Today we are talking with Michael Regina who does the very awesome and kid friendly “Kevin and the Light of Destiny.”

So Michael, you’re not new to the web comic biz, before Kevin you did “From Death Til Now.” In terms of writing is there anything you are doing differently with “Kevin and The Light of Destiny?”

  • Michael: I’m actually not handling much different at all. From Death Til Now taught me how to make a graphic novel. I learned what mistakes there are that you can easily make there. So for me it’s been about learning a system that helps me get work out on time. It’s just been fine tuning a process I developed over three years of producing that comic and applying it to Kevin. Which is making Kevin such a breeze to work on comparatively.

What are some of the things you learned working on “From Death Till Now?”

  • Michael: The biggest thing was kind of relinquishing some ideals. Ideally I would like to write a book in its entirety, pencil it all, ink it all and then go head long into coloring or grayshading. I simply can’t do that if I ever hope to be able to put work out without disappearing for months, which isn’t good. Initially I was writing my books in screenplay format, which is my preference. I actually have an entire first volume in another graphic novel series written that I could have jumped into, but chose Kevin instead for now. But the screenplay process for me is its own art and I think it makes a more succinct story that you can fine tune better. What I developed is very much a proces I’ve learned working alongside of Kazu Kibuishi to some degree, which is writing and drawing my books in thumbnail form. So I started writing “From Death Till Now” in thumbnail form. I would basically be able to write, block and plot out scenes at a time all in one shot. So I can move through each phase quicker. And obviously there’s plenty of room to make edits along the way.

Where did the concept behind “Kevin and the Light of Destiny” come from?

  • Michael: It came from me thinking of trying to do a Calvin and Hobbes style of buddy strip. I wanted to do something simple and I thought the idea of a boy and his friend who happens to be a monster from under his bed, was fun. But then ideas started spinning of treasures and missing artifacts and it all got crazy from there.

So the premise came before the character?

  • Michael: Yes, initially. It was about their friendship. The idea kind of crept it’s way in. The characters were a lot different in the beginning. Kevin’s journey wasn’t set at all at that point. Meaning his character arc.

So you had the premise, how did Kevin, the character, evolve from that?

  • Michael: Well, initially it was about Kevin and the monster’s friendship. So he was kind of already in a more secure place, character wise. Then I fell in love with the idea of a character who longed for adventure was terrified to even make friends. I kind of looked at Kevin like, what would Indiana Jones be like if he was a wall flower.

So who is this mysterious monster you keep referring to, or are we not allowed to know yet?

  • Michael: The co-star is a monster named Trevor. He’s a hard worker for the monster people. It’s not giving away too much to basically say, Trevor’s business is Kevin. He’s supposed to help Kevin become a man, so to speak, but in the beginning he’s more just annoyed by the kid. The fun part is going to be watching those two learn to work together to solve this major crisis they find themselves in.

Clearly you have “Kevin and the Light of Destiny” planned out, but how solid is the structure?

  • Michael: It’s actually very structured. It’s probably the first script I’ve plotted in like five years where I spent this much time trying to plot the major moments and organize it. I sued a notecard system to lay it all out. I was trying something I’ve heard Doug Tennapel talk about in using a notecard system and I found it to be really effective in organizing my thoughts. In fact, Kevin is planned a traditional style issue format, where each major volume is comprised of four issues, where the first is the opening act, the second and third the second act and fourth the final act.

With things so planned ahead where exactly is the writing? Is the whole thing written or are you doing it in chunks?

  • Michael: I have the first volume laid out from beginning to end and then after I know all of the scenes in the book and their placement, I write each scene on its own. I would like very much to write the whole thing first at some point, but now it just helps to write it in single scenes because it keeps the ball running. So I’m pretty much scene to scene for writing and I produce the finished line art on two week schedules. Meaning I complete two weeks worth of pencils at a time. I color the book as I go.

Are the volumes ongoing, like say “Bone” or “The Amulet” series?

  • Michael: It’s designed so each can be read independent but each book is part of one major story arc. There will be three volumes in all.

Can you share one of your script pages?

  • Michael: Sure.

So where do we stand in the overall structure. At this point we are still pretty early in Act I. We don’t even know yet what the main conflict is or who the antagonist is. Will we be getting to some of the more expositiony stuff soon?

  • Michael: The second issue is data dump really. There’s sort of a Rivendell scene coming where the stakes are laid very clearly and you’ll know why Kevin is there and the role of everyone involved. It’s coming in like the next ten pages.

