How to Create Your Own Digital Comic Book [Interview]
If you’re a writer or artist interested in starting your own comic book, our very own Gabriel Shaoolian has some advice. Founder and CEO of Blue Fountain Media, a website and digital marketing agency, and creator of Biowars, Gabe has waited eighteen years to bring the comic to fruition. He sat down with us for a brief interview about starting the comic, how he came up with the idea, and to talk about the upcoming Biowars app.
You’re an extremely busy guy. Why did you decide to create Biowars?
Biowars, for me, I feel very lucky to do. It’s more like a hobby of mine, and Biowars is what got me to Blue Fountain Media, doing what I’m doing now in the first place. See, I was pre-med at NYU, and I came up with the idea for Biowars in Endocrinology class. I had a fantastic professor, Dr. Scott, and I learned in that class how every cell in the body communicates. You have billions and billions of cells, each of them have a specific role in your body. We have cells that are like the CIA, they can do what they want to do and kill what they want to kill. We’ve got cells like the FBI that are checking on things. Anyway, that led me to the idea of Biowars, and to make Biowars, I had to learn Photoshop. That got me into the Web.
Biowars is my true passion, and I feel so fortunate today that I have the ability to take this crazy idea I had for a comic book and bring it to life. So, being busy is okay if you’re productive and you enjoy what you do. And if you don’t enjoy what you do, then being busy isn’t very good.
Was it difficult to put this complicated story down on paper?
Telling the story of Biowars is a little tricky, because you have to figure out where to start. I think we have great characters, and an outside story and internal story that give it a unique twist. There are a lot of characters, like how X-Men has a lot of heroes, and different types of them. How do you start with so many characters? Where do you start? Do you start in the outside world or the inside world? And which characters do you start off with?
I selected Blastor as the head of B-Cells because they’re like the marines, and he’s a cool character. He can clone himself. But remember the story of Biowars, for these warriors, they’re like the Spartans. They only live to fight. And that’s all they’ve got to look forward to, and our white blood cells, that’s all they do.
Who’s your favorite character?
My favorite character in the story, you don’t see him until much later, his name is Cytox. He’s a cytotoxic T-Cell. There are only a few of these cells. What they do is quietly roam the corridors of the body looking for mutated cells that have been infected by viruses, and they take them out. Or cells that have mutated that become cancerous. The older we get, the less of these cells we have, hence the higher chance of having cancer. What makes the cell so cool is that he actually sucks the energy out of the other cells, causing them to erupt. And this is true to real life biology.
Every power of every cell is based on real-world biology. It’s crazy. Everything from the B-Cells duplicating themselves and shooting antibodies to the microphages swallowing bacteria and powering up. Yeah, they look weird, they look like blobs, but when you read up about them, they’re cool. He’s got this very quiet and secret personality to him, like the CIA.
How much of Biowars is scientifically accurate?
I try, but you know, there are lines, so you’ve got to make it entertaining. The cells, they’re based off of real-life biology, their roles are based on real-life biology, but you can’t make it exact and they’re a lot more complex than what we read. But the idea of Biowars is to bring people’s imagination to the sciences. Learn about the different types of cells, like killer cells, which is a real term. Their roles are based on biology, and they’re pretty accurate. Even their body parts are even based on real-life biology.
Were you a big fan of comics growing up? What were some that you admired?
Everybody loves Batman. And we all love Batman because why? Because he wasn’t born with superhero power. So we all like to fantasize that we could be like Batman. And then everybody likes Wolverine because he’s the lone guy, he lives on the edge, and he’s not dependant on anyone. I personally like Thor because I used to like drawing comic books, and I liked drawing him. He always had expressions on his face where he’s yelling and he’s always in some kind of motion with that hammer. I like Iron Man because he was easier to draw than other guys because he had armor. I liked it all from an art perspective.
What advice do you have for someone trying to create their own comic?
The good news today is that anyone can create a comic book. Anybody. In fact, you can just go on Word Press or Blogger and just get up your own website, you don’t have to be a professional. I’m lucky; I’ve got some great people on Biowars. But you can sketch out your own comic and put it up there. Share it through social networks. It’s not like the old days where you have to go find a publisher. It takes time. It doesn’t have to take money, it takes time. What you need is a good story and characters people can relate to. If anyone has a great story to tell and you have great characters, getting it online just takes time.
I think that if you’re really good at something, let’s say you’re really good at storytelling but you’re not a great artist, team up with an artist. Make the comic together. You don’t have to do it all on your own. If you’re a great artist and you have a good idea, find a great writer. Team up with them and come out together with it.
The idea for Biowars came to me 18 years ago. And I’ve waited all this time to bring it out, and if there’s one thing I tell people it’s this: if you want to be successful, you hear this over again, but try, try, try, try, try, and be persistent. That’s called love and you have to put love into anything you want to make successful.
Do you have an update on the Biowars app?
It’s tricky to make an app. It’s tricky to make one that’s unique. It’ll be launching in September or October. You’re Blastor, and it’s a shooting game. There are three different levels. We have screenshots of it on Facebook. You’re dodging and shooting, and there’s another level that’s more like a shooting gallery. We’re taking time with this and really polishing it up. It’s going to be really fantastic and fun. You don’t have to have to have read the comic to get the full experience.
Take a look at our interview with the Biowars artist Lucius Cross to read his insights about drawing your own comic.