The Shepherd: a comicbook adventure

A comics news article

A shepherd from a distant world is required to make some tough decisions when she discovers a wounded, ancient beast sharing her flock’s grazing grounds. The Shepherd is a 24-page, one-shot comicbook adventure set in a distant world written by Nathan Sage. Astrid is a young tribal shepherd who watches a flock of ghazals, must make some tough decisions when she comes upon a wounded Thanacht — a ferocious beast of legend long believed to be extinct a thousand years earlier. Faced with the question of whether to help this predator which could easily hurt her or her flock, Astrid’s situation becomes even more complicated when a group of poachers show up looking for the beast. The poachers are led by a man named Rul who is a hardened hunter that is obsessed with his search for the Thanacht.

Sage and Ron Joseph (the comic’s penciler) have spent the last several months constructing the world of The Shepherd. From the outset, their goal was to create a world as textured and varied as the world in which we live, one that is filled with diverse creatures and a wealth of civilizations both past and present. The team they have assembled has chosen to take a hybrid approach to the art of The Shepherd rendering in both physical pencils and real painted inks that give readers a wonderful sense of organic line work, while digitally adding painted color that gives them the flexibility to capture the vastness of that world. “We believe the result is a remarkable sense of real-world detail, with just enough punch to take us to a different world,” Sage said.

Meet The Shepherd’s Creative Team:

“I remember one rain-drenched day when, as a child, I climbed up into the dusty attic and discovered a box of my dad’s old Superman comics from the 1960s,” Sage recalled. “And I remember distinctly that the last one in the series ended with a cliff-hanger, and sitting in that attic with the rain pounding against the roof I couldn’t forgive my dad for not having the next issue.” Sage  arrived in Los Angeles nearly a decade ago to direct films and commercials, and found a wonderful creative outlet in making comics. “I found a page of art allowed me to tell grand stories of adventure that I just couldn’t tell (at least, not yet) on the big screen. My first comic was a six-page short story called Scout’s Honor, with art by Brian Latimer and colors by Tamra Bonvillain. It follows a futuristic Boy Scout searching for his sister in a forest full of monsters.” Sage tells us that he is challenged by adventure, lost cities, and new worlds, all of which he’d like to explore in future comics; but first, The Shepherd.

Joseph is a child of the ‘70s, who was exposed to a veritable cornucopia of outlandish oddities and beautiful creatures; from the rock group Kiss to Sid & Marty Krofft to Godzilla to the brilliance of all things Jim Henson. Then came comic books at they changed his life. From that discover, every waking moment of his life was spent with his face planted in a comicbook. “Month after month, I was treated to fantastic tales of superheroes with amazing powers and abilities risking life and limb in a seemingly never-ending struggle against the forces of evil. They were fantastic. They were incredible. They were amazing. They were my friends and mentors and to this day I try to live my life according to the lessons they taught me.”

Joseph states that he has far more influences than he could possibly list, but his personal Pantheon of Great Creators includes the likes of John Byrne, Alan Davis, Frank Frazetta, and Bill Watterson. Joseph has been working in and around the comic book industry for small independent publishers since the early ‘90s. In addition to The Shepherd, Joseph is currently doing pencils on Slashermaina (Freaktown Comics) and The Chronicles of Creighton Craven, a sci-fi/fantasy project featuring characters designed by fantasy artist Ken Kelly.

The Shepherd’s inker is Jake Isenberg, who has worked on Transformers, and G.I. Joe, as well as Knife and Shield for Sequential Muse, and Brimstone and the Borderhounds for Hound Comics. Since the third grade when, he drew three-headed dragons Isenberg has always wanted to be an artist. Superheroes and technology were subjects that always fascinated and influenced him, from giant robots to spooky detectives. Being self-taught, he came into inking as a side effect of penciling and found that inking suited him better. He moved from fan art to inking and discovered that there was a big demand for a good inker in the realms of comics.

Isenberg works primarily with brushes and some quills finding that the feeling of brush or pen on paper is music to the ears. He has been called ‘old school’ by his peers, a title he holds with no small amount of pride. He feels that traditional inking is something of a lost skill and is something that should be preserved in a world of digital art.

The Colorist on the comic is Zoar Huerta. “Although I’d been reading comics since I was a child, and even writing my own mini comics, only in recent years did I make my jump into the industry.” From 2011 to 2012 she worked at an illustration studio in México, where she met her husband. While she was there she learned quite a bit about how to produce mainstream comics. “They hired us as a team to draw some titles for Stone Arch Books and color them, along with coloring some titles from IDW, Marvel, Heavy Metal magazine, and occasionally DC.” After a while, she went to work at an animation studio as a merchandise designer where she drew movie characters for products as postcards, notebooks, t-shirts, cellphone cases, and such.

After she got married she started a new chapter with her husband, and the’ve been working together from their home illustrating children’s stories for mobile devices for independent publishers like GrayHaven Comics, The Fly Comics, and now Nathan Sage Comics. “I guess my life is not that interesting; my cats, on the other hand, are the real rockstars in this house, you know.”

This project will only be funded if at least $12,000 is pledged by Saturday Feb 1, 2014.

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Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.

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