Interview with JD Gonzales and Roman Gubskii
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF CROSSBONES!
Crossbones is a new comic from Covenant Comics, created by JD Gonzales with art by Roman Gubskii. Creating a reality where superheroes exist on Earth in ways that are not Marvel or DC is not exactly an easy accomplishment. With Crossbones, thanks to JD’s writing and Roman’s art, we are seeing that kind of comic come into formation.
Before you is a detailed look into the world of Crossbones and interviews with both JD and Roman.
Let us first take a look at the characters that you’ll be introduced to. In just the first two issues of Crossbones, we are introduced to a variety of characters. After a brief mention, the creators give extra information on the characters below:
Crossbones / Cruz:
The star of Crossbones is a killer on the road to redemption. When the series starts he’s the lieutenant of the Los Demonios cartel. As Crossbones starts his journey towards redemption Crossbones gains powers and is cursed by the Ferryman of the Underworld, Charon.
“As the series continues on, we will get a deeper look into the dichotomy of good and evil the more we get to know Crossbones. Even he himself will have to learn more about who he truly is on his journey!”
“For the Cruz, JD already have a design which I really like. It reminded me of the Crow. A grounded in reality appearance which fits well for a cartel member and still can be considered a good guy.”
The Ferryman of the Underworld. Charon is compelled to give Crossbones a second chance by a higher power. In anger, Charon also curses Crossbones to feel and see the sins of others.
“Charon is a reflection of our own personal demons, eventually, we all have to face them. Unfortunately for Crossbones, that is literal.”
“There are many versions of Charon. But I saw him more like an intimidating but yet wise-looking guy. He saw a lot of people in his eternal life, so a staggering amount of stories and information goes through him.”
Caretaker of a graveyard whose actions and words help lead Crossbones towards redemption.
“Virgil’s morality and virtues have been shaped by his earnest love for God. He’s a devout Catholic. When a man returns from the dead, Virgil sees this as an opportunity from God. As many people that he has helped guide into the afterlife, never has he ever been able to guide one back to life.”
“For Virgil, I actually use the image of an old man I saw someday. He was very charismatic, so when reading the description I instantly remembered him.”
Inferno / Cesario Flores:
Unredeemable drug lord of the Los Demonios. His moniker of Inferno was established before he was empowered with the powers of an inferno.
“Now using his newfound power and the spread of New Eden, Cesario aims to exercise more power over San Diablo.”
“For Inferno, I was thinking of intelligence and polite looking kinda, businessman. That will contrast with what he becomes. Cold-blooded in one time and furious in another.”
Los Demonios Cartel:
Crossbone is employed by Los Demonios when the series begins. The cartel has held power in San Diablo for decades.
“Almost like a parasite, this cartel sucks the life out of San Diablo. Those who reside there, feel the effects of having Los Demonios take advantage of them. Now with the rise of their new drug, New Eden, things will only get worse for San Diablo.”
“Old rules are long gone for them and they are the ones who will shape new order here in San Diablo, with the help of “New Eden”.
Los Santos Cartel:
Competition cartel to Los Demonios. Sellers of the “original” Eden Drug. Led by Miguel Iberra.
“You can only be on top for so long before you fall. This new cartel will challenge Los Demonios, how will they tread?”
A drug that changes the landscape of San Diablo forever as well as its users. It is unknown as to who created the original strain of Eden. Los Santos deals in Eden while Los Demonios created New Eden from Eden.
“A drug which has great power. I give the “Eden” explosive properties to add the sense of danger to this as well as chemical looking glow. After that, you can imagine how dangerous is the “New Eden” is.”
A city half in Mexico, half in America and the city that Crossbones takes place in.
San Diablo does much more than serve as the setting of the story. It really paints a picture of most things in life, cut right down the middle. It is an illustration of the situation that Crossbones finds himself in.
“I use Brownsville as a base design and placement of the city, and JD thought the same way. The mix of realism and fiction would give the story a more grounded and realistic feel.”
Just the short span of two issues, we’re introduced to quite a lot. JD promises that this is just the beginning of much more comic book fun in future issues.
I read both issues and see a good, solid foundation for character development and future stories to be told. It has the feel and potential that came from reading all good superhero stories that deliver on anticipation for what’s coming up in the next issue. JD and Roman form a good creative team to accomplish exactly that.
