Jamie Righetti sat down with Josh Tierney and Afu Chan, creators of the FanBros Originals: “Hidden Track, to talk about their comic, their work on Spera, their inspirations and more.
Tell us a little bit about your individual roles in creating a comic. How do you take it from an idea to a finished project?
Josh Tierney: I typically start by looking through an artist’s work for inspiration. The frog in “Hidden Track” is a recurring character from Afu’s art pieces, for example. I then shape the story according to Afu’s style, putting in elements I believe would be interesting for him to draw, while at the same time putting in characters I know I’d enjoy writing. The main character, Koi, is also the central protagonist of my online novella Radar Doesn’t Believe In The Supernatural. Usually all I really need to start a script are an art style and some characters.
Afu Chan: My role is to visualize my writer’s words. I began by reading the script and then digest it by sketching concept art based on the descriptions. Before I start working on the pages, I always like to design the characters first to fit into the story.
What inspired you to start writing/drawing? Any specific artist/comic/cartoon/etc.?
Josh: The first 20 or so issues of Jeff Smith’s Bone [definitely inspired me] when I was a kid. Bone captured my imagination more than anything else – everything from the juxtaposition of simple cartoon characters in a detailed fantasy environment to the whole self-publishing aspect.
Afu: When I was in Mexico, my favorite cartoon show was Caballeros Del Zodiaco (aka Saint Seiya) and that’s when I started drawing. Artists that inspired me are Geof Darrow, Moebius, Taiyo Matsumoto and Katsuhiro Otomo.
What’s awesome about Spera is that it breaks the conventional princess stereotype and has two strong female leads in Lono and Pira. It’s also fascinating to see the artwork shift from artist to artist every few pages, which helps bring in a new tone each time.
Josh, what inspired you to write this and what made you choose multiple artists rather than just one?
Josh: My earliest ambition, due to reading Bone as a kid, was to do my own fantasy comic. This was something I kind of forgot about while I was in high school. Back when I was about 24, an artist suggested I try one of my large collaborations (referring to my online novellas Radar and the Untitled Saga of Hana) as a comic. It suddenly clicked that I could finally do my fantasy comic in this manner.
As with the novella projects, the idea behind the multiple artists is to reveal a single world through the eyes of individuals. If you and I both witnessed the same scene, such as an accident, I would look at it and think about it in a way very different from you, and you would look at it and think in a way different from someone else. Spera is always the same world, but it’s viewed through the eyes of different people/artists, each bringing their personal histories and experiences to it – just like our own reality.
Afu, what drew you to this project and what was it like working on parts of the comic rather than the whole thing?
Afu: I’ve worked with Josh years ago and his writing is full of life. I appreciate [a] story with strong character development and Spera has it all.
I like the idea of artists working on different parts of the story and I found it helpful through my process. I was very inspired to see all the diversity in styles.
Favorite project(s) you’ve worked on so far?
Josh: In terms of released projects, definitely Spera and 3 Old Gods, a Japanese short film directed by Cécile Brun and Olivier Pichard, with music by Giannis Milonogiannis, which can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Afu: Spera will always be one of my favorite projects. There are several unreleased projects that I like but, unfortunately, I can not share [them] to the public yet.
What inspired your Fan Bros Original comic “Hidden Track?”
Josh: The fear of all physical media moving to digital. The comic itself may refer to commercial music releases such as CDs, but I wrote it with the mindset of comics switching over from print. I personally prefer holding a physical book, but I can understand the convenience of digital releases.
Afu: It was Josh’s original idea and it relates to the fact that everything is going digital nowadays.
Okay, the typical geek stuff we just have to know:
1. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Josh: Star Trek
Afu: Star Trek
2. Favorite comic and/or superhero?
Josh: For concluded series, Bone. For current series, Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&!.
Afu: My favorite comic would be Alfonso Wong’s Old Master Q.
3. Most underrated comic book character?
Josh: Yanda from Yotsuba&!. It seems like there’s a guaranteed laugh for me on every page he appears.
Afu: Porco Rosso.
Any advice for aspiring comic book writers/artists?
Josh: Get on social networks and post your art. This is one of the best and easiest times in comics’ history to be discovered. And, of course, don’t give up — it can take years, but if you’re sincere with your work, and your work is good, good things will come to you.
Afu: Be kickass, don’t give up, and draw.
Finally, anything cool you’re currently working on that we can look for soon?
Josh: Spera: Vol. 3 is set to release this fall from Archaia and has a ton of great artists on it, from Michael Dialynas (Amala’s Blade) to Ken Niimura (I Kill Giants). I can’t give a release date on this just yet, but there’s also Hunters, a barbarian-flavoured fantasy comics anthology that I’m co-editing with Paul Maybury, which Afu is also the main artist on.
Afu: I am working on a couple new comic book projects.