Original article appeared on Comic Conventions UK.
We did a short Q&A with Jan Duursema, artist of the famed Star Wars Legacy series (with writer John Ostrander) about their creator-owned Kickstarter-funded soon-to-be-graphic novel Hexer Dusk which still has more than a week to go with plenty of stretch goals.
Jan Duursema: Hexer Dusk is a 72 page graphic novel by John Ostrander and myself. Our main character, Xane Dusk, is a Hexer–a martial magic user who fights other-dimensional creatures called the Weird. Thing about the Weird is when they enter Dusk’s dimension they need to find a body to inhabit in order to survive. Living or dead–it doesn’t matter to them. Hexers are the only beings in this galaxy who can fight the Weird. Unfortunately, most of the Hexers were killed in the war between the Sky Cities–the event that also allowed the Weird to enter this dimension. Hexer Xane Dusk is on a mission of survival in a harsh and unforgiving galaxy. We’re going to explore his character and events in his past that have lead to this story.
John and I approached Hexer Dusk as a creator owned, indie project knowing that the challenge would be spreading the word and getting eyes on this book. That challenge still remains. We know that there are fans and readers of our work out there who would enjoy Hexer Dusk, so we want to let them know about it. We are hoping that friends fans of our work will let others know about this book since how it does on Kickstarter will most likely impact our ability to create a series of stories from this! And do we have more Hexer Dusk stories to tell!
CC: Do you approach creator-owned projects differently than work-for-hire jobs for big publishers?
JD: There’s really no difference in how I approach the creative side of a creator owned project as opposed to doing something for a publisher. I try to give everything I do my creative all. That way, the work you see represents me–the best that I am capable of doing–and I’m always trying to do better than my last job. However, in most other ways, doing something creator owned requires a lot more work than work-for-hire does. Throughout my career my job title has usually been ‘penciler’ and sometimes ‘co-plotter’ or ‘inker’–but working on a creator owned book, I’m suddenly wearing many other hats–manager, artist, production dept and marketing–maybe even letterer and colorist depending on how the Kickstarter goes.
CC: You are working with John Ostrander your long-time collaborator again. A lot of preview pages are ready so this seems like a relevant question: how does it feel like working without editorial boundaries and on your own characters? Does this fact change your usual collaboration methods in any way?
JD: John and I worked on the Star Wars books for over a decade, so doing Hexer Dusk feels like a natural extension of that collaboration. If anything, doing an indie, creator owned book has provided us the opportunity to expand our creativity! There’s nothing better than creating our own universe and characters to inhabit the worlds in that universe. I think we both feel that, with Hexer Dusk, the possibilities and story scenarios are boundless! I know I could draw and create for Hexer Dusk for a long time. It’s a galaxy I’d be glad to call my artistic home.
CC: The preview pages in black and white look fabulous, why do you think (most American) comic fans need every book to be in color? What do you think about that?
JD: First–thanks! Really happy to hear you are liking the black and white art–good news is that if we make some of our stretch goals, we will include a PDF of the ‘unwrapped’ black and white art for Hexer Dusk–and if we make another stretch goal, we will do a printed version of the B&W art! Not sure why we American fans like color–maybe it’s just what we’re used to. Interesting and challenging thing for me on Hexer Dusk is working up a subdued and limited palette for the book. I want the line art to shine through and create a very distinct atmosphere for the story.
CC: I’ve seen you did the lettering for the preview pages. Do you plan to stick to that or are you planning on hiring a dedicated letterer?
JD: While I do like being able to place the lettering where I want it and adjust it to the art, I’d love to be able to hire a letterer for this project who knows a lot more about it than I do!
CC: Lastly what do you think about Kickstarter as a platform? Not exclusively for comics but which kind of project interests you in general?
JD: Kickstarter is an amazing platform and one I wish had been around when I first got into the comic book business. It provides visibility for independent creators and allows for the creation of stories within genres larger companies don’t tend to explore. My main interest is in books and art, but tech Kickstarters are very appealing to me as well. Kickstarter is a great place to seek out new inventions, better versions of objects we use every day and access unique items that appeal to those of us who want something beyond what everyone is using, wearing, reading. Using Kickstarter gives us indie creators the ability to move forward and be creators.