With that in mind, we continue with interviews with both,
JD and Roman:
AND CO-PUBLISHER OF CONVENT COMICS,
Crossbones is your comic with artist Roman Gubskii. What do readers have to look forward to?
Crossbones is a story following an ex-cartel member as he is betrayed by the very people he called his allies. Eventually gaining new powers and coming face to face with the evils he has committed, Crossbones is torn right down the middle of who he is. It is basically about an evil man to become a superhero!
There is a belief that bad people don’t even know that they’re the bad guy. I suspect that might have been the case for Crossbones. That is until he confronts the evil he has done and decides what he has to do next.
That is something that is relatable to everyone I think….coming to terms with yourself when you are in the wrong. Depending on what the wrong is and the choices made, such lessons in life can be life-defining moments. It will be interesting to see how Crossbones deals with his choice.
How did Crossbones come about?
I created Crossbones when I was in middle school. I’ve always loved comic books and superheroes, but always wondered what a character of my own creation would do in these situations. A hero I can somewhat relate to. Ultimately, I’m just a normal dude, trying to make this dream come true.
Roman Gubskii is a comic book artist who was born in Russia. After drawing comic books as a hobby for 10 years, Roman decided to follow his dream of working as a full-time comic book artist. He has since moved to Costa Rica and is now working to make his dream a reality.
It’s a project built by dreamers.
Comics and dreamers. That is an interesting synergy. Will Eisner wrote an autobiographical graphic novel that was called ‘Dreamers’. In many ways, comics cause readers to dream about possibilities and question things. What was the biggest obstacle in making Crossbones a reality?
Well, I am just an ordinary guy. I have zero experience in the comic world. So the hardest challenge thus far has been my lack of experience. Getting people to read the comic has been quite the challenge as well. However, as time passes, I find that I am breaking out of a shell of sorts and am gaining more experience and contacts. I believe those two things are vital in really any indie project.
The important thing to remember is that we all start somewhere and failure is part of the ride, just continue doing what you’re doing.
The collaboration between you and Roman looks like you guys work well together. It is hard to find a good working collaboration in comics. I am curious, as an author, what drew you to comics vs. prose?
I always had an infatuation for comics. I mean when you think about it, it is very different from most other forms of literature. Essentially you have a group of people coming together and making a book. You have writers, artists, colorists, people who do letters. These people come together and collaborate to make that project work. There’s something beautiful about that.
I might be going deeper than it should be, but I genuinely appreciate that. That’s why I enjoy working with Roman, he such a great artist. There are times where I intentionally leave things out of the script, so I can see his creativity flourish.
In the world that Crossbones exists in, his powers and others are given powers through some sort of drug. It will be interesting to see who gains powers, their story involving drug use, and how they decide to use their powers. Crossbones uses him initially for survival and revenge, but in time, your trending towards good and I’m guessing redemption. What are Crossbones powers? He is at a disadvantage in regards to his powers because it appears that he has a learning curve to learn to use them. How long have superpowers been a reality in Crossbones? Is everyone at the same learning disadvantage that Crossbones is at? What happens when it’s revealed that the drug gives powers to people who take them?
That is something that I can’t wait to dive deeper into this story. I think we have only scratched the surface in the world of Crossbones. Much like our reality, Opioid Addiction is a real thing in their world as well. That is something I felt the need to touch on; the consequences that people face with such addictions. Powers are not necessarily new to the world of Crossbones, but they certainly aren’t commonplace. We’ll go deeper into what that means later in the story. Crossbones as a person isn’t the most liked person on the planet, he’s a notorious criminal. So the road to redemption for him will be certainly a difficult one. That alongside these new powers, Osteokinesis (The ability to manipulate the bones of oneself). I mean what a strange ability to have, so waking up and having these powers and then having to somehow find redemption. What a funny situation to find oneself in.
Crossbones is being released by Covenant Comics. Talk about Covenant a little:
Covenant Comics was formed by my friend, Jesse, and myself officially in 2018. However, we’ve been talking comics since high school. Covenant Comics stands for what we believe in, that the reader feels a sort of awe and inspiration each time they read. After all, that’s how comics should make us feel. They help us believe in something that is bigger than ourselves and gets lost in the wonder.
What comics gave you that sort of awe and inspiration? How many issues do you already have planned out in your mind?
You mention your friend Jesse. I imagine there will be additional comics on the Covenant roster. What are the company’s future plans?
