By: Nicole D’Andria
D&D meets The Suicide Squad in the ONE-SHOT comic book that’s currently on Kickstarter. As its name implies, this is a one-and-done fantasy adventure story. That’s 28 pages of D&D-inspired action and satire, which I learned more about through an interview with creator/writer Jeremiah Espinoza and artist Butch Mapa.
The story of ONE-SHOT follows eight criminals who face the gallows unless they can complete a perilous mission for the demon Loreck. Together, the fighter, ranger, rogue, bard, sorcerer, cleric, warlock, and barbarian must see if they can survive this dangerous mission and earn their freedom.
The creator/writer of the project is Jeremiah Espinoza, a Latino storyteller who created Hallowed North and whose stories have appeared in Fairytales from Mars and The Pub Crawl Anthology. The Filipino artist is Butch Mapa who has over a decade of experience, having worked on titles for companies such as Zenescope (Grimm Fairy Tales presents Ascension) and IDW/Marvel (Star Wars Adventures, Marvel Action: Avengers). The rest of the creative team includes colorist Fabi Marques (Batman: The World, Power Rangers, Assassin’s Creed), letterer Lucas Gattoni (Superboy: Man of Tomorrow, Killer Queens, Young Men in Love), editor Brittany Matter (Super Best Friend, Miranda in the Maelstrom, The Intrepids), and logo designer Christopher Benamati.
The Kickstarter is seeking to raise $6,800 by September 28 2023 12:00 PM EDT. Rewards include a digital ($5 or $8 for behind-the-scenes content) and physical ($10) copy of ONE-SHOT as well as variant covers ($15 each) by Marcus Jimenez (Deadly Living, The Whole World Blind, Technoknights) and Al Acevedo (HUSK). You can check out the rest of the rewards, which include art prints and a script review, on their official Kickstarter page.
If you want more information about the campaign that you can’t get there, check out my interview with creator/writer Jeremiah Espinoza and artist Butch Mapa below, exploring the who, what, and why of ONE-SHOT as well as learning more about their personal D&D history:
Nicole D’Andria (ND): You call ONE-SHOT ”D&D meets The Suicide Squad.” What aspects of these two properties are reflected in your comic book?
Jeremiah Espinoza (JE): The Suicide Squad similarities are very apparent in the concept. Eight convicts’ chance at freedom is contingent on completing a perilous mission that some won’t survive. ONE-SHOT also adopts a tone closer to James Gunn’s film than the more serious iterations before it.
Any fantasy adventure is likely to have some D&D influences, whether intentionally or otherwise. Where ONE-SHOT differs is that it takes inspiration not only from the setting and creatures but also from playing the game. When you’re playing D&D, so much of the fun comes from improvising when a situation doesn’t work out as you initially anticipated. And that’s the same here. These heroes aren’t infallible, they aren’t imbued with plot armor. They’re going to roll their share of Natural 1s.
ND: Using one sentence for each character, how would you describe each member of the crew in ONE-SHOT?
JE: This is a big ensemble, so I’ll save the readers some time and just pick a few.
Walsh is your traditional knight in shining armor; in any other story, he’d be the main protagonist. You would absolutely lose a drinking contest to Myrdora. Thonk acts like this stoic hulk of an orc, but if he had a pet, he’d dress it in sweaters. And Devih’s the smartest kid in class who is always convinced she failed the latest assignment.
ND: If you could only adventure with one member of this party, who would you choose and why?
JE: Isabella. She’s smart, has a solid sense of right and wrong without being a complete stick-in-the-mud Lawful Good character, and she’s one of the more capable adventures on the team.
ND: Tell us a bit about your creative team and how they each became part of the project.
JE: It’s a dream team! Each member is someone whose work I’ve admired and wanted to collaborate with for some time.
Butch Mapa has been right there with me from the get-go and has played such an influential role in defining the style and characters. Fabi Marques’ gorgeous colors pop off the page. And Lucas Gattoni’s letters are brilliant and complement the art perfectly. You look at the pages the three have made together and they’re stunning. It’s been a very rewarding experience seeing the script come to life in such a meaningful way from a creative team at the top of their game.
Speaking of the script, and the story in general, it wouldn’t be what it is without Brittany Matter as our editor. She took what was essentially a thin premise and helped give it bones, turning it into a story worth reading.
I also have to shout out the rest of the creative team as well. Chris Benamati’s bold, gritty logo doesn’t have a traditional fantasy vibe, but he flawlessly captured the attitude of the book. And Marcus Jimenez’s and Al Acevedo’s variant covers are beautiful extensions of this universe, each rendered in a unique style while remaining true to our story.
