Kickstarting A Comic Book That's Made Like a Movie

Kickstarter OGStephen Harber writes,

What do you know about the "roaring twenties"? Yes, there were flappers and tommy guns and alcohol was kind of a no-no. But did you know there was a lot more to the time period than that? And, did you know that some of the social issues that people dealt with then have surprising parallels in our modern day era?

This historical compare and contrast is one of the thematic driving forces behind a new comic project we're kickstarting called Occult Generation.

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Occult Generation is a hard-boiled supernatural/sci-fi graphic set in 1920's New York. While investigating the murder of a notorious drag performer, a private investigator uncovers a secret war between remnants of the confederacy equipped with strange technology and a secret society in Harlem that fights for justice through magic.

That's right. You heard us. Magic. And strange technology. Which is going to be steam-punky. (Kind of.)

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Inspired by such influences as X-Men, Sandman Mystery Theater, Twin Peaks and 1991's Cast a Deadly Spell, we're reaching back into the past with one foot in the present and our heads in the future. What does that even mean? It means that we're designing a new kind of comic, one that dedicates itself to highlighting and overcoming social issues like segregation and racism while telling a story that is made for lush visual comic art. It's three parts pulp, two parts social commentary, and one part noir with a generous sprinkling of Lovecraftian supernatural intrigue to taste.


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We want Occult Generation to be a unique, otherworldly experience for the reader. Thanks to James Zark, demigod of photorealistic illustration, every inch of our panel art will match the visual quality of what you see on the cover. To provide this, we've given our book a level of production that is currently a rarity in the business. We're using models, photographers, and real life locations to create a world the feels larger than life.

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Working with such a wide range of people has turned this project into something more collaborative than it was initially conceived to be. From my perspective as story editor, it's been quite the incredible to watch how an earnest, grassroots comic book dream is quickly evolving into a something increasingly high profile and more ambitious than we had hoped. Casting such talented, professional actors and models portray our characters creates opportunities to figure out new and better ways to tell the story we want to tell.

As a writer and storyteller, world building is important to me. I have a genuine love for multimedia franchises that spread out their brand experience through different formats. (Think like The X-Files, Veronica Mars, Buffy, Star Trek, etc.) One of the impressions that I got while helping Ryan structure and edit his manuscript was that, although Occult Generation is set in a very specific time and place, its world is ginormous. It starts off modest and intimate enough but then becomes this intricate tapestry weaved from the lives of all sorts of characters that deserve to be icons in their own right. I noticed how much each of these characters means to Ryan, and how they all have a huge impact on the narrative as a whole. I wanted to be able to translate their value to our audience somehow, to help our readers get to know who they are and care about them.

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That's how we came up with the idea of Occult Generation Apocryphas, an ongoing series of prequel stories we're publishing on Medium.com.

Our first story – The Empty Witch – features Leon Kleeman, one of or main protagonists. He's a pansexual private detective that solves cases that are just as weird as his own personal life. When Leon runs into one of his old hookups, he gets caught up in a tricky situation where his life may be at the mercy of a mysterious figure known only as The Red Witch. Check out parts one, two and three.

Our second story – Widow Zone – is all about Gladys Spencer. She's an indestructible woman, an unbreakable badass…the "Wolverine" of the Harlem Secret Society (if you will). While searching for the latest special child that's gone missing, Gladys winds up lost in a strange abandoned building rigged with dangerous traps in a gruesome fight for survival that will make her face the truth about the enemy. Here are parts one and two.

If you want to know more about why we've made OG, check out this other article here.

We want you to be involved. Check out our Kickstarter page here. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. We need your help and support to bring this window into the mysterious days of the Harlem Renaissance to our present.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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