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Roundtables, Technomancy & Space Travel: In Conversation with Jason Doring

Comic writer and Boston Comics Roundtable member Jason Doring will be expanding his already-diverse portfolio via his new stories to be included in several of the BCC’s upcoming anthologies. Doring’s creator-owned titles, The Naked Eye and WARAUSEN, spin a fresh take on super-powered individuals thrown into unexpected scenarios, both of which had successful campaigns on Kickstarter. His forthcoming stories form part of new publications from The Boston Comics Roundtable, an initiative designed for local comic creators to socialise, share feedback on member’s work and publish original comics.

With the upcoming all-ages themed Boston Powers Volume 3, he’ll be continuing his trekking into superhero comics, whilst offering a more sci-fi flavour with his contribution to the sci-fi anthology STARBOUND, another all-ages title. Both of his stories, The Conductor and The Trial of the Gases, sees him teaming up with Do You Believe In An Afterlife?‘s Fell Hound. We caught up with Jason to find out more about his work and why the Boston Comics Roundtable is an uplifting platform for its contributors.

A Place To Hang Your Cape: How did you join the Boston Comics Roundtable?

Jason Doring: I decided to actively create comics in 2016, but I was entirely self-taught as a sequential art script writer (primarily through Peter David’s Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels and Mark Kneece’s The Art of Comic Book Writing. My first comic story (The Naked Eye) was a passion project I had been developing since 2007, so I wanted to make sure it was done professionally, and I was actively seeking local, experienced creators and editors to help me make the story properly and advance as a writer.

The Boston Comics Roundtable had been a constant presence at Boston Comic Con (now FanEXPO Boston), and one of my close friends has been a member for many years, so I had always known about them. Unfortunately, since I live in the suburbs, getting to their regular weekly meetings in Cambridge wasn’t possible. Luckily, they had established a satellite group on Massachusetts’ North Shore that met monthly and was led by well-respected creatives. The members I regularly meet with at “BCR North” include Dirk Tiede (Paradigm Shift), Kurt Ankeny (Pleading with Stars), and Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline (Midas, Adventure Time). I have been incredibly grateful for their guidance throughout my creative journey, as well as the opportunities and resources they have provided, specifically the chance to exhibit at one of the best independent comic exhibitions in the country, MICE.

BCR has also expanded my exposure to the different genres and formats of comics – it helps that I think they collectively consider themselves “experimental cartoonists” rather than “comic book creators.” Their anthologies cover literally every genre of comics, and some of their individual works, such as Renie JesanisKate Blast!, Beth Barnett’s Dreamers of the Day, and Dan Mazur’s Cold Wind and The Last, are great examples of comic stories designed to appeal to historically underserved audiences. The group’s influences have greatly expanded my way of thinking about comics as an art form.

AP2HYC: What can you tell us about the stories you’ve submitted to their anthologies?

Doring: The STARBOUND anthology, currently on Kickstarter, is an all-ages book featuring stories taking place in deep space. The story I wrote, The Trial of the Gases (a stealth Witcher reference), details the first, privately run human expedition to Saturn. The hero of the story, despite all scientific deduction to the contrary, is convinced that life exists on that planet, and a mysterious benefactor funds her and her brother on this dangerous journey. I chose Saturn as the setting because it’s my young son’s favorite planet, but the story itself is meant to evoke some of the tenser Doctor Who episodes like “Midnight” and “The Impossible Planet”. It’s also an opportunity to educate younger kids about the inner atmosphere of gas giants, which I don’t think is commonly covered in science classes.

Boston Powers, which just released its first volume following a successful crowdfunding campaign this spring, is a children’s anthology series featuring kid superheroes saving the day against the backdrop of Massachusetts landmarks. The Conductor, which will appear in the third volume in the fall, introduces a child superhero who is granted technomancy and teleportation powers by a kindly sorceress and tasked with fixing the MBTA, Massachusetts’ infamously unreliable public train system. Our technomancer hero desperately misses her mother, a teacher who is always late coming home due to work commitments and MBTA delays, and the story aims to show the emotional distress placed on families thanks to constant transit issues.

AP2HYC: Has there been much difference in working on them?

Doring: I’ll admit that working on The Conductor for Boston Powers has been far more challenging. My issue-length work, like The Naked Eye and WARHAUSEN, is my typical wheelhouse of absurd, bombastic, juvenile, and occasionally dark comedy that straddles the line between a PG-13 and R rating. Boston Powers is meant for children under eight, and even though I have a kid in that age range I tell stories to nightly, it’s been tricky to get the tone and depth I want from the story, especially with a limited page count. Additionally, I did want to create this story to recognize my wife – she is a middle grade teacher whose job requires her to sacrifice her personal time for her students a great deal – and that adds an extra layer of difficulty.

The Trial of the Gases for STARBOUND, on the other hand, is much easier for me, since I’ve been immersed in Sci-Fi ranging from Asimov books to Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica from a really young age. Once I had my jumping-off point (Saturn and its inner atmosphere), it was pretty easy to draw upon those influences and write a story I’m super-excited to share with readers.

AP2HYC: How did Fell Hound join you as your collaborator on these stories?

Doring: I actually don’t recall how Fell and I first became connected on social media, but I definitely remember being an enormous fan of her art the second I saw it. Fell had mentioned on Twitter that her 2019 and 2020 creative resolutions included working on more anthology series, and when BCR put out the call for these two books, I immediately reached out to her and was thrilled she wanted to collaborate. Luckily, as we exchanged pitch notes and script beats, particularly for STARBOUND, Fell became increasingly excited about crafting these stories, and I’ve really enjoyed the friendship that’s come about as these projects have progressed.

AP2HYC: We’re big fans of Fell Hound on AP2HYC, what makes her art style a match for your stories?

Doring: Honestly, Fell’s art style is a match for every story – it’s stunning to me that she’s not working for a major publisher with multiple ongoing books right now.

Beyond her obvious talent, I think we share a lot of the same sensibilities and influences. We both enjoy retro-futuristic, somewhat grimy science fiction and fantasy, which is definitely the aesthetic in both stories. Fell is also an outstanding character designer, not only with costuming (that Commander Rao look is simply incredible), but in terms of illustrating facial expressions that draw authentic emotion out of her characters’ interactions, which is critical to both stories’ presentation. Do You Believe in An Afterlife? is a brilliant example of this talent, and neither of these stories would work as well without her.

AP2HYC: What’s been the best thing about having your stories brought to life like this?

Doring: During the production process, my favorite part has been working alongside some fantastic, wildly creative people. Besides Fell, I’ve loved working with Megan Huang, Rob Jones, and Lauren Moran on WARHAUSEN, Beniamino Delvecchio and Saad Shehri on The Naked Eye, and Emma Zhao on my recent Platform Comics 10K Challenge Submission, Love in the Final Revolution. My goal is to not only continue working with my existing collaborators, but continue to meet new, vibrant, and friendly comic creators on my creative journey.

I also think any comics creator would also agree that seeing the finished product, and having the opportunity to share it, is immensely rewarding. Reading the wonderful reviews of The Naked Eye once it was finished was one of the most fulfilling creative experiences I have had, and I want to keep chasing that feeling!

Are you as excited for these new anthologies as we are? Let us know in the comments section below or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

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Fred McNamara

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