Archive for the Comics Category
I’m Simon Birks, co-founder and chief writer of Blue Fox Comics, a small indie comic book publisher based in the UK. I wanted to take a few moments to talk about our latest comic book, Robyn, which is a gender-flipped Robin Hood comic for all ages.
Robyn is the story of an intelligent, skilful and capable girl, who lives on her own as an outlaw in Sherwood Forest, struggling to survive. To make ends meet, she runs errands for a monk named Tuck, a shady character, who knows more than he’s letting on. The comic follows Robyn as she decides to investigate the rumours of a monster in the crags nearby.
The reviews for Robyn have been fantastic. I’ve felt extremely proud, reading about their love of the art, of the characters, of the comic as a whole. It’s a real affirmation of everything we wanted to do with the story.
One of my favourite comments, however, was from Starburst Magazine, who wrote:
“the gender of the lead protagonist isn’t a gimmick. The character isn’t overly sexualised, there’s no cheesy ‘woman doing a man’s job’ approach or any of that nonsense. What we have is a young person who lives in a medieval world trying to be the best by their own conscience.”
We took a risk by taking a well-known male character, and making them female. It’s a pitfall many haven’t survived. We didn’t want Robyn to be a poor imitation of Robin.
How did we avoid it?
My wife and co-founder, Marielle, sums it up well. “We captured the Robyn character at a completely different stage in their life, which has never really been explored, boy or girl. Robyn, because of her age, has the opportunity to grow and develop, and that’s the key; she is going to develop her own character, and through our own unique story, will face completely different characters and challenges. All of this, will shape Robyn into the person she becomes.”
Robyn isn’t simply re-treading old ground, it’s creating a new legend, with a character whose core values and skills we know something about. It’s a chance to see how some of these values came to be, a chance to understand who she is.
As the series progresses, we’ll meet other recognisable characters, too, both from the Robin Hood mythos, and from other legends. Each will be familiar, yet unique; people you know, yet don’t know.
If creators aren’t offering anything new to a gender-flipped character (whether it be boy to girl, or girl to boy), they must ask themselves why they are doing it, at all. Consumers want to be surprised, and entertained. I know I do. Creating Robyn has been one of the most gratifying projects to date, and I look forward to many more adventures with her.
I’ll leave you with another quote from Starburst Magazine:
“[Robyn] takes an old idea and makes it new. It subverts our expectations and demands that we re-think our assumptions.”
Robyn is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for printing. The campaign is fully funded, and is now into stretch goals.
So, how did Hexes: Waking Nightmare come to be?
Well, as with many of my comics, it started life as a short film I wrote as part of a competition I enter annually. It’s called NYC Midnight Screenwriters Challenge, and one of the things I like about it is that it gives you two limitations; time and circumstances.
Held over three rounds, the time you must write the short screenplay diminishes until you have just twenty-four hours for the final round. What I really like is that they give you three parameters you must include: Genre, Character and Object.
For Waking Nightmare, I was given the horror, a child and a ferry to contend with. Working within parameters really helps me focus and concentrate on the story. It reminds me of being at school and getting the first line of a story that you have to complete!
Anyway, the Waking Nightmare script got me through the first round, which I was pleased about. That was mid-2012.
Fast forward to mid-2015, and I decided I’d turn it into a full-length movie script. That took a few months to complete it to a standard I was happy with.
Then, in 2016, after Hexes: The Boy Who Came Closer (another comic that started as a short film script) had been drawn, I sent it to Lyndon White for lettering. I’d been trying to find a project to work with Lyndon on for a while, and he mentioned how much he liked ‘The Boy Who Came Closer’, and if there was another one-off I was planning to send it through to him.
Well, I dusted off my Google drive folder, and found the Waking Nightmare short film screenplay. Over a few weeks, I turned that into the comic script, and sent it to Lyndon, who loved it.
After the normal iterations, the finished comic was ready in time for the Hexes Kickstarter campaign in July/August 2016, and the rest is history.
