Richard: What is Gonzogoose Design?
Brant: Gonzogoose Design is my lettering and logo design "company" as it were. It's just a label put on those services. I've been lettering for a few years now and am getting steady work. I'm currently working on my first Image title, a graphic novel called Zombie Cop through Shadowline due out in February. I'm also lettering Corrective Measure for Arcana, and a number of independent titles.
Gonzogoose Productions is the imprint I am currently self-publishing under.
Richard: What is your story about in "Mysterious Visions"?
Brant: My story is Wannabez, and it's basically about a bunch of people who believe they have super powers because of a meteor falling and a bunch of bizarre coincidences. These are average people living in a world where superheroes only exist in comics and movies, much like our own world. But these events that occur convince these people they are more than what they are.
It's a story of self-growth and self-awareness as much as it is just a good old fashioned fun and funny superhero yarn. It's a throwback to when comics were fun and for everyone to enjoy.
The particular story in Mysterious Visions #5 is Wannabez #0, which is typically an origin issue, and it does make mention of things not scene in the series proper. But more than anything it was a short story in the world of Wannabez kind of introducing some of our characters with some nice cameos and homages to pop culture. We've gotten a lot of positive response out of it so far.
Recently, we took that story and self-published it as Wannabez #0 with additional content such as articles by Scott D.M. Simmons and myself, pinups and a preview of issue #1. The Mysterious Visions version shares the book with two other great all-ages tales, "Yokai" by Greg and Cheska Eales and "Too Catch a Human" by Jennifer Zelasco.
Richard: Who are the stars of Wannabez?
Brant: The main stars are Dober-Man, Mau, The Streak, Ignition and Esmerelda, though IQ, Slim and others will join the cast later on. Those two are seen in #0.
KC Carter, aka Dober-Man is your typical Peter Parker type character, only he's not that bright. He's just an average kid that gets made fun of. But then he gets bit by a dog and starts acting like one. There's a great scene in issue #1 beautifully illustrated by Scott that shows KC chasing the paperboy dog style.
Mau is Scott's favorite character, mainly because he got to design her look from scratch. The others I gave him rough sketches of, but I let him have take the reins on her. She's kind of sassy and at first appears as a villain. Obviously she thinks she has cat-like abilities.
The Streak is a middle-aged, ponchy family man kind of bored in his routine of a life who believes he gains the powers of super speed. He finds the kid inside himself again and finds purpose in his life finally.
Esmerelda, well, I can't really say a lot about her because her identity is secret for a while. She believes she's telekinetic, and she's not everything she seems to be.
Ignition is a skateboarder and average teenager who believes he can control fire after he supposedly blows up a car.
They are all, in some ways, extensions of myself and are a very fun and diverse cast.
Richard: How would you describe Scott D.M. Simmons art?
Brant: Scott's art is old school for the most part, but it also has that cartoony feel that is perfect for Wannabez. Many artists today are into realism with every page having to be an intricate masterpiece. And that's fine and well, I love that too, if it fits the book. Scott's art is more simplistic though. All the basic elements are there, and he does put a lot of detail in his artwork. But his style comes across fun and energetic, and it harkens back to those times where you just got lost in the story because of the fun and simple style of it.
Scott and I click on another level, too, which is rare between a writer and artist. He is able to really bring out my thoughts on the page just as I envision them. There have been very few corrections I've asked for, and very few times we haven't been on the same page.
Richard: Why are Ross Hughes colors and greys important?
Brant: Ross Hughes, in my honest opinion, is a colorist to watch! His work is just as good as anyone out there, and I would say that had I never worked with him before. But luckily, I've had the pleasure, and I couldn't be happier.
His greys are important because they add a whole new dimension to the pages. Scott loves Ross' colors and greys over his work because it just meshes so well. And his greys bring depth and clarity to the inked pages that makes them stand out ten times more than in black and white.
We always envisioned Wannabez in full color because of the fun, cartoony, old school style of the book, but color is expensive to print. When we first saw how gorgeous Ross' greys were, though, we felt 100% better about going that route with the series. I can't really explain eloquently enough how much Ross adds to the team dynamic, but suffice it to say it's a perfect fit and I couldn't imagine the book without him involved at this point.
Richard: How did you end up creating "Wannabez"?
Brant: Back in 2003 I believe it was Marvel reopened their Epic line, and for the first time opened the doors to unknowns. I had been trying to break in for a couple of years at that point and became obsessed with trying the Epic route, but I had nothing to submit. I came up with a couple of ideas involving Marvel characters that I started developing, but nothing really clicked - nothing was that "it" concept.
Then the thought came to me one night - what if people believed they had super powers, but really didn't. And that was it. Over the next two or three days I created the synopsis, character sketches and bios, and wrote two full scripts and sent it in. They rejected it, of course, asking for changes and to resubmit it. Well, by the time I got the changes made Epic had closed down for good and that was that.
But here we are today and Wannabez, to me, is still a very unique idea with a lot of potential, and I couldn't be happier about its current course.
Richard: What is planned for "Wannabez" next?
Brant: We are finishing up issue #1 right now, which we had hoped to get out before Christmas, but I don't know if that will happen yet. We're hoping to publish bi-monthly as of right now. We'll be doing a series of mini-series to begin with, the first being a 5 issue arc entitled "The Phenomenon". This basically introduces our main characters and begins laying down an underlying plot that will continue throughout the life of Wannabez.
Basically someone decides to capitalize on the heroics of these would-be heroes, thus creating the first eventual villain of the series. He's briefly shown at the end of #0 and you get a feel for where things are headed from there.
