They say there is nothing greater than creating something and watching it thrive, and writer-publisher Sean O’Reilly has done just that. In 2004, he started up Arcana Publishing with a comic book of his own creation – “Kade.” Since then, the company has, well, thrived – both in the numbers of titles it puts out, as well as the success of O’Reilly’s Kade character. Most recently, Arcana sold out of the first issue of Kade’s latest adventure – “Sun of Perdition” – and has gone back to press for a second printing. Naturally, O’Reilly couldn’t be more pleased to see his “baby” doing so well.
“It’s fantastic!” the writer said. “Honestly, it feels great. ‘Kade’ was on hiatus for about a year, and in that time I had Dheeraj Verma, Paco Medina, Mario Gully, Caanan White and a slew of other artists on him. But when I met Stjepan [artist of the latest series], I hit the roof as we completely saw eye to eye on Kade and his world. He is a gem of a person and a hell of a talent!”
Taking a step back from the book’s current success, O’Reilly was happy to give a quick introduction to his character for the uninitiated. “Kade was born a Child of the Black Sun, and it wasn’t until his death as an infant that his powers were expressed.
The Children of the Black Sun are the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven…and the chains to the Abyss of Hell.
“Kade aged from infancy to adulthood at a normal pace, but from that point on, he has remained ageless. After Kade’s death, he was reborn into something much more than human. His body heals rapidly and his endurance is near limitless. In addition, Kade is unable to feel…anything. Whether it is a gentle caress or steel separating flesh, Kade cannot feel his environment. Trying to believe in a world he struggles to interact with has made his daily life difficult and his destiny nearly impossible.”
As the writer describes the character as “ageless,” he is quick to explain that this doesn’t mean Kade can’t die. “He’s definitely not immortal. Actually, we might even see that none of the Children of the Black Sun are immortal. I’m telling his story chronologically and actually have this entire thing mapped out.
“‘Sun of Perdition’ occurs around 1000 years after the original series and is set in Europe’s Dark Ages. The first series was something that I really wanted to do and at the time it felt right. Having been in this industry for two years, I think I’ve improved as a storyteller and writer, and I’ve changed quite a bit as a person. I’ve matured and so has Kade and his world.
“The story is much more serious and is written with a lot more purpose. I’ve slightly retold the original story and have brought readers up to speed with Kade and his world. From that point on, I have done a bit of retroactive continuity – tying up loose ends and blending the two worlds together. I’m taking of what I completed when I first started, and bringing it into a world that I am now able to create.
“When you get your first comic book published; that’s really exciting enough in and of itself. I’ve now done enough comics so that the novelty has worn off, and it takes something special and unique to challenge me and to get me excited again. ‘Sun of Perdition’ is that story, and Kade’s journey is that tale.”
Much of O’Reilly’s excitement comes from the narrative he has planned for his character. “Kade’s mission is to stop the Beast from the Abyss,” O’Reilly said. “The story was inspired from ‘The Apocalypse of John’ and there are a number of references made to Revelations. While it’s not a religious story, it definitely has religious overtones.
“What I personally love about ‘Sun of Perdition’ is that this story has a strong beginning to Kade’s ‘new world’ that I’m working hard to create, and I’ve also included a goodbye salute to the world I created years ago.”
As mentioned, Kade doesn’t truly age and, therefore, could potentially visit many time periods throughout history. When asked if there where any plans to have Kade fight cowboys or people from a future society, the writer responded, “Fighting cowboys, not quite. Being a cowboy, definitely. I also would love to use the line, ‘Fill yer hands, ya sonuva bitch.’ As far as a future society, no plans yet.”
Part of Kade’s “struggle” (as O’Reilly put it) is that his skin lacks any sensation. He can’t feel anything. So what could make this worse? How about giving him a gorgeous female counterpart? This is exactly what he has in the character of Ezra, who is along for the ride in the character’s latest adventure.
“Ezra is the emotional rock for Kade. I’m just starting to explore some of the problems one would have for being alive for thousands of years; the first of which is a loss of purpose and motivation. Kade really struggles with who he is and why he’s even still walking. Ezra is the yang to Kade’s yin and allows him to finally start showing some emotion. Truthfully, Kade would be a wreck without Ezra and really couldn’t make it on his own.”
