Mitch Punpayuk

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Hey Mitch! Interview With CJ Anderson

Author of Beckoning Of Aethurius: The Feminist Part 1

Earlier this week our staff writer and podcaster Josue Aguayo reviewed the indie comic, ‘Beckoning Of Aetherius: The Feminist Part 1′ after it was sent to us. The author CJ Anderson then agreed to an interview which was conducted via email, by Mitch Punpayuk of the “Hey Mitch’ podcast.

Mitch: First I want to say thank you again for giving us a follow up interview after reviewing of your comic book, ‘Beckoning Of Aetherius: The Feminist Part 1’.

CJ Anderson:
No problem, and thank you for being interested in reviewing my book, and setting up this interview.

M: For those who haven’t read it yet, please explain what is the book about?

CJ:
This first chapter is about two women who have opposing views on what it means to be an authentic person. This puts their friendship in a tough position, and the results will affect much greater events that happen in the near future.

M: Why did you want to tell this story?

CJ:
I wanted to tell this specific story for chapter 1 because I am fascinated with “identity”, and what that means for people. I also think that “identity” is a great way to set up meaningful characters, and see how their future decisions are affected by how they identify.
Just about everyone identifies themselves based on various biological factors, as well as social constructions that they’ve learned from society over the years. Whether that be based on religion, sex & gender beliefs, sexuality beliefs, race, class, attractiveness, etc.
In this case, Methy identifies as a range of things, and Sienna plays the role of questioning it. I want people to wonder why Sienna is so concerned. Does Sienna hold onto identity herself? What drives Methy to hold on to how she identifies, because later on this plays a crucial role in their near future. I also want to see how the audience feels . What’s also exciting to me is that this is a sci-fi / superhero series. It will be great to see how the audience responds to what I’ve previously said about “Identity”, and how that unfolds within the frame
of the superhero theme. Without understanding the reasons behind your own identity, how can one truly be an authentic hero? Let the drama begin.

M: How long from inception of the idea to making it public did it take you?

CJ:
This is a good question because this first chapter is a part of a much bigger story. I wrote the full complete story (200 pages in screenplay style mostly) years ago.
After I figured out the art style, I looked at the full story and separated it into smaller chapters for comics. I then started to refine the writing for this chapter.
So the time it took me to write the full story was about 2 years. One year to dream up the idea, and one year to organize the info and write the story.
It then took me a few weeks to refine the writing for this chapter, and several others. I couldn’t have written this chapter without first writing the 200 page screenplay, because it all connects.

M: Is Part 2 available now? When can readers expect further editions after part 2?

CJ:
I’m working on Chapter 2 now. I refined the writing for that a few years ago, so now I’m working on the art for the comic pages, and concept art for new aspects of the story. Readers can expect a lot more chapters as this is a pretty long story that I broke up into 3 big story arcs. Chapter 1 & 2 is a part of the first 15 or so books. There is a big ending and a cliffhanger. Then there are the second 15 or so books. I then have a rough outline for the third 15 or so books. If Chapter 1 and 2 do well enough, I can continue to finalize these future chapters, and get them to audiences.

M: What other stories, writers, and artists have inspired you in the past?

CJ:
I’ve been mostly inspired by various specific films & music when it comes to story and writing. It’s a very long list so to name a few, ‘Pulp Fiction’, for it’s interesting dialogue. ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, for it’s story pacing and big reveals. ‘The Virgin Suicides’, for it’s feel, especially the music soundtrack and certain visuals. The, ‘X-Files’, for it’s mystery, and character chemistry. The music band, “Earlimart” for its overall feel, especially songs like ‘Happy Alone’. Han Zimmer for his creativity in epic musical themes. I’m inspired by various visual artists such as “Norman Rockwell” for his detail, style and scene designs. Specific Anime & Manga like ‘Battle Angel’, and, ‘Ranma 1/2’ for it’s very interesting style. Specific Disney films such as ‘Tarzan’ and ‘Lilo & Stitch’ for its colors, line, and overall expressions. Old painters such as Singer Sargent and Bouguereau for their very great paint technique.

M: As the artist and the writer for the book, is there one aspect you feel you need to tackle first when telling the story?

CJ:
Yes, for me, what comes first is the right overall feeling. Then exploring those feelings and figuring out what I’m trying to get across with them, and what excites me about them. Then it’s the visual moments that I can see in my mind based on those feelings. Then, it depends on what the quickest way is to express that in a rough draft. Whether that be rough writing, or a rough sketch. Usually it’s rough writing so I can quickly put down some notes. If words will take too long to explain, I do a rough sketch. Sometimes a rough sketch along with rough writing together. The next step for me is to write down the whole story, sketching certain scenes here and there as I see them in my mind. Once I’m satisfied with the writing, I refine all the sketches, add new art, and start the storyboard process. Then concept art. It starts to become more visual art heavy. Then back to the writing for refinements. So I’d say it’s a combination of both for me.

M: How much back story for “Metheena” and “Sienna” is there when we meet them in the bookstore? Will we get to see that at some point?

CJ:
There is a lot of backstory for Methy and Sienna when we meet them in the bookstore. For me, backstory is so important because one off detail in the backstory can dramatically affect the current story you’re telling. That is the core reason I focused a great deal of time on writing the 200 page screenplay. I wanted to make sure that all the elements worked. I see some writers kind of drop the ball on that, like forgetting the character traits of their own character, which creates a lot of inconsistency in character behavior. I want to avoid things like that as much as possible. You will definitely be seeing their backstory. In fact, that actually happens right in the beginning of Chapter 2. I figured, after presenting the drama of chapter 1, now let’s get to the juicy stuff in chapter 2. Not all
at once though. I want to slow burn a few things for greater impact later.

M: How do you like your environment when you are creating? IE., music playing, white noise TV, complete silence, etc.

CJ:
I like a lot of music playing while I work. Music that reflects what I’m drawing/painting, or writing. Music is a huge part of my day. I get so many ideas listening to, for instance, instrumental soundtracks. The feeling certain songs give me makes many ideas appear in my mind instantly. Sometimes the melodies I hear can either make or break an image I’m creating, or part of a story I’m writing.

M: What pushed you to ultimately publish?

CJ:
I always wanted to be in charge of my own story project, that I can then entertain people with. Not just entertain, but connect to a wide diverse range of people with. So publishing was a part of the plan. I feel like in the end, I’m a storyteller, so I needed a way to do that.

M: What is the next step?

CJ:
The next step is to continue finalizing more chapters to this comic series, and getting that to audiences. This includes building a big enough audience fast enough to sell more copies so that it is apparent that working on this series is financially feasible. Another aspect of this is creating clothing and other merch for this, as well as an artbook, which both are on the way. Overall I want to build this into a big business where I have a platform to also create other stories besides Aetherius. I have a ghost story, as well as a heavy sci-fi fantasy story I want to finalize and get to audiences. It all starts with Aetherius first though.

Check out the first chapter on Blurb.com. And follow CJ Anderson’s Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more updates.

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