VODKA O’CLOCK 1430 with Steve Bryant
AMBER LOVE 29-AUG-2014 It’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to chat with a friend. Today you’ll hear me with STEVE BRYANT, comic artist and creator of ATHENA VOLTAIRE. It’s one of the characters I talk about a lot because she has agency and is often compared to the likes of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. I was extremely fortunate to have one of my creator dreams come true by working with Steve on a prose anthology for this character and her 1930s world.
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While Steve and I eventually get into some heavy discussion about women in comics and gaming (as characters and fans), we opened up this episode of Vodka O’Clock with wholesome chatter about pets and kids.
WRITING: Character Development
“I think that the way that I write any character, I just try to think about, am I gonna be embarrassed if [ya know] a woman or person of color comes up and buys my book and goes, ‘God, this guy’s an asshole?’ If there’s something potentially insulting, don’t do it. If there’s something you have to ask yourself, ‘gee, I wonder if this can be taken wrong?’ maybe you shouldn’t write it that way.”
Steve discussed the issues of how the original content of ATHENA VOLTAIRE when he was collaborating with someone else included some areas that Steve eventually approached differently on his own when he took over control of the property.
RAISING A BOY IN TODAY’S WORLD
It’s not often I get someone on the air that’s willing to talk about parental issues. We weren’t kids with the internet and trolls like there are today. We had schoolyard bullying. Steve has a 13 year old son and I picked his fatherly brain about what that’s like raising a boy in the internet age where women are threatened online daily.
BUFFY. That’s Steve’s answer. Introduce your kids to the series that have good character growth. Plus GILMORE GIRLS. As a father, Steve doesn’t balk at franchises that feature female characters that don’t rely on their self worth based on what the male characters say or do. This is obvious in Steve’s work on ATHENA VOLTAIRE and his influence of paranormal obstacles is clear. Mike Mignola and Joss Whedon have given us characters that value each other: Hellboy, Abe and Liz and Buffy, Willow and Xander.
“I think it’s really cool when I’ve got women readers on my book.”
We need fathers like this! We need the fathers who are in the comics, film, lit, and gaming industries to get stories into the hands of kids that show equality and compassion. What is powerful is that when you listen to Steve talk, he’s unaware that what he’s doing with characters and how he’s raising his son is perhaps something unusual. His voice shows how natural this approach is.
We know nerds love to rage. There are changes to characters that swap gender or race. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I don’t. Steve and I got to safely discuss this issue. He has a beautiful take on what’s wrong with casting Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm. Here’s Steve’s idea: he feels the wisecracking African-American secondary character has been done and isn’t groundbreaking; whereas if Marvel had cast Idris Elba as Reed Richards, the smartest man in the world, that’s how you integrate and diversify.
My own moment about the change of characters was a learned experience from other people on Twitter. Seeing the simple defense that the stories you love are still there, made the difference for me as a fan. Like Steve, I would prefer new characters but there are commercial reasons why publishers/studios need to invest in a “name/brand” rather than inventing something new. Yet, portions of the fanbase won’t get behind and support new characters.
Comics: Genius, Rat Queens, Dead Body Road, Richard Stark’s The Score, Lazarus, Velvet, The Fade Out
Steve talking about VELVET: “It’s just this perfect marriage of writing and drawing, that just… I wish I could make comics so good!”
WRITING: Constructing Mysteries and Adventure
“At one point, I realized I didn’t have enough OH SHIT! moments.”
Steve cites Robert Kirkman and Brian K. Vaughn as examples for how to make those moments in your stories. It could be a heist, action adventure period piece, or a murder mystery. All these stories have a team come together (or with detectives, they’ll seek help from an assistant or person with inside knowledge), then the mission, obstacles, fake out, twist, and final resolution.
Roller Derby? Why YES! We chatted about that too.
ORDERING ATHENA VOLTAIRE
You can order through your local comic book shop since the ATHENA VOLTAIRE 240-page hardcover book is going to be published by Dark Horse Comics and distributed through Random House for the non-comic retailers like Barnes & Noble. On Dark Horse Digital, you can read ATHENA VOLTAIRE: THE FEATHERED SERPENT is available for free.
Other samples are below: