Written by Manuel A. Carmona
Full disclosure, I've loved comicbooks for more than half my life and I don't see myself not loving them any time soon. My childhood was based mostly around toys: Star Wars, G.I.Joes, M.A.S.K., Transformers and my all time favorite action figure line... Masters of The Universe! That's when my love for comicbooks began. If you ever owned one of those action figures you'll know what I mean, inside each figure came a mini comicbook that introduced you to the universe in which those characters lived in. At the time I didn't understood what the comics said since they were in English and my native tongue was Spanish, but I could look at the illustrations and follow the story without having to read the words; and it dawned on me... I want to make my own comics.
For the next few years I somewhat drew my own rudimentary comics based on my favorite action figures and cartoon characters but never thought too much of it; until I was in 7th grade and my dear friend Frank Rivera (yes, he eventually became the colorist on my comicbook) asked me to skip school and follow him, he needed to show me a small gift shop urgently! A gift shop? Yes, but the gift shop wasn't the important thing; inside the gift shop was a spinner rack with a bunch of comicbooks. Have you ever encountered something at some point and you know that from that moment on you're life won't ever be the same? Well, that's how I felt at that precise moment, and my life was never the same.
Why am I telling you this? Simple, I've been creating comics for a long time and came to the realization that I wanted my comics to have that same impact on a young kid's life that Batman had on me back in 1992. I want some kid to grab one of my comics and be like "I want to draw comics!'. When I first got into comics I wanted to doit for the wrong reasons, I wanted to make money and be famous and be respected; maybe that's why it never worked out like that for me. Everything changed for me once I had my first kid and I realized I wanted to make comics that would inspire him, that he'd enjoy; then everything made sense to me.
So, I focused on making my own comics independently and made sure I'd surround myself with likeminded individuals who loved comics like I did and did it for the right reasons. Comics are a very hard way to make a living if you're an artist, it's long hours away form friends and family, it's missing many gatherings, it's spending lots of money to print books and promotional merchandise and attending conventions with people who don't know and most of them couldn't care less about you or your work; you have to love this or it'll make you bitter. I know how hard it is to be an indie comicbook artist, I understand the sacrifice it entails to "make it"; that's why I try my hardest to motivate and promote as many indie creators as I can.
Many times I've been asked: "Why would you promote someone when you're trying to push your book as well?" or "Why would you push someone's book when they don't do the same for you?". My answer is always the same... it ain't about me. Would I love for people to reciprocate the love I show them? Sure. Would I love for people to push my book as much as I push theirs? Of course! But that's not why I doit, I help them because I know how hard it is and I also believe that the Universe has a way to send back what you put in it; so hopefully the it recognizes my good intentions and decides to give it back to me ten fold. If not it's all good anyway.
With that said, my brother from another mother Alvaro Cortez Ortiz came up with a way to close out this nightmare of a year on a positive note; God knows we all need it! So, it's for that reason and our desire to help the indie comics community that we decided that from this day forth November will be known as #ThanksIndie Month! What does #ThanksIndie mean? Basically it's a month long celebration of indie comics, indie creators and those who shine a spotlight on indie comics like reporters, reviewers and podcasters. It's our way to say Thank You to those indie comics creators who've helped us, who've pushed us along the way; we're all in this together.
Also, as a founding member of Buy Indie Comics Day; I'll be sharing every post throughout the month on all our social media so that the people we're promoting will be seen by as many people as possible. Again we want to thank the indie comics community and more importantly THE FANS; because without your support none of us would be able to continue creating new stories and publishing comics. THANK YOU and remember...
NOVEMBER IS #ThanksIndie MONTH
Indie Creator Spotlight
I've been meaning to write an Indie creators series of articles that spotlight the many talented creators that are out there making comics against all odds and I feel deserve our attention. A few people have asked me "why would you give another artist a spotlight on your website? They're gonna take your readers!" My short answer: No they won't. My long answer: It ain't about me, it never was about me and it never will be about me; we're all in this together. Hopefully creators see me writing about them and their books and we'll get to know each other, hopefully become friends and hopefully help each other out. There's room for everyone. With that said, let's talk to the creator of AURORAMAN; Jeff Burton!
