One Man Show: Carlos Farias Releases DragonMasters Through Wicked Comics
Carlos Farias is the creator, writer and artist of the recently released DragonMasters #1. DragonMasters is the third title he’s self-published through his company, Wicked Comics. It was a pleasure to talk with Carlos about his inspiration for DragonMasters, character design and worldbuilding, the struggles of indie creators, creative collaboration with fans, DIY action figure production and much more!
JR: How long have you been creating comics, and what made you want to start? What’s the Wicked Comics origin story?
CF: I started about three years ago. The plan was to stay one hundred percent independent and to try to create new ideas and stories. If you look at the market, lot of the books out there are the same characters doing same things over and over. I want to create new stories, new ideas and new characters. I see a lot of people who do the same superhero-type invincible hero. I just feel like there’s always room for different ideas.
JR: You are credited with character design, story and art on DragonMasters. Do you collaborate with anyone on the Wicked Comics titles, or are you a one man show?
CF: It’s pretty much a one man show. I do all the writing, developing the characters, artwork and coloring. That’s why sometimes it takes me a little bit longer to launch a title.
JR: I’m finding out when I interview creators that music often plays a huge inspirational role in their work and creative process. You’ve released three books up to this point: the first, ClownMan, about a clown vigilante, the second, KillSwitch, about a criminal who becomes a super soldier, and your most recent, DragonMasters, featuring a world of wizards, knights, barbarians, magic and dragons as well as advanced technology. Out of personal interest I have to ask: do you listen to hard rock or heavy metal music?
CF: It depends on the title. Definitely music plays a role in each story. As far as ClownMan, I see it as a dark underground world. The type of music that fits with it is almost like industrial rock because ClownMan was inspired by The Crow and the Joker. The same goes for KillSwitch. The music is more of a scientific or futuristic soundtrack. DragonMasters is definitely fantasy. I listen to a lot of fantasy type music in the vein of Conan, Masters of the Universe and Dungeons & Dragons. A lot of that played a role. It’s fantasy music like instrumentals. For DragonMasters I type in fantasy music and try to put myself in that world.
JR: So you search by music theme?
CF: Yeah, for ClownMan I’ll search for creepy carnival music. It helps a bit if you’re running into a blank, you hear something and it might spark a new idea.
JR: ClownMan and KillSwitch are both dark, gritty superheroes. DragonMasters is your new book. What made you want to depart from this theme to do a heroic fantasy book?
CF: I didn’t want to be typecast as always doing the same thing, or want people to think, “Oh this guy’s a dark person.” As far as the company goes, I want as much variety as I can get. DragonMasters is a fantasy book that’s not your standard comic book character. In the future, you’ll see I even have a cartoon character. So there will be a variety of books, not just superhero titles.
JR: So that allows you to find the audience for Wicked Comics?
CF: Right! It helps get a variety of people interested. For a single book, maybe people with certain interests will be drawn to that story. A good variety of ideas and stories will help to bring a bigger audience to my creations.
JR: Please tell readers a bit about the world of DragonMasters and how the book came to be.
CF: It was always in the back of my head. I wanted to create this fantasy land. The story takes place in a world called Dragonia. How it came about is that I’m really big into Star Wars. I always liked that conflict between the Jedi and Sith. This is my twist on that but in a world of dragons. There are even crazy backstories for each Slayer and each Master. You can keep going into this world and finding out more about each character.
JR: Is this title going to be an ongoing series?
CF: Yeah, that’s the plan. You’re gonna see certain relationships between the Masters and the Slayers in the upcoming issues. You’ll see things between them that you never saw coming. There will be plenty of twists and turns in the story. There’s also going to be all kinds of races like cat warriors. So yeah, all kinds of stuff!
JR: One aspect I think fans will be excited about is the mix of technology and fantasy in DragonMasters. What made you decide to incorporate science fiction technology?
CF: I wanted to throw a curve to the fantasy world. Take Conan the Barbarian for example, it’s strictly fantasy-based. But in DragonMasters, the Masters have their sanctuary called the Lair. When they bring in new Masters, they train them with a hologram dragon. They can practice and become better dragon slayers. So that’s the idea – to combine the technology aspect with swords and fantasy. It adds a different feeling to the story. Maybe there will be battles with Slayers armed with high tech guns but also with swords. There might also be special technology to capture dragons.
JR: One of the most interesting, unique and original characters in DragonMasters is the Emperor. What can you tell readers about him?
CF: See the design of that character? See how he runs off of tubes that go into his body? He runs off of the blood of dead kings. He’s a ten thousand-year-old dragon slayer. But because he has that blood running through him, he remains young and powerful. It all has to do with rejuvenation. The blood that flows through him gives him his power. The dark side of the Dragon Eye also gives him power. The Dragon Eye in Dragonia is like a religious symbol that has powers. If you’re an evil dark person, it gives you dark power. If you’re a good person, you use the good side of the Dragon Eye. It’s almost like something you channel.
