The rock odyssey of Sparkshooter continues as the webcomic dives back into new story pages this week.
After completing the first volume of six chapters a few weeks ago, writer Troy Brownfield (known for his work at Dynamite and Zenescope, among others) and artist Enkaru (a resident of Spain that has published three volumes of her Trisquel series in Europe) are back with a new arc.
Brownfield had a virtual sit-down with ComicBook.com to talk about inspirations, direction and the long road ahead.
*Full disclosure: Brownfield previously worked at Newsarama with both Senior Staff Writer Russ Burlingame and Editor-in-Chief Lucas Siegel.
Let's start with the catching up portion of the program. For the possible new reader, what's your elevator pitch for the series? What is Sparkshooter all about?
Sparkshooter is comedy that follows the story of a band in the Indianapolis music scene circa 2003. The first six chapters, which has the volume title of "Self-Titled Debut", follows the dissolution of one band and its reincarnation with a new female lead singer. It's based on some of my own experiences working with bands, and has a number of dramatic and romantic complications along with the funny stuff.
Some of those complications began clear in the final two chapters when you revealed that Sondra had a previously-unknown boyfriend.
Right. We had put the attraction that Sean had for Sondra front and center, and then slowly bled in these ambiguous moments with Elihu to suggest a triangle. Then Sean's ex Bethany entered the picture, and THEN we sprang Julian on the readers. It's kind of a love-pentagon at this point.
You suggested Julian had been in Europe?
Yeah, that's basically a reference to some of the veteran guys in the Indiana scene that have supplemented their locally centered bands with taking sideman gigs on tours. One guy that's done that well is Vess Ruhtenberg, playing with Mysteries of Life and Antenna and The Lemonheads, among others.
The characters noted that Julian had been touring with Vess as kind of a hat-tip. It's also a convenient excuse for him to be off-page and not have Sondra mention him. If that's the only reason.
So where are we as we start Chapter 7?
The band has started to play out, and Jack, the manager, is working on booking shows. Early on in Chapter 7, you get a bit where Jack breaks down how you try to book a local band into a following. It's the kind of sequence that you deploy in order to get you to other things later.
When you see the band at certain points down the road, readers could say, "Oh yeah, they explained why you book like that." But we also get a look at how Sean and Sondra try to write together and follow an extremely awkward night out when Julian tags along with the band. But that's pretty plot specific; we're taking the scope wider as we move out, exploring the characters further and testing their resolve a little bit more. It's difficult to get a band together; it's really difficult to KEEP a band together.
Speaking of keeping the band together, your original artist, Sarah Vaughn, rather publicly had to switch away from full-blown art because of some health issues, but has since established herself as a writer with Image's Alex+Ada and Fresh Romance from Rosy Press. You recruited Enkaru, and she's been on board since Chapter 3. What can you say about both of them?
As Sarah well knows, I'm extremely proud of her. I've known her a long time, and she has a consistently bright future ahead of her. With Enkaru, I was amazingly lucky to get her as a partner. She's so good and so rock solid in terms of constantly delivering great work that I'm still kind of in awe of it. Enkaru really nails the various emotional shadings.
With page 140, for example, I wrote what I thought would be a fairly hard page, trying to capture some ambiguity and jealousy. When she sent it to me, it was perfect. I'm not sure that I've ever been this comfortable with a collaborator; she gets what I'm going for with the characters in a very concrete way.
Where do you and Enkaru plan on taking the comic in the future?
Overall, I have a conception of where the story would go for a few volumes (yeah, not just chapters. Volumes). Our next step, really, is to settle on how we're going to present the book digitally and in print. It would be nice to find a publishing partner that would complement our vision of how we want to tell the story.
Does that include the music you've referred to previously?
Perhaps. I'll say this: you can expect a video soon. We have a Sparkshooter channel at YouTube that will be debuting some very special work directed by MP Cavalier, Indy resident and co-host of the DoItIndy Radio Hour on radiofreeindy.com. He's a real documentarian of the scene, and I'd seen his opening credits work for their video packages. At that point, I thought he might be the guy to bring this to life. It's going to be cool.
One last thing: what about the return of Sparkshooter's sibling series, Solo Acoustic?
Artist Ben Olson and I will be returning to Solo after the first of the year. Ben has an awesome day job (he's an Exhibit Fabricator for the world-famous Children's Museum of Indianapolis), but it takes a LOT of time and has even sent him out of the country this year. We'll be getting back to Solo soon,and we'll see if Will gets some direction in his life.