Weekly Independent Comic Creator Interview Saturn & Orion
Jay Huwer, Writing and Co-Creator
Ben Ferrari, Pencils, Inks, Letters, and Co-Creator
Federico Guillen, Colors
Saturn & Orion is an ambitious first issue that takes a little bit of science, and mixes it with ninjas and magic and some kick butt fighting.
The story is told from the P.O.V of Saturn, and she introduces you to this fresh new (dark) world and her mentor Orion- and right from the first scene you get a good understanding of how their entire city works.
This book's Kickstarter campaign just opened a few days ago, and even though I've already read it, I'm still backing it because it was such a treat.
If you like 80's Ninja movies with a Noir feeling - then check it out.
I was able to sit with the co-creators of the book, Jay Huwer and Ben Ferrari and ask some questions about being independent comic creators- here's what they had to say.
Slade: Hey Guys! Welcome to Uncanny! So let’s start things off with telling the folks reading along what each of you were responsible for with Saturn & Orion?
JAY: I am the writer and co-creator for Saturn and Orion.
BEN: I also co-created the book along with Jay. I penciled, inked and lettered the book as well.
Slade: How did the idea for this book come about and then how did that turn in to a partnership between you two?
JAY: Ben and I have been collaborating for some time at Pilot Studios. Ben approached me and asked if I would be interested in writing a Daredevil style superhero. A dark hero is right up my ally. I couldn’t resist and jumped all over it. It didn’t take long for Ben’s inbox to get littered with ideas and character bios. Subsequently, my inbox started to fill up with concept art.
BEN: Pretty much it exactly. I’ve drawn over a dozen books, some super-hero, some not. Always looking to scratch that “super hero itch” and had been reading a lot of Jay’s work on my other Pilot Studios books, Carriers and Divebomb. He was so enthusiastic about everything he was working on, I thought he might be a good collaborator on a new project. I pitched a “Daredevil” style book and he took that kernel and developed Saturn & Orion! We went from there!
Slade: How long did everything take from when this process started to now?
JAY: I took my time with this script. I wanted to build a world filled with compelling characters before I started with the book. I would say this project has been in the works for about two years. That would include everything from the initial discussion for the general concept to the final product that’s ready to ship.
BEN: Egads, has it been two years? As a publisher and artist, things take a long time from start to finish on various books. I rarely get to just draw a book. There are a lot of publishing details when you typically have a dozen books in progress at the same time, as I do. So if Jay is right and it has taken two years… that’s all my fault. Fault is over here, with me.
Slade: And now you’re doing a Kickstarter! What has that process been like?
JAY: Kickstarter is not to be taken lightly. I wanted everything to be as perfect as possible before we launched. Ben and I spent many hours discussing the numerous reward tiers to offer. I couldn’t tell you how many times we adjusted and fine tuned the campaign. I have to say, it was pretty rewarding to see the artists that offered to draw some rewards. Kurt Belcher, Jim O’Riley, Kevin Christensen, and Luis Rivera are very talented individuals. They made creating the reward tiers exciting for me. I had a blast working on this. Hopefully, everyone will see the passion Ben and I put into the campaign.
BEN: I LOVE making comic books. I don’t enjoy the process of selling comic books, I cannot tell a lie. So I had to be really comfortable with the final Kickstarter in order to actually launch it… and I am. It’s still tough.
Slade: Well the question then of course is, in the supremely unfortunate instance that this book doesn’t meet its funding goal through Kickstarter, what happens then?
JAY: I will cry for a while. I kid. I kid. I have never been one to be deterred by any setback. I can honestly say that I haven’t thought about where to go in that situation. The book is done and ready to ship. It will probably be sold through the Pilot Studios site, or through my website. www.JasonHuwer.com
BEN: I’ve been a part of making over 40 comic books, graphic novels, trade paperbacks, prints, coloring books and puzzles. If this book doesn’t fund, we do what we’ve always done. Keep making more books. We take them to shows, put them on Indyplanet.com, maybe Amazon where I’ve put coloring books, you know, carry on. Not the end of the world. The real goal is to introduce ourselves on a wide basis to fans, build that base. We’ll keep at it in other ways.
Slade: So what makes Saturn & Orion something that the readers here should go and consider backing?
JAY: This book is about an arrogant young woman trying to find her way in a complex world. Saturn is a technological genius who needs to save an innocent soul from being sacrificed at the hands of a master of mysticism.
We live in a world where everyone has become dependent on technology. As we fall further down that rabbit hole, we forget our roots. Science gets in the way of faith. That is the basic concept that Saturn and Orion Book One explores. In school, we learn about all kinds of myths. The gods of old were once worshiped in every society from Egypt to Greece to the Native Americans. As the world evolved, these beliefs changed and the gods were forgotten. I guess the big question here would be, “What is preventing their wrathe from striking?”
BEN: What he said is true. It’s also a love letter to comics form the 1990’s. The characters channel “mask” books and characters like Deadpool, Diehard (from Youngblood), Batman and Robin and all the “bad girl” concepts from those days. Except, as Jay noted, this has a cool, unique story and hook.
Slade: Yea I wanted to talk about your characters some- I read issue 1 and it was a good bit of fun. Was there any inspirations for the two main characters at all? Some established comic characters or anyone in real life?
JAY: As I said before, Ben was really interested in Daredevil and I’m a huge Batman fan. Those characters influenced the overall tone of the book. The real trick was to stay away from writing those characters. I’m a teacher by day and writer by night. I see the arrogant nature that a kid has when she tries to be cool. The facade, if you will. I wanted to incorporate that element into Saturn. In order to accomplish that, I wanted Saturn to be super smart and young. She probably knows more than everyone in the room. The young kid who is intimidated by everyone, but needs to hide that from them. Mix that with attitude with the rebellious nature a kid has against her father and our hero is born.
