Jason Crager writes for Bleeding Cool,
Where does inspiration come from? I often get asked that question being a comic book creator and artist. Inspiration can come from many places for me. In the case of the comic book Hammer, the inspiration for that came from a viral video.
I saw one of the first viral videos called the Techno Viking, several years ago sitting in my studio with my face glued to my phone and, to be completely honest, a bit stoned (I know– how very Alan Moore of me. And no, I wasn't trying to become a wizard. Alan might argue that, by the time I finish the project, I would most certainly become a wizard. Medicinal marijuana was available at that time, and I had a card). For some reason, these four minutes of video stuck in my mind. The idea for my comic hadn't exactly spawned just then; it would be many years later. It all coalesced while I was driving down a street in my car.
As it so often does, my brain had drifted off into random thoughts while I was driving. The Techno Viking ran across my mind in a blur of images, at which point I thought to myself, "Why hasn't anybody ever done a post-apocalyptic Ragnarok comic book where the Norse Gods come to Earth?" Mad Max has so many obvious references to the Norse mythology but never took it to its obvious conclusion. I thought to myself In order to do that, the gods have to arrive on Earth, they have to be looking for something/someone and it has to be after Ragnarok. I knew in an instant that this was potentially a very good idea for a story. During the remainder of the drive, the exciting images continued to stream and fill my mind.
When I got home, I sat down and began looking through some of my older work. I noticed that a lot of my work had common themes: post-apocalyptic landscapes and wasteland characters with no stories attached, until now. I was able to take all of that imagery and create Hammer's world. This could work! I was beyond excited.
Once I had fleshed out more detail, I began showing it to a few fellow comic book professionals. I got some good feedback and encouragement, particularly from Joe Benitez and Dan Wickline. This feedback helped me to further the book's overall design and story structure.
Over the next several months, I would draw, sculpt, and design characters that would inhabit this Post-Ragnarok world. As I worked, things began to come together. I thought about which gods survive Ragnarok, which helped me round out the protagonists and antagonists of the story. This, in turn, triggered in my mind what they were fighting over. Artifacts. The legendary artifacts of Asgard.
At this point, I knew that I wanted to make an epic book, so I started asking my friends if they'd like to contribute. I asked Dan Wickline if he would write the ten issues. He declined outright with a sigh, saying, "Jason, I've known you for 30 years. You're an incredible artist and storyteller… it's time to pull on your big-boy pants and show the industry what you got!" He'd never really spoken that way to me in all the time I've known him. I admire Dan. His faith in my ability was just what I needed to hear. It was up to me now. Artist, Creator, and now Writer, I set out to make my vision come true.
As I got closer to completing the pencils for the book I started to show more and more of Hammer at conventions, to comic book professionals and fans alike, it was starting to gain popularity with my friends and colleagues when Covid-19 pandemic struck. As for many of us, the pandemic brought my regular comic book job to a standstill. Instead of standing around myself, I started inking Hammer at a fever pitch. This unprecedented time has reinforced what I want and need to do.
The only way possible to get Hammer out was going to be through crowdfunding. I set my plan in motion by calling upon a few friends of mine. Jason Gonzalez of Castle and Key Productions and the creator of La Mano del Destino, a luchador comic, was asked to offer his take on my protagonist, Star, in a mini-story that I call The Cosmic Adventures of Star of Asgard and her Mighty Hammer done in a classic Kirby-esque style. I asked my friends Joe Benitez and John Livesay if they would supply a cover for the first issue. During that time, I asked a few more of my friends to help: artist & inker Marco Galli and epic letter/designer Robin Spehar to letter my book. Marco created a runic God Font for the narration of the book, and Robin's award-winning lettering fonts round out the rest. To add more art to the issue, I got pinups from Dan Fraga, Alex Tuis, Erwin Papa, Jason Lenox, and Michael Acker to round out the first issue.
As of July 1st, my dream of bringing the Norse Gods to Midgard has become a reality in the form of an Indiegogo campaign. Hammer: A Post-Ragnarok Tale is a 48 page black & white comic book spanning ten epic issues. The art is done in the vein of the '70s and '80s black & white comics that I grew up with: Savage Sword of Conan, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Grips, 2000 A.D., Glenn Fabry's Bricktop and The Crow. I could go on and on. This is a labor of love.
Since you've read this far, I think I should offer you Bleeding Cool readers who go to Indiegogo and back my comic something special. By signing up at Vondurabo@gmail.com and backing my campaign…I will give you for free a special 8×10 Mark Beachum print. Now, this is a secret print of what the Draugr in Hammer looked like before the war. When backing, use the code word: Mark.
In addition to that, the first 20 Bleeding Cool readers to purchase the $100 Art Edition perk will get a free resin casting of our villain Loki. Use the code word: Loki.
Wait! It gets better. If we meet our 15k goal, the amazing Glenn Fabry has agreed to do an exclusive Hammer cover. This will be added for free to all orders! I'm super excited about this campaign. Please consider backing and sharing.