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Ask Me Anything about my comic book series Fury's Forge and Underdog Comics: the creators who brought it to life.

Underdog_Comics
Nov 3, 2017

Fury's Forge is a comic book series that is live on Kickstarter. The current Kickstarter is for printing the 5th issue (out of 9) of Fury's Forge. The first four are already printed. The Kickstarter: www.tinyurl.com/chapter5-falling

Underdog Comics is a comic book business run by high schoolers and college students. Fury's Forge, as well as other projects, are created and published by Underdog Comics.

This AMA is with Tessa Beatrice, the head of Underdog Comics and the artist of Fury's Forge, and Zack Rocklin-Waltch, a member of the Underdog Comics crew and the writer of Fury's Forge.

Five teenagers wake up in a dark room.

They’ve never met one another before.

Now they must fight their way through life-threatening obstacles in order to escape the vast, labyrinthine facility in which they have found themselves trapped. As their personalities clash and relationships ebb and flow, Eve, Conner, Anna, Jackson, and Cara must overcome their individual weaknesses, face painful memories, and work together in order to save what ultimately becomes most important to them: each other.

On the surface, Fury’s Forge is about five teens trying to escape a large and dangerous facility which becomes a veritable death-trap. There is fighting, action, and lots of running, but the story is about so much more than that. Each one of these kids is haunted by past trauma which defines their actions. They are all imperfect and must work together through their issues and flaws in order to make it out alive. The real story is about these five teenagers learning to trust each other while they grow as individuals.

Zack Rocklin-Waltch is the writer of Fury's Forge and Tessa Beatrice is the artist. We are both recent high school graduates looking to make an impact on the comic book world.

We are a part of Underdog Comics - a business run by teenagers who create comics for the underrepresented and the misrepresented. Our stories feature authentic women, ethnic minorities, the LGBT+ community, people with mental and physical disabilities, people with different religious beliefs, and everyone else because no one should be excluded. But our characters are not defined by their sexuality, race, or gender - they’re just part of who they are. Learn more about our purpose at www.underdogcomics.com/about-us

Our Current Kickstarter: www.tinyurl.com/chapter5-falling

As Me Anything about Underdog Comics, Fury's Forge, or the comics world in general!

Tessa (the artist) and Zack (the writer) are both answering questions!

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Conversation (39)

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Let's get started!

Which is your favorite character?

Nov 8, 8:21AM EST0

I love all of them, but if I had to choose, I'd say Cara. I think her character is so fun to write with and she has so much heart.

-Zack

It's hard to pick a favorite Fury's Forge character, but if I had to I would choose Eve. She was one of the first characters I ever created, she's loosly similar to me, and she's cool as heck.

-Tessa

Last edited @ Nov 8, 1:01PM EST.
Nov 8, 8:58AM EST0

How has your practice changed over time?

Nov 3, 11:02AM EDT0

If by practice you mean our business (Underdog Comics), then here's your answer:

Underdog Comics started as a school project for me (Tessa) when I was in 11th grade. I entered the school business competition, then made it past three levels of competing to nationals where Underdog Comics was in the top 3 in the country (US). After that, we got attached to Underdog Comics. Over the past two years or so, Underdog Comics has grown from a team of 2 to about 7. We have more books, more stories, two and a half Kickstarters under our belt, experience with webcomics, an awesome website and website manager (shoutout to Jalen), we've been to cons, met fans, made friends, and generally haven't stopped growing. If you ask me the same question in a month, we'll have even more new things to share with you.

-Tessa

Nov 3, 5:12PM EDT0

Where are you from?

Nov 3, 10:23AM EDT0

We are both from Massachusetts - the Boston area.

-Tessa

Nov 3, 10:38AM EDT0

Are your comic books in stores in your country?

Nov 3, 4:01AM EDT0

We have sold in very local bookstores like Bedrock Comics (which is in Eastern Massachusetts). We primarily sell on our website: www.underdogcomics.com/shop

-Tessa

Nov 3, 10:37AM EDT0

What’s your background?

Nov 2, 3:27PM EDT0

I have a background in pirate slang.

