Welcome, all, again. I realize that of late I’ve been bouncing around the site like some deranged pinball trapped within a possessed machine, but get ready to go in yet another direction with me: my first industry-related interview, to comic creator Nicole D’Andria! I was fortunate enough to make her acquaintance a couple of years ago, so when she announced that she’d be releasing her own original comic, Road Trip to Hell, I asked if she’d allow me a few questions. They and her answers appear below. Who is she? Well, Nicole has been involved in the comic industry for several years, first writing comic-related articles for the website Entertainment Fuse back in 2009. In 2012, she began editing articles for Comic Frontline, and now has her own weekly feature on their site–Kickstart the Week–in which she showcases interesting Kickstarter projects and their creative teams. She also wears several different hats at Action Lab Entertainment [http://www.actionlabcomics.com/], where she serves as an adaptor (Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir), script editor, the Submissions Editor, and Marketing Director–not bad for someone who began with the company as a college intern! In fact, for more about her and her work, please visit her site Comic Maven’s Archives: [http://www.comicmaven.com/]. But now, let’s begin the interview:
David: Many thanks for this. To start, how did you begin in the industry? Were you a comics fan who worked your way in, or did you approach from a more business-oriented slant?
Nicole: I was 100% a comic book fan. After only being a comic collector for a few months, I started writing comic book related articles for the website Entertainment Fuse. I met a lot of really great comic book creators and was introduced to Action Lab Entertainment’s works. My initial introduction was to the amazing all-ages fantasy series Princeless, which I’m always praising for its empowering message.
I ended up interviewing the Princeless creative team, and that would play a huge role later on when I was trying to find an internship during college. I contacted Princeless writer Jeremy Whitley to ask if he was aware of any available positions at Action Lab. He got me Bryan Seaton’s contact info and after a phone call, I ended up becoming an intern at Action Lab! Then I officially came on as a member of their team after I graduated college.
David: You helped make your own break–very inspiring! And now you edit, adapt, market, and even review comics. How much of a leap was it to decide to write your own? How long has the idea for this comic been rattling around in your head, and how has it morphed over time in response to your other work?
Nicole: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I fell in love with reading in the second grade. But I used to only want to write novels and started collecting comics as more of a hobby with no initial intention of making it into a career. However, when I fall in love with something, I tend to want to incorporate it into my career. So as I grew to love comics more and more and write about them, I very quickly wanted to start writing my own.
The idea for Road Trip to Hell started forming when I was still in college. Originally, it was simply an idea that I kept in a word file with a bunch of other ideas I told myself I’d get to someday. It wasn’t until I got into a friendly argument with my friend over Rosemary’s Baby that I realized I had a really special idea and I wanted to explore it further. I’d work on it occasionally, but it wasn’t until I started my Senior Project: Writing that I really started to focus on the project. My professor was extremely supportive and allowed me to write the scripts for the class and I finished the first two issues during this time. The way I formatted the scripts was informed by my work at Action Lab.
I didn’t end up writing the final issue until I met a comic book writer, Jennie Wood (Flutter), who[m] I had a one hour comic consulting class with, thanks to my boss. She read the scripts and was extremely supportive, insisting I finish it. She really re-motivated me to get the first volume done and I couldn’t be more grateful to her!
David: So are we! But over the years, you must have developed many contacts within the industry. To whom did you reach out to help you with this project?
Nicole: I’ve met a lot of fantastic and creative people at Action Lab. One such person was Marco Maccagni. He’s such a great artist and I first saw his work in Vampblade. I love how his style allowed for so much expression and action that I knew I had to ask him about drawing my comic. He’s done such a fantastic job so far and I’m always excited when I see a new inked page from him. The other member of my creative team is colorist Joaquin Pereyra. I first noticed his work in the Action Lab title MediSin. I contacted him (with some help from MediSin writer Jeff Dyer) and he’s been giving me awesome colors ever since! I also have a special variant cover in the works by another artist I met through Action Lab, but I’ll keep that a secret… for now.
And while you haven’t seen his work yet, Justin Birch will be lettering the book. I’ve worked with him firsthand on a lot of Action Lab titles, including Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, so I know his lettering work is top-notch. Then there’s my friend on Comic Frontline, Brant Fowler, who will be creating the title design and dressing the covers. His work on Last Ember Press speaks for itself in how talented he is.
David: Can you give us an idea about story or plot, possibly some character descriptions? Please tell us why we want to buy YOUR comic!
Nicole: If you’re interested in a dark comedy packed with emotion and action, this is the story you should be reading. The story is about Francis, a troubled man whose problems get even worse when he finds out that not only is his father… but the devil has been destroyed and Francis has been named the new king of Hell. Even worse? He doesn’t get the throne unless he travels to Hell, and everyone in Hell has been freed with one goal in mind—kill Francis and usurp the devil’s throne!
You’ll get to see Francis struggle with his humanity. Plus his struggle to keep his sister, Star, safe. Oh, who am I kidding—she’s much more likely to be the one saving him. Along with Francis’s very own guardian angel, Joan of Arc! This comic book series is filled with historical figures, from Joan of Arc to Adolf Hitler. And where else can you read a comic book that has both Joan of Arc and Adolf Hitler?
David: I grew up Catholic, and chose Joan of Arc as a personal patron saint. So, great choice! Now, is this comic the prelude to even more new, original work from you? What do you plan for the future?
Nicole: This is definitely the beginning to what I plan to be a long career in original writing. I’ve been anxious to do my own creator-owned work for a while now and I finally decided to take the plunge with Road Trip to Hell. While I have the first three issues of the series scripts, which will comprise the first volume of the series, I have a rough outline for at least six volumes. Beyond that, I have a lot of other ideas I’ve been kicking around, both for comic books. As well as other original projects, one of which is also currently in the works and I’ll be talking more about soon!
David: Given your years in the industry, what most surprised you about the making of your own original comic?
Nicole: Ironically, I think the part that surprised me the most was how easy the creative team made the process feel. I had been holding onto the scripts for so long and the perfectionist in me was so nervous to finally put them out there. I didn’t know if the idea I had been building up in my head could ever satisfy me on paper. But as soon as I saw Marco’s initial character designs, I knew I’d found the perfect person to do the art. He’s already done so much work on the series and it amazes me that not only does everything look awesome, but the process went by so much more quickly than when I was writing the scripts. And Joaquin’s test colors showed me he was perfect for the job. So really, it was a lucky surprise that I managed to find the perfect creative team pretty much right off the bat. I’m sure there’s still plenty more surprises to come, and I can only hope they’re as positive as this!
And that concludes our brief interview. Many thanks to Nicole for playing along(!), and now we just have to wait for her Kickstarter announcement, which she anticipates for later this spring. Look for it, folks: Road Trip to Hell by Nicole D’Andria. This might just become your next favorite comic!