Ben, thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy schedule to stop by InvestComics! We want to discuss some of your works including Arena Comics and one of your graphic novels optioned for a movie?!? That’s awesome…..
Jay Katz: So Ben you’re a comic book writer. When did it suddenly hit you that you knew, “Yes this is what I want to do.”
Ben Fisher: I think every kid who grew up reading comics has entertained the thought that “this is what I want to do”. For me, somewhere around the time I saw my first graphic novel in hardcover is when that thought turned into “Holy sh&t. Maybe this is something I can ACTUALLY do!”
(JK) You have worked for quite a few Independent companies. Which one gave you your first crack at getting published? And how did it happen?
(BF) Viper Comics was holding a competition for a back-up comic on one of their series. I had an idea for short story, and was lucky enough to partner with the brilliant artist Mike Henderson for my entry. We were selected as a winner (I assume Mike had some compromising pictures of the EIC) and everything sort of snowballed from there.
(JK) “Smuggling Spirits” is a graphic novel that you wrote and is slated to become a motion picture. What movie house picked it up and how does something like this go down?
(BF) Smuggling Spirits was my first graphic novel, and the first major project I did after my Viper short story (it was also the first of two books I created with Mike). The movie side of things is still a bumpy, confusing road. There have been a number of interested parties, and I was lucky enough to be tapped to write the screenplay, which was an entire adventure in of itself. Really, the publisher (Studio 407) should get most of the credit. They’ve done a great job putting the story in front of the right people. I can’t really say much more about it right now except that I’m hoping to be cast as a monster — I can’t think of anything more poetically righteous than being killed by your own creation.
(JK) When you write a story, are your intentions that you’re writing a film or does that never enter your thought process?
(BF) I started writing screenplays before comics, so there is probably a cinematic element to everything I write. But in the comic medium, I just want to tell the best story I can — I don’t really think too much about whether or not a scene will translate to camera.
(JK) What have you done creatively in your career so far that you feel is “made” for the big screen? Besides everything!
(BF) Smuggling Spirits and Hexen Hammers (an Arcana book) would both look beautiful on the big screen. Lots of action and cool costumes. My latest book, Splitsville, would make for a really fun comedy. Maybe even something animated.
(JK) What comic book movies up to now do you feel has best translated to film?
(BF) Marvel has really been hitting it out of the park with their films. Avengers looks to be the superhero team movie that most of us would have believed impossible a few years ago. I thought 300 looked beautiful, and Scott Pilgrim was the most fun I’ve had at the theater in a long, long time.
(JK) You’ve collaborated with artist Mike Henderson on a few projects. Is that by design? Does Mike translate your words to paper they way you envision it so well that you like working with him any chance you get?
(BF) Mike is one of my favorite people, both in a professional and personal capacity. I didn’t know him before I worked on that Viper story, so in some ways he’s my first love in the world of comics. And you never forget your first, Jay. Sadly, he’s never going to speak to me again after he reads this interview.
In all seriousness, Mike’s art is fantastic and we work very well together. Not everything I write suits his style, but when it does, he always knocks it out of the park.
(JK) Speaking of Collaborating with an artist, Kevin Stokes is another artist that you have a couple of projects coming out with. It’s with the NEW comic company Arena Comics. Can you tell us how you became involved with Arena Comics?
(BF) Kevin was recommended to me when I started working on Splitsville, which is a superhero parody of sorts. It needed someone who excelled at animated, exciting lines and who could handle both subtle humor as well as the occasional slapstick moment. As soon as I saw Kevin’s take on the script, I knew he was perfect for the job. He has a way of making everything I write funnier.
Every comic writer knows: if you find an artist who makes you look good, snatch him up as fast as you can.
(JK) What will your stories consist of for Arena Comics?
(BF) Splitsville is a story about a superhero blowhard whose nemesis — a reluctantly evil criminal mastermind — happens to be his own split personality. It was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book.
