I hope you’ve enjoyed all of the recent coverage we’ve had for the soon-to-launch Kandora Publishing. This week, we close out our three-part interview series by speaking with C. Edward Sellner, who will be writing two of Kandora’s titles. While he is a relative newcomer, his passion is obvious, and he clearly has some interesting plans in store for readers. Enough lead-up. Let’s hear it in his own words!
The Nexus: How did you land a spot writing two of Kandora Publishing’s launch titles?
C. Edward Sellner: Basically I responded to an ad in Digital Webbing that Publisher Ken Choi ran looking for writers. I sent him some samples, we began to chat, found that what he wanted to do as a publisher, and my interests as a writer, lay along the same lines. The clincher really came, I think, when he basically said he had this great artist he was determined to have work for who REALLY wanted to do a futuristic Conan story. I laughed, thinking of the property I had already developed, sitting gathering dust, and said, “Hmmm, well, I just happen to have a futuristic Conan story.” When I dusted off the concept, spiked it with a few new twists and sent it fully fleshed out within a couple days it was partnership heaven.
Ken wanted to launch around four books, have a couple of writers, but not too many, so it developed into two writers, each doing two books.
The Nexus: The first book you’re writing is Savage World, which debuts in May. What’s the book about?
C. Edward Sellner: Savage World is about many things. The sub-genre it mostly taps is pulp-fantasy or sword and sorcery, a la Conan. Savage, like his older, brawnier, barbarian Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbrothe’ is a young man who was raised in a simple, primitive tribe, where he learned to fear and sometimes even hate those things outside of his own world view that he could not understand, such as magic (and technology). He relies on his wits, the strength of his will and arm, and his trusted blade. But that is where the similarity ends. Savage is much younger, more naÃƒÂ¯ve and innocent then Conan when the series opens. He also lives in a world that, quite frankly, makes the Hyborian Age seem like a picnic in the park! This world is so violent, frightening and dangerous that ultimately he finds himself forced to rely on the very things he was always taught to fear and hate.
However, Savage World is also more than that. It has elements of more traditional horror stories, with tons of its own version of the living dead in the Revenants, demonic threats and dark, shadow hidden creatures that prey on humanity at every turn. It’s also got a definite action-adventure-thriller bent to it as well. There will be huge battle scenes, fast paced action, and surprises and plot twists that will hopefully continue to blow readers away issue after issue! Weaving through it all is also, very definitively, a quest-style fantasy. Savage’s prophesied destiny becomes a central plot that will slowly unfold on many levels and in many ways. It will become an overarching theme that will eventually grow into a quest for Savage to fulfill that destiny.
Beyond the sub-genres, Savage World is really the story of a young man, growing into adulthood, who finds the world turned upside down, torn apart, and all too often totally against him. It’s really a parable of growing up where the trials and struggles of teenage life are brought to a dark-fantasy filled world. The biggest inspiration of this series, for me, comes from the young men I have been honored and fortunate enough to mentor over my adult life. Many of them faced incredible odds, yet fought their way through and made it despite. They have always been an inspiration to me, and they are a central part of my life, so Savage is my tribute to each of those who stuck with it and made it through!
The Nexus: I find it interesting that you created Savage World when you were a child. Can you tell us a little about that history?
C. Edward Sellner: Well, I’ve always been an imaginative person. As a kid, I grew up on a farm, which was a bit isolating as a kid, but also gave me all these neat places to explore. So, essentially, when I was pretty young, I developed more into a loner, with an overactive imagination who had plenty of freedom to Ã¢â‚¬Ëœimaginee’. I was a fan of Conan the Barbarian, so I developed the whole idea of a teenage Conan, but in the far future, in a devastated Earth setting. It just kind of grew from there. I had this old fence post that became the inspiration for DeathBlade, and my faithful dog Rex, who became Rex the Hellhound.
When I hit my teens, I stopped Ã¢â‚¬Ëœacting’ out the stories and started writing them. Savage World was originally called Ã¢â‚¬ËœBarbarian’ as a story, and I wrote some 25 chapters of the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœseries’, each chapter running about 10 pages. I also would do cover art for each chapter. I kept those things even as I grew older. I even went back and re-worked them a couple times, and at one point had quite a circle of friends and fans who borrowed each chapter when it was ready to read.
When it was time to pull it out, I re-read all those old chapters. While obviously, I’ve come a long way (in both arenas) since I did those, I found the core concepts, the characters and some of the setting, was actually pretty cool and viable, they struck the right chords. So, Barbarian became Savage World.
The Nexus: Any time there’s a muscled hero carrying a sword it’s hard not to think about Conan. One of my favorite aspects about Robert E. Howard’s Conan is that he’s as much a thinker as a fighter. Will Savage always let his sword and muscles do the talking or will he use his brains as well?
C. Edward Sellner: I’m a big fan of Conan as well, who is an inspiration to Savage. Our boy will definitely be a thinker as well as a fighter. The sword and his muscles will only get him so far. As he grows as a character, I’m thinking readers will find his passion, will, determination and insight to be what makes him the interesting character, not how strong he swings a sword.
The Nexus: Are you planning extended story arcs for Savage World, or will you concentrate on single-issue adventures?
C. Edward Sellner: There will be lots of levels to Savage World. I would like most of the single, monthly issues to have something that definitely gives an impact and a story Ã¢â‚¬Ëœchunk’ if you will. Some will be more stand-alone than others. Each four issue arc, targeted for being trades, will also have a story to it, some more defined than others, but again a story Ã¢â‚¬Ëœchunk’. Then there will be some long range, overarching stories that will come together to create the bigger epic.
