The Buzz

Our 2017 Kickstarter is going strong with 13 more days to go!

THANK YOU to the wonderful supporters who have Backed our campaign so far:

Patricia Todd
Angela K. Pires
Ciaran
Karen Wight
Charlie Fowler
Joel Hames
Zeb L. West
Rebecca De Ornelas
Gary Walker
Angela Benson
Alex Fletcher
Jennifer Hodges
Alison Henderson
Jonathan Beall
Melissa Attebery
Yael Ben-Zion
Kenny Gall
Margaret Mrrick
Motofunkinetic
Wendy Herlich
Sherard Jackson
Brenda Adams
Robin Perry Harris
John Van Lowe
Pamela Dunlap
Jennifer Simmons
Jonathan Leistiko
Christopher Sharpe
Obaa
Anonymous Kickstarter Guests
Jeffrey Keilholtz
Taylor Kirby Whitmore

ANNOUNCING! The Couri Vine comic book Kickstarter is now LIVE!

@LeahLovise and @VanessaShealy completed Books TWO and THREE, and are making them available through Kickstarter just in time for the holidays.

AND we will release that Book 1 one-page-per-day of this 28 day Kickstarter campaign!

Please visit the kickstarter link at the bottom of the page to read more about this project, and thank you in advance for your support!

Exciting news! Couri Vine Book 2: Journey to the Planet Earth made its debut at Staple! Independent Expo in March.

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Leah Lovise was there with both Couri Vine comic books, stickers, cards, and and even a miniature model of the Garden Towers in Moon City!

Moon City

We worked hard to get this one complete and in print just in time for the Expo, and we’re super thankful to Indigo Rael and Nathan Jensen for their outstanding work in coloring Book 2!

my parents?

Get your copy of COURI VINE Book 2: Journey to the Planet Earth!!!

Available NOW at our store!!!

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Good news everyone!

Couri Vine: Young People for the Leader is now available on ComiXology!

ComiXology is the number one digital platform for comics and Comixology Submit is their creator-owned platform for independent comic book creators (like us) to publish their work.

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Getting this book on Comixology was one of our big goals when we started out on this adventure, and we’re excited to have achieved it so soon.

Click here to find Couri Vine on ComiXology!

Thanks everyone,
Leah & Vanessa

Click the image below to have a listen to the Coffee with Creatives interview with Vanessa Shealy, a Writer and Actor (and Producer) fresh off a successful Kickstarter for her co-created indie comic,Couri Vine.screen-shot-2015-06-08-at-9-57-33-am

 

 

Have you ever wished you could travel to the moon? CouCour Vineri Vine is already there, on the dark side of the moon, to be precise. Unfortunately for her, she’s so much going on that it could even make the man in the moon lose his smile.

Couri Vine is charmingly written by Vanessa Shealy and effectively illustrated by Leah Lovise. The first (and hopefully not only) issue of this comic book series is set in a future where the earth is so polluted that humans have created a settlement on the moon. The settlement is depicted with intriguing detail, full of domes, nooks, and crannies. In fact, a map of the settlement is included with the names and pictures of the main characters for reference.

Couri herself has a tragic flaw—she can’t breathe without a helmet that looks like a smaller version of one of the domes that creates the settlement, or like a modern-day astronaut suit. It’s one of the tricks that make the first issue work: what on the cover appears to be just part of a science fiction plot is what makes the protagonist unique. Couri looks like a young astronaut, but she’s really a little girl with a very specific challenge.

And yet Shealy and Lovise don’t ever treat their characters or their audience condescendingly, and there is a diverse enough cast that you don’t need to be young to appreciate the well-crafted story. Like The Little Mermaid or Alice in Wonderland, having a preteen lead doesn’t prevent the tale from being universal. And also like said stories, Couri Vine is a cautionary tale, exploration, and celebration of what it’s like to be different, marginalized, ostracized, ridiculed, and/or challenged.

Couri Vine also adds to a welcome, increasing niche in the comic book industry: a series written and illustrated by women about a female protagonist. The new series joins the ranks of fellow girl-power pieces, such as Batwoman and World’s Finest.

And last but not least, Couri Vine is in essence a science fiction comic. For those of us geeks who don’t quite understand why there hasn’t been a Star Trek series on TV since 2005, this is definitely a step in the right direction. And if you’re simply a fan of the astronaut element of series like Fantastic Four and Green Lantern, you’ll love Couri Vine.

 

The Couri Vine Kickstarter was named the “Kickstarter of the Week” in the the popular blog Women Write About Comics. Here’s a little of what they had to say:

Couri Vine is a new kid’s comic Kickstarter from all-woman team of Leah Lovise and Vanessa Shealy, with colouring by Indigo Rael, and it’s pretty darn cute….I don’t know about you, but I am always here for girl detectiving and adventuring.

