Recently, Charles Webb got the chance to sit down with the creative team behind Eternal Descent, coming soon from IDW. In this interview, Charles talks with writer/creator Llexi Leon about Eternal Descent, the history behind the conception of the title, and all the moving parts behind the media-crossover which fall under the wings of this project.
Check out Charles’ interview with artist Jason Metcalf! Click Here.
Charles Webb: Could you describe the comic component of Eternal Descent for our readers?
Llexi Leon: We have this supernatural tale of rogue angels, unwilling demons, enslaved souls and nihilistic madmen. Throw in a healthy dose of heavy metal, and you’ll find yourself in the world of Eternal Descent. Despite plenty of supernatural thrills and a light smattering of horror, it’s not all doom and gloom, thanks to the quips and comebacks of our unlikely heroine.
The comic book series is at the core of the project, rather than an external component. It’s the driving narrative behind the whole thing — Music is a big part of it, but the characters and their world direct my compositions.
Earlier on I had tried to convey the characters and plot through music and lyrics alone, that created some interesting experimental music, but it didn’t really tell the story I wanted it to.
LL: On the surface, I dig female vocals in Rock & Metal, so that was the nucleus of her conception. With Lyra, I was trying to create an archetype based on a myriad of iconic female rockers; think Lita Ford, Courtney Love, Brody Dahl, etc. Her emotional state can be a counter to her powerful abilities. Some girls have a lot of attitude, and they can be unpredictable. (I’d say irrational, but my girlfriend could be reading this.) I like that her character is unstable — she’s thrust into this very dark existence and the true extent of her power is an unknown. That presents a great counter for Sirian, who’s a timeless and detached entity. Plus, she’s easy on the eyes!
CW: She has the same name as the lead in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series (which also deals with religion as a backdrop of adventure fiction). Was that intentional?
LL: There was no intentional reference there — though I very much enjoyed Northern Lights some ten years ago! In the case of my work, Lyra’s name is derived from the Constellation, it seemed fitting that she be a star, and furthermore that name be a reference to the Lyre, an early string instrument. In terms of religious undertones, it is actually her surname, Constance, which leans toward “constellation” but also references an important order of the church in the 1400’s.
CW: What works influenced this book?
LL: The Divine Comedy has always been a huge influence; my perception of the many layers between heaven and hell is heavily inspired by the ideas presented there. There’s also the “Old Testament,” which is always a handy reference! The book nods to both Greek and Norse Mythology — especially in the way I handle the underworld and the powers of those that dwell there.
Comics I’ve consumed over the years and continue to enjoy are bound to leave a lasting impression. Titles like Batman, Spawn, Ghost Rider and many more. Traits of other characters definitely crept into my own creations. For example, I think there is a touch of Deadpool in Lyra, and the Silver Surfer in Sirian.
Beyond literature, the Metal music genre played a huge part in generating ideas for the title. Every issue that features a cameo from a musician also contains a passage where song lyrics are realized through sequential artwork. So for that part of the book it’s like directing a music video in comic book form.
CW: You have quite a roster of metal acts guest starring in the book. Care to name-drop a few?
LL: Sure thing — the Metal guys start dropping by in Issue 2 and beyond, our first few cameos are from Static X, Atreyu, Children of Bodom, Firewind and God Forbid. Some very big and very metallic names will be appearing later on…
CW: How long has this project been in development? It seems to have quite a few moving parts.
LL: Hmm, Eternal Descent is something I started toying with as a musical entity in 2004. I put out a couple of concept CDs in 2007 and then started on the scripts whilst scoring new material. So, it’s taken a while!
CW: Eternal Descent is described on your site as part of a larger multimedia project. How are the various parts of the project fitting together?
LL: You’ve got the comic book at the center, and then this soundtrack accompaniment I’m working on. It’s somewhere between a talking book, a movie score, and a Metal concept album. If you’ve read the comics, listening to the music should be a blast because you’ll hear the whole thing unfold. We’ve got some great voice acting talent bringing the characters to life. If you come to the music first, it’s this rollercoaster ride of an album, and you could turn to the comics to find out what happens next!
In addition to all the great musicians appearing in the comic book, we have similarly iconic collaborators on the record, which is a real honor. Eddie Kramer who produced Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Santana, Woodstock, Anthrax, Kiss, etc (!) Is working closely with me on the soundtrack, so I’m very excited to be spearheading that. Beyond the music and comic medium I’m working on Animations and Interactive content. We’ve also got some great partners like ESP Guitars and Marshall Amplification putting out some crazy products. Stuff I don’t think I’ve ever seen from a comic book property before!
CW: How was it working with the guys at IDW?
LL: Well we actually came to IDW having already completed just about 3 issues, and wanting to release the title. I’ll say that we approached a few of the big name houses, and mostly they just didn’t get it, or weren’t willing to network with the Music industry to make the most out of it. Kris Oprisko at IDW saw the potential in the title and gave us a chance, he’s been a huge help ever since, and the publisher has been great about coordinating efforts to launch the title.
CW: Tell us a little about the motion comic. What made you decide to go digital with the project?
LL: It’s that gap between spending $200,000 per episode on an animated TV show, and being able to put together a very engaging and enjoyable Motion Comic for under $10,000. I’ve been looking at all the motion comics out there, and some are definitely better than others! If you’re willing to take the time to cut everything out and bring it to life with animation, In addition to a musical score and voice over’s, then it’s really a new experience for fans, and a completely new way to distribute video content to potentially new fans through things like the Apple iTunes store.
For Eternal Descent it made perfect sense, since we were working at such huge resolutions with the comic artwork anyway, and I already had libraries of audio content and a team of voice artists. We’ve just completed a full HD animated music video in a motion comic style, and I hope to maintain that level of quality for the complete motion comic series.
Speaking of Digital, IDW are also making the comics available for iPhones/iPods through the App store. As an iPhone user, I think that kicks ass.
CW: What’s next for you after this project wraps?
LL: Right now, I’m doing all I can with Eternal Descent. We’ve got a 24 issue run lined up with IDW, albums in the works, products hitting shelves, and a host of digital content in production. Soon I’ll be looking into videogames, movies, that kind of thing. I’ve actually had some interest there already, but we’ll save that for another time.
CW: Ten words or less: tease our readers with what to expect from the 12 issues of Eternal Descent.
LL: Cataclysmic Supernatural Mayhem caused by Demonic Guitarists and Sexy Succubae!