New Comic Insider: Celflux


Celflux, ASHCAN Winner For Best Newcomer, Nominee For Best Series
Dixie Ann and Everard McBain are a writer/artist couple from Trinidad and Taobago, and will be publishing their first full comic, Celflux later this year. Celflux tells the story of  Okira, a young priestess who becomes the leader of a powerful group of heroes tasked with saving the world. This comic comes with a diverse mix of characters and genres. It’s science fiction, but in a futuristic fantasy world of powers and magic. Already having been nominated and won awards for best new comic series, Celflux is the newly released title you should be reading this year. Bam Smack Pow had the opportunity to sit down with the couple to discuss Celflux and their future aspirations.

BSP: How long have you been involved in comics?

Everard: As long as I can remember, I have always been infatuated with drawing. I always tell the story of how I was often scolded in school — and by my father and my teachers — for drawing cartoon characters in my school exercise books. Super Friends, Space Ghost, The Herculoids were some of my favorites. They saw it as idleness and time wasting. My mother was the one, in her wisdom, who for my birthday gave me a gift of a sketch pad and a Flintstones coloring book and instructed me to exercise my creativity in those rather than my school books. Thus began my graphic design career.

(True story.)

In the 1980s, I fell in love with comic books. I collected many of them over the years and was fascinated not only by the fantastic artwork but the characters and stories that the images brought to life. One that comes to mind is Strikeforce: Morituri, which was created by writer Peter B. Gillis and artist Brent Anderson. I was fascinated by the realism of the characters even though they had special abilities. I thought to myself back then how cool it would be if I could create my own comic book with my own characters and my own story. I tried to do just that. I created some very crude drawings in lined exercise books. I had continuing issues and it seemed to entertain my schoolmates, so that was cool.

We decided to start creating comics in September of 2013. We officially became part of the industry when our first book, Celflux issue #1, was published.

BSP: What’s your favorite comic?

Everard: That would have to be Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. The book, as well as the story behind the book, had a big influence on me growing up. I’ve loved it since the first day I came across it. Spawn taught me that I could create my own characters with their own stories, and that I didn’t have to just draw characters that already existed.

BSP: When did you decide that writing is your passion?

Dixie Ann: I’ve always loved reading novels. I got the habit from my mother. We didn’t have much when I was growing up, but I remember my mother always reclining with a good book. So from a very early age, I would follow her lead and read novels, and I still do up to this day. I’ve lost count of how many books I have read over the years. I never really read comic books growing up. I had nothing against comics, I just never had the opportunity to read them as I did with novels. I enjoyed immersing myself in the words and visualizing the scenes in my mind. Enjoying the personalities and personal interaction of the characters in a story. Conflicts, resolutions, villains, protagonists, all the good stuff.

I work in the field of accounts and I never considered myself a writer or thought about writing my own stories until I met my husband. We both shared a love for cartoons, anime, and movies. All that movie watching opened my mind to the possibilities of creating my own stories. When Everard shared with me the characters that have been with him since he was a child, I actually got attached to them and quickly saw them as personalities who had stories we could tell. It was a whole new world, and it was a lot of fun learning and discovering.

BSP: Can you give a brief synopsis of Celflux?

Dixie Ann: A young priestess named Okira lives an ordinary and mundane life with the feeling that she is meant for something special. She finds out one day that her feeling is right, and with the help of a disjointed group, she must save her world from total destruction.

BSP: What was the inspiration for Celflux?

Dixie Ann: The inspiration for the story comes from a melting pot of world views, conspiracy theories, philosophy and New Age beliefs. The book examines themes that range from the possible link between science and spirituality and the next stage of man’s evolution. It’s set in a fictional world but can easily mirror our present world in terms of events and the direction our world is headed in. We took a look at our world and the problems facing it, and we built the world to mimic our current world and basically put forward our mythology about that world.

BSP: What was the inspiration for the main characters?

