Writer/ Documentarian Tells UNTOLD TALES

Brandon Jerwa, the writer behind comics like Battlestar Galactica and Mighty Crusaders, has a mission before he talks to international comic creators again.

And it's turning him into a documentarian.

Image Publisher Erik Larsen

Jerwa's documentary, Untold Tales of the Comic Industry, started as a small project — a film to show international comic makers when the writer represents the U.S. State Department at an Algerian comic festival later this year.

But the quality of the interviews filmmakers conducted at Comic-Con International in San Diego have convinced him the documentary needs to be even bigger.

"I didn't expect this to happen," he said with a laugh. "But while we were in San Diego, we were really bowled over by the reaction that we were getting on camera from the people we were interviewing.

"Now we just want to make this a fuller movie, a wider-ranging movie," he said.

Jerwa and other filmmakers — including director Ali Mohsenian, and producers Tom Nord, Jessica Neher and Timothy Kurkoski — are taking the movie to Kickstarter, the fundraising website.

Writer/Artist Ben Templesmith

"The comic creators we interviewed in San Diego were super honest and forthcoming, and everything was very genuine. And we were thrilled at the way our narrative was coming together," Jerwa said. "So rather than limit ourselves to our original plan of filming in San Diego, Portland and Seattle, we decided that we would come home, start a Kickstarter to cover the costs, and try to spend a week each in Los Angeles and New York, if we could raise the money."

The goal is to raise $18,000 to cover filmmaker expenses for additional interviews at locations where Jerwa has already arranged dozens of meetings with comic creators.

"We've had a ton of comic pros — even people who worked in the '40s, and a lot of big names — reach out to us and say they'd like to be in the film," Jerwa said. "If we can meet our goal and travel to New York and L.A., we have an absolutely magnificent list of people who want to be in the film. And we already had a great list just in Seattle and Portland. So the response is turning out to be tremendous."

As Newsarama reported last year, Jerwa was among the international comic creators who were accompanied by the U.S. State Department to the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee.

High Moon writer David Gallaher

This year, the State Department is taking Jerwa on a return trip, and this time he'll take the movie along to share.

"When I visited Algeria last year, I was really struck by the differences between comics on that side of the world and what we do, and I thought this was a great opportunity to open that communication even further," he said. "So when the State Department asked if I would like to do anything special for the return trip to the Algeria, I decided to take along this documentary to share with this international audience at the festival, and really give them a look at what comics are like here."

The movie will be screened in Algeria, inviting the thousands of international attendees to view a first-hand account of the comic industry in America. "Its first viewing will be to a really wide international audience, which pleases me to no end," Jerwa said. "But that will not be the end of the project."

Jerwa is already in talks for distribution of the finished product. "I recently watched the very excellent Grant Morrison documentary in a theater, so that gives me hope for even more, once we get the material," he said. "My plan is that I'll even get some documentary on the [Algerian] festival itself to add to the conversation for the eventual finished product."

Hawk & Dove writer Sterling Gates

Anyone currently working in the comic industry is invited to contact Jerwa about a possible appearance in the film. "No one that I have asked has told me no," Jerwa said, adding that he's been pleased by the response. "But obviously, I'd like to get more people involved, if they fit with the topics we're hoping to address.

"This is not going to be an opportunity for an up-and-coming artist or writer to break into the industry. Maybe that's another documentary," Jerwa said. "The other thing that I'd like to impart is that we're not going to be taking on any sort of divisive issue. This is not the sort of thing publishers should be worried about letting their talent participate. We just want to talk about comics for the sake of educating the world about it.

"For me, this is just about celebrating comics. It's the greatest job in the world, as far as I'm concerned, and I'd like to share that with the world."

To help fund this project, visit the Kickstarter site for Untold Tales of the Comic Industry. For information about participating in Jerwa's documentary, industry professionals should contact him at brandonjerwa@gmail.com.

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