-Tessa

I have a background in goat herding.

-Zack

Nov 2, 9:30PM EDT0

Why are you like this Zack?

Nov 2, 12:33PM EDT0

Being like this is my entire brand.

-Zack

Nov 2, 5:33PM EDT1

How old were you when you started writing?

Nov 2, 11:18AM EDT0

My grandma is a published murder mystery novelist and my mom is also a writer, so I like to joke that I’ve always had writing in my veins. Not counting the extremely convoluted, almost soap opera-esque, stories I would play out with my stuffed animals and Thomas the Tank Engine toys, I first started telling stories in a more formal setting when I was four. At my pre-school, I would fill out blank books with pictures and dictate the words to an adult who would write them down on the indicated page. So I’ve been “writing” since I was four. I distinctly remember “writing” a series of these books called The Evil Rock about a rock that’s actually a robot that brainwashes an average man so that he will be her servant. Which, in retrospect, is pretty messed up for a four-year-old, but oh well. I’ve always had stories to tell and I’ve been wanting to tell them ever since I could talk.

-Zack

Nov 2, 2:14PM EDT0

What do you think is the key to comic book success?

Nov 2, 6:50AM EDT0

Keep with your work! Trust yourself and stand by the stories you want to tell. If there’s a story you’re passionate about, then work with it. Perfect it. Share it. Chances are, if you’ve put enough work into it, then other people will like it, too. The projects and stories you decide to pursue are special to you. Don’t forget that. Be bold. Be weird. Be yourself. And then people will care about what you have to say.

-Zack

I think the key to any story's success is working with another creator. It helps to develop plot by going back and forth with each other about story ideas, it helps the characters become real when you have to practice conveying them to another person, and it keeps you interested and on schedule. A good creative partner and a bit of determination goes a long way.

-Tessa

Last edited @ Nov 3, 5:19PM EDT.
Nov 2, 11:31AM EDT0

I have a story written, and pretty well developed.  Would you like to collaborated to create a Comic book? 

Nov 1, 12:31PM EDT0

We're always interested to work with other creators! Go to www.underdogcomics.com/contact-us and send us what you have! 

-Tessa

Nov 1, 2:03PM EDT0

What is the best starting point for someone that wants to pursuit a career in comics writing?

Nov 1, 2:47AM EDT0

Just start generating ideas! Comics, more than almost any other medium, are able to go as weird as you want. So no idea is too wild or too far! My advice is to just start brainstorming like crazy, developing your ideas and characters. And then when you have an outline you like, start writing! Don’t get too in your head. Editing your writing in real time does nothing but slow you down and impede your progress. You can fix things later. To get started, you just need to get words onto the page.

-Zack

Nov 2, 2:15PM EDT0

What themes do you pursuit?

Oct 31, 8:47PM EDT0

I grew up reading Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket, and Edgar Allen Poe, so I think that so many of the themes I try to tackle are in those veins of the dark and mysterious. I’m definitely fascinated by the ways children and young people tackle a world that is relentlessly dark and cruel, and how they are still able to find strength and love despite these circumstances. In this same kind of school of thought, I’m a fan of themes of loss, hope (or lack thereof), found-family, and questions of authority.

-Zack

Nov 2, 2:14PM EDT0

Who's that awesome guy you guys have doing your website? He's pretty great

Oct 31, 11:38AM EDT0

Btw this is totally not jalen 

Oct 31, 11:38AM EDT0

Oh, yeah, he's not that great. He has a tendency to eat all our chips.

-Tessa ( :D)

Last edited @ Nov 3, 5:29PM EDT.
Nov 1, 11:12AM EDT0

What is your all time favorite comic?

Oct 31, 11:20AM EDT0

Bone by Jeff Smith. It was the first graphic novel series I read, so it always has a really special place in my heart.

-Zack

My all time favorite comic has to be Rat Queens by Image  Comics. Its about four awesome fighter women in this fantasy-kind-of-d&d world. They go on adventures and kick butt and you should definitely check it out.

