Saint follows a man who’s given his wish to be a superhero but finds that the super hero life is not what he expected. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
To be honest, part of my inspiration comes from a fleeting, and perhaps juvenile, frustration. Every so often I find myself pondering the fact that superheroes don’t exist, yet super villains kind of do, you know? As soon I have this notion of a hero coming out of the woodworks to save humanity, it is quickly checked by the reality that it just wouldn’t work that way in real life. That is where Saint’s flaws come from; he played hero out of passion and it killed him, then he came back as what he had dreamed of, yet life was just as unforgiving.
Jake is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Thank you! I liked the idea of a truly altruistic protagonist, yet wanted a character who wasn’t afraid to kill when it was necessary. I enjoyed exploring this concept because it initially seems contradictory, and is intended to make the reader question their assessment of ethics. His journey from a rock-solid, “perfect” character into a flawed, heavily emotional character is also derived from contradiction: “How can I make this character get better in some ways, yet worse in others?” was my mindset. I find it can be boring if characters go in one direction or have too much linear development.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this graphic novel?
An important theme in Saint is self growth while staying true to yourself. Jake stumbles upon his new life as Saint, but ultimately has to revert back to his roots when his back is against the wall. Another theme readers will find is vengeance. I really tried to layer the vengeance and feuds to create a classic cat-and-mouse feel.
Do you have plans to continue this comic series or develop it in other types of media?
Yes! I have plans for two more volumes of equal length, as well as two short novels that will fill in the gaps between. I may explore other media in the future, but for now I am just writing away!
Jake Barker always wanted to be a superhero. Acting as a vigilante for years, one day he finally got his wish…too bad he had to die for it. As the world’s first superhero, he’s finding that his new life is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Now out for vengeance, will his abilities be enough, or will vengeance find him first?
This contains the full compilation of all 5 chapters, plus an epilogue and bonus art!
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Saint a graphic novel by J.R. Dunbar is a compelling and kinetic action adventure comic that is a strong addition to anyone’s graphic novel collection. At its heart, Saint is the story of a child who is consumed by the superhero genre. He dreams of the day that he’ll become a crime fighter like his favorite characters. This becomes an obsession that sets his his life on a singular course.
Unlike many reluctant heroes, he undertakes the hero’s journey out of the desire to do good. To make a difference. Helping others is a principle factor in his development, which is refreshing to see in an overcrowded superhero market where so many main characters have tragic backstories, or are conceited, self-centered people forced to change, even Clark Kent in the new Superman movies is being bent in this new direction of dark hero’s. J.R. Dunbar has created a hero who aspires to do good, reminiscent of the classic comics of the genre, but he’s able to do it with a gritty contemporary feel that never feels out of place with today’s comics.
The artwork has a unique sketched art style with lots of bright colors that contrasts with the darker shading throughout the story. Some scenes are very detailed, even gory, but other scenes have a flat color that I would have liked to have seen given some texture. One scene I really enjoyed is the one where one character is crushed and the blood spatter comes out of the cell; very fun, unique and vivid.
Saint has plenty of profanity and graphic violence, if that’s what you’re into, but we’re also given a great action packed story that puts our hero to the tests in some very creative ways against some bad guys that are interesting and well crafted. This is a graphic novel, as it combines several of J.R. Dunbar’s comics, so readers get a more well rounded story arc then what’s found in a regular comic. If you enjoy a backstory that’s detailed and provides ample time in fleshing it out then you will definitely like this graphic novel. This is all the character development we get as we’re only given a bit more pieces throughout the novel as Saint fights crime in a uniquely Saint type of way.
Saint is an interesting take on the super hero genre. A great addition to anyone’s graphic novel collection. This is an imaginative story that will hook readers with a well-conceived story line and a likeable hero.
Pages: 155 | ASIN: B08P3NS2F8
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Captain Fantastic and the Chocolate Planet by Tommy Balaam is an imaginative and educational children’s adventure story of a spaceship captain and his dog Winston. When Winston is hungry and they find that there’s no food in their fridge, Captain Fantastic gets an idea. They travel to a Chocolate Planet full of sweets and treats for them to devour. They roam around, eating nearly everything in sight. When they return to their ship they’re so stuffed that they can’t fit through the door and don’t feel well. How will they ever get home?
Tommy Balaam’s has fun story full of vivid imagery, and it’s use of onomatopoeia and rhymes just makes the book much more engaging an interesting. The art in the book reminds me of a comic book style, with bright colors, clear pictures with some depth to them along with floating text boxes. The detailed artwork is visually appealing and will easily capture any child’s attention. This book does a fantastic job of delivering a message on health, eating, and exercise. It is certainly one of the more creative ways that I’ve seen to educate children on these topics.
I am giving Captain Fantastic and the Chocolate Planet, by Tommy Balaam 5 out of 5 stars. Filled with incredible artwork, a sweet story, and fantastic characters, this a perfect gift for young readers.
Pages: 32 | ASIN: B08PJPWJ18
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I’ve Got You is a fun space adventure for young readers. Captain Fantastic and his best friend Winston sail through the galaxy when they encounter a scary looking galaxy. When Winston gets frightened Captain Fantastic’s mission is to reassure his best friend and let him know that he’ll never be alone. Together, they can face anything.
Tommy Balaam has created a charming children’s story that is filled with colorful images that give life to this simple but effective story. I don’t often come across children’s picture books that fall within the science fiction genre. This is a welcome surprise as the story embraces it with a unique charisma that is reminiscent of early science fiction TV shows like Flash Gordon.
