Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Interview With Steve Johnson, Creator and Writer of Lark and Eagle!

Lark and Eagle is the only Kickstarter that I’ve backed that did not reach its goal. 

I feel partly responsible for that. 

I came in on the project late in its Kickstarter run and didn’t do the usual in-your-face promotion that I try to give a project that I really believe in.

Lark and Eagle is a comic book that I believe in. 

As is its creator, Steve Johnson. 

Steve is a great guy with a great take on a superhero comic that I really can’t wait to see succeed and make it into stores. You’d best believe that the next Kickstarter he runs is getting funded. You’ll be hearing a LOT about it when it happens and it is my personal goal to get everyone that reads this blog (all twelve of you- or however many there are- you guys rock by the way) to kick in at least $5. This guy has some awesome stories to tell and I want to read them so we’re gonna make this happen. 

Got it? Good. 

So let’s meet Steve and find out exactly what these stories are that he wants to tell us.

Actually, before we head there I want to add a personal shout-out to Mr. Johnson here who saw my tweet a few months back when my house was broken into and took it upon himself to go beyond the “gee dude that sucks” and cheered me up on a crappy day and brainstormed ways with myself and another gentleman (who you’ll hear about in another interview featuring him) to booby-trap my yard for the next time some joker tries to bust his way in. It was much appreciated. Also don’t go in HIS yard ‘cause it sounds like you wouldn’t make it out in one piece…

1.  Hey Steve, thanks for stopping by the blog and answering some questions. Let’s start with a little about who you are/where you’re from and what you do.

I live in Flat Rock, North Carolina with my wife Karen, 9 year old daughter, 2 year old son (referred to as The Destroyer) and 6 month old daughter.  I think we have two dogs too… They’re somewhere around.  My day job is as Financial Services Manager for a credit union branch located in downtown Asheville.  I make sure that the place runs smoothly for the members that come by.  See me slinging that credit union lingo; members?

Otherwise, I’m just a normal guy who decided to get out of his comfort zone, take a chance, and do something he’s always wanted to do.  I had been on Kickstarter for over a year looking at and backing everyone else’s projects (RPGs and comics) and after backing a high tier on Clint Hilinski’s The Superiors the creative bug really started to bite me.  Then after seeing Joe Martino’s The Mighty Titan, the thought struck me, “Wait a minute, I can do this!  Joe did it, I can do it, too!  It may be a longshot, but I can do it!”
2. So, Lark and Eagle. Why them and why this story? And what IS this story while we're at it for the people who aren't familiar with it?
Okay, promise not to laugh, but the idea started out at band camp.  At the end of each week (Yes, I went several times.), we had to play a concert for the parents.  One year we played this piece called ‘Where Never Lark or Eagle Flew’ (Which itself was inspired by the poem ‘High Flight’ by John Magee).  Over time, it continued to inspire me and it took different forms, once as an RPG campaign setting and then other times as superheroes.  But it never really clicked until this time.

For those who don’t know the premise, Lark and Eagle are two ‘down-and-out’ heroes brought together by a reality television show called Hero Overhaul to give them a makeover.  It’s got action with a touch of comedy.  I’ve really tried to fully develop Lark and Eagle’s backgrounds and personalities.  And I think the book looks great; all the components, I think, of a great comic book.
 3. How did you go about finding an artist? Why did you choose this particular artist?
I actually started snooping around DeviantArt.  I found a couple groups that said they would do everything for a comic book, from pencils to the letters, but it didn’t look like they were active any more.  Then I saw Toro Diego’s art.  He had penciled several pages of Spider-Man and Black Cat in the sewers.  The next page was of Hobgoblin flying towards them on his glider.  I had never seen an interpretation of Hobgoblin like that before.  It was awesome.  I just knew this was the artist I was looking for.  He has a very neat style that I thought would be great to work with.

