Dan’s ToyBox Interview: Royce Adkins, Stone Harbor Comics
As Dan’s ToyBox network continues to grow, I give a big shout out of thank you to Kevin Guillotte of Inked Marketing. As you may have read in my interview with the Inked Marketing guru, Kevin tipped us off to a hot up and coming Independent Comic Book Company, Stone Harbor Comics and their enterprising founder and author, Royce Adkins. Inked put me in touch with Eric Moss, Co-Founder and COO of Zoop Collective LLC. Check out their amazing platform here: https://zoop.gg/ to see some incredible new artists and offerings. Eric immediately replied to my interview request, copying Royce and helping to facilitate our meeting. Thank you to Inked Marketing and Zoom Collective, LLC for introducing me to this amazing talent.
The first thing that I have to say about Royce Adkins is that he brings such an undeniable enthusiasm to his work. This, very clearly, conveyed itself through our video chat and by the time we were done, I was so excited to see his books that I couldn’t sit still! Royce is a fun guy to chat with and has such a passion for storytelling and reaching his audience and I, for one, am very privileged that he took the time to sit down with me. I hope that you’ll all enjoy our interview as much as I did and decide to support this awesome creator through the Zoop platform!
Dan Hickman: First off, thank you so much for sitting down with me today. Kevin Guillotte over at Inked Marketing shared the news about Stone Harbor Comics and put me in touch with Eric Moss, which led to our meeting. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly! I appreciate your flexibility. West and East coast time differences don’t always make for easy scheduling!
Dan Hickman: Royce, what was your introduction to comic books?
Royce Adkins: My dad introduced me to comics when I was about six or seven years old. My first book was a Spider-Man comic and I was hooked. Spidey became my favorite hero and I was just really drawn to the story and imagery.
Dan Hickman: *roughly calculating in my mind* So, that must have been what, early to mid 90’s for you? You started right around the time Spider-Man had some great storylines. What was your favorite?
Royce Adkins: Actually, once I got interested, I needed to know where he came from. I really started looking for older books, late 60’s and 70’s. I wanted to understand the character and really be able to appreciate his history. Once I had caught up on what came before, then I was able to move on to more current stories of the time. I’ve always been that way when it comes to comic books. We need to see the beginning to appreciate where they’ve come.
Dan Hickman: I imagine it was fun to be able to search for those older books with your dad. So, to this day then, what is your favorite book or piece in your collection?
Royce Adkins: Actually, when I was around 10 or 11 years old, our family was in the process of moving and many of the boxes that my collection were packed in were accidentally discarded. Many of my collectibles were lost and that kind of scared me off from building a new collection. I do have a lot of digital books and have begun picking up independent titles. I was really excited by the fact that companies like Image and Dark Horse started springing up, challenging the big two. Seeing creators starting their own books and companies, and watching new communities being built with fresh stories and exciting characters has really shifted my focus toward the Indie Comic Community. So, I guess you could say that my favorite collection now would be any good independent title that grabs my attention.
Dan Hickman: I didn’t send you my notes beforehand, so I have to assume you’re psychic as I was trying to figure out a good segue to my next question… thank you for providing it! On the topic of Indie Comics, obviously Stone Harbor is a brand new company under your guidance, so where do you see Indie books going, in the future?
Royce Adkins: I really see the Indie scene exploding into a big wave. There are so many voices out there trying to get their stories heard. There is some amazing talent out there, that needs exposure. Readers want new stories, but they want them with familiar characters they are comfortable with and have an emotional investment in. I feel that could be the biggest barrier for Indie creators, but it is slowly being chipped away. I’m excited about the future of Indie books because of the passion behind them. These creators are working for the love of the project, which really shows in the material being presented.
Dan Hickman: How did you get linked up with Zoop?
Royce Adkins: Believe it or not… I Googled them. Well, actually, I googled Crowdfunding Sources and, of course, Kickstarter and IndieGoGo immediately sprang up. I looked through them and really felt that there was too much competition on those sites and that they didn’t offer exactly what I was looking for. I thought that it would be great to find a platform specific to comic books, so that’s what I searched for and was sent right to Zoop. I did my research on them, and was very pleased to learn that in addition to the crowdfunding opportunities, they also offered print and distribution services as well. Which, for any aspiring comic book author, is one of the biggest headaches. So, then I decided on something kind of radical… I elected to not only crowdfund the book, but also the start up monies for Stone Harbor itself. My campaigns are up and running, the books are actually set up as a pre-order format like a traditional online shopping cart. I felt good about this because supporters would see this and feel as though they are actually placing an order, rather than supporting a crowdfund.
Dan Hickman: That’s terrific. I think the fact that you took the leap to fund both book and company is very telling of your belief in the platform. So, we’ve established what drew you to comics and how you are funding the company, please tell me about your current projects.
Royce Adkins: We are currently working on two series. Both books are set in the same Stone Harbor universe, which means there will be crossovers and interactions between characters at some point down the road. Anyhow, the first series is a Sci-Fi styled adventure titled “BioPunks.” The story centers around how science, meant for good, can either go terribly wrong or be perverted by the wrong hands. In this case, our three main characters, Nya, Kaden, and Otto all have various disabilities and are candidates for this experimental procedure, called the “Spinal Core.” This new discovery has been marketed as a cure for spinal cord issues and the neurological disorders resulting from them. Each of the characters, though, develops a special ability as a result of the procedure. They are also the last 3 surviving patients from this procedure, for unbeknownst to them, something has been killing the other recipients. This entity known as “The Advent” has learned that it becomes more powerful with each Spinal Core that it harvests and absorbs. Our three characters must band together to survive.
