Kevin Colden is the writer and artist of the new webcomic, I Rule The Night, available at Zuda Comics, DC Comics web comics initiative. After entering the comic contest hosted by Zuda earlier this year, Colden came back with a I Rule The Night, a comic that crosses the horror genre with superheroes, exploring what happens to a sidekick when their superhero mentor is killed. I was impressed by the style of I Rule The Night with it’s indie comics visual look, but with the tying in of an interesting spin on a superhero based story. Given the opportunity to talk to Colden, I was curious to hear about how the Zuda Comics experience was as well as what goes into doing a webcomic. So check out our discussion, read the comic and let me know what you think of I Rule The Night.
(special thanks to iFanboy staff writer Sonia Harris who submitted some questions for Kevin as well)
Ron Richards: You’ve got a comic up on Zuda Comics called I Rule the Night – tell us what the comic is about…
Kevin Colden: I Rule the Night is a noir-ish superhero story that follows a sidekick named Shadowboy, whose mentor the Night Devil has been dead for 7 years. Shadowboy has gone insane and homicidal, and occasionally tries to raise Night Devil from the dead. Notes have been showing up around the city with the words “I Rule the Night” scrawled across them, and our “hero” has to figure out who is sending them, and – more importantly – why. Much of the story deals with Shadowboy’s complicated relationship with Night Devil, whose real name is Crane Carlson and their butler Carmine, who is still lives with and assists Shadowboy.
RR: How has the experience of publishing a digital comic on Zuda been for you?
KC: Zuda has been great on every level. It’s nice to be reaching such a massive number of people so quickly, which is why I’m a big fan of webcomics in general. With Zuda it’s a bit different than my earlier online work because having it under the DC banner helps reach a more mainstream comic reading audience than I normally do.
RR: How did the process of getting your comic on Zuda go?
KC: Well, I had a comic called Strangle/Switch in the February ’08 competition that finished 4th. The Zuda staff had me come over and sign at the DC booth at NYCC last year, and as I was sitting there the original idea for this comic popped in my head which was something like “What happens to the sidekick when the hero dies?” and I started working on it immediately to send it over to them. When the invitational competition came up last summer I was invited back to do another round of Strangle/Switch, but declined by saying that I had something even better for them. I think it’s safe to say Zuda thought so too.
RR: Have you had any other work published either in print or web comics?
KC: I’ve been working in indie comics for about a decade, and in webcomics since 2006. I was a founding member of The Chemistry Set (http://www.chemsetcomics.com) where I drew Todt Hill with writer Neil Kleid, and my book Fishtown, which was just published in print by IDW, originally serialized at ACT-I-VATE (http://www.act-i-vate.com)
RR: How does creating a webcomic differ from the creative execution from a traditional print comic?
KC: Really it’s no different to me. The only difference with Zuda is that they use the widescreen format, which takes a little getting used to.
RR: I Rule The Night is done with 3 colors, black, white and a blue-ish hue – why not do full color since its a webcomic and not restrained by the cost of doing full color in traditional print comics? Is it a stylistic choice, or are you planning for a future when you’ll want to keep print costs down in print?
KC: I tend to work in limited color palettes as a stylistic choice, but a lot of this book is actually quite colorful. As I say this we haven’t gotten to the full color pages yet, but there are actually two very distinct art styles at play in I Rule the Night - one that represents the “reality” in the story and one that represents the characters’ memories. As with most aspects of this story, it’s not what you might expect.
RR: In the first 9 pages, the dialogue is pretty sparse, is that by design as a writer/artist creator or do you find since you’re writing and drawing that you’re able to express yourself more fluidly between art and text?
KC: Oddly, I’m a much more natural writer than artist – I write very quickly and it comes much more easily to me. But readers can absorb visuals more easily, and comics are primarily a visual medium. Also, when you choose your words more carefully and use them sparsely, what you say matters more. So it’s really a stylistic choice, probably from having read a lot of manga over the past few years.
RR: In reading I Rule the Night, there’s definitely a Batman influence apparent, as well as a bit of the Buffy vibe (a girl saving the world/fighting crime) How do those themes and comparisons affect your development of the story and characters?
KC: Well, the Batman influence is pretty obvious, and that’s intentional. And now that you mention the Buffy connection, I can see a huge correlation there, mostly in the use of superheroics as metaphor for real-life issues. But thematically, I’m ultimately aiming at something a little more esoteric. Ultimately it’s about the characters’ relationships to each other and the world around them. I can’t really elaborate more without giving things away.
RR: The main character has been revealed to be a young girl, Elaine, and yet the synopsis alludes to “Shadowboy” Is Elaine Shadowboy, and if so, was the gender neutral look something you were going for?
KC: Elaine “Lainey” Lord is Shadowboy. She is purposely androgynous, and her attempt to find out more about who she really is and why form the basis of the story. She wants to bring Crane back to life in order to get answers she never did when he was alive.
RR: Zuda Comics’s site posts the comic but then lets the community discuss and vote on it – how has that experience been of getting direct feedback?
KC: So far it’s been quite good. Luckily, I didn’t have to go through the voting process this time around – I was handed the Instant Win ticket and ushered behind the proverbial velvet rope without going through the contest. Which is great because the contest is nerve-wracking. Having the reader feedback is why we put stuff on the web – we like to hear what the readers think, but the scrutiny of the voting process is hard because there’s nowhere to go once you have your 8 screens up there.
RR: Some users on Zuda are already clamoring for more pages, which is a good problem to have – what is your schedule for releasing updates to the story?
KC: Right now, we’re doing one page a week, which may change. I have the whole script done up to page 60, and am working at top speed to get as far ahead as possible, but that’s up to the PTB (assuming my wrist doesn’t give out!)
RR: What other comics or creators are you currently reading/into? And what are your comics influences as a creator?
KC: Lately I’ve been reading a lot of self-contained GNs and collections – I think the Omega the Unknown series and the Joker GN were the last two – and I recently re-read a lot of the old Marvel GI Joes. I also finally made my way through the entire Sandman series this past year. Comics-wise, my influences come largely from old EC Comics – Jack Davis, Wally Wood, and escpecially Bernie Krigstein and my writing is influenced a lot by Alan Moore and – as I was reminded from the GI Joes – Larry Hama, who doesn’t get anywhere near as much love as he deserves. But my storytelling takes a lot of cues from “arthouse” film directors, particularly Stanley Kubrick, Ingmar Bergman and FrancoisTruffaut, and I’m always absorbing new things.
RR: What advice would you give to a comic creator looking to get started in webcomics or comics in general?
KC: Learn your stuff. Make sure you love it enough to do it for free because you probably will for a very long time. Keep working and keep meeting people. But most importantly, get your work out there in front of people.