Jacksonville artist Ryan Black was instantly hooked when he discovered his first “X-Men” comic book on a spinner rack at Lil’ Champ in the 1980s.
Black’s grandmother bought him all of his comics while he was growing up because she thought of it as him studying to be a comic artist.
Now, pursuing his greatest passion, Black seeks funding through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter.com for “Tension,” a modern mythology comic book featuring real-world obstacles. The campaign begins May 4.
“I’m creating something with a lot of heart; this is not an ironic hipster book. There are no unicorns with mustaches here,” Black said.
Black says “Tension” is special because it’s a truly independent comic that draws from the same mythological pool as Marvel and DC Comics, giving readers something different wrapped in something familiar. He said the characters are three-dimensional people and have real problems to which readers in all walks of life can relate.
The story opens with the main character Eric Evans (aka WitchHammer) being told by his boss to hunt down and neutralize his telepathic best friend Jessica Jane. Jane is being blamed for an event in Prague that left 12 people dead and hundreds injured.
Evans is employed by a government-funded black-ops agency called The American Bureau for Special Defense (A.B.S.D.), which employs super humans like Evans and Jane to defend America from super-powered terrorists.
WitchHammer’s power isn’t revealed yet, but he has the ability to absorb and harness dark matter, Black said.
For the most part there aren't a lot of independent artists creating superheroes without their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, Black said.
“I'm doing a comic book for people who have outgrown some of the Big Two's bullshit and aren't getting their superhero fix from the indies.”
“Tension” features comedy mixed with plenty of geek-centric pop-culture references, he said.
Upon discovering a comic book shop, Black said his whole world changed. It still takes him 45 minutes to pore through a comic. As an artist, Black will only read a comic if he likes the art.
He said out of all comic book characters, he identifies with Wolverine the most. “I'm short and kinda' hairy and I have a quick fuse.”
His current favorites are Uncanny X-Men and Luther Strode.
Black plans to launch “Tension” through Kickstarter, a crowd-funding project that helps to promoting and funding artists’ projects. The campaign begins May 4 for National Free Comic Book Day at Black Hive Comics in Riverside.
Black is trying to raise $2,500 in 30 days to publish the first two issues of “Tension.” Afterward, he plans to invest the profits into publishing other issues.
Funding through Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing goal, which means Black must reach $2,500 to receive any money.
When someone sees an interesting campaign they are more likely to pledge a little extra money because of the fact that if they don't, this great thing might never exist, he said.
It's always been important for me to make something out of nothing, and a big part of this whole campaign is showing people that anyone can do it, Black said.
Black said “Tension” changed his life.
“I was dealing with some pretty difficult things in my life, and I suppose it all had to go somewhere. Before I knew it, I had characters I believed in and a stronger story than anything I had ever written before.”