Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your all-ages adventure comic book, Continental Kings! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Isai Oviedo: Thank you, Barbra! The one sentence pitch of Continental Kings is: Supernatural kings have risen from the Earth, laying claim to each of the 7 continents, and their biggest threat is a guy who couldn't even get into community college. The story is inspired by a mix of everything I grew up with, so you're going to see influences from animation and video games more than comics, actually. I wanted to tell a globe-trotting, action adventure story in real-world locations with ridiculous personalities in the kings, each representing the culture of their continent.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in both writing and illustrating the comic, and what have been some of your creative influences?
IO: Artistically, my biggest inspiration is the "godfather of anime," Osamu Tezuka, who made the Astro Boy comic. His art style was heavily inspired by the early Disney features. Considering my 2 favorite animated movies are Pinocchio and Princess Mononoke, I really wanted to have a mix of western and eastern influences. The villain of the first issue, Demo, with his cartoony bomb head, white gloves, and black-and-white color scheme is something you'd see in an old Fleischer cartoon (Betty Boop, Popeye), but, overall, the expressions of the characters are more in the style of a newspaper manga strip.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
IO: I hope readers enjoy it! The characters are the most important aspect of the story to me. One reader said she was crying by page 3, so I must be doing something right to have characters you can connect with so quickly. I hope readers can really sympathize and understand the motives of every character-even the antagonists: they want to right the wrongs of mankind, who've left the earth in the difficult state it's in today. Surprisingly, I'm not an avid comic book reader but I appreciate the power of the artform as an aspiring storyboard artist. Heck, my first graphic novel wasn't even a superhero story. It was Art Spiegelman's Maus, a retelling of his grandfather's experiences in the Holocaust. So, I feel like I'm coming at it from a unique perspective than what most comic book readers are used to. People who have never read a comic in their life before said they really enjoyed the first issue, so I feel like this is a good comic for a fresh pair of eyes into the world of comics and graphic novels. It's got the action and light-hearted comedy kids enjoy, but it’s also got deeper meanings about romance and war and self-doubt that teens and adults can relate to.
BD: Do you have a certain number of issues planned for the Continental Kings series?
IO: Each issue takes place in a different continent, so I’m shooting for 7 issues. It’s a story with a clear beginning/middle/end.
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your series into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
IO: I'd love to see Continental Kings as a series of animated shorts, which is how I originally planned to flesh out the story through story boards. The concept of defeating 7 kings and getting their abilities feels very "video-gamey," and I did actually work as a game designer for 3 years, so that would be possible, too.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
IO: I'm working on the next issue right now! Issue #1 took place in North America (Denver, Colorado). Issue #2 takes place in London, England, where Joe and a mysterious bug woman with stretchy arms go up against the next king, the Lightning Duchess, during her coronation as Queen of England and the entire continent! In the process, Joe learns a lesson about love (and bomb safety).
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Continental Kings?
IO: You can actually read the first 12 pages of the first issue for free here, and if you'd like to read the full 48-page book, Issue #1 is available on Amazon for $10. Follow me on Twitter to stay updated on when the next issue is out.