But we have a lot of plans, hopes and dreams for Wannabez. A property like this, visually and story-wise, does lend itself to other media, but really we just want to get this story we so love out to the public and hope they love it as much as we do.
Richard: Do you have any ideas for more comics?
Brant: Oh, I have tons of ideas for more comics ranging from superhero to fantasy to crime and beyond! Like any writer, I'm sure, I have a whole file full of ideas at various stages of development.
Scott and I actually have another story we'll be working on in the near future tentatively called "The White Event" in which a child, via his ill grandfather, discovers superheroes are real, and he and his friends are tasked with the chore of locating these heroes because a big evil is approaching.
The very first superheroes I ever created some 16 years ago or so, then called the Night Riders, are also in the works as a mini-series. It's a darker story focusing on the inner struggles of the team leader, who has connections to the evil force that he enlists the team to help fight.
Sinder: Quest for Dragonfang is a fantasy story about a dark elf and a barbarian who set out on a quest to find a fabled object of great power.
Eliminator is the story of a former government assassin who was unwittingly killing innocent people and now takes it in his own hands to take down his own organization.
And those are just a few of the stories I have in me. There are many others I am working on and hope to get out there over the months and years ahead.
And while this is not a comic idea, it is comic related and noteworthy. I recently purchased the domain www.comicjobz.com from Charles Pritchett who had previously run the now defunct website. I will be relaunching the site sometime in 2009 with an all new design and features. This is the only site solely dedicated to job postings in comic related fields, and I hope people find it very useful. So be on the lookout for that soon!
Oh, and I will be starting a new column on www.comicrelated.com later this year chronicling my journey from fan to creator and beyond!
Richard: Do you see any of yourself in the characters in Wannabez?
Brant: Absolutely! As I mentioned earlier, there is a little piece of me in each of them. KC has a lot of me in him as I wasn't all that popular as a kid and was kind of clumsy and odd. Ignition has that fun, carefree side of me in him. Streak carries my boredom in the humdrum routine life can become. And so on and so forth.
I think every writer, and artist for that matter, puts part of themselves in everything they create. Even actors slip a piece of themselves into every role I think. It's only natural, and it's a way of expressing ourselves without really expressing ourselves, if that makes sense. It's a creative and artistic way to do it that doesn't cross lines, but still gives people insight into who we are I think.
Richard: What type of comics would you like to publish?
Brant: All kinds! Superhero books are a favorite, naturally, but as you can see from above, my interests are broad.
I left comics all together in the 90s for about 5 years or so, and it was Crossgen comics that brought me back. For the longest time I read only Crossgen and the new G.I. Joe comic that started at that time. Though some may classify Crossgen as glorified superhero books, to me they were something special and they breathed new life into an industry that, at the time, was flailing and full of boring and unoriginal tales.
But I digress. I hope to publish anything that fancies me at any given time. I have children's stories in me, I have darker, symbolic tales to tell, and I have religious ideas I want to pursue. But I also have this whole "universe" of superheroes I created long ago that I'd love to eventually get out there as well.
Richard: What comics did you read as a child and do you read now?
Brant: As a child I was really into Spider-Man and X-Men more than anything. I also read a lot of Archie Comics. In my early teens is when X-Men was relaunched with Jim Lee and that, X-Force and all the X titles became favorites. I was also really into New Warriors, and of course, G.I. Joe.
Now I'm still reading X-Men, but I've gotten into Avengers in the past few years with Civil War and now Secret Invasion. I also got into DC during 52 and love Teen Titans. I also read Noble Causes, Invincible and Dynamo 5 from Image, and a few indy titles such as anything from Ape Entertainment and a few others that escape me at the moment. I long for Crossgen-esque titles, but sadly those are a thing of the past.
Richard: What is your personal outlook on life?
Brant: Ha! My personal outlook on life? Wow, that's a big question. I guess I think of life as a journey of sorts. There are ups and downs, and ins and outs, but it's what we do with our lives that makes the difference. I think the world can be a very negative and dreary place, but it's our perception and our actions that dictate, more than anything, what we will get out of life.
I try to keep a positive outlook and believe that things happen for a reason, leading up to some point of greatness. That's not always the case, and bad things happen. But I believe in purpose and hope, and I believe there is something after this world. I call it heaven, you can call it what you will. But that's what I believe.
I don't want to get off on a tangent here, so let me shift gears. Some people will take the stance that everything is hard and very few will ever succeed. You see that a lot in the indy comics scene, and even in some pros. They preach doom and gloom and warn you not to put your hopes on the line because it probably won't happen. But in my experience, that way of thinking leads to defeat before you've even begun! I choose to believe that anything is possible and that we can all achieve anything and everything we truly put our minds, and our actions to.
Richard: How can someone contact you?
Brant: People can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you'd like to order Wannabez you can do so by emailing email@example.com , or by ordering from the Wannabez blog via paypal (http://wnbz.blogspot.com). For lettering work, I prefer to be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeah, I know it's a lot of emails, but if I didn't keep things separate I'd get lost!
Richard: Any final words of wisdom?
Brant: Believe in yourself no matter what others may say. You absolutely can NOT let anyone else on God's green earth dictate what you do with your life. If you have a dream then follow it. If it's a passion, don't hide it, don't be ashamed of it, and don't stifle it. That will only cause you grief, regret and unhappiness. That said, be realistic about your dreams, but never give up on them.
http://thebdc.deviantart.com/gallery/ (Ross Hughes portfolio)