Read the entire post HERE, and Share!

say what

We’ve got more than one week left of our Kickstarter campaign, and we’re happy and proud to say that we are already FUNDED! So far, 62 people have backed this comic book, and we are extremely grateful.

imgresSo, we’re gonna keep on going! We’ve put a lot of time (and money) into creating this book. Now that we have exceeded our initial goal, additional funds will go toward creating Couri Vine Book #2!

Thanks to all for your support!

And we’re off! This week we’re launching our Kickstarter campaign!

Couri Vine Youre Gonna Do What

That’s right – we’re going for it. We’re completely finished with COURI VINE: Young People for the Leader, and we want you to have a copy! So we’re creating a Kickstarter with a copy of this comic book as the PERK that you will receive for any donation above $20.

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Because we’re passionate about this comic book!

We decided early on that we wanted to make an action-packed adventure story about a young person who is hiding from her disability, who then discovers that her difference can become her superpower. We’re personally inspired by this goal; Vanessa is the mother of a child with autism, and Leah’s father was wheelchair bound due to muscular dystrophy. These two heroes in our lives inspire us and instill endless admiration. We hope that our science fiction story will speak to children and adults who live with challenges of all kinds.

 

Our Kickstarter is for $3000 so that we can print 1500 print copies. With that many copies, we can sell them (online and at festivals), submit them to publishers, and, most of all, entice people to support us as we work on the next three books, which together make up the first complete COURI VINE Story.

CV budget KS bannerHere’s what we plan to do with it:

  • $1,798 – this is the quote we selected from One Touch printers for 1500 saddle-stitched copies of the 28 page book.
  • $300 for Kickstarter and credit card fees (about 10% of our total goal).
  • $100 for taxes (that’s 25% of anything non-deductible).
  • $600 mailing and postage.
  • $100 web hosting and marketing.

Which brings us to $2,898, so, in Kickstarter world, that means we better round it up to $3,000, since there’s probably some fees that we didn’t know about. Plus, we like round numbers.

Notice that we aren’t taking any money for ourselves, or putting aside any money for our collaborators. We’ve been funding this project ourselves for the past 2 years. If we exceed our Kickstarter goal maybe we can finally pay down some of these nasty credit cards we’ve been living on.

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You’ll get more info on our Kickstarter page, but these are the PERKS that come with donations at various levels:

  • $20 =  the comic book!
  • $40 =  the comic book…signed by the creative team!
  • $80 = the comic book…signed…with a big THANK YOU to you printed inside the book.
  • $160 = one of Leah Lovise’s original drawings! Plus all the stuff above.
  • $320 = we will make YOU one of the characters in Book 3! Plus all the stuff above.

That’s a lot of great perks if you ask me. Once our Kickstarter page is live, there will be a link to it right HERE!

We hope you’ll contribute. We want you to have a copy, like this guy:

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This charming chap (aka, Marty Percy) is holding one of the 50 copies that we printed for the STAPLE! Independent Media Expo in Austin, TX, where we SOLD OUT immediately. Of those 50 copies, here’s what @s_orem said about the copy she bought:

“Probably the most exciting to me is Couri Vine by Vanessa Shealy and Leah Lovise. It’s about Couri, a young girl with a disability who “discovers that her difference can become her superpower.”

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What happens after this Kickstarter? 

This Kickstarter is for part one of a four part series, so we really need a Kick in the Start to get this going in a way that we can sustain. We’re already working on books two, three, and four, and we plan to release each book on a digital platform, followed by a limited printed run. Below are blurbity blurbs for each of the subsequent books:

Book Two: Journey to the Planet Earth
Couri travels to Earth, where she finds Doo Dad’s InData device, but is pursued on land and sea by the evil Anaxia Nervosa.

Book Three: Hostages
Couri learns the origins of a dangerous compound, Sathrite. Enforcers seize her and transport her to the Near Side of the Moon where Moon Leader Todal reveals his evil plan.

Book Four: Sacrifice
Couri realizes how she can stop the Moon Leader, but it will do irreparable damage to her life support system. What further damage can Moon Leader Todal do?

Getting ready to launch

SPECIAL THANKS goes out to the following heroes:

  • Editor extraordinaire, Angela Pires (AngelakPires.com)
  • The beautiful young actress, Indya Kevern
  • Litsa Litsa for voice-over and creative counseling (aLitsa.net)
  • John McIver (ElephantProductions.com) for shooting and production assistance
  • Web developer and master of the universe Steven Olson. You’re seeing his mastery now. (CouriVine.com!)

