The Outhouse brings you a truly unique comic book idea that you can help make a reality - Black Lotus Empire!
Hi, and welcome to Kickstart My Heart, a column that shines spotlight on crowd-funded and self-published comics from creators that are making their way in the comic book industry, with the hopes that when they are famous comics megastars, they'll throw us a bone and give us some interviews so we don't have to copy quotes from CBR.
Today, I want to show you an upcoming comic by Jeff Miller, Carlos Gomez, and Neeraj Menon: Black Lotus Empire. We met Jeff when he signed up on the Outhouse forums to spread the word about his project, and we were blown away by the concept and the beautiful art. We spoke to Jeff about it - let's let him tell us what it's all about:
Tell us about Black Lotus Empire.
Black Lotus Empire is a story about a possible dark future in China, which, in my story, becomes the world's sole superpower in the middle of this century. In BLE, China maintains the current pace of their industrialization, which takes a toll on the population. It is predicted that the government will lift and then reinstate the "one child policy," so at the point we pick up in the story, it is active and clashes with the alarming number of birth defects. The hero of the story is Sparrow, a girl born with wings. Her parents can't come to terms with having a deformed child, so they give her to an army officer at birth. She ends up in a secret military program, trained to fight the rising dissident groups that are fighting the government. Issue 1 picks during her first mission, which doesn't go according to her handlers plans.
On the Outhouse, you compared the setting of Black Lotus Empire to an Arab-Spring-type uprising, but it takes place in 22nd century China. Could you elaborate on this?
I spent 6 months in China for work, and I was amazed at the dichotomy present in their society. The people I worked with were young, middle class, intelligent people, but they dared not say anything about the government. Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, is heavily policed by monitors, and any commentary on the government is immediately removed. There was almost no media coverage of the Egypt uprising, which was in full force while I was there. Right now the youth are willing to tolerate the lack of political freedom, for now, because of their relative affluence, but I think that will change. There are many disparate groups that have real grievances with the government, but if they ever come together with a common goal, there could be some real trouble for the government. But all this looks like it will take time. That's why I set the story as far out as I did.
Have you worked on any comics before? If so, where can our readers check them out?
The last comic I worked on was... when I was in junior high I think. And thankfully it never saw the light of day. I have always had a love of comics, art and storytelling, so I am finally happy to put all of that together.
What about the penciller, Carlos Gomez? What has he done in the past?
He is a pretty young artist, with only a few titles under his belt. I feel like I am going to look back and think "wow, I can't believe I worked with that guy before he was famous!"
So far, his resume includes:
Abiding Perdition #3 and #4
Unbeatable" #1 and #2
You did the designs and are coloring the book. The rendering is really impressive. What's your process?
The design work is all done in 3D. The characters were modeled in Zbrush, and the vehicles in 3D Max. I set up a special shader to make it look comicy, and then did some tweaks in photoshop. I will use this process for the vehicles in the book. As for coloring, I do it pretty much the way everyone else does. Lasso tool, and gradients.
(UPDATE: Since we spoke to Jeff, the coloring on the project has switched to Neeraj Menon. See here for some of the first colored pages.)
What are you planning to use the Kickstarter funds for?
I am using the Kickstart funds to pay Carlos for pencils on the first issue. I padded it so I could pay the Kickstarter fees and fulfill the pledges, but I didn't ask for anything more than I needed. I will do the coloring myself, and I have someone lined up to do the lettering. I will also do the cover myself.
(See above for coloring update.)
What do people get if they pledge on Kickstarter?
At the lower levels, they get things like a PDF of the first issue, or a signed version of the first issue when it comes out. At higher levels they get things like signed art, or a Sparrow sculpture.
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