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Yo Mikey P. here.

Thanks for checking out the site. I try to write about comics as much as I can but I got kids, ok?

Project: Get Known! FALLEN

Project: Get Known! FALLEN

This blog aims to spotlight indie comic book creators and their independent works.

 

I'm a believer in ComiXology Submit as a vehicle to get your self made works out there on a platform shared by the major companies. As a consumer, your range of available material is also broadened with the ability to access all those awesome underground books that are hard finds at your local comic shop..

 

I once wrote briefly about my love for this comiXology and it's Guided View format. In addition I was a fanatic for their stellar podcast.  A while back, a book was mentioned on the show called Fallen which was created and written by a frequent letter writer, Ryan Garcia.  This vigilante story captured so many elements of what drew me to comics as a kid in the 90’s, while maintaining the sophistication that kept me reading as an adult

I reached out to Ryan and his artist Jose Holder to learn more about how this passion project came to be. Get to know ‘em!

 

Mikey P:

Within the first few pages, it's apparent that Fallen is very well thought out and structured. To give us the backstory within the context of the present action is a difficult task but Ryan is able to achieve this seamlessly. Ryan,how do describe your book to people?

Ryan Garcia:

The elevator pitch would be something like “Would a decades-long vigilante, given the chance, prevent the event that put them on their path knowing that all the good they’ve done would be wiped out?”  I’ve always been a fan of the vigilante archetype--superheroes who don’t have powers but are driven in a relentless pursuit of justice. Batman, Punisher, those types.  I thought for those characters to keep acting for decades they must believe they are doing good--so I thought it might be fun to play with the idea of whether that same character would, if given the opportunity, undo it all.  I couldn’t write a Batman story or Punisher story about them preventing the acts that turned them into their characters, so I wrote my own.

 

MP:

Fallen’s fighting style and abilities (“the Perfect Art”) are really unique. I love the fact that when he uses it, it hurts him more than his enemies, and thereby makes him nearly unbeatable opponent. What influences help mold this character?

RG:

Even though Fallen is an unreal character, I wanted him to be somewhat grounded in reality.  The central element to the vigilante is his drive--anyone can be upset by incidents and want to take action.  But a comic book vigilante keeps that drive going for years, decades.  That’s a superhuman drive--it isn’t normal.  So I wanted to work with that element and have his fighting style play off that drive.  It’s an easy trope to have someone become a Master Martial Artist after studying in some monasteries, or be blood-thirsty monsters.  I thought it would be more interesting to have a fighting style play off that devotion.  Fallen wins not necessarily because he’s a better fighter but because he’s willing to harm himself to beat his opponents.  He’s tapping that drive for justice in ways that most people can’t.

 

MP:

What motivated you to dedicate the time and hire a whole creative team into making this vision into a reality?

RG:

I wanted to give Fallen every chance for success.  That meant making sure I wasn’t cutting corners and getting a great team together to bring him to life.

 

MP:

We get a great understanding of who Fallen is through the internal monologue. His survey of his injuries and strategy for attacking is very methodical. How did you get in the mindset to think about these battle consequences?

RG:

The injury catalog served a dual purpose--to let readers dip their toes into Fallen’s drive (because even if you haven’t walked around with broken bones before it’s easy to imagine how painful that would be) and also to serve as a running tally of Fallen’s adventure.  It’s hard to create tension with a named character in a comic book--very few heroes die if their name is on the cover.  I wanted something to have readers feel a slice of Fallen’s pain.

 

MP:

This was all of course dependent upon a versatile artist that could carry the weight but Jose Holder delivered in spades. Jose had already done work on a few books (RPM, Aflflicted to name a couple).  How did this team-up come about? What was it about each other’s work that drew you to working together?

Jose Holder:

If memory serves, a mutual friend, our editor extreme Rob Levin got us in contact. From there, I was blown away by the originality of Ryan’s script and the intriguing play on those classic archetypes I’d grown up reading in comics. It was an easy sell, given that Fallen was such a great character and his universe was a playground waiting to be fleshed out.

 

MP:

What was the collaboration process like for tasks such as the character design? A lot of good story elements were worked into his look.

JH:

Ryan had such a clear vision of the character’s background and motivation that my imagination lit up with design potential for our hero. I quickly went about re-imagining all the wonderful things I loved about carnivals as a child – invoking everything from the Strongman to the Cannonball, clowns, Ringmaster and everything in between. Variations culminated in Fallen’s trademark trench, kneepads, and kick-ass leather jacket.

 

MP:

There was an impressive amount of world building for this story as well. What inspiration did you pull from for nailing down the environment?

JH:

From the start Ryan and I wanted to create a universe unique to this character. A backdrop that was as much a story element as the hero himself. A dystopian expanse that defined the people within it, much like Gotham or Hell’s Kitchen. I loved the vertical aspect of world building, and perched Fallen on the edges of a seemingly bottomless caldera with an icy ridge, structures embedded into the rock side, and the working class in the factories below. The book was tons of fun to design!

 

MP:

Was Ryan strict with with his panel directions or was Jose free to generate his own ideas when it came to creating these pages?

JH:

It was a very creative safe zone on this project, with Ryan laying out a strong narrative base for Rob and I to follow, and there was plenty of room for constructive feedback, creative license, and the usual edits. Overall, the guys really embraced the visual direction I added to the mix, which just fueled more passion for the project!

 

MP:

Jose you are credited with every aspect of the art besides the lettering in your work. In addition to designing characters and environment for Fallen, this was some undertaking . How long did this particular project take you to complete?

JH:

I recall have a very relaxed schedule on the book, which allowed me to really throw myself into the final product. The roughs & artwork must have wrapped in under 45 days, and the colouring a bit longer.

