By: Nicole D’Andria
Published by Dynamite Entertainment, Karma is an erotic graphic novel that has already raised about 16 times their intended goal. Join me as I chat with writer and photographer Dan Wickline about how Karma is loosely based on real-life events.
The Karma graphic novel is a sensual sensation revolving around the relationship between a photographer, Alex, who is living a quiet life, and a model, the titular Karma, who is seeking to become a brand. This erotic takes a page from fellow genre titles like Sunstone and Swing as well as focuses on the appeal fans of Dynamite’s Bettie Page are familiar with.
Writer Dan Wickline is no stranger to comics, with some of his notable works including Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales and 1001 Arabian Nights: The Adventures of Sinbad as well as IDW Publishing’s 30 Days of Night: Spreading the Disease. He’s joined on Karma by artist Carlos Reno, whose art has graced the pages of several of Big Dog Ink’s Legend of Oz series.
Dynamite Entertainment is the publisher responsible for fan-favorite titles like The Boys, Red Sonja, and Vampirella. Their Kickstarter for Karma, which sought to raise $2,500, has already raised over $39,000. Backers can still pledge money to the Kickstarter before it ends on February 3, 2022, at 10:00 PM EST. Three talented cover artists bring Karma to life with their interpretations of the cover, including Stjepan Sejic (Sunstone), Mirka Andolfo (Sweet Paprika), and Michael DiPascale (Lady Death), which you can get on the official Kickstarter page (each cover started at a $25 pledge).
In the official Dynamite press release, Dan Wickline shared that “I have written everything from superheroes, to horror, and all points in between, but when I was asked if I had an idea for an erotic, romantic story, I knew that I was going to need to pull from a much more personal place… Karma is a love letter to some of the amazing women I’ve been blessed to know, and I am excited to share this world with the readers, to tell a story from the heart.” Without further ado, let’s learn more about Karma from Dan himself.
Nicole D’Andria (ND): The Kickstarter page mentions that Karma is an “erotic adventure based on real-life experiences.” Can you go into a bit more detail about the actual events this graphic novel is based on and why they inspired you to recreate them in this format?
Dan Wickline (DW): The story of Karma is about a strait-laced advertising photographer being pulled into the exotic world of an up-and-coming supermodel. I know this world because along with being a writer, I’m also a published photographer and between those two worlds I have had some pretty unique experiences. Some I borrow components of those events and use them here in the story, things like visiting the set of an adult film and catching an actress who had tripped and was about to fall to using a sock puppet as a Halloween costume and the puppet almost getting into a fistfight in Vegas. You’re talking to a guy who’s been a dead body on Dexter and was a pseudo bodyguard for Clive Barker twice… I’ve had some very weird experiences and some of them find their way into the story.
ND: Erotica is a popular genre that’s not always spoken about candidly. What is it about the genre that appeals to you and what are the challenges you face when writing erotica?
DW: Regardless of what you’re writing, you should always focus on character first and that is my approach here as well. But when you’re doing a romance, you can either embrace the sexuality of a love story or ignore it. Here we embrace it and it becomes a way to show the freedom that Karma lives with and a way for her and Alex to connect that is unaffected by the rest of their lives. In a way erotica allows you to show a deeper connection between two characters if done right.
ND: What can you tell us about our two romantic leads, Alex and Karma, that we don’t get from the Kickstarter page?
DW: I look at this story similar to movies like the 1985 movie Into the Night. Alex is the everyman who is going through life how a lot of us are, working our job, enjoying our weekends, and kind of staying in our own lane. Karma is someone who had a rough upbringing and tends to live life with the belief that if it feels good, then you’re doing it right. She is looking for a real connection and may have placed her trust in the wrong people. Here we see what happens when you find someone who truly cares about you for who you are, not what you can do for them. But that is so foreign for most of us that we tend to disbelieve it when we find it.
ND: Why do you think Carlos Reno is the perfect artist for Karma and which of the pages that he drew is your favorite? (And if it’s a spoilery page, what can you tease about it?)
DW: Carlos’ work on this book is absolutely stunning. A lot of artists are great at drawing action and musclebound superheroes and spaceships, etc. But it’s rare to find an artist who can take the more mundane aspects of life and make them interesting. Carlos brings a beauty to every page, whether it’s a bondage scene or two people curled up on the couch watching a movie. As for my favorite, there is a club scene and we get a close-up of Alex and Karma that sells the whole book in my opinion.
ND: There are some beautiful covers/prints available on the Kickstarter by talented artists such as Stjepan Sejic, Mirka Andolfo, and Michael DiPascale. What would you say each of these artists brought to their interpretation of Karma that felt unique to you?
DW: Stjepan has become the king of this style of storytelling and his cover brings a playful glamour that really captures the heart of the character of Karma. Mirka is able to capture the elegance of the character and how she carries herself in front of a camera, that thing that makes a supermodel. And man, Michael’s image feels like something I would see through my camera’s viewfinder. There’s a beauty and realism to his cover that is similar to what I would look for as a photographer.
ND: What is the number one reason why you think backers should pledge money to your graphic novel?
DW: The story is a true romance with everything that comes with it. That awkward beginning stages of getting to know each other, the excitement and experimentation when you become lovers, the less than glamourous parts, the misunderstandings, the betrayals, and everything else that is part of a real-world romance but set in a world where things are much more open and in your face. Sometimes it’s nice to read a story about people falling in love and trying to make it all work and with Carlos’ art and the amazing covers, I think we’ve got one hell of a fun, sexy, and romantic story here.
ND: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?
DW: Write what you feel, not what you think will sell. If you want to do a romance and then an epic fantasy followed by time-traveling western, do it. Be a storyteller and tell the stories that interest you. Don’t stress about form and substance, just focus on telling the story you want to tell in the best way possible. In the end, if you are passionate about the story you’re telling, that will come through and will pull in the readers.
ND: Promote yourself! Let us know what else you’re working on and what else we can expect from you in the future.
DW: I am currently hosting two podcasts, one that airs Tuesday – Thursday at 5 pm EST on The Experience called The Dan Wickline Show, and then on Sunday nights I do a show called Pop! Go the Writers with my co-host Paul Storrie where we talk about the latest pop culture shows like The Mandalorian, Moon Knight, Peacemaker, and more. I am also currently writing a novel using the Amazon Vella program called The Embercrest Protocol, an homage to 70s spy-thrillers with a dash of magic mixed in, which is up to five chapters and growing.
Me: Thanks for taking the time to share a bit of Karma with us, Dan! Readers interested in checking out more of her can back the Kickstarter while it’s still hot here.
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