We had a chance to speak with Matthew Blake Becker, about his project Flashfire which is on kickstarter now.
Can you briefly tell us what Flashfire is about and how long have you been working on it?
Wow, Flashfire is so much. Flashfire is an atypical team based superhero open ended comic series, atypical in that; the characters don’t have secrete identities, yet they’re not celebrates, atypical in that the various members join over time not all at one catastrophic event and many many more things that break with traditional superhero stories, Flashfire is that, breaking the model to be something new and different while still being familiar. The story mainly revolves around the two main characters; Blaine Daymon (Flashfire) and Victoria Frost (Permafrost), but each of the other characters has their own time in the spotlight with their own stories and troubles. It is not a “coming of age” or “finding one’s self” story for any characters, they are just Superheroes that live normal-ish lives and do superhero things on the side. The characters define their hero counterparts, and not the other way around which is normally seen. They are people first, heroes second.
Flashfire started in late in my junior year of High School, which was 2010, so 5 years. It started as just sharing my character ideas with my friends that lunch table. In college I finally sat down a wrote the first draft of issue #1, since then it has grown into its own universe with over 40 heroes and even more side characters and villains, including 2 spin off series; Lady Sentry and Kestrel
Kickstarter just seems like the best way to get your big ideas out there and get the money you need to get them into production, don’t get me wrong I am not in this for the money, I don’t even expect to break even on this project, but I don’t really care about that. I am here to tell my stories and get them to people that love comics and superheroes.
Is this your first time?
Yes, though I have pledged to a few other projects before. And Ihave done the proper about set-up presentation, and rewards,using many other successful projects
What Role do you play in putting Flashfire together?
Creator, Writer, marketing, accounting… pretty much everything except making the actual comic… I have Edwin and Skyla for that.
Can you tell us a bit about the others involved?
Edwin Domingo is the comic’s Artist he is a 30-something free-lance comic artist from the Philippians, he is great, I met him over Deviant Art on the first big Flashfire art piece, the Team photo which can be found as a reward on the kickstarter. Since then he has made many of the Flashfire pieces I have. He has a great style I liken to the simple but well refined style of BruceTimm, and he has a lot of prior experience in sequential art that I can just hand him the script and except for a few references and minor details to characters he just does his own thing and comes out great.
Skyla Rundell also known as VenneccaBlaind, is the comic’s Letterer. She is a 23 year old freelance artist and WOW player, I found her also on DA during a Black Friday sale, and she has become one of my favorite artist and a good friend since them, she has never done any professional level lettering on the scale of a full sized comic, she has mainly done a few short WOW web comics, but she is a really quick learner and we are in near constant contact, but of course lettering is a two person job, her bubbles, my dialogue.
Do you think Kickstarter is helping the independent creator, hurting them, or not doing anything at all?
It use to be very helpful, but I am starting to wonder if it has reached a level of name recognition that the saturation that so many people are just throwing up so many projects, several sub-par projects that it is now driving away potential backers from the better ones. Then you have the shark like, advertising agencies that have set up around crowdfunding sites saying “pay them to help you fund your project”. But I digress.
If you had a choice would you like to keep on using Kickstarter or would you rather be in Previews catalog?
To me Kickstarter is for funding a project for production so it can be put into a catalog. Not every creator has the funds to produce it themselves especially if you are like me on a college student’s budget with no artistic talent to speak of. But everyone deserves to at least have their idea vetted by an audience, and Kickstarter allows that without sinking a huge amount of your personal money into it only to have it flop. Now that is not to say just throw if up there with next to nothing and hope to get funded.
Of all the rewards you have up, which is your favorite?
I like the $125 and $150 rewards and not because they are the most expensive. Those two allow the fans and follows of the comic to be a part of the comic and the universe. Getting a real person’s name and likeness into the comic lets there be a potential for a lot of diversity and realness to the comic that one person, or small team just can’t do. And come on, who would not like to say “hay I was in a comic”
What have you done so far to make Flashfire stand out from other crowdfunding projects?
Like I said this has been a 5 year project for me, while this specific issue is nothing special than what it need to be, prints, scripts, limited editions, and likeness inserts. But what it will allow me to start is getting out into the universe. This comic is not going to be 10 issues then done, I have a whole comic universe to explore, one that I hope will rival that of Marvel and DC, with 40+ heroes spread around the world alone and that number always growing, I believe it can grow to where it can. The Flashfire series itself has 3 main arcs that I am planning to have at least 100 issues for each. With the Lady Sentry and Kestrel series in the same universe and my other projects, 1 comic and 4+ graphic novels, I hope to be doing this for a long time. I am hoping people will look at not just this one issue but the entire universe it opens up for expansion.
Do you have plans to do another kickstarter for Flashfirein the future, or is there another project in the works?
My plans are to get Flashfire #1 out first, then Kestrel #1, then Lady Sentry #1, so I have a diverse selection of comics people can read that are still in the same universe, then go from there.10 issues of Flashfire are already written, I am working on more issues of Kestrel and Lady Sentry, as well as the other series “The Hells Guard” so they will come out as the fans ask for them and I get them done. If people want another Kestrel before Flashfire then that is what I will put out, if they are impartial I will just release as I finish or in that original order.
Will you be hitting any conventions with Flashfire?
Ddefinitely , but probably won’t make it to any this year as a creator. I would like to get all three issue #1s out before I start on the circuit, but time will tell, I might go with just Flashfire, I might go with just two of them. I try to stay to the small and mid-sized comic cons like my local Derby city comic con in Louisville, KY because they feel like what cons should be, a gathering place for comic lovers. And the indie creators get to do proper meet and greets with their fan and the local readers. You just don’t get that at big cons with the huge guest stars and large publishers advertising at them.
Before we go is there anything you’d like to add?
Yes, to me the comic book industry as a whole is on the precipice of taking two paths; the First is a slow painful death to extinction as an art and storytelling medium, by sticking with the things and the narrow fan base that has carried us for the last few decades, Or we can diversify our comics to grow our fan base to more diverse people. Now that is not to say we necessarily have to get rid of something. Go to the book section at Walmart. You have kids books, young adult books, Adult romance, adult fiction, adult fantasy and science fiction, etc. etc. Comic books can be like that, that is the second path we can take, the path to a new silver age of comics. And it will happen if indie creators like myself and many of my friends, and the other people you see on Facebook and in magazines like thislead the way. Changes will need to be made to the industry but we can do this.
Flashfire and my other projects are meant to reflect this idea thatIndies need to lead the way, not just follow the big two. We need to do things that the big boys won’t because they care more about their bottom line than the survival and growth of the medium. Indies have the power but we need to diversify, grow,and expand down our own path, not try to play catch-up. It is the old saying: “if you build it they will come.”
Stay indie, stay powerful, and lead the way.
Where can people reach you?
My Facebook page: Infernox comics is where you can talk to me directly: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Infernox-Comics/374495896038637
But I would also like to direct people my DA pageBlaineDaymon, if they want to look at and find out more about the Flashfire universe beyond Issue #1 and my other projects in much more detail than I can put on FB.http://blainedaymon.deviantart.com/
Thanks for your time it was really great to get to do these questions and get my story out to readers.