Author and Co-Author of Into The Reach and Departure and Steampunk Musha
by Richard Vasseur - (Posted: 8/7/2007)
Richard: How did you become the publicist for Baeg Tobar?
Alana: I met Jeremy through Rick Hershey, with whom I worked on Steampunk Musha RPG. Jeremy liked the work I'd done for Rick and asked me to come on board Baeg Tobar in an editorial capacity. When we decided that the project needed someone to head up publicity as well, I handed over the editorial responsibilities to Scott Colby, who's been doing an excellent job, and started doing publicity.
Richard: What are your duties at Baeg Tobar?
Alana: A lot of what I do for Baeg Tobar is really behind the scenes. I write press releases and try to update our community pages regularly (we're on MySpace, ComicSpace, and we have a Facebook fan club), and that gets seen by the public. But most of what I do is networking: I try to find opportunities for Baeg Tobar to come into the public eye, from free advertisement opportunities and contests to link exchanges or having someone take our flyers to a convention. I've also been in contact with people like Secret Identity Podcast--and Jazma!--to feature our creators in interviews.
Richard: What is "Cowboys and Aliens" about and how does your new spin off tie in with it?
Alana: Cowboys and Aliens is a Sci-fi Western comic published by Platinum. Their first volume came out initially on Drunk Duck and is now available in print format as well. In the original story, aliens invade earth in 1873, and it takes a little American resistance--Cowboy style--to send them packing. We start from there, following our heroes as they discover they're not the only ones facing an alien threat. We expect the series to go all over the world, from Germany to Japan to South Africa, and we'll be introducing some new heroes along the way.
Richard: What do you think of Rick Hershey's work on it?
Alana: Rick's work has been, as always, amazing. He and I were working together for a time on a Steampunk Musha comic, but due to time commitments from both of us, that fell through. Getting the opportunity to work with him again has been a great thrill for me.
Richard: Have you played the RPG Steampunk Musha?
Alana: Sadly no! We tried a play by post over at the Tangled Muse forums, but that format is always difficult to keep the momentum up. My local gaming group is much more d20 oriented, so when we release the conversion of Steampunk Musha to d20, I'm sure I'll have more opportunities to play then!
Richard: Why did you decide to write "Into The Reach"?
Alana: I had the wonderful opportunity to write Into the Reach for WhiteSilver Publishing after doing some game design work for them. John Prescott, the publisher, had liked the flavor text I created for their campaign setting; because I knew the setting pretty well from doing that assignment, he invited me to write a trilogy promoting the world. Into the Reach is the first of that series (Departure is also available, and Regaining Home is forthcoming). It follows a quartet of adventurers--all failed heroes of one kind or another--into an area of the world called the Reach, which is where people go to forget about their pasts. I wanted to write a really character driven novel, so starting with people who are trying to overcome past failures was really intriguing to me. Happily, John liked it as well.
Richard: How do you manage your time?
Alana: I work as a writer and editor part-time now, and I tend to divide my work between projects. Mondays are for press releases, and Wednesdays are my day to turn in work for Cowboys and Aliens. Other ongoing projects I work around my other work schedule--I work in the reference department of my local library. I don't procrastinate, per say, but I do end up working in a much more concentrated fashion closer to my deadlines.
Richard: What projects do you have coming up?
Alana: Between Cowboys and Aliens and the conversion to Steampunk Musha d20, I'm keeping pretty busy! I do update my blog with my upcoming projects, and I'd be happy to have people visit me there (http://alanajoli.livejournal.com).
Richard: Why do you think comic books appeal to people?
Alana: Comics require more investment from the reader than television--you have to imagine what happens between the panels--and I think that style really engages readers. There's color and flash, of course, and that's eye-catching, but there's also a lot of story depth. The format tells stories in a different way than either prose or screen, and there's something about that medium that creates a bit of magic, I think.
Richard: What do you think of non super hero comics?
Alana: I actually started reading comics with the CrossGen series (sadly short-lived). They played in all sorts of genres, and so I never really had the expectation that superheroes dominated the medium. From there I went into the Sandman and Maus, and I still read quite a lot of manga. So while I love superheroes (I'm reading Astonishing X-Men regularly, some of the Ultimate series from Marvel, as well as Invincible ), because I didn't come to comics through them, they're just one among many possible types of stories to tell.
Richard: What comics did you read as a child and do you read now?
Alana: Aside from the funny pages, the only real comic I read before I started working at a bookstore after college was Jeff Smith's Bone. I came to it through Disney Adventures, and didn't even know that it was a stand-alone comic until I was in my 20s and got to finish the series. Lately I've been reading Naruto (because I want to know what all the fuss is about), and I'm completely addicted to Fruits Basket. I also picked up Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan, which is about a bombing in Israel, and was quite powerful.
My favorite comic to plug at the moment is Sorcerers and Secretaries by Amy Kim Ganter. I also just read Watchmen for the first time about a month ago and was just blown away. For webcomics, I keep up with the Baeg Tobar strips, read Questionable Content and Order of the Stick, and have been starting to read some of the DrunkDuck strips, Purgatory Tower in particular.
Richard: If you could have one super power what would it be and why?
Alana: I think I'd like to be invincible. Just imagine the amount of relief you'd have knowing you couldn't be injured! I'd definitely go sky diving (something I'd be terrified of right now).
Richard: How can someone contact you?
Alana: People can definitely contact me through my livejournal (linked above) or via the Tangled Muse forums (www.tangledmuse.com ). I also have a personal MySpace account (which I'm horrible at checking--but leave a message at the Baeg Tobar MySpace page, and I'll find it!).
Richard: Any final words of wisdom?
Alana: Never stop loving your dream.