The following is an interview with Erica Heflin and Amanda Rachels, the writer/artist team behind the upcoming comic book series Flesh of White. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Heflin and Rachels about the real-life events that inspired the series, their own creative inspirations in art and writing, and how comic book readers can help with their current Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the first issue’s printing.
This interview was conducted on January 30, 2013.
Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: As a writer and artist team, you are currently working on Flesh of White, a four-issue comic book series that tells the story of an infant born with albinism in Tanzania. For our readers who may not be familiar with the project, what more can you tell us about the story?
Erica Heflin: The story is inspired by real world events, as men, women, and children with albinism in certain areas of Africa are treated as inhuman. They’re hunted and killed for their body parts. Flesh of White follows a family who is trying to protect their young son from these forces. We look at the concept of supernatural power, but we also weigh the pains of love, loss, and depression.
BD: What inspired you to tell this story, and what do you hope that readers will take away from the series?
EH: Foremost, we’d like to increase awareness of the issue. In the past five years, local governments have made some effort to protect people with albinism under the law, but there’s so much more that needs to be done. Our story may be a supernatural fiction tale, but the lives lost are real.
Amanda Rachels: I definitely hope to raise awareness on the issue that inspired the book. Erica’s story really struck a chord with me. I hope they will be as compelling to the readers as they were to me.
BD: Like many independent creators, you initiated a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first issue of the series. What encouraged you to use this specific fundraising method, and how has Kickstarter enabled you to provide further promotion of the comic book?
EH: Previous experience and success with Kickstarter. It’s become a great platform for launching new, creative endeavors and reaching out to corners of the world that we just couldn’t reach before. We’ve been fortunate enough to make our goal already, but every pledge allows us to promote in different ways – via more convention appearances, store signings, and raw materials.
AR: At this point I think of Kickstarter as our primary distribution method. Inverse Press has had five successful campaigns for other projects like Clown Town, and we’re learning more with each one. It allows us to use not only the book itself but original art, supplemental material, and other production items to create a more complete experience for our supporters.
BD: For our readers who may be interested in donating to Flesh of White, are there any specific donation perks that may pique our readers’ interest?
EH: At this time anyone, who donates $10 or more is getting a great set of bonus material, and as we unlock new stretch goals, they’re getting even more! For the rising comic writer, we have script reviews by Sterling Gates (Supergirl, Action Comics) available. We also have full-page ads in the book available at the $100 tier, too.
AR: One of my favorite rewards and one that has been going strong is for an over-sized treasury edition. It’s $25 and you’ll get all the stretch goal bonuses that have been added so far. Over the last week of the campaign, we’ll be adding a few extra tiers that feature original art.
BD: You are no strangers to the comic book industry, with Erica having worked on the mini-series Mother and Son and Of Wolf and Woman and Amanda on Clown Town and The Book. Is this your first comic book project working together, and what can you tell us about the creative process behind Flesh of White thus far?
EH: I was first introduced to Amanda’s work through her pages in Grayhaven’s The Gathering. She and I created a short story for their third horror volume, and then went on to tackle another short in The Dark. We were planning to put together a one shot – a reward from her Clown Town Kickstarter – but as we discussed the concept, it grew into this incredible story.
AR: Erica and I have worked together on a few short stories for Grayhaven’s The Gathering, but this is our first longform comic together. We shared basic ideas and references, but on the artwork side Erica lets me run a little wild. I’ve been fortunate to work with a couple of writers who I’ve just felt creatively in tune with, and Erica is definitely one.
BD: Being that we focus on all things “geek” at Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about your favorite comic books and graphic novels?
EH: Currently, I’m digging into the world of Brian Wood’s Local. It’s definitely among the stories that I should have read on release! That aside, every month the book that I anticipate most is Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising. The blend of incredible characterization, the macabre, and an incredible mystery make it must read. I’m still a crazy geek for the pre-relaunch Birds of Prey, too. Oracle is my all-time favorite character. Over at Marvel, I’ve been having a ton of fun following Captain Marvel and mourn the end of Uncanny X-Force.
AR: Unfortunately, I don’t get to read as much as I want to since I’m always drawing. I have a few titles that the world stops for, though like Batman, The Walking Dead, and Thor: God of Thunder. Next time I have a day off, I think I’m going to spend it with Saga, All New X-Men, and Rachel Rising. The stacks are getting pretty big . . .
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to indie comic book creators who aspire to create their own projects?
EH: Don’t just talk about how you want to make comics; focus on creating a practical plan to get moving forward. I see many writers speak of their incredible ideas that span many issues, etc. To them I say keep that project set aside for when you are established. Start with a one-shot or small, enclosed story. Start finite. That’s how you build your own base.
AR: Finish what you start.
BD: On that same note, which creators have inspired your work?
EH: Sticking to comic creators, I’d have to say Gail Simone and Terry Moore. They don’t inspire my style insomuch as their works inspire me to keep moving forward and telling the stories that I love. Gail’s support of the folks who live and breathe Artist Alley gives many people the fuel to keep pressing forward.
AR: Oh my, there have been so many at different times in my life. I don’t know that there’s any particular stylistic inspiration, but I certainly get inspired when I look at work from my favorites. The list is way too long, but I guess some at the top would be Quitely, Capullo, Aparo, Yu, Bolland, Simonson, Otomo, and on, and on . . .
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Flesh of White?
EH: Once you pick up the first issue, you’re going to be hooked in for the rest of the adventure. I’m also always happy to address any particular questions via Twitter, @raistlyne. I love chatting with fans about current projects, comics I’ve loved, and more, so don’t be shy!
AR: Keep watching inversepress.com as well as @amandarachels on Twitter. We’ll be updating on Issue #2 and beyond and posting new art as it comes. I hope you enjoy it, and I always welcome discussion and feedback.