Hot on the heels of that is Hidden Worlds, a story about every conspiracy you’ve ever heard … and how they’re all true. It’s a grittier action piece (and the brainchild of Kevin) and filled with the craziest concepts we could fit into panels.
(JK) What will your creative input be for the new line?
(BF) I’ll help select what books Arena publishes moving forward, and that’s a daunting process. There’s a lot of talent out there.
(JK) Where do you see Arena Comics a year from now?
(BF) I hope we’ll have carved our niche as a very high-end indie publisher. We’ll be releasing almost everything as hardcover on beautiful paper, telling stories of the highest caliber.
(JK) When can we expect to see Arena Comics on the shelves at our local comic shops?
(BF) The initial print run of Splitsville will debut with a con-exclusive hardcover at HeroesCon in Charlotte this May.
(JK) If Marvel or DC came to you right now and asked you to pick one character from their universe to start a new regular ongoing series, who would it be and why?
(BF) Cloak and Dagger for Marvel. That duo has a TON of untapped potential. And Booster Gold for DC. A sci-fi take on that character, with a healthy bit of humor, would be a lot of fun to write.
(JK) What comic books do you read these days?
(BF) I tend to read in big batches in between writing sprees. The Big Two are putting out excellent books now. Walking Dead remains strong. Anything Hickman writes goes straight to the top of the pile, and has from the moment I first read Nightly News. Fables is still excellent. I’m catching up on Wasteland and Hellboy. Too many to mention.
(JK) Where can fans buy/find your books on line?
(BF) Directly from the publisher or from Amazon or any online comic site generally. Most are also available on Comixology and apps like that. If you’re buying Smuggling Spirits, do yourself a favor and pick up the hardcover — Mike drew some dark lines in that book and the lesser print quality of the softcover editions (which were not published by Studio 407) don’t do his work justice at all.
(JK) And where can fans find you, follow you, and bug you on line?
(BF) www.ben-fisher.com, on Facebook, or on twitter (@BenjaminPFisher).
Thank you Ben and best of luck with your future in film, Arena Comics and future endeavors!
Interview with the Vampire: THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST Artist Diego Yapur
If Argentinean Artist Diego Yapur were a baseball player, his rookie card would be THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST which is due out this May and is available now in Diamond March Previews (Diamond Code: MAR121187). Covering two different time periods, a new breed of vampires, and more gallons of blood than you can soak up with jumbo roll of BOUNTY, the epic tale by publisher Studio 407 was a challenging “first at bat” (no pun intended on the “bat”).
Diego was more than up to the challenge. In fact, his inked artwork was so impressive that Myriad Pictures (which was sharing space in the same building as Studio 407 at the time) optioned the piece for film based on the stunning galleys.
We recently caught up with Diego who, despite having to answer our questions in English (his second language), was once again up to the challenge. Feast your eyes on this interview and some eye-popping artwork by Mr. Yapur. But do it at night, because once the sun rises … vampires will burn!
1) What was it like working on The Night Projectionist? What was your biggest challenge in drawing the book?
(DY:) Yes, it was a great challenge. My first in the world of comics. It was the first time I drew a whole series by myself. “The Night Projectionist” is very important to me because it was the beginning of my career and I am very happy to be part of this series. I was really fascinated by this story and am now looking forward to the release of this book.
2) Did any character inspire your rendition of Dragos, the lead vampire and night projectionist in the story?
(DY:) Yeah, there were a couple of ideas I had and some references I drew upon, but mostly the designs were done on my own. Along with Bob Heske´s script, I was able to give Dragos and the other vampires their own strong and unique identity. We tried to make sure they didn’t resemble any other vampire character. Dragos, Burak and Carmilla are very singular in the way they look, and they have a really powerful presence. All the characters caught in the theater took a lot of thought as well.
Heske really tried to reinstate the bloody and violent personalities vampires are meant to have, ignoring the romantic idea that shows up in recent popular series (that rhyme with “Nite Light”). I tried to design these characters very well to match the excellent story of The Night Projectionist. I’m a fan of this kind of bloody horror story.