In February, we’re going to be Kickstarting our latest comic book series ‘Robyn’.
Written by Simon Birks, with art by Ege Avci and letters by Lyndon White, Robyn is a gender flipped Robyn Hood action/adventure comic for ages 7 and up.
Robyn’s gender isn’t the only change we’re making! Little John does not fight with a staff, but with the crutches he uses due to disability. Scarlett is also gender flipped, Friar Tuck is slightly shadier, and Robyn and the future Sheriff of Nottingham are friends!
What’s the story about?
In issue 1, whilst Robyn is on a mission for Tuck she hears about a monster within the forest, and decides to investigate herself. What she finds is beyond anything she could ever have imagined!
We’re getting together some very unique rewards for our campaign, so keep an eye out on your email and your social media for more information!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story.
In the next few months, the first Hexes trade paperback will be launched on the Kickstarter platform. It’ll be made up of four Hexes stories. You already know about the first two stories, The Boy Who Came Closer and Waking Nightmare, but what about the next ones.
Well, we can officially announce the next two stories are:
Hexes: Midnight Oil
Words by Simon Birks, Art by Emiliano Correa, Letters by Lyndon White
Set in Argentina, Midnight Oil tells the story of Connie and her husband, who run a petrol station. After a tragic accident which Connie finds impossible to come to terms with, she receives two visitors, neither of whom are welcome.
Words by Simon Birks, Art by Rory Donald, Letters by Lyndon White
On a dark night, Lee, a young man with a secret, arrives at an old peoples home in mid-town America, looking for help. He receives some, in the form of Greta, a 101 year old woman, who has a very dark secret of her own.
Don’t worry about missing the start of the Kickstarter, we’ll make enough noise for everyone to hear! It will most likely be towards the end of March / beginning of April, sort of time.
Would love to know what you think.
Title: Night at the Motel
Pages: 36 full colour
Sinners goes full on horror for the next issue, Night at the Motel. Following events in Issues 1 & 2, Hope needs to find a place to rest after her first traumatic day of being dead. Unfortunately, the motel she ends up at has secrets of its own.
RHStewart once again provides the fantastic art, and for the first time supplies the beautiful cover!
“Hexes is one of those horror comics that gets under your skin and stays with you for the rest of the day. A mix of hauntingly beautiful artwork and dark, sinister story telling make for a creepy and disorientating read that feels very different to the majority of horror books in the market right now.”
“Hexes is a brand new horror anthology created by Simon Briks that is refreshing the comic book medium. We were offered a glimpse into the project brought to life by Kickstarter, our favorite engine for projects fueled by fans, with the first two volumes. Each one was vastly different, subtly chilling and wildly inventive. As a person that was first brought to the horror genre by art and literature (between 30 Days of Night and Interview with the Vampire it was a done deal from an early age) this was a throwback to why I loved horror in the first place. There are so many reasons this will find its place in so many online orders.”
Read the full review here.
“Hexes: Book 1 is an impressive release from writer Simon Birks (Sinners) and artist Ege Avci, telling the eerie tale of a dying young boy named Brendan whose life is saved after being gifted a magical stone by a mysterious stranger. In situations like this one history has taught us there is always a catch and in this case, it’s that the stone won’t work indefinitely, and sooner or later death will catch up to Brendan whether he’s ready for it or not.”
Read the full review here.
“There is something to be said about a comic that manages to give you the chills as soon as you open to page one. That comic is Hexes written by Simon Birks. With its macabre art style and simplistic yet eerie storytelling, Hexes is sure to please anyone who enjoys dark, spine-tingling tales.”
Read the full review here.
“Far too often, comics fall into a trap of being style over substance. A whole lot of pretty colors, tight costumes, flashy explosions, and ham-fisted dialogue; this is the type of comic that most of us grew up with. It is somewhat of a rarity that I get to read a comic that is outside of this realm. Simon Birks‘ Gone is indeed, far outside of that realm, and I loved every frame of it.”
Read the full review here.