-Tessa

Last edited @ Nov 2, 3:29PM EDT.
Nov 1, 11:15AM EDT0

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Oct 30, 4:11PM EDT0

I see myself as a part of Underdog Comics. I hope it's still around by then and bigger than it is now. It would be really awesome if we could have an office by then and we could all eat doritos and have bagels on fridays and stuff like that. That's where I hope to be in 10 years.

-Tessa

I am so lucky to have had so many opportunities in my life and so many direction’s my life could go in. So in ten years, I legitimately have no idea where my life might be. If I could decide right now, I would love to still be doing this: writing for Underdog Comics and sharing stories with the world. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.

-Zack

Last edited @ Nov 3, 5:30PM EDT.
Nov 1, 11:13AM EDT0

Are your comics designed for adults and children?

Oct 30, 2:19PM EDT0

We strive to have comics for all ages! Though we are targeting teenager to young-adult readers, some of our biggest fans are around or under the age of 10. Some of our stories are totally appropriate for kids, and some are enjoyed by kids but may have themes/subtleties that go over kids' heads. We are working on some projects that may be a little bit inappropriate for kids (though we haven't released any of these yet). Fury's Forge is appropriate for kids, and enjoyed by adults.

-Tessa

Last edited @ Oct 30, 2:46PM EDT.
Oct 30, 2:46PM EDT0

How long have you worked with comic books?

Oct 30, 11:26AM EDT0

Zack and I have worked on Fury's Forge for almost 4 years. It took us about 3 years to complete the whole series (which is approximately 300 pages in all) and now we're working on printing it. During those 4 years of working on Fury's Forge, both of us worked together or separately on other projects that are still being published or haven't been published yet.

-Tessa

Last edited @ Nov 3, 5:34PM EDT.
Oct 30, 2:52PM EDT0

How long did it take you to create your comic book Aceblade?

Oct 30, 10:05AM EDT0

Our comic is Fury's Forge, not Aceblade. Perhaps you got lost on the AMAfeed website, sir?

But it took us about 3 years to create a 300 page comic series.

-Tessa

Last edited @ Nov 3, 5:31PM EDT.
Oct 30, 2:48PM EDT0

What inspires you the most when you create comic books?

Oct 30, 9:53AM EDT0

I think it's super important to have stories that represent underrepresented people such as authentic women, ethnic minorities, the LGBT+ community, etc.  But it's also important to have neither these characters nor the stories they're in be defined by any of these things. That's why I created Underdog Comics. We tell stories through comics because they're easier than movies, tv shows, games, etc. We, a small group of creators, can make exactly what we want the way we want. There's no mainstream media requirements or outside influence.

-Tessa

The first comic/graphic novel I ever read was Jeff Smith's Bone series and, to this day, I think it's my biggest inspiration in writing comics. From dialogue to action sequences, Bone definitely has deep roots in my style. For Fury's Forge specifically, I drew a lot of inspiration from The Breakfast Club, believe it or not. It's a great point of reference for how teenagers interact with one another. 

-Zack

Last edited @ Nov 3, 5:33PM EDT.
Oct 30, 4:03PM EDT0

Do you think it is easy to create a character people will love?

Oct 30, 12:53AM EDT0

It definitely is a challenge to get people to connect and empathize with a character. Oftentimes the best way to go about doing this, however, is to give the characters significant flaws. Humans are all flawed and, for the most part, we're all pretty aware that we're flawed. So you never want to make a character who is perfect. They're not relatable and not interesting to follow. The hard part is finding a way to balance a character's flaws with their strengths. It's different for every character, but once you find this balance, you'll get a character who is endearing, not DESPITE their flaws, but BECAUSE of their flaws.

-Zack

In comics, it's important to work closely with the writer to convey characters in a way the reader will love. Once Zack figures out flaws, quirks, characteristics, etc, it's my job to then bring them to life. Each of the Fury's Forge characters has a certain way they stand, a certain way they smile, a certain way their face shows anger, confusion, sadness. Each of them has a unique physical language that the reader can find relatable and that's what makes them lovable. 

-Tessa

Last edited @ Nov 3, 5:32PM EDT.
Oct 30, 4:10PM EDT0
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