We recently sat down with Lesly Julien, the talented and kind co-creator of Savage Wizard, to chat about putting together a stellar creative team, comedic marketing strategies and his Kickstarter campaign.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Hi friend! Thanks for making the time to chat with Comic Book Yeti so close to your Kickstarter launch. Tell me a little bit about Savage Wizard - how'd you come up with the concept, and what, if anything, inspired you to write this story?
LESLY JULIEN: Hey Cabbage! No, thank you for taking the time to chat with me!
I came up with the concept during Pitchvember 2019, the idea being that you're supposed to come up with a short pitch everyday during November. So I came up with a month's worth of ideas, one of them being "A disgraced warrior trains under the wing of wizard to save the world and is forced to learn magic. "
CBY: How'd you end up working with Doug, and who did what and all that good stuff?
LJ: That idea sat around in my notes for a short while. I was in a comic creator Discord where Doug noticed my work and liked it, and he decided to approach me that same year to potentially write something together. We threw ideas back and forth but nothing stuck until I suggested the idea about a barbarian being forced to re-class as a wizard. Funny enough, I was inspired to do Pitchvember initially after seeing Doug's tweets about it.
CBY: How'd you assemble the rest of your creative team? You've got amazing people working with you.
LJ: Brian Flint, the incredible visual force driving our comic, I knew from a comic collaboration group we both used to take part in, The Comic Jam. Every week an artist and writer are paired together and write a one page comic based on a prompt. I never had the luck to collaborate with Brian, but I loved his art even back then. We already had the script finalized when Brian came on board. I think that polish is part of what attracted him to the project. Toben Racicot was lettering an entirely different pitch packet I was putting together, but when he saw the art we had attached he wanted to be a part of this.
CBY: You've mentioned in some of your press that this is definitely for fans of Conan the Barbarian, and that this story is a bit of a "what if?" in terms of him learning magic. How'd you take on the sword & sorcery genre?
LJ: It fits under that genre, but mainly we wanted to do our own thing. Not that all sword and sorcery stories are self-serious, but we thought very consciously about how to make our main character stand out past the simple "what if" premise the story's based on.
CBY: Is there anything you're doing that goes against the genre, or that undermines some of those tropes in addition to the barbarian actually doing the spells?
LJ: We definitely wanted to go against what we were used to, for the lead characters especially. R'Nar, our main character, is a goofball and a himbo of sorts, something I hadn't seen in any Conan stories. Also, the cast is largely black and brown because we hadn't seen it done before in these kinds of stories.
CBY: What's the tone we can expect? Is this all comedy, or are we getting action and some serious stuff, too?
LJ: Tonally, we're straddling the lines. Action is at the forefront especially in this first issue, but we had fun with the over-the-top comedy aspects we incorporated. The action and the stakes are serious, but that doesn't stop the humor.
CBY: Aside from this campaign, which will obviously be a huge success, what are your plans for the series? How many issues, arcs, etc.?
LJ: We are planning a four-issue miniseries with the potential to do more if people like what we have to offer. We had a lot of fun crafting the stories, and I could definitely see us going further with it if there is an audience for it.
CBY: Your orc obituaries on Twitter are hilarious - how'd you come up with that particular concept?
LJ: Thank you so much, I'm glad you appreciated them! Brian made a random post on instagram that I loved! He named that first orc Smooches (RIP.) That took me back to my message board days where I would make dumb posts and give people nicknames and weird backstories. Smooches had such a fun name, I decided to give him a proper obituary because a lot of orcs are killed in this story, and that Brian took the time to name him felt significant. After that, I was inspired by the amazing designs of a couple orcs that were at the forefront of a particular panel Brian crammed a lot of orcs into!
CBY: Thanks so much for your time, Lesly!
LJ: Thanks, Cabbage!