Starlite is a fantastic new comic series by Travis Webb and Greg Smith, with art by Brett Weldele, focusing on two child superheroes who have since grown up and out of their former glory. It’s an emotional work, taking a deep look at how we handle our past and the means and methods we use to cope with what once was, and what could be once again. The first three issues have successfully completed their Kickstarter campaigns, hitting record funding with issue three, and looks to have a bright future ahead for issues four through seven of this limited series.
I’ve been fortunate enough to know Travis for twenty years now, so I was incredibly proud of this series and seeing how much of his own heart and soul he poured into this book. I was able to take some time with him and co-writer Greg Smith - best known for his work on Junior Braves of the Apocalypse (now a tabletop RPG!) with Oni Press - and talk about Starlite, and how their lives and experiences contributed to this heartfelt story.
I’m really curious to know what is the origin of this story - I understand it was originally going to feature characters from an existing Marvel property (which, for legal reasons, I cannot name), but it has obviously evolved since then to become something wholly unique and stand on its own. So what made you want to tell this story about these characters in this way?
Travis: Yeah, it’s derivative of a Marvel story originally, and that comes from when I used to submit to Marvel, twenty one years ago. And I’d get declined all the time, but I submitted an idea where some kid superheroes from the Marvel universe were more grown up, and put them out as teenage heroes with more teenage problems. This was back in 1999 and 2000, but then, years later, Brett and I were talking and he said “That was a really good idea you had, but you should make it more real.” I thought about it a little bit, and I realized I’m over the idea of deconstructing heroes, you know? I mean...how many times can we read about an analogue of the Justice League, where Superman’s an asshole? That story’s been pounded into us, repeatedly for the last fifteen years, so I don’t want to do that. And when we talked about it and I thought about it a little more, I asked myself “Can we reconstruct deconstructed superheroes?” And with the older issues, Greg and I tried to keep that part kinda quiet, but now that we’re into issue three, I think it’s becoming apparent that that’s where we’re going. So that’s what you can expect to see in issues four, five, six, and seven - that, kind of, reconstruction of Chris and Sara from their deconstructed beginnings at the beginning of the story.
And it really started at Burningman, where Brett and I were out in the heat and the desert, and I told Brett about this idea of reconstructing superheroes, and the idea that, as a superhero, you have to save people -- but what if you save someone you don’t necessarily like? And we didn’t make them evil, but I think a big mistake that a lot of writers make is that they’ll make a character do something that’s racist, or mean, or bad, or make a terrible or cruel decision, and then suddenly that character is a villain from that point on - even if they weren’t a villain up to that point - and then every decision that character makes from that point on will be evil. But what if we make a character that does stuff like that, but we don’t force them to make that jump? But they do it enough that we hate them, but we still have to save them, because that’s what heroes do.
So ultimately, the story came about from me laying in way too much junk, because that’s what you do, and that’s when we called Greg. And I said “Greg, please help me - because we want to reconstruct deconstructed superheroes using this old idea that I submitted to Marvel, 21 years ago.”
Nice! Greg, what can you add?
Greg: So as a person who grew up reading stories like this, it was definitely something that...when you grow up reading something like this, and this is the kind of thing that you dig through the quarter bin and look for, and you’re spending your bus money on comics -- your allowance is divvied up between a comic, a bus ride home, and a hotdog at the Woolworth’s counter -- so the chance to take a story and a comic like this and put their own spin on it and traipse around through that garden, what writer wouldn’t want to do something like that? So when Travis was like “Hey, do you have any ideas with this? Do you want to help work with this idea?” Then yeah (laughs), of course. I think eleven-year-old me, being dropped off at the comic book store, just lost his mind thinking I’m gonna forgo that hotdog at Woolworth’s good sir, and I’m gonna do this.
As co-writers, I’m curious to know what your writing process was like. Did you two work together and write simultaneously? Or was it more like Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett writing Good Omens - one would write a chapter and send it to the other, who would write the next and send it back?
Travis: This one’s different than a lot of processes, but in some ways it’s a lot more common. We had a spec-slash-vomit draft done when we realized we had huge problems with the story. And I come from a ghost-writing background where I’d get people to send me these completed books, or partially-completed books, and they’d say “I’m having problems and I can’t figure out what’s wrong with my book.” I would find that there are certain problems that almost all writers have - like, you tend to repeat emphasis sometimes, for something, and you won’t catch it. So you’ll have a character saying the same fucking thing THIRTY TIMES in your book, and you won’t catch it. And this are things that all writers do, so you get another writer in there and they help you figure it out.
