The following is an interview with comic book writer/artist Otava Heikkilä regarding the recent launch of the crowdfunding campaign for Letters for Lucardo: The Silent Lord in association with Spike Trotman and Iron Circus Comics. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Heikkilä about returning to the world and characters of the series for the third installment, the incredible backer rewards available to supporters of the campaign, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: As this is the highly anticipated third installment of your series, what are you most excited for readers and fans to experience as the romance continues?
Otava Heikkilä: The first two books have focused on the early stages of the relationship between Ed and Lucardo, and the tone has been largely tender and erotic. Now, we’re at the mid-point of the story, and the mysteries and horror that have been right in the periphery of the story are becoming center stage. The former ingredients aren’t going away – at the core of it, this is a story about love, whether its romantic, familial, or extending love towards yourself, but the story is growing in terms of tone and scope and will look a little different for it. I’m excited for the shift, and I hope readers find it thrilling, as well.
BD: What makes Iron Circus Comics the perfect home for this story, and how do you feel that their decision to independently host their own crowdfunding campaigns will continue to benefit their creators and titles?
OH: I make comics about queerness, erotica, horror, and the occasional niche historical subject – there’s an audience for adult comics, but not many publishers, so our options are either self-publishing or publishers like ICC who will shoulder the nightmare hurdles of releasing smutty or difficult to sell adult comics in the current landscape for us. I’m, of course, no expert in running a publishing house or, really anything beyond making drawings look good, but from what I can see, independent publishing will increasingly be a lifeline to authors as businesses are devoured by monopolies that are then controlled by strict conservative legislations on what content is appropriate and what kind of things get funding to begin with. So, to answer the question, and not to get too dramatic about it, but yes, I think independent crowdsourcing will be a crucial lifeline to the future health of the comics scene.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums, and the entire Letters for Lucardo series does so much to tackle meaningful themes. How do you feel that this installment of the story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
OH: I think meaningful is a descriptor that I can’t really ascribe to my own work as the author, but I’m happy if that’s the impact it’s having on readers! As with all stories I make, it’s usually a matter of the concept arriving to haunt me and not leaving until I create it, or at least attempt to. It’s usually difficult to pin-point why I need to make the stories I do until long after their completion. I suppose, with Letters for Lucardo, I needed to start working on something that will help me push myself out of the closet, so I made a very queer story to work through things. The third book is the darkest one so far, and features gothic and psychological horror. I’m drawn to stories about difficult and complicated parental relationships, and I think people who are drawn to similar things will probably recognize some of the personal subjects I keep re-visiting in my works.
BD: What are some of the incredible backer rewards that you would like to highlight for those who support the crowdfunding campaign?
OH: Well, as this is the third book in the series, I’m, of course, going to recommend getting all three books for the people who are new to the story from the backer rewards. Or get this just one, embrace chaos, start from the middle. There’s another curiosity in the backer rewards: The remaining 90 copies of my short story, “Shattered Spear,” that ICC did a limited physical run of in 2019. It’s a story about a chance meeting between two women in the Neolithic Levant 10,000 years ago, and their following days traveling together. These are the last 90 physical copies of the comic, so if that interests you, go grab one!
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
OH: I’m currently working on my next long-form comic, about two transmasculine witches who grew up in an all-girls’ witching coven, and from which they left as oathbreakers as they abandoned their womanhood. They are both in their fifties now, and having to face their shared tumultuous past as rumors appear concerning their old teacher and father-figure resurfacing to commit violent crimes. The comic is called Time Will Devour His Children, and I’ll self-publish its first chapter this year in my digital comic shop on itch.io. After that is out, I’ll work on finishing book four of Letters for Lucardo, the final book!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The Silent Lord and your other work?
OH: My self-published comics can be bought from my webstore. I sell all my works as “pay what you want,” and I encourage people who are currently facing monetary hardship to just download my works and spread the word. You can find me promoting my works, talking about future projects, and retweeting people who are way funnier than me at @claystorks on twitter.