When A Place To Hang Your Cape reviewed the second issue of Sidekick For Hire, we praised its dry humour and enjoyable premise. Catching up with the comic’s creator Kristian Herrera, we talked about his writing process and the direction the series is heading with this second instalment.
A Place To Hang Your Cape: Where does the story pick up in Sidekick For Hire #2?
Kristian Herrera: The story picks up two days after the last scene in Sidekick For Hire #1. Leo receives an email about his ad from #1 to meet someone interested in hiring him. I didn’t want to spend too much time between issues. Because of that, we see that Leo hasn’t fully dealt with the fallout from the events of the last issue. It’s still on his mind; it’s clear from the beginning that it not only affected the way he works, but also how he sees being a hero. From the cover of Sidekick For Hire #2, you can probably tell that Leo will be meeting a new hero. Someone that is almost the polar opposite of his last employer. We waste no time in bringing these two together.
AP2HYC: How has Leo’s story changed since the first issue, and what sorts of directions does the story take now?
KH: Leo was more confident when we first met him. Confident to a fault. He thought being a work for hire sidekick would be fun. But after the events with Captain Ultra, Leo is starting to understand just how dangerous this line of work is. He is beginning to have some doubts; whether or not he should continue this career choice, if he has what it takes to be a superhero or – at the very least – a sidekick. With those doubts, he sees the darker parts of this job like we showed at the end of #1. The story will continue to show just how dangerous being a real-life superhero/sidekick in future issues can be. This raises the bar for the severity of it all. At least, that is what I’m trying to accomplish.
AP2HYC: One of the most daunting and exciting parts of creating a comic like this must be creating your own world of superheroes. How have you found that, and what new characters do we see in #2?
KH: It’s definitely been challenging in some ways. Luckily, I’ve been worldbuilding for years now – for comic books and roleplaying games – so this isn’t new territory for me. The hardest part for me is not to share too much of this world. I want it to feel organic when sharing this superhero world. To be honest, it isn’t that much different from our real world. I do try to keep it grounded to a certain extent.
As for new characters, I want to ensure that the focus stays around Leo and his story. I didn’t want to quickly add more people when I already established a good group of characters in the first issue. However, I couldn’t resist putting in a new superhero for Leo to work with. Like I said before, you can see him right on the cover. He’s been a lot of fun to write! A dark, super-serious, badass vigilante with pointed ears. What’s not to like about writing him? Thanks to Rick, he looks badass too!
AP2HYC: I’d imagine you also need to be a big fan of superhero comics in the first place to come up with a send-up of the genre like this! How do you toe the line between sincerity and parody in Sidekick For Hire?
KH: It’s hard! Honestly, I hope I’m doing it well. Every superhero comic book trope I make fun of is something I love in comics. Whether it’s calling criminals’ “goons,” or cheesy hero banter, I love it. For every “good” joke I write, there are probably nine others I take out of the script because I think they suck. Plus, most of the jokes are visual because this is a visual medium. This is where the entire team comes into play and helps execute a joke that will hopefully get a chuckle.
As for sincerity, even though this is dark in some ways, I want to make sure it’s still fun. My favorite parts in most superhero comics are the human parts. I feel like I did well with that during the last part of Sidekick For Hire #1. I think of Leo as a screw up who wants to do the right thing. There is something endearing about it for me, and I hope the readers find him endearing in the same way. In the end, I don’t know if I’m balancing it well. But all I can do is hope and believe in my abilities in storytelling that I’m able to do so successfully.
AP2HYC: You’ve said this is the second issue of a 5-issue series. Do you already have Leo’s story laid out for the next three instalments? Have any of the positive responses to the first issue affected your idea for where the story goes next?
KH: I do have all five issues outlined. I had the story mapped out before I even approached Rick with this project. When making the first issue, I wanted to make sure that it was an excellent comic book on its own. Not just in a series. I wanted to see if the reaction to the first issue was positive before continuing on this story. Luckily it was! We were able to launch a Kickstarter for the comic in March of 2020 to help fund the next issue.
As for the effect on the story, there hasn’t been much change behind what I outlined for Sidekick For Hire. There will be some tweaks and editing to the story as I write the scripts. But the beginning and the ending have always been the same. The positive responses I’ve received from readers have further strengthened my belief that this comic book is good, and that I should continue to make it with my collaborators.
AP2HYC: Finally, can you please tell us a bit about the creative team on Sidekick For Hire?
KH: Get ready for me to fanboy because I have nothing but praises to say about the team. Rick Alves was the first person I talked to about this project. His art keeps getting better with each page he works on. He’s been a fantastic collaborator with this story; doing things that make my storytelling abilities look better than they actually are. One of the nicest guys ever, and I feel like I don’t deserve to work with him sometimes. But don’t tell him that!
Veronica Saraceno was a great colorist for the first issue. She perfectly executed the light-hearted tone, making the darker scenes even more shocking. We brought Jimmy Greenhalgh in for the second issue as the colorist. It just felt like it was meant to be; he saw what kind of story we were trying to tell and turned it up to eleven, making some of my favorite pages pop even more so. Toben Racicot was the not-so-secret special piece to what made the comic look so professional. He has done so much great work on other indie comic books; there is a good chance you might have backed another one of his projects on Kickstarter. He is a great person to ask for advice from, which I have taken advantage of.
Honestly, every person I worked with for this series has been nothing but a delight. They are all incredibly impressive in their work. I’m excited to keep working with them as they make it to the top!