I’ve been attending comic book conventions since 2006 as a fan, but in 2011 I attended my first shows as a professional, promoting my comics Matinee Eclectica (more on this later in the week) and a short story in CLiNT Magazine Both books were clearly aimed at the more mature crowd and did very well amongst folks over the age of 14. Unfortunately, for kids younger than 14 (a group I never tended to notice at shows I attended as a fan), I had nothing. This was a bummer.
After those shows I started to mull over this wasted opportunity and decided that I was going to write a comic book that was meant for all ages, but would be accessible and appealing to kids who might not be as interested in the more “mature” work that I had to offer. Out of this came the fantasy epic, Oren Takes Flight.
Oren Takes Flight is the story of Oren, a young boy that has grown up in the secluded village of Puddlewump. Everyone in Puddlewump is content with their isolated lives in the quiet village and have very little desire to venture out of the valley they call home. Everyone that is, except Oren. Spurred on by the books that he has voraciously read as a child, Oren wants nothing more than to seek out adventure in the lands beyond the valley. He wants to be an adventurer. He wants to discover new cultures. He wants to be free from the shackles of his small-village life. Unfortunately, his father, the Mayor of Puddlewump, wants to train him to become the next Mayor (a life which will undoubtedly require him to stay in the valley forever).
Without giving too much away, while completing the incredibly boring town census (as part of his Mayoral training), Oren meets the eccentric hermit Kenzo, who is the only person in Puddlewump that was not born and raised in the valley. Before long the two set off on an unforgettable adventure, crossing paths with dragons, fairies, robots, and dwarves that ride giant badgers.
For this ambitious and epic miniseries (pitching to publishers very soon), I am very lucky to be working with British artist BenHolliday. We met on Twitter through various mutual friends and immediately hit it off. Ben’s ability to imbue every single panel with a sense of raw wonder makes him the perfect co-creator for this project. We immediately clicked and the pages that been coming in are proof that Ben was meant to draw this book.
We are joined by my good friend Adam Wollet on letters and colorist Joaquin Pereyra. I was lucky to bring these guys in as a package deal (they had been working together on other projects) and they completed our Fantastical Foursome to bring this comic to life. Much like Ben, Adam and Joaquin are incredibly epic and bring more than just words and colors to the table—they are both storytellers in their own right and they have incredible chemistry with Ben.
I’ll admit that I am very openly wearing my influences on my sleeve with this book. My loves of Disney’s animated films (I grew up on Disney and that love affair has permeated my entire life—I ever wrote my Honors Thesis in college on Disney films), the storytelling of Pixar, and the sheer imagination of Miyazaki are openly celebrated in this book. Equally so, this comic is heavily influenced by my favorite all-ages adventure comics from the brilliant Bone by Jeff Smith to Skottie Young’s recent Oz adaptations and beyond. My goal is to make a book that can be loved by anyone from ages 5 to 500 (I mean, if science ever makes it possible for people to live to 500) and so I tried to think of my favorite stories that transcend the ages of their intended audiences.
Oren Takes Flight is in the closing stages of our pre-production work right now. The art team is wrapping up the final pages and I’m preparing the pitch packet as we speak. Within the next few weeks we will be shopping the project around to publishers. Hopefully sometime soon I’ll be able to announce the publisher will can bring Oren, Kenzo, and their friends to the masses!