What do you get when you got two guys in two separate States that want to put their own spin on Mythology and Biblical related things? Well… You get Rion Mosley and Shawn Lewis’ IMMORTALIS!
Shawn Lewis: Hi Rob! Shawn Lewis here, I’m in Colorado. I am half of the creative team and the writer of IMMORTALIS! We previously released Force 51 and Purity back in the day with Dakuwaka Comics. Purity was penciled by Andres Guinaldo and was optioned by Kickstart ENT.
Rion Mosley: Hi Rob! I am Rion Mosley, I am the other half of the creative team. I’m in Arkansas and a huge fan of all things geeky. Shawn and I have been friends for years, I had a kernel of an idea for a story… and here we are.
2. On the 30th will be the release of a collection through Markosia called IMMORTALIS, what can you tell us about it?
SL: The elevator pitch for IMMORTALIS is “A war between heaven and hell, and the old gods of myth!” The old gods of myth (Greek, Roman, Aztec, Celtic, we love to pick and choose our deities, so to speak!) are trying to return, and in the process, destroy Heaven and Hell. a 19th century woman, Tam Montefiore, is chosen to be the tip of the spear in this war, and is given the power to destroy the old gods. But because of, well, let’s call it piss-poor planning ( Heaven and Hell don’t exactly make good partners), she has to wage this war in the 21st century.
RM: It’s an epic adventure by a team of misfits that are thrown together by Heaven and Hell, to save the world. However, they’re misunderstood, they may not all get along or even trust one another.
3. What led to the two of you coming together to collaborate on this project?
SL: Rion and I had worked together for a satellite company in Arkansas.
RM: I’ve been telling stories for a long time. I had a pretty good idea for a story. The only person I knew that had ever been published was Shawn. So I pitched him the idea. Bare in mind, Shawn was mostly retired from writing, he hadn’t had a great experience to begin with, so he wasn’t too keen on writing again. The first time I pitched the idea to him, I thought he hated it. After I was done, he didn’t really say much, so I just thought it was DOA. However, the next day, he called me back and said, “Hey, you know that story you told me about I had a bit of an idea, I’ve written the first 8 pages of the story!” And with that, we were off and running.
4. As IMMORTALIS is a collection, it features a pretty big team of artists, colorists, and letterers, what led to bringing them all on board? I know I especially liked the clear difference in style during the Overload story.
SL: Oh, yeah! Portland’s own Ben Perkins! We are lucky enough to also be working with Ben on a holiday issue for release next October/ December called The Naughty List!
RM: Shawn and I differ a little on our favorite style for comics so we had to find the right look for the book. We went through several different artists trying to find it. Plus with all of the artists allowed us to accelerate our Kickstarter strategy. Each of us have our own favorites, I think. But we try to use the strengths of the artists based on the type of story we’re telling.
5. You guys are getting published through Markosia as mentioned previously, did they reach out to do so? Or did you guys reach out?
SL: That’s one of those “I know a guy, who knows a guy” type of things. Our letterer, sometimes graphic designer Amal Desai out of Chicago, who does almost all of our lettering, signed with Harry and the Markosia team for Amal’s next book, Jane Jet. Amal reached out to me, and thought that IMMORTALIS would be a good fit for Markosia’s library. We reached out to them, they liked what we were doing, we liked what they were offering, and off we went!
6. With the first collection due out soon, what’s the good word for the second? And is it accurate to call it a collection or a volume?
SL: Wow, you’re asking the tough questions, Rob, lol! We are doing floppy size digitally, so I guess we would say collection? The 2nd “collection” will be issue 6-9, roughly due out in April-May (got to get Markosia and marketing ok), and we are following that up with a proposed September release of IMMORTALIS- SIDEQUESTS (working title), a 120+ page anthology, and then wrap up the year with the last collection, containing issue 10-12, or 10-14.
RM: I will just add that Sidequests is really fun and features one of my absolute favorite standalone stories.
7. And for those who love romance and drama, when can we expect to see a reunion between Tam and Alfie?
SL: Great catch, Rob! So, mini-spoiler, the reunion, so to speak, happens in issue 10 and 11, unfortunately for Alfie/ Amphion! You know the saying “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”? Take that fury times 100, throw in the power to kill gods, and mix it all up in a 30 story elevator ride!
RL: No one is promised a happy ending in this story. Tam has a lot of things to work through in this story. Surely, rekindling a relationship after everything she’s gone through is the furthest thing from her mind.
SL: We really wanted to create a new spin on old myths, something that could pull from all these various religions, but also take it and make it our own!