When I was growing up, my sister and I would put on tights, a pillowcase cape, and a plastic mask to play Batman and Robin. She’s about 4 years older than me so I always had to be the trusty sidekick. The fact that we were pretending to be men never even entered into our minds. We were just superheroes: guys in capes with crime-fighting superpowers.
Batman_And_Robin

So it’s interesting to me that, when Leah and I first started working on Couri Vine, we started with a male protagonist. I mean, we just made our hero a guy without really questioning it. It seemed natural; I’d been watching and reading stories that star MEN for most of my life. Only after we started working on Couri did we have a realization, “Why have we been imagining a male protagonist? Let’s write about a girl!”

So Couri, who was initially a supporting character, became our hero. And I took a good look at our supporting characters and made sure that there are numerous interesting, complicated, and fierce female characters.

Moon Leader Todal is our “Bad Guy”, but he has a female counterpart, Anaxia, who is actually a little meaner than the Moon Leader.

And there’s Doo Dad, the “Good Guy” in Book 1. In subsequent books, Thyme, a grandmotherly genius, comes into prominence as Couri’s mentor and ally. Thyme is only mentioned briefly in Book 1, but I promise you that by the end of Book 4 her awesomeness will be revealed.

I believe it’s vitally important for young girls to see strong women and girls in comic books. Yet, as we were getting started, I fell into the same trap that I hope young girls WON’T fall into: I assumed the best person for the job was a boy.
CouriVine_profile
So Couri is a girl – a real girl. She’s eleven years old with strengths and weaknesses, and a hugely obvious, frustrating disability. Her feelings are complicated, but she has a purpose in life that’s greater than just getting some boy to notice her. She has to learn to embrace who she is, and when she does, she’ll find her superpowers.

With immense respect for comic book artists, it’s fair to say I was a little intimidated by the thought of making my own comic book. It’s a huge undertaking! The process of making a comic book is like putting together a giant puzzle, one which stretches your creative muscles in limitless ways. So when Vanessa and I decided to make COURI VINE as a comic book I knew it was not something to attempt lightly. For popular comic books, it might take five artists to complete one book. This includes a concept artist, penciller, inker, colorist, and letterer. Here, I was about to attempt all of these roles. But I listen to my mother’s words of wisdom, “take one thing at a time,” grabbed my sketchbook, and started chipping away.

Vanessa and I started with the idea of a girl with an unbeknownst superpower who lives in Moon City with her senile grandfather, an old scientist who was displaced from Earth years ago. From there I set out to determine what this world looks like. At this point in the process, my role as artist was to develop concept art for the characters, determine the setting, architectural designs, spaceship and robot designs, and develop a map of the city.

CouriVine-Couri-Sketches

Life drawing had been something I practiced on a fairly regular bases. But drawing a model who is posing for you and doing portraits is much different than drawing for comics. In my research, I picked up Tom Bancroft’s book “Characters Mentor,” and also “How To Draw The Marvel Way” by Stan Lee and have referred to these books often. With comics, characters emote with their entire bodies. Expression is found not only in the face but also in the pose of a character. Even the perspective of the composition can bring a character to life. I continue to learn and practice this as I illustrate these characters in each panel.

CouriVine-Character-Sketches

Then there’s the setting for the characters. When it comes to designing a futuristic, sustainable world, I’m intrigued by Janine Benyus’ concept of biomimicry and her book called “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.” According to Wikipedia, biomimicry is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. How cool is that!? I wanted my designs to reflect this idea.

Other inspiration was found at an instillation by Architects of Art called the “Luminarium Pentalum.” These giant inflated structures linked domes to a maze of tunnels and allowed sunshine to stream in through colorful vinyl panels creating brilliant arrays of light. Inflated structures on the moon connecting existing lava tunnels, it made sense!

CouriVine-MoonCity-Sketches

Vanessa and I also had questions like: What kind of games do people play in Moon City? How would people get around? Where would they live? What were the dilemmas and advantages of having a lower gravitational pull? How many hours are in a day in Moon City? All of these questions, and more, needed to be considered when approaching the design.

Helicopter Cycles were a must! Take an old-timey, penny-farthing bike crossed with a helicopter, add a lower gravitational pull, and there you have it, a fun and potentially life threatening, pedal-driven, aeronautic machine specially designed for lunar extreme sports!

CouriVine-Spaceship-Sketches

Book 1 of COURI VINE scratches the surface of the possibilities in Moon City, exploring ideas of sustainable living in a man-made province, concepts that will continue to unfold in the upcoming books. Included here are some of the pre-visuals developed for the first book.

