Introducing Forged Lord Comics
Some twenty years ago, I was approached at a comic convention by a skinny teenager with black-rimmed glasses. He said “I’m Luke Crane! I love the Iron Empires! I want to do a role playing game based on your comics!” I don’t remember what I said. I hope I was polite and encouraging. I know I shared his enthusiasm for the idea of an Iron Empires game. The books had, after all, grown out of my experiences playing the classic science fiction game Traveller back in college. But he was a kid at a comic convention, and I’d met lots of kids at conventions who were excited about movies, or novels, or games based on the Iron Empires.
I didn’t know the kind of kid Luke Crane was.
Years later, he called me on the phone, saying, “I don’t know if you remember me, but I still want to do an Iron Empires roleplaying game!” He sent me copies of his fantasy game Burning Wheel, and the scales dropped from my eyes. I didn’t even hesitate. Luke and I saddled up and good things began to happen. The game he designed, Burning Empires, won awards with it’s beautiful presentation and revolutionary game mechanics. Luke has that thing every creative person needs… a singular voice. It shows in his work, and in the community of fans he’s built. Whatever he participates in carries his distinctive imprint.
So when Luke and I sat down with some of his comrades to an Ethiopian dinner in Queens, four years ago, and the idea of doing a graphic novel together was discussed, I was immediately enraptured by the idea. The comic book industry in the early 21st Century, like most of the publishing world, is in a state of flux. Large publishers are more skittish than ever about investing large sums of money in epic-length, painted, creator-owned, science fiction graphic novels. Most publishers who are willing to publish creator-owned books of any sort are committed to owning a piece of the back-end (movies, merchandising, etc…), something that’s always been a deal-killer for me. Publishers who are excited about painted comics, almost always want it attached to an established property (ie: NOT creator-owned!). It’s the catch-22 that has contributed to a 15 year gap in Iron Empires graphic novels.
Forged Lord Comics is our solution. It isn’t something any of us could have done on our own. Chris A., with a generosity of spirit I’ve honestly never encountered in my years in this business, paid me an advance that allowed me to work on the new graphic novel for four years. Four years. Imagine the level of trust and patience that required. I will be eternally grateful.
The final piece of the puzzle has been the emergence of the investment website Kickstarter. Kickstarter offers an opportunity for creative little companies like ours to bypass all of those frustrating middlemen and appeal directly to our readers. To YOU! We can write the book we want to write, in the way we want to write it, and offer it to you in its purest form. Your money doesn’t pay the salary of editors-in-chief, advertising, merchandising or editorial workers. It’s just us, making the stuff we’ve always wanted to make, and sharing it like I used to share my hand-drawn comics in high school. Passing them around the school bus, hand to hand, one friend to another.
This whole project, from the beginning, has been about a small group of people working together to make something special. Something we’re passionate about. Isn’t that exciting? I think it’s amazing. I’d like to invite you to be a part of our little group. I’d love to have you join us.
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