The Boxer – Interview with author

Today I am doing something slightly out of the ordinary. You all know I don’t pitch things just because, I only do if I care about them.

So here goes. I am interviewing Dominic Archer, the mind behind the Kickstarter graphic novel project, A Boxer. This novel details the experience of a homosexual man struggling to find his place between two worlds, feeling himself equally impassioned and alienated by both the boxing and LGBTQ+ communities.

This is a powerful story in an artwork style that reminds me (personally) of collecting the strips of comics from the newspapers on Sundays, that old school pre DC/Marvel style that made me fall deeply for The Phantom or Prince Valiant.

I thought it was better if Dominic would tell us more about the project and answer some questions rather than me trying to convince you this is a wonderful idea to support and sit behind. The following is a Q&A we did beforehand for today.


Q: Could you please tell us briefly about The Boxer?

Dominic: A Boxer is the story of an up-and-coming fighter who struggles between his sexual identity and the masculine culture demanded by male combat sports

Q: What made Mike Shepard, the main character, come alive in your mind and have a story to tell?

Dominic: Mike is a character based upon my own thoughts and experiences with the LGBTQ community. I used to teach in China and encountered a number of students who openly expressed their sexuality to me while I, someone who has had regular interactions with the community itself, have always been questioning where exactly I fit in. Mike’s identity crisis is one of longing to belong, but finding it impossible.

A graphic novel is a different medium to just sitting down and writing a story, was it hard to write it for an artist to turn the words into images?

To me, a graphic novel is no more or less hard than writing prose, it is just a different process. I have been writing scripts since I was 16, and comic scripts since I was 17 so it really is just a case of how you approach the work. It is very different creating a visual scene for a reader of fiction, to an instructional description that an illustrator can then realise in a piece of sequential art.

Q: Thanks for letting us understand how you approach it, so could you talk us through the process of creating a page?

Dominic: This is a tough question, because every page is completely different. And each page in each book is different, because the very structure of the page is based around the flow and pacing of the story you were trying to tell. For example, if you are trying to impart a large amount of visual information, or make an impact on the reader, then you may just want a single image on the page. But if you are attempting to convey the intensity of a conversation, then the page will have to be broken down into a number of panels. However, if you have too many panels, then the dialogue can become unreadable. Action pages will be constructed differently to moments of emotional silence, but all are structured based upon the thematic requirements of the overall book. Otherwise they feel disconnected and that is when the work falls apart.

Q: That’s a lot of things to consider while working a single page! Let’s talk about the artists, what can you tell us?

Dominic: We have an award-winning, international team of creators working on a boxer. Gary Welsh is a Scottish artist with a Masters degree in Comics and Graphic Novels. Marc Casilli actually has two Masters degrees and is a teacher of comics to low income communities in São Paulo, Brazil. Amanda Maranda is another Brazilian illustrator, and she is the winner of the Dente Award for best independent comic. Hassan is the winner of an Eisner award, which is basically like winning an Oscar for us comic book nerds. It’s an incredibly talented team, which forces me to improve the quality of my writing to make sure that I am not the one letting us down!

Q: Gotta keep up with that art team then! Now, there’s a Kickstarter project, why go through Kickstarter? What are the pros/cons?

Dominic: Previously I have self-funded all of my comics work, but this is incredibly expensive. Artists are talented creators, who deserve to be paid for their time and effort, it is their job after all! But it makes it very difficult for writers like myself to put work together when each page can cost well over £150. It also means that a 100 page graphic novel like A Boxer is too expensive for our publisher BHP comics to fund. So Kickstarter is really our best way forward! The downside is that it may not go through, but if that happens we are just back to where we started and will find another way to make the art happen.

Q: Being an artist myself (but not one that does it as main job) I can fully understand wanting to support them. I truly appreciate that! Let’s talk a little on the hopeful and futuristic (?) side… what are your dreams for this story and beyond?

Dominic: My dream for the book is just to see it realised. Writing comics is different to writing a novel, in that with a novel the main thing stopping you is your personal situation. For a lot of us, that is a challenge all its own! We all struggle with realising our potential. But in comics you also have to deal with making sure other people are on board too. As a writer, you are the de facto project manager, promoter/marketer, agent, often editor and financer which brings a lot of responsibility and stress. So to see our work come to life will be an incredibly rewarding feeling.

