One of the great things about comics is it's a visual medium unhampered by things like monetary budgets or the ability to travel to exotic places. Limited only by the creators' imaginations, horror stories can meet Jack Kirby-style space opera and apocalyptic monsters, even within one single sprawling epic tale.
That's exactly what the creator of the indie comic God-Puncher, Lane Lloyd, and journalist Grant DeArmitt did with their new book, Hunt for the Solavore, which is now on Kickstarter. CBR spoke with Lloyd and DeArmitt about the book's world, heroes and the titular sun-devouring monster they created for their cosmic horror saga, their Kickstarter, and the lessons they've learned from previous crowdfunding endeavors.
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Grant, you're a veteran journalist covering both comics and horror, and Lane you're the creator and self-publisher of God-Puncher. How did the two of you meet? What made you want to collaborate on a project together?
Lane Lloyd: It's been a little while, so my memory is a little hazy. I think Grant had messaged me on Twitter after I had mentioned that I was looking to do more illustrating for comics that were not just my own. Within a couple messages, Grant mentioned that he had a story idea about a vampire who eats suns, and I was hooked right then and there. He didn't even need to tell me more after that. (Thankfully he did, or else we wouldn't have much of a book to work on.)
Grant DeArmitt: Exactly this! For those that are unaware, Lane does a comic called God-Puncher, which is one of the weirdest, biggest, most joyful comics I can remember reading in the past few years. And when they said they were up for collaborating, I nearly passed out with excitement. I remember messaging them very nervous they had already agreed to a bunch of other projects, and I'd get an immediate "no." So when they said they were available, I went into overdrive trying to come up with something worthy of their art. Fortunately, I learned we both wanted to do a cosmic horror story, and after some big concepts were toyed around with, the idea of a vampire that devoured suns was born.
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What I've seen and read suggests that Hunt for the Solavore is a story that mixes classic space opera with cosmic horror, gothic horror, and a little bit of Beowulf. Is that a fair description of the book? What inspired this tale?
DeArmitt: That's a very fair description! HFTSwas inspired by a lot of things; Lord of the Rings, Jack Kirby's space operas, Dracula. But what ultimately inspired my script was Lane's art. Lane's style is so big and strange that I had to tell a story that was worthy of that, and it wasn't long before I realized that story wouldn't fit in our own galaxy. Then, since I knew we wanted to do horror, I started thinking about what monster we'd like to use, and how we could fit this monster into this bigger galaxy. I've always been in love with the concept of a vampire, so the question came to me, "What would a cosmic vampire look like?" And boom, Solavore.
What can you tell us about the world of Hunt for the Solavore? What's life like for humanity when the story begins?
DeArmitt: This particular breed of humans is called the Morrigen, who live scattered across an interplanetary kingdom. The Morrigen are facing a lot of problems: decades of cold war between them and other kingdoms, insurrection on their homeworld by a group of cultists, and the encroaching despair that the end of their civilization is close. The Morrigen possess technology that's way beyond our own (lightspeed-plus spaceships, electricity-based weapons, instant interplanetary communications), but despite all that, life for them is still plagued by the same things our planet has always suffered from; violence, natural disasters, fanaticism. The Solavore is just the latest of their worries, though it's definitely the worst.
What can you tell us about your titular creature? How dangerous is it?
Lloyd: I like to imagine the Solavore having the same sort of dread and impending doom that is associated with Lovecraftian gods. It's been presumed dead for centuries, but even just hearing the myths of this Solar-System-killing creature sends a chill down everyone's spine. Many in the story don't think the Solavore is real, but that doesn't stop them from being absolutely terrified of it.
The hunt for the Solavore is led by a king. Who is this person? What kind of ruler are they? And who has joined them on their hunt?
DeArmitt: That's King Theosis, who lives on the Morrigen capital planet of Morri Therma. Theosis is a good king; the well-being of his people always comes first, but he's also an old king. He's been dealing with these problems for ages and, just recently, he's lost someone very close to him, so he's a noble king under an unthinkable amount of pressure.
Fortunately, Theosis has his husband Abbinoir by his side. Abbinoir is as wise and compassionate as they come, but he's also under this incredible pressure. The man he loves most, his best friend, has the weight of literal worlds on his shoulders. Abbinoir just wants what's best for Theosis, which is hard when Theosis is always putting an entire civilization above himself.
Finally, Theosis is joined on the hunt by the Valkinae, a group of elite female warriors, for which Lane has some incredible designs. Part of the fun of building this universe with Lane has been seeing the line their designs walk between medieval or viking lore and the futurism of space exploration fiction. That really comes out in the visuals of the Valkinae, and I can't wait for readers to get a peek.
Lloyd: If the thought of a queer comic centered around a vampire who eats entire suns isn't your thing, I don't know what's wrong with you.
DeArmitt: What Lane said!
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What I've seen of the art for Hunt for the Solavore suggests this is a story with some humor and fun, but also a sense of surreal menace. Is that what you were aiming for?
Lloyd: I try and add a little bit of humor into everything I do, especially when it comes to horror. That being said, Solavore is one of the first projects I've been associated with that is just straight-up horror. It's been an incredible learning experience, for sure, something to really test my style on.
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What will backers of Hunt for the Solavoreget? Is the 42-page story a complete tale, or the beginning of a larger saga?
Lloyd: Grant and I have always talked about this being a potential gateway into telling more stories in this universe. I'd love to keep telling tales with the aliens we've created, the worlds and cultures Grant has so painstakingly created. But Hunt for the Solavore is also a contained story in itself, and I think we both wanted to make sure that everyone who reads this gets a feeling of completeness once they hit that last page. We're trying real hard to make sure that Hunt for the Solavore stands on its own two feet.
What can you tell us about the stretch goals and rewards for the Kickstarter?
Lloyd: There's at least one stretch goal I'm very excited to do if we can make it happen. I've always loved the backs of Hellboy collections where you get to see the design work that's gone into creating the characters and the world, and so I'd really love to be able to do that for Solavore, especially the designs for this Tree Space ship. People need to see the Tree Space Ship.
This isn't the first crowdfunding for either of you. Lane, you've done Kickstarters for comics before like God-Puncher, and Grant, I believe you did an Indiegogo for a musical that you wrote the book for, correct? So, how has what you've learned from your past endeavors influenced your plans for Hunt for the Solavore?
Lloyd: For one thing, it's taught me how to better budget my books, but I think running at least one other Kickstarter before this has also helped me to be a better creator. I was always terrible at time management, and I'm just slightly better now, but the feeling of having so many people counting on you to get this work out has really helped me better understand the importance of sitting down and getting the work done.
DeArmitt: That's correct! I wrote the book for a musical called Watson, a kind of Mel Brooks-ish parody of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Honestly, though, the IndieGoGo campaign was run by my producer, an incredible woman by the name of Hope Chavez. Hope's handling of the campaign taught me so much; the importance of getting eyes outside your personal circle onto the campaign, how to inject humor into your outreach, and most importantly, that no artist is "too small." I'll be taking those lessons into HFTS and, really, every project I do for the rest of my life. So thanks, Hope.
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When Dave Richards was a young boy his mother bought him several comics as a way of encouraging a love of reading. She was successful in her endeavor, but she also created a lifelong comics fan. In the early 2000s he began writing about comics for CBR shortly after earning his journalism degree from the University of Michigans Dearbon campus, and in 2005 he took over the sites Marvel Comics beat and continues to write about their books to this day. Hes also a frequent contributor to Macmillan Publishings crime fiction blog, Criminal Element, where he frequently writes about comics and the other areas of pop culture they inspire.
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