Ian: The first thing I notice about Elysia, the main character in Home, is her blue hair but as the story begins to form I notice that she is somewhat isolated. Do her physical appearance and social issues speak to anything deeper like how society treats people that are a little bit different?
Todd: Very much so. I wanted Elysia to be an almost literal outcast, but one that didn’t deserve that title. She was literal born into the situation she’s in, as her hair is natural. And as she got older, the intensity of persecution grew. It’s honestly not right, and yet I know that people get picked on for a lot less. I intensified the “quirk” of Elysia so it’s obvious why she’s picked on. But for many, it’s the small things that get them teased. It’s not right, and I’m trying to bring attention to that.
Ian: Is Elysia’s physical appearance and how people relate to her something that you have experienced in someway? If so was it important that you made her relatable to not just you but others that have experienced a something similar?
Todd: Making Elysia a person you could relate to and sympathize with was a key part of her character. I could’ve made her anyone, but I made this blue haired girl. And as you go through Home #1, you see how her life is beating her down, something that both I and others can easily relate to. You want to root for her, and hope that her situation gets a lot better. I’ve been Elysia many times in my life, so in some ways, I am writing from experience when she talks about her self and her life.
Ian: As someone that has felt shunned and as if they didn’t fit in, did you write Elysia’s attitude as somewhat upbeat as encouragement to readers? Because I felt more encouragement for her as I read.
Todd: Yes, I could’ve easily made Elysia a “depressed girl who hates life”, and in many ways she does hate her life. But she also acknowledges that a lot of things didn’t go her way. Her parents dying is a key reason she is where she is. In regards to her hair, i wanted to show that she LOVES her hair, she wouldn’t change it for the world! That was very important, I want that to be a lesson that even if the world doesn’t love who you are? If you do? That’s what matters.
Ian: As I read on Elysia continued to gain empathy with me; her self-esteem issues, long hours at a thankless job, and social awkwardness. How do all of these things relate to the story you’re trying to tell? Is it simply to gain empathy from the reader or is there more to it?
Todd: Home is very much a story about identity. About finding who you are, and your place in the world. Home #1 was a glimpse into Elysia and her life. With Home #2 and the other issues, you’ll see that expanded, not only with Elysia, but with the Knights of Altaira. Knowing who you are, and finding where you’re happy is not easy at times. Home is the story of that struggle…along with fighting monsters and saving a kingdom. lol
Ian: Just as I wonder why Elysia is still somewhat upbeat about her life you introduce her powers. Can you explain what exactly the powers are and how they came about?
Todd: I wouldn’t say “powers” as much as a “gift”. Because unlike many kinds of powers, she doesn’t control when The Code shows up. The Code is a literal living computer code that Elysia sees in her world, and she can interact with it. When she “fixes it”, things get healed/fixed in our world.
The concept of how that came to be is really long. But let’s just say that I liked the idea of seeing code in real life, and then having it do things when fixed. Kind of like a reverse Matrix. What’s going to be fun to learn is what exactly The Code is, and why she can use it.
Ian: Do her powers and her ability to help people help her to feel more normal?
Todd: Normal? No. Have a purpose outside of living? Yes. While initially scared, Elysia embraces her gift because she can do some good with it. She has a chance to make her life more than work and sleep. So she jumps at it, even if people don’t appreciate her because of the fixing she does, she knows what she does, and that’s enough.
Ian: I feel like issue 1 was just an introduction to Elysia and the hook at the end is where the real story begins. Is this true and what can be expected in issue 2?
Todd: Yes, Home #1 was very much the “origin” of Elysia. Which is what I wanted, because if I didn’t tell her story, you honestly wouldn’t have cared for her as much. In Home #2, we see her in Altaria, and she meets the Knights, and a whole other list of things happen. It really picks up in #2.
Ian: Do you plan on introducing other characters, good or bad, in issue 2?
Todd: Yes! We introduce the Knights of Altaria, each of whom are very different in personalities, especially the leaders Garnon and Sonia. How they interact with Elysia is great, and hilarious, and I can’t wait for you all to meet them.
Ian: Can you tell us a little bit about the art team that you have and how you came about meeting them?
Todd: Sure, Dinh Nguyen is my penciler/inker. Bethany Varni is my colorist. And Zakk Saam is my letterer. I’ve known Zakk for a while via Twitter, and Dinh and Beth I met while trying to get Home #1 started. They’re a great team, good experience, and willing to both offer advice, and take it. They’re the true reason I got Home #1 made, cause without their pages, the Kickstarter for it would never have been successful.
Ian: Is this team set in stone or is there a possibility that things will change up a little?
Todd: I would love to keep this team. But, if the worst should happen, I’m open to new artists coming in. For now though? This is my team.
Ian: You had a successful Kickstarter that got Home off the ground can you tell us a little bit about the Home Kickstarter and what made it successful?
Todd: The team behind it, we made a lot of art going in. I did a LOT of promotion. I had some good friends offer exclusives and cosplay prints to bring in backers. I had some good rewards, and overall, I think people just liked the idea of Home, and that’s what made it work.
Ian: What was the biggest lesson, good or bad, that you learned from the first Kickstarter?
Todd: Don’t get anxious when things don’t look good. I had days where I had no pledges, and it stressed me out. Then the next day I had a big pledge which balanced it out, and I was relieved. You got to show off your idea, I did a 5-page preview with a bunch of concept art, that really helped. I had friends sharing the Kickstarter all over, that helped. You just have to take it one day at a time.
Ian: Clearly you’re going to bring everything you learned to the Home #2 Kickstarter, what can we expect to see different and what will be similar?
Todd: The funding goal is the same, $2500. Many of the rewards are the same, but we have some new ones! Including a couple of new cosplayers joining our team in the form of the Ultra Girls Sophii and Cissa. They’re doing a special variant cover and cosplay prints for us. We offer a “catch up” reward, so people can get Home #1 and Home #2 together so they have the whole series.
Overall, we’re sticking to what worked the first time. Showing off the art, proving we can do this, and that we have the means and support to make it work. And hopefully, we’ll be even more successful this time.
Ian: I love the “catch up” rewards, personally, because often times I’m new to a series or just never had the chance to buy the first issue.