The story begins with the duo departing on an adventure. Before long we’re given a peek into their various exciting adventures on diverse planets and against many cute monsters. All relayed through rhyme. I loved the story but what I enjoyed most about this book, much like a comic book, was the fantastic art and imagery throughout the story. A fantastic start to what promises to be an amazing intergalactic children’s series.
Pages: 32 | ASIN: B08BKSBHSN
Tags: adventure, author, book, book review, bookblogger, Captain Fantastic Book 1, childrens book, comic book, daniel howard, dog, ebook, elementary, fun, funny, goodreads, I've Got You, kids book, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, parent, pet, picture book, read, reader, reading, rhyme, science fiction, scifi, space, story, teacher, tommy balaam, writer, writing
Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is a genre-crossing novel with elements of over-the-top action, science fiction, and dark humor as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The science fiction part was planned, but the rest evolved. I started out with a loose goal to try and write something like Neuromancer, but it ended up being a lot less serious.
Suzy is a fugitive on the run and takes no crap from anyone. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight her character’s development?
The situations involving her tendency to be impulsive – her inclination to shoot first, ask no questions, and then shoot again. Also, the situations involving trust. Suzy isn’t very trusting, but it’s hard to get through a good fight without a few friends, and she needs to deal with that.
There was rarely a dull moment in the story and I enjoyed the rapid fire action. How did you balance action with storytelling?
I try to make the action all about how the characters react to the stress. The real story is in the characters, otherwise it’s just a bunch of empty gunfire and explosions. To paraphrase Jim Butcher, “The action is just a light show.”
Also, I think action comes in different forms. Two people talking is action – as long as there’s tension, or it’s entertaining in a way that relates to the plot, or both. Kurt Vonnegut once said that “Every line should either reveal character or advance the plot.” I think about that quote a lot.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have outlines for four new books, but I’m not sure which one I want to do. One of the outlines is for another Suzy Spitfire story, and I might do it. It was a fun book to write. It would be available next year.
When outlaw Suzy Spitfire discovers her father was murdered after creating a super-duper artificial intelligence, she races across the solar system in search of the brain he built—but it’s a rough ride, and she’s soon forced to tangle with pirates, predators, and her father’s killer—as well as a man she thinks she can love.
Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is a smash-bang sci-fi adventure filled with action, intrigue, and a dose of dark humor.
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Chicken: A Comic Cat Memoir is about a girl named TJ who grew up allergic to cats, but over time, the allergy faded. As an adult she finds a tuxedo cat with bright green eyes. It’s a beautiful story of life, cat’s, and loss. What was your inspiration for this story?
My daughter who, when she was 5-years-old, repeatedly wanted to hear this true story about how we found our cat, Chicken. I told her every night for a year, at which point she suggested I “make pictures” for it. That lead me down an unexpectedly long path to finally officially publishing.
Do you have cats? If so, what are their names? What do you think your cat named you?
Yes, we now have Cha-cha who, like Chicken, also found me in a dream. I’d have to say Cha-cha named me “hu-mom” (made up word for human mom) because she wanted me to find her as much as Chicken did. She’ll be the star of the next story!
Through the story there are little doodles and background decorations that tell a different story. Can you tell us more about that story and why you chose to weave that in?
About halfway into creating the artwork, it hit me that through telling the cat’s story, I was telling my own. I think that every life is multi-layered and wanted to communicate some of those other layers that coincided with the one of finding a cat through a dream that then materialized. While I wanted to offer a “nod” to some of the details of my life as a relatable subtext, I didn’t want it to take over the primary cat story as told to my daughter. I think this may be why much of the positive feedback I’ve been getting is essentially saying it’s “fun for all ages.”
I liked the artwork through the story. I thought it went very well with the story. Were there any panels that you didn’t include in the story? What was the biggest challenge in creating the art for the book?
As the author/illustrator, I did all the writing and artwork. Once I did the rough sketches and managed to capture the accurate mood of most of the panels, I was preparing to ink them in the way that traditional cartoonists work. However, I faced a rather daunting creative block in taking that next step. I didn’t do anything for about two whole years and then my daughter and I made a mini book called The Frizzball from Outer Space. The fun of working on that project and getting it done so quickly, gave me the courage to begin the Chicken illustrations. Once I got ball rolling, I quickly realized that I wanted to include some photography and collage so it made more sense to to all of it digitally. My background is in graphic design—both practicing and teaching it—so I know how to use the tools of the trade. What I hadn’t done before this book, was create artwork on an iPad. While I’m always up for learning something new, it took so long to get up to speed that by the time I reached the end, I had to start back at the beginning and re-do most of those first panels. Also, there are limits to digital tools and, in some instances, such as creating the front cover title art for the word “Chicken,” I was only able to attain the look and result I wanted by doing it by hand with brush and ink then scanning it in. In the end, keeping track of and backing up the thousands of files it took to create this was a real accomplishment in and of itself!
What is the next book that your fans should be on the look out for?
When you get to the end of Chicken, the next character presents itself. It’s very small, but if you look closely you’ll see the star of the next book.
A true tale about the magical meeting of a cat and her person told in 72 full-color illustrations in a rustic, cartoon, doodle, collage style. A cat allergy sets the stage for this colorful romp in which a cat named Chicken finds her way into the arms and affection of TJ, an artist in search of adventure and meaning. Brought together by seeming divine intervention, the storyline ranges from funny to emotional, sweet to silly, thoughtful to mystical, as readers travel with TJ and Chicken between coasts, encountering diverse friendships along the way.
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