So with this book, there was a narrative issue with the story, and the other problem was that because it was derivative, I had to go back and make sure I wasn’t doing anything weird, and the ending sucked. Just...it was a bad ending. Like, probably the worst ending in comic book history. (Note: Greg is laughing out loud at this point) And so Brett said “Yeah...uh, this is good, but you should do some rewrites.” And I said “Y’know, when other writers get into these problems, they call me. So who can I call that I can trust to take this project from me?” And it was difficult because I’ve had it happen in the past where I’ll ask someone for help, and they’ll read the initial draft, and then they’ll ask to buy the project from me and take it over, and I do not want to get into that situation again - I wanted this one. I wanted it to be me and Brett (at the time), so I thought “Who can I bring in that I can make a partner who will just help me fix it and won’t steal it?”
So I called Greg and said “Hey Greg...what’cha doin’ buddy?”
Greg: I said “Travis, I’m not the guy that fixes things! I’m not you...this is not the role that I usually do, so this is a total role-reversal but...I guess I can try?” And, to what Travis was saying, when he first approached me I said “Yes, I will help out. I will help you take what you have and put it into the proper format that you want it to be in--” he wasn’t sure if he wanted it to be a series or a graphic novel - and so we took it and figured out where we wanted to go, and went through and fixed things, like chopping out the things that were repetitive. He was kicking off every portion of the story with repetition, and so we just went through and chopped it all out. And as we started to work on this, over, like, a year, I think, he just started to say “Yeah, no, you’re working on this with me now.”
And we were pretty lock-stepped. We were working on it, together, like, every other day - we were talking and sending messages back and forth all the time. It was ridiculous, and we still send messages back and forth nearly every day, so --
Travis: We’re still making changes on it!
Travis: On a side note, some of our best sessions were when we’d both have it on the screen. I was living in Florida at the time, so we’d open a shared doc and we’d both be writing at the same time while we were talking (on the phone). It was like being in a symphony of two writers, where we’d just pound it out. Like, the first three issues were problematic in the sense that they were written in a way where we were unsure of ourselves, and Greg fixed that. Then the last four issues - we added an issue - and we pretty much wrote those, beginning to end, collaboratively, over a year.
Greg: And it was crazy, too, because it was a lot of us on the same screen, in real time, writing - where, as one person was writing something on screen, the other person was tweaking or editing or finishing the others’ sentence or even writing the very next piece of dialogue. So it was - we were pretty lock stepped at that point - we had gotten to a point where...there’s a moment in issue two, where you can start to see what’s a “Travis moment” and what’s a “Greg moment.” But as the rest of the book progresses, you can’t see that so much anymore - it just all kinda blends together.
And this was not the norm for me. Travis and I have been friends for a few years now, but we’d never worked together before, so the fact that we were able to get in sync with each other that easily and that quickly was like… “Oh! Okay, cool - we’re sharing this weird connection, and it works.”
You’ve touched upon this a little bit earlier, but with so much going on in pop culture right now with reboots of old or existing properties - reboots or reimaginings - it seems that Hollywood is more dedicated to giving us new versions of old stuff than just giving us new stuff. But I love that, within Starlite, your story focuses on that idea of revisiting and reexamining past glory. Travis, you mentioned reconstructing a deconstructed superhero and I think that touches upon a lot of what’s going on in pop culture storytelling right now, so what were some of your personal experiences that fed into this story? What more can you tell me about why this story and why now?
Travis: I think there’s a couple of things there. I may have over-layered Starlite, in a way, where I thought I wanted to have all of these characters and all of their stories and everybody’s arcs are going to connect and there’s going to be an epic transition… But then…
Chris and Sara are both different aspects of different points of my own life. I’ve lived as both of those characters in their situation. I played football - I made captain of the team and was a letterman and second-string all-state in a small school, but then, later, when I lost control of things, I found acceptance and a way to chase away my abandonment issues through raving and through the use of ecstasy. And when I first looked at the idea of kid-superheroes who aren’t kid-superheroes anymore, there were two routes, from my own experience, that I saw I could take: there’s the route where I’m gonna get down and dig my feet in and find my way back, or there’s the route where you just become cold to emotions and fall into escapism.
