BOYTOONS MAGAZINE #169 – For the love of Zahn!

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Hey Gang!!!

I’ve been hard at work on Zahn #2.  I completed the script to my satisfaction, and have started penciling and inking, and so far it’s going really well.  This is gonna be a really cool issue that introduces some nifty new characters, deepens the mystery of the series’ story arc, and sees the cum flying all over.  Oh yes – GOOD TIMES to be had by all.  I’ll keep you posted on my Zahn #2 progress regularly.

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Illustration by Cruzis

Meanwhile, I thought it would be cool to share with you some for the amazing Zahn fan art I’ve received lately.  I have to say that of all my Boytoons, Zahn seems to be the one most fans choose to draw.  Sure I get a ton of Cam and Naked Justice fan art too, but Zahn pretty much beats them all!  Not that I’m complaining, because the Son of Winter is one of my personal fave creations.  It’s always areal thrill to see how other artists interpret him.

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BOYTOONS MAGAZINE #130 – My HUGE Interview with Sean Z, creator of “Myth”.

There are a lot of comics one can read on the web, but few are as compelling as Myth.  I say this because, Myth creator Sean Z has clearly spent hours and hours coming up with the back end of his story, taking great pains to establish a definitive world in which his characters live, and the various realities and nuances of their lives.  From gadgets, to races of beings and creatures, to various spells and incantations — Sean has created a universe so thoroughly developed that the stories that could spring from it are almost endless.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Sean, who is not only an amazing artist and writer, but also one of the sweetest, most down to earth people I know in this industry. I’ve been a huge fan of his for a long time, and as a fan, I was blown away by Myth Act 1: Preludes (which you can check out for yourself on his website!) I am GAH GAH over his work, and naturally had a ton stuff to ask him. He was kind enough to answer my very lengthy questions.

BOYTOONS MAGAZINE: Hey Sean.  It’s a pleasure to have you here… before we launch into chatting about Myth, I thought it would be cool to give my readers a little more background on ya!  Can you tell us a bit more about yourself, where you are from and what led you to becoming an artist, and eventually an artist of erotic comics?

SEAN Z: Thank you, Patrick. I am quite honored to be interviewed by one of my most prolific, creative peers! As for me? Well, I was born and raised in the mid-west—Indianapolis, Indiana, specifically—where I ran, rather quickly as far away from that place as soon as it was legally prudent for me to do so. *grin*  Not that there’s anything wrong with Indy, it just wasn’t a place I could see myself thrive creatively. So, I moved on to places like Chicago and Los Angeles.

Before settling on Venice, California with my amazing spouse and dogs. I’ve always created stories and drawings since I was as young as three years old.  My family—especially, my Mother—really encouraged my talents as a child. Reading was a big part of my growing up; cartoonists like the Charles Schultz’s, the Peanuts and Jim Davis’, Garfield were among my first influences.  Then I discovered the genres of Fantasy and Science Fiction with films like The Dark Crystal (Jim Henson) and Star Wars (George Lucas) when I was six, that when my love-affair with imagination began. From there, it was a gradual exploration into Comic Books, Dungeons and Dragons, Video Games and ultimately, Anime. These things were so heavily influential, into the ultimate direction I would go creatively.

But once I graduated high school, I found myself a bit trepid about pursuing my artistic dreams. I’m the eldest son of three boys, my mother divorced the man I knew as my father when I was 11 year old.  I grew up rather quickly as a result, having a hand in raising my siblings to some degree—I created that my options in life needed to revolve around higher responsibilities than what I truly wanted.  Mainly, because I convinced myself at the time, that being an illustrator and creating graphic novels was a one-way trip to the dreaded, “starving-artist” life-style that I couldn’t afford to let happen. So, I stuck to creative-aspirations that I deemed “safe” – which involved me being comfortable financially, versus the risk of the unknown with what I truly wanted to do.

