. Discuss?
TB:Over saturated may be a little bit of a stretch, but you’re not inaccurate. In fact, some good friends of mine were curious as to why I was doing a superhero comic in a market full of them. The answer is simple, there’s always going to be stories to tell. I feel my stories are unique, that’s why I’m telling them. And there aren’t just superhero comics out there, there are publishers who actually do everything but superhero comics cause they want to show there is something more than them in the industry. And I applaud that. I actually have been thinking about an interesting non-superhero story that I think would be fun to make.
That’s the power of the comic industry, there’s always something to write, and you may not know what it is exactly until you get that spark of an idea.
8) When drawing and writing the characters did you have anybody in mind to base them on?
TB:Oh yeah, big time. I actually based the Guardians themselves off myself in some ways. The duality of humanity, and how we show different sides of ourselves based on situations. Other characters just seemed like natural fits into my universe. I loved the idea of a Parkour freerunner with phasing abilities. Cause that guy would be hard to catch!
My upcoming arc of Guardians will feature the first assassin in our universe called, The Silence, and their abilities and powers came to me just naturally as I was thinking about an assassin character.
Other future characters are based in part off of my favorite shows, or people I’ve met in real life. Each have their own unique personality, and I can’t wait to show them all to you.
There’s going to be a lot of fun in the Guardians universe. Trust me.
You can check out the entire Guardians series, including the newly released Guardians #7, here!
Be sure to also check out the Guardians Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts! As Todd will be using them heavily during C2E2! Also though, you can help support Todd and Guardians by pledging to his Patreon campaign! If he reaches $300 per issue, he’ll make Guardians #1-3 FREE! Which will add to Guardians #0 already being free!