And ecstasy, as a drug, is a little bit more tuned for a person going through that to believe that they’re finding that - that acceptance, love, and family. So both of those paths were pretty clear paths to me. You have Chris, who’s lost everything but is still on the straight and narrow and who still wants to earn his way back in, and then you have Sara who just wants to let it go and who just wants to have life and family and love.
Greg: I think that, when you look at the story, and you look at yourself as a storyteller, you want to make sure that you're taking that human experience and bringing that into the characters, like Travis was saying. And at the root of this, it’s a human story. Even though we’re dealing with superheroes and, like, extraordinary circumstances like space-cat pirates and spider-wizards and other things, but it really comes down to humans, and being humans, and being broken, and how we deal with those things, how we move through those things. And I really felt that, in taking a look at this, I find it interesting that you asked this question because I was just on another interview panel where I was interviewing someone else and I asked them about their process and it was one of those situations where we, as creators, we work through these things because we all have little bits about ourselves that we don’t realize we need to get out there for our own catharsis and healing, and, just to get that story out there so that other people know that it’s okay to feel that way, adn to have that experience. And that when they’re having those experiences in their lives, it’s okay.
Sometimes comics are a nice escape, but it’s also a place where you can feel safety in that. So having situations like this with real characters, although, like I said, they’re super, but they’re very real characters - Chris, Sara, and even Roger - all being broken, but all taking different steps in making themselves better, and we get to explore those things all through different issues of this series.
Travis: We should also point out that Roger, in the story, is in the same boat as Chris and Sara. He’s a former famous journalist who’s on his - he’s past the apex of his career and has been reduced to making YouTube videos about conspiracy theories, and he’s handling it by being an asshole.
That, right there, is something that I have to comment on, because I fear that people might not get that. The focus is so much on Chris and Sara that while Roger’s in the same boat, it can get lost. And I’ve loved, so far, that this whole series is about dealing with your past, and how we do that. Chris wants to go back - he wants to be a superhero again. Sara wants to just find love and acceptance and live. But Roger seems really pissed off about his station, and I think those are three very distinct facets of dealing with loss or a fall from grace or fall from power. So with these three characters we get three very different ways of looking at it, so that whoever is reading this book can find a character to connect to and identify with in their handling of their situation.
Greg: You asked the question of why is now the right time for a story like this, and...look at the year we just came out of. This is exactly the right time to be dealing with this and reading a story like this and to digest a story like this to work with these characters and work through our own things with these characters. Because they get to experience all of these things, and, hopefully, help themselves.
So Greg, I wanted to ask you, specifically -- you’re the owner/operator of The Retro Emporium, correct?
Greg: Yes, with my wife.
So then as the proprietor of The Retro Emporium, you seem to be particularly tapped into the idea of marketing to nostalgia, and selling to peoples’ happier days. Tell us a bit about your connection to the past, and your affinity for it - both in the context of the comic, and in your day-to-day life and your business.
Greg: Well, when you get down to it, I come from a family of hoarders, so we never really threw anything away. (Laughter) But no, in all honesty, it comes from a place of -- it comes from the fact that people like to be connected to safety, and we find safety in the past. As a child of the 80’s and came up through the 90’s - and the 90’s were such a great time of amazing things! Great things in our pop culture psyche that we’ll never have again! But we had all these really cool things, and oftentimes people want to go back and find that thing - that safety - that can be held in your hands. And for some, the past holds everything that was, or that can still be. You have, like, an Al Bundy situation where you’re reliving the Polk High football game over and over again, and you just - if you could only have a time machine and go back… you know? For some folks, that would be the end-all be-all. And that’s why we do what we do at The Retro Emporium, so that people can maybe get back some of those things that they’ve lost or may have always wanted but never got, or had the ability to get.
I think it really comes back to how we take small joys in little things that are often kind of ridiculous, but they give us that moment of nostalgia or it releases all those endorphins. So when it comes down to all those things, it’s that good thing.
And there’s a fear of the future - and not knowing what’s coming at you until it all catches up to you, and then where do you go from there? We all have that struggle, and I think that we, as people, wonder where do we find ourselves? Do we stay in the past or do we move forward? And it’s always a constant struggle, but I think that, in Starlite, we deal with a lot of these themes and the characters deal with these things as they tackle their own situations - their own selves - in these issues. You have people who are definitely struggling with their past, present, and future, all at the same time, and how it’s all right in front of them, and it’s all super scary.
