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Starburn: where SciFi and Action come together in the best ways

Written by The Indie Huntress on Monday, August 24 2015 and posted in Features

Starburn: where SciFi and Action come together in the best ways

Interviewing writer Kelly Bender on his latest series Starburn.

Source: Kelly Bender

Hello and welcome back, my faithful companions! Your Indie Huntress is here once again, to swoop in and scoop you up and take you off to a better place. I know you were really looking forward to hating on Fantastic Four some more, but why not check out something worth your time?! Follow me, my lovlies!

Today I am bringing you an interview with Kelly Bender- Author of Starburn. I met Kelly via one of my long time buddies and heavy hitters- Bob Salley writer for the series, Salvagers. (make sure you go give them some love on Facebook! Bob rocks hard and will always be a favorite of mine. He told me I should check out Kelly and his work, and if it's coming from Bob- I know I better listen. Kelly is from Singapore, (another international interview! woot!) and is a damn fine writer. I really enjoyed reading Starburn. It's sci-fi/fantasy/action. All things I love dearly.

Starburn takes place in space, about a crew on a ship that are essentially bounty hunters. Hired guns to secure packages for delivery, stopping at nothing to get their cash. The story begins on the ship- Starburn, as the crew sets off to another planet to secure a package. One that is worth 3 times the normal rate. As the crew suspects problems brewing on the horizon, their captain meets them with the same old song and dance- let's just do this, take the money and run. Unfortunately for the crew, their intuitions were right, and it's going to take a lot of guns to get out of their current dilema.

Heavily influenced by Star Trek, Gaurdians of the Galaxy, Stargate, and other fine works of sci-fi, this comic does slap you in the face. There is little build up to the action and introduces the threat not only quickly, but in an unfogettable fashion. Sandworms anyone? 

The illustrations provided by Brian Balondo are a solid match to the story itself. The wide range of characters on the crew with varying species was rendered well to match the personalities displayed in the story. My personal favorite drawn character is the blue wolf, Basar. He seems to be a centering force for some of the other crew members, as well as intelligent with his vast knowledge of mechanics upon the ship. Each of the members on the ship have bold personalities, sometimes conflicting with one another- but ultimately converging together. 

Kelly is a man of many works. Without further delay, here are the bits you crave.

kelly face

Tell me about your writing career. How did you get started?

I started by writing what I thought would be the next great movie and quickly realized that writing a movie script & eventually getting a movie made were very daunting things :)

kelly 1I then started researching how to format comic book scripts and that came very natural to me. So I naively pitched my comic book script to as many publishers as I could, it was obviously rejected. I then learned that you need to prove yourself first BEFORE you can get published work, so I did some anthology stories with a couple publishers. I highly recommend starting out doing anthology stories as they're great ways to learn the craft of making comics and working with artists, publishers and networking. From those first anthology stories I moved onto a couple 24 page one-shot/stand alone stories, and found artists and inkers, colorists and letters to help me with them. Those books are the first full length comics I ever wrote and I'm very fortunate enough to have them recently be picked up by: INSANE COMICSINSANE COMICS  those comics are Convoy of Corpses (an Afghanistan war comic) and Hang Low Aim High (a traditional western story about frontier justice).


From completing those two books I set my sights on doing some four issue miniseries, and pitching them to publishers.

One of those books was Starburn! I was very fortunate enough to have it accepted by Markosia (

Being from Singapore, I have to ask- what is the comic scene like there? Is it popular or a niche market?

Singapore is awesome and there is a comic scene, too much of a main stream one in my opinion. That is partially due to indie comics not having the same distribution or marketing channels as the big two do. 

Before moving to Singapore I didn't know what kind of storage space we'd have here, and I sold off ALL my paper comics collection, or as my wife used to refer to it as "the fire hazard in the basement." I also didn't do my research and thought that I wouldn't be able to carry on my paper collecting due to the books not being in English here, I was wrong. It's an english speaking culture and the majority of the comics are in English.