Kade is sort of the quintessential “tough guy,” but at the same time, he does have layers. O’Reilly indicated that a duality exists which makes him more than just a clone of Lobo or Wolverine. He explained, “What I’ve done is create a bit of a stereotypical tough guy; I think a lot of people getting into comics have this ‘bad ass’ hero who is invincible and does little wrong. Well, that was the first two issues of Kade.
“After that, I’ve been writing ‘Kade’ a bit differently, showing a wider range of emotions and he’s even using a little bit of sarcastic humor. Where I plan on taking him is to a more complex character who has idiosyncrasies (because of his agelessness) and a more dynamic range of emotions, including his own sense of humor.
“As for his duality, Kade struggles with being impervious to pain, but he’s always hurting emotionally: he never knew his father, his mother was killed because of him, his step-father was then killed because of his actions, and everything just got worse from there. He’s felt the burden of being a savior, when he hasn’t saved anyone he’s ever cared for. That’s why Ezra is needed to ground him and keep him moving forward.”
For those reading Kade’s latest adventure, you will notice a different look with regards to the art. Joining O’Reilly on this series is artist Stjepan, and the writer is thrilled with what they’ve created.
“The art is incredible. Stjepan is an artist in every sense of the word and I simply can’t say enough about him. I have actually had a number of companies ask about him and other than a few great ones (Dynamite’s ‘Red Sonja’ and Top Cow’s ‘Darkness vs. Wolverine’), he’s exclusive to Kade. We talk just about daily, and he’s not only on board for ‘Sun of Perdition’ but also for ‘Kade: Shiva’s Sun’ (set 50 years later in India). Also, he’s marrying a very lucky lady next year and I’m sure she’s going to be keeping him as busy as I will.”
The sold out nature of the book’s first issue is a somewhat momentous occasion for the publisher as well, since “it is only the second book to get a second printing from Arcana (‘Ant’ #1 being the first). With Kade’s initial orders being strong, it was surprising getting some of the reorders in after we promoted it during San Diego and WW Chicago. I think retailers and readers got to see what a gem this was and they put in a whole schwack of orders right at that time.
“In addition, Ben Templesmith did an incredible job leading off our ‘Dark Ages’ cover line-up with a great incentive cover. These Dark Ages incentive covers will be found throughout the entire four issues and can be found at better retailers everywhere. Ben Templesmith, Liam Sharp, Nat Jones and Ashley Wood are the talents on these covers.
Be sure to hunt them down, please. Also, convince your retailers that the incentive covers can still be obtained now that we have a second printing. By pre-ordering, your retailer doesn’t have to take as much of a chance on an ‘indy publisher.'”
While O’Reilly has been enjoying the success of the Kade comic, he has also been fortunate enough to see interest in the character from other mediums. He happily gave CBR News an update on the various ways fans will be able to get their Kade “fix” in the future.
“No feature film option yet (working on it), but we do have a toy from Shocker Toys, a statue coming from Gentle Giant, a Kade bust coming out and a Kade video game from Paradox (for handhelds – we ain’t doing next-gen systems yet). As a quick aside, translating one’s character into a different medium is exciting and very rewarding.
“When Kevin Hanna did the CG concept for Kade, it made me realize that I had to change the comic book version of him slightly as well. For example, his ‘tattoo’ mask’ was not looking right. Kevin brought in the ‘permanent shadow’ across his face, and this look stuck! There are some great things talented artists can put into play, and watching it develop is very exciting.”
On the publishing side of things, O’Reilly also wanted to let readers know that they have lots to look forward to. He added, “We’re doing an entire line of digital comics (honestly, in today’s market, who isn’t?) and we hope these will be a great alternative (or addition) to the Arcana collection – available for your iPod Christmas 2006. From this line of comics, Arcana is also strongly pursuing the 3D medium, and we are looking for 3D modelers and animators for 2007 projects.
As well in 2007, Arcana will be starting an entire line of busts. We have recently agreed to work with a studio that will be producing a line of busts similar to the Bowen line for Marvel. Already complete is Kade and Sylvia (‘100 Girls’), and on the slate is Ezra, Starkweather, Dandelion, Shadowflame, Summer/Monkey, and Torment.
And literally this week, we have a very good production company and a very good show runner taking one of our properties ‘out’ (for pitch meetings) and I’ve heard that the presentations are going great. Hopefully they can bring home a winner!