And Travis, you touched upon this earlier, but I’d love for you to go into a little more depth; you used to be a pretty big-time rave promoter, and you used to be a raver kid. Sara is a raver girl, and your promotional materials (for Starlite) always mentions raves -- there’s a lot about raves going on here, so I’d love to hear more about your connection to the world of raves, raver kids, and why it holds such a deep place in your heart.
Travis: Honestly, one of the reasons why I almost didn’t do this project was because it had raves in it. When Brett first brought it up, I was like...no. I didn’t want my first effort in my writing career - my first IP - to have to rely on my past as a rave promoter; it felt like I was leaning on my audience and my old fandom. And I also don’t like the way raves are portrayed in media - they’re not realistic. You know, writers often write what they’ve read and not what they’ve experienced, and so that’s how you get the same cop in every book and every movie, or the same doctor in every book and every movie, and you end up getting the same raves - which don’t exist in any reality, in every book and every movie.
I became a rave promoter because I liked specific kinds of raves - very hardcore, loud, boomy, colorful raves. And there’s more than one kind of rave - they’re like sushi. People say they hate sushi all the time, right? But then you take them out for sushi sometime and they don’t understand what they’re seeing because there’s literally a ton of different ways to experience it, and what I liked to experience really wasn’t happening, so I became a promoter with some other rave friends - we borrowed some money and we made it happen. So our version of a rave was very different - it’s a lot of happy hardcore, and really brilliant bright lights flashing. And the way I did it really blew up in the northwest, to the point where I’d become one of the strongest promoters in the northwest - I had a nickname, which I’d been given because of how big and how popular my parties were, and I ended up becoming a partner in a nightclub with a 1,000 person capacity that we found ourselves selling out every other weekend. So it was a really big part of my life, and when I decided to write a character that ran to the rave scene to hide from their past, to find acceptance and family, I used a female character and based her on a lot of the girls I knew in the rave scene because they have a very different experience than males in the rave scene, and I felt like that was a better way to portray the emotions of raving, and the risks and the dangers that come with that - rather than have the male perspective.
You know, one of the things that’s most interesting is that for Sara’s power to work, she has to actually touch something to do something with it - that’s why she has the name “The Melter.” She literally melts and absorbs matter, but it has to touch her flesh. So we gave her a power that involves touch - because that’s something that’s difficult for a lot of ravers to do without ecstasy - and so it coincided with the drug itself, and her abandonment issues. Because if you see Sara and she’s not wasted, she doesn’t want anything near her - she’ll even go so far as to wear baggy clothes as a way to hide herself. But when she’s high as a kite, she wants to be touched - she wants to hold things - so we made her power about physical touch because it’s much more visceral that way, and it connects more directly to her emotional state, and her addiction.
So to wrap it all back around - that’s why Sara is so connected to raves, because initially I didn’t want to do it, but it was a very unique take on the superpower and the emotional state that a person would be in, had they been told they could no longer be a superhero again.
You’ve talked a little bit about Brett (Weldele) already, and I have to say I really love his art style - especially his colors in this book, and his composition on the page, the way he puts everything together, really stands out to me. How did you come to work with him on the book? Travis, I know you said you started this journey with Brett, initially, and brought Greg onboard later, so how does Brett fit into the mix, exactly?
Hang on, Brett wrote Surrogates?
Travis: No no, he was the artist for Surrogates, but he was the co-creator, so he toured with the film, toured with Bruce Willis, all that stuff. He also worked on the Southland Tales books, and he just has a great rep all around. Now one of the things he didn’t do until just recently was the coloring that you’re talking about. The style and color he uses in Starlite is significantly different from his past work in, say, Surrogates. He usually uses rusts and browns and a bleeding of colors - that was his niche in the industry.
But Brett and I were getting bundled together on different projects - I don’t know if you knew this, but oftentimes agents will take a project they’re representing and bundle people from their talent pool together to work on them; they’ll take a writer and an artist and tell them “we need you to work on this book” with the intention of eventually publishing a graphic novel, but then they’ll connect that with a producer that they’re representing, and a director so they can get a film of it made, and that way they can bundle all of the production talent together behind a single project that they then shop around to the studios to raise money to produce the film, but they need to release it as a book, first, and that’s how Brett and I met - from getting bundled together on a project.
