In August, Iron Circus Comics hit up Kickstarter to fund their awesome comics anthology The Woman and the Woods and Other North American Stories. Now, they’re returning to the platform with the fantasy graphic novel Real Hero S--t.
Launched on Monday, cartoonist Kendra Wells tells the story of a misfit gang of adventurers: a demonic playboy prince, a stoic half-elf, a short-fused mage, and a compassionate cleric. Together, they set out to protect the innocent, fight injustice, and show off how cool they look. It’s a fun, well-drawn queer romp that’ll make you laugh. (The campaign had already surpassed its goal of $15,000 by mid-day Monday.)
Wells sat down with AIPT to discuss the project, their roots in D&D and RPGs, and how to approach specific types of jokes, among other topics.
AIPT: First and foremost, how long have you been into D&D and RPGs?
Kendra Wells: I’ve loved RPGs since I was a little kid, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was one of the first console games I ever played, and I sunk hundreds of hours into it. D&D came much later, I didn’t know anyone who played it growing up so it wasn’t until I started watching Critical Role in 2015 or 2016 that I was hooked. As someone who loves medieval fantasy and also improv and performance and role-playing, it felt like such a perfect fit for my interests.
AIPT: What is the elevator pitch for this book in as few words as possible?
KW: Lord of the Rings but gay and dumb.
AIPT: How do you find the voice of Eugene and get into the endearing and flirtatious spirit when writing?
KW: I really love fictional characters who fall into the “charismatic douchebag” category, so Eugene came very easily to me. In real life these kinds of people don’t usually have a lot of redeeming qualities, so the real fantasy is that a playboy princeling secretly kinda sorta has a heart of gold. Maybe brass.
AIPT: I really enjoy your lettering, it’s almost…wholesome? How do you approach lettering a page and tell that part of the storytelling?
KW: All the lettering in the speech bubbles is actually a typeface, and thank goodness because my handwriting is terrible. The sound effects and some of the big splashy text I did by hand though, which was fun because it is very outside my wheelhouse, due to the aforementioned terrible handwriting. I really admire letterers who can build text into the art of the page seamlessly, it’s so much harder than it looks!
AIPT: Is there an art to the dick joke?
KW: I’d like to think so! The market is oversaturated with “penis funny”, but the thing is: penis funny.
AIPT: The chapter breaks with full-page profile images are really pretty. Was this addition a reference to other work or inspired by something to be added in?
KW: Thank you! They are 100% inspired by the manga I read growing up—I used to love the inserts and chapter break fashion illustrations in series like Sailor Moon and Hana Kimi. It was so blatantly an excuse to draw your characters in cool outfits that they’d never wear in canon, and I adore that kind of self-indulgence.
AIPT: Were there any fantasy creatures or tropes you wanted to get into this book that didn’t quite fit?
KW: This book is pretty light on fantasy creatures, actually. There’s a waug, which is a long haired crocodile; a grug, which we do not see but it’s sort of a cold-blooded bulldog type thing; and a paka, which is a big shaggy goat. Pakas are the primary beast of burden in the series because I didn’t want to draw horses.
AIPT: Are there any stretch goals or extras you’re most excited about?
KW: There are, but they’re secret! I guess everyone is gonna have to pledge and see what they are!! Oops!!!
AIPT: Does everyone assume you dress up as fantasy-themed characters for Halloween or is it just me?
KW: I’m being Waluigi this year. Wa, etc.
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