 

MP:

Ryan, you also made the decision to work with an editor which is something you don't see very often on independent projects. How did Rob Levin steer the project? How strongly do you recommend other self made creators to do the same?

RG:

Every project will be different, but for those new to the medium your editor is your foundation.  They can guide you through so many elements of the process and connect you to people you don’t know--Rob’s guidance through the project was invaluable.  From script changes to assembling the team to proofing everything as we went, Rob brought the project up so many notches.  A good editor is worth their weight in adamantium.

 

MP:

There's a professional look also brought from a professional letterer, which again most self made books tackle with a DIY approach. Another creative recommendation you have?

RG:

Lettering is an overlooked element to comics but you notice when it’s bad.  Since most of Fallen was told through an internal monologue, getting the right placement and feel for the text boxes was beyond my abilities.  Rob connected me with a great letterer, Joshua Cozine, and he made the words work on the page.

 

MP:

We could learn more about the other characters in this series (the Stranger, the Tattooed Librarian, Fanatic, Fallen’s past, etc) and the ending was open for a continuation.  Any plans for the next Fallen issue?

RG:

I have two more stories outlined, but both are longer stories than a single issue story.  The second story would probably be a 6-issue series, the third story a bit shorter than that.  And both stories are connected to Self-Made Man (the first story)--hooks are in that first story to connect to 2 and 3, but it was also important to me to have the first story be self-contained.

JH:

Fallen’s such a great character that he deserves more shelf time. Ryan has no shortage of awesome things in store for the series and if he needs help (and I’m available), I would be honoured to revisit that universe. This is begging to be realized in animation, too!


MP:

Jose, you are currently creating some incredible work  for  the new Assassin’s Creed: Uprising run, published by Titan Comics.  In Fallen, you captured the mood and grit, yet liveliness of the city, especially with the color choices you made.  Reading through Assassin’s Creed, your energy continues but it feels like a different book in that mood department.  It’s truly a testament to your artistic range.  How do you do approach setting that mood in each project?

JH:

Wow! Thanks:) For me, every project begins with a great story, and a character driven by purpose. So personality, experience, situations, and environment heavily influence my choices artistically. Those revelations extend to a character’s silhouette and body language, facial features and stature. ‘The Perfect Art’ solidified Fallen’s design for me. The weighty narration was emotionally driven, affecting my lighting choices, framing, and especially pacing. The colour bright, stark, and carnie inspired.

 

MP:

To draw comparisons, Fallen is often drawn perched on buildings and attacking from above. I could see how your style would translate well in Assassin’s Creed: Uprising. Was Fallen a good launch pad for you?

JH:

Hahaha! I never thought of that. It would seem as though Fallen has prepared me for the Assassins / Templar conflict in ways I couldn’t imagine:) Death from above!

 

MP:

When you guys are at the desk working, what are some things you play in the background?

JH:

Movie soundtracks, acid jazz, electronica, 70’s rock, rap, and Gary V.

 

MP:

Who are some artists or books which inspired you to pursue a career as a comic book artist?

JH:

Buscema, Frazetta, Wrightson, Ditko, Williamson, Toth, Weeks, Simonson, Aparo, Zeck, Gamill, BWS, Byrne, Perez, Adams, Miller, and a host of greats!

 

MP:

Additional contributions to the comics community are also being made by Ryan in the form of Gabbing Geek, a great podcast, and a fun review/ news website of the same name. Ryan, your love for comics is apparent. What are some of the books you have read which had the biggest influence on your desire to write and talk about comics?

RG:

Watchmen is far and away my favorite--I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read it and each time I find something new.  Moore has so many other brilliant pieces, from Top Ten to the two issue story Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?  Dark Knight Returns and Rising Stars are also inspiring.  But I’m a far way from those creators.

 

MP:

What are the current or recent books you both would recommend?

RG:

The Walking Dead’s ability to build a long-term story out of shorter arcs remains a favorite.  And I’ve loved the Earth One books put out by DC both for their re-imagining of classic stories and their use of a different publishing format instead of monthly issues.

JH:

Agreed. TWD is a personal fave, and anything Sean Gordon Murphy, Lee Weeks or Tomm Coker is on.

 

MP:

Now Ryan also has a law degree so it must have been intimidating to get that freelance contract Jose.

JH:

Best, funniest, coolest, comic contract ever! Ryan can rep me anytime:)

 

MP:

Ryan, you are also a Professor of Law and Social Media, wrote a book about the subject, and maintain a great blog for maintaining interesting facts about such matters in current events in a layman’s terms.  Another passion as well.  So where do you find the time for all of this?

RG:  

Honestly, I don’t sleep much.

 

MP:

Anything else you’d like to share? Advice for the unknowns out there?

RG:

If you’re passionate about creating comic books, create comic books.  Have realistic expectations but always remember the goal is to create something.

JH:

Draw your assets off. Get to the business of learning the craft and celebrate that aspect. Finish what you start. Share your progress with pros and get feedback. Invest in your future above all else. Publish.

 

MP:

A sincere thank you to you both for your time.  

Look for Jose’s current stuff on Assassin’s Creed. Seek Ryan's take on everything geek and legal.

Buy Fallen.  It is a great self contained story with a one of the best endings to a single issue I've read. 

 

Follow Ryan:

http://www.gabbinggeek.com/

https://somelaw.wordpress.com/

@SoMeGeekLawyer

 

Follow Jose:

http://jjcomicstripart.blogspot.com/

http://johjames.deviantart.com/

@JoseHolder_

 

The Long Road to Project: Unknown #1

The Long Road to Project: Unknown #1

Mutants and Muslims