RICH INTERVIEW: Adam Ma Writer for Folklore

Adam Ma

First Comics News: How would you describe the genre of “Folklore”?

Adam Ma: I think the best way to describe Folklore is as a genre is Superhuman Horror – but I know our work falls into a lot of different categories. There are some pretty heavy sci-fi elements, some mystery, and plenty of action in there too.

1st: What is the basic storyline in “Folklore”?

Adam: Folklore follows a small group of survivors in the wake of a global apocalypse that mutated the world’s greatest heroes into twisted, abominable reflections of their former selves. Connected by tragedy and circumstance these uncertain allies yearn to do what’s necessary to undo the damage caused by heroes who once swore to protect them.

1st: Who is Helios and what role does he play in “Folklore”?

Adam: Helios was once the leader of the North American Federation or “Federation” for short. At the height of the Federation’s golden age, he was unquestionably the strongest superhuman in existence, and he used that strength as a means to build what he felt was a lasting peace. His decisions were ultimately what sparked the Federation’s downfall, leading to the current state of the world.

He is a man haunted by his choices, and despite his mistakes, many survivors still see him as a hero for the good intentions he held in his heart. For now, that natural quality of leadership has made him the de facto leader of the main cast we lovingly (and semi-unofficially) call ‘The Gang’. We’ll see how he handles things going forward.

1st: Why is the world the way it is now in “Folklore”?

Adam: We played around a lot with how damaged the world would be, but a large part of why we’ve gone with a post-apocalyptic setting is because of the implications of Dust. Once a superhuman was put under its effects there were only two things that could happen: They became human as intended, or they mutated into some horrific being.

In some cases, the mutations were wild and unpredictable. We catch a glimpse of that in Issue 1, but the damage from Dustfall is visible all over the world. Not everyone turned into an easy-to-identify monster. Some were devoured by their own shadows, lost control of gravity manipulation, melted, or detonated in an uncontrolled burst of energy. The more of the world we explore in Folklore the more our readers can expect to see – not just in terms of damage, but how survivors are coping with such an unstable and unpredictable global crisis.

1st: Are superheroes now villains?

Adam: Short answer: Not really!

Most are just victims of a truly terrible fate, and we can especially see that reflected in Titan. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to showcase him first – to really hammer in that there isn’t a kind of good or evil that’s easy to identify in this world. Personally, I think that’s much more horrifying.

1st: What is the Dust?

Adam: Dust is the catalyst that prompted Folklore’s apocalypse. It was technically intended as an airborne ‘cure’ for superhuman genetic traits…but I think it’s safe to say that it could have used more testing before its global release.


1st: Who is Quietus?

Adam: Quietus is the antagonist that appears at the start of Issue 4: A living, sentient mass of shadow that seeks the humanity its former master has since lost. Its full motivations are a bit of an unknown at this time, and for now, we intend to keep it that way.

While we don’t want to spoil too much, I will say that you can expect to see more of Quietus even after our most recent story arc concludes.

1st: Can you tell us about Helios’ companions on his journey?

Adam: Helios is the leader, but the rest of the gang really helps to bring insight into what the Federation actually was all about. I wanted them to be a reflection of all walks of life, united by this really grim urgency. A soldier of war, an investigative reporter, an officer, a student, and a…guy who likes to eat and nap.

The journey to help ‘fix’ Helios’ mess is more of a shared quest. They’re all invested in its success for different reasons, and while Helios definitely feels like the core protagonist I think that’s going to shift more and more as Folklore goes on. Helios is just the easiest perspective to understand. He’s a leader, he failed, and now he wants redemption. But Christa, Diana, Lawrence, Greg, and James all have a horse in this race. They have motivations and history that will push them forward even when Helios may falter. He’s made some terrible mistakes before, after all.

As the gang travels, I think it will become more and more apparent that Helios needs their determination to succeed. I think it will also become glaringly obvious that none of them are safe from the clutches of death.

1st: When can we look forward to volume three?

Adam: We typically release Volumes at the end of what we feel to be a good resting point for the story. Volume 1 and 2 are each three issues long, but we’re intentionally breaking that trend for Volume 4. This next arc will be longer, so our readers may be waiting some time for a collection. I wish I could give a really hype answer like “Give us a year!”, but that’s the struggle behind being fully independent. Folklore is written, edited, and illustrated in our free time. We have full-time careers outside of this that keep the lights on while we commit to this passion project.

All that said, Folklore isn’t released in Volumes! We release at least two issues a year, with updates being free online via our website. Our goal is that the only time you’ll need to pay for Folklore is if you want to hold it in print. Or, alternatively, if you decide to support us on Patreon.

1st: Do you have any ideas for another comic?

Adam: I have SO MANY IDEAS. Folklore is my heart and soul, but I’d love to explore genres beyond this weird blend of superhuman horror Colin and I have built. As a writer, I have a little more freedom in tackling different projects. I’d like to take advantage of that this year, and it’s been a goal of mine to work on some one-shot comics that I can easily plan and commit to seeing finished in a single production cycle.

1st: What other comics would you recommend?

Adam: Depends on your taste! I have so many comics I’d love to shout out. If we’re talking about what to pick up at your local comic shop, I will never stop singing praise for Murder Falcon. It’s the complete package deal in terms of story, art, and a harrowing emotional journey. I’m also a big fan of Something is Killing the Children.

If you want to support some more indie creators like myself? Hoo, settle in because there’s so much amazing stuff out there you should be reading. If you’re part of the Webtoons crowd, Rodesha and the Mountain Troll is a fantastic comic folktale-esque comic, and Rise from Ashes (which just concluded!) is a manga-style fantasy about ghosts and the spirit mediums who govern over them.

For webcomics similar to Folklore in release schedule, I’d recommend checking out the small-town thriller, The Pale. There’s also Stand Still and Stay Silent, which is a gorgeous apocalyptic comic adapting elements of Norse mythos. Oh, and how about Cut Time which is just straight-up classic 90s manga goodness. Have some links below and please check them all out.

1st: How do you spend any free time you get?

Adam: Being extremely productive!

I mean, that’s what I’d like to say but to be honest I spend a lot of time juggling hobbies as well. When I’m not working on Folklore or my personal creative writing goals, I’m painting miniatures and running D&D sessions. I also paint minis and do my fair share of tabletop wargaming. I spend so much time looking at screens that I like to do things that let me take a step away from them. That’s one of the reasons I value print runs. Nothing compares to being able to physically hold work, and examine it away from the glow of a monitor.

1st: What superpower would you like to have if you could have one?

Adam: If I had to answer quickly I’d say something like super speed. The Flash probably gets so much done in a single day. Plus, you can even travel so much! I’d be able to make it to every convention. You know, when conventions are a thing again one day.

I’d also be totally down with some kind of elemental control. Being able to move the earth, or to bend air or water would be awesome. Naturally, I would use it for extremely mundane things like making myself an elemental chair or pouring water into a cup. But I would look extremely cool while doing it.

1st: What would you like to say to fans of your work?

Adam: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Folklore has been an experiment in creativity. We wanted to tell a story we believed in with a commitment to quality, and every step of the way we’ve found support and encouragement from readers and members of the indie comic community. It’s so heartwarming, and this entire process has given me such a profound appreciation for why comics are so important and lasting.

Creating Folklore has changed my life for the better. You, dear reader, have changed my life for the better. We’ve been doing this for around six years so far. I’m really excited for the next six, or however many more precious moments we have to keep working on this wonderful story.

About Author