Black Ship Books Interviews Todd Black

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Home explores a concept with which most of us are familiar. The desire for a life less ordinary. The protagonist, Elysia, is trapped in a mundane world and a dead-end job. Until The Code opens a portal to another world, that is, one which contains knights and monsters.

This upcoming mini-series focuses on a genre often neglected by comics. Fantasy. The concept Of Home is an interesting take on the classic “hero from humble origins” trope commonly found in high fantasy. In this case, the chosen one is female and the original setting is a modern metropolis rather than a farm or medieval, backwater village.

The preview pages showcase clean, pleasing artwork and a story that is bubbling with fresh energy. You can catch the creative team’s enthusiasm for the project on every page. Todd Black, creator/ writer of Home, discusses the project and some of the factors that inspired him:

1. Elysia, the heroine of Home, is ostracized because of her blue hair. After reading the preview pages, I found myself wondering if her hair colour is a metaphor for something in particular? Such as physical disability or sexuality or race? Since these are things for which people are often ostracized in the real world.

Honestly, you can substitute her blue hair for anything that anyone has been picked on about. I made an overt “quirk” that got her made fun of, now think about those who get picked on for not so overt reasons. I was picked on because I was tall, I had glasses, curly hair, watched cartoons, and on and on. People get made fun of for all kinds of reasons, and with Elysia, I wanted to show that she was in that boat too. But also, she doesn’t hate who she is, she just hates the situation, something I hope people who read Home will understand and hopefully adapt to their own lives. Cause people can make fun of you, but only you can decide whether their words affect your outlook on yourself.

2. I was struck by Elysia’s situation. Many young people find themselves stuck in a dead-end job with little chance at a better future. Most of us have been there at some point. Was her predicament inspired by any of your own experiences or those of your friends?

Oh yeah! This again goes back to the “Elysia is in the same boat” thing. I wanted an incredibly relatable character to start off with. And for me, nothing says relatable than being in a job you don’t want. Cause just about EVERYONE has had that at one point or another. I’ve worked in factories, gas stations, grocery stores, etc. And I hated it, cause like Elysia (as you’ll see in Home) she has a talent that she knows she’s good at, but no one is giving her the chance to show it. She wants that opportunity, as many of us can relate to. But, she realizes that she needs to work in order to live, so a janitor she will be until something happens…which you know WILL happen! lol

3. Can you tell us more about The Code?

I can’t tell you too much without giving away spoilers, but it’s a key part of Elysia’s story both for her personally, and what happens in Altaria. I can say it is sentient to an extent, which adds some fun to things in my mind. It will be seen a lot in Home, and it’s impact is key to what happens. I wanted something that was both very visual, yet was easy to draw for my artists, and once you see all it can do? I think you’ll dig every bit of it.

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4. Elysia ends up in the world of Altaria. Will she spend all her time in this world, or be able to move between it and the ordinary world?

The majority of Home will be Altaria. Once she goes there in issue #1, she’ll be there for the majority of the other issues. Whether she goes somewhere else…? You’ll just have to read and find out! lol.

5. I can’t help but feel that The Code and Altaria are a clever reference to online fantasy games. The kind people often use to escape their mundane lives. Was this an inspiration for Home?

I like that parallel, I can honestly say it wasn’t an inspiration, but I have played a lot of fantasy games and RPG’s and the like. For me, I feel like this is an extreme solution to a mundane problem. By that I mean that Elysia WANTS to be in a better situation, one where she is appreciated, and not doing what she’s doing. And now, she’s in Altaria, where she will be appreciated…but she’s also under constant threat of danger and death. Not exactly what she had in mind. This is also a lesson I hope readers will get, just because you want something really badly, doesn’t mean you’ll get it exactly how you picture it. This is a lesson I had to learn too.

6. Altaria looks like it will feature high fantasy elements. Yet Elysia’s armor seems almost sci-fi in appearance. Can you tell us a bit more about Altaria? Is it a classic sword-and-sorcery fantasy world or more an amalgamation of sci fi and fantasy?

It’s very much a culture clash of a place. The city-kingdom of Altaria itself is very medieval in look, yet it doesn’t have certain elements you’d associate with it, but then it has knights…that look straight out of sci-fi, it’s conflicting, and confusing, and fun! You’ll see items that clearly don’t belong there, but the people accept them because The Code gave it to them, so who are they to deny it?

Altaria is always in danger from The Schrief, and the Knights of Altaria, though incredibly powerful, are limited in number, they have to be careful and clever to defeat the seemingly endless waves of monster that attack their city. The people there know that they have to help each other in order to live, else they’ll all die. They have a very unique bond that I’ll explore as the story goes on. I think people will enjoy it and be surprised as to what does and does not exist there.

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7. I’ve always loved the fantasy genre and was delighted to see a fantasy comic. There aren’t enough of them out there. Are you also an avid fantasy fan and if so, what particular works inspired Home?

I LOVE fantasy, I grew up on Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings, Eragon, and of course video games of the fantasy genre. I don’t know if I have a direct inspiration for what inspired Home, but it probably was a lot of things. I have so many stories in my head it’s almost impossible not to reference something in my works.

8. I believe Home is your second series. What was your first?

Guardians, which is a superhero comic. We have 12 issues out, and we’re working on our thirteenth right now. People can check it out at Guardians-Comic.com, where the first issue is actually free! And if you want print version, all you have to do is email us through the site and we’ll make it happen.

Guardians was my dream project for many years. It’s a story of two beings being created by a deity to protect a city in need. And though they have this great power, and complete control over their power, they don’t know how to interact with the people they’re protecting. Then, they begin to question whether just protecting the people is their purpose. One thinks ‘yes’, the other says ‘no’. The story grows off of that question, and we have a lot of fun.

9. You’ve assembled quite an impressive creative team. How did you go about this? Did you know each other from previous projects or find each other through other means?

I knew my letterer Zakk Saam for a few years, and I’ve wanted to work with him for a while. When Home came up, he was my first call. Our colorist Bethany Varni I met through Facebook, she saw an ad I posted there and quickly responded. Then, our penciler/inker Dinh Nguyen I met through an ad on another site. It took a while, but we got a rhythm going, and got 6 pages done for the Kickstarter, which was what I wanted. And I can’t wait to see them make the rest!

10. Finally, what’s in store for Elysia? Can you please give us a quick summary of what to expect from her upcoming adventures?

Well, her story will be told in about 5-6 issues, as this is a miniseries. But you can expect epic battles, some sci-fi twists, plenty of stunning knights with weapons and abilities to match, a very personal story about identity and finding where you home is, and an ending I can’t wait for people to see. Home is going to be something special.

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LJ Phillips
About LJ Phillips (82 Articles)
LJ Phillips is an ex-bodyguard and professional artist who has had three solo exhibitions. He has also published numerous articles and pieces of short fiction. His interests include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, over-analyzing pop culture and staring into the abyss. Currently he lives in SA and spends his free time working on his various creator-owned comics.

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