OUTCASTS OF JUPITER
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of science fiction as a genre. You’ll you probably find most comic fans have a fondness for one science fiction tale or another.I found that as a whole apart from the licensed properties seen at companies like IDW, Dark Horse and such there are very few ‘pure’ science fiction books. This week I’m taking a look at one that has definitely caught my interest in ‘OUTCASTS OF JUPITER.
Written by Shobo Coker and drawn by his brother Shofela Coker, OUTCASTS OF JUPITER takes place in the distant future where catastrophic earthquakes have devastated the planet, wreaking havoc and swallowing cities whole. The planet is now full of outlaws and refugees looking to survive and the story told in ‘OUTCASTS OF JUPITER’ focuses on a group of outlaws known as ‘the Outcasts’ who in the first issue attempt a daring rescue attempt.
Reminiscing of worlds that are seen in the likes of ‘Firefly’ it seems that ‘OUTCASTS OF JUPITER is a very familiar science fiction trope but yet is presented here in a completely refreshing way. Recently the book ran a successful kickstarter, showing that once again it seems that the internet has become indie comics best friend. Greatly surpassing their goal the Coker brothers once again show that if you’re wanting to tell your own comic stories there are many options available for those wanting to publish their own. With their kickstarter the creative team offered many unique incentives. Not only did they offer things like buttons and art but they also offered models sculpted by the pairs sister Funlola. It’s rare you see such extras offered but to those wanting to immerse themselves in the future world that ‘OUTCASTS OF JUPITER’ offers they are a brilliant bonus that sets this indie comic ahead of its competitors.
Pushing comics into the 21st century ‘OUTCASTS OF JUPITER’ is an indie comic that also takes advantage of modern technology by offering things like ‘augmented reality pop-out’. This is something that has become quite popular with Marvel in the last few years but I don’t recall any indie comic offering something similar previously. In a comic market where being able to stand out could be the key to success it seems that ‘Outcasts Of Jupiter’ is doing a lot to set itself out from the pack.
I caught up with the Coker family for some info on them, their family, the book and everything inbetween.
GHC: Tell us more about yourself, how did you get into comics in general?
SHOBO: My parents are both artists so they encouraged us to get into art from a young age, my dad especially was into the Incredible Hulk and Thor, when we were kids. We both learned the basics by poring over images drawn by Buscema, Ditko, Watterson, Herge, Uderzo and more… a truly diverse hodge-podge of incredible masters that we fell in love with.
We always had comics around the house, though we rarely got sequential issues. It’s hard to get comic book issues regularly in Lagos, and they were incredibly expensive for Nigerian kids, but our parents made sure we had access to that stuff.
GHC: How did ‘Outcasts of Jupiter’ come about? What inspired it?
SHOBO: Shof and I both grew up with a love of Nigerian and African culture and storytelling. We’ve always thought it would be fantastic to have stories that tapped this incredibly rich vein. Tales of Yoruba mythology, Igbo gods and Hausa heroes. I think the closest the west has gotten is stuff based on Egyptian mythology, and a surface-level flirtation with West Africa when it comes to characters like T’Challa and Storm. Right from a young age we knew we were going to end up making comics, videogames, and cartoons that incorporated elements of our culture. As educated Nigerians with the ability and means, we also feel a sense of duty to show the world that Africa, and Nigeria in particular has something to positive to contribute.
We also want to give the kids growing up today in Nigeria heroes that live, work, and visit cities they know and are familiar with. It’s not because African kids can’t identify with European and American heroes (we did, and continue to). It’s about doing something to help instill a sense of national pride in a country that’s been through the ringer over the past 40 years.
GHC: What can you tell us about your cast of characters?
Denarii – arguably the primary character in this first issue of the comic, is probably what you’d get if Batman mated with Conan. Sulesh – the team’s leader, is one part Zoe Washburne from Firefly, one part John “Hannibal” Smith. There might be a little bit of Jean Luc Picard in there too.
