Kickstart the Week(end) with The Golden Guard: Book One – Columbia Rediviva Comic & RPG

By: Nicole D’Andria

Today we’re showcasing The Golden Guard, an annual comic book magazine and tabletop RPG about legacy heroes. The story takes place during WWII and present day, exploring both the golden and modern ages. Learn more about the project with an in-depth interview featuring creators Vito Delsante (Stray), Charlie McElvy (WatchGuard) and Carlos Cabaliero (Thrillbent, Cloudwrangler).

The Golden Guard is about a team of heroes led by Americana, who are fighting against the Axis powers and a cult known as The Gorgos during WWII. However, in 1943, more than half of the team vanished, reappearing in our present.

There will be two books with a combined total of four chapters (two per book) and 96 pages (48 per book). The RPG will include character profiles and campaigns designed specifically for tabletop role playing. There will also be a free weekly comic available for backers, the History of the Golden Guard.

Legacy Print (Spotlighting Americana)

Vito Delsante is a comic book writer who has written stories for Scooby Doo, Batman and Wolverine. He has also written several titles for Action Lab Entertainment, including Action Lab: Dog of Wonder and Stray. Charlie McElvy is a comic book writer and RPG expert who wrote the tabletop and comic book WatchGuard for Xion Studios.

Carlos Cabaleiro is a freelance illustrator who has worked on numerous licensed properties for companies such as Disney (Marvel), Lucasfilm (Star Wars), Warner Bros. (DC Comics, Big Bang Theory and The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings), Sony (Ghostbusters, Spider-Man), AMC (Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead) and Major League Baseball.

Other contributors to the project include Sean Izaakse (Stray, Pathfinder), David Bednarski (Actionverse featuring Molly Danger), Javier Sanchez Aranda (Star Trek: The Next Generation: Ghosts, Marksmen) and Gregory Giordano.

The goal of the project is to reach $12,500 by April 1, 2017 at 8:00 AM EDT. Rewards for backers include The Golden Guard Book One and 16 pages of the RPG ($10), different character prints ($20), a free weekly History of the Golden Guard comic ($25) and more. If you’re interested in pledging the project, check out the official Kickstarter.

Check out my interview with the three of the project:

Vito Delsante

Me: What inspired the creation of The Golden Guard? 

Vito Delsante: Part of it was, initially, to just keep working with my friends (specifically, Ray-Anthony Height, with whom I started working on the story with before it became… this) and part of it was realizing my career isn’t where I want it to be. What I mean is, I’m going to be 44 this year, and I’m not in a position to really get the chances I’d like to work on the bigger name projects at the bigger publishing houses. I’m dubious of my chances of writing the JSA.

That said, one of my best friends, Eric Wight, once told me, “Make your own.” So, seeing that I had some semblance of success with Stray and doing “my version of Nightwing,” so to speak, I set out to make a story that would be a… not a JSA story, because after writing the story we have, I don’t think I could do this story at DC with their characters. Almost like how Watchmen was supposed to be the Charlton Comics characters? You can’t switch out any JSA character for any of ours, and even though this started out being an homage, it’s something else entirely now.

Cadmus

 

Me: Was it a comic book first and foremost or an RPG, and why did you decide to do both?

Delsante: Definitely a comic first. Again, I wanted to continue to work with Ray Height, and expand the worlds and history of Stray and Midnight Tiger. I got to do about three pages in Actionverse #0 that expanded the history of those characters, but my desire was to dig deeper.

The decision to do both was that I have this wonderful collaborator who is a great writer in his own right, but he more or less gave me the reigns on the comic. And I don’t want to ever waste someone’s potential, especially when it may appear to benefit me in the long run. So, I asked Charlie, who has created a roleplaying game with his WatchGuard universe, to do the same here. It’s something I know I can’t do, but Charlie is so smart, so clever… I didn’t want to not take advantage of his gifts.

Eidolon design

 

Me: Your works, including Stray and The Golden Guard, feature legacy characters. What interests you about these characters and makes you want to write them?

