Jerome Walford writes:
Imagine waking up one morning and not being able to see. Like many indie creators, I can remember reading comics as a kid, and thinking it would be a really cool job. I was an art major in college, too! Everything seemed to be directing me towards that goal, but I made a lot of compromises along the way. One day I woke up and couldn’t see more than three feet in front of me. That experience was a wake-up call. It took a few more signs, but I got the message.
Both my positive childhood memories and life challenges are driving factors for me. My goal as a writer and artist is not to produce a lot of material, but to write and draw the best I can, improving at every step. It turns out that when one chooses to be consistent, the work gets better and there is more work produced! Thankfully, Forward Comix is getting some critical acclaim, which helps to affirm that I’m on the right track.
My goal is not to create diverse content. My goal is to create great content that happens to be diverse. The “diverse” labeling is unfortunate because it assumes we should create stories as part of a fad. In reality, we are simply trying to reflect the complex and rich world in which we live. For me, creating more representative stories is in my DNA because of my background, culture, and experiences. Trying to fit the mold of a “legacy” comics worldview or even the expected checkboxes in diversity stories simply doesn’t work for what we are trying to accomplish.
I also have the perspective that it’s better to do more than talk. I can spend most of my time talking about producing great content or diverse material, but it doesn’t mean much if my track record for delivering on that promise is really low. Forward Comix as a brand might not be great at explaining why we do things the way we do, but we are very good at consistently delivering strong material. The hope is that the material will speak loudly and undeniably on its own.
I have launched one campaign to fund four projects for next year. Each title provides something interesting and cool, depending on a person’s favorite kind of fiction.
The first is Revolting, which is the second book in the Curse of the Griffin series. This book will be a definitive dive into the mystical realm of Sphinx, where we meet all kinds of strange beasts, creatures, and sacred cryptids. We’ve actually introduced the missing link between high-fantasy beings and vampires, a noble line of lycans based on the feline genome. I hope it will be a compelling tale that asks the question: what is the right choice when tradition and conscience don’t match? If you like The Hunger Games, this will be a really enjoyable series to explore. The first book, Daniel’s Pride, is on Amazon, and will also be available as an add-on at the end of the campaign. Check out our first update to hear a reading from Revolting.
Nowhere Man, Volume Three is the centerpiece of our campaign. This graphic novel miniseries has been a fan favorite. We hope to do the series justice with a really big installment in the series. Nowhere Man follows Jack Maguire, an ambitious detective and son of a fallen hero cop. At a crucial point, when living in the shadow of his father’s legacy causes his life to go off the rails, he gains access to powers through future technology. This sets him on the path to becoming the first superhero of our time. This volume presents some great plot twists, which will indicate Jack’s receiving of these abilities wasn’t by accident at all. Jack must now choose whether or not to embrace his destiny — a commitment that just might cost him everything he holds dear.
Moon’s Ostrich will be an intermediate grade graphic novel set in a steampunk world. It’s about a 10-year-old girl named Moon Wright, who builds an ostrich machine to impress her estranged dad, the lead engineer on their island home. After her engineering rival attempts to steal her invention, Moon is thrust into a dangerous adventure along with a struggling journalist and brash soldier as they try desperately to avert an evil plot to trigger the first world war. This book will be quirky, fun, and hopefully inspire young girls and boys to explore the field of engineering.
We are also working on a new comic project! It’s a rare opportunity for me to work with one of my favorite artists, Caanan White (The Harlem Hellfighters, Uber, Son of Shaolin). I will focus on story development and writing, while Caanan will be on interiors. Maya Rock and Rebekah Griffin Greene will be very involved as editors. Details are under wraps until the middle of the campaign. In broad outlines, the story is a historical fantasy that follows a character who is struggling to find meaning in his unusual circumstance. There are lots of interesting directions the idea could take us, and the entire team is eager to do something special on this story concept.
If you were to ask, “why should people care?” I would say, people are thirsty for really good stories; the demand is definitely there. I see demand and “people caring” as being linked. I want us to tap into that connection. Our first goal is to produce excellent work, from concept, to writing, to artistic expression. I may not be Neil Gaiman or Jim Lee, but you can be sure whatever comes out of Forward Comix will be created at a high level — beyond the expectation for a tiny publisher.
When someone reads a book published by Forward Comix, there should be an expectation of a challenge, yet also an embrace. We want to challenge the average comic and YA novel reader to explore the world of small press publishers, starting with Forward Comix. You will not only find good work, but you might also discover content that speaks to you in a more relatable way. Honestly, I often feel like an outsider in publishing and other life arenas, but I channel that into many of my stories. If you know what that feels like, Forward Comix welcomes you and is a good companion for your emotional journey.
I decided to call this our “Forward Into Fall” campagin. After five years as a small publisher, we have learned a lot. I have personally learned a ton about myself and the industry. There have been many of ups and downs. We had a great run this past year. I want us to build on that momentum and just really go for it in 2018. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that I need to have a bigger vision of what’s possible and that I can’t achieve it on my own.
The main goal of this campaign is to take Forward Comix to the next level — to be a fully operational small press publisher. We are looking to set a slate for the upcoming year and deliver on it by bringing together a qualified team and paying them, too. We want to do this correctly — not just creatively, but on the business side, too. Kickstarter presents an easy way to get the process going by crowdfunding a portion of that cost, as well as bringing fans into the creative process. I hope this builds a lot of excitement months before these projects make their premiere.
The purpose is to move forward into this fall and the upcoming year with boldness. We’re hoping fans will join us. That grassroots support is like nothing else and would mean a great deal. Check out the Kickstarter and back the project of your choice. You can also choose a package — sending you each new book as it’s released.
Check the Kickstarter campaign: http://kck.st/2hASlIf
Jerome Walford is a writer and artist of independent comics. He is also the Founder of Forward Comix. After only five years in operation, Forward Comix has produced and published six books in its award-winning signature series, “Nowhere Man”, as well as three pilot titles, a fantasy literary novel named “Daniel’s Pride”, and the highly successful “Gwan Anthology,” nominated for two Glyph Comics Awards and winner of a gold medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.