And I have to say, that experience alone was one of the craziest -- y’know, writers always write stories about their experience in Hollywood, and there’s a reason for that, it’s because it’s fucking nutballs. (laughter) And I just...it’s just...I mean...people keep buying these movies about writers’ lives in Hollywood and it’s because writers’ lives in Hollywood are nutballs! And we went through that together and ended up becoming friends even though the project stalled. So then we were friends and we went to Burningman together, and we went to cons together, I ended up working on a few other projects and then, one year at Burningman, Brett said we should do a book together, and I asked him “What do you want to do” because we had talked about a few projects…
And I realize now that I left something out earlier - Brett pointed out to me that I was going to end up being a ghostwriter my whole life if I didn’t get my own IP. He said “You have to stop ghostwriting because people are taking advantage of you and you need to get your own IP.” And I was, like, “Yeah, whatever, sure…” But then, while we were at Burningman he brought it up again, and the night of the burn we were on a king-sized bed on top of a motorized float with a bunch of other people and we ended up talking all night about this idea to do Starlite. And I may have gone off the rails a bit, initially, telling him about the trans-dimensional spider wizards and the space pirate cats, but he was, like, “Yeah! Go off the rails!”
Then, when Greg got involved, and he and I were synced and vibing, one of the problems we discovered was that Brett had never done anything colorful. That’s not to say that Brett doesn’t understand colors - Brett really knows color…
Greg: Like, he’s tasted colors.
Travis: ...he literally told me, one time, that the fireplace (in my house) was the wrong hue of gray. I’d never even thought about different hues of gray before! But he said “That’s the wrong kind of gray - it’s a blue gray, you can’t use that,” so I ended up having my fireplace redone. So he just really understands that.
Also, he draws for film - he’s worked on so many films, he draws his comics to feel like storyboards, and that’s one of the great things he brings to the table.
When we all sat down to talk about doing Starlite together, something that Greg and I both decided we had to bring up with him was that we needed really, really bright colors. It had to feel really bright - to feel like a northwest rave - and Brett says “No, no, no - I got this coloring technique I’ve been working on that...you’ll see,” and that is the coloring technique that he uses now, and has been using ever since, including several books that are currently with major publishers right now. Everybody took a look at this new style of his and went “Whoah.” He’s color-crazy right now - doing something like three different books right now, doing coloring for three books…
Greg: Yeah, I think that, based off the panels he’d done for Starlite, other people took notice and said “Hey, that looks really good! What’cha doin’ with them hands!?” (laughs)
Travis: I really hope - we’d have to ask him directly in order to confirm this - but I really feel like Starlite really played a big role, that it really helped him bring his coloring out, and I can only hope that it’s had a role in him becoming a major colorist today.
So was he working on Starlite before his work on One Fall?
Travis: Yeah, we started working on Starlite three or four years ago, so it’s been a while. And we had that conversation right before One Fall.
Because I’ve seen some images from One Fall and his art style is very unique, and the colors are similar between Starlite and One Fall, but Starlite is much more distinct and attention-grabbing.
So you’re currently Kickstarting each issue individually, but did you try to get it published traditionally? And if you’re not allowed to discuss it because of NDAs or whatever, please just let me know and we can move on, but I’m curious who were some of the publishers you took it to, and what was your experience in shopping it around to publishers? Was anybody interested? Did you come close to publishing elsewhere but decided not to for whatever reasons?
Travis: I just wanna say two things… Is that okay, Greg?
Travis: We had one publisher, who is also a friend, who just kind of offhandedly told us that they loved the story, they’d like to see it published, but Sara can’t do ecstasy. I mean, she could do other drugs - a made up drug - or cocaine, even, but, specifically, she can’t do ecstasy.
So that was weird, and the other thing...I ghosted a very famous publishing company editor. I straight up ghosted a major publisher and we decided to just go with Kickstarter.
Greg: Yeah, we had - there were definitely a few nibbles, but what it really comes down to is that when we had a team meeting about it, after book number one, we felt like there was a lot of strength in our fanbase that we’re building up, y’know? And Travis is really connecting with people, getting people excited about the book, and Brett and I are talking to folks -- the three of us are really workin’ it, and we just felt like this was something that we could do. We could ride it out until the cows come home...till the end of the line...whatever the expression.
Travis: It really gave us a lot more control because - especially after that comment about the ecstasy, and due to Greg and Brett’s personal deals in the past, that Kickstarter gave us so much more creative ability that we wouldn’t have had if we had gone with a traditional publisher, and I think that was important to hold on to.
