Ultrasylvania Uncovered

Matt Harding writes;

The Academy of Art University’s student collaborative graphic novel is back with the release of Ultrasylvania Vol. 2: Emperor Frankenstein. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the project, allow me to catch you up. Ultrasylvania is the San Francisco-based College’s first student collaborated graphic novel, in which each of us student take the responsibility to draw, ink, and color a handful of pages by the end of the semester. The script is written by our “Writing for Comics” instructor Brian Schirmer, with art director by digital art instructor, and Dynamite’s “Wheel of Time” cover artist, Jeremy Saliba. Each of us puts in at least 100 hours of work alongside all our other classes, jobs, and other responsibilities. The graphic novel really is a labor of love, fueled by the will to have our artwork seen, and the belief that Ultrasylvania will make its mark in on the industry.

  The story of Ultrasylvania takes place in an alternate 19th century world, where classic monsters such as Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster lord over European nations as they struggle against each other in hopes of tipping the delicate balance of power in their respective directions. This uneasy relationship is strained to the max in volume 2, appropriately named “Emperor Frankenstein,” as werewolf assassins strike out against the royal families, giant weapons of mass destruction are assembled for war, and secretive murder squads scour the desolate country side, inflicting terror and death wherever they may roam. “Volume Two spends more time with Frankenstein’s Monster – named “Victor” in our story – and follows his journey from escaped abomination to prodigal monarch,” summarizes Brian Schirmer, Ultrasylvania’s creator and writer, “The scope [of Ultrasylvania] is certainly epic – spanning more than a century, a myriad of characters, and struggles for power. At the same time, it’s all tempered by very human emotional drives – love, hate, vengeance, desire, insecurity, the need for acceptance, and the quest to find one’s place in the world.” Brian and Jeremy plan on taking the story into a third volume, one that mainly takes place in the zombie infested country of America, with classes already beginning this week to get the project back in action after the winter intersession.

AAU students, myself included, are hand-picked by Brian and Jeremy, who believe us to be the foremost talented comic artists at the school. For volume 2 there were a total of ten artists, some of them new to the project, while the rest returned from illustrating volume 1. The returning students are Erik Solem, myself, John Gomes, and Valerio Fabbretti. Joining them are Ultrasylvania rookies Apple Zhang, Malcolm Johnson, Alex Marston, Lloyd Hoshide, Monica Disher, and Xiomara Sanchez. “My goal is for each individual to have a voice and make an impact,” says art director and cover artist Jeremy Saliba, “I think everyone involved with the book has been amazing and done jaw dropping work.”

For all of us involved, this book is a accumulation of our hard work and sacrifice, a totem to our shared dream and love for comic books, and a relic for our unbridled determination to show you, along with the industry, what we are truly made of. Currently the book is running a Kickstarter campaign to see itself printed, following a very successful run for volume 1. If you are interested in owning a printed copy of the book, or if you just want to help us students have their hard work and sacrifice pay off, you can visit us here to contribute and learn more about the project. The comic is also available as a weekly web series that you can find at www.ultrasylvania.com.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.