Orion is a little more complex. I actually fell in love with this character after I developed him. He’s meant to be Saturn’s mentor and is probably inspired by Obi-Wan Kenobi, but the truth is I put a lot of myself in there. I’m the father of three young kids and know I have to make tough decisions to make sure they are safe. Some of these choices are hard and may not be popular. So here we have Orion who knows more that he lets on, like many adults do. Without getting into too much detail about the book, this flaw pushes Saturn to rebel and leads to a rough time between the hero and her mentor.
BEN: I like his answer, I’ll go with that.
Slade: So Jay, not to get into spoiler territory but something big happens towards the end of this issue. Did you always know the story you were writing was going to take that route from day one, or did that come about later organically through telling the story?
JAY: That little thing was planned from the initial concept stages of the book.
BEN: I remember being pretty darn impressed with that particular event when reading the script for the first time. It’s so BIG it will affect the title of the book for issue #2...
Slade: Tell me about Pilot Studios Ben. You’re the head honcho of your own publishing company, that has to be exciting as hell! What made you want to produce comics?
BEN: It is exciting. It’s a drug really. I can’t wait to work on these books after I get the kids in bed every night. I work on pages from my projects and send out emails, update websites, plan new books, read scripts, you name it. I also meet new people who are willing to put in all the same effort to make comic books, as Jay does. I’ve been making my own books since starting Longhunters #1 in 2001. Over 40 books later, I’m not even close to being done.
Slade: What’s the plan then for the future of Pilot Studios?
JAY: Ben is the man and I’m fortunate to know what he is planning. I’ll let him fill you in. I will say that I’m extremely excited to be a part of Pilot Studios.
BEN: This is in some ways a big step forward. Building the fan base. Next step is Diamond Distribution to shops world wide. Our first series destined for Diamond is called The Carriers. We have a large block of books complete so we will aim to release them bi-monthly sometime later this year. We have other books that can be released as stand alone books with larger installments down the road as well. Nervous and excited right now, thanks for asking.
Slade: Alright, back to Saturn & Orion. Let’s talk about Zodiac. Is the idea here for him to be the primary antagonist going forward or is he just the first of many?
JAY: Zodiac is the answer to the gods demands. He is a villain, sure, but only because the world forgot to honor the old gods. As mythology teaches, the wrath of god can be fierce. Zodiac knows this and tries to enact those barbaric traditions of human sacrifice. His actions are keeping the world from being destroyed. One might think of him as a misunderstood hero. I really like my characters to fall into the shades of gray.
Zodiac is the first of many villains. His actions in Saturn and Orion Book One will influence Saturn everywhere she appears. Book Two is set to have a villain, well a misunderstood hero, who controls time. Book Three may have a guy in a robotic bull suit. Saturn has her work cut out for her.
BEN: Zodiac also will show up again later this year in a one shot called ZION WARS that Jay has written. We’re planning a team up of all the Pilot Studios characters such as Saturn, Divebomb and his daughter Fuse, Souverain and Eve Hitler. This is planned as our second Kickstarter later in the year.
Slade: Well as long as I can see more of his bad-ass blade things then I’m happy. Who came up with those?
JAY: Ben wanted a ninja clan and I really like swords. It makes for fun, rooftop fight scenes.
BEN: Those were Jay’s idea for sure.
Slade: Alright guys- thanks a ton for your time. Any final words about Saturn & Orion and/or your Kickstarter?
JAY: Thank you for the interview. I really owe a lot of this book to Ben. His art took my wordy pages and brought them to life in a way I couldn’t imagine. Federico Guillen did a fantastic job on the colors. He really captured that dark tone of the story and added a mystique that enhanced every page. While the book was in development, I was really surprised by the talented artwork that ended up in my inbox. Luis Rivera nailed the cover. Kurt Belcher has a print that really honed in on the uphill battle Saturn faces. Jim O’Riley put together a stunning piece that captures the beauty of the entire issue. I’m fortunate enough to have their art support this great project. Unfortunately, you’re going to need to choose which one you want as your Kickstarter reward.
BEN: As mentioned above, we have a future story titled ZION WARS. As a second cover for Saturn & Orion Book One I decided to have a “Things to Come... “ theme for the piece. I asked Kevin Christensen to come up with something showcasing that future event and he NAILED it. So you have a choice between Luis Rivera and Kevin Christensen’s covers. We’re extremely lucky to have these guys with us.
Thanks for reading along all! Hope you enjoyed it!
Be sure to like to follow along with the progress of Saturn & Orion via their kickstarter linked above, and here at the pilot studios:https://www.facebook.com/PilotStudios
Thanks for being great everyone, and as always ask any questions of either me or the creators below!
Click to see whole interview and art!
Click HERE to check out Saturn & Orion Book One on Kickstarter!
In progress Cover B by Kevin Christensen! Featuring a "Things to Come..." image!
Saturn and Orion is a commentary on modern society. Saturn is a young, arrogant tech genius who has become dependent on her gadgets and gizmos. Orion, her mentor, made his fortune through genetic manipulation. Some people question whether he experimented on himself. Enter ZODIAC, the antagonist. A foe that many believe to be psychotic because he honors the ancient gods. He understands that society has forgetting the vengeful gods. When these gods are not honored, their vengeance has destroyed the world in the past. At its heart, Saturn and Orion takes a look at the world through the lens of heroes and villains. Have we become too dependent on society's advancements? Should we take some time to remember our history and origins?