There is an amazing art scene here and some really amazing artists who easily could be working right now for the big two companies! We have a local celebrity in Sonny Liew( who is the current artist for DC COMIC "DR. FATE", and he's an amazing support and I consider him a great friend here.

 Starburn is a fascinating comic. Tell me a bit more about your characters. You included a wide range of humans, beasts, extraterrestials, and other creatures. Let's work down the list!

Thanks so much for those kind words. STARBURN is a comic book about the biggest baddest ship in the galaxy, it's a one of a kind and everybody wants to own it! Think of the Millennium Falcon or the black pearl from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.

It's a star burning engine (which is where the ship gets it name) and it's had many owners and many people trying to steal it or commandeer it.

The story picks up with it's present owner Captain Aphi and his rag-tag motley crew of space scoundrels/pirates.

The universes in my book are all assessable and creatures come from far and wide.

Looking at the cover we can introduce the characters starting LEFT to RIGHT:

kelly 3

- GAMAL (pronounced: Gah-Mall) is the furry one. He is the ships resident Doctor.
- BASAR (pronounced: Bah-Sar) is the lizard looking one, he is the chief mechanic/engineer on the ship.
- CAPTAIN APHI (pronounced: Ah-Fee) he's the current owner and the only thing he loves more than Starburn is money!
- SASKIA (pronounced: Sas-ski-ah) she is the junior mechanic/engineer on the ship, she is also the muscle on the ship as he alien skin is super tough and she is super strong.
- GAUGE (pronounced: Gauge) he is the ONLY human/earthling on the ship and he was actually born in a space colony. He's a weapon expert.
- MA'TA (pronounced: Mah-Tah) she is the flying alien who is dating Gauge and is also a weapon expert.
- SHAVATS (pronounced: Shah-vats) comes from an alien monk race. He is the quiet Co-Captain of the ship and a deadly ground combatant.

In issue one, you laid the groundwork for this crew. They're similar to bounty hunters in a way, securing items or in this case people, for a sum of cash. How long do you plan to run this arc for? Will we see more of the backstory on the team?

The first "arc" is only 4 issues long. It tells a complete story using the current crew of the ship, and hopefully if I did my job right we got to learn about the characters, care about them and know their motivations. We learn about a key member of the crews backstory which plays heavily into the big reveal at the end of issue 3 and the completion of the arc.

This arc was only ever planned as a four issue miniseries. It's a great size to tell a big enough story and prove that we can all (the entire creative team) do the work.

I do have other Starburn stories to tell, I could go back to the beginning or skip ahead three or ten future owners from now. The story is about the ship so the possibilities are endless.

If I do another arc of Starburn it'll be with a new artist as I know Brian will be busy doing other books, which I am super proud of that fact!

You've pumped quite a bit into issues 1 and 2- leading to a big reveal at the end of issue 2, with the death of a member. To prevent spoilers, we won't say who. However, I'd like to know how this is going to play into issue 3?

I have to keep reminding even the creative team working on the book that the story is about the ship. I received an email a couple days after I sent the team the script saying, "I can't believe you killed off that character!"

What happens in Issue 2 will send shockwaves through the rest of the arc and change the entire makeup of the crew and the ship itself.

Who is on the team of illustrators, and letterers for this comic? How did you come into meeting these folks?

Starburn is what it is as a direct result of the amazingly talented people working on it!

Illustrations are done by the amazingly talented Brian Balondo
(DeviantArt page: TWITTER: )

Inks are done by the astonishing Cristian Docolomansky (DeviantArt: TWITTER: )

Colors are done by the spectacular Laura Lee

Letters are done by a couple of amazing blokes (issues 1&2) Nic J. Shaw (website: TWITTER: and Micah Myers (issues 3&4) (TWITTER: )

I met most of them through their DeviantArt page and from a variety of other social media platforms. They're all amazing at what they do and professionals in EVERY sense of the term. This group of people will be working in comics for many years to come.