It was only after I moved to California did those former ideals give way to the joys of what I am doing today; Writing, Illustrating and sharing my stories and creative concepts with the world around me.

BTM: Was blending comic art and erotica a natural choice for you, something you just kind of happened into — or was it something you decided to try one day to see how you might like it?

SEAN Z: I have always had a Voyeur Fetish. It’s like visual sex—admiration and appreciation of the physicality of others.  It’s playful for me and I’m smiling right now, just thinking about it. *grin* One of my favorite things to do is to people watch and “write” my own stories about them in my head. Sometimes, those stories dive into sensual and erotic territory. That being said, I have always had a strong desire to explore sexual themes in my own work—my love of the comic art genre and erotic expression made this marriage seem natural to me. But I was slow to evolve my expression of out loud comfortably. I was afraid I was going to be judged poorly for wanting to share such things and that it would somehow hold back my non-erotic work.  Then I realized the only person who could do that would be me…and the rest has simply been a gradual and steady rise into being completely comfortable with this aspect of my creativity.

BTM: So do you think Myth would work as well as it does now if the erotic aspects of the series were not present?  And if not, can you tell us a bit about why that is?  Obviously I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that Myth is a great read, and a great turn on as well, but I am just curious as to why for you as the creator of the series, the erotic elements are so important?

SEAN Z: (I love that you’re such a fan, Patrick! LOL!) Yes and No. Because the story is full of all these characters and themes with such a rich and well-known history, I could have left out the more explicit imagery.  And MYTH could carry on like any other “main-stream” story expressed in the genres I’ve placed it in.  But I wouldn’t be happy with it ultimately. MYTH was created to be the story I didn’t have to leave anything out—especially, the sensuality, sexuality and eroticism.  I didn’t want to shy away from subject matter that really should be an expression of openness and joy. It’s beautiful and fun and this on-going quest of discovery of just what turns us on! LOL! MYTH ultimately, is about me having fun with all these themes that puts a smile on my face, or in my pants—LOL!  I hope that answers your question, Patrick.

BTM: Let’s talk a bit about the first incarnation of your MYTH series.  Clearly, the Myth we know today has evolved from that original series.  What are the major differences between the original and the new versions of the series?

SEAN Z:
The major differences between the first volume and the current one besides the growth in my art and the graduation from black and white to full color, is the time-line.  The first volume, “begins” in the middle of the story.  You’re just kind of thrown in this world (which was just called, “Z” at the time), with Julian and the denizens of this fantasy world. The focus then was to immerse the reader in all aspects of this world and play “catch up” to the events that lead to Julian crossing over to this fantasy world.  The series in its current incarnation, takes a step back to the world before Zithyra—letting you get to know Julian and the people around him a bit more.  I wanted to establish these characters within the context of the story here. The reader gets to see how and why these events transpire, before ultimately the setting of Zithyra takes over in a significant way.

BTM: In the new version of Myth, the one that is currently posted on your website, you introduce us to several characters, all of which are very unique in their own personas and distinctive looks.  Some are new to this incarnation of Myth, and some have appeared in the original version of the series.  Was it a challenge to decide which characters to focus on the most, and how did you decide what to reveal about them and what to keep for future acts?


SEAN Z: I have so many characters in this series! LOL! Because of this, I needed to adopt a way of storytelling that allowed me to explore these characters in a gradual process.  It’s a little “soap-opera-esque, “ in its delivery as a result.  I created a time-line of the story’s progression, which really helps a lot with moving the story along. I try to make the MYTH story very character-driven, so as these events and scenes happen, you’re getting to know both the story and the characters as things unfold. The only challenge I’ve really had so far is in deciding where I should cut a scene. Is it too little? Is it too much? I just trust my instincts and the patience of my readership to want to discover more and more as this story unfolds.

BTM: In the gallery section of your website, there are a ton of gorgeous illustrations of some characters which we do not meet in Act 1.  Can we expect to see a few of them in future acts?  Can you tell us who we might get to see then, and what role they might play in the plot and story development?

