If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve probably seen me mentioning a hashtag #RescueTheStray. What’s that all about, you might have wondered? Well, if you clicked on the link to the Kickstarter you would have seen that it’s about raising funds for a comic book called Stray.
So what’s the big deal about Stray?
Well, I could tell you about what a great story it is- a tale of a son who reluctantly takes up his costume again after his father is killed. About a young man who struggles with anger and finding his place in the world, only to find it through struggles both internal and external (supervillains, woo!). I could tell you how it features some really fantastic art that alone is worth the price of admission. Or how in four issues you not only get the main character’s story but also a good look into the larger world around him- allies and enemies alike.
I could, but I’m not going to.
Instead I’m going to tell you about the two guys who started this book; Vito Delsante and Sean Izaakse.
I first came across Sean’s work in the pages of various Mutants & Masterminds RPG books from Green Ronin where he provided art for a variety of characters. I loved his smooth, clean lines that reminded me of comic book artists like Mark Bagley and Alan Davis- two of my favorites. I was instantly a fan. This was before I ever decided to make comics of my own but I resolved to work with him one day, should I ever. Sean was actually the first person I contacted about working on New Guard with me but he was too busy at the time. Sean is ALWAYS busy and in-demand. I’m clearly not the only one in love with his work. Green Ronin keeps him working steadily in their books as does Charlie McElvy with his own RPG releases in the WatchGuard Universe, among others. Eventually I was able to wrangle Sean into doing a pin-up of Paragon from my LEGACY series and it was fantastic. Great guy and a great artist, that Sean is.
Vito I didn’t get to know until the first Stray Kickstarter and even then he was “just to guy who was writing the book Sean was drawing”. Luckily I would get to know him more than that as time went on- because Vito is all about building a community of comic creators and helping people (including several times that he’s given me advice in the course of my own comic book writing career). Oh and he writes a damn good book too. Everything Vito does is as a result of having a big heart- his family, his books; all result of being a caring guy.
Maybe it’s just an act, you think, a way to sell books? Wrong. During the first Kickstarter Vito sent out his personal cell phone number to the Stray backers during the Christmas holidays, knowing how hard that time of year can be for people and offering to be there if they needed someone to talk to. THAT is when I became a fan of Vito Delsante. That kind of heart carries through in his writing- he cares about the stories and making sure that they are done right- that they matter. True there’s a bunch of cool action and fights between heroes and villains but at the end of the day, the heart of the book is what drives it.
And that kind of heart is what drives Vito and Sean to create. Both men are very much involved and supportive of animal rights, specifically dogs, something clearly illustrated in the book Stray as Doberman and Rottweiler are two characters that the original series focuses on- their relationship as father and son, as well as crime-fighting partners.
It’s because of THEM that you should back their Kickstarter- the awesome comic book is a bonus, for sure, but helping a couple of genuinely good people create something that matters to them, and to the book’s many fans, that is the real reason. Regardless of your pledge level, THAT is the real reward. I say this as a creator myself, there is a depth of gratitude that one can never express when someone takes a moment to believe in you. Vito and Sean have both believed in me in the past, never once asking for anything in return and I believe in them.
Be a hero and help however you can- share, pledge, it all adds up.