Putting the JOY in JOYSTICK ANGELS – An Interview with T.J. Sterling

Updated: Jun 24

T.J. Sterling, creator of JOYSTICK ANGELS, chats with Comic Book Yeti interviewer Steve Thompson about making a comic with a soundtrack, the feeling of seeing people like yourself in comics, and creating comics for the sake of creating comics, not as a soft pitch to Netflix. Plus, find out what's next for RAE COMICS!


And back the Joystick Angels Kickstarter today!


For folks who want a little more background info, here it is below:


Independent Black-owned publisher Red Arcis Entertainment (RAE), known for the Okemus comic book series, launched a Kickstarter for their brand-new YA comic book series Joystick Angels and funded their full $8000 within the first 24 hours. The proceeds will go towards printing, publishing, marketing, and distributing Joystick Angels #1 and includes an original soundtrack created exclusively for the story.

Joystick Angels is a comic book space opera that takes place post-Earth after an evil alien parasitic empire, the Eukarya, destroy the planet. The last of humanity settled on the satellite space vessel, The Libor Space Station, and now must defeat the alien menace. The story follows a squadron of five teenage space pilots, Fox, Deuce, Tank, Dragonetti, and Legz, called the Angels as they seek retribution.

The series was co-written by RAE Comics President and Founder T.J. Sterling and his brother, music producer Spenser Sterling, who composed the OST. Their collaboration blends their creative skills and serves as a love letter to 90s comics, mech anime, and video games they both were fanatic about as kids. The comic is illustrated by Nats "Shun" Ledesma, with colors by Loris Ravina (Changa, Stronghold) and letters by Deron Bennett (Okemus). Dr. Shamika Mitchell served as the Joystick Angels Editor.

T.J., a comic book industry veteran who has worked on over 50 titles at both Marvel and DC Comics, worked as a Production Artist on well-known characters such as Spider-Man, Avengers, and a Layout artist on Batman, before founding RAE Comics in 2015. The company aims to publish unique stories about under-represented characters featuring Black, POC, and LGBTQ heroes.

“Growing up, I saw almost no representation of Black or people of color in the comics I read. I promised myself that when I created my own stories, the characters would reflect the world I know.” - T. J. Sterling

While T.J. pursued art, Spenser followed his passion for composing, founding Mitt Music, a music production company specializing in the Hip-Hop, RnB, and Pop genres. Spenser has amassed over 100 songs and has producer credits with artists such as Chucky Grand and Natasha Jane Julian. Although it’s his first comic, Spenser is thrilled to be working with his brother on Joystick Angels.

“We've created a universe of characters without superpowers and in a lane all by themselves. We also wanted to tell a great story with a cast of melanated relatable people.” – Spenser Sterling

The Sterlings collaborated with artist Nats Ledesma, colorist Loris Ravina, letterer Deron Bennett, and Lead Editor Dr. Shamika Mitchell to bring the exciting YA action-adventure that is Joystick Angels to life.


The Kickstarter campaign runs through June 12th and funds the print and the production costs for Joystick Angels Issue #1, music production of the soundtrack, and digital and print issues of Joystick Angels, RAE Comics previous comic, Okemus, and the Joystick Angels Original Soundtrack. Now that stretch goals are in sight, the team hopes they can fund the second issue of the series, as well as pay their artist an even higher page rate. Other stretch goals include master classes in art and music production from T.J. and Spenser respectively, collectibles, and more. ABOUT RAE COMICS RAE Comics was founded in 2015 by artist, writer, and creator, T.J. Sterling, to publish unique stories about under-represented characters. As well as to create innovative, popular, and rarely seen narratives about Black and POC characters. In addition to comics, RAE also sells art prints, t-shirts, and collectibles.