Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President: Can you tell us a little about the premise and characters of your comic, Stud and the Blood Blade?
Perry Crowe: Imagine He-Man with bloodshed and booze. And if you don’t know He-Man, imagine a world that blends spaceships and castles, populated by monsters, nobles and puns, protected by a manic barbarian whose epic weapon sometimes turns him into a scared, little weakling named Gary.
BD: What can you tell us about the rest of the creative team behind the book and what they bring to the project?
PC: Oh my gosh, illustrator and Stud co-creator Jed Dougherty is the best. We met at the Comics Creator Connection at WonderCon in 2018, and I had a page with the series overview on one side and a page of action from the full script for issue #1 on the other, and it just clicked. I gave the characters really punny names—in tribute to He-Man—so we’ve got Lava-Voom, a vicious volcanic vixen, and Roach Coach, a humanoid cockroach who dresses and talks like a high school football coach. The whole comic is pretty outrageous—big action, over-the-top characters, abundance of emotion. And Jed just got that instinctively.
His art is phenomenal. He worked in Howard Chaykin’s studio, and like Chaykin, Jed produces work with a full, sculptural feel. He loves to draw female bodybuilders, and Stud has a ripped female sasquatch (named Sassy Q., naturally), so that might have hooked him. I feel like Jed and I share what I’ll call a 2000AD mentality—maybe specifically 2000AD in the 1980s. You could almost see Stud taking place after the devastated world of Judge Dredd finally dies. Jed draws a crumbled society like nobody’s business.
Colorist Mark Dale is great—he’s been working on The Pride for ComiXology Oiginals. He delivers the classic ’80s cartoon vibe we want and has a great sense of the unearthly—which is crucial because Stud is set on the alien world of Ouroboros, which sits at the bend in space-time where the far future loops around to become the primordial past. Mark said, “That sounds like a place with a yellow sky.” And Mark was right.
I met letterer Anthony Rella in this online comic book creator workshop. We critiqued each other’s scripts, and Anthony has a great comic called Jack Hazard: Killer of the Dead. But he also does lettering! And he has a great sense of emphasis. Pow!
And Charles McStravick designed a really great logo and assembled a really cool ashcan preview of Stud that we made in the style and size of the mini-comics that came with the He-Man figures I loved as a kid. We’ll have copies of the ashcan at this year’s Power-Con, the annual celebration of all things He-Man.
BD: As you mentioned, Stud and the Blood Blade was developed in a comic creator workshop known as Comics Experience. Can you tell us more about the workshop and how it was beneficial to you and your book?
PC: One year at my day job, which is managing editor at a book publishing company, my boss made it my annual goal to take an outside editing course. Professional development! My wife knew I liked comics and found Comics Experience, which was offering a class in comic book editing. I rationalized that my job did a lot of highly designed, illustrated books (like cookbooks), in that sense similar to comic books, but my boss didn’t go for it. I was still really interested to learn how comics were made, so I took the class anyway. Taking the class gave me access to Comics Experience’s forum, where they had script critiques and promised a professional critique for every script submitted—but you had to critique four scripts from other people first. The circle of life.
I was really into He-Man at the time, I think because of the collections Dark Horse was putting out—the packaging and promotional art and designs, the character encyclopedia, years worth of a newspaper comic strip I never knew existed until I heard about it at Power-Con. I initially wrote Stud as a tribute to the minicomics that came with the He-Man figures I bought as a kid, but when I submitted for script critiques, the workshoppers demanded more than eight pages. (I think it was Roach Coach.) Marc Sumerak, who wrote POWER PACK and edited on a bunch of Marvel titles, gave a ton of great notes as I turned the story into a mini-series. He became Ed-A-Tor!
The workshop was super helpful in the creation of the scripts for Stud, and then Comics Experience occasionally has submissions windows for workshoppers to have their one-shot or mini-series published. I had met Jed through the Comics Creator Connection, a comic book convention activity I knew existed only because I had learned about it in another Comics Experience class. Jed was drawing some just mind-blowing stuff, like he not only got it but added to it. So, we hit the submissions window and got in—thank you, Andy Schmidt, Paul Allor, and Travis McIntire at Source Point Press.
BD: You’re going to be launching a Kickstarter campaign very soon for Stud and the Blood Blade. What should our readers know about the campaign, and what are some of the most exciting and unique backer rewards you're offering?
PC: My friend, Patrick Harmon, wrote an amazing theme song for Stud which wonderfully conveys that ’80s action/adventure cartoon vibe that inspires Stud. You can hear the song in the video we made for the Kickstarter page. So, you get that just for showing up.
As far as rewards, we’re doing a Kickstarter exclusive cover, and we’re offering that ashcan mini-comic we created for Power-Con. We’ve got a Behind-the-Scenes tier where you’ll get a digital sketchbook of Jed’s preliminary sketches and development work and roughs and all that (we’ll do a physical printing of it if we hit our stretch goals), while also getting the script for issue #1 and the script for the original 8-page comic where I first created Stud. Another tier has a physical sketchbook from Jed of non-Stud stuff that includes a shading tutorial, as well as a previous mini-comic I did with an awesome artist named tpc, called The Frontiersmen, which was sort of a warped, modern take on the science-based superheroes—and science—of the 1960s. Plus, we have a Stud pinup and a foamcore poster of the Stud logo surrounded by a bunch of doodles Jed will do while we sit at our table in Power-Con.
BD: What advice do have for those who want to create or publish their own comic books after your experiences with Stud and the Blood Blade?
PC: Do it! Comics are so much fun, and you don’t really figure out how to make them until you actually make them. There are also a lot of different ways to make comics these days, but I did enjoy learning from people who have made comics themselves, either pros with experience at major publishers or indie creators who can help with that hustle, and I’m really looking forward to having Stud printed and distributed.
Also to note, making comics is expensive, if people are getting a fair wage. Stud’s publisher calls for all issues to be complete before any get published, to guarantee we don’t fall behind schedule or fail to finish. And we’re working for royalties, so we’ve got a bunch of work to do before we see any money. I know some new creators sink a lot into their first projects, sometimes go into not inconsiderable debt, because it’s just so satisfying to actually be making a comic book. Thanks to wonderful technology, I can give people a chance to be part of the team that brings Stud to life, and I can hopefully keep expenses manageable. So, maybe my advice would be to make your first comic a one-shot. Too late for me!
BD: At Fanbase Press, we love to find out what other creators are "fans of." If doesn't have to be geeky or current, but what's something you're digging lately that you can recommend to our readers?
PC: I’m loving Legion on FX. Noah Hawley’s Fargo series was great at messing with your mind, and now he’s got a show about a guy who can literally alter reality. Thank you! I’m also digging The Last Policeman books by Ben H. Winters. They’re brisk and punchy and a fascinating look at what people do when they know the world is going to end soon but not right away.
BD: Do you have any other upcoming appearances or projects you want to let our readers know about?
PC: I’m aiming to go to Long Beach Comic Con a couple weeks after that. Come and say hi!
BD: Where can our readers find you and Stud and the Blood Blade online?
PC: You can find us at studandthebloodblade.com!