Like Couri, I am discovering what the universe has to offer, and what I have to offer in return. Thanks for reading.

So, Leah and I decided to write a comic book! Wow! GREAT!! Wait a minute. That means…I actually have to write a comic book?! I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to pull this off, so I decided I better school myself in comic book writing. Lucky for me, homework included trips to MidTown Comics, tickets to NY Comic Con, and loads and loads of comic book reading. I also picked up some books on the subject, including Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics” and Dennis O’Neill’s “The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics.”

All the while, story ideas for Couri Vine were brewing. I still didn’t quite know where to start, so I set out to create a Story Bible, an only-for-our-eyes description of the world of Couri Vine. Through that process I found the one question with the potential to define every aspect of this story: How on Earth did they end up on the moon?

The answer to that question is contained in a long history of the future: devastation of the planet, a war on Earth, foul play in the universe, and eventually an Air Plague (with a mysterious cause) that forces the inhabitants of Earth to migrate to the Moon.

Cover Page: Couri Vine

The rewrites…oh, the rewrites…

Our Story Bible is sitting in the Dropbox folder that Leah and I share. What’s exciting to me is that this first story arc (the first four books) is just scratching the surface. Couri won’t even discover her powers until the final pages of the last book. Then, all kinds of new trouble is waiting for her. (insert sinister laugh here)

When it came time to write the script for Book One, I wish I could say that the story just poured out of me. But that’s not the way it happened. I made a lot of mistakes and had to reimagine the story once I actually started typing words. This is the guts of what I learned: writing a comic book is hard. It’s like a puzzle – you think you have this great story that practically tells itself, but then you find yourself counting the number of panels per page and trying to fit in the conflict before the page turns.

Then there are the speech balloons. I had way too many words in my early drafts so I spent a lot of time cutting dialogue and simplifying the story. As I’m writing books 2, 3 and 4, I’m getting better about this. But no regrets – the process has been awesome and I’m loving every minute of it. I guess the best way to write a comic book is just to write a comic book. And then rewrite it. And rewrite it again. And again. And again. And…you get the idea.

Greetings Earthlings, it is I, Leah Lovise! I’m the artist and co-creator of COURI VINE, an all-new comic book about a girl who discovers that her greatest weakness is actually her greatest strength (and ultimately, her super power)!

The idea for a sci-fi tale set in a future world had been bubbling around in my brain for some time. I didn’t know exactly how it would take shape. It all started with a conversation with Jason Stout of the Austin Chronicle, “Let’s make children’s entertainment!” Shortly after that, we developed a world, concept art, and a character bible. The question remained, what is this going to be? I had some ideas. I knew that I wanted to be a part of a project about overcoming obstacles and sustainable living in an otherwise unsustainable setting.

We were so excited when the Austin Film Society awarded us a grant from the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund. This money went toward further development, production of a trailer, and a trip to New York to pitch at the Kidscreen Summit, one of the nation’s largest children’s entertainment conferences. After several months of helping me develop the concept, Jason became super busy making the Austin Chronicle as awesome as it is, and could no longer work on the project with me. I tried roping in other creatives, but was unsuccessful. Here, I was prepping my Kidscreen pitch and was not sure what direction to take. I knew one thing: I needed a writer!

Enter… writer, Vanessa Shealy!

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That’s me – I’m Vanessa. Welcome to our blog!

Back when Leah came up to NYC for Kidscreen, she crashed on my lumpy, too-short sofa, and asked me if I’d be interested in writing a few TV scripts around her concept. She wasn’t really sure how the episodes would work, or really where her idea was headed. So, naturally, I was totally on board! Sometimes you don’t have to know where you’re going, but if you like the person that you’re headed there with, eventually you’ll get there. Plus, Leah’s concept totally jazzed me. I mean, who doesn’t want to write about a civilization on the moon?

So we had many, many (many!) conversations. The more we talked the more the concept morphed into a longer, darker, more involved story. That meant a slightly older audience and a different genre. Most importantly, we moved away from a young boy protagonist and instead decided to rethink one of the peripheral characters as protagonist – the “Furrier Courier”, who became not a Courier at all, but a girl with powers she doesn’t even realize yet. We later shortened her name to just “Couri”, and gave her grandfather the clever name given to Leah’s original hero, Doo Dad.

Finally about a year later, we realized what we’re really talking about here is a COMIC BOOK. We shuddered. Neither one of us had ever dared to venture into the overwhelming realm of comic creation. But if you know me and Leah – you know that’s never stopped us before.

Thus began our work on COURI VINE… more about the method to that madness in our post next week.

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