For as long as anyone can remember the Realms have existed separately. But it wasn’t always so. Eons ago, in the earliest of days, when the gods walked among us, the Realms were one - united. The scribes recount of when the Demiurge descended from the Nexus, an event so cataclysmic that the Realms were forced apart. As time goes by the Realms gradually return to their natural state, but this eclipse has a profound impact on all those who inhabit them. Some see opportunity, others see strife, but one thing is for certain; nothing will ever be the same!
A young girl crashes on a dystopian island city in an escape pod. She’s found and taken in by a group of rebels. The girl doesn’t remember who she is or where she came from. Their only lead is the fact that the escape pod belongs to the militia. Hoping to shed light on her past the girl joins the rebels, who in turn believe she may hold the key to liberating the citizens from their militia oppressors.
Different artists from different trades make up our collective but we all have one thing in common: we are, above all, storytellers. But as any visual storyteller knows, our platforms tend to present us with daunting obstacles at times, which is what’s so beautiful about comics. Granted; comics too have their own issues, but also offer a level of accessibility that other visual media lack. Furthermore, visual storytelling also provides a platform to convey contemporary paradigms; it is exactly that quality that birthed Eclipse in the first place. In a world where - as the adage goes – art is the mother of resistance comics have always had a voice. More importantly, some of those aforementioned obstacles have to do with elitism and nepotism, something we know well from experience certainly exists in our field. By setting up a baseline we hope to ultimately extend that accessibility to other aspiring artists and storytellers and contribute to improving – or in the case of comics in Europe – altogether establish creative industries.
The comic book market is a complex marketplace with a lot of caveats and misconceptions. We certainly don’t make it easy on ourselves by choosing it as our playing filed. To understand that playing field we’ll start by breaking it down into its different kinds. We’ll kick off by highlighting a misconception that we often stumble on. Comic books and comic strips are two different things, the latter of which, in our experience, the former often gets mistaken for. The confusion is however understandable considering that comic strips essentially evolved into comic books – hence the name. Back in the ‘30’s, when the US was well engaged in World War II, back home there was something interesting going on. Comic strips from the papers were being compiled into books that were then send to the troops for entertainment. This proved such a huge success. The demands for such books were so high that editors decided to hire writers to write original stories for these books to keep up with it and the comic book was born. Initially, these stories were catered to a more mature audience. They were often sci-fi, crime or horror stories, Penny Dreadfuls or racy erotic books. The high demand for such books also meant that creators that had been previously struggling to publish their work now suddenly had opportunities. One such team of creators was Joseph Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the creators of Superman. That book was ofcourse such a immense hit that other publishers either felt compelled to follow suit or appeared out of nowhere altogether. Superman, who also began as a comic strip, ushered in the Golden Age of comic books and the rest is history.
There is still another distinction to make when it comes to graphic novels. That distinction lies in the three dominant comic book markets. Besides the American comic book there is also the Franco-Belgian album de bande dessinée and the Japanese manga, each with its own characteristics.
What sets the classic album de bande dessinée, or album for short, apart from the others is that, contrary to most prominent publications from either of the other two markets, an album book is, even when part of a bigger design, most likely a stand-alone story. Over the years some cross-pollination has increased the number of titles that incorporate the bigger design formula, but the classics like Asterix, The Adventures Of Tin Tin and Storm still have that in common. While albums offer a fairly wide array of different content, one perhaps more varied than its American counterpart, it can still be broken down into three pillars. The realistic style offers, well, realism, as seen in series like Storm or XIII. Then theirs is the comedic style as seen in series like Asterix and Spirou & Fantasio. The ligne claire, or clear line style offers a style that, while associated with a more realistic narrative, reduces realistic features in the artwork. Tin Tin and Suske & Wiske fit the bill here.
The Japanese market ofcourse has manga, which, apart from the fact that they are often serialized, sets itself apart in that it offers a much broader range of content to a larger and more diverse audience. Also interesting is that, while it’s cousins often take pages from the book of reality, Manga tends to go full fictional. This influx of original ideas may well be why manga in turn has had such a profound impact, not only on the other markets, but on pop culture as a whole. The most interesting characteristic of manga is arguably that while the other markets follow the same formula thematically, manga do so aesthetically, even in creating a visual language later adopted by many artists outside of Japan. It's quite a feat to create an umbrella-style so recognizable that even someone that’s gone through life without ever reading a single manga can see a panel from it and immediately recognize it as such.
The quintessential American-style comic book is best defined by the fact that with each book you only get tidbits of a bigger thematic design serialized into a collectable series, which often times in turn is also part of an extended universe. Such a universe dictates that, for example, Spider-Man and the Avengers, both from the same publisher, exist in the same universe and that as such events in one book are tied to events in the other, thereby cranking up the collect factor. We’ve opted for this format for our titles because it best suits them. The main reason is that the Akashaverse is an gargantuan monster and this format will help break it down into more digestible portions. However, since our collective is, for the most part, not based in the US, that presents us with a problem that the three markets have had since the very beginning; for some incomprehensible reason they shun each other. Each market is big in its respective country of origin but somewhat obscure outside of it. In Europe, from where most of us operate, has a booming bande dessinée market but even in this day and age, absolutely nobody seems willing or able to do comics, which is in part why we operate autonomously. Here at Purple Corn Studios we think this divide is a real shame and frankly- we don’t get it. And so we decided to establish an independent market of our own, using our own, self-published comic as our flagship.