SEAN Z: Absolutely! Every character you see (or don’t see) will be making their appearance at some point in MYTH.  A few of them will actually be appearing in the following Act—specifically, Xabat and Nazuri—they play for “Team Donjovan.” There will also be a “hint” of a character seen in the first volume of MYTH in the next Act as well, but I don’t want to give away who just yet.

BTM: What is your work process like?  Did you script out the entire first act before drawing it, or do you script each installment one at a time?

SEAN Z: Writing comes very quickly and easily for me.  Since there’s a time-line of MYTH, I have an outline for at least the next 30 Acts with MYTH. And have the final scripts all the way to the fourth Act, currently. Sometimes, during the actual drawing process the characters want to tell a slightly different story than what I originally write.  So, I allow myself the pleasure of spontaneous, creative outbursts whenever they occur.

BTM: And what of all the extensive details that make up the Myth universe, like the paraphernalia the characters use – Shimmer, Koz, the Runes… I mean, obviously a lot of thought went into conceptualizing all these aspects.  Did you sit down to create some kind of Myth reference encyclopedia that you refer to as you write the episodes?   There’s a lot of terms and names and things to remember!

SEAN Z: There is! LOL! Because I’m such a fan-geek of the details, specifically, in a story laden in Sci-fi and Fantasy lore. It makes the story more real to me, when I’ve created whole cultures and races and the process for how-things-work. Sometimes, it just starts as a drawing or a written concept, before it gives birth to this very specific detail within the MYTH universe.  I’ll eventually, put together a kind of lexicon of all things MYTH, once the story has unfolded enough.


BTM: I want to talk about your characters a little bit more now because as a writer and artist of comics myself, characters are soooo important to me.  I really appreciate the extent to which you have developed your cast.  They are all extremely compelling.  V’Riel is clearly the main protagonist, at least of this Act – and clearly he and main baddie Donjovan have some kind of history together.  Their interaction is so deliciously tense, and yet there is a real familiarity between them.  They talk to each other the way you would expect old friends to chat.  Is there anything you can tell us about them and their past that would not constitute a “spoiler”?

SEAN Z:
Thank you, Patrick! Character development is what drives all my storytelling, primarily, because my characters have a tendency to write themselves more often than not—as for V’Riel and Donjovan? Well…LOL! You’re absolutely right on about the two of them—they DO have a lengthy history together. The dialogue in Act One really hints at what that relationship was. Just know that a large part of Donjovan’s ability to get under V’Riel’s skin is because he knows what emotional buttons to push. That’s how well, they know each other.

BTM: I also really loved the interaction between V’Riel and Koz.  More great dialog there!  It’s also very cool the way that Koz reveals certain things about V’Riel to the reader as the story progresses.  So V’Riel is kinda vain, and the fact that it takes him 3 hours to select an outfit is very fun! LOL! Koz and V’Riel are on a very important mission to save their world.  They have to find the Lost Children of Zithyra and their search leads them to a wicked nightclub called “Raunch”.  V’Riel must have a home base somewhere on Earth at this point… where he presumably keeps his many hot outfits?  Where might that be?

SEAN Z: They’re very fun to write as well.  Koz is essentially, the more serious of the two. He’s very focused on his directive, very Order-based.  V’Riel is the opposite of Koz in nearly every way, but because of their working relationship, Koz follows V’Riel’s commands explicitly. Since we’re dealing with Magic, a wardrobe is whatever V’Riel wants it to be! LOL! Koz’s abilities and functions help realize V’Riel’s wishes of course. The next Act will go into this a bit more.

BTM: Can you tell us how these lost children came to be lost, and why is their return to Zithyra so important?

SEAN Z: You’ll actually get to find out bits and pieces of the how and the why, in Act Two, which is titled, “Answers.” LOL! An event triggers something in one of them, that causes a kind of “domino effect” with the rest of them.



