Last week, I had the opportunity to interview the publisher of Kandora Publishing, Ken Choi. This week, in the second of three parts featuring Kandora’s key players, I had a chance to talk with writer Brian Augustyn about his work on two of Kandora’s initial launch titles, Barbarossa & the Lost Corsairs and Jade Fire.
Brian Augustyn is a seasoned pro with a long list of hit projects. Some highlights from Mr. Augustyn’s extensive bibliography are: Hell, Crimson, Out There, Gotham By Gaslight: A Tale of the Batman, and collaborations with Mark Waid on JLA: Year One and The Flash. Recently he wrote stories featuring Go Boy 7 and Duel Masters.
While you’re reading along don’t forget to gawk at the beautiful covers. As a special bonus, the first four pages of Barbarossa & the Lost Corsairs #1 are included as well. The combination of Brian Augustyn’s answers and the artwork should give you all the information you need to hop on board when Kandora launches later this month.
The Nexus: How did you become involved with Kandora Publishing?
Brian Augustyn: I think Chuck Sellner had made contact with the folks at Kandora first (through a website, I believe) and invited me to join him in pitching ideas to the new company. It sounded like a great idea, and it turned out to be exactly that.
The Nexus: Barbarossa & the Lost Corsairs is a fantasy with a mix of historical elements. What is the historical basis for the character of Barbarossa?
Brian Augustyn: In the 1500s, there were two Turkish brothers who went by the name of Barbarossa, which is Greek for “red-beard.” They became Corsairs (or Privateers) after the older brother had been kidnapped and held captive by Western mercenaries. They were not strictly speaking pirates, because they served their king and country and only plied their “trade” against the Western enemies of their Empire. Both brothers were considered heroes by their countrymen–and were also devout followers of Islam.
The Nexus: Where does the fantasy aspect come in?
Brian Augustyn: Well, I’ve taken younger brother Hizir and taken he and his crew to another world of danger and magic–and political intrigue. I’ve also fictionalized the legendary aspect of the character, making him more dashing and heroic than he might have seemed in real life. He’s a hero and a gentleman.
The Nexus: Are you planning extended arcs or will you focus on telling complete stories each month?
Brian Augustyn: Well, a bit of both really. The story of our heroes trapped on this strange new world is one long, ongoing story, but there will be smaller stories told along the way; new relationships, changes in old relationships, discoveries about the new world, intrigues and schemes and impending war, etc.
The Nexus: How far down the line do you have the story of Barbarossa plotted?
Brian Augustyn: All the way to the far distant end”¦sort of. I still have no idea how they get home.
The Nexus: You are also writing the second title to be released by Kandora. What can you tell us about Jade Fire?
Brian Augustyn: Jade Fire is a martial arts/fantasy set in a far distant past in a huge, walled city somewhere in the mountains of China. The city has been a mystical safe haven for the citizens for untold generations, so much so that they’ve never known war, crime or evil. Now that idyllic perfection is threatened by the arrival of a creature of pure evil, whose sole purpose is corruption. The mystic force that had protected and sustained the city for eons chooses and empowers one citizen and makes her a champion to fight this infestation of evil–even as it realizes that to grow and thrive the citizens need to begin to evolve past their sheltered innocence. This force, embodied as a goddess of jade energy, picks an idealistic student named Xian, gives her a portion of that jade energy and a magic sword also known as Jade Fire.
The Nexus: From the early solicitations and synopsis available on Kandora’s website, it seems like the city in Jade Fire will be a character unto itself. What can you tell us about setting?
Brian Augustyn: The city, as I’ve said, is huge, very old and a completely sealed system. They raise their own food, make their own goods and clothing and have access to water and power for heat and comfort. Thanks to the Goddess’ mystic will, everything they have needed has always been easily available. The place is a paradise, but also a bit of a trap because they are totally unprepared for evil and trouble. And more, their pristine perfection was the bait that draws the corruptor.
The Nexus: Does the premise have a basis in legend?
Brian Augustyn: Not really, but there are obvious and intentional parallels to the biblical tales of Eden.
The Nexus: Do you have a clear ending in mind for either of these titles?
Brian Augustyn: Only in the broadest sense, I know where the stories have to wind up; Barbarossa and his friends need to get back to Earth (or not) and Jade Fire has to defeat evil (or fail). In both cases getting to the end will be an evolutionary process, and the future will change as the characters and I move forward. I need to keep things open, so I’m engaged. I can’t write a story when I already know the details and where things will go–I need room to be surprised. I need to discover the story through the doing.
The Nexus: H.S. Park is the artist on both of the books you’ll be writing. What’s it like working with Mr. Park?
Brian Augustyn: I’m really lucky to be teamed with such a terrific artist. Thanks to the language and geographic barriers (I’m obviously in the States, Mr. Park is in Korea), we don’t speak directly, but the man’s art and skill demonstrates that we’re on the same wavelength. Everything I ask for he delivers, 1,000 times better than I could have hoped for. The man is a pro.
The Nexus: As the page count continues to increase in Kandora’s offerings, will H.S. Park remain the only artist on these titles?
Brian Augustyn: I hope so, but I really don’t know. In Korea, where Mr. Park has a stellar career as an artist of “Manhwa,” (the Korean equivalent of manga, essentially), comics are huge 200 page books every month. I’m told that because of that, the Kandora artists are more than capable of handling big page counts. Like I said, I hope so.
The Nexus: All of Kandora’s titles will include at least 32 pages of story. What will these additional story pages allow you to do?
Brian Augustyn: Expand our scope, both in action and character–and romance and intrigue. In Barbarossa, the first thing I’m doing to use that extra space is institute a series of flashbacks, ala TV’s Lost, which will flesh out a character in ways that tell us more about how and why they react as they do in the main storyline. I’m excited about the extra pages–and I expect that the reader will be too. It’s a lot more bang for the buck, absolutely.
The Nexus: Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. Best of luck on the upcoming launches at Kandora.
Brian Augustyn: Thanks–and thanks for asking!
Barbarossa & the Lost Corsairs #1, ships at the end of March. Jade Fire #1 debuts in April. Each book will ship monthly with a $3.50 cover price.
Tune in next Friday for Kandora Publishing: Part Three, as writer C. Edward Sellner chats about Savage World and Monarch of Manhattan. Keep an eye out.
If you want to learn more about Kandora Publishing, check out their web site: www.kandorapublishing.com.