Ladies and Gents,
Here’s a draft of the cover from the second volume of Valerie Finnigan and Richard O’Hara’s forthcoming graphic novel of aerial action in Desert Storm.
Well, it’ll be forthcoming if enough people subscribe to Valerie and Richard’s Indiegogo campaign, which they haven’t yet. The video is pretty dreadful, and frankly, we’re a little bit old for comic books… but the description below makes it sound awfully interesting.
Based on the journal of the late Maj. Gen. David Sawyer, Tiger on the Storm is a comic book miniseries honoring the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing and their service in Operation: Desert Storm. Two of the creators involved in Untold Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan reunited to collaborate on this project- Valerie Finnigan (Korean War, vol. 2, Why Not? Presents….) and penciller/inker Richard O’Hara (Second Dawn, Futurians Return). Just in time for the 25th anniversary of Desert Storm, you can also join in, help cover the expenses of creating and printing these books, and see that this part of history is never forgotten.
Funds raised beyond what will cover those costs will go to Heroes Fallen Studios, a non-profit dedicated to providing a safe, nonjudgmental forum for veterans and their families to share their stories and educate the general public.
via Tiger on the Storm – An Illustrated War Journal | Indiegogo.
This sounds like it’s a worthwhile thing for the vet community to get behind, especially those vets of the US Air Force (a great alternative to military service!). But when we came across this, nobody had subscribed yet.
Why, we’re not sure. Maybe because by usual crowdfunding standards, the video’s kind of lame.
There’s now one supporter on the clock. Please forward this link to your Air Force and A-10 fan community friends.
Valerie and Richard were kind enough to submit to email interviews. We have no idea what to ask graphic novel creators, so we guessed. They answered, instead of blowing us off, so we can’t have been too far off.
First, before we get to the Q&A, Valerie has a correction:
The book is happening no matter what. Issue number one is in print right now. The difficulty is getting a quality print run when I’m pretty much self funding the project on the budget of a disabled former emergency responder.
And a comment:
There have been previous attempts at crowdfunding this book which have garnered various degrees of support from vets, history buffs, and even a few comic book fans. Setting a donation jar out at events like Salt Lake Comic Con has proven to generate a lot of excitement, too. But yes, everyone’s on a tight budget.
OK, here are our questions (if they’re lame, it’s because we really don’t know what to ask graphic-novel creators) and Val and Richard’s answers:
What got you interested in doing this kind of art in the first place?
Valerie: I’d been interested in writing as long as I was able to read, which is as far back as I can remember. My parents raised me on a steady cultural and literary diet full of heroes, adventures, and grist for the creative and intellectual mill. Comic books became my preferred medium for writing because envisioning how a scene is supposed to appear on a page poses a greater challenge to me than writing the same thing as a short story or novel. Besides, Spider-man, the X-Men, Sgt. Rock, and so forth look a lot better as comic book characters than as characters of a novel. I also enjoy the teamwork that comic book creation requires, especially since I do not draw.
Richard: I started reading comics in 7th or 8th grade. I started with John Romita Jr’s run on the X-men and collected back to the first Cockrum run.
Do you have a formal education in the arts? Or, more generally, how did you learn?
Valerie: I nearly obtained a degree in music with an emphasis in opera and musical theater before ditching all that for a career I found more useful and heroic in nursing care and emergency medical services. From my experiences in theater, I was able to get a pretty good understanding of the mechanics of script writing. Writing a script for a comic book is a little different than writing for stage or screen, but it wasn’t too big of a stretch for me to make.
I also learned about commitment to research, the importance of personal accounts in what could otherwise be very dry academic reading, and the impact simply listening to people and doing their stories justice from one semester when the English Lit textbooks never arrived. Instead of book work, we were to conduct an ethnography study. I chose to write about homeless kids living in the Boise area, where I lived at the time. Up until then, I never felt prouder than when one of the kids I interviewed got on her feet and secured enough in financial aid to become a social worker and devote her life to helping other kids in the streets
Richard: Yes, I went to Clemson, and the Univeristy of North Texas. I currently teach art to Middle and High school students in High Point, NC.
So what’s the balance between native talent and learned talent?
Valerie: Talent, whether native or acquired is like a muscle. Use it or lose it.
Richard: Talent helps, but without hard work, talent is meaningless. One has to develop the skills and work at it. Walt Simonson recently posted “I think I might have this hand thing down, almost.” The guy is a master, but he still isn’t happy with it. That’s what makes it work. You always have to attack where you feel weak.
To what or to whom do you attribute your interest in our troops, vets and the war?
Valerie: Oh, where to begin? I’m an Air Force brat, and every branch of the military (including the Coast Guard!) is represented in my family and circle of friends. I have to confess, though, that I took them for granted until 9-11. The sound of those hundreds of PASS alarms in the rubble of the World Trade Center is the worst sound I’ve ever heard. As soon as I could after that, I tried to enlist. Nothing came of that but a medical DQ, but I’m not letting that stop me from trying to help by at least sharing true stories and educating the civilian public about our own history.
My own interest only increased after a particularly nasty emergency incident cost me full mobility, nearly cost me my life, and granted me some first-hand understanding of what PTSD can do to a person and how important it is to listen without judging and keep each other motivated on our often sleepless journeys.
How do you find collaborators to work with?
Valerie: I’ve been very fortunate. Social networking has helped, but oftentimes, mutual friends play an important part. If I see someone’s work- say, a page of sequential art- and I think it would suit a story I’m doing, I’ll ask them if they’d want a job. However, it helps to know something about them personally, like if they can turn in quality work on a tight deadline. Richard and I had both worked previously on Untold Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan, and he came highly recommended by a mutual friend of ours, Paty Cockrum, who used to work in the Marvel Comics bullpen of old.
Richard: Valerie Finnigan I met through Paty Cockrum and Clayton Murwin. We worked on Untold stories from Iraq and Afghanistan, 1, and the unpublished 2, as well as a start-up for untold stories from 9/11. But if someone were trying to break into the industry, I’d advise, go to cons. Go to small presses there, talk to Artists, ask questions, get critiques. Lots of critiques.
What question do you wish somebody would ask — and what’s the answer?
Valerie: What’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything? 42.
Richard: “What are you going to do with all those lottery winning O’Hara?” I’d start a comic press, a funny idea Paty Cockrum and I kicked around, ‘OFC’ comics, y’know, we’d say it meant ‘Official’ but it would actually be ‘Old Fart Comics’, and in so doing, we’d have a mag or two that was for old pro’s to do work in that they kept rights, sort of like Creepy or Vampirella used to be.
As far as we know, Richard has not yet won the lottery, so please go to Indiegogo and support this project.
Update: Come on, folks. They’re at 1% with 40 days to go. 152 of you have read this post (not counting the even larger number who read it on the front page, we think; we get ~6000 unique visitors a day). These are hard working artists, and there’s probably someone you know who would enjoy their graphic novel. (Maybe if it’s successful enough, there will be a “posable action figure,” for those of you guys… heh). Don’t make us go back and donate again!