Awhile ago you posted on your blog that you had considered quitting “Kevin and the Light of Destiny.” For those who didn’t see the post, to sum it up, you lost some of your interest in the writing process and realized it was because you cut the character of Cadence. What about her affected the writing process?

  • Michael: Let me say first, that “Kevin” is going to be around for good now, lol. Adding her back into the story was more a desire for me to talk about young love. It’s something my other book I was developing really had a lot of and I really responded to. Kevin is much younger than the characters in the other book, but I felt Kevin needed his foil so to speak. Someone who just gets him. Up til that point Kevin without Cadence felt very one dimensional. I felt I could carry one voulme with it, but it needed more. The minute she was back in all of the missing pieces fell into place. It has the energy and depth now I felt it was sorely missing internally for me to keep writing it.

How has her inclusion affected or not affected Kevin’s relationship with Trevor?

  • Michael: It hasn’t really affected Trevor so much. I guess it helps form a catalyst for them to build their frienship and trust on. His character hasn’t changed, but he gets to be a little more sage like with Kevin down the road.

Kevin is an “All Ages” comic and most of your work is also, why go this route instead of something a tad more darker or gritty?

  • Michael: Kids need more comics. Lol. Basically. And because I think the best stories are the ones anyone can enjoy. I think From Death Til Now was largely more adult, but maintaining a darker tone can be hard. I really enjoy dramas like Lost and Fringe, but I want to find a way to have that big mystery show and still keep things fun. Really it makes me sad that almost every time I pick up anew comic at the store, I think to myself, that I would never let my child read this and that makes me sad. I appreciate more adult works, just feel there’s a need here as well.

You called “KatLoD” as on online-graphic novel, why brand it this way instead of calling it a webcomic?

  • Michael: I guess I want to set the expectation that this story has a beginning middle and end. We’re going somewhere and I know where that is.

So you see all age webcomics as a way to fill the void being left by the publishers?

  • Michael: To some degree. I don’t think of it as trying to fill a void purposefully. I want to tell these stories, more than I do others. I just know I’m desperate to see more all ages material and I’m glad others of similar ilk are heading to the web to get that work out there. Hopefully some publishers will like our work and pick it up.

You had mentioned to be before you are planning some charity work related to this?

  • Michael: The all ages movement in publishing is really exciting. I think publishers are remembering that kids love comics. I’ve really been wanting to find a way to help get comics into the hands of kids more and that’s lead me to start organizing a charity to put comics into libraries in hospitals to start with. Very soon I’ll be lookng to start donations and all to help get some of these comics there for those children to have something to read and be entertained while they’re being cared for. Kevin is the flagship title of this and I’m hoping other creators will be willing to help. I will be immediately contacting some local children’s hospitals and introducing them to the comic shortly and hopefully it grows from there. I’m praying it will. Comics aren’t always the biggest money maker, but kids and adults love them. Maybe the best gift we can give them is our stories. This is still really young in my mind. I’ve just been trying to get Kevin issue one done so I can actually have something to bring to the kids. So you’re getting the first public news I’ve made about it. But very soon, I’ll have something up. It’s really just a personal mission on my part at this moment, but I’m hoping for help.

Shifting back to “Kevin and the Light of Destiny” what’s the work flow you use for production?

  • Michael: I draw Kevin first by developing the page in thumbnail form. I write and design the book in that way primarily. I then turn those thumbnails into a loose penciled page. I draw my pencils on a 4×6 in template. I then scan those pages into the computer and print them out in blue ink onto my art board, which is basically a heavy card stock that will run through my printer. I work in a live area of 7×10.5 in. I do my finished line art with a 2b pencil. After that I scan that into the computer and color the comic in Photoshop.

You have any tips for wanna-be writers out there?

  • Michael: One of the things I’ve found to be the most helpful as a writer is writing from things that really inspire you. The temptation is to copy them, but when you can make them all work its really exciting. For instance, my favorite movie of all time is Jaws. I have been itching to do a story similar to that, but it never really worked. But it fit really nicely into this book. Like when I think of the first volume of Kevin I think of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull meets Monsters Inc and Jaws. That’s a combo, I, as a writer, can get behind

Micheal’s first graphic novel, From Death Till Now” Book 1 is on sale. It’s merely $10 plus shipping and totally worth checking out. Also make sure you check out “Kevin and the Light of Destiny” which updates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!

Previously Interviewed in “Writing Webcomics”