Everard: The inspiration for the characters comes from a collage of the people groups of the world. Each character can represent a particular set of people groups. For example, Ahoteh was created from Asian, South American and American Indian influences. Shandrita’s influences are Arab, Gypsy and Russian Orthodox. Samantha has British royalty, European and wealthy oligarchy influences. Raymond was created with impoverished and marginalized African descendants in mind. Stephen represents Transhumanists, Atheists and those who believe strictly in science. Their personalities come from aspects of our own personalities and the personalities of people around us. The main character, Okira, has her inspirations in the traditional, tribal peoples all over the world. Her personality is modeled after the strong, benevolent, self-sacrificial women of color that I’ve had in my life for as long as I can remember. My wife, my mother, my sister, as well as my wife’s mother, are all strong black women, so our main protagonist had these qualities.

BSP: How did you both decide on the particulars of the artwork? How did it help shape the vision for the story?

Everard: That was a lot of work. We created the look and feel of the characters based on the people groups they represented. We did a lot of research into the culture and garments of the various people groups and then worked on putting the looks together. We’ve gotten a really good response to the costumes, in particular to Okira’s outfilt. I’ve heard some folks saying they might think about dressing as her for a comic con. That would be really cool and awesome.

Putting the artwork together helped us design the world we envisioned for Celflux. We see it almost like Earth in a parallel universe, one in which advanced technology exists alongside traditional beliefs and practices.

BSP: What were some of the difficulties or challenges you experienced while creating this comic?

Dixie Ann: The reality is that neither of us had any experience in either field. I read a lot of books, but that by no means made me a professional writer. Everard could always draw, but he was by no means a professional comic book artist. Not only that, it’s been years since he picked up a pencil to draw anything. So for both of us, there was some hard work to be done in terms of getting our skill level up. We did a lot of research and still do, because there’s still a lot of work to be done. One person said Celflux is an “ambitious” venture, and that is so true. We were getting into an industry full of very talented people. People way more talented than us. We could not settle for just putting anything out there, so we went to work on developing a good product. We fell short in many respects, and we’re just looking at it as things we need to work on to make Celflux better. If we didn’t really love these characters and this story, we would have stopped even before we got started.

The other thing that’s difficult is getting the word out. Social media makes it easier, but it’s by no means easy. We have to do a lot of work to make people aware that Celflux is out there. That why we appreciate it so much that you’ve granted us this interview. It’s a priceless opportunity for folks to hear about Celflux.

Everard: I second that. We can’t thank you enough.

BSP: Where do you hope to see the success of Celflux a year from now?

Everard: Our hope for Celflux is a wider distribution. We self-published under a print on demand model, so it’s only when folks order our book from one of the vendors that it gets printed. It makes publishing accessible, but it’s a bit pricey. A lot of people have been requesting that we get the books in comic book shops, so we’re working towards that. In a year’s time, we hope to see Celflux in local comic book shops, either through a larger publisher or we ourselves getting the finances needed to print the books and ship them ourselves. That’s our goal at this time: more awareness of Celflux and the books in local shops.

BSP: Can you provide any advice for those looking to write for independent comic book companies?

Dixie Ann: Don’t get into making comics unless it’s something you love. Don’t do it for money. Don’t do it for fame. Do it because you love it. Do it because you love comics and you want to tell stories. If you do it for the money, you’ll be seriously disappointed. There are many other talented creators out there doing exactly what you are doing and who are also trying to make it big. The reality is, unless you are lucky and become and an overnight sensation, you more than likely will be at it for years before anyone even knows your name. So let your motivation be your love for what you are doing. That will sustain you.

BSP: What can fans expect from you in the future?

Everard: We’re currently working on Celflux issue #3 and it’s carded for a late August release. When we did Celflux, we had no plans to work on any other books. However, we’ve since realized that we have quite a few stories to tell, and with the lessons learns from publishing Celflux, we’ve decided to do additional books. We have three other main titles in development that will be announced soon. But Celflux is our first priority. So yes, folks can look out for more titles from us in the future.

You can find the Celflux team at the Celflux website, and on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. They also have a really great stop motion preview on Celflux on Youtube.  If you loved the art in Celflux, you can also check out art consulting company GEMGFX.

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