JR: The Kickstarter campaign for DragonMasters #1 is currently live. What would you say to anyone undecided or on the fence about backing the Kickstarter to convince them to get on board?
CF: For each comic I release, I try to do a Kickstarter for it. I haven’t funded through Kickstarter, but people purchase the books on their own. I would say to them that DragonMasters is unique and different. It brings a new world of fantasy to readers. It combines technology, dragons and dragon slaying. There’s tons of battles, and there’s going to be many characters each with their own identity and backstory. It’s going to be something that I feel like will continue for a long time, somewhat similar to Masters of the Universe.
JR: Many times it’s difficult for indie creators to complete books and bring them to market. They have to face a number of obstacles including getting enough time to work on them outside their day jobs, family obligations, problems with printers, finding the money to pay for print runs and just the motivation to keep going and finish the project. Are there any challenges you’ve faced on the road to bringing DragonMasters and the other Wicked Comics books to fans?
CF: Oh absolutely! Definitely motivation. What motivates someone to keep on going? Maybe they’re not seeing a lot of outcome from it, or not really making making a good living from it. To me it’s the fans. They write to me and say, “I’m looking forward to this title. When’s this title coming out?” That’s what keeps me going. Time is also hard to find sometimes. I spend so many hours working on titles. It’s endless. The hardest part is developing the story and coming up with the designs of the characters. A lot of times the first design of a character isn’t the finalized design. It takes me a long time to finally get the right look for each character.
JR: You’ve had great success in soliciting fan art of Wicked Comics characters from the artist community. I was listening to another interview where you said that some of the art you received even inspired you as you were creating later iterations of the ClownMan character. Can you tell readers more about this?
CF: Absolutely! The first iteration of ClownMan was almost like a cartoon, not how you see him now. I got some fan art from from an artist named Frank Soto. He drew ClownMan realistically, almost like The Crow. With that I kept on redesigning. A lot of the changes I make come directly from the fans. The public – they’re the ones who dictate whether the character is going to be successful or not. I always listen to what they say.
JR: Can you tell readers a bit more about what you’re doing with toy design and the Wicked Comics action figures?
CF: A friend of mine who I met on Facebook was getting into making molds at home. We thought it would be a cool idea to bring these creations to life as figures. We brainstormed and came up with different ideas on how to do it. I sculpt the figure from clay, and then I make a mold out of it. I pour plastic into the mold, and then I paint them all by hand. I make the packaging, design it on the computer, print it and glue it on the boards.
JR: So you’re doing all the sculpting, mold making and casting for the toys as well as creating the comics? How do you have any time to sleep!?
CF: Yeah, every day there’s something to do. I also do all the trailers. I do all the mail-outs. So I basically do everything.
JR: Many comic shops have a special section for local and indie comics. I think it would be awesome to see a Wicked Comics mini-display featuring your books and action figures together so customers see the whole immersive world you’ve created. Have you thought about getting any shops interested in something like this?
CF: You know, actually I did. I went to two different shops here in Florida, but they weren’t too inviting. This was when I released ClownMan. They seemed disinterested. But it’s part of the whole thing. I know that success doesn’t come overnight.
JR: Maybe now that you have a few more titles under your belt as well as the figures, shops will start to take notice and show some interest. All the struggling shops out there need something local, different and unique to pull in customers and differentiate themselves from the competition. Are you doing any comic book shop signings or tabling at convention artist alleys to promote and sell Wicked Comics?
CF: I did one comic con so far. It was Hero Hype in Miami. It was a small con, but I sold a few books there. A few of the fans who bought books there, I still keep in contact with them. One guy comes to my house every time I release a new book! But I was planning on doing a convention in April called Ultracon. So you might see me there with ClownMan, KillSwitch and DragonMasters.
JR: Where can fans find out more about Wicked Comics and DragonMasters online?
CF: Just Go to www.wicked-comics.com. The site has a comics section and right now I have DragonMasters on pre-order. I haven’t gotten the print copies yet, but I should have them soon. You can purchase the pdf of DragonMasters. You can also purchase pdfs and print comics of KillSwitch and ClownMan. I also have a section for the figures.
JR: Are you linking the DragonMasters pre-order to the KickStarter now?
CF: On the bottom, I always have the current Kickstarter that’s live. I do the Kickstarters more for people to check out the company and the characters. You have to get your name out there. I use it as a way just so people can see my artwork and stories.
JR: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today! If you’re up for it, I look forward to interviewing you again when you release your next title.
CF: Yeah, absolutely!
Interview by: James Ross
Editor’s Notes: Currently, DragonMasters #1 is at 70 dollars of its intended 5,000 dollar goal with 8 days left to go. With your help, success can be be had!