BTM:
Speaking of the Lost Children, let’s chat about Zander a little bit.  Okay, dude, I have to tell you – he’s completely GORGEOUS!  He is a very striking character, but we see precious too little of him in this first Act!  Please tell me this beautiful boy has a larger role to play in Act 2, and if so, can you give us a glimpse of what is in store for Zander?

SEAN Z: Thanks Patrick! Zander IS yummy on the eyes, isn’t he? LOL! I originally, planned to show a little more of him after his departing scene at the beginning of the story.  But I later thought against it. Since the idea was to really just touch upon he and Aryah slightly, in the “Preludes,” Act. Zander will DEFINITELY have a much larger part in the next Act for sure. And the readers will get a more in-depth understanding of him and the things around him—Especially, when he comes face to face with Team Donjovan.


BTM: I’ve always said that one of the things I appreciate the most about you and your work is that you include female characters in your stories, and portray them on an equal level as your male cast.  Obviously, Aryah has a large part to play in acts to come (and I’m guessing, so does her family and future husband!), but by the other character’s standards, she seems a little less sexual.  Do you have plans to step that up in future installments?  Can we expect Aryah to “blossom”?

SEAN Z:
I love female characters. I love drawing female characters.  There was no way I was going to tell this story without including them in a significant way. Aryah does play a large part in the overall story’s entirety.  You’ll get to see a little more of this in the next Act, and even more of her in the third Act.  Aryah is fun to write because she is so consumed with doing the right thing, for the wrong reasons. As the MYTH story goes deeper, you’ll definitely see some “blossoming” on Aryah’s part.

BTM:
Will we ever see her über-hot bachelorette party strippers again?  They were one of my personal fave parts of Aryah’s segment. HA! HA! HA!

SEAN Z:
You weren’t alone in that opinion, Patrick! LOL! Those boys may or may not appear again in the not-so-near future. You’ll have to wait and see. *wink*

BTM: Great dialog in Aryah’s segment, by the way.  It all flowed very naturally and was very true to life.  The “coochie juice” remark was frikkin’ priceless. LOL!   Deena, Aryah’s friend is also a gorgeous character.  Was she simply a plot device for the introduction of Aryah, or can we expect to see more of her in future acts?  Is there a little more you can tell us about Deena’s character?

SEAN Z: Yeah, the “coochie juice” comment was fun to write and it rewarded me with some fun e-mails from certain readers! LOL! Deena is Aryah’s best friend—she will play a huge part in the coming stories involving Aryah and the others.  Deena lives life in a very self-fulfilling way that Aryah truly admires.  You will definitely, be seeing more of Deena in future Acts. I absolutely, LOVE her.


BTM:
So clearly Zander, Aryah, and Julian, whom we meet at Rauch, are some of Zithyra’s Lost Children.  Julian seems to be the only one who’s aware of his true nature though?  Why is that?  Is he somehow more important to the plot than the other Lost Children?

SEAN Z: Julian’s awareness is only peripheral at this point. He doesn’t have a full grasp on that awareness…yet.  All three of them are significant to the importance of the plot, Julian however, will be the “stepping stone,” for the others mainly because of his true-nature, which will be explored a bit in Act Two.

BTM: And later on we learn along with Koz and V’Riel that Ivan (whom we also meet at Rauch) also has a z-synergy signature, making him a sorta Lost Child of Zithyra!  So he’s most likely a half-breed?  Where does Ivan fit into the equation, and can you tell us a bit more about his purpose without revealing too much of what’s to come?

SEAN Z: Ivan is the anomalous signature that Koz picks up because of their proximity to Ivan at that time.  It’s not quite what you think, but it will be explained more in Act Two (what a way to get people excited for the next Act, eh? LOL!).  However, Ivan is a character you’ve already seen before. (In MYTH, volume one and the Gallery) And the “hints” of who that is, is expressed explicitly within the story. *evil grin*

BTM:
As villains go, Donjovan is perfectly wicked.  He’s hot and knows it, and he’s quite evil and very comfortable with his evilness.  He’s also quite different from the other characters in terms of looks.  What went into his design?  Were there certain characteristics you wanted to include into his creation?

