What’s Black, White, and Red All Over? Isaac Fox’s “Cremisi” (Interview)
Astral Ticket and independent comic book creator Isaac Fox recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for Cremisi issue 2, a sci-fi fantasy adventure book. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to discuss his latest Cremisi campaign, which is available to support here.
As always, the answers below are represented as closely to “as written” as possible with only minimal edits.
The Splintering: You can’t use the words “space”, “bounty” and “anime” in a book’s pitch without thinking Cowboy Bebop. How much did the Cowboy Bebop series influence Cremisi? What about Cremisi sets it apart from the 90s Toonami series?
Isaac Fox: Bebop was a massive inspiration to me growing up. It, Trigun, and especially Outlaw Star, were what originally inspired me to get into comics. Bebop is an eastern series with heavy western influence and themes whereas Cremisi is sort of the opposite — a western series with neo-taoist themes and eastern influence. I would also classify Cremisi as a science fantasy due to the involvement of various types of magic and fantastical alien races.
TS: You’ve already crowdfunded issues 1-4 of a Cremisi series. Is this new campaign for a remaster of the original, or is it issue 2 of an all-new story?
IF: Cremisi was originally released as a sort of “mini volume” containing issues one and two as one book. This was born mostly of my lack of experience and understanding of comics and Kickstarter. Since then, I’ve learned a great deal. We released Cremisi #1 last year as a “rebirth” as its own book with new covers and now it’s issue #2’s turn.
TS: While Cremisi is labeled “for mature audiences”, your other books (Pure Intent, SuccuBUSTED!) have included quite a bit of risqué artwork. From what I’ve seen of Cremisi, this story doesn’t seem to lend itself to that quite as clearly. What kind of “mature content” can backers expect with Cremisi issue 2?
IF: SuccuBUSTED! is an ecchi comedy focusing heavily on sexual humor. Cremisi is sort of my passion project and the story I initially wanted to tell. I committed the cardinal sin of starting with my passion project. While I wouldn’t do that again, I am pleased with Cremisi and the other series. Cremisi contains light nudity, meaning you might see bare breasts or butts. however, it is kept tasteful. Sound effects like “jiggle’ don’t really come into play on this series. Pure Intent takes place within the same universe but doesn’t contain any risqué content due to our main cast being about 14-years-old.
TS: Cremisi is actually the name of a deadly space monster that is feared to return in the series. What can you tell us about it? Is it a cryptozoological beast? A magical being? Something else?
IF: There isn’t a whole lot I can say about Cremisi itself without giving away the story of the book. A clash between Cremisi and the book’s protagonist, Shay, is inevitable. What I can say is we have already met Cremisi, we just don’t know it.
TS: How quickly can backers expect for the next issues to be available?
IF: Cremisi 1-4 are available now either on our website (here) or through this Kickstarter as add ons. Cremisi #5 is finished and ready, but due to the global paper shortage I could only put out three books this year. In October, SuccuBUSTED! #2 arrives.
TS: Other than anime like the aforementioned Cowboy Bebop, there any other inspirations for the Cremisi series?
IF: Cremisi took a lot of inspiration from Trigun, Outlaw Star, and YuYu Hakusho. Though the original Gundam and its subsequent series played a role in the creation of the book’s sci-fi technology.
TS: Cremisi looks to be your only series that features (mostly) black and white artwork. Why did you select a black and white aesthetic with Cremisi?
IF: As Cremisi was my first project, some of its design decisions were by force rather than choice. When I first started, I could afford to pay a colorist or an artist, but not both. The word Cremisi means crimson in Italian. A late-night conversation made me realize the name would fit if red were the only color used.
TS: How would you describe your working relationship with Cremisi artist Sayako Rush?
IF: Sayako retired from comics a few years ago. She still continues to draw in her spare time, producing amazing fan art to dark stories like Bloodborne. She chose to step away from comics to spend more time with her family. We still talk and reminisce about our beginnings in the creative world. Cremisi is now led by Nila Nandita, who leads our Pure Intent series as well.
