Celestial Falcon Creative Team Interview: The Beginning of a Brand New Superhero Universe

By: Nicole D’Andria

Celestial Falcon is the first superhero series from the new Last Ember Press imprint 529 Studio. The story of Celestial Falcon follows Chris, who finds out there is something more to his life. As the Celestial Falcon, he must protect the world from the evil being that wants to destroy everything and plunge it into darkness. Learn more about this new project from the creative team themselves, which includes Frontline’s very own Chris Dibuduo, Brant Fowler and Lisa Moore, as well as Lucas Santos.

The plot for Celestial Falcon is by Chris DiBuduo; he is also the co-writer, alongside Brant Fowler. Brant, one of the founders of Last Ember Press, also did the letters. The series artist is Lucas Santos and the inks, flats and colors are done by Last Ember Press co-founder Lisa Moore. You can pre-order the first issue here. Also visit the Last Ember Press Patron page here.

I spoke with the entire creative team about the project, and they shared their thoughts about just how unique their very own superhero universe will be:

Brant Fowler

Me: As the Co-Publisher for Last Ember Press, why did you decide to create a separate superhero adventure imprint, 529 Studio, and start with this comic book?

Brant Fowler: Chris’ vision for his universe is grand and it honestly didn’t fit in with everything else we’re doing. We also thought it would be a good way to point out to readers what kinds of stories they would be getting with each of our imprints. With ‘Emberverse’ you get mythological in modern times, with ‘Sparked!’ you get all ages, and with 529 Studio you get straight up superheroes.

There were other reasons we decided to go the route of a separate imprint as well, but those were the chief factors involved.

As for why we started with this book, that was ultimately Chris’ call. But Celestial Falcon is kind of the linchpin for the 529 Universe. He’s the central character, this world’s greatest hero, or at least one day he will be. Everything centers around his story. It was the logical choice to tell his story first.

Me: What inspired Celestial Falcon?

Fowler: Celestial Falcon was Chris’ brainchild from years ago. He came to me with the concept and I saw something special at the core of it. It’s a superhero story, yes. And you’ll be able to tell some of Chris’ influences. But where it goes is a little different than we’re used to, which leads to some interesting stories to be told.


Me: How did you ensemble the team for the project?

Fowler: Chris was obviously already on board. As I began editing the story to a script format, we forged this working relationship that saw me contributing ideas and dialogue changes and little things like that at first. Chris graciously asked me to co-write it with him, and so the final product is more or less Chris’ plot and some dialogue with my script and trimming down exposition here and there. So that’s how I got involved directly with the book. Of course I’m also lettering all of LEP’s titles, and I designed the Celestial Falcon logo.

Lisa is currently coloring all of our titles, so that was a no-brainer. When it came to inking, she was wanting to really get into that discipline because she had done it before and enjoyed it. So she asked if she could take a stab at it.

So then we just had to find an artist. We had one guy in mind, but he kind of disappeared on us, so we began searching again. Lisa is very skilled at finding talent online, and she came across Lucas’ portfolio on DeviantArt and reached out to him. He was on board right away and it was really as simple as that.

Me: What are some of your future plans for the imprint?

Fowler: Oh, do we have plans! But for starters, we are taking it slow and trying to build up Celestial Falcon first, introduce everyone to the universe. In the long run, we have talked about a few different ideas to fill the universe, like an anthology book, some mini-series or one-shots to introduce new characters and so forth. There may even be a webcomic or back-up story in the not-too-distant future. Lots of ideas tumbling around. Haha.

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should pick up Celestial Falcon?

Fowler: It starts out familiar, relatable, but goes somewhere unexpected and is full of twists and turns. That’s the best way I can think to put it.



Me: What inspirational words do you have for people interested in starting up a comic book publishing company of their own?

Fowler: Be prepared for a LOT of work! Haha. But seriously, if it’s your passion, it can equally be the most fun and most frustrating experience. The upside is you are breathing life into creations, and possibly helping others realize their dreams. That’s an unquantifiable feeling that comes with this. Through all the ups and downs, wins and pitfalls, it is still rewarding holding those books in your hands you had a part in bringing to life. That goes for a publisher or creator. To sum it up, work hard, prepare for the worst, don’t buckle under the weight of the setbacks, and on the other side, you’ll be able to say ‘I did that.’ No one can take that away from you.

