COMIC BOOK YETI: Hello and welcome to the Yeti Cave, Curt! This is for a segment we call Cryptid-Bits where I ask you questions not only about yourself, but also about your current crowdfunding campaign for Luminology: The Mark Of The Soul, which is on Kickstarter until October 6th! Pull up a chair and tell us a little bit about yourself!
CURT KASADY: Thanks, Yeti! Love what you’ve done with the cave - the human-skin rug really ties the room together! My name’s Curt Kasady. I’m an English guy but I live in Thailand with my beautiful girlfriend Punchie, who grew up here. I write, travel and quote The Simpsons way too much. Punchie is a very talented artist so it was just a matter of time before we came up with our graphic novel trilogy, Luminology: The Mark of the Soul (or ‘Luminology’ for short). CBY: Luminology: The Mark Of The Soul: Book One has been in the making for about 6 years now, combining crime-fantasy meets Trump-era satire in a 92-page comic book. How does it feel to have come this far in your journey with its creation?
CK: It’s crazy to think about. When we first conceived the premise, Trump was just a presidential nominee and the story was much less ambitious. As the world became more polarized, we realized there was so much more to say and Luminology grew into a trilogy totaling nearly 300 pages, full of plot twists and turns, and touching on all kinds of issues: from corporate exploitation, to political corruption, to life not always turning out quite how we imagined it. So yeah, it feels great to have finished the trilogy and be at the publishing stage. Mainly though, after working so hard for so long, it’ll just be nice to get some rest!
CBY: In Book One, we follow Aurora Lee’s journey investigating the deaths of not only her father but now his departed boss across 5 chapters. Can you tell us a bit more about Lee’s abilities as a luminologist?
CK: The story takes place on an alternate Earth where everyone is linked to their soulmate by a tattoo-like mark on their body. A few exceptional people, like our heroine Aurora, have the ability to touch one of those marks and see whatever that person’s soulmate is seeing at the time. For example, since Punchie and I are soulmates, if Aurora touched Punchie’s mark right now, she’d see the inside of your Yeti Cave, because that’s what I’m currently looking at. This rare power is called ‘luminology’. Some use luminology to track down other peoples’ soulmates for money. Some work for the police. Aurora is a private investigator whose father recently committed suicide. Or so it would seem, anyway… CBY: One of the more memorable characters, Network, uses luminology in his work as an underground information broker and has built himself quite an empire, despite being deaf-blind. What was the inspiration there?
CK: We liked the idea of a character whose disability actually put them in a position of strength. Whereas other luminologists, like Aurora, find it agonizing to use their power for longer than a few seconds due to the strain of perceiving two sets of senses at once, being deaf-blind means Network is free of almost all distractions, allowing him to use his power indefinitely. The focus he’s able to achieve because of something usually regarded as a severe disadvantage has allowed him to become the very best at what he does and a force to be reckoned with. He’s a fun character to write too!
CBY: Luminology dives even deeper beneath the surface, going as far as questioning the mark’s choice in soulmates and even one’s sexuality. Does the mark represent any sort of special symbolism within the story?
CK: Each of the five types of mark denotes a personality type. Those with the ‘mountain’ mark stand on towering moral principles. ‘Suns’ are more rational, shining the light of reality on all they see. The ‘skull’ mark, which has a chaotic connotation, is based on the death card in Tarot, which represents change. In fact, if any of your readers are curious what personality type they have, they can head on over to our Kickstarter page where we’ve included a fun little ‘Which soul mark are you?’ quiz.
In a broader sense though, the mark means different things to different people, with some seeing it as a threat to their autonomy and others, like the character questioning their sexuality, viewing it as the solution to all their problems. But fate is cruel and the person who wants something the most rarely has an easy time getting it, so that character is faced with a choice: cling to their existing self-image and reevaluate their life goals accordingly, or be brave enough to confront a new situation head on in the hopes of a better future. This is something that we, as individuals and as a society, struggle with throughout our lives. The difference is that when you have a reminder of that tattooed on your body, it’s a lot harder to deny it’s happening.
CBY: This isn’t your first venture into creating comics though, in 2020 you published a webcomic series about your long distance relationship with Punchie and how it was impacted by the lockdowns. Having been involved in a similar situation, it was a hard barrier to work through until mandates started lifting. Was Love in the Time of Corona a way for you two to cope through that hardship together?
CK: Exactly that. We’d spent several months apart and were just about to reunite when everything shut down so we were absolutely crushed. The idea of documenting such a strange time for the world as it all unfolded was a way of dealing with the frustration, and frustration can be a very powerful creative force. Maybe the most powerful. We did the first 30 episodes in 30 days, which shows you how frustrated we were! We ended up with a total readership of 1500-2000 very supportive fans, which really helped us to realize how relatable our situation was to people like yourself. I hope your situation ended as well as ours (eventually) did. CBY: The teamwork between Punchie and yourself is remarkable. With Love in the Time of Corona consisting of 57 episodes and your current book having 92 pages, has the creative process changed at all from when you two first started working together to present day? CK: Thanks, and yes it has. With Love in the Time of Corona, the whole idea was to keep it current and let it evolve organically. We had no idea what would happen or where it would go, whereas Luminology is a much more considered piece of work with a complex plot that has been very carefully laid out and executed. That has allowed us to explore more profound themes and delve deeper into characters’ personalities. As for Punchie’s art, great as it looks in ‘Corona’, the amount of effort and attention to detail she’s put into Luminology still staggers me. I like to think my writing has improved a bit but it’s hard to believe just how far her artwork has come. CBY: Outside of your current campaign, what else are you two working on or planning to work on in the future? The way you two work together leads me to believe there may be something down the road?
CK: Firstly, we’ve still got the second and third books of Luminology to come, which are already finished and will be released on Kickstarter in the coming 6 months or so. That’s very exciting for us because the tension really ramps up as the story goes on, so anyone who likes the first book is really going to love what comes later.
Apart from that, we’ve got a few ideas but we’ll be on the lookout for a third member of the team before taking on another major project, so if any artists are interested, get in touch! Working as a two is incredibly time consuming and we’d quite like to start spending a bit more time outside. We’ve spent the last year in Thailand and I don’t even have a tan!
CBY: Before we wrap things up completely, which social media platforms would you like to shoutout? Feel free to include Punchie as well!
CK: I’m on Twitter @CurtKasady and Punchie’s on Instagram @PunchieArt. Aside from that, anyone interested in reading Love in the Time of Corona can read it for free on Webtoons and Tapas. Be sure to subscribe as there are a couple of bonus episodes to come.
CBY: I really appreciate you coming by the Yeti Cave and giving us the scoop on Luminology: The Mark Of The Soul: Book One! We wish you nothing but success on your campaign! CK: Thanks, it was my pleasure. And thanks for not eating me!