By Brant Fowler
I've always been a fan of the shared universe concept. It's something that when done right enriches your experience as a reader or viewer. Think of the vast worlds presented in Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance, Star Wars or the Marvel and DC Universes. Whether the stories all take place on one planet or several, they all encompass a large amount of characters, locations and stories.
Even watching sitcoms or hour-long dramas, it was always cool to see crossovers that hinted two shows existing in the same universe. Like when Steve Urkel from Family Matters visited the Tanners on Full House. Or Jordan and Woody from Crossing Jordan appearing on Las Vegas for a case. It's just a cool idea to explore the meeting and teaming up of various characters from different properties.
In the world of comics, the standard is the shared universes present in both Marvel and DC. DC in particular is famous for its ever-changing multiverse. Current readers know that the landscape of DC Comics has changed quite a bit in the past 30 years where their multiverse is concerned.
For me, it was always cool seeing Spider-Man swing through a Darkhawk book, or The Flash visiting Hal Jordan in his title. Knowing these heroes coexisted, but could also live their own lives, carry on their own stories was thrilling for me as a reader.
Though it failed, one of my all-time favorite shared universes was Crossgen. There was something different about their universe in that it wasn't just superheroes. They explored a varied number of genres and subgenres and figured out a way to tie them all together cohesively, yet each title was completely its own thing. You could read one without ever reading another and you wouldn't miss anything. But you read them all and you would see the underlying connection.
This brings me to The Last Ember #1, my comic book, which is currently running on Kickstarter. The Last Ember is the first and central title in our own shared universe at Last Ember Press, the Emberverse. It focuses on Ember Madison, a normal teenage girl who bursts into flames one day after a traumatic experience. Throughout the series, Ember must discover why this is happening to her, and what being the last in a long line of fire goddesses means for her life!
Ember was never a character I planned to do. When we decided to launch a comic company, I wasn't sure what I was going to write first, but Ember was never a thought – she didn't even exist. As I was designing the logo for the company, I created a flame as seen below. My co-founder Lisa Moore pointed out that it looked like a girl in the middle of the flames. So literally, from the flame, Ember was born! From that point she became our flagship character. She is featured on banners and postcards, and she is the most asked about character at conventions and online.
As I began to flesh out the story concept we had brainstormed along with our other co-founder John Wilson, Ember began telling her story to me. Piece by piece, little by little, Ember revealed herself to me; her motivations, her personality, her demeanor. What she was like with her friends, her family.
Last year we released The Last Ember #0, which contained a flashback story of a girl named Ashley, and a present day story of Ember. Ashley burst into flames much like Ember, illustrating this has happened before, and thus it happens again with Ember, one last time.
Ember is the core of our universe, the root that everything else springs from. Without getting too far ahead of myself, The Last Ember is what will birth our Emberverse. Therefore, this Kickstarter is far more than just another independent comic. Yes, it's for one issue of one comic that will have a contained story. But it's also the springboard upon which we will build something much larger over time.
If you like mythology mixed with fantasy and just a little superhero flare, The Last Ember #1 is right up your alley. And if you want to get in on the ground floor of an entire universe, this is where you start! Let's see how far we can take it!
As Bleeding Cool has been so kind to share this article and the Kickstarter, let's do something fun. If we can reach 50% funding by Halloween (October 31st) ($1,750 US) we will feature a Bleeding Cool cameo in the issue! If we reach 75% funding this weekend ($2,625 US) all backers at the physical level will receive a postcard containing a personal message from Ember! And if we somehow manage to reach 100% funding ($3,500 US) this weekend, all backers at the physical level will also receive a brand new Ember print in honor of Bleeding COOL featuring a fire & ice theme!