Independent Comics Creator Nandor Fox Shaffer Discusses Balancing Light and Dark in “Seasons” (Interview)
Like sands in the hourglass, so are the seasons of our lives…
Independent comic book creator Nandor Fox Shaffer recently launched a crowdfunding campaign for volumes 1 and 2 of Seasons, graphic novels that began as a dramatic web comic. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to discuss his Seasons campaign which is still available to support here.
As always, the answers below are represented as closely to “as written” as possible with only minimal edits.
The Splintering: Your protagonist Fletcher has powers that change with the changing of the seasons. If it was July, and Fletcher was in Houston but then crossed the equator heading for Perth Australia, would his powers change?
Nandor Shaffer: So I think this is the first time I’ve been asked this type of question and I’m really glad you did, haha. It’s not something that’s directly addressed in the series — everything pretty much stays in the states — but if this were to happen, Fletcher’s powers would remain consistent to his own internal, natural clock, if that makes sense.
TS: You listed Akira and James O’Barr’s The Crow as inspirations (among others). Are there other inspirations for Seasons aside from comics and manga? I’m getting some Jungian themes in volume one, or am I reading too much into it?
NS: Definitely. I’m a movie/TV show and music fanatic and a creative sponge when it comes to watching or listening to something I thoroughly enjoy. Without being presently conscious of it, I see influences from stories and songs after the fact most of the time. I own every season of 24 and Doctor Who and you can see how the real time structure and long-form storytelling from those series made their way into the DNA of Seasons. I also adore stuff from Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain, Mother) and Sam Esmail (Comet, Mr. Robot). And music lends itself to so much fascinating imagery to take advantage of.
The Carl Jung connection is an interesting story. Believe it or not, the idea for the shadow-selves in Seasons Volume 1: Spring came about all on its own and it wasn’t until after I wrote the first volume, my artist Anthony-Gonzales Clark told me that the “shadow” is an Jungian concept. When I heard that, I was both shocked and excited that the psychological imagery I was going for had a lot of backing and theoretical truth to it.
TS: A great deal of Seasons (book 1, at least) is told through the Fletcher’s inner thoughts, making for a very personal story. Is Fletcher’s journey based on the experiences of real person from your own life?
NS: There’s absolutely echoes of real experiences or, at least, the extreme or logical conclusion for how those experiences would play themselves out. It was very important for me to give Fletcher a voice and his inner-dialogue came about from that need. Comics are the best medium in doing that, of course. Something you’ll notice is how sporadic his thoughts are, too. Everything about Seasons starts from a grounded realism and I wanted even his thought patterns to reflect that. It also lends to his analytical, over-thinking, introverted persona.
TS: Your crowdfunding campaign book is for parts one and two of a four-part series. Do you have plans for Seasons beyond book four, or is that getting too much into spoiler territory?
NS: I don’t have any plans for the series after book four. Since a staple of the series is following Fletcher on this one year journey, I think prolonging it would perhaps do the series injustice. But we will see. If the fans demanded it, I’d definitely rethink things.
TS: Seasons began its life as a web comic. Was it always designed with a printed book in mind? What challenges come from translating a web comic to a published book?
NS: Yes. Physical, tangible comics that I can flip back and forth through is where it’s at for me. I don’t have anything against digital, but I think sequential storytelling is at its best in a printed format. The dream was always to have Seasons give that intimate, authentic reading experience to its fans.
There weren’t many challenges. I wrote the story with print in mind, so it was more of a challenge putting it out as a webcomic, hoping followers would enjoy the one-to-two pages a week.
TS: You’ve previously funded books on Kickstarter. What made you choose to jump to Indiegogo? Can we expect for future installments of Seasons to be on Indiegogo, too?
NS: I started to notice a trend of projects moving over to Indiegogo from Kickstarter and vice versa. I was like, “Wait, you can actually do that?” So I did some research to see how that could work. During the Kickstarter for SEASONS Volume 2: Summer, I had a fair majority of people who either preferred Indiegogo over Kickstarter or just didn’t have the budget to back the campaign during that particular month, so that’s what won me over. We were also getting closer and closer to unlocking stretch goals right when the campaign was closing, so Indiegogo provided the platform to hit those.
And yes, I’ll more than likely bring the next two volumes to Indiegogo. I like the platform and the opportunity to bring it to more fans.
TS: You listed a $4 thousand stretch goal as a t-shirt for all physical tier backers. That’s a pretty generous bonus, unless I’m reading it wrong. Is that accurate, and what will it look like?
NS: Maybe I should check how that stretch goal is worded. Hitting the $4K stretch goal to unlock the Seasons T-Shirts will pay for the design and allow us the opportunity to print them. So, not every physical backer will receive a t-shirt, but it’ll become an add-on or separate perk during the campaign or through InDemand.
TS: How would you describe your working relationship with Seasons artist Anthony Gonzales-Clark? How did you two link up?
NS: It’s amazing, honestly. Couldn’t ask for a better artist and creative partner for this series. We’ve spent countless hours storyboarding and going over designs and concepts over the last four years, we’re basically family, haha. Out of the many artists I’ve worked with, he’s been the best at interpreting my scripts and bringing his own input to make what goes on the finished page all the more engrossing and impacting.
I originally found Anthony through DeviantArt: Saw a few pieces on the site from him, sent an email, and the rest is history.
TS: You’ve mentioned that the colors of each book will change as the seasons progress. How did you decide to start with Spring using essentially black and white art, when Spring is typically associated with bright, vibrant colors?
NS: The decision to go black and white is where The Crow comes in. Every time I look at that book, I find something new and it always feels like a living and breathing entity. It’s just so raw and unapologetic. I wanted Seasons to have that vibe. The fact that we start in Spring was intentionally meant to juxtapose our perceptions of what Spring means. For Seasons, it means the birth and bloom of something new, but that “something new” doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be all colorful and happy. It’s the complete opposite. It’s the start of a more serious goal in mind, and that begins from a place of emptiness. Hence, the visuals being devoid of color.
TS: When I think of seasons, I can’t help but associate them with holidays. Will holidays play a role in Seasons, similar to The Long Halloween?
NS: Right, same here. Holidays play more of a backdrop role for Seasons. They’re there to set the tone and inform the setting — I didn’t want it to steal the blueprint from The Long Halloween. We do make sure to hit the major ones, though, and Fletcher’s story will include them.
TS: Aside from the book, what’s your favorite season? What would be your seasonal power of choice?
NS: My favorite season is Fall. The cooler weather, the changing colors of the trees, the hoodies, all of it, ha. Since I haven’t revealed Fletcher’s power-sets for Fall and Winter, I’m going to go with his super-strength from Summer. It’d be pretty extraordinary to be invincible like he is in the story.
TS: Besides comics, in what other entertainment mediums do you see Seasons?
NS: I think the title itself leans for a TV limited series approach. Four seasons of Seasons from Netflix? Count me in.
TS: A year from now, how would you describe success for the Seasons project?
NS: Success would mean having sold almost every copy of volumes 1 and 2 and having nearly 1,000 Twitter and Instagram followers each. Or getting picked up by a publisher. I wouldn’t be against that.
TS: What would you do with the power of the Beyonder?
NS: Everything, haha. But perhaps I’d start with getting rid of COVID-19 and the political polarization the United States is facing. Less stress means more time to focus on what really matters in life like family, friendships, self-care and the time to enjoy these without so much outside distraction and interference.
We would like to once again thank Nandor Fox Shaffer for taking the time to answer our questions and to have some fun with us. You can visit the Seasons Indiegogo page here. And of course, thank you for reading!