Writer/artist Jeremy Dale has been prolific in the independent scene for almost a decade now, and while he's worked on licensed properties, he's always been striving to publish his all-ages fantasy tale comic, Skyward. After years of networking and doing the con circuit, Skyward will be published as part of the NFL Rush Zone sampling from Action Labs for Free Comic Book Day.
Dale talked to Newsarama recently all about Skyward and the trials and tribulations that came along with finally getting published. He also sent along some preview pages from the first issue, and hinted a little bit about what lies ahead for this creator-owned title.
Newsarama: Jeremy, you've been promoting Skyward for years now, how do you feel about it finally getting published through Action Lab, much less making its debut this weekend?
Jeremy Dale: It's been a few years now, yeah. I've done a lot of work doing other gigs (like Marvel's Kapow! iOS game, NFL Rush Zone, and GI JOE, among others) in order to be able to swing working on creator-owned comics full-time. It wasn't an easy path, but incredibly rewarding.
Action Lab has been amazing — it's rare to see a newer company come into the game with a solid plan, organization, and killer goals. I'm pleased to be a part of it. Add in the opportunity to launch with a Free Comic Book Day book? I'm stunned.
Nrama: You're writing and illustrating it, but can you tell us a bit about your colorist on the project?
Dale: Oh, Stephen Downer is rocking the colors on Skyward. I've admired his colors on projects for years-- I handpicked him after a long, drawn-out colorist search and couldn't be happier. He's taken my cues on what I'm looking for and seemingly gets better with every page that comes in. He's the next breakout talent, I guarantee it.
Nrama: Skyward at face value looks like a typical fantasy story, but how does something like this differ from say Battle Chasers or Sword of Sorcery?
Dale: I don't know if there is such a thing as "typical" anymore-- especially if you're looking at attracting new readers. With Skyward, I'm aiming for a much more approachable action fantasy than you might get from your typical D&D, Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones fare. I adore those and devour those properties, but I feel a book akin to Bone, Studio Ghibli, Tellos, or Legend of Zelda is a lot less represented in comics at the moment, and we could use a light story in the midst of the crossover event fever running rampant elsewhere. Skyward is me telling quirky, fun tales a reader of any age can enjoy.
That said, it's an amazing industry we have when books like Skullkickers, Fables, Battlepug, Mouse Guard, Mice Templar and the like can all coexist without bumping into each other — and all do fantastic mythic fiction (you're welcome, Bill) so well.
Nrama: So it's an all-ages story?
Dale: Absolutely. I hesitate calling it a "for kids" title, but it's definitely something you can hand to a kid without hesitation. I've had readers writing in from the ages of 5 to 75 so far, so "all-ages" is definitely appropriate.
Nrama: Can you tell us about the world of Skyward and the characters that inhabit it?
Dale: Skyward revolves around Quinn, a young boy whose life has been turned upside-down by the invasion of his homeland by the armies of the Brother Kings. He stumbles into other aimless strangers displaced by the invasion, and they come together to face off against a threat and a world more fantastic and strange than they had ever imagined.
I'm having a lot of fun designing the various villagers, creatures, monsters and other inhabitants that roam this diverse world. I have binders of them, ya'll.
Nrama: Aside from making Skyward, where else have we seen your works?
Dale: Other than the aforementioned projects like G.I. Joe, I've done work all over the place, from Image's Wildguard and Popgun to smaller press books like Miserable Dastards, After-School Agent, and video game work. Most recently I did the NFL Rush Zone comic they had at the Superbowl this year, as well as the recent trade's cover. Nothing beats doing creator-owned work, though.
Nrama: You've self-published a handful of issues already through Ka-Blam, will those issues eventually be available through Action Lab?
Dale: Fans of my pencils on previous projects (I'm looking at you, Joe fans) asked that I release pencils-only versions of my comics if i could. When it came time to self-publish Skyward while we shopped it around to publishers, these Graphite Editions worked out great. Ka-Blam has been a fantastic Print-on-Demand printer for us while we self-published this. They're hardworking gents over there, and we adore them.
That said, there are no plans at this time to release the Graphite Edition Skyward comics. From here on out, we're doing these full-color. You never know, though-- should opportunity present itself, I'd love to do more. I really like how those books turned out.
Nrama: Do you have anything else to say to your fans about what's in store for Skyward?
Dale: So, so much. I'm finishing art on number six right now, and the story is taking me places I never dreamed when I started.
Skyward is in Action Lab's NFL Rush Zone's FCBD issue this weekend, and in Previews now! Order code MAY130761 -- I hear it’s good if I say that.
Oh! And we've just lined up a who's-who of top comics talent to do alternate, retailer-incentive covers for Skyward: Mark Brooks, Gene Ha, Stepháne Roux, David Peterson, Mike Norton, Tim Seeley, Chris Giarrusso, Khary Randolph, Randy Green and more-- it's going to be the best thing ever. Seriously.