Indie Interviews – Andrew Lorenz S17 Productions
This week we sit down and talk to the awesome person responsible for S17. If you like comics, and we’re sure you do, you’ll want to take a peek at what Andrew is up to. After you’re done, be sure to check out their work here.
What was your reason for getting into comics? That is, how did you end up involved in comics?
Writing is something that I’ve always enjoyed doing and, as most comic fans I’ve met seem to do, reading the books of others inspired me to come up with my own stories. It wasn’t until I picked up a second job, part-time, that I ever thought about getting back into writing after several years away from the keyboard. A few casual conversations with a couple coworkers there who seemed very interested in seeing something from the ideas I shared with them got me on the path to writing again. It wasn’t long before I filled a few notebooks with character and world-building notes and scraps of stories which eventually led to a few full scripts.
I started half-heartedly looking for an artist, never really thinking I would follow through with it but before I knew it I found one in Mike Campeau and we started making LEGACY #1. Production on LEGACY #2 started with Andre Siregar on line art at about the halfway point of the first issue; I’d caught the bug for making comics. If I stopped to think about it I’m not sure things would have turned out the same; I just sort of dove right into it without thinking too much about what I was doing.
Who would you say is your comic book inspiration as an artist?
Anyone who’s ever written a comic book I’ve read? It sounds trite maybe but it’s true- anything you read is an influence, for better or worse, on what you write. Maybe it’s because you hate the style which they write or maybe because there’s something in their pacing they love and you want to emulate. Anyone who talks comic books with me finds out pretty fast that I’m a Geoff Johns fanboy though I’m not sure how much of his style is something I try to copy with my own.
There are people like Vito Delsante of Action Lab Entertainment’s Stray series who I look to as inspiration for how to handle oneself as a professional in the industry and in his skill for story-telling. Vito does more in 4 issues of Stray than a lot of the Big Two books do in twelve.
Ron Marz, Fabian Nicieza, John Byrne, Mark Waid, the list is endless for writers whose work I’ve enjoyed and learned from. There’s a ton of artists (including the artists I’ve been fortunate enough to work with) as well that I’ve learned from and been inspired by- a good piece of art inspires more story ideas than reading a story written by someone else.
Before comics, what did you do? If you’re still doing it, what are you doing?
I work in the same sort of job that I did before I started making comic books, working as a back counter auto parts clerk. All that really means is that I work primarily with the technicians at the dealership- looking up and ordering their parts- and only occasionally working with phone or front counter customers. As with most people who make comic books, ideally creating would be the full-time job but the number of people who are able to make comics their primary source of income and their sole job is a lot smaller than most people would think.
What was your first work in comics like?
It was… eye-opening. You can read all you want about a thing but until you go and actually DO it, you never really know what you’re getting into. Mike was a great guy to work with (and I’ve been lucky to find some excellent people since too) and that helped quite a bit. We ran into a few bumps along the way and it ended up taking longer to complete than either of us had originally hoped but it all came together in the end. On my end of things, the dialogue could have been better but overall I’m quite happy with how the script turned out; it accomplished everything that I’d hoped it would.
How many years have you been working in comics?
July 3, 2018, will mark my/S17 Productions fifth year of publishing but the first issue of LEGACY was in production for a year before its release. I usually consider it to be by the first book published- like baseball, you can stand on-deck warming up but it doesn’t count as your first “at bat” until you step up to the plate and take a swing.
Tell me a little bit about your work. Where does it draw inspiration from? Where do you come up with your ideas?
Each series I’ve worked on has drawn inspiration from different sources.
With New Guard, I wanted to tell the story of some teenaged/early twenties characters who not only have to learn how to become heroes but adults as well. I’ve always been a fan of series like New Warriors or Teen Titans that have those sort of characters.
Canadian Corps was two-fold: wanting to address the lack of Canadian superheroes in comics and also what it means to be a Canadian hero.
LEGACY was originally about a single character (and their impact on a city) though it quickly grew to encompass not only the entire city but also a number of influences that led me to write the series itself. LEGACY became not only the story of the characters that inhabit this fictional world but also that of the people who have influenced my own life and the legacy that they have left in that regard.
As most creators will tell you, everyday life is an influence on my work- whether it be the urban decay of cities like Detroit, the history of our country in world events or looking at my two sons and the future that they’ll inherit, all of those things inspire my writing.
Who have you worked alongside in the industry?
I can’t answer this question without of course first bringing up the incredible group of artists that I’ve been extremely lucky to work with. Mike Campeau was the first, on LEGACY #1, and Andre Siregar, Jessica Jimerson, and Anang Setyawan joined with LEGACY #. Kenan Halilović came onboard with New Guard #1 before lending his talents to LEGACY as well. Justin Shauf, Donovan Yaciuk, and Rod Salm all were great enough to sign on for Canadian Corps with Donovan and Rod also working on The Sentries #1.
Some other artists that have contributed to S17 Productions through either pin-ups or character design include Darren Calvert, DT Butchino, Dwayne Biddix, Sean Izaakse, Eryck Webb and James Zintel.