3) The Night Projectionist is actually two stories in one: a present day vampire siege and a 1700s back story about how Dragos became a vampire. Was it difficult capturing two different periods?
(DY:) Yes, it was a bit difficult because I had never drawn something like this before. I had to resort to using references, but I was able to handle it. It was a great idea to develop the story in two different time periods side-by-side. This way you get to see the origin of the characters, understand how they have evolved, and why the battle will be bloodier than ever.
4) Where did you get your training?
(DY:) I was drawing since I could reason. I learned how to read through the Argentinian comics my father brought home every week and I’d copy the super hero stickers inside. I also learned how to draw by watching the works of great masters such as Alberto Breccia, L. Olivera, Bernie Wrightson, Frazetta, Horacio Lalia , Deodato Jr, Granov, and others.
My professional work began about 5 years ago working with some covers and pages for Argentinian publications.
5) What other books have you worked on? What are you working on now?
(DY:) I’ve worked on illustrating educational books for Jamestown Education. I´ve also collaborated on some illustrations for the book “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” that was published in Argentina. I have created several short stories, covers and more for independent comics in Argentina. My most recent work was Priest: Purgatory, the Priest film prequel graphic novel from Sony pictures/Screem Gems.
Currently, I’m in the middle of a job for an Argentine Editor and trying to start a personal project that I hope to finish next year.
6) Lastly, I noticed that Studio 407 has a vampire art contest up at The Night Projectionist Facebook page. Tell us how it works, what the prizes are how long the contest is running for.
- Submit your best vampire art — either an original vampire or your version inspired by The Night Projectionist — to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Studio 407 will post it on their Facebook page here.
- Get your friends to LIKE, tweet and share it. (And don’t forget to have them LIKE The Night Projectionist page!)
- The vamps at Studio 407 will review the 3 most popular images and declare a winner who will receive some tremendous prizes including Studio 407 comics and graphic novels, an interview on the Studio 407 blog, and original signed art from the series artist — Yours Cruelly!
- The contest runs through April 30th and the winner will be announced the date the book is released in May (TBD). We’ve already got some great art up on the site, but there’s always room for more. So send us your best and let the world know you’re a vampire pro!
Thanks Diego. It was an honor doing the book with you. Your art is amazing and come May, the world is about to discover your talent. Here are some links for your fans to follow:
To keep up to date on Diego’s latest art and musings, visit http://diegoyapur.blogspot.com/
To follow THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST on Facebook (and “LIKE” the page), click here.
To follow THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST on Twitter, tweet here.
To follow the Studio 407 blog covering all their comic book happenings, go here.
This graphic novel ships in May at a price point of only $12.99 and a Diamond code of MAR121187. Pre-order your copy at your local comic shop today!
For “Oh-my-gosh-it’s-so-easy-to-Order” links to pre-order the book, click here.
An award-winning indie comic creator and screenwriter, Bob Heske (shown with his mom in better days) is currently writing/producing a micro-budget horror film called UNREST (http://www.indiegogo.com/unrest). Bob wrote THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST, a vampire horror series to be published by Studio 407 (http://www.studio-407.com) with film rights optioned by Myriad Pictures. Through his Heske Horror shingle, Bob self-published his critically acclaimed horror series COLD BLOODED CHILLERS. Bob’s trade paperback BONE CHILLER (a “best of” CBC anthology) won a Bronze medal in the horror category at the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards. His “end times” anthology 2012: FINAL PRAYER was also released in late 2009. Bob was editor and contributor to InvestComics’ ONE AND DONE charitable anthology.
STUDIO 407 MAKES IT EASER
TO PRE-ORDER COMICS
FROM YOUR LOCAL COMIC SHOP
NIGHT PROJECTIONIST & GOLEM
March 19, 2012 – Los Angeles, CA – Studio 407 makes it easier than ever to pre-order THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST and GOLEM from your local comic shop with the Studio 407 pre-order sites. Check out the easiest way to let your local comic shop know you want Studio 407 comics!