Q: That sounds like a crazy amount of work and effort for just one graphic novel/comic. Anything else you’d like to share with us? 

Dominic: The Kickstarter is running until the end of February and the cheapest option is a digital comic for just £5. If you’d like to back us further there is a paperback edition for £15 or you can just give us all of your savings, although it is likely that I will feel a little guilty when I accept it.


And that is all for now. Hope you this view into why and how the project came to be. If you are interested in supporting it on Kickstarter, you can find it here. There you will also find the first six pages, whereas I am only including the first one here. Go, be curious and support art!

Happy Holidays!

If you followed the saga of “I just realised it is the 23rd and I urgently need to draw an elaborate holiday cheer thing for the 25th” on Twitter, you know I only finished this after midnight and well…

But I did finish it!

Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, if not, whatever you do celebrate, may it be good and peaceful and bring generosity and comfort to you.

Thanks for reading this blog and being part of it and interacting with me throughout that time. ~I truly appreciate it and I hope I managed to share of my love for books and book boxes with you all.

Sketch Every Day Kickstarter “Review”

I call this a review because I want to talk about the whole package but it isn’t a “formal” review like I do for other books. Why? Because this is a Kickstarter project I backed and I have been following Simone for too many years, from DeviantArt to Instagram and then playing Deponia and wanting eagerly to have her draw my outfit of the day (OOTD).

So when Kickstarter and 3D Publishing sent me an email saying “you may like this” it was a no brainer. I was going to back it. And so I did. And I do not regret it.

The cardboard box it came in is gorgeous, protected well the book and other contents and is a nice keepsake. ~There were four prints included (the three with the children and animals are used as examples in the book), a set of stickers, a sketchbook (it is really nice, has a pen/pencil holding elastic loop and an elastic “ribbon” to close or select a page, a small Inktober drawings booklet, a prompt bookmark and finally the main thing, the book.

In the book Simone covers her whole story of how she got to where she is, and does so with drawings to show progress and to match style. She talks about her jobs, her studies, her life. Whcih helps give background and a view into the artist.

Then she moves onto how to do things, what she does, and how she chooses what she draws. Sometimes something from her day, sometimes a concept, something funny.

Reading through it I just wanted to start drawing (which I did afterwards) and it is very inspiring but also very normal. She doesn’t pose as the perfect drawing machine and instead talks about the truths and realities of life getting in the way and all of that.

Highly recommended book but sdefinitely have a sketchbook nearby because you’ll get to a point you just feel like you need to draw!

Galaxy Girls Review

Another informal review because I couldn’t even add this book to my Goodreads challenge, woops.

Lydia Fenwick is an illustrator I have been following for a while, so whne she offered her Galaxy Girls as a Kickstarter, I only had one question and it was “what tier should I choose?”. [I am pro supporting artists/creators, so I try to spend in Kickstarter, Etsy, other small businesses when I can.]

I actually can’t remember what the tier I chose exactly was, but somehow I ended up with an amazing amount of goodies (I love the whole “unlock new bonuses for everyone if we go past our goal and this amount”). Amongst them, the original book with gorgeous holographic pages and a “this is how I do it, and this are the materials” plus I am in the backers page at the back :). There were was also a collection of postcards, as you can see, there are so many they have holographic stuff and foiled too, best quality (it was so hard to take a good picture because of all the shiny). There’s also a collection if gorgeous stickers, a print of the cover illustration, a bookmark (bottom center, it has gold around her head) and a pin (on top of the bookmark).

The quality fo everything is top notch and I couldn’t ask for more. And the artwork as you can already see is wonderful. I wish I could draw and paint as gorgeously as that.

Hope this small review/showcase makes you follow her as she’s an awesome artist (plus she keeps chameleons and other critters, they’re really fun too).

The Art of Brave Review

This is an informal review, in the sense that usually I follow a particular format, but not for this book (it isn’t the first time and won’t be the last).

The Art of Brave had been on my wishlist for a long long time. I am picky with my Art Of books, as they are expensive but also if done well, they tend to inspire my art and own ideas a lot. And they serve as study material for my art.