Delsante: My dad was killed in a car accident when I was 15. Upon arriving at the funeral home, my aunt, Camille, said, “You’re the man of the family now.” That’s a hard burden to bear at 15, but in that moment, you realize, somewhat, what legacy is. Part of it is the expectations people put on you and part of it is the expectation you put on yourself. That’s what Stray is all about; figuring out who you want to be. The Golden Guard, however, is different; it’s about finding out what your legacy is, years after the fact, and having the chance to change history, and by extension, the future. For example, one of our characters disappears in Vietnam. But here he is today, at 15 years old, and he meets his daughter, who took on his mantle (more legacy!) and his grandson, who is four years older than he is. He gets to be an influence on his grandson in some ways, and vice versa. That’s why we say, “Your legacy is more than a mask.” It’s the choices you make. It’s the person inside.

Me: Who are some of your favorite legacy characters?

Delsante: First and foremost, Jack Knight. James Robinson’s Starman run is what made me want to write comics. And, of course, the legacy of Robin. Grayson, Todd, Drake… everyone. It’s so under the radar because the mentor never changes, but the sidekick has a legacy. That’s incredible to me.

El-Capitan 1940s by Andy Smith

Me: Can you tell us more about how this title relates to Stray?

Delsante: It’s not an Action Lab book, so there are loose ties at best. As these are creator owned books, I always want to give my readers a sense of interconnectivity, but independence. You can read one without the other, but all of my stories connect, somehow. I don’t want to give away too much, but one of Stray’s grandparents is in the book (it’s not who you think!).

Me: If you had to describe the main characters of The Golden Guard with one sentence each, what would you say?

Delsante: Oooh… challenge accepted!

Americana, more than anything else, wants the country to succeed, but it feels like, to her, that the country doesn’t want to.

Cadmus thought that his fight was righteous and true, but comes to realize that his fight has just begun and it’s not a foe that you can take down easily.

Kid Viper just wanted to be a teenager, but he has to grow up really fast.

Honorata is an enigma, and no one knows too much about her, so when the chips are down, who will she let in?

Silent Shield is going to break your heart.

King Jaguar is hiding a secret that the team already knows about, but he can’t accept it and it’s tearing him apart.

Theo, or Captain Scarab, has nothing left to prove, but he’s not done fighting yet.

Captain Scarab (front)

Me: If you had to pick, who is your favorite character to write in The Golden Guard and why are they your favorite?

Delsante: I fluctuate between King Jaguar and Captain Scarab. Mostly because I like what they offer individually to me, as a creator. One is a daredevil that has to get serious about his identity issues and the other is a genius that somehow grew a sense of humor. And they’re best friends, a little like Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, so they have this rapport and this way of relating to each other that makes them easy to write.

 

Me: What is the number one reason people should back The Golden Guard?

Delsante: Carlos’ art.

But after that, a reason… I think the best reason is the most important one. This is not your typical superhero story. This isn’t something you can read at the bigger publishers. This is a huge risk, storytelling wise, and to tell this story now, in the political climate we now find ourselves in… that’s an ever bigger risk. But it’s an important story and one that should be told.

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?

Delsante: Look for art that moves you. Watch films that make you cry. Nothing makes you cry? Find something that makes you scared. Terrifies you to your core. Being a decent human being is its own reward, but for the writer, being alive and in the moment is the most important thing you’ll need in your toolbox.

Also, don’t look for inspirational words from writers. Words are our weapons, and we make stuff up all the time. 😉

Charlie McElvy
 

Me: As one of the creators of The Golden Guard, how do your tasks on the project differ from your fellow co-creators Vito and Carlos?

Charlie McElvy: My primary role is “game master” as I work to develop the characters in a way that allows role-playing gamers the ability to take these characters and drop them into new or existing campaigns (or, use the ones we’ll provide in the book). This is a great way for readers/fans of TGG to take the lives of our heroes, and villains, even further. Or, change up the story in the comic book so as to provide a different outcome, or pit TGG against new villains, or… whatever! The sky isn’t even the limit! There are (near literally) an infinite number of options and variables that our gamers can introduce into TGG adventures.

