Interview - Brandon Barrows & Ionic

The space explorer is a profession that we may see more use for if Curiosity keeps up the awesome work. In the meantime though, we have to rely on stories centering around the person. Stories like Voyaga by Brandon Barrows and Ionic.

The duo want to get the word out about the book and were awesome enough to answer a few questions about the upcoming book.


Omnicomic: The two of you previously collaborated on Jack Hammer. Is that what prompted the pairing for Voyaga?

Barrows: Ionic is my go-to guy for art, so yes! Originally, a different artist worked on it (you’ll note Rudolf Montemayor did the prologue art), but when I decided to continue the story, he wasn’t available so I, of course, thought of Ionic.

Ionic: I'm not fully sure what happened with the last artist, but one day Brandon asked if I'd be interested in finishing Voyaga, and I said sure!


Omnicomic: Where did the concept for Voyaga come from?

Ionic: Deferring to Brandon...

Barrows: Actually, it started with a single panel, the scene in the prologue with the view of earth from space. It just popped into my head, almost exactly as it was drawn, and I wrote down that panel immediately.

After that, I knew I had to find out what lead to it and what happened after. The initial story, what became the prologue, just flowed out of my fingers after that and the longer story grew from it.


Omnicomic: What can you tell us about the character of of Dean Kirkland?

Ionic: Personally I think Dean is just a regular guy doing what any of us would in the same situation, trying to turn a strange new situation into one of exploration.

Barrows: He is the quintessential, all-American good guy. I wanted the hero of the book to be very much the square-jawed, man’s man hero in the style of the 1950s. I also wanted him to be a little bit na├»ve, perhaps because he’s too willing to look for the good in everyone, and be something of a fish out of water trying to evolve into his new world.


Omnicomic: The book seems to have a John Carter or Buck Rogers feel to it. Is that something you were going for? Creating a sense of loneliness and being an outsider in a foreign world?

Barrows: Very much so. Voyaga is my homage to classic science fiction and the world of the sci-fi and fantasy pulps (the same way Jack Hammer is to detective fiction). At the same time, it’s also influenced by several books I love, such as Bill Messner-Loebs’s Journey and Mark Shultz’s Xenozoic Tales, which are two of the finest adventure comics ever published.

I wanted Dean Kirkland’s journey, no pun intended, to be very personal and one of self-exploration and growth as much as external exploration, similar to Wolverine McAllister’s in Journey and I wanted the world to feel as epic and alien, if not as populated, as the future Earth of Xenozoic Tales.

Ionic: From the art side I try my best to push the feeling of Dean being much smaller in this new world of his. I like the idea of him being very alien to his own world... and finding new ways to convey that visually is fun.


Omnicomic: Why do the art for Voyaga in black and white?

Ionic: Honestly I would have loved to color it, thats actually the main reason why I transitioned the story into more of my own style which makes things easier for me to color. But at the end of the day those things aren't up to me.

Barrows: The world of Voyaga is intended to be stark and sharply “other”. It’s a world that was severely damaged and, while it’s recovering, still bears a lot of scars. The early chapters of the book have an intentional Twilight Zone feel to them, a man alone in a strange world, and the lack of color heightens that effect.


Omnicomic: Many of the page layouts have the panels presented in different formations, with some overlapping. Can you explain your thought process behind laying the pages out this way?

Ionic: Hmmm... I guess I just find it adds more visual interest not only in each panel but with the overall page. I feel it kinda looks like photos on a table telling the story of someones vacation. I've never been a big fan of the super simple page layouts where panels are just perfectly aligned and setup like bricks on a surface.


Omnicomic: Where does the Voyaga universe go from here? Is this the start of a longer story? Or just a single story you really wanted to tell?

Barrows: It’s a really a world we can tell almost any story in, which is both awesome and a little daunting. I have a number of ideas for a new story arc, but it’ll take some time to compose them into something meaningful.

Now that Dean has become somewhat accustomed to the new status quo on Earth, however, it’s definitely time to shake things up (as readers will see a bit of in the “Interlude” chapter at the end of the book).


Omnicomic: What's the book's current release date?

Barrows: Diamond currently has it scheduled for an October 31st release. It should also be available digitally around the same time.


Omnicomic: Where will Voyaga be available for purchase? What should readers to ensure they can get a copy when it's released?

Barrows: Anywhere that sells comics should have it. I’d strongly recommend someone who wants to guarantee they get a copy order the book online at Things From Another World.

If you prefer to order from your local comic shop, you can ask them to order it for you using Diamond code AUG120747. The book is on page 234 of August issue of Diamond’s Previews under “AAM/Markosia”.

Unfortunately, many retailers won’t order books for independent publishers automatically, the way they would from the Big Two and Slightly Smaller Three, so readers and fans need to make sure they tell their retailers they want an independent book to ensure the retailer orders it for them.


Omnicomic: What's your convention schedule looking like for the rest of the year?

Ionic: I'm actually working as a full time Concept artist in the game industry so getting out to conventions is very tricky for me. I'm hoping to make appearances some time in the near future when my schedule permits it.

Barrows: I actually have a signing at Double Midnight Comics in Manchester, NH on August 18th. It’s a 50th birthday party for Spider-Man, with game tournaments, a huge comics sale and a food drive for the local food bank. It’ll be a blast. The store’s site is www.dmcomics.com.

My next full-on convention, and probably last of the year, is Super Mega Fest in Framingham, Massachusetts the weekend of November 17th and 18th. It’s a HUGE con that draws a lot of comics fans and pros, and usually a few dozen TV and movie personalities. The con’s site is www.supermegafest.com.


Omnicomic: Anything you want to plug while you have the floor?

Barrows: Well, I have a story in this year’s volume of FUBAR, the award-winning zombie anthology. The preview of the book will be out in September and includes my story with Alex Diotto entitled “The Greater Good”, about the Spanish American War. The full version will be available around Christmas through Diamond. FUBAR’s website is www.fubarpress.com if someone would like more details.

I also wrote two stories each for Grim Crew Comics’ two new graphic novel anthologies Winter’s Eye (all involve the mystical item of the same name, the way the “Loc-Nar” gem functions in the original Heavy Metal film) and Kidthulhu Presents: Telly Time, an 80s movie/tv show themed anthology in which every store is in the style of an 80s tv or film genre. I believe both books are due out in November.

Grim Crew’s website is www.grimcrew.com. for additional details.

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