They are also all available for other paid projects, just contact them through their links and I highly recommend each and everyone of them.

kelly 5

How did you come into being involved with Alterna comics? I did a piece awhile back with Peter Simeti on The Chair- tell me about your relationship with this company.

Nathan Kelly (the co-creator & artist) and I pitched our 40 page original crime comic Snarl to them and they accepted it! It was really as simple as that. Peter Simenti has been nothing short of amazing! He's been super supportive of us and Snarl and I've learned so much working with him.

Alterna ( is a great publisher to work with as they support you, mentor you and let you tell your story. They looked at our project and offered us some really helpful advice and some suggestions. That's the great thing about working with a publisher (as opposed to self-publishing) is you get used to editors, deadlines, and their marketing strategies.

SNARL (creative team credit)

Co-Created, Illustrations & Inks: Nathan Kelly
Co-Created & Written: Me
Colors: Josh Jensen
Letters: Micah Myers 

What else do you currently have your hands in? Are there any scripts in the making?

kelly 6Right now I presently have Death-Rattler, a 4 issue Fantasy/Western (with a hint of steampunk) miniseries which just recently got picked up by MARKOSIA coming out. First issue drops on Comixology in September.

It's a story of revenge and trying to atone for the sins of the father.

Death-Rattler creative team:

Co-Created & Illustrations: Ryan Downing
Co-Created & Written: Me
Inks: Ivan Miranda
Colors: Alan Bay
Letters: Micah Myers 








kelly 7I also have a couple miniseries coming out from Insane Comics: Sadistic- a 4 issue miniseries about a super powered villain who can't die. Night's Templar, is a book about humans who fight vampires and werewolves to survive.

Sadistic Creative team:

Co-Created & Illustrations: Bryant Yini
Co-Created & Written: Me
Inks: John Dixon
Colors: Kari Kaiju
Letters: Alex Giles







Night's Templar creative team:kelly 8

Story: Me
Illustrations & Inks: Carlo C Garde
Colors: Pascal Verhoef
Letters: Micah Myers
Characters Created by: Garde & Verhoef

I'm also pitching a couple of comics at NYCC to a variety of publishers:

Yakuza 893, which is a 4 issue miniseries.

Creative team credit:

Co-Created & Illustrations: Eda Kunsiskelly 9
Co-Created & Written: Me
Inks: Ivan Miranda
Colors: Laura Lee
Letters: Micah Myers 

Another series I'm pitching is, Blood In. Blood Out. which is an urban gang comic which takes place in Brooklyn. (Think The Wire meets Sopranos.)

It's being done by the same creative team as Snarl. (it has an amazing cover by Tom Kelly who is the same cover artist for Convoy of Corpses & Hang Low Aim High)

The last series I'm pitching in NYCC is a 4 issue miniseries called The Drift (which is Hunger Game meets Running Man meets Poseidon's Adventure.)

Co-Created & Illustrations: Elvin Ching (a friend of mine from Singapore)
Co-Created & Written: Me
Inks: Cristian Docolomansky
Colorist: TBD
Letters: Micah Myers 

kelly 10

   kelly 11























I've got a bunch of other projects I'm working on but that's enough for now. 

Where can we follow you on social media for updates on your work?




I have a studio FACEBOOK page also:


Where can people purchase your comics?


You can buy "Convoy of Corpses", "Hang Low Aim High", "Night's Templar", "Aqueous", "Sadistic" and eventually "C.L.A.W.S." in the INSANE COMICS store (among their other great indie titles):

& there also available on DRIVETHRU COMICS

As always you can find me all over the internet!

Facebook: The Indie Huntress Page

Mayhem and Chaos Group (come share your independent creations!)

Twitter: @IndieHuntress

You want to check out some cool podcasts? Great stuff from great people!

Basement Fodder Podcast:

Digital Nerdage Network:

An Elegant Weapon Podcast:

Dave's Nerd Compendium:'s-nerd-compendium#.VcgDUnFViko

Drunk Dorks:

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