The other folks (JK Woodward, Ben Holliday, Ed Dukeshire, etc.) that I’ve grabbed for the project I have found through conventions, Twitter, and Kickstarter.  It’s been a blast to work with all of them.
4.  The Kickstarter didn’t work out the first time but you’ve mentioned to me that you’ll be doing another down the road. I, for one, am psyched about this. What’s going to be different this time around and why haven’t you taken my money already? Also are you going to be offering the same sort of rewards? Because I’d love to see Paragon in the pages as a guest spot.

Oh yes!  It’s going to happen.  I have spent too much time on this to not share it with the world.  I learned a few things since the first time around and I know this time I will get it.

Pretty much everything will be the same as last time.  I offered reward tiers for guest appearances and villain creation and those will stay.  I’m still going to offer prints and t-shirts, but I’ll have more images so that backers will be able to choose from them instead of just one image.  Two other changes are a lower funding goal and I’m hoping to add some more artist commission reward tiers.

I can give you my address to send that check… just sign it and leave the rest blank for me.
5.  Speaking of guest appearances, have you ever given thought to your characters appearing in other creator’s books? Is that something that would appeal to you or do like the toys staying in your sandbox?

I’m always a fan of guest appearances, as long as they aren’t overdone or for the sake of appearing.  Their appearance needs to make sense to the story.  My sandbox isn’t as large as other people’s, so I would be fine if others shared and let me play in theirs sometimes.  If you’re reading this and want to have Lark and Eagle guest star in your book, get in touch with their agent.  He’s usually good about getting back to folks..  (Lark and/or Eagle -not quite sure yet- will be appearing in The Superiors.)

6.  Where are we heading with Lark and Eagle? Is this planned as an on-going series? Do you have plans for another other books?

 I’d love for it to be a regular monthly series, but being realistic with regards to time and money; I think a quarterly book would be the way to go.  Other books?  Oh yeah, that’d be great!  But it seems like all of my new characters and storylines spring from Lark and Eagle so I think I need to get their storyline established first.  Otherwise I’ve been jotting down ideas and pages for several books; Fulfillment, Perfection and one based off my Twitter fun that involves four super-strong heroes living together in an apartment.

7.  I follow you on Twitter and you write some hilarious stuff- have you thought about writing something other than comic books?

Sometimes I get these funny thoughts and I have to get them out.  Twitter is good for keeping thoughts simple and concise and if I can’t contain it in 160 characters, it might not make sense to anyone else or be that funny.   I write a little bit on the Skyland Games blog as akitayne and Steve.  Some of the earlier stuff was mine too, but the other guys made it pretty and posted it for me.  I mainly write about pre-generated characters, Kickstarter items, and do a few reviews here and there.  I also wrote a D&D (then updated to Pathfinder) Christmas Carol adaptation.

8.  What comics do you read, anyhow? What drew you to them in the first place?

Back in the day when I actively collected comics as a young teenager it was about the time Image formed.  So in between The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk (among others), I was reading Wild CATS and Spawn.  I didn’t really read anything from DC.  And it was the art that drew me to them; Mark Bagley, Dale Keown, Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane.  I remember buying a video by Todd McFarlane where he taught how to draw his signature cloak.  Mine were… okay.
After many years away from comics, I went to Comic Envy, my local comic store, for some reading materials.  I bought several series to get back into reading.  This time around it has been more independents from Kickstarter and DC and not just Marvel and Image.  I read issue after issue of Hawk and Dove and Hawkman.  I’m also enjoying Superior Spider-Man, Thunderbolts and Venom (Flash Thompson as Venom was an interesting read!).  I still go for the art, but I’m more story-driven now.  They say to read and read and read, but I found that I don’t like to do too much so that my ideas for stories do not get ‘polluted’ by things that I’ve read.
9. The perfect meal is...?
I have been craving the Brazilian steakhouse that’s about thirty minutes away from my house.  Great food (MEAT!) and I love the atmosphere.  I mean, why can’t they just leave the whole spit of picanha at the table?  Selfish, buggers!  Anyway, if you ever have a chance to go to one, just go.  You’ll enjoy it.

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