Obviously, it was an easy choice to buy this when it went on sale on Forbidde Planet, so I did and I do not regret it. The book has a lot of art, yes I know, it is an “art of” but some of them have more of this is how we did stuff and stock images that turned into this. We have some of that here, but also a wonderful quantity of sketches on the various approaches and potential ways of showing each integral character, and even smaller parts, like the will’o’wisps.

It is gorgeous, good quality and I am a happy fox, so I recommend that if you like Art of books, you may consider this one. Plus, maybe watch Brave alongisde (I ended up watching it after going through this book because it is like having a new perspective into it! I love that).

Finally, have a glimpse itno this book, with the page spread for Angus.

Through the Woods Review

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss.
These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll.
Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

This book is gorgeous and creepy. Probably the best way to describe it in a single sentence.

The artwork sticks to a very red, white, black and sepia palette (with a few pops of colour) but still manages to convey very well the stories and sometimes the phrase “an image is worth a 1000 words” applies perfectly here.

One of the reasons this hasn’t got more stars is that most of the stories are left open ended or rather, in a confusing ending where you keep second guessing what exactly happened and why. I know that the attempt is to scare you and be creepy, but it also left me very unsatisified at the end of each story. I think if I had known this would be a very “just a tidbit of story, without a proper ending” kind of book, I wouldn’t have minded as much, but from the blurb it seemed to have proper short stories.

My favourite is probably the first one which at least seems to have a start and potential end, but it is still very much in the air with lots of maybe, and what if.

I’d probably say that if you like horror and creepy stuff, this is a nice illustrated book to have around. But if open endings aren’t really your thing, avoid this. Or go at it with caution. The art is still super gorgeous and the stories are different and “refreshing” in their own way.

The Art Of Horizon Zero Dawn Review

It is no secret I am a gamer. Not the sexy-lick-a-controller kind, but the “oh my gosh I will scream at the screen because Lara Croft just fell off a cliff after the 12th attempt to do that part”.

I am also a stupidly loyal one, I fell in love with Bethesda’s games (Dishonored and Fallout 3) so now I have all of the Dishonored games on my computer, XBox360 and PS4 (just so I can play them whenever, I’d probably have them on my mobile if it was possible).

Trust me, I can rave about any Bioshock game or one of the previously named ones (also Alice Madness Returns, Batman games, Lego games, etc). But I am also careful of trying new games from developers I have never played a game from before.

However, my love for Horizon Zero Dawn blossomed not because I saw adverts for it as a game, but rather because Loish (Lois Van Baarle) released some of the “concept art” she had done for the design of Aloy.

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I have been following Loish’s work for over 10 years, so I knew that if she had contributed to this game, I would have to play it, even if it was JUST for the artwork. I bought a PS4 just so I could play HZD, my birthday present was buying a bundle of console and game. That much I love her artwork (and gaming).

Needless to say, I LOVE this game. If you haven’t played, you have to. The story poses some very interesting technological questions (and about humanity), the gameplay is interesting and has an “Open World” feel. And of course, the artwork and design are stunning.

(I know this is the weirdest review of a book I have ever made, I promise there is a book review somewhere in here!)

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So much I love this game I preordered Funko’s (Aloy and a Watcher), bought licensed pins of Aloy and a Thunderjaw (they are awesome!), and bought the soundtrack CD for it.

The only thing missing was this book. And I couldn’t have that, so I got the book too.

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The Art of Horizon Zero Dawn by Paul Davies

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I have several “Art Of” books and I have to say that the quality of this one is stunning. It does NOT lack artwork (sometimes some of the books say too much and have very little art or nothing new). This is full of artwork and details but also explanations about why they chose to do certain things.

It made me want to draw all the characters + creatures there and then as I was reading it. And it also made me want to play the game again. (And of course, it has some of the sketches/pieces Loish did, so win win).

I just have to say that is one of the best “Art Of” books I have ever had. Blown away by it.

Moon recommends

You play Horizon Zero Dawn, and maybe follow Loish. She has two artwork books (she started them on Kickstarter and the second one is just coming out in March). And of course, if you like books about the art of, buy this one.