Welcome back to the latest installment of Newsarma’s Wide World of Webcomics, our continuing look at the best of the web! Today, we introduce you to an alternate world full of war, mechs, danger and carrot gin with Golden Campaign.
Available at www.goldencampaign-crom.com, Golden Campaign is one of the most unique and unique-looking strips we’ve covered in this series so far – filled with absurd humor, the threat of violence and an elaborate merging of visual styles and storytelling genres. We talked with Christian Ortiz, the artist and co-writer, about the strip.Newsarama: Christian, tell us a bit about Golden Campaign.
Christian Ortiz: Golden Campaign is about a young boy who aspires to be a tattoo master, and like many of us at some point has to choose the paths in his life into adulthood. All of this (happens) while travelling in a dystopian world where semi-modern technology and medieval brutality mixes up among countries and empires who fight and conspire against each other to rule the land and hold all existing technologies.
You'll find mechs, bastard swords, machine guns and tattoo monks among other things.
Nrama: What was the inspiration for the story?
Ortiz: The inspiration? Well, I initially wanted to tell a story about my life as a 16-year-old travelling alone to a new country making a life for myself, but somehow I felt adding some swords, mechs and other passions of mine wouldn't hurt the story, and perhaps make it more interesting to other people.
Characters and events in the story are somehow related to events in my life, but I never joined a mercenary group or anything like that.
Nrama: Thank goodness for that! Why did you decide to do this online?Ortiz: We are part of a generation who grew up with these technological capabilities, and ignoring them and not using them to our advantage would be a crime. I wanted to give my story to as many people as possible, and for free.
I want readers to love Golden Campaign for what it is, and to share it with as many like-minded people as possible.
Nrama: What were some of the challenges in creating this alternate world for the story?
Ortiz: The challenges? Well, I did want to mix old and new, and apply some of my love for history. I had to set a time limit as to how modern technology can be. The limit at the moment is (the) 1940s, so you can't find anything that is more modern beyond that period.
(I) also had to set some technology rules such as the lack of fuel in the land, and that's why they still use big animal(s) to propel their transportation.
To have fun, I added very fictitious but slightly plausible things like the carrot gin and the carrot beer, which readers always mention to me in emails. I guess I'm going to have to come up with an explanation of how to make carrot gin.Nrama: Tell us about your artistic process for creating the strip -- it's got a very distinct, watercolor type of look. I was also curious if the pages were hand-lettered, they sort of look like that.
Ortiz: The process is very simple – I read the script, I let it sink in my head, and then I start sketching. Once the sketches make sense, I draw everything with my blue pencil on a clean page, then ink it and scan it to have it ready for the coloring in Photoshop.
The hand-lettering is all carefully done separately by my kick-ass and talented wife Alice Mazzilli, and then I scan it and use it where I need it. she did the main title and all the other calligraphy bits.
Nrama: What were some of your biggest influences, both in writing and art?
Ortiz: Well, I'm not a writer, I just really like great narratives. One of my biggest influences on that area are Akira Kurosawa's films, which are simple and full of archetypes, and yet enriched of complex characters who carry the stories through.
My artistic influences are long so I'm going to stick to comic book artists for this one: Italian Illustrator Gipi, Brandon Graham, Ashley Wood, Cyril Pedrosa, Tayou Matsumoto, Duncan Fegredo and Mike Mignola.Nrama: How does your collaboration with Daniel Martin work in creating the strip?
Ortiz: Well, once I wrote the story and started a few test pages, I decided I needed a co-writer who could put everything in a more lineal way and bring more narrative to my loose ideas and characters. Martin and I have Skype meetings so he can have a better understanding of what I'm writing, and ultimately so he can spot holes in the story etc.
He rewrites the pages, inserts characters that we discussed, and then sends me everything written in a sort of novel form which I always enjoy reading as it helps me visualize things as I read.
Nrama: What's fun about doing a story with mercenaries and swords and giant robots and stuff?Ortiz: Are you serious? What’s not fun about a story with mercenaries, swords and giant robots? I'd say drawing and writing Golden Campaign is like when I was nine and I would take all my toys out to make stories and play. I think that as long as it's fun and stimulating for me, it will come through the pages to the reader.
Nrama: I'm also going to have to ask -- so how much role-playing do you play? Because I definitely get the influence of RPGs, collectible card games and video games in this.
Ortiz: (laughs) Busted! I have to say I did spend many a nights role-playing with my childhood friends, and the one thing that has never stopped is video games, which is probably why everyone who reads it can feel the RPG mood of heading on quests and finding items in Golden Campaign.
Nrama: What's coming up in the storyline?
Ortiz: Chapter two is already written, and just needs to be revised by Martin before I can start drawing. Let's just say that Monty (main character) will find himself in the middle of puberty and realizing that the world is not black and white, that there are not bad and good guys…there is always a grey area.
His experiences will start shaping his personality a lot more, and the overall story will get broader as it gets deeper in the politics of the land with the mech presence.
Nrama: How long do you see this running, ultimately?
Ortiz: I have four chapters planned. But as we are speaking there are backstories coming up from different characters within the story that could be really good as a volume itself.Nrama: Something I'm asking everyone in this series -- what do you feel are some of the unique opportunities that have arisen for both larger companies and individual creators on through new delivery systems such as iPads and smartphones, and what can creators and companies do to better take advantage of these opportunities?
Ortiz: The unique opportunities are that we now have a greater reach, and is not only in the hands of those with money or influence but in the hands of everyone, giving readers greater choice and freedom to find all sorts of material.
Nrama: What are some other books/strips/creators you're currently enjoying right now?
Ortiz: I've been re-reading King City, and also reading a Taiyo Matsumoto book called The Samurai who Sold his Soul, which has only been translated from Japanese to Spanish and French. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Brandon Graham's Multiple Warheads.Nrama: What's next for you?
Ortiz: I'm planning to make chapter 1 of Golden Campaign available on mobile devices at some point next year.
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Ortiz: I'd like to mention that the first edition of Golden Campaign will only be 100 numbered copies and will be sold through the main site. The whole of Chapter One can still be read on http://goldencampaign-crom.com/.
Join the Golden Campaign on its website!
Next: KC Green gives us two tickets to the Gunshow! And coming up: Wander, The Meek, Polar and much more!