So, my key role is to set the stage with stats, scenarios/adventures, and setting information. It’s the same thing I did with my WatchGuard Sourcebook (and some of my same collaborators), which turned out pretty fun. Personally, I’m stoked to see what gamers do with these characters in their adventures!! RPGs are the ultimate “Choose Your Own Adventure” books!

History of the Golden Guard Page 1

 

Me: What can you tell us about the weekly History of the Golden Guard comic?

McElvy: From my perspective, the HoTGG lays out the groundwork for the RPG adventures. Origins on display, clues of upcoming events, personalities revealed – all of it gives both comics’ readers and potential gamers the necessary background to enjoy the book beyond what we produce here.

Me: How does this project related to your other title, WatchGuard?

McElvy: Well…I’m not sure we’re revealing a whole lot there, just yet. To say there’s a connection, or two or three, is a safe bet. Astute fans of WG will notice some things by now, or will soon. Yes, I’m being coy. But, the concept of legacy is found through and throughout TGG, so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

Liberty Gal design by Sean Izaakse

Me: What is the number one reason people should back The Golden Guard?

McElvy: Because the characters we have here are so much more than homages or mere tributes to comics’ golden age. The art Carlos is producing is some of the most gorgeous stuff out there, and the story Vito has crafted is insanely personal, timely, relevant, and enjoyable.

So, if there’s “one thing,” I’d say characters.

This is their story.

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?

McElvy: Read. A lot. Read more than you write. Then go write better.

Listen. A lot. Listen more than you write or speak. Then, go write better.

Learn. A lot. Develop skills outside of writing, hobbies, or sports, or what-have-you, and let that flow through you, giving you experiences that you can talk about first-hand.

Then, go write better.

And if you use this wisdom to better yourself, please consider donating to my professional advice fund. 😊

Carlos Cabaleiro

 

Me: How did you get involved with this project? Is it your first long form comic book and creator-owned project?

Carlos Cabaleiro: It’s an interesting story. First it starts with my love of superhero comics since I could read. I’ve always wanted to work in comics, but it seems that the industry and I keep doing a lot of the “will they won’t they” dance, going back to my art school days in the early 90’s. I’ve done a handful of small press comics, a short piece for Thrillbent that never saw the light of day, been attached to several projects that have been mishandled, poorly run, never paid, companies that go belly up or licensors/rights holders that change their mind. It was more than a little frustrating. As a matter of fact, up until Vito approached me, I had gotten to the point in my career that I had been turning down any comics related type project and focusing on my work as a commercial illustrator.

Now Vito and I have a history. I met Vito in 2006 at SDCC.I was hanging out with an artist that I met at the DC Talent search. We hit it off and while discussing hoping to land some penciling gigs at the convention, he mentioned a small press publisher and this great writer he knew that was the type of person I should meet. That was Vito. I showed him my portfolio, he seemed to like it, and we exchanged information. At the time, that trip had blown whatever money I had saved and getting back home, I had to get back at trying to keep ends met. Vito emailed a few weeks later about a project, but the timing just wasn’t right for me and I meant to email him back but I just never got around to it (pretty shitty of me to do, in hindsight).

Flash forward eight to nine years later and we reconnected on FB. I was a genuine fan of his work (he had handed me several issues he had written when we met) and he was at the time developing Stray. That was the first KS campaign I ever backed and it’s still one of my favorite superhero series from the past decade. He didn’t remember me from our encounter at SDCC (which I guess is a good thing). Over the last two years I’ve been very busy with gigs and really didn’t have time to draw for just fun. I had found myself with about a week or two free so I decided to do a piece just for kicks. That piece was of the Golden Age JSA and it caught Vito’s attention. This was the time he and Charlie were looking for an artist. Vito contacted me and asked for my sequential portfolio, he liked it and then introduced me to Charlie and they pitched the series to me.

