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Fanbase Press Interviews Shannon Eric Denton and Marcus To on the Release of the Middle Grade Fantasy Graphic Novel, ‘Kingdom Riders,’ Through IDW

The following is an interview with Shannon Eric Denton and Marcus To regarding the release of the middle grade fantasy graphic novel, Kingdom Riders, through IDW Publishing. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Denton and To about their shared creative process in bringing the fantastical world and characters to life on the page, what readers may take away from the story, and more!



Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of Kingdom Riders! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the story’s premise?

Shannon Eric Denton: Our editor Dave Wielgosz described it as a “cross between The Hunger Games and Pokémon which is pretty fun.  With my Monster Forge Productions, I’ve been building on my love of genre material, and this world of monsters and creatures of all shapes and sizes was something I couldn’t wait to play with. Kingdom Riders is a brand-new, fantastic world full of all kinds of different people, creatures, monsters, and more. It’s taking our love of fantasy…influences like D&D, Lord of the Rings, The Last Unicorn, and more, and then making something entirely new but with hints of the familiar. Story wise, we follow Kayla and her loyal mudtoad Grok as they enter the dangerous Kingdom Races all in the hopes of gaining a better life for their friend Mal and discovering a bit of who they are in the process.

BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in bringing this exciting, new world and characters to life on the page?

SED: I can say that this was one of the best collaborations I’ve had in my long career. I’d worked with Marcus in the past on various projects but nothing can beat the thrill of creating your own universe with someone you greatly admire. I had a pretty clear vision in my head of the world, so watching Marcus take some art direction, run it through his filter, and kick back something SO fantastic was a thrill with every art delivery! I’m so excited we get to share this with the world now!

Marcus To: Shannon has had a clear vision from the beginning and that always makes collaboration easier. All I did was listen and try my best to add my visual arts and storytelling experience into the mix.

BD: Marcus, did you have a specific style or tone in mind for the artwork when you first read the story’s concept, or do you feel that your design evolved over time after working through the script with Shannon?

MT: I think with most things, finding the right direction kind of takes a bit of time. Reading the material Shannon had and that we discussed, as well as reading the voices in the script, gave me lots of direction of where we went with the vibe of the book. I leaned pretty heavily on shows like Voltron: Legendary Defender and Avatar: The Last Air Bender for inspiration. Luckily, my style has those elements in it already.

BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Kayla’s story may connect with and impact readers?

SED: I think Kayla is every one of us on our best day. She’s every person you’ve been blessed to have come into your life and inspire you to be better. She has her struggles and insecurities, but at her heart she’s a pretty selfless person who makes the world around her better by her positivity, empathy, and compassion.

MT: I truly believe that we all have stories to tell and that they have a strong impact on all of us whether they are stories that help you explore new ideas or inspire you to be more than you thought you could be. We strived to create a story that could possibly do the same for new readers.

BD: What makes IDW Publishing the perfect home for Kingdom Riders?

SED: They were so excited about the project and instantly got it. Not every story is for everyone, so their enthusiastic response to the material from day one let me know this was where I wanted Kingdom Riders to be.

MT: IDW Publishing has been great to us from the start. It was a joy working with everyone on the team from our amazing editors David Wielgosz and Jake Williams, to the marketing team, and on. Everyone made this a great creative experience.

BD: Do you foresee developing additional story arcs for Kayla and/or the larger Kingdom Riders world and ensemble if given the opportunity?

SED: Absolutely. I have this thing mapped out and there’s a whole world of stories we’ve yet to explore. Plus, I can’t wait to see Marcus continuing their adventures!

BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?

SED: Yes, working on more stuff with Tom Mandrake and Storm King Productions that I can’t wait for them to announce. Our gHosts hardcover book with David Dastmalchian, Rodney Barnes, Vamp, Chynna Clugston Flores, Cullen Bunn and David Hartman ships soon! We have more Monster Forge Productions books drawn by David Hartman coming up with Titan Comics and launching some fun new stuff with Cullen Bunn we can’t wait to talk about.

MT: Aside from my work with RAID studios in Toronto, at the moment I am relaunching X-Force at Marvel Comics with Geoffrey Thorne, as well as another project to be announced with Chip Zdarsky and David Brothers, so be on the lookout!

BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Kingdom Riders and your other work?

SED: Follow www.MonsterForgeProductions.com as well as all our various social media. Thanks!

MT: My website is www.marcusto.com or you can follow me at @marcusto on all my socials.


Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief

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