Exclusive: Brian Lau talks STAUNCH AMBITION with ComicUI
A few months ago, we let you know about STAUNCH AMBITION, a graphic novel coming from the minds of Brian Lau, John McNicol, and Tyler Thull. Since our initial press release for the book, they’ve managed to add artists Freddie Williams II, Khoi Pham, and Erwin Arroza to the fray, as well as songs by Elements of Kadence, Jason Conley, & Rodney Elliott.. There are not enough words to say how much time, energy, and talent is going into STAUNCH AMBITION when it launches.
To really dig into STAUNCH AMBITION, we got in touch with Brian Lau, Chief Creative Officer of the graphic novel, and gave him some questions leading up to the big release. In fact, one of Chris’ submissions to a poster naming contest was chosen, so ComicUI is right there in the fold!
Feel free to let them know if you have any questions or want to sponsor STAUNCH AMBITION in any way. We’ll be following them all the way till release, that much we can promise.
ComicUI: How did this project come about? Staunch isn’t a word used very often in today’s language, what drew you to use that in the title?
Brian Lau: It started in college when I needed to do a comic book cover for an assignment. So as a starting point I used a character my brother had created for the superhero roll playing game called Champions. For years this story’s title was HalfLife. I abandoned that mainly because the story had changed dramatically and there already was a successful video game with that name. I was looking at several words that fit the story like Epoch, Verve, Infinite Epoch, and so on. Epoch came out of the question after doing an internet search to find it is the name of an extra cheesy Sy-Fy movie. When talking about which title to use with my co-worker at the time, Darren Joiner, he pointed out that the name Staunch Ambition had the word Station inside it and he could do something cool with that as a design. So that settled it. Darren worked up several black and white title designs and then I tweaked and colored it into what you see today.
ComicUI: What genre would you classify ‘Staunch Ambition’ as? Would you say it’s more Science Fiction, Superhero, or some blend of both?
Brian Lau: This is Science Fiction mixed with Supernatural Fiction, not a superhero story.
ComicUI: Is this story akin to any other science fiction (or Superhero) story out there? Ex: the Matrix meets Star Wars. Superman on Battlestar Galactica?
Brian Lau: Yes, I would explain it as a mix of Star Wars, The Matrix, Blade Runner, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Well maybe Cuckoo’s Nest is more just me.
ComicUI: How did this project evolve from an idea in the back of your mind, to a full-time project?
Brian Lau: I had kicked it around for years and tried to collaborate with several people but it just never went past the preliminary stage. And looking back I’m happy that it didn’t because the story has become more mature. When both the company I had been working with for 18 yrs was going out of business and I inherited some money, I decided that it was now or never. So having real money to invest into this transformed it from idea to reality. Now this project is kicking me around, much harder.
ComicUI: In addition to working on Staunch Ambition, you’re also working as a full-time Illustrator do you have a schedule for working on ‘Staunch Ambition’, or do you just work on it when the ideas hit?
Brian Lau: I’m either working my day job or working on this book. Once in awhile I sleep, shower, eat, spend time with family. I bought a Cintiq Companion which is a portable art tablet and a full fledged computer so I can work on this anywhere. I’m writing these answers right now on my iPad in a freezing cold car waiting for my son as he is in choir.
ComicUI: When can we expect the project to launch or will it become live in phases/chapters?
Brian Lau: Right now I have no deadline so I’m focusing on trying to make it a quality book. My plan is to create a 16 page preview issue and start hitting conventions and stores to try and build an audience. The first issue will be out in 2015.
ComicUI: What inspired the format of this project?
Brian Lau: I thought about what to call it a bit. You could say that it is a comic book series (and maybe I should). But for many people “comic book” conjures up the idea of a super hero story. Characters with giant muscle, guns, and boobs with a certain style of art and we are not doing that. This is more a supernatural Sy-Fy novel with no pencils and inks but full color paintings. And I’m not saying that comic books are all as I described above. I know better but unfortunately many people still do not get this.
ComicUI: ‘Staunch Ambition’ stars an Android named Azarus, but would you say this is more the story of Azarus, or ‘The Ambition’ (The Ship)?
Brian Lau: The station is pretty cool and a very critical part of the story. However, we will be focusing on the characters more throughout the series. Azarus is one of several main characters and you will grow to love him more than your own pets! He is a genetically engineered worker: an organic mix with human and some animal DNA created to serve but he will become much more than expected.
ComicUI: How does Rielle’s story play into ‘Staunch Ambition’? Will she ever cross paths with Azarus? Why pair a human woman with a seemingly male Android?
Brian Lau: Rielle is a lead supervisor on the space station the Ambition. Rielle will be forced into facing the reality behind Staunch’s success. In short, they do cross paths considering that she is one of Azarus’s bosses.
ComicUI: How difficult was it to write the books?
Brian Lau: I have worked hard my whole life and this graphic novel is the most difficult but exciting project I have ever worked on. Partly because it is the first one I have done, which means I have had to do a lot of research and build everything from scratch. I hope it gets easier as I go forward.
ComicUI: How did you come in contact with Tyler Thull? What made him the right artist for this project?
Brian Lau: I meet Tyler through a Facebook art group and loved his full color paintings. Because I wanted to do something different than the typical comic book style he was the perfect choice for Staunch Ambition. Finding the right artist was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do on this book and anyone who has had to do this knows what I’m talking about.
ComicUI: You’ve added other artists, such as Khoi Pham and Freddie Williams II. How does working with mainstream or noticeable artists change your perspective on the craft?
Brian Lau: They have both been great to work with and I’m very happy with the covers they did. Freddie was an amazing help. He offered me so much advice and answered several questions I had about the process. His cover turned out so good that I’ve decided to make it the cover to issue #01, just wait till you see it! It’s as good, if not better than, any Arthur Adams or Barry Windsor Smith piece.
ComicUI: Have you decided on a publisher yet?
Brian Lau: As I start hitting the Comic Con’s one of the things I plan on doing is looking at different publishers. I’m fully prepared to self publish but may go with an already established publisher as long as it make sense and the quality of the book isn’t compromised.
Brian E Lau – Chief Creative Officer
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