The second book that I’m working on is somewhat of a “coming of age” story. However, as you can probably guess, thanks to my love of science fiction, we have yet another example of science going awry. In “The Legend of Althea” our main hero is a teen girl who gains a special ability after receiving a heart transplant. Althea discovers that she has the ability to heal other people, but at a cost to herself. Althea will retain for a period of time, the pain and trauma the individual felt when being injured. Althea must learn to develop and use her powers properly to not risk her own life helping others. Her drive to master her powers becomes more intense when she learns that her father has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Can she master her power in time to save her father’s life while also fleeing from the evil of “The Wolfpack” a crime syndicate hoping to harness Althea’s powers for their own nefarious purposes.
Dan Hickman: Man, I’m getting pumped to see these books for myself!!! Can you tell me more about the crowdfunding options?
Royce Adkins: Both books will be five issues, marked as Volume 1 each. People can either support them separately or in a bundle pack. I have to admit that I’ve been really, pleasantly, surprised. I expected that maybe one would far exceed the other, however, the bundle support package has been steadily raising money at a much higher rate than the individual books.
Dan Hickman: I’m not surprised, actually. Both stories sound amazing and as we discussed earlier, people are hungry for new, exciting stories, and not the same recycled stuff we’ve been fed for years. Obviously, this isn’t something you are doing on your own, would you mind telling our readers about the team you’ve assembled for these projects?
Royce Adkins: Absolutely. One of the biggest obstacles I had was finding an artist that could convey my vision correctly. I looked at a few people, but couldn’t get a commitment which cost me a significant amount of time delays. I ultimately went to UpWork, a website which allows you to post projects and find professionals to work with. It was there that I met the artists that would form the nucleus of our team. On BioPunks, I was looking for a gritty, grim style of art and when I saw his work, knew that Yussuf Adeleye was perfect for the project. He is from Nigeria and handles the pencils and inks on the book. My colorist for the book is Franklin Ikechukwu and I am constantly excited by the pages they produce. Their work is exactly how I envisioned BioPunks and the book wouldn’t have the distinct style I wanted without it.
I had a different vision in mind for The Legend of Althea and after reviewing submissions, I found one that was particularly striking. The artist had taken what I had in mind and put her own special flair and look to it. I really loved the vibrancy and immediately contacted her. Alexandria Tot Bulajic from Montenegro joined the team and handles all artistic work on the book, pencils, inks, colors and continually blows me away with her incredible work. What really touches me the most though is their enthusiasm for the projects. I am very blessed to have a team that believes in the books as much as I do. I want them to be my long-term team on these books and am excited to have them on board.
Dan Hickman: In any venture, from sports to business, assembling the right team is paramount to your success and it sounds like you’ve got an excellent foundation! What do you envision for Stone Harbor Comic’s long term goals?
Royce Adkins: Honestly, I have a very different type of long term goal. For myself, it’s having an avenue to continue telling the stories that are very near and dear to my heart. However, the truth is, I want to inspire someone, someday, the way my first comic books inspired me. I was at Wondercon in Anaheim and it had been a rough weekend at my booth. Quite literally only a couple of sales. It had actually gotten to the point on the last day, that I wasn’t even standing behind my table anymore. Just sitting, watching people walk by and not even spare a glance my way. Then… this little girl came running up to my booth, full of excitement. She was looking at my books and excitedly told her mother “I want this!!!!” Mom just looked at her and said..”You know that we only set aside a certain amount of money to spend today and if you get that, you’ll have spent it all. Are you sure you want to do that? We still have a lot to look at.” Her daughter kept saying that she wanted my book, but mom ultimately convinced her to keep looking around, but said…”If you still want this after, we’ll come back and get it.” Off they walked and I thought “Well, there goes that. She’ll find something else and they won’t be back.” A couple of hours later, I’m getting ready to pack up and I hear this excited running coming my way. I look up and here comes the little girl, full speed ahead! Mom walked up, smiled and said…”She chose you.” Best sale I made that weekend, but what really made it for me was this… That little girl was excited about my work and to see her face light up the way it did showed me that I can do this and I can make a meaningful impact. So, you ask about my long-term goal? Easy, I want to be the spark for someone else’s creative juices. I want to be the influence for another story teller the way that first comic book my dad gave me was for me.
Dan Hickman: You know something, I don’t doubt that you’ll succeed either. That’s an amazing story and a very worthwhile goal. I hope that you get that call or letter someday, telling you that you were the inspiration behind somebody’s dream. I just realized that we’ve been talking for almost 90 minutes and I recall that you had another commitment! I do have one more question, perhaps you could email me your response?
Royce Adkins: Yes, I’d be happy to? What’s the question?
Dan Hickman: Please let my readers know who your biggest influences are.
Royce emailed me his response and I copied it for you all to see:
“As far as influences, I always have a hard time with this question because there have been so many people that have influenced me in some way. But two people who left the most significant mark on my life are my parents. Both have taught me so many important life lessons that I’ve been able to apply in my creative endeavors. But I believe the most prominent lesson of them all is the importance of balancing your professional life while still being present for your family. If you can’t do that, honestly, nothing else matters in my opinion. So I’m grateful they were always there for me growing up.”
I had such a blast interviewing Royce and learning about not only his passion for comics but also the support he has from his family. Jump on to Zoop and support Stone Harbor Comics! While you’re at it, check out all that Zoop has to offer and see what else stirs your appetites, Indie Comics are growing and getting better and better! Jump on the Indie train and support these amazing creators as they make their stories heard!