For example, issue #3 is kind of a stand-alone issue for the majority of it, an encounter with an enemy that is self-contained. Issues #1-4 comprise the “Coming of Age” story arc which essentially sets Savage on his path to his destiny. The first three arcs, running from issue #1-12 will also group together to more firmly lay that groundwork of who Savage is, etc.
I think every reader should get a payoff, whether they are picking up any single issue as a first issue, reading it by chance as maybe the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœonly’ issue they might read to decide if they like it, and those who will follow the entire series. So, there will be rewards with each.
The Nexus: Artist H.G. Young is using a rather innovative technique to create the visuals for Savage World. What’s it like working with Mr. Young, and what can you tell us about his use of computers?
C. Edward Sellner: Working with Mr. Young is fantastic! I’m an artist as well, so, I’ve always had a very set view of how I thought things should look on this series, as any story I work on. I have to admit, when I started, I was worried, thinking, man, what if the artist stinks? What if they do these lame designs, etc. I even put together character sketches, detailed descriptions, and tight scripts with layout, all to try and nursemaid.
Then I saw the first designs from H.G. and I humbly sent my apology for insulting him by sending my humble offerings! But Ken and he both told me to keep it up! What I’m finding is that it’s creating a nice synergy, because now I’m inspired by H.G.’s art, which is changing how I view the series and its potential. It’s giving me ideas of stories to write, just so I can see H.G. realize them in art! Plus, from what I’ve heard, he’s having fun with the scripts and pushing the envelope in terms of bringing them to life! I feel very honored by that. To me, if we’re inspiring each other then it’s the ideal relationship.
As for how he’s doing it on computer, that one you need to ask Ken. I know it’s pushing the digital envelope in terms of being almost completely computer generated, but not sure how he does it.
The Nexus: Considering that Mr. Young is from Korea, has the language barrier been a problem?
C. Edward Sellner: No, not really. Basically, everything is sent through translation. I work more directly with Ken Choi, our publisher. I send him the scripts, notes, etc. He sees they are translated and sent to H.G. who then does the art and it gets sent back to review. There’s been a couple, funny little things where I can see something got lost in translation, but they are rare, and sometimes it adds something more to the book, so I leave it, or it’s an easy fix.
The only barrier has been that I wish H.G. and I could work more directly together to play off our synergy better, so, I miss that opportunity, but he and I have talked, with Ken translating. So, it goes well, and gives me a reason to learn Korean.
The Nexus: There are a number of influential fantasy and sword & sorcery stories already in print. Did you find yourself influenced by one in particular?
C. Edward Sellner: Robert E. Howard’s Conan is probably the biggest. His writing style, very visceral and dark, is something I’m trying to capture in Savage World. Savage is much like Conan, even as the Savage World is similar to the Hyborian one, but there are also many, many differences. I am hoping the feel, the prime mythic chord that Conan hits is the one Savage hits as well, in his own way.
The Nexus: Very little information has leaked out about Monarch of Manhattan. What can you tell us?
C. Edward Sellner: Monarch of Manhattan is the story of Shakalla. He’s a warrior prince of an empire vaster than Rome ever was, who was raised to assume the throne upon reaching manhood. He’s a mix of Alexander the Great, Ghenghis Khan and Malcolm X. He’s a genius in every sense of the word, and a man whose presence would fill the room upon entering, you know the type.
When he was still a boy, an evil wizard, Daemonn Thornne, killed Shakalla’s father, framed the prince and then exiled him to die in the wilderness beyond the empire. However, the boy organized a pack of rebels who hounded the wizard for twenty years, before the prince, now a full man, battled to the very gates of the Wizard’s fortress. Just as he was about to exact his vengeance, the wizard stepped through a magical gateway and disappeared. Not to be denied, Shakalla leapt after him and lands in Central Park, 2005!
Now, this modern day Alexander must deal with our world while hunting his archenemy! Thornne shows up in a surprising way, which still makes perfect sense once we understand why, and we find his legacy of poison has touched our world as well. Meantime, Shakalla, now aided and abetted by his first recruit and friend, Harold Harrington, sets about reclaiming the one thing he still can. Shakalla lost his world, his empire, his people, his very lifestyle. But there is one thing he is still determined to fulfill. Shakalla was to be a king, and a king he shall be!
Monarch of Manhattan will be a mix of urban adventure and sword-and-sorcery with a large dose of humor and drama mixed in. I also intend to hit a lot of burning and controversial issues in Monarch of Manhattan that revolve around our world and time. Shakalla is a new voice, one untouched by our history who looks in from the outside. Don’t think he’s going to be impressed with our world, just because we’re so Ã¢â‚¬Ëœadvanced’. I fully expect to get some hate mail over Monarch of Manhattan, but isn’t that part of the fun in life?
The Nexus: Will Monarch of Manhattan feature the same computer generated artwork as Savage World?
C. Edward Sellner: I believe the layouts are being done more traditionally. H.G. is also doing the finishes over that, so they may be done the same way.
The Nexus: What will the additional pages Kandora Publishing is including in each of their titles mean to you as a writer?
C. Edward Sellner: I’m thrilled! I think the extra pages are great all around. As a fan, I would love almost twice as many pages in my favorite monthly comics! As a writer, it gives me a lot more freedom to really explore the story. I can unpack the scenes, add more texture and detail and pull out the stops in the action scenes! I used to feel pretty robbed when I would buy an issue of a comic and it was almost nothing but fight scene! With this page count, I can do an awesome battle, really have fun with it, and still deliver a story with a lot more depth and reflection as well.
The Nexus: I wish you success when the titles launch. Thanks for sitting down with us.
C. Edward Sellner: Thank you for taking the time as well.
Savage World debuts in May followed by Monarch of Manhattan in June. Each book will ship monthly with 32 pages of story for a $3.50 cover price.
If you want to learn more about Kandora Publishing, check out their web site: www.kandorapublishing.com.