And I want to make clear that we’re not opposed to coming back around to a publisher and running it again, either as a trade or a series with them, like what Elfquest did with WaRP Graphics and then Marvel, but for now, to get the story out, this feels better to us.
Greg: Yeah, we just wanna make sure that the fans get what they want, and that we can control that aspect of giving them that thing.
I’m reminded of Christopher Titus and when he had his show on Fox - he talks about how the producers would have meetings with him where they’d say “We love the show! It’s great, it’s perfect...here’s what you have to change.” And he always resented that, so I imagine that for now, for this first run, it comes down to you and the team wanting to preserve your original version and putting the comic out in its purest form, rather than having a publisher tell you how to tell your story.
Travis: That’s exactly it - we wanna get it out the way we want it, and then we can revisit it later. And it really comes down to what I was saying earlier for all three of us. Specifically, what I was saying earlier about Sara and her power and how it relates to her state (emotionally, mentally, and physically), and we didn’t want to change that because we feel that’s a relatable character, and having those publishers make comments like that -- even if we did make it a fake drug, then that would make her less relatable.
Greg: And I wanna say, too, we had someone straight-up tell us “No raves.”
Travis: Yeah. (laughs)
Greg: Yeah - it was a real “hand and glove” kind of situation. Like, Travis has already made the concessions for himself to make the story with these things, so we really can’t go back now.
Travis: It just seems arbitrary, don’t you think? Like, I was just reading about how they didn’t want to have Catwoman and Batman...y’know.
(Note: Travis is referring to the recent internet uproar over DC cutting a scene from the R-rated cartoon Harley Quinn wherein Batman performs oral sex on Catwoman, claiming “Heroes don’t do that.”)
Travis: Yeah, but it’s in a show - it’s in Harley Quinn, it’s not meant for children, it’s meant for adults...and it seems like an arbitrary decision, y’know?
So we’re hoping that if we get it out initially, as a whole, that we could even revisit these same publishers, even, and say “See what we did with this? Now can you work with us?”
Greg: And at that point, I’m sure, they would see that there’s definitely a place for it in their catalogue, and definitely a desire for this story and these characters because of the fans that have already brought it to life.
And I’m sure that once it’s all said and done, you’ll have some clout behind you to show a publisher how much support you already have for it, and that will definitely work in your favor towards getting it published.
So you just finished the Kickstarter campaign for issue three, and with seven issues we’re just under halfway through this initial outing - our introduction to the characters and the world they inhabit - and I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t read it yet, but what kind of hints can you give us and what kinds of things can you tell us we can expect to see for Sara and Chris and Roger in issues four through seven?
Greg: Should we tell him about the space octopus?
Greg: No, sorry.
Travis: Umm...so what can you expect? Um, well, Chris is gonna try to be the hero, and he’s probably gonna do a good job of it.
Is? Or isn’t?
Travis: Is! That’s another one of those things where -- to make, like, a Cyclops, you know? I hate the way Cyclops is treated by Marvel in the modern age.
Greg: More like “Why-clops?”
Travis: They just ruined him! And the problem is, when I was a kid, the earlier version of Cyclops was very relatable to me, and that is very close to who Chris is. So Chris isn’t going to make a lot of bad choices - he’s going to make good, heroic choices, so you can expect that from Chris.
You can expect Sara to just be high, because she’s very high, and I think you’ll start to understand more and more exactly why she is as the comic goes on. There’s definitely a reason why she took the pill in issue two, and if you put two and two together with what I said before about emotions and the power of touch, and what ecstasy does, I think you’ll see a lot more of what that plays into for her, going forward.
You’re gonna have a lot more space pirate cats, and spider wizards, but we don’t want to talk about that very much right now because there are aspects of these characters that haven’t come out yet. Nobody is a blank slate in this story - everyone has a transition...everyone.
Greg: Everyone has their season.
Travis: Right. So right now we’re talking more about Roger, but last issue we talked more about Chris, and the first issue talked a lot about Sara. So as we move forward, the next time we do a round of interviews - after issue four - we’re going to talk a lot about the space pirate cats. I think when we get to issues five and six, we’re going to talk a lot about The Vine, which… oops. I don’t know if we’ve said their name yet in the comics.
