We’re back with Benton Rooks of KALI-YUGA (see our first interview here) to talk about his latest project TRETA-YUGA. Benton is a writer and artist who co-coined the term “entheodelic storytelling” with Graham Hancock, Rak Razam, and Jeremy D. Johnson. His work has previously appeared at Disinfo.com and Reality Sandwich.
A Place to Hang Your Cape: Can you tell us a bit about the story of TRETA-YUGA and its connection to its predecessor, KALI-YUGA?
Benton Rooks: TRETA-YUGA refers to the silver age in Hindu mythology and it is a stand alone story that will run parallel to KALI-YUGA. TY revolves around two central characters, Arkana and Xven, as they seek the silver scroll—said to hold the secrets to the lost art of glitch magic. This ancient document is reported to be hidden in innerspace by the great Qi-Gong master Zee.
There are future stories planned within the structure of the YUGAVERSE, and the basic idea is that as the reader moves along they discover the ways in which these characters are connected over vast periods of time.
AP2HYC: What has been the hardest part of this project?
Benton: The most challenging aspect was learning 3D modeling and digital lighting techniques from scratch. It took me a little over a year and a half to get to a place where I felt I could comfortably showcase the art. Because I’m attempting to utilize a cinematic look and feel for the graphic novel, I also don’t have too many previous examples to draw upon, though the Kickstarter success The Brothers Harrow has a very cool look that I certainly took note of.
AP2HYC: And what have you found the easiest, or most fun?
Benton: There are few feelings more satisifying to me than seeing a character and scene really come to life on the page (or in my case, a laptop screen). Because I have a background in film it was really fascinating to attempt to mimic the lens of a camera in each shot. When everything lines up, and the lighting is just right… especially after much inevitable technical difficulty, it’s truly a wondrous feeling. It’s certainly not something I could have envisioned myself doing just about two years ago.
AP2HYC: You’ve said that KALI-YUGA was your ‘western’ and TRETA-YUGA draws more of an influence from the East. Can you tell us how this is reflected in the story? What mythologies have you been inspired by?
Benton: I’ve always had a sly obsession with Japanese media and the shamanistic aspects of Shinto myth.
Anime, manga, video games (especially JRPG’s) have heavily influenced TRETA-YUGA. The maximalist, hyper realistic style wasn’t something I felt I could easily do in a traditional hand drawn format like KALI-YUGA (even though 2D has it’s own charm and strengths). I also love the Wuxia genre (counting the still underrated Xbox gem Jade Empire), and old school Kung Fu stuff. It’s possible there may even be some Wu-Tang references.
AP2HYC: You’ve also named Lovecraftian horror as one of your influences. Is Lovecraft a big inspiration to you? In what way do you feel his work has affected your own? Do you have a favourite of his you could share with us?
Benton: I love all of the so called Lovecraft trio (including Robert E Howard, Clark Ashton Smith). Smith to me is the most underrated and probably the one also who has made the most impact on me. There are some people who prefer “the Smythos” even more than Lovecraft’s great works and I’m one of those weirdos.
I always felt Smith was a bit more dark fantasy and magic obsessed (like me) where as Lovecraft was often straight up cosmic horror. All of them are awesome and I certainly continue to draw inspiration from those early turn of the century pioneers, in addition to one of my all time favorites The Worm Ouroboros.
There is still some debate (on the internets) as to whether or not the Science-Fantasy genre truly exists, but Jack Nance and Gene Wolfe are also decisive influences for TRETA-YUGA, in terms of how masterfully they blended the two genres.
AP2HYC: Do you have plans for further stories in this series?
Benton: I certainly do. I will eventually make a return to the second issue of KALI-YUGA, and thankfully I’m also welcoming a new mysterious author whose style contrasts nicely with mine. They will try their hand at the strange innerspace of the YUGAVERSE very soon. It’s all wonderfully secretive, but certainly something I feel people can look forward to.
To support Benton head over to the Kickstarter here and get ready to immerse yourself in the strange and wonderful YUGAVERSE…