The following is an interview with comic book creator Derek Lipscomb on his comic book series, The Maroon. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Lipscomb regarding the inspiration behind the series, his creative process of both writing and illustrating the project, his creative influences, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your comic book series, The Maroon! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the comic’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Derek Lipscomb: The Maroon chronicles the plight of a mysterious man of Black Seminole origin who is running from the authorities regarding an atrocity he supposedly committed in 1850s Georgia. The catch: He’s not entirely sure whether he actually committed said act or not!
This was an idea that I had carried around in my head for a number of years, but I never thought I would get to do it, as I was already committed to another project. Once that became undone, I started thinking about The Maroon again. I knew I wanted to create a new and diversity inclusive character along the lines of The Lone Ranger or Zorro, which would dictate a serialized style of storytelling. To add a bit more, my fascination with folklore, cryptozoology, and my own ancestral curiosities all bled into this concept.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in both writing and illustrating the series, and what have been some of your creative influences?
DL: I always think about themes revolving around trust, as it’s a constant struggle we as humans deal with one another. My stories grow from these thoughts, and I often find them writing themselves in a very natural way. I really intended for The Maroon to be episodic in nature, so that the reader could pick up a singular issue and get a self-contained story, without feeling obligated to being locked into his larger story arc; however, as I forge ahead, I’m finding that a bit more challenging, as I am still sculpting who this person is and how he fits in this larger canvas of 1850 America.
I’ve always been a sort of unconventional comic artist. I don’t follow the proper rules in terms of art tools and traditions, and I used to feel a bit guilty about that. I rarely thumbnail my work, as I have it in my mind already laid out. I draw my art not on an 11”x17” comic page board, but my panels on standard 8.5” x 11” paper (Yes, I still draw with a pencil over a tablet.) and like a puzzle, assemble the panels on a digital template. Since I do everything, from writing, illustrating, lettering, and page layouts, I’ve had to develop a style that is fast and efficient. This has allowed me to produce issues on a bi-monthly schedule so far.
As far as influences, this series in particular is greatly influenced by my love of cinema and animation, first and foremost. Anything from Brotherhood of the Wolf to Ninja Scroll, even the 3rd act of Robotech can be found in subtle ways here. Following that, I’ll always credit my exposure to magazines in the ’80s like Heavy Metal, Epic, and various underground titles that opened my mainstream eyes to a larger arena of comics.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
DL: My first intent is that readers come away entertained. I love getting reactions from readers, and it’s the fuel that keeps me going. But if I can also open somebody’s eyes to things that are not often exposed, such as the Seminole Wars in our American history and why these incidents happened, that would be amazing. I think if you walk away with a new curiosity or some knowledge that you were unaware of prior to this, it is a bonus. And while The Maroon isn’t a history lesson (It’s a heightened history after all.), I would like it to be at least a doorway to such things.
BD: You have previously released five issues of The Maroon series. Do you have a certain number of issues planned for the series?
DL: A number of issues? That’s tough to gauge! I have roughly 4 volumes planned, with the first volume closing with issue 6. I have a set objective for each volume that I’d like to accomplish. Depending on how long each volume winds up being…well…(laughs)
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your series into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
DL: I thought about this before, and while comics is the intended form for The Maroon, I can see it working in a TV series format similar to The Walking Dead, both in terms of mature content and season structure.
BD: You recently exhibited at Long Beach Comic Expo 2018. Are there any other upcoming conventions at which our readers will find you?
DL: I will have a table along with W. Brian Coles (The Mighty Riff) at Rocket Con in San Diego this April 28th. I also plan on returning this year to Long Beach Comic Con!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DL: Currently, The Maroon is my focus, so for now that is pretty much all I have going on!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The Maroon?
DL: The best way to stay in the loop with all things Maroon-related is to visit www.themarooncomic.com. You can sign up for my newsletter to find out where and when I will have new issues and signings, as well as other goodies! Or if you are more of a social media person, I can be found on Twitter at @OwlEyeComics, Instagram, and Facebook.
Shameless plug out of the way, a BIG thank you for supporting indie comics and all of us who lurk in the shadow of the “Big Two.” I really believe the independent market is the future!