We’re sitting down with Bryan Pierce, the creator of the graphic novel Indigo Dax. This playful but serious full-time author worked in corporate America for 14 years before he called it quits and dedicated his life to this project which he released in March 2016. To promote the novel, he’s doing a launch giveaway between April 17th-May 21st.
So give us the low-down on the novel, how long did it take for you to complete it?
The graphic novel took me 2.5 years to complete. I just released at the end of March 2016. To celebrate the launch of the graphic novel, I am promoting the graphic novel with a $25,000 Launch Giveaway. From April 17-May 21st, each week, for five weeks, I will be giving away 200 – $25.00 gift certificates to the Indigo Dax Store. There are literally 1000 chances for people to win! I wanted to be able to have a prize that people had a good chance at winning.
How did you come up with the idea for the graphic novel?
When you watch SciFi shows, you see the spaceships, but you really don’t have a good grasp of the size of the ships. For some reason, I always thought the spaceships were massive. The truth is they probably were by human standards, but when I talk about massive ships, I mean like miles in length. Most of the spaceships in Star Trek and Star Wars are measured more in terms of football field lengths rather than miles.
One day I started to think, what if a starship was several miles in length, and it had a city inside of it? What would happen if it got caught in a planet’s gravity and started to crash. It would be like a planet-killing asteroid. How would the crew of that ship find a way to save the planet? How would the rest of the planet react to seeing this massive starship falling from the sky? Then I thought, the only way for that ship to save the planet would be to send it back in time. It would continue to fall, and the people on board the ship would escape but be caught in different points in time. Then I thought… could this be the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs on Earth. An event that happens in the future creates one of the most important events for the evolution of life on Earth in the past.
So I had that idea for a while, and then I started to write the story of the Casserians. They were to be an angelic-like species. Perfect in every way. I found an article from NASA about the Heart and Soul Nebulae near the constellation of Cassiopeia. The homeworld for the Casserians would be located between the Heart and Soul nebulae. I created the name Casserian from the name Cassiopeia.
Stories with superheroes that are too powerful aren’t very interesting unless you have a really great villain. So then I started writing the backstory to the creation of the Scorpion Empire. The Scorpion Empire would be just as powerful as the Casserians, but their perspective on their place in the universe would be evil. The backstory between the Casserians and the Scorpion Empire was so big. I could only hint at it in the graphic novel. So I created the Indigo Dax game to really dive deeper into the story of the creation of the Scorpion Empire and the Scorpion Wars.
What influenced some of the characters designs?
The Casserians were supposed to be an angelic-like species. They were like gods on Olympus living in perfection until they found the rest of the Universe isn’t like that. The design for their shield would be angel wings. I thought of using just the wings because angels don’t have wings to fly, they are a symbol of their status as angels. I remember drawing the wings on my computer in illustrator and the symbol ended up looking like a dove. Which is a universal symbol of peace. I gave the symbol to my concept artist, and that’s what he used to develop the Dax character design from.
The Scorpion logo is also something that I drew on the computer with Illustrator. I remember looking at lots of pictures of scorpions and tribal tattoo designs. I wanted the design to have a sharp, modern look. The weird thing is, I just started drawing shapes, and I remember zoning out, and then looking at my computer screen at what I had created. It was so perfect, but I had no idea how I even thought to draw it like that. It just sort of happened.
What was one of the hardest parts of completing this project?
I think with any project, time and money are the two biggest factors. I’m not an artist myself, so I had to hire multiple artists to do the concept art, another artist to draw each of the panels in the graphic novel, and various other artists that I hired to create different graphics to convey mood, or to re-imagine a scene. I had to think about how each thing would look, how things would move, and try to convey that to the artists working on the project. I probably have several gigs of data with my notes.
I created more than a story, I really thought about creating a universe for these characters to live in. Once the Universe was created, it’s amazing how the characters start to tell their own story. I just become the conduit through which they can exist.
Are there any characters in the novel that are similar to you?
This is a great question. In an odd way, every character in the story is a piece of me. (Even the villains.) Writing the story was so gratifying because I could distil how I felt about things into each character. Then I could explore how that part of me would interact in the world I created. I would say that Dax is my more enlightened side. He’s wise, strong, and compassionate. He has a wisdom beyond this world, but he loses his way after being stuck on earth.
With the villains, I got to explore my darker side. I could free myself from any morality and explore what it would be like to be entirely self-serving. However, there is an emptiness that comes with the darkness. It’s a feeling of never being fulfilled. Never having enough. Fear is at the core of the rage. The rage can feel like power, but it’s a lie. There is a scene in the graphic novel where Dax talks about the darkness in the Universe. It’s only allowed to exist, because it, keeps the story going. As beings, we sometimes have to go through periods of darkness to understand the light. It’s our challenges, our confrontations with the darkness that pushes us beyond our comfort zone and allows us to grow.
Who would you like to thank for helping to get you to where you are now?
I would like to thank all the artists who helped me bring to life my story and my characters. I’d like to thank my editors and my friends who read the story and gave me feedback and fixed my grammatical errors. Sometimes I hesitate calling myself an author because to tell the truth, I think I’m dyslexic, it’s never been confirmed by a doctor, but I’ll write things down and re-read them and wonder, “I don’t remember typing that sentence like that.” I’d like to thank my MacBook for having the text-to-speech function that can re-read my words back to me and uncover all my spelling and grammatical mistakes that I can’t see with my eyes.
What would you like to say to your fans?
This graphic novel is for every LGBT person who feels starved for positive gay representation in a sci-fi/fantasy story. We aren’t just the gay best friend, we aren’t just the comic relief, we aren’t just trendy barflies, we aren’t just a token character included as part of an ensemble cast, we are fully human individuals that have the capacity to be the main characters of the story. To all my gay fans out there, I want you to know you deserve to be truly represented in the media.
To all my straight fans, thank-you for seeing our humanity and appreciating us. I especially want to give a special shout out to all my girl fans that love stories about gay men. You were our best girl friend when we had no one to come out to. You consistently stood by us when we needed an ally and a friend. I so appreciate all the women who love an appreciate us.