Hameed Catel is a young, gifted and energised creator. I have enjoyed his growing portfolio of work, which you can feast your eyes on at http://www.kirucomics.co.uk/
I had the pleasure of meeting him at the recent London Comic Con where I learnt of his new Kickstarter project; Champion of Dema. Hameed kindly agreed to an interview, so without further ado :-
AP2HYC : With great power comes unwanted responsibility!
Considering this central theme of your first Kickstarter project, what have been your inspirations & motivations for telling this particular story?
Hameed : Kade inspired me to tell this story. I really liked the character, he is one of my favourite original characters and I wanted him to have his own story. I had written many stories that Kade had starred in but never actually written a story in which he was a main character. Then I came across a character called Matrim Cauthon in The Wheel of Time series, a fantasy novel series written by Robert Jordan. After discovering Matrim and realising how similar he was to Kade, I decided it was time for Kade to get his own primary role. That’s actually where his hat and quarter staff came from, from Matrim Cauthon. Also I wanted to do a story where the person with the powers didn’t suddenly accept their role as the hero and just lived up to expectations. Instead I wanted the hero to try and escape his role. So the main challenge would become trying to get him to accept his duty instead of trying to beat the bad guys.
AP2HYC : How do we find Kade and what are we to make of him, at the outset of the story?
Hameed : Oooooo… I’ll try and answer that question without ruining anything. How do you find him at the outset of the story? Well you find him like he is. A young and charismatic swindler, a petty thief that seems to only care for himself and himself alone. He’s more or less your typical jerk in the beginning.
AP2HYC : What would you like to say about the world of ‘Dema’, how you developed it and what you might want this world to illustrate?
Hameed : The world that Dema is in is a magical and mysterious world. But the village itself is special to me, it’s one of my most favourite thing about this graphic novel. I really love the fact that it contains every human race you can think of, living harmoniously together. That’s a point I really wanted to get across when creating the village. Also I wanted to show a little of African culture to the public. I’ve read a lot of fantasy novels in which you can lose yourself in rich, magical, worlds with unusual customs, culture and fashion. So I thought why not base my fantasy world on the customs, cultures and fashion of people that I know well? My people.
AP2HYC : I was very impressed by the concept art and the afro-centric design ethic. What can you reveal about the development process that got you there?
Hameed : Well first of all thank you for your kind words on the concept art, we worked really hard on them, lol. Hmmmm… the development process eh… Well I’ve read a lot of fantasy novels in which you can lose yourself in rich, magical, worlds with unusual customs, culture and fashion. I wanted the same type of feeling for my book but I also wanted the setting to be original, unique, not something done before, so I thought why not base my fantasy world on the customs, cultures and fashion of people that I know well, my people. After all, it’s not every day you see african culture in the media.
AP2HYC : You have a particular artist in mind? If so, what led them to be interested in your project?
Hameed : I’ve already chosen the artist, we worked together on the posters and concept designs you see. She’s going to be the artist for the graphic novel itself. She’s AWESOME!! Unfortunately, she would like to remain anonymous but as to what led her to be interested in the project… Well I put up an ad saying that I wanted an artist for a short story, she said she might be interested. Then she read the script and loved it so much she designed some of the characters. I loved the designs and the rest is history.
AP2HYC : Although your premiere Kickstarter project, this is by no means your first creative venture. Has your previous K.I.R.U. comics work in any way contributed to your development of ‘Champion of Dema’?
Hameed : Hmmm… Yes and No. I say no in the sense that Champion of Dema is a totally different story with a completely different setting and vibe from JINN. But at the same time my dissatisfaction with JINN drove me to put out a short story that I can be content with. I felt JINN was a little rushed, I was too eager, I did 4 episodes before taking a step back and reviewing it. Then I decided I could do better, I could improve it; really take my time with it. There’s no point in rushing your baby J. So I parked it for a while and instead decided to write up something short in the mean time that I could give to the fans and also use to demonstrate my writing ability.
AP2HYC : You clearly revel in the medium of comics. What stories, characters & creators have particularly inspired you?
Hameed : Ooooo… that’s a good question. Wow. Okay so let’s start with stories… what stories have particularly inspired me. Well there are a lot but the ones that stand out are The Gentlemen Bastard series by Scott Lynch, The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, Mistborn series and The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. All these stories are truly amazing and inspiring. When I talked about losing yourself in a fantasy world, these books were what I was referring to, I would recommend them to any fantasy fans out there. As to what characters have inspired me, without a doubt the number one character way ahead of the others is Luffy from one piece. Watching one piece (and also naruto) is what made me believe I could one day make have my own animation series. The way Luffy simply sets a goal and goes after it, no matter how ridiculous it may seem is just so cool.
AP2HYC : Each Kickstarter has it’s own array of incentives and I’d be keen to hear a little about your offerings.
Hameed : Awesome! Yeah in return for your help on the project I’m giving out free copies of the 70 page book both in Ebook and Hard-Copy format. We’re also giving out prizes like posters, custom made postcards, badges and even your very own Champion of Dema wristband. I also have on offer, a behind the scenes book which shows the process of how Champion of Dema was made (both hard-copy and ebook), free hard copies of JINN episode 1 to 3 all in one and a limited edition Champion of Dema T-shirt. That’s a lot isn’t it but it’s not all… even higher rewards include a free colour sketch of yourself or someone else in manga form and the chance to be a character in the comic and the for the highest pledge we have a super-sponsor acknowledgement package, including dinner with the Champion of Dema creator.
AP2HYC : Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Hameed : I would just like to say thank you all for taking the time to read this interview and AP2HYC are awesome people. If you guys like the sound of my project and would like to see it made into a reality please help me out by visiting my Kickstarter link, pre-order your copy by making a pledge, and share it with all your friends. If you have a blog and you wish to share it please do so. With only a few days left I really need all the help I can get to make this project a success and with the way Kickstarter works, if I don’t achieve my goal of £3,000 I get no funding. So please guys, help me out as much as you can!
AP2HYC : Thank you, Hameed! This looks like a lot of fun! You can review Hameed’s Champion of Dema presentation for yourself at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1088749339/champion-of-dema