By: Nicole D’Andria
Start your engines IGNITION, the perfect racing comic for fans of The Fast & The Furious, Motor Crush and Riverdale. It has drama, it has heart, and it has racecars!
IGNITION follows up and coming race car superstar driver Jemele Reid. A tragic incident changes her life and forces her to face a decision to risk everything she has left. Written by Shawn Pryor (Cash & Carrie, F.O.R.C.E.) and Jenna Lyn Wright (Ambition) with artwork and lettering by K. Guillory (Wayward Sisters), this Kickstarter is their debut 28-page issue of the IGNITION series.
The project needs to reach $5,500 by March 27, 2020, at 11:43 AM EDT. Get a Digital Deluxe PDF of IGNITION #1 ($5) and choose between two K. Guillory covers ($10 each) or four other Kickstarter exclusive variant covers ($15 each), which include the artistic talents of George Kambadais (Black Ghost), Shae Beagle (Moonstruck), Luiz Ferrarezzi and Jhene Tyler. Check out the rest of the Kickstarter rewards here.
Enjoy in-depth interviews with Shawn, Jenna, and K.:
Me: What inspired the creation of IGNITION?
Wright: Not what, but who! Shawn Pryor had this gem of an idea. I was lucky enough to hang out with him at HeroesCon a couple of years back, and he approached me about co-writing IGNITION. I couldn’t have been more excited to dive in. I’m grateful to him for the opportunity to play in this world!
Pryor: I’ve been a fan of racing since I was a kid, and my fascination with speed and driving was renewed with the Fast and Furious movies and The Transporter. So, I wanted to find a way to possibly merge those worlds together, and IGNITION was the perfect vehicle (no pun intended).
Me: What are your favorite aspects of racing that you’ve incorporated into the comic book series?
Wright: I like the immediacy of racing. I think that some people see it as monotonous—just cars going around in a circle, but they’re going hundreds of miles an hour. At those speeds, one wrong move can spell disaster. In IGNITION, Jemele has a lot thrown at her in a very short period of time, and I like to think that the quick reflexes she displays on the track translate to the job she undertakes.
Pryor: The use of speed, not just in a racing sense, but what happens when your way of living and life gets taken away from you? How do you get that “speed” back? Kelly Guillory has a way of visually showing how graceful and dangerous speed can be during a race, and the intensity it delivers is great.
Me: Do you have a favorite driver? If so, who is it, and can we see their personality reflected at all in your comic book series?
Wright: Coming from film, I’ve learned not to fan-cast for a character I write as most likely the person you have in mind won’t be available to do the movie. So I try to pull from my own life and my own experiences and the emotions I felt at the time while keeping it true to the character I’m working to create. With Jemele, I’ve never driven a race car, but I do know what it’s like to have someone I love that I’d do anything for, or to be in over my head and doing the best I can.
Pryor: Our lead character, Jemele Reid. She has energy, spirit, resilience, and doesn’t know the meaning of backing down in the world of racing.
Me: As co-writers, how do your creative duties differ and what is the writing process like for each of you?
Wright: Since this is Shawn’s baby, I’ve been taking all my cues from him. He had the arc planned out and specific things he knew needed to be in each issue. We’d hop on the phone to hash out details, then I’d put together a page breakdown and shoot it off to him for notes. Once we got it to a place we were both happy with, I’d do a draft of the script, and we’d go back and forth on that until it was nice and polished. It’s been an incredible learning experience.
Pryor: Jenna and I had a lot of Skype meetings where we both discussed what we wanted to see in IGNITION. From there we would build an outline together during our calls, then Jenna would send me a revised outline. From there, I would give Jenna the greenlight.
Me: What does a day in the life of Jemele Reid, before and after the “tragic incident” in the comic, look like?
Wright: Before the incident, she’s riding high. She has a husband she loves, a wonderful son, and she’s at the top of her sport, having just won a major racing competition. The incident causes her to lose everything she cared about, and afterward, she’s just doing her best to survive.
Pryor: Before, Jemele is a racing superstar with sponsorships, celebrity, and pretty much anything a person could want. But after the incident, her life takes a major dive. I don’t want to give anything away, but her fall after the incident has her life on the edge and she is desperate to get back to some form of normalcy.
Me: Who are some other important principle characters in the world of IGNITION?
Wright: I’d say that there are two characters without whom this story wouldn’t exist. The first is Darius, Jemele’s son. The other is Spencer Avery, a mysterious figure with a lucrative proposal. He works on behalf of a mob boss, and to say any more would be spoilers!
Pryor: Everything Jenna just said!
Me: You mention that fans of movies like Fast & Furious, TV shows like Riverdale and comic books like Motor Crush, will enjoy IGNITION. What is it about these other works that most closely reflect IGNITION?
Wright: I’d say it’s the fact that they’re fun. A lot of media these days is laden with heavy messages and dark themes, and you come out feeling worse than you went in. There is a place for those stories, no doubt. Even IGNITION, at its heart, is about a mother’s love and the lengths someone will go to for someone they’d essentially die for, but I’m also interested in entertaining people. The world is dark enough. I come to comics to escape. I want people to read this book and have a blast.
Pryor: The human element. Yes, the action, intensity, and drama are all great in those things, but the human element of what stakes that a person will take in any of those forms of media mentioned above have to have some form of weight or none of it matters, if that makes sense.
Me: On the flip side, what makes IGNITION unique and stand out among these other works?
Wright: There’s a twist. I can’t say what it is, but just when you think you know where IGNITION is going, we’re going to pull the rug out from under you in the best way.
