Royce Adkins Is Bringing His Asthmatic Hero In Oucasts To Zoop

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What if asthma wasn’t something that prevented you from doing what you wanted… What if it was your superpower? That’s at least part of the concept behind writer Royce Adkins’s new book Outcasts, which is currently crowdfunding on Zoop.

“I played basketball growing up, so I needed to find ways to push through my asthma to make it through a game,” Adkins told Comic Book Club over email. “I believe that extra motivation made me stronger later in life.”

Here’s the official synopsis for the project:

Aaron, a former super-soldier afflicted with chronic asthma, is cast out of the covert government program that created him. Armed with his specialized Battlehaler, Aaron takes to the streets as a vigilante, seeking redemption. His quest for reinstatement leads him to uncover a deep-rooted conspiracy that threatens to unravel the very fabric of his society.

To find out more about how it came together, as well as translating the big fight scene from his short film to the comic book page, read on.

Comic Book Club: You made a short film version of this a few years back… Why translate it into comics?

Royce Adkins: I wanted to translate this idea into a comic because I already had experience making comics with my previous titles, BioPunks and Legend of Althea. Doing comic book conventions and seeing people’s reactions and engagement with my stories completely differed from showing them a short film. Any indie filmmaker will tell you it’s hard to get people to care about a short film. Most never bother watching just from seeing how long it is. However, as a comic book, I noticed people can more freely explore my ideas without feeling locked into watching a video for ten to fifteen minutes. That doesn’t seem like a long time, but a ten-minute short film can feel like two hours to some people. Also, I can translate my complete idea into comic book form without worrying about financial or production constraints. The OUTCASTS comic portrays the same fight scene at the end of the OUTCAST short film. However, the fight scene in the short film is depicted in a more basic torn-down version since we did not have the budget to portray my complete vision, as seen in the comic book. Though I am proud of how the short film turned out, it’s also frustrating knowing people were not seeing and experiencing the story as I originally intended. But now they finally can!

What were the challenges there? I’m sure it was more than plopping some storyboards on a page, so what needed to be tweaked or changed for it to work as a comic book?

Honestly, it wasn’t very challenging at all. If anything, condensing it to work as a short film was more challenging. My writing is very descriptive, so I put down more than what is usually deemed script-adequate.  Having written two comic books at that point did help, though, as I feel my writing style has become a blend that fits both the comic book and film formats. 

I love the idea of turning a potential weakness – asthma, and using an inhaler – into a strength. Was that the initial inspiration behind this idea? Or did it come from somewhere else?

Yes, the goal was to lean into Aaron’s asthma and make it part of his arsenal. I played basketball growing up, so I needed to find ways to push through my asthma to make it through a game. I believe that extra motivation made me stronger later in life.

outcasts zoop campaign page 1

Looking through the pages, it feels a little bit like Assasin’s Creed meets Crank. Is that on the right track at all? Or what were your influences?

Those are interesting comparisons, actually. Starting with the short film, my biggest inspirations were a mix of Blade and The Raid. Then, bringing over to the comics, I wanted to mix in the style of Dragonball Z and My Hero Academia. I look forward to diving deeper into those influences as the story progresses.

To that point, the art is extremely kinetic… Talk to me about working with Immanuel Peralda. 

Working with Immanuel has been amazing. You’d never be able to tell this was his first attempt at drawing comics. I never had to overexplain my ideas. He just got it right away, resulting in only minor changes along the way. Before working with him, I followed his journey, tackling a 180-day artist challenge or something like that. I loved every piece of art he posted, but more impressive, he never missed a single day! That was when I knew I had to work with him. If he was willing to work that hard for a challenge, I knew he would be more than professional as a partner.  Immanuel is for sure the next dope up-and-coming artist that many writers are going to want to work with! 

Stone Harbor’s stated goal is to provide engaging sci-fi stories that champion diversity… How does Outcasts fit into that?

Like my other comics, OUTCASTS showcases characters from different backgrounds and physical differences, championing their own stories. So much emphasis is put into increasing diversity from our appearance, which is important, but we tend to forget there is so much internally that makes us different as well. 

You already did one crowdfunding campaign through Zoop… What did you learn the first time that you’re applying to this one?

My biggest lesson learned was properly accounting for things not going as planned. It took a full year after my first campaign to deliver my comics, which was highly frustrating. This time, I made sure to tackle potential issues that could arise before the campaign went live versus afterward, like before. Certain issues can still occur, but I’m confident I am better equipped to handle them this time.

Outcasts is crowdfunding on Zoop now. Check out some preview pages and covers, below:

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