Me: What tips can you give to fellow letterers?

Fowler: Master the basics, learn all the nuances and unwritten rules, then break them and do something cool and unique! Haha.

There’s MUCH more to lettering than anyone realizes until they get deep into the art of it. From the proper shaping of text, to the proper placing of balloons, avoiding tangents, pointing tails in the correct places, etc. There’s a lot to learn, but it’s an on-the-job type of training. You pick up things as you look at other comics, of either what to do differently or what not to do at all.

But once you have that down, be daring, develop your own style. Mess with the rules and conventions, see how far you can stretch them without sacrificing the craft. Above all else though, have fun. If you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be doing it.

Chris DiBuduo

Me: This is a “new kind of superhero universe.” What makes this world of superheroes different from others?

Chris DiBuduo: That’s an amazing question. Most people are familiar with two superhero universes already, plus all the other lesser known universes. What makes the 529U unique is this is a world that moved forward exactly like ours with the only “heroes” that people would have ever known in movies and comic books. A major difference I want to mention before I continue are the superheroes are not called that at first; in this universe they are called the “Protectors of Earth”. As the first arc unfolds, readers will see that the Protectors were never meant to go public. This was a concept I always wondered as a child: “Could there be this big epic battle going on in secret that we just don’t know about?” So what happens when someone breaks the rules and goes public? That and much more is examined in arc one.

What happens after is we will start seeing others making similar decisions after the appearance of Celestial Falcon. So Celestial Falcon is a catalyst that sets a huge chain reaction into the world. The world now has a real life superhero, and now they must react to that. We will see the world change and evolve from this moment in time. There are deeper things involved and I REALLY want the ability to return to this question after the mysteries of the first arc are revealed because there’s A LOT more that I would love to talk about and expand on, but it will ruin certain big secrets that this first story arc will reveal. So to be continued…


Me: What can you tell us about Chris aka Celestial Falcon? Did you purposely name him after yourself and does he have any other similarities to you?

DiBuduo: Chris is a teenage boy that always questioned his life. He always felt alien to everyone else like there was something “more” to his life, and he learns that’s true. He learns his spirit is more than just human, which will take him on a spiritual journey to learn who he REALLY is. While not spoiling too much, long story short, he ends up with amazing gifts (powers) and he has to use them to protect the world from the evil entities out there that wish to blanket the world in darkness. Did I mention he’s also a freshman in high school? So he has to deal with being Celestial Falcon, a high school student, life, and more!

Originally when I started this story when I was a teenager, the pitch I gave to family and friends was “it’s my life with a twist”. So I based Chris/Celestial Falcon’s family and personality after myself. It made the story that much more personal to me because I literally injected myself into the book. Any life lessons I’ve learned or really deep moments in my life that meant something or impacted me I tried to place in the stories, and readers will see that as the story continues on. I do try to think if faced with any situation I put Celestial Falcon in what I would do before writing. Now I’m sure the character in the book is a bit more brave than me, but if I had the abilities I gave Celestial Falcon I would be too. Heh.


Me: Who are some of the evil forces he will be going up against?

DiBuduo: The evil forces in the 529U are known as demons, each one stronger and more powerful than the other. However, I do NOT limit evil to just the demons; evil can be found anywhere, from humans, to corrupt heroes, and more (to be expanded upon after the first arc). In this first arc, mistakes will be made by Chris and it will get the attention of a really huge demon, and what happens after their encounter will lead to other demons wanting to come out into the open and attack the world and shroud it in darkness. Some will just want to be the one that finally “Destroys Celestial Falcon.”

Me: You and Brant are co-writers on the project. How does that process work – do you both work on the pages at the same time or handle individual parts of the project?

DiBuduo: Working WITH someone on a book I wrote on my own literally now 15 years ago is different but in a really good way because I feel like now two minds are attacking this arc. Brant will see something I didn’t or I’ll find something I never would have thought of that Brant missed. How we did issue number one was I wrote the entire story arc’s dialogue and key actions all in one massive, continuous document. What Brant did was he took that, broke it down into pages, cut away extraneous parts here and there, added some cool stuff, and basically turned it into a comic script. We worked on the first five pages together, then he did the rest of the script on his own.