Pryor: There isn’t a book like ours out there right now. And that’s no disrespect to Motor Crush, which I enjoy. Our book is completely different and has a totally different vibe. It’s not just about the racing, it’s about the personal journey.
Me: Why did you feel K. Guillory was the perfect artist to do the interiors for IGNITION?
Wright: K.’s style brings Jemele and her world to life in a way that’s beyond what I could’ve hoped for. I love what she’s done with her interpretation of the script (she’s got a ton of Easter eggs in her art!), and I couldn’t have asked for a better collaborator. This story is just as much hers as it is mine and Shawn’s.
Pryor: Kelly has a feel for mood, colors, emotion, and expression. She’s the heart and soul of IGNITION and I love the way she draws Jemele. Kelly has skills, and we’re blessed that she’s a part of this project. She’s the only artist I’ve ever wanted for IGNITION.
Me: What is the number one reason why you think people should pledge money to your Kickstarter project?
Wright: Because ours is a redemption story like no other. A broken woman with a spine of steel takes a job on the promise that it might fix her life, and while she’s the one doing the driving, she truly gets taken for the ride of her life. Along the way, everything she understood about the world gets turned upside down, but she never loses sight of her truth and her constant: her son and her desire to be the best mother she can. I love Jemele, and I think once readers get their hands on the first issue, they’ll love her too.
Pryor: For me, this is a new phase of my creative career, and I want to start it off with a bang. I want to continue to create new, inclusive, and different works while collaborating with others and providing opportunities. Kickstarter allows me to do that because I could not finance these projects constantly out of pocket.
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?
Wright: Less inspiration and more advice: read screenplays. In film, you have limited space and limited budget and every scene either has to reveal character or advance the plot. I’ve read a lot of comics recently that seem to be marking time. Pack in as much as possible! No wasted words. And if you’re gonna write comics, write comics. Don’t try to retrofit your busted screenplay or TV pitch or trunk novel. With comics, the only limitation is your imagination. There is no budget. Find an artist that digs your idea, collaborate with them fully, and treat them well. Comics without art is a stage play.
Pryor: There’s no one way to write a comic. Find the format that works best for you and let your imagination run free. Create, experiment, allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s okay to ask questions and if you know of other writers, if they have the time to lend an ear, check out what they have to say.
Also, read. Check out the manga, superheroes, slice-of-life, kids’ stories, all of it. By seeing what’s out there, you’ll begin to shape the things that you want to see out there.
Don’t worry if you only write one page in two days. For most of us, writing is second to our paying jobs. Make your own schedule, start small, and grow from there.
Me: How did you become part of this project?
Guillory: I met Shawn Pryor via Twitter through some mutual contacts, and he got to see my work whenever I promoted it. We supported each other until one day, he asked me to come on to this series as the illustrator.
Me: What was your favorite page from IGNITION #1 to create and why?
Guillory: One of my favorites is the third page of the comic. I used the border area and bleed to have a conversation between characters with respective colors and extra elements. The confetti, for example, bleeds over from the previous page, is a moment of celebration for Jamele, until Billy President enters the panel with a background of red and white stripes. The stripes and confetti turn the whole page into the American flag. It’s him essentially stealing the spotlight, even breaking the fourth wall in doing so.
I tried to make the entire issue a journey of color, mood, and what character is dominating the page. This is especially evident at the end of the issue.
Me: Are you a fan of racing at all? If so, did you incorporate your fandom for the sport into your artwork at all? If not, did you face any challenges as a newcomer to the sport when doing the artwork?
Guillory: I do actually like to watch racing! I have a specific way I watch sports. I like to be in a bar that’s extremely comfortable, with a beer, with people I love. I like watching football and racing that way. If it’s basketball, I prefer to watch that at home or in someone’s comfy basement-bar. I don’t know why, but I just prefer watching basketball
in a cool basement while sitting on a leather couch.
For fandom, I poked little jokes at racing here and there into the panels. You can see a famous driver making a joke about pedestrian driving somewhere on one of the pages early on.
Me: The PDF for IGNITION is a deluxe edition that includes some bonus material from you. Can you tell us a bit about this bonus material?
Guillory: I can definitely tell you about one of the aspects–you’ll get to see some of my initial sketches and character designs as part of the deluxe edition! I especially did a lot of extra designs on Jamele. We went through quite a few hairstyles before settling on a final version for her, too. I think I looked through salon books in order to offer different solutions actually, haha.
Me: What is the number one reason why you think people should pledge money to your Kickstarter project?
Guillory: It’s a well-balanced series with multiple aspects going on with the books, both in content and physically. The first is the story. It’s kickass, a great read. Jamele is a complex, vulnerable character who’s built out by the time you finish reading the 26th page.
The second is the Easter eggs. I hid a lot of musical Easter eggs in this issue alone, and I’m curious about who’s going to find them all. Two of those Easter eggs are very hard to spot, and you’ll have to be a kpop and French electropop fan to realize what they are.
The third is what this book marks. I’m coming into my own as a professional artist with this series, and I have a long history of designing comic books with a complete aesthetic in this manner. Everything before now has been underground work. That’s going to change moving forward, but the culmination of my work altogether is beginning to form a pretty cool library.
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book artists?
Guillory: I always thought when I made a comic book, how I don’t fit in and how I’m not doing a popular style, blah blah… yeah I would say, don’t worry about that and do your own thing. Your own style is cool! Practicing to be a better artist doesn’t mean drawing like anyone else, it means drawing the best way YOU can. I love reading other comics, so please make them so I can read them.
Me: Thanks for your time, everyone! Best of luck with your project. Readers can check out the IGNITION Kickstarter here.
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