SEAN Z: Donjovan is purposely different in his design, because I really wanted to get away from the Vampire “standard.” He’s got olive skin, versus being pale.  He’s hairy versus being smooth. I wanted him to have an edgy kind of sexiness that “oozed” what he was all about. I think I succeeded in his final look—but I really wasn’t prepared for how popular he would become! LOL! Donjovan is smug, arrogant and very calculating; even his power reflects his personality.  So his choice in wardrobe needed to reflect this as well—he, like the rest of the cast will have QUITE a few wardrobe and style evolutions as the story progresses.  Because I love variety and the idea of keeping characters in the same apparel for too long, would bore me to tears! LOL!


BTM: And while we’re on the topic of design, you my friend are a fantastic visual designer.  The clothing in Myth, from V’Riel’s outfits, to Gemma’s teddy to Donjovan’s final costume – it’s all stunning!  I just have to know, did you ever aspire to work in the fashion industry?  You really have an eye for fashion!

SEAN Z: Heheehehehe! *blush* I LOVE fashion and I LOVE the design that goes into them.  Since the time I was at least 10 or 11, I’ve had this sort of love affair with creating costume designs and fashion.  Once I graduated high school, I thought I would actually pursue a career as a fashion designer. Well, once I got to college that all changed when I discovered I had to learn the chemistry of textiles and fabrics, before I could ever design clothing.  Needless to say, that wasn’t something I ever found enjoyable (it was incredibly tedious), so I settled on creating apparel on my characters. Much more satisfying—LOL!

BTM:
Who is your favorite character from Myth so far?  Is there someone you personally identify with the most, and if so, are there similarities between yourself and that character?

SEAN Z:
That’s a tough question, because I really and truly love them all for different reasons. Some days I may have a “favorite-of-the-moment,” depending upon what the characters are up to.  Though, I admit Donjovan’s pretty high on my favorites just because of his dialogue.  He is incredibly fun and effortless to write! I think it’s because he’s the opposite of me in every way, as for similarities? I think both Aryah and Julian have little bits of me in them, so do a few other characters I’ve yet to introduce.

BTM:
Do you ever deliberately try to infuse some of yourself into your character’s personas, or do you prefer to just write them completely from scratch?

SEAN Z:
Not deliberately, no.  A lot of these characters are based on people I do know, or have had the pleasure (or displeasure) of meeting in real life. When it’s from scratch, I get to learn about these characters with the reader as well, so that process of discovery is really fun for me.  Aryah and Julian have bits of my past in them, it’s a little cathartic for me actually. I get to see how they grow from my own life lessons for themselves.


BTM: Who is your least favorite character from the series and why?  Did he or she turn out completely differently from what you originally expected they would?

SEAN Z:
Probably, Ivan comes the closest for me—from a personality stand point.  His choices and motivations are so far away from what I enjoy in others.  But it’s been great writing him because I get to peel away what he shows the world, and get into his head about the “why” he is the way he is.  And when you’re friends with someone like that, what would make you stay friends with him despite his misgivings?  Especially, Julian’s friendship with him—Julian is incredibly patient and understanding for his years. So, through Julian I get to see Ivan as human, versus someone who just annoys the hell out of me. LOL!

BTM:
Your sense of color and your special effects in Act 1 are nothing short of masterful!  The spells, the explosions and of course, the booze on Ivan’s hot ass – that was some mighty fiiiine coloring and rendering my friend.  Let’s get technical!  How do you approach your pages?  From pencil, to inks to colors – are there specific steps you follow, and do you map everything out before hand or just have at it and let the muse sing to ya while you’re in the midst of it?