Vito Delsante was kind enough to include Paragon (from LEGACY) in his most recent run on Stray and I’ve been fortunate to work with Charlie McElvy on one of his WatchGuard Universe characters for his RPG supplement series and DT Butchino used Firefly (from New Guard) for one of his RPG adventure supplements that he released for Free Comic Book Day a couple years back.
Growing up, who was your favorite character or team? Who is it now?
Growing up I started off with the classics: Spider-Man, Superman, and Batman. The 1960s cartoon, Christopher Reeve, and Adam West were my first introductions to superheroes before I got into the comics themselves, and my reading followed suit. Since then, while I still enjoy those characters, my tastes have expanded to Marvel’s New Warriors, DC’s Green Lantern, Legion of Super-Heroes and Starman (Jack Knight) as my favorites.
Do you have any advice for a new artist who is just getting into the business?
DO YOUR RESEARCH. Learn as much about the production of a comic book as you can. Read scripts and compare them to a finished product so you can see how they work. Talk to people that have produced finished comic books. The Internet has a ton of resources and there are books and courses that will teach you anything you could think to learn and then some. Write and refine it. Get an editor, at the very least a script consultant because there are a LOT of first-time comic book writers who do not seem to understand the rules of storytelling in the comics medium. Talk to artists, don’t just limit yourself to writers or you’ll limit your growth and understanding. Study. Learn. Do your research. And, at the end of the day, sit your ass down at the computer and write. Tell your story. Don’t just think about “one day I’d like to”- go and get it done.
Where do you see your work taking you?
I never entered this field with any sort of endgame or career path in mind. At one time I couldn’t understand how someone wouldn’t want to write for Marvel or DC and now I can barely imagine doing that myself; I have so many stories with my OWN characters that I want to tell. Continuing telling the stories of these characters that I’ve created, that’s where I hope my work takes me. And I hope that people want to follow and discover these stories with us.
What are you up to next?
There are a couple projects that are planned for next year: a couple more character handbooks to follow up this year’s first, very well received debut issue, The Sentries #2 and Daughters of Darkness #1 (a supernatural themed book- sort of a dysfunctional Charlie’s Angels meets Buffy). I’ve also been slowly chipping away at some roleplaying game supplements of my own including a LEGACY Sourcebook and game stats to accompany the character handbooks. Away from comics/superhero stuff, I’m working on a couple novels; two mystery series and a fantasy novel which is actually being incorporated into a D&D setting that I’ll be running a campaign in for some friends.
Where do you see the direction of the comic industry heading in 20 years?
Wow, that’s a big question. I’m not bold enough to say “this is where we’ll be in twenty years” because let’s face it, twenty years ago everything was different; comics were a much different landscape. What I can say however is where I would like to see it. I’d like to see an emphasis on good stories and less worrying about filling quotas or making stories that can be translated into blockbuster movies. Tell a good story and that stuff should spill right out of it. I’d LOVE to see more recognition and support for indie comics, particularly indie superhero comics, not just for my own sake but because there are SO MANY great indie superhero books that people don’t even give a second glance because it isn’t “Big Two.” Let’s face it- the best superhero book in the last ten years wasn’t even a DC or Marvel book- it was Kirkman’s Invincible. That book is UNREAL. So good. We need more books like that and more support for indie comic books in general.
How can people get ahold of you?
They can find me a variety of ways- the S17 Productions Facebook page (or the New Guard, LEGACY or Canadian Corps FB pages too), Twitter (@AndrewLorenz17) and there’s always email (email@example.com though slowly transitioning to the firstname.lastname@example.org email- it’s new so I sometimes forget about it).
Where can we buy and/or see your work?
Best places to find our books are on the S17 website (www.s17.ca), on DriveThruComics under the S17 publisher page for digital comics, on IndyPlanet for print copies, Galaxy Comics in Winnipeg does carry some S17 books and when in doubt come check the September17 table at FanQuest or C4 Con in Winnipeg or at SaskExpo. Galaxy Comics is always kind enough to host a Free Comic Book Day event that showcases local talent and you can find me set up there as well.
Any last words for the industry?
For the industry?
Make great comics, encourage people to try out new stuff, push the limits, don’t worry about making movies or television shows; do what you do, make comic books.
Tell us what you love. There’s too loud of a negative sound coming from fans these days, myself included. Let’s hear what comics are doing right by you. Be passionate. Bring in, new readers. Don’t just watch the movies with friends; lend them your books so they can see what inspired that movie. Show them why comic books are great. Support indie comics. Support local creators. The person drawing or writing that book at the Artist Alley table might just be some “no one” today but they could be the next “big thing” tomorrow. Get in on the ground floor of the awesomeness that they are making now- the support you show means the world to us.
A Little Background…
Andrew Lorenz is the chief creative officer and publisher for S17 Productions. Having first published at the age of 12 (a short story in the local newspaper) he decided that he would pursue a career in writing. Twenty plus years later he would finally return to writing, continuing to build upon ideas he had over the years that would form the S17 comic book universe. LEGACY, the first title, debuted in 2013 and was joined by New Guard, Canadian Corps, The S17 Universe Handbook and The Sentries would join the S17 stable of comic books. He resides in Selkirk, Manitoba; drinking coffee and creating worlds… with his mind!