It’s happened to everyone: a complete stranger sends you a “friend request” via social media, and (slightly panicked) you think, “Oh no… did I meet this person and completely forget??” This is how I met Ryan Swanson. Mark Zuckerberg’s minions generated me as a suggestion after he friended a buddy who works at a comic shop I frequented.
But here’s the coolest part- Ryan founded his own indie comic book company, SKY ARK Media, 2 years ago! Naturally, as soon as I mentioned this tidbit to CM’s fearless leaders, the request from on high returned swiftly: SKY ARK: WHO IS THEIR DAD? WHAT DO THEY DO? WILL YOU INTERVIEW THEM?
*cue iconic LAW & ORDER “dun dun!”*
Today we’re talking with Co-founder Ryan Swanson and Creative Writer Brent Hodges about SKY ARK Media and their latest venture.
Ryan: Ever since I can remember I have loved comics. Some of my earliest memories are of road trips with my parents, and loading up on comics for long drives across the United States.
Brent: Ryan, actually! He’s always been a collector – thousands of comics, hundreds of collectables, there’s even a two-foot Iron Man bust in his living room. Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t have as much Iron Man memorabilia as Ryan!
(Side note: considering that RDJ is infamous for stealing swag from all his Marvel movies, I’m goggling at the sheer square footage necessary to store such bounty.)
Over time, his enthusiasm brought me around to the world and I started to understand why he lives and breathes comics.
Shiera: What’s the overall mission of SKY ARK?
Ryan: SKY ARK’s mission is to bring together talented writers and artists to create new dynamic teams whose comics can relate to readers young and old.
Shiera: That’s amazing! In an age where people are recreating traditional ways of obtaining their desired goods and services- digital reading material, AirBnB, Uber drivers, grocery delivery service, fancy clothing rentals- I have to say that I’m very excited to see where these innovative new teams take you.
Were you two friends before you founded the company? What made you want to collaborate on something as big as SKY ARK?
Brent: Yes! Ryan and I have known each other since we were freshman in high school. We both tried out for the junior varsity basketball team, and our friendship was solidified the moment we both got benched after the first cut!
Shiera: Ha! Some say the best friendships come out of struggle, and I think we all know that everything is a struggle in ninth grade.
Currently you’re running a Kickstarter campaign for funding for your comic series “Hiraeth”. Is this the first comic that SKY ARK has crowdfunded?
Ryan: This is actually our second, our first is a comic called CAPSULE. CAPSULE is “Akira meets Cowboy Bebop” in this cyberpunk thriller set in a futuristic city controlled by its only food source – a mysterious capsule that provides citizens with the daily nutrients they need to survive, laced with a small dose of something… else.
Brent, did the popularity of the “Game of Thrones” brand inspire your writing? What (other) sources do you draw your inspiration from?
Brent: “In some ways, I suppose it did. I’ve had this idea for “Hiraeth” since before I ever knew about “Game of Thrones”, but having watched/read a lot of the expansive series, I can say that it’s helped me learn to more accurately shape a grim world with so many interactive and motivated characters!
My influences mostly range from the deep storytelling and passionate worldbuilding of older Super Nintendo – PlayStation 1 RPGs/JRPGs; I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I’ve beaten Final Fantasy 2 & 3 (SNES), Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, Xenogears, Chrono Trigger, Lufia 1 & 2, Suikoden 1, 2 & 3, Super Mario RPG, Ogre Battle, Illusion of Gaia, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore – I could go on all day if you let me! All-in-all, I feel like the comic industry as a whole could use some more variety outside of superheroes, and we at SKY ARK would like to be that breath of fresh air.”
Shiera: As a big “Game of Thrones” fan I’m very excited that it helped you to shape the world of “Hiraeth”! Hopefully you’re a faster writer than a certain author… And due to my extremely limited knowledge of video games (as in, the one time I played HALO I kept accidentally shooting my own feet off, which wasn’t fun, so I just never played video games again), I’ll cease offering commentary in that arena.
Ryan, do you write comic books in addition to running things at SKY ARK?
Ryan: Not yet, but stay tuned. Something may be in the works.
Shiera: Do you currently have plans for any other content that you can tell us about?
Ryan: Not yet but very soon.
Shiera *in a sneaky effort for just one hint*: What’s next for SKY ARK?
Ryan: We have plans for a new Kickstarter project set for early July 2017 and August 2017. If successful, these first-issue runs will be our launch titles as we try to push into comic book stores early next year.
Shiera: It was great learning more about SKY ARK, and talking to some of the people working so hard to build and market a new comic universe as detailed as “Hiraeth”. We really appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions, and we’re excited to see where SKY ARK goes from here.
If so inclined, you can support SKY ARK’s latest comic “Hiraeth” at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1267908785/hiraeth-1-love-and-redemption-through-violence-and?ref=nav_search.
The campaign ends Saturday, July 8 2017 at 9:00pm CST, so if you want to show some fiscal support, it’s probably better to do it sooner rather than later.
As always, thank you for reading and stay tuned for more excitement with the team at SKY ARK!
~ Shiera Carter ~
All photo credit to SKY ARK Comics