After he finished, we went through together and made some minor changes and edits. I made some additions and Brant added a perfect cliffhanger. Brant also added a scene in the middle of the issue that I loved that added some much needed action into that first issue. Soon after, we sent it off to Lucas to draw. With issue two on, we are going to work a bit differently now that our schedules are a bit more aligned. We’re each going to take turns scripting and revising, bouncing ideas back and forth in the process, and editing between sections.


Me: What is the number one reason you think people should pick up Celestial Falcon?

DiBuduo: Celestial Falcon is going to be an epic adventure that will take readers to all corners of the Earth and BEYOND. You will see Chris and he grows into his role as Celestial Falcon as well as the world growing, evolving, and expanding around him. He’s going to make mistakes, but learn and grow from them. There will be a lot people will be able to take away from the stories and the characters. Not to say every single story will have a message, but there will be a lot of messages within and involving a lot of the adventures readers will go on. So the number one reason is going to be it is going to be an epic adventure that people will enjoy, learn, and grow from just like Chris/Celestial Falcon will.

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

DiBuduo: If you have a dream, pursue it, no matter what! ANYTHING is possible! I am a living example of that, I never for a second though I would be publishing Celestial Falcon, but here I am. Hard Work, Passion, Dedication… those three things will take you a long way. Don’t be discouraged if one person doesn’t like your work, reach out everywhere, do edits, and never give up because one day you will find that one person or company that will like it and take a chance on your work and you. Then when that happens prove them right for taking that chance on you. It takes a lot to make a good story but anyone can do it with the right love, time, dedication, and passion.

Lucas Santos

Me: So far, what has been your favorite moment to draw related to the project and why?

Lucas Santos: I loved drawing everything in this book, but I especially enjoyed drawing the first pages, where we get to know the main characters, and get to see them in very funny and relatable situations. I also really liked drawing the school parking lot sequence. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say that what happens is amazing!

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should pick up Celestial Falcon?

Santos: I think people should get it because it is a great story, with characters that feel like real people who you can relate to and empathize with. It has very cohesive dialog, action, and great storytelling. It has everything a great comic book needs.


Me: What inspirational words can you give to aspiring comic book artists?

Santos: This one is kinda hard for me lol, since I’m not completely satisfied with my art… but I’ll try my best.

I think that the most important advice I can give is to be dedicated and patient. You’re going to run into rejection just like everybody else, and that is completely fine, it just means you have to work harder and practice more. Be open-minded and take every criticism into consideration. Be realistic about your artistic skills; the only way to get better is to be critical about your own work. You should always try to draw better on every single panel. Know that what is setting the great masters apart from you is their visual library and how much they’ve practiced. Just believe in your potential and don’t give up.

Lisa Moore

Me: What was your favorite moment to ink/color in the comic and why?

Lisa Moore: At this stage, I’m not far into the actual coloring process. However, I had a favorite page that I’ve inked. So I’m pretty certain it will be my favorite to color as well. There is a scene on the beach where the characters are discovering their powers. Sami (the only girl!) is able to showcase a strength she didn’t know possible. The pose she strikes on page 12 panel 3 is my favorite. I’m very fond of the entire beach scene where this page takes place. I think it is the most interesting and action-packed of the issue.

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should pick up Celestial Falcon?

Moore: If you’re a fan of coming of age stories, this first arc will be a really fun ride for you. I personally really enjoy that type of story and am excited to see it come to life. Add to that the fact that this isn’t just a straight up superhero comic and I can recommend it even more highly. I love when a genre we’ve become so familiar with is given some unexpected twists.


Me: What tips can you give to inkers and colorists to really make the artwork pop off the page?

Moore: Practice! Seriously, you hear that all of the time I’m sure, but it really does just take time and repetition to hone your craft. Also, take the time to discover other colorists/inkers whose work you appreciate. Try to incorporate some of the things you like about what they do into your own work. Not knowing how they accomplished what they did on the page while you try to replicate it will help you discover a wide range of new techniques. You might even stumble across something you like even more than what you were trying to do in the first place.

Also, I’m a digital inker. The absolute best advice I can give you for inking in Photoshop is to look up Kyle T. Webster. Buy his inking brushes and try them all out. I improved so much after I bought his Mega Pack of brushes. I keep going back for more, I love them and they make me a much better artist.

Me: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! Best of luck with your launch of Celestial Falcon. If you’re reading this and interested in ordering the project, pre-order their first issue.

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