Brandon M. Easton is a professional writer, screenwriter, and educator based in Los Angeles, CA. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Easton is a graduate of Ithaca College and Boston University’s prestigious Screenwriting program. With over fifteen years of experience, Brandon has penned articles for the Boston Herald, Crashpad Magazine, and a variety of other publications. After teaching in NYC public schools for six years, he decided to go for his screenwriting dreams in Hollywood and eventually scored a writing gig on Warner Bros. new ThunderCats TV series. His published work includes Arkanium and Transformers: Armada for Dreamwave Productions, a column for Blacksci-fi.com, and Shadowlaw, his newest major project that will be released in November 2011 from Arcana/Platinum Studios.
In a future world of giant mechanized armored warriors, a rebellious soldier is sentenced to life in a distant prison colony. There he must stop an advanced race of Vampire lords from taking over the world by way of breaking their restricted feeding treaty with the human race, all the while coping with the fact that his very presence in the colony may be a part of their dark design.
(1) Science Fiction may not be a genre indulged by a number of readers, even in this era of iPads and video games. What do you find attractive about it?
That’s an interesting statement because sci-fi is a genre indulged by many, many readers across the board. Whenever a new Star Wars or Star Trek novel is released, it burns up the sales charts for a few weeks. A quick look at the Mass Market Paperback sales lists in Publisher’s Weekly or the New York Times Review of Books will reveal that. And I won’t even get into how well stuff like Game of Thrones is doing. Conversely, most of the large-scale movies released are based on science-fiction intellectual properties and the audience for that is multi-ethnic.
However, if you were to say that fans of Black Urban Literature aren’t fans of sci-fi I would say that you’d be close to the truth. There isn’t a lot of crossover between fans of Zane and fans of Star Trek, regardless of skin color. Some audiences can’t “get into” things that don’t remind them of the familiar world. It comes down to those who need to have their ideals, mores and social perceptions validated by pop culture; at least in their choice of fiction literature.
I find sci-fi attractive because it takes social, political and economic issues and teleports them into an unfamiliar world which allows the author to fully explore these concepts in imaginative ways. Sci-fi authors tend to be incredibly imaginative and I love seeing new worlds take shape. I like getting lost in new realities and it’s also fun to see how they bind their new universe to the laws of plausibility. Some of the better sci-fi stories are ones that are just a little bit beyond what is possible in the real world.
Also, there’s a ridiculous misconception out there that Black people don’t “like” Science-Fiction. That’s one of the biggest lies ever told about the Black literary audience. I’ve been to the San Diego Comic Con (the world’s largest pop culture/sci-fi/geek convention) multiple times and each year I’ve seen the Black populations grow exponentially year after year. There are two or three Black-themed panels at the convention where people like Bill Duke, Ludacris, RZA (from Wu-Tang) and Reginald Hudlin appear regularly. There are several Black sci-fi/comic book conventions around the country every year, with the biggest being OnyxCon in Atlanta, the East Coast Black Age of Comic Con in Philadelphia and the Motor City Black Age of Comics in Detroit. We’re out here and we’re hardly a minority within the literary fan base.
(2) More to the point, what is Shadowlaw about? What are some of the concept or themes that readers might find interesting?
Shadowlaw takes place a few centuries from now, where the Catholic Church is the dominant global political body. The government is a theocratic technocracy and they maintain military dominance through the use of their giant mech armors. Our story opens as that society is on the verge of political revolution, and because of a series of events, the biggest secret in their history will be unveiled. The story revolves around a disgraced soldier named Rictor Caesaro who ends up in a concentration camp; but what Rictor discovers about the camp leads to a huge revelation about the global establishment and his ultimate role in their plans.
It is a study of what happens when you mix government and religion and how people allow themselves to be manipulated by the powers-that-be. There’s much more that I won’t reveal here, but rest assured, if you’re a fan of complex political conspiracy stories, there is a lot to chew on in Shadowlaw.
(3) What is the process like in working with an artist in producing a graphic novel like Shadowlaw?
That’s a long story (laughs). However, I do a free podcast called Writing for Rookies (http://writingforrookies.podcastpeople.com/) where I explain in great detail the process of finding an artist to work with on a graphic novel project. The first thing a writer must do is advertise for an artist on sites like Deviantart.com, Digital Webbing, Conceptart.org and a few similar internet hubs. Or a writer can visit any comic book convention and find artists looking for work whose visual style matches the story sensibility you’re going for.
Not all artists will be “qualified” for your graphic novel. For example, you don’t want an artist who draws in the Pokemon style to do a crime-based comic book. It just doesn’t work. There needs to be a marriage of art and story that reinforces your thematic intention. Some other examples would be Sin City (which was made into a film) and The Walking Dead (which is a TV series on AMC), both have very dark, twisted and macabre art work full of death, sex, violence and pain. You would need a very specific kind of illustrator to bring those works to life. Getting the wrong kind of artist on your project is the same as asking a blind dental surgeon with arthritis to perform a wisdom tooth extraction. It’s a bad idea (laughs).
(4) What are you doing to promote Shadowlaw?
Everything I can. Interviews, panels, postcards, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I have done a lot of emailing and having my agent contact people to cover the book. Being a writer on the new Warner Bros. Animation reboot of ThunderCats has helped immensely. People are more likely to take me seriously when they see legitimate Hollywood credits behind my name.
However it has been tough because everyone in the business is in a constant state of hyping their projects so you have to remain consistent and find new ways of getting people’s attention. Since it took so long for me to complete my project (over a period of 6 years) I’ve managed to get people interested over the course of that time. I’m hoping they all show up when my book is released on November 16th.
(5) What is on your bookshelf? Or, would it be an e-reader that you use? What are you reading and enjoying?
I have a wide variety of interests, but the general selection of books range from politics, sociology, history, sci-fi, true crime, graphic novels and conspiracy literature. Right now, I’m reading a few things including a book called Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey, a book on U.S. Civil War history by Kenneth C. Davis while re-reading Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman. I am into a lot different material all the time.
I have to say, I am not a fan of e-readers at this time. I still love the feel of reading a book. I like visiting bookstores and spending time there browsing and checking out new series.
(Interview posted in August 2011.)