Greg: The spider…
I think you did in issue two. I don’t have it in front of me right now, but I think you’ve mentioned that name in relation to the space pirate cats talking to them - I believe you’ve made reference to it.
Travis: Oh good. I think that’s something that’s important - and that’s something else we’re trying to do; none of these characters are as simple as just being a villain or just being a hero. Everyone has something that they’re trying to accomplish.
So the next logical question, then, is - after this story is told, have you considered continuing it? Is there more story for Chris and Sara and Roger? Have you even considered it?
Greg: There’s definitely more stuff on the table for the Starlite universe and the Starlite arcs. I can’t really get into it a whole lot right now --
Travis: It would allude to too many things.
Greg: -- right, exactly, but we’ve had a lot of discussion about it and I think Travis and I have a really fantastic story in our back pocket that we think a lot of people will enjoy after this arc is done.
Travis: Y’know, some of the things that - because this is an original story, and because of this particular story arc that’s going on - we’re not going to see these characters as full-fledged superheroes within this story. We’re going to see them reconstructed to that point...and then stop. And in order to have - to see them shine again, as heroes, Greg and I have already talked about this, and the fact that we have to write them as heroes.
Awesome! I’m so glad to hear that, it’s going to be amazing. So until then, until we reach that point, what else are you both working on? Where else can we, the fans, find more of your work? Greg, I discovered you through Junior Braves of the Apocalypse, and Travis I know you’ve worked on so many other books and projects - where else can we find more Travis and where can we find more Greg?
Greg: So, for those who don’t already know, there’s books one and two (of Junior Braves of the Apocalypse), and the tabletop RPG is out, but book number three...Zach (Lehner) is currently doing the art for that right now, as we speak, so I don’t have a time frame yet - the tough part has been COVID interfering with releases and printing schedules with Oni Press, we’ve lost a couple of slots. So Zach is working on the art right now, but other books have come through and claimed those slots and are getting printed or published, or just holding those slots right now, and we’re continuing to play the derby to claim a release spot. I don’t know when that is, yet, but we’re getting there.
Aside from that, Travis and I are both having work published soon in The Eynes Anthology - I know that John Horsley is sending that out to folks and he’s working on getting the physical copies printed and sent out, and into shows and whatnot. He just got the physical copies in, and he’s asking - he asked me if he could do a setup at The Retro Emporium and have a book signing for all three of us.
Travis: Dang, Greg, I was hoping for more…
Greg: Oh, you mean The Narrative Gunslingers!? That podcast that Travis roped me into?
Travis: Yeah! That one!
Greg: Where Travis, basically, makes fun of people (laughter from both Greg and Travis) and I try to make them happy. I play “Producer Greg,” and I try to keep the guests happy.
Travis: It sounds so terrible when you say that.
Greg: No, but seriously, it’s a fun podcast where Travis and I talk to guests, and Travis asks them a myriad of questions about themselves their projects, and how they got their start or what inspired them to be a creator. Because it’s not just about writers, it’s about all the different creative stuff.
Great! I’m already subscribed! And Travis, how about you? Where else can we get more Travis - what else are you working on?
Travis: I’ve got a pitch out right now, but that’s about all so we’ll see if I can get that going. I’m finishing up Starlite and making the rounds with it right now, but if this pitch matures and pans out, then I’ll have something to do.
Is this a pitch for a comic? Book? Radio show? TV? Graphic Novel?
Okay! A total multimedia experience!
Travis: Well, no - I’ve got another comic I’m working on right now and I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with it.
So can we hope to have a read-along episode of Starlite on Narrative Gunslingers?
Greg: Well, while we do have some of the old book-and-record packages at The Retro Emporium, I think it would be very difficult to make that happen. We’d need a whole cast and crew - other voice actors, sound effect artists… It’s just too much right now, but we can make it happen, I’m sure.
Well I’m super excited for it all and I can’t wait for more of this world, this universe, you’ve created within Starlite.
Travis: I’m going to ask the question you didn’t ask…
Travis: Where do we see Starlite going?
That’s an excellent question! Please tell me!
Travis: Three words: Animated Adult Musical.
Greg: Space opera?
Travis: Rave opera. Think American Tail, but with ravers in space...and drugs.
I would love to see that! So on that note, I’m going to say thank you both, once again, for all your time - this has been a wonderful experience and I can’t thank you enough for agreeing to chat with me and tell me more about the comic, and yourselves.