RM: One of the ideas that we kind of stick to is that our mythology is really a part of history. Those things actually happened, maybe not the way that they’re told, but they happened. Really gives us all these things that people are familiar with and allows us to use that familiarity and tell a really unique story.
9. Charon isn’t typically a figure that gets much time in various forms of media and the fact he’s used so differently in IMMORTALIS was something I particularly enjoyed, what led to that decision? This story also taught me about Babi as well.
SL: Thank you for that! Yeah, just really trying to take these deities/old gods/ mythological characters and put our own spin on them! Funny you mention it, we outlined the issues featuring Charon and Babi (issue #7), and at first we were just going to “monster of the week” them, but then Charon and Babi sort of took on a life of their own, so yeah, if you enjoyed issue 6 with Charon, you will definitely dig issue 7!
RM: It’s just as Shawn says, “we try to put our own spin on it”. The entire premise of this story is to feel familiar, but still be uniquely our own.
10. Thoughts on A.I. in comics?
SL: Wow, we work with so many talented artists, colorists, letterers, cover artists… The best part to me, is just giving the artists the ideas, sort of broad strokes, and seeing how they put their spin on it! It’s almost like Christmas when you get to see the finished covers, or the pages and panels. I just can’t see getting that through some computer program. It wouldn’t have that human touch to it, the little nuances that make something unique and special.
RM: I love being unique and different, I don’t really think that using AI would allow me to do that. I 100% agree with Shawn on this.
11. Will we see the two of you on other projects in the future?
SL: Oh yes!
RM: Shawn is laser focused on Tam’s story right now. We kind of see it as the middle part of a much larger story. So there is more to this universe. We also have several other stories that aren’t related to Tam’s story that we are developing as well.
12. What got you both not only into comics but also in creating them?
SL: Rion and I, we are both nerds, and love that nerd culture! I used to go to Fruth Pharmacy every Wednesday for hours on end to look at the new comics back in the day, lol! Going on opening night for Star Wars movies, going to comic shops, etc. Rion and I also worked together for 8 years, and all that time, we kicked around ideas, and always talked about doing something together, but never did.
Time passed, and I moved to Colorado, and after about two years here, Rion called me one day and said “I got this idea…” and I couldn’t quit thinking about it!
RM: My father was in the military, so we moved around a lot. One of the constants I had when I was growing up, is that the Post Exchange always carried every DC and Marvel title, so I could read each issue every month without having to pay for them.. I would spend time while the family was shopping, reading those comics! My favorite was late ’80s- early ’90s Marvel. I was hooked! My dad was really into Sci-Fi and Fantasy. So in order to spend time with him, I just kind of got into it too. My earliest memory of seeing a movie was watching Star Wars in the back seat of my parents car back in ’78.
Working with Shawn, we found out that we had similar interests, so we just started kicking around some ideas to maybe find something that we both kind of loved. Tam’s story was a little different, I probably worked on it on my own for a few months, but I was kind of stuck, so I pitched it to Shawn. He tweaked the original premise a little and we were off and running!
13. Where can folks find you guys online to check out more of your works?
RM: We’re having our website refreshed. It’s still a work in progress, but you can find us at mandlcomics.com, follow us on Instagram @tamimmortalis, follow us on Twitter/X @ImmortalisThe, or on Facebook at facebook.com/MnL or facebook.com/tamimmortalis.
You can also search for our pre-order online at Amazon!
14. And for my final question, what advice would you guys have for those looking to get into the Industry?
SL: The industry is in such flux right now! I remember the spec boom of the ’90s, the lull of the 2000’s, the resurgence with the Marvel movies. I tell anyone who comes up to our booth at conventions that asks that question, don’t try to get in the industry. If you want to make a comic, do it. If you’re a writer, read and write everyday. If you’re an artist, draw everyday. Todd McFarlane talks about the stack of rejection letters he got that was three inches tall before he got a yes, Stephen King talks about papering the wall of his trailer with rejection letters. If you want to make a comic, do it. But do it for yourself.
RM: We were nervous about using Kickstarter to get our comic out there. But we bet on ourselves. It’s paid off. Don’t worry about all the “No’s” you get. It only takes one “Yes”. Stay positive and bet on yourself, who knows what can happen.
Editor’s Note: Huge thanks to Shawn and Rion for taking part in this interview! And special thanks to Don’t Hide PR’s Melissa Meszaros for helping make this happen! And remember, IMMORTALIS is available on January 30th!
Interview by: Rob Wrecks