I first started reading comics when I was younger, but when I really got into comics was about 2011. That year Scott Snyder’s run on Batman began with Greg Capullo. That run on Batman is what got me HOOKED on comics, now I buy comics every week.
As of right now, the first 10 issues are planned out for Crossbones. What comes after that, who knows, I like to be hopeful. By that I mean, as long as the series goes, it can go on forever. You mention your friend Jesse.
I imagine there will be additional comics on the Covenant roster. What are the company’s future plans?
Great question! Actually, as of right now, we are working on his first title, Aether. Which is his version of Crossbones.
Funny thing, that’s basically how we started all of this. We were sitting at a lunch table in high school and one of us asked, “If you can make any superhero you wanted, what would it be?” From there it’s all history, we’ve been planning things since. Ultimately I am excited for what the future holds for Covenant Comics.
What ways can someone keep up with Crossbones?
Social Media! We have Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! we post to all three of them pretty regularly. That is where we make all of our announcements about all the going ons, here at Covenant Comics.
How can someone buy Crossbones?
The series is on its second issue. We are going to run a Kickstarter for both issues so that they may be printed, early in October.
The first issue is available on Comixology here:
INTERVIEW WITH CROSSBONES ARTIST
One of the great things about books, music, movies, art, and comics is how they are global in reach. You were born in Russia, and are now living in Costa Rica.
Octoberina from Russia is an interesting contribution to comics and even made an impact on pop culture through Billy Idol and others who have appropriated her image. John Timms, also from Costa Rica, is an artist for Marvel and DC. Franco Cespedes works for IDW. I’m always amazed at the breadth of comics across the planet.
What kind of comic industry does Russia or Costa Rica have? What imported comics are popular in Russia and Costa Rica?
We have publishers in Russia which have their own comic series (Bubble Comics, for example) as well as many Indie publishers and authors. Comic conventions like Starcon and ComiconRussia as well as Kommissia festival. But there is a long way to go for Russian comic industry in my opinion. Still, there are a lot of very talented people there.
As for Costa Rica, I really don’t know anything about the state of comic book industry here (shame on me). I live here not that long.
I spend my time mostly working and studying right now (not to mention the time needed for my family) so I don’t have any time really for other things.
As for the tastes in comics, I think they are generally the same as in the US. I, for myself, more keen on Underground stuff or stuff that has an unusual art style.
Your art has fluid-like kinetic energy that feels alive like a storyboard for like a movie or music video through an indie lens and transformed into a comic. Your pacing and movement from panel to panel and what happens between panels is an example of what’s make sequential art exciting.
I’m curious about your influences and what drew you to becoming a comic book artist?
There are lots of them. From games to music, and from books, comic books to movies. The first one, I think was, The Gorillaz band when they appear, both for music and art. I really dig Jamie Hewlett style that time. Then it was Jhonen Vasquez, Aaron Alexovich. Today I really dig Norman Rockwell stuff and Rupert Everton (though his stuff is beautiful but not for everyone). But I always look for something else to admire.
What other comics might readers know your art from?
“Duck County Chronicles” by “Metal Ninja Studios“, “The Superfluous Saga” by Jimmy Gonzalez, “Lizards” by John Holland, I’ve done one comic for Supercilious Comics though it still in production I think. “Punchline” by Benito Andino. Other comic stuff that is still in production. And I’ve done a bunch of book covers and regular commissions.
Give a look into your process for creating the visuals of Crossbones?
I don’t think it differs from how anyone else doing it.
In short, everything starts with the reading of a script and doing a storyboard. I usually do it in a pretty loose style (I dunno if anyone can understand it rather than me), but if the author asks I can do a more detailed version.
You can see the example on the first image.
Then I’m doing a pencil sketch of the page and the author reviews it and gives me corrections if needed.
After that I inked the page with the help of lightbox, scan it and get it ready for coloring.
After that, I color it digitally.
I’m fortunate to have read a preview of the first two issues. I can say that I am looking forward to pledging to the Kickstarter and seeing where JD and Roman take Crossbones. There is always something magical when a new superhero comic universe opens up and lets us in to read. I remember the days of Eclipse, First Comics, Comico, and later Image and the other companies that have come up. While Marvel and DC do great superhero comics, there is something in reading new superhero universes that really revs things up and excites the mind. Maybe Crossbones will do that for you!
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