Much like Vito, I’m not a kid anymore and the opportunities to ever work on a Big Two property seemed more and more like less of a reality; The Golden Guard felt like my way of doing that epic superhero story that I felt like I had in me. It’s a major commitment (96 pages, covers, character designs, and illustrations for the RPG), but in Vito I trust. His success with Stray for two separate KS campaigns really helped me decide to say yes. Charlie is also a big part of my decision. He’s smart, knowledgeable, one heck of a motivator and business man, and he himself has had success in publishing his own creation, WatchGuard.

So basically it’s kismet, it’s a shared passion for the medium of comics, and it’s my best chance to finally do that great comic I’ve always wanted to create.

History of the Golden Guard Page 4

 

Me: What was your favorite moment to draw and why?

Cabaleiro: Most of the work so far has been primarily on the History Book, a 48 page B&W comic, that will be free to all backers in weekly installments leading up to the release of Book 1. You know, I really don’t have a favorite moment. My favorite thing so far is that I’m getting to flex a lot of creative muscles. So far, I’ve gotten to hit almost every major genre in the History Book—from medieval fantasy, war, western, romance, pulp/noir, superhero to sci-fi. That part has been insanely fun and its inspired ideas for what our weekly comic will be for Book 2.

Other than that, designing the variations of the legacy costumes is a blast. Americana, in particular, has been a treat. While she hasn’t passed the mantle down, her costume needs to reflect the different eras of American history (Revolutionary War, Spanish American War, WWI, WWII), and those are so much fun to research period accurate clothing/military uniforms, modify them for a woman and deck her out in them.

Me: What is the number one reason people should back The Golden Guard?

Cabaleiro: It’s a great superhero comic that offers a compelling and exciting take on the universal human truths about mortality, of what your actions mean in the grand scheme of things, and your place in history. It’s a story that takes a look at where we are today in society (in particular, the United States) from where we were 70 years ago, through the eyes and experiences of the unique concept of four color superheroes born during that same point in history.

Not only that (I’m cheating on the answer a bit), but you have the confidence of past successes my co-creators have had in delivering on their past crowd funding campaigns, and the best deal in comics—48 pages of free comics, 48 pages of the main story, and a full tabletop RPG campaign all for as little as $10 ($15 with delivery).

History of the Golden Guard Page 7

 

Me: You’ve done a lot of work with licensed properties as well. How did you get involved with that and what would you say are a couple of your favorite experiences working in that field?

Cabaleiro: As an artist working today, the quickest way to get any attention via social media is fan art. So it started there. I did a few pieces to get a good following going, practiced, got better with each one, built a nice representation of my capabilities, looked up contact information for individuals responsible for hiring/submissions at companies that I wanted to work for and reached out to the with my body of work. After that, it’s about being professional, treating others around you with respect, hitting your deadlines, delivering better and better work with each completed project, being honest with art directors/editors about expectations, and staying humble.

I’ve gotten to work on a lot of projects that involve things I loved as a kid and am still a fan of today. I’ve built a nice fanbase for some of the work I’ve done for Topps and Lucasfilm for the Star Wars franchise, but my favorite gig has been working on some DC licensed projects (t-shirt designs and trading cards). Ten year old Carlos felt a sense of pride in working on Batman in some official capacity (I’m still a HUGE Batman fan).

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book artists?

Cabaleiro: Jack Kirby said a career in comics will “break your heart” and he’s not wrong about that. Good luck paying your bills working solely on comics. So with that said, my advice is make yourself as hirable an artist as possible by adapting the old Dungeons and Dragons description of the Bard character class—“A jack of all trades but a master of none.” Get good at everything till you find that thing that makes you marketable and earns you money, and then make yourself the best at that.

Me: Thank you all for taking the time to be interviewed. If you’re interested in checking out The Golden Guard, check it out here.

Do you have a Kickstarter? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on “Kickstart the Week?” Let me know in the comments below or message me on my website.

Other “Kickstart the Week” features:

Dates! An Anthology of Queer Historical Fiction (Volume 2)

Not Forgotten Anthology

Like Father, Like Daughter #4

Team Synergy Vol. 1: Spellbound

The Ronin #1

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