SEAN Z:
Awww, thank you, Patrick! I do every aspect of the final page myself.  I’m still learning and growing on the coloring perspective, since it doesn’t come as quickly or effortlessly for me as both the drawing and writing do.

I usually, refer to my script for each page, then I produce thumbnail images, or a sketch layout. Once I’m happy with the layout I fill in the final pencils and ink over those pencils.  I can usually finish the line work of a page in a day.  Scanning and cleaning the art for colors is much more painstakingly involved for me—primarily, since coloring my work digitally is still a process of discovering what works for me.  I plan to eventually get more efficient and faster with time.

I also like to do word balloon placement so I can see how the text will look on the page, which also takes time.  I may eventually, hire someone to take over that particular duty. Since it’s my least favorite thing to do.

After the final color are complete (which can take anywhere between 1 to 3 days, depending on the detail of special effects I’m creating), load it into the final draft of my word balloons layout complete with text and finally format it accordingly for the website.



BTM:
So, Myth Act 1 concludes with a bang – literally!  This could mean some characters have perished while others will have undoubtedly survived?  Act 1 has been a real feast for the eyes and total fanboy food in every sense.  I really loved the way you painstakingly introduced each player and how lovingly you rendered each illustration.  But now, Raunch has been blown sky-high, V’Riel’s snazzy blue outfit is ruined, and we the readers and fans are left dying to know what is to come next!

SEAN Z: Absolutely with a BANG! LOL! That last page was incredibly fun and rewarding to draw because I got to see the growth of my art over the last year and I had my first completed Act of a story I am very proud of.

BTM: So…

… What is to come next?  What are your plans for Act 2?  I know you plan to release Act 1 as a printed comic, and let me be the first to ell you I cannot WAIT to hold that puppy in my hot little hands!  But does this mean that Act 2 will be a print-only comic, or do you plan to run it on your website as well?

SEAN Z:
And I can wait for you to and others to hold it in your hands as well, Patrick! LOL! As for what’s next? MYTH gets a little break, while I am focusing on finishing my Zero Book of my all-audience project, MOSAIC: The Awakening, which is scheduled for a late-Fall/Winter release. I’ll have a promo-poster available at this year’s Comic Con, in addition to the Printed version of MYTH #1, v.2. Act 2 of MYTH will not be a print-only book. I plan to keep sharing the MYTH story online to promote my work, but I’m planning better for how to do it effectively and without lengthy delays. I’ll announce via my Blog on the details as things become a bit clearer for me.

BTM:
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us here today regarding the future of Myth or your work plans in general?

SEAN Z:
Well, MYTH will be continuing, I promise! LOL! Act Two, “Answers” followed with Act Three, “Changes,” will most likely establish the tone of the series more clearly.  In the meantime, I will keep my Blog as up-to-date as possible.  With features of existing and future characters, more in-depth information on the MYTH universe as well as sharing fan art for the series. I want to keep my audience excited and interested, so I hope it’ll help. On the flip side, MOSAIC: The Awakening is a story with a definitive beginning, middle and end—something, I’m actually shooting to see done in film form ultimately, and the Zero Book is a great jump on point to the story that I can’t wait for everyone to see! All in all, I plan to continue to make my presence known creatively in the foreseeable future. *smile*

BTM:
Sean, my sincerest thanks for taking the time to answer all of my questions!  This was truly long overdue, and I just want to congratulate you on a brilliant piece of comic writing and illustrating.  Myth is really quite an achievement that has me very excited to see more.  I truly wish you every success with this, and all your other projects!

SEAN Z: Awww! Thank you so much, Patrick! *blush*  I feel truly honored to have this opportunity with you! I have always been the biggest fan of your own work and it’s a little surreal to have this moment to share more with you and your readers!  Thank you, again—this was an incredible experience!

Myth, V’Riel, Koz, Donjovan, Zander, Julian, Ivan, Aryah, Deena and all other characters and Artwork are © Copyright and TM Sean Z.  All rights reserved.