Click on either of the two links above to pre-order our comics from a number of participating retailer across America! Just choose the retailer nearest you, complete the information form and we’ll send an
email to your chosen retailer to be sure to pre-order the Studio 407 comic of your choice. Its free, easy and takes only seconds!
For our international fans we’ve paired up with Things From Another World to be able to deliver THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST and GOLEM directly to your home wherever you may live, visit the pre-order sites to find
So if you haven’t told your local comic shop you want THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST and GOLEM from Studio 407 now’s your chance. Don’t delay, pre-order today!
THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST TPB is written by Robert Heske (BONE CHILLER) and illustrated by Diego Yapur (PRIEST: PURGATORY). This graphic novel ships in May at a price point of only $12.99 and a Diamond code of
MAR121187. Pre-order your copy at your local comic shop and through the NIGHT PROJECTIONIST pre-order site today!
SCROLL THROUGH SOME PREVIEW PAGES OF THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST BELOW!
THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST
& STUDIO 407
WANT YOUR ART!
SUBMIT YOUR BEST VAMPIRE
OR NIGHT PROJECTIONIST
DRAWING & WIN ORIGINAL ART
FROM SERIES ARTIST
March 12, 2012 – Los Angeles, CA – Studio 407 is giving fans a chance to showcase their art in a contest to win original art by THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST series artist Diego Yapur!
Fans, send your most ghoulish, frightening, beautiful drawing of a vampire or the Night Projectionist to email@example.com and we’ll post it to our facebook page. Get your friends to like, tweet or share it when we do and the top three most popular images will compete to win the ultimate prize! A signed copy of THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST, a Studio 407 Prize-pack &, best of all an original drawing from series artist Diego Yapur!
We’ll also feature the artist with a small interview on the Studio 407 Blog!
So start submitting your best renditions of the immortal undead and you too could win big!
*THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST IS COMING!*
InvestComics contributor Bob Heske’s long-awaited Vampire epic, THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST, published by Studio 407, is set to be released in *Diamond Previews* in March 2012. We’ll be running the press release in a few weeks, but the attached teaser image gives you a “taste” of the blood bath that’s coming your way in trade paperback. Word on the street has it that the artwork is stunning and Mr. Heske’s prose will keep your eyes peeled to the last fear-inducing page.
We’ll be providing details on how you can order advance copies soon. You can also follow NP on twitter at *#whoisthenightprojectionist* which has several tweets daily and previews of artwork, with more goodies in store. Support our talented friend Bob, and give yourselves a treat with a compelling, creepy read that Fangoria said “Could be the next *30 Days of Night!*”
As a comics entertainment investing expert, I can tell you THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST is sure to be in my May “Hot Picks” bin.
Matthew MacLean Spins a Tale about the “Dead West” in Forgotten #1
Graphic novelist Matthew MacLean (Cthulhu Tales, Murder at Pine Lake) has just released the first in a four part series about the “Dead West” in Forgotten, a new spaghetti Western from Hades published by Studio 407. Saddling up to do the art is Italiano Indie artist Stefano Cardoselli whose credits include Heavy Metal, 2000 AD and the upcoming one shot “Good Boy” to appear in the Vincent Prices Presents series by Bluewater Productions.
Here’s the premise:
Meet Dakota Smith, a former soldier who wakes up dead from three bullets in his chest in Forgotten, a ghost town in a corner of Hell. Dakota makes a deal with the Devil to be the town’s Sheriff and get all the “rewards” that go with wearing the badge. Unfortunately the job ain’t so easy. Being the Devil’s minion never pays off – it always about “payback.” This four-part series, which has received stellar reviews follows, the travels and travesties that Sheriff Dakota Smith must encounter and overcome as he tries to conquer the Dead West and his new hellish boss.
