We here at RAID PRESS sat down with creators Sheldon Carter and Eric Vedder to talk about their new ongoing series Aardehn: The Black veil on WATTPAD.
RP / Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about Aardehn: The Black Veil. Can you tell our readers what they can expect from the this newest chapter in the world of Aardehn?
Sheldon: Expect heavy metal. Expect…
Eric: The crazy and weird … and beautiful. This is an epic that I’ve had in my head for decades and only in the past couple years – working on the RAID TWO and 3 anthologies – found a partner who got it.
Sheldon: It’s been great. We want to create a world that readers can grab a hold of, deep with history and a rich cast of characters. The kind of sprawling world you’d expect from an epic fantasy really.
Eric: Ya… but with Akira and Blade of the Immortal rammed inside it.
RP / Wattpad is an interesting choice. Is it going to be a comic?
Eric: Yeah, we wanted to try a totally different medium for this story. Something outside the realm of comics, but still true to the idea of mixing art and writing. I love comics, and there will be panels… but there are also going to be wild illustrations to give flavor and even some sketches.
Sheldon: What we’re doing is different than anything on Wattpad, but I think it works. We’re going to show a whole new readership the world of Aardehn that fans of the RAID Anthologies have been experiencing for a few years now. In terms of writing… the platform is amazing and the way we are telling the story is liberating. I can write prose… but also poetry or a letter or a diary… or like Eric was saying, a script for a comic.
RP / From the previous outings of Aardehn, we’ve seen themes of nature vs. technology… is that something that will continue here?
Sheldon: That theme is huge for us. We’re interested in showing that interaction and how change comes from both ends of that spectrum. But I think even moreso, we want to explore family.
Eric: Celeste is the main character in every Aardehn story I ever dreamed up. Nature vs. Tech is the backdrop, but I really want to dig into where she is from. Who does she love? Sheldon and I have jammed on really every aspect of her journey and what family means to her. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I think we have lots to surprise people with.
Sheldon: Yeah. All the characters have this. It’s about them coping with a changing world… but it’s about father-daughter relationships, aunt-niece, and well… lovers too.
Eric: Ha! Yeah… lots of lovers.
RP / Can you tell us more about Celeste?
Eric: She’s the center of the story. When we first catch up with her, she’s a bouncer at a fantasy sex bar.
Sheldon: Told you it was crazy and weird!
Eric: Haha. Well, that’s where we start. She’s been trained by her father, but abandoned by him. Left to be a slave in this sleazy place and she’s trying to get out.
Sheldon: The bar is actually pretty interesting because the… entertainment that is there are all mystical creatures that have been pillaged from the world of Aardehn.
Eric: Right. So we’re picking up the story on what she thinks is going to be her last day there and she’s happy about that but also kind of worried about her future outside of that place.
RP / Your artwork is so varied in this project. There is intricate line work in the chronicler character on the first page… but then there is also ink heavy, gestural comic work. How do you approach all of it?
Sheldon: Yeah, Eric. Tell em!
Eric: Ha! Well, I just sit down and do it, no hesitation whatsoever. (dramatic pause) I’m lying through and through… (laughs) Oh man good question. We talk about this kind of thing all the time in our podcast War With Art ( go check it out!) and I would love to say I have one all-encompassing answer or solution but alas I don’t. I think to sum it up quickly, every time I work on something, I have to be excited about it… and that requires me to “trick” my brain or rather get it kickstarted into an avenue to where I can see potential for exciting things to draw. If any of that makes sense. (laughs)
RP / How do you decide what to write and what to show?
Sheldon: We flip a coin… haha. No, we want the most impact for our audience. This whole effort is designed to take some of the best parts of comics and try to apply that to a predominantly prose based work. We want you to scroll to the next part (or in comic language: turn the page) and get hit with that awesome two-page spread. We want to keep that.
Eric: Definitely. I think the writing has that too. Writing lets you get inside a character’s head. When I can set you up with a scene, but then Sheldon can dig deeper… that’s a different kind of payoff. But a great one too.
RP / How’s it been working together on such a big story?
Sheldon: Hell on earth? Ha! It’s great, to be honest. We have this giant amusement park that Eric and I have brainstormed and carved out… now we get to put all the rides in. We seem to gravitate to the same things, so it’s easy mode from the idea side. Harder is the execution. But that’s fun hard.
Eric: From the get go, it has been an amazing fucking ride. I swear only to emphasize how excited I get to work with this nerd. (laughs) But I’m being serious. Once we started jamming on the simplest ideas it was immediately apparent to me that I loved our instant chemistry. (blushes) So we went big. Much, much bigger and we cannot be more excited to reveal more of this wild world we have planned.
RP / Creative influences?
Eric: Oh man. How much time do you have? (laughs) It’s really hard to pick one or two things so I’ll just say it in broader terms. I get influenced by literally almost anything day in and day out. We work at a very creative company on a very creative game so in addition to that, I get influenced by movies or an anime I’ve watched, books or poems I’ve read and music I happen to listen to or experience. All of it contributes to my creative influence. I have my favorite artists of course like Giger, Mucha, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Hiroaki Samura, Joe Madureira, Travis Charest, Masamune Shirow, Yoshitaka Amano, Kinu Nishimura, Bengus… oh man the list goes on! (laughs). Oh and all the guys at The RAID Studio of course!
Sheldon: For this, I’ve been inspired by Malazan (a really cool fantasy series), but also, I find myself looking at Blade of the Immortal on the anime side and Monstress in terms of recent comics. Like Eric says, we draw from a lot of sources… but in the end, we’re trying to do something unique and different.
RP / Thank you both for chatting with us. We look forward to seeing how AARDEHN develops on WATTPAD and how it grows with us here at RAID PRESS as well.