TS: Once again, you have plenty of variant covers to choose from. How much do you credit having so many covers to your crowdfunding success? Do you find it to be a way to give backers options, or is it more of a way for more dedicated fans to show their support by buying multiple versions?
IF: Variant covers have been a hot thing in comics for a few years now. In my case, I like to use them to showcase my characters in fun, exciting positions they may not normally be in. For instance, Cremisi #2 features a cover of Alice, who is a computer program represented by the hologram of a woman, where she is dressed as Tekken’s Alisa. Certainly there are collectors who will want every variant cover. At the same time, a backer might want a cover with Maria, a raven-haired woman, wearing no clothing at all while another may prefer to see our leading character, Shay, looking cool and badass in his regular attire. I believe myself to be in the business of making people happy so I try to offer something for everyone.
TS: Once again (again), you have multiple covers inspired by video games (Guilty Gear, Fatal Fury/King of Fighters). How do you go about deciding which games to pay homage to with your covers? Is it fairly random, or is there a deliberate process?
IF: This was my first time going with covers purely inspired by video games. When we do our characters in cosplay like this, sometimes I’ll ask my Discord fan server for some characters they’d like to see my cast dressed up as. For choosing an outfit, I like to look for characters with similar looks and personalities. This way, my character is more likely to fit perfectly into the cosplay or homage I wish to create.
TS: You’ve been crowdfunding comics since 2015, with Cremisi issue 2 being your second campaign in 2022. Have you seen any interesting changes over those seven years? Are you fully back on track following the “global health event”?
IF: I think everything has changed in that time. How Kickstarter operates, the freedoms and restrictions involved, backer tastes, and fan reactions to the industry as a whole. Kickstarter, like social media websites, evolves so fast what was fact a week ago is now fiction. The impact of that event is still felt well within the comic industry. Most notably for me, production times on books are far longer than previously due to a global paper shortage. Getting supplies is vastly more difficult than ever, with scalpers gouging prices for simple things like bags and boards, and international shipping times move at a crawl.
TS: Cremisi issue2 is your eighth crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, and your level of financial success has generally increased from campaign to campaign. What do you credit to that increased success?
IF: I’ve been very fortunate on Kickstarter with each book beating out the last. Inevitably, I won’t break my own record every time but it is a nice thing to dream of. The success is an amalgamation of factors. For one, I always keep my backers informed and updated. Brooke, who runs our Kickstarter message responses, is quick to answer any questions we receive or hop on comments as they pop up. This, and having a continual record of always delivering on my promises helps create return backers and shows new would-be backers I can be trusted to not cut and run. There are a plethora of other factors which have helped me get this far and I credit that entirely to my amazing internal team of artists and editors.
TS: A year from now, how would you describe success for the Cremisi series?
IF: Cremisi is perhaps the closest series to my heart. It’s my passion project I created because there was a particular story and message I wanted to tell. I predict my ecchi comedy series, SuccuBUSTED!, or even my naughty pinup series, Foxxy Vacations, will be commercially more popular thanks to the “jiggle” involved with those books. Success for Cremisi to me would be being able to finish the story in its entirety. It isn’t absurdly long, as many manga like to do, but it is a bit longer than your standard American comic. Simply being able to tell that story is a success.
TS: Where else can people follow your work or stay updated on upcoming Astral Ticket projects?
TS: What would you do for a Klondike bar?
IF: Build a rival corporation marketing a similar, yet more affordable, frozen treat to beat out Klondike’s market. Then, after time, financially acquire the now fiscally weakened Klondike bar company where I can have as many Klondike bars as I wish.
We would like to once again thank Isaac Fox for taking the time to answer our questions and to have some fun with us. You can watch the Cremisi issue 2 trailer above (if you sign in due to age restrictions) and visit the Cremisi Kickstarter page here. And of course…
Thanks for reading!
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