JaVon O. Stokes writes:
What kind of moron makes comics? What kind of crazy person decides to go toe-to-toe with the industry titans of Marvel and DC? What person looks at the market and says "Yeah, we could use one more super hero book."? What warped individual spends 40 hours a week working a day job and then spends another 40+ hours slaving away on a project with the possibility of no immediate returns?
What kind, you ask? Someone who's not very smart, that's who. That's okay, I've been called worse.
If you're frequenting this site, then I'm sure you've seen hundreds of Kickstarter campaigns and thousands of superhero characters, so I'm sure you're wondering, "Why the hell do we need another one?" That's a great question, and I'll answer it in a bit.
First, a funny story. See, this is not the first comic book I've created. That honor goes to the would-have-been-critically-acclaimed-if-I-wasn't-eight-years-old book titled Solarman. Yup, I wrote, scribbled and stapled that masterpiece together, showing it off to the entire house and neighborhood. Okay, let's be serious; it was terrible. But you have to encourage children, and that day you couldn't tell me nuthin'. I was bit by the comic creator bug.
I did that for a few years until I noticed girls and they noticed me. I mean, I still read comics, but creating them kind of lost their appeal when competing with pretty girls. Fast forward to college, the Savannah College of Art and Design to be exact, and that old itch started to flare up. Not THAT itch — I mean I wanted to make comics again, get your minds out the gutter! Anywho, though I wanted to dive back into the world of comic book creation, the practicality of this world kinda stifled that desire so I pushed forward with my second love: 3D animation. Now, don't get me wrong, I love animation; it's fun and, more importantly, if you're lucky enough, it pays well….but it's not comics.
Fast forward again, and I'm 32 on the verge of being married with kids. I'd tried doing a comic book years prior, but it fell through the cracks and, honestly, it wasn't exactly my best work. I'd already done graphic design of all kind, illustrations for a published children's book and a few other commissioned works. But, as I saw my life starting to "complete" itself, I knew I had to take one more swing at following my dream. So I sat down and started writing, then drawing, then coloring; next thing you know the first issue was done…and it was pretty good. So I kept going and when I looked up, three issues were, at least, written and drawn. That's when I knew I was ready.
Now, back to why we need another superhero comic. Well, first off, I love superheroes. You can tell any type of story using superheroes as metaphors and it'll stand the test of time. They are the modern myths, our Greek and Norse Gods laid out for us on slick paper, stapled three times with funny lettered sound FX.
Okay, that's the canned answer. The real answer is it all goes back to Solarman. What made me make comic books, outside of my genuine love for them? Well, I made Solarman a black guy. Why? Because I was black kid who was surrounded by comic book characters that looked nothing like me. Sure, there was Black Panther, Storm, and Luke Cage, but none of those characters were given the opportunity to have a long-running series and, therefore, would only be seen in team books or as a guest stars. That was, and is, unacceptable. Solarman was my attempt to have a hero that I, and people who look like me, could "own".
Which brings me to HEAT, my upcoming monthly comic book series (written, drawn, everything-ed by me) launching from my company Visually Stoked Media on August 23rd. Think Cam Newton meets Spider-Man. Heat is about a young black man who gains super powers and, well, thinks he's the $#*t. He believes the power he received makes him invincible and acts accordingly. Unfortunately, his cockiness and ego causes him, by the end of the first issue, to screw up in one of the worst possible ways…and that's where the story REALLY begins.
We've all been in situations where our ego gets the best of us and we end up making an @$$ of ourselves, so I'm sure we can relate. Heat's not an ex-con or king of a foreign nation, he's a twenty-something trying to find his way in this insane world and now he's got all that, plus the pressure of being as powerful as a nuclear bomb. This book is for fans of Robert Kirkman's Invincible, Waid/Garney's Captain America and Geoff John's Green Lantern. We're currently less than a week from the Kickstarter campaign's completion and over 80% of the way towards the goal!
So, if you read this article over this weekend, and are so inclined to follow the Kickstarter link below, I'll provide a quick sketch of a character of your choice if you pledge $25 or more. We'll call in the "Bleeding Cool Incentive". If we're able to hit the $2000 over this weekend, I'll even draw Rich Johnston in an upcoming issue.
So, again, why should you care? Well, because I'm just like you. I love comics, I'm insane for comics, and that's why I'll work 40 hours at one job and come home and work another 40 hours creating them. I love telling stories where the good guys triumph over all odds to defeat the bad guys while dealing with the everyday crap we all trudge through.
I hope you'll care because you love heroes, just like me.
JaVon O. Stokes
Founder & CEO of Visually Stoked Media
Kickstarter Campaign Link: http://kck.st/2sXjKe3
Company Website: www.visuallystoked.com