1. Matthew, welcome! First tell us a little bit about yourself and some of the other published works in your portfolio.
(MM:) I’m an amateur who’s managed to convince people at a number of places, including BOOM! and Bluewater Productions, that I have some talent. I’ve even convinced them to pay me from time to time.
2. How did you come up with the idea for Forgotten, and how did you hook up with the artist?
(MM:) Forgotten 22 was written in the heat of the summer in an old mansion that was so dilapidated that it had been carved up into various apartments that I shared it with a crack house and an abusive, alcoholic couple.The walls were thin enough that what my neighbors did was no secret.So I needed something else to focus on.
Sitting over my computer, sweating in the Tennessee swelter, it seemed only natural that my mind turned to Hell. I was raised Catholic, but had always had my doubts. Overall, the Christian faith seemed like an inherently unfair, even rigged, system. At the heart of the dogma’s contradictions was one of its big stars, Lucifer. Lucifer, or Satan, or He of the Many Names (I went with Red), was portrayed as the source of all evil, the bane of mankind, the scourge of our Lord and Savior. But if God is all knowing and infallible, he knew that Red was going to go bad the moment he laid hand to create him. It doesn’t take a big leap of logic, then, to connect God as the source of all evil. He is, after all, the source of everything. So Red is just God’s whipping boy, a figure he created for humans to demonize while God horded all the love and glory.
Whether I believe any of that or not, I’m not going to bother with, but it’s that little thought exercise that led to Forgotten 22.
3. How did you pitch the idea to Studio 407? Did you have a treatment or did you have to show completed pages?
(MM:) I did it over a lunch with the editor at New York Comiccon. Having a good treatment and completed pages are a must, but the simple truth is that you need to get out to conventions and meet these people, show them you aren’t a loon or a lazy-ass and that you’re real and they should look at your stuff.
(MM:) I honestly try not to read the reviews. While the positive ones can make you feel great, the bad ones can tear out your soul. I can’t survive them, so I try to pretend they don’t exist.
5. Where else is issue one available – either online or in stores?
(MM:) It’ll be available in both. You can check out a preview at the Studio 407 site here.
6. What is the timetable for releasing issues 2 thru 4? And I presume a full-fledged graphic novel is in the works?
(MM:) All four issues are finished so there’s nothing stopping them from coming out back-to-back. But there will definitely be a graphic novel.
7. Your publisher, Studio 407, is pretty aggressive, or should I say successful – about getting properties in their library pitched for film. Are there plans to make this into a film as well?
(MM) I have no idea. If I wanted to be in films, I’d write screenplays. I want to make comic books.
8. Who did the letters for the book?
(MM:) Jaymes Reed did all of the lettering and logo design. The rest is Stefano. He’s the man.
9. Are you planning to be at any upcoming cons or other event to sign copies, meet and greet the fans, and pimp the book?
10. What advice do you have for indie creators who’d like to follow you path – i.e., get a book made and into Diamond Previews?
(MM:) Finish the book. Is it a one shot? How about a 10 volume epic? Finish the book. And get advice to make it better along the way. Publishers love, love, love, finished works. Pitches and treatments are great, but if it’s your first time out nothing shows a publisher you’re serious like having the entire f#$king book ready to go.
11. Bonus question: What else are you working on, and please share any websites or social networking sites where we can follow the latest news with Forgotten.
(MM:) You can always find what I’m working on at http://madbastard.hypersites.com
Thanks Matthew. Keep up the Good Fight and best of luck with Forgotten.
An award-winning indie comic creator and screenwriter, Bob Heske is currently writing/producing a micro-budget horror film called UNREST. Bob wrote The Night Projectionist, a vampire horror series to be published by Studio 407 with film rights optioned by Myriad Pictures. Through his Heske Horror shingle, Bob self-published his critically acclaimed horror series Cold Blooded Chillers. Bob’s trade paperback Bone Chiller (a “best of” CBC anthology) won a Bronze medal in the horror category at the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards. His “end times” anthology 2012: Final Prayer was also released in late 2009. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.