When did you came up with the idea for Auroraman?
The idea for Auroraman came around in the fall of 2015. A friend and I were talking about ideas around a character loosely based off of a mutual favourite DC comics character but with a Canadian twist. I ran the idea past another Canadian indie creator who liked it and helped me refine it to what it is today!
What is the creative team behind your comic?
I don’t have one set creative team, other than myself writing the book, but rather like to work with a wide range of awesome artists, mainly Canadian and mostly Saskatchewan based artists. It is really cool to see their different takes on Auroraman. I've even written stories geared towards specific artists based on their style and strengths.
What's the premise behind Auroraman?
The Adventures of Auroraman is a fun superhero comic for all ages. Truly based more in the silver age of comics where heroes smiled and had wild and crazy adventures. The pitch line goes like this – “When a father of five and school teacher Jeff Burton finds a staff loaded with cosmic energy in a meteor shower, he does what anyone would do and puts it in the cosmic lost and found box... WAIT; no he doesn’t! He learns how to use it and becomes Canada's newest super hero and the Super Power of the Prairies... Auroraman!” 8 times out of 10, when I'm pitching that line people's faces light up at that "Super Power of the Prairies" tagline and further looking and talking happens; most often a sale of some sort.
How many issues do you have planned to produce?
As many as I can while still having fun doing it!
Is Auroraman going to be a long running series or a mini-series?
I don’t envision a "for sure" end number as I keep coming up with fun new stories to write about!
Self publishing has some distinct advantages, the biggest being that I'm able to keep my light hearted, fun superhero stories happening without anyone else trying to change who or what my comic is.
How do you separate yourself from the thousands who self publish their books every year?
I think it’s just my style of non-linear story telling, you can jump in anywhere basically, and my passion for comics in general; but specifically for Auroraman to be something that can provide that relaxed escape from the crush of the everyday. Add to that my day job as a teacher and I use comic books in the classrooms in so many different ways, depending on the grade levels of the kids. It's really a great and versatile tool for educators to use too!
So where can fans read or get their very own copy of Auroraman?
Ok, there are several places to get the actual comics. Locally, the 7-11 in Humboldt, Sk carries it. Online, you can get them through the Auroraman Facebook page or www.bigcountrycomics.com. Digitally you can get it through comiXology. I also have a bi-weekly newspaper style comic strip that is released locally (and digitally now in the current pandemic state of life). I'm offering a PDF collection of the year and half of the comic strips for FREE right now. Last year I also started The Audio Adventures of Auroraman podcast which is an audio comic complete with narration, voice actors, sound effects etc. We have released 3 episodes, please note that episode one was really rough and the newer ones sound a lot better!
What's next for Auroraman?
We just launched issue 7 of The Adventures of Auroraman this past weekend which is super exciting! Issue 8 is probably close to 50% done production, the comic strips are still cruising along every 2 weeks and I have a couple audio comic episodes on the go. Oh and I'm final building The Adventures of Auroraman website!
Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
See above lol. Actually, I'm also dabbling in a bit of a story for a friend's comic – Blackthorne.
Anything else you wanna share with us?
With issue #7 of The Adventures of Auroraman we're teaming up with the organization Creative Kids Saskatchewan – a non-profit organization that provides families with funding for kids to enroll in a variety of different arts based programing. We have a variant cover for issue #7 done by a 15 year old aspiring comic book artist only available through bigcountrycomics.com with all proceeds being donated to Creative Kids. Also, I have the original artwork pages for sale, 18 out of the 21 pages plus the cover of issue #7 and I'm offering them as a bundle pack: $45 gets you the issue and a page of original art from issue #7 and I'll be donating $15 to to Creative Kids for each bundle pack sold!
That is a fantastic gesture on your part and all for a great cause. Much respect! I can't wait to read more of Auroraman as well as listen to the audio adventures. Make sure to let me know when your next issue comes out!