A few years back Ryan Cody caught my eye with a comic he illustrated called Villains. Published by Viper Comics, the book featured a former cubicle worker who blackmailed an ex-villain into teaching him how to be a bad guy. More recently, Cody has been drawing a mature readers title called Jesus Christ: In the Name of the Gun, and now the artist has decided to begin writing his own comics as well.
Late last year, Cody started posting pages of Icarus on his website, with plans to publish it using a print-on-demand company later this year. You can check out the first issue on Ryan's website, but hurry -- it comes down tomorrow. I spoke with Ryan about the project and his approach to getting it in people's hands.
JK: Let’s start with the basics – what is Icarus about?
Ryan: Icarus is about how a career military man deals with his own conscious when it comes into conflict with direct orders. Major Robert Riley has served his country well and is the premier covert assassin. He has never failed a mission, never missed a target. A young girl named Delphi has had a premonition about the end of the Earth. She believes an alien force is coming with the goal of domination and enslavement. When she and other heroes go public with their story, chaos ensues including religious and financial upheaval. The church cannot control it's parishioners and the government cannot control it's people when they are being told a power greater than all of them is coming to destroy them. Global riots ensue and in the end, the governments of the Earth decide that these super-humans are causing more harm than good and put Riley in play to put an end to them. Heroes and villains must be put down in order for the populace to be put back in it's place. The story focuses on Riley, Delphi and the various characters they encounter. There is much more to the story but I can't go into it without blowing the cliffhanger at the end of the first issue.
JK: What's the significance of the title, Icarus? Is there a character with that name, or is it more thematic?
Ryan: When I came up with the idea and general plot I knew I wanted to base the jumping off point on something real. So I did some research on close-earth objects traveling through space. There is an asteroid called Icarus that is expected to pass near Earth on June 16th, 2015. The secret governments and the men in charge are telling the public that is harmless and will pass Earth safely and harmlessly. Delphi believes the asteroid is concealing the invasion force that she has seen in her dreams.
JK: Right now you’re publishing it as a webcomic, with plans for print in the future, correct?
Ryan: Actually it's not a webcomic in the traditional sense, it was always planned and designed as a print format comic. The first issue I did post all the pages online for a limited time, but they will be removed before the print version becomes available. I am a relatively unknown creator with a completely unknown book so I wanted to create some buzz and a following instead of just releasing it with no build up. I recently won a contest that was sponsored by Graphic.ly so I believe the digital release will be through them, while I release the floppy issues online through a print-on-demand service. When the first arc is released I will also compile the book in trade format. I wanted the book to be available to anyone who wants it in any form, and at an affordable price.
JK: How did posting the first issue on the web work out? Were you able to build some buzz? And how long do people have to go check it out before it comes down?
Ryan: I think posting only one page at a time, only two a week kind of stunted people and they may have had a hard time following along at first. I did recieve great feedback and I really appreciate everyone who took the time to check it out. I hope I was able to build a little buzz, the book has gotten some fantastic reviews in the past couple weeks that have really gotten me excited to continue the story of Riley, Delphi and all the other characters. This first arc will run about 100 pages and I have already started thinking ahead toward a second volume as well. The full issue will be available for free until Jan. 3, then I will post preview pages and order information. I hope people like the comic and preview enough to support it when the first issue is released digitally and in print.
JK: Did you pitch the book to publishers before deciding to go it alone? If so, what were some of the responses you received from them about the book?
Ryan: Actually Icarus has never been pitched to anyone. I decided to not even bother with that whole process. If the digital versions and P.O.D. versions do well then I hope that I may come to an agreement with a publisher for the trade release. In the past I have pitched books that had super-powered characters in them only to have them turned down for that specific reason. Indie publishers have had a hard time selling superhero books in the past. I believe that trend may be changing though, Image is putting out several superhero books and Invincible is one of their top titles month in and month out. BOOM! has their Stan Lee superhero line and while I am not saying that my work is necessarily always on par with those titles, I do believe there is an audience there. Comics with solid art and a good story will always find an audience and luckily I have a publishing model in place now where I don't need to sell a ton of books to be profitable. Although that would be nice. That said, while Icarus does has super powered villains and heroes, it's more of an action/intrigue book and less of a pow/blam typical cape and mask tale.
JK: Can you give us an update on the Villains film?
Ryan: It's still moving forward at Universal, this past spring I was able to read two drafts of a script, one was very close to what we (the creators) were looking for and one was so far out of left field it was ridiculous. The studio passed on both those takes and are currently soliciting new writers. Universal has recommitted their option for another 18 months, so we are all excited about what 2011 may bring.
JK: What else have you been working on?
Ryan: I currently draw a weekly webcomic for Daggcomics.com that's written by Eric Peterson. It's a fun story about an adventuring and avenging Jesus who has time travel abilities. It's definitely a more mature take on the character and not for everyone. I'm drawing the second volume of that. My plan is to continue my work for hire stuff and hopefully land some more freelance work going into 2011 as well as wrap up the first arc of Icarus. My goal is to make Icarus bi-monthly right now but if the financial support is there, I would love to focus on it full time.