Persio – is what Lex Luthor might have become if he’d been raised by the Kent’s.
Stein – would be your best friend because he would give you the shirt off his back. Well, probably not his shirt, he’d find a shirt somewhere and then give it to you.
GHC: You’ve recently ran a very successful kickstarter, any tips to those wanting to run one for their own books?
SHOBO: Absolutely! First, start planning early. We started work on the Kickstarter 6 months before it launched. We started posting on forums, built a website and social networking outlets, contacted vendors and got quotes for our rewards, figured out the budget, etc. Second, try not to go it alone. A Kickstarter campaign can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining, having someone to work with makes all of that a lot easier to bear. Lastly, do your research. There are a ton of great blogs on the internet written by folks who’ve been successful and unsuccessful, and all that advice proved invaluable, read it all before you even start setting anything up.
GHC:Obviously you’re credited as the writer and your brother the artist but given that obviously your relationship is closer than the average writer/artist team do you find that the book is a more collaborative effort than most?
SHOBO: In a sense, it’s probably the opposite, I’ve worked on one other comic book collaboratively, in a sort of editor role with another writer, and Shof, again as the artist. While working on that, we all had to touch base pretty frequently and talk extensively about motivation, pacing, individual panels etc. It was a fantastic experience, but it was much more work ensuring we were all on the same page creatively.
With Outcasts, I write a script, send it to Shof, and he gives feedback. He does art, sends pages and I give feedback. We know each other pretty well, so there’s not as much need to explain the reasons for a critique at all. So far it’s been painless.
GHC: You have some brilliant and unique kickstarter rewards like the models and the coins, whose idea was that?
SHOBO: I honestly can’t remember who came up with what rewards! I know I came up with the coins because that was the last thing we added as a stretch goal. Right from the start we knew we wanted to offer folks a lot of cool rewards, things that could make the Outcasts of Jupiter universe seem even more real, and things that people would feel good about putting on shelves, hanging on walls or wearing. Coming up with an idea for a reward isn’t that hard, the hard part is sourcing vendors who can produce high quality stuff at affordable rates.
GHC: Tell us more about the augmented reality aspect. Who came up with that? As far as I know its not something you see very often in indie comics.
SHOBO: Again, I’m not entirely sure which one of us came up with the idea. We both love videogames, and Shof has a background as a charter artist in the field.
He had to create a 3D model of Denarii in a modeling program. This was going to be used as the basis for the figures we were offering, and it seemed like a natural extension to use a lower resolution version of the 3D model in something videogame-like. Our initial idea was to create a full 3D environment, a recreation of a bar called “Le Trou de Rat” from the comic, that readers could explore in AR (augmented reality). However, quickly realized that even though we could technically pull it off, it would raise the Kickstarter goal considerably.
Instead, a 3D version of Denarii was decided on. I’m not sure if there are any other comics that are currently doing something similar, but it strikes us as a neat way to make the world and characters feel even more real.
GHC: What are some of your long term plans for this book and what else can we expect from you both in the future?
SHOBO: Our dream is that the universe and characters resonate with people. We’ve got some tentative plans for what we want to do after the first issue, but we’re focused on that first. We want to make sure that the people that backed us when we started out feel like they got their money’s worth. Following that, we’d like to release a five page “issue 1.5”, something that we’ll make freely available on our website. We’d also like to create a full second issue that’ll be physically and digitally published, but that’s a little ways off.
GHC: With the kickstarter over how can people check out ‘Outcasts Of Jupiter’? Where will it be on sale?
SHOBO: We’ve got a website up and running over at www.cokercoop.com, it’ll definitely be available there, and if you want to pick up a copy when they’re made available, I recommend signing up for our newsletter. There are a lot of process updates and blog posts chronicling the making of the comic on the website, as well as information on the characters and world. We’ve got tentative plans to release the comic on other platforms, both in digital and physical format, but nothing concrete just yet.
GHC: What indie book should everyone be reading right now?
SHOBO: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff, because it’s gorgeous and adventursome.