ND: What is the number one reason why you think backers should pledge money to this ONE-SHOT?
JE: For a story that has dragons and talking rabbits, there is a singular human element running throughout ONE-SHOT. It is fundamentally an underdog tale we’ve all been able to relate to at one time or another. What do we do when faced with overwhelming odds? We keep going. We’ve got to try.
I appreciate how difficult the decision of where to place your hard-earned income can be. With a contribution to our campaign, that’s the story you’re helping us tell.
ND: Why did you decide to make this comic, as its title suggests, a one-shot, and do you have any plans for it beyond this issue?
JE: I’ve been itching to explore the high fantasy genre for a while now, it’s very different from anything I’ve written prior. But I’m also working on a limited series called Hallowed North that we’re a third of the way done with, and I feel like I owe it to the supporters of that story to see it through before I take on my next ongoing project. Thankfully, ONE-SHOT is a complete, rewarding adventure all within 28 pages.
That being said, yes, I have plans for extending ONE-SHOT to an anthology series, with each release starring a different cast of characters, different settings, and potentially even other genres.
ND: Having played D&D before, tell us about your favorite character that you created and why they are your favorite.
JE: One of the characters in this comic, actually: Echo! He was the first D&D character I created and I’ve loved roleplaying as him. He’s clearly in over his head, but he’s got just the right amount of foolish confidence to come across as charming.
ND: You’ve also DM’d in D&D before. Tell us about one of your favorite moments that happened in one of your past campaigns and why it’s your favorite.
JE: I play a lot with my older kids, my six-year-old and my eleven-year-old. Usually, each session we do is a simple one-shot that can be wrapped up in about two hours. But over a long weekend, I did a mini-campaign that ran three sessions. By the final boss fight, they were so wrapped up in the outcome, that they were coming up with creative ways to save the day. Some that were genuinely surprising and impressive to me.
It was a perfect moment that captured what I love about this game so much. The creativity it inspires, the endless possibilities it offers, and how it empowers anyone to become a storyteller.
ND: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?
JE: The biggest struggle I face when working on any given project is when I ask myself, “Would anybody even want to read this?”
To any writer doubting themselves and asking similar questions, the answer is “yes.” There is an audience for your story. You just need to find it.
ND: What was your favorite moment to draw in this one-shot and why was it your favorite?
Butch Mapa (BM): I love the shot of Isabella’s half of the crew on the castle wall being peppered by arrows. With the dialogue, it captures a lot of what the comic is about: crazy action with a lot of fun banter between the characters!
ND: Who is your favorite member of the crew to draw and why?
BM: I like different aspects of all of them, but I think it’s Beem. They stand out to me because of how little armor they wear, compared to the team. It makes them stand out visually, but also makes you wonder how they survive with their attire and lighter weapons.
ND: If you could only adventure with one member of this party, who would you choose and why?
BM: Echo! Love listening to music, especially when working. It would be like having medieval Spotify—when his music isn’t sending people into the shadow realms!
ND: What is the number one reason why you think backers should pledge money to this one-shot?
BM: We value people’s hard-earned cash, and we will make sure you get much more than your money’s worth. I think it’s going to be a thrilling, gorgeous (have you seen those sweet Fabi Marques colors???) and fun fantasy-action romp! A romp I say!
ND: Having played D&D, can you please tell us who your favorite character to create was as well as your favorite moment in a campaign?
BM: I’ve only played D&D a handful of times, it was an amazing feeling when I could just decide to have my character do…pretty much anything! I was playing a gnome and used his stealth to sneak around and listen in on a conversation that the other characters couldn’t. That was pretty cool.
ND: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book artists?
BM: To paraphrase Jack Kirby, “A brush is a dead thing. It’s in the man.” Skill can be developed; it’s your willpower that will determine how far you go. And there’s only one way to find out—give it a shot!
ND: Thank you both for taking the time to give us a little more insight into not just your comic book Kickstarter but also D&D adventures in general, Jeremiah and Butch! If you’re reading this and interested in checking out some high-octane action, check out the Kickstarter campaign here.
Do you have a crowdfunding project? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on “Kickstart/IndieGogo/GoFundMe/etc. the Week?” Then message me on my website. Also, consider checking out the official Kickstart the Week: Interviews with Comic Book Kickstarter Creators Volume 1 on Kindle.
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