I don’t remember where I first heard about Tyrone Jackson and Sovereign Comics, very likely from an indie comic hashtag on Instagram, but I do know that Cypher Team was the second indie comic I ever purchased. When the Cypher Team, Orisha EXOS, STARS, and Temple High arrived I was impressed by the packaging Sovereign shipped them in, especially for a new indie start-up, but then… I didn’t read the books. I just let them sit there for a couple of weeks. For no particular reason, I wasn’t motivated to read them. The cover art was OK on Sovereign’s early books. Nothing award winning, but not terrible. The interior art was great. But, I just didn’t read them.
Finally my comic reading pile grew thin and I decided to dig into the SoVerse. What I found after I moved past those so-so covers was a universe meticulously planned out and written. The dialogue was fresh and carried the story. Details typically overlooked in other comics helped bring the SoVerse to life.Cypher Team left me wanting more, and then Orisha EXOS, STARS, and Temple High expanded the SoVerse beyond what I thought was possible in indie comics.
There are too many books in the Sovereign Comics Universe to dig into each one here in one article, so I’ll let my interview with Tyrone Jackson speak for the SoVerse. Below is a brief write-up of my time with Tyrone, but if you want a deeper dive, I encourage you to watch the video of our interview on the FTO YouTube channel.
The one thing I will highlight from my video interview with Tyrone is the care with which he has mapped out his comic in universe. Tyrone is not just world building, he is universe building. Hearing him detail his universe during our interview reminds me of Kevin Feige discussing the future of the MCU. Is the SoVerse the MCU? No. Not yet at least, but Tyrone is just getting started.
BRETT: Do you remember your first comic book? What was it?
TYRONE: I know that the first comic that I ever read was a Spiderman comic. I don’t remember the issue though.
The first comic that I ever bought myself was a JLX comic from Amalgam Comics, I’m sure you remember those.
B: What comics are you reading now?
T: Now, I tend to read way more indie comics than anything. Being in the indie realm myself, I like to support other indie creatives. The last comic that I read was Miskatonic High.
B: What inspires you about comics and what inspired you to create your own?
T: I’ve always had a vivid imagination, ever since elementary school. I’ve always written– and I have always drawn– so when it comes to comics, what inspires me is the meld of the two mediums. I thought to myself, I can do both. Also, being part of this amazing genre with comic creators that have come before me, that I have read growing up is…mind blowing.
My inspiration for creating my own comics is getting the opportunity to share my imagination with others. Hearing someone that has read my comic say that they enjoyed it or that they feel like a character represents them is very moving. I’ve never imagined having a fanbase so that’s wild, to say the least. Not only am I creating for myself but, I am creating for all of those that love the comics and universe that I have made. That’s important to me.
B: What is your favorite part of creating a comic book?
T: That’s a good question! I would say all of it! From the character and story creation, to the writing, to the art being drawn and colored, the inking and the lettering. The process in its entirety!
I also like shipping the comics to the customers that have ordered a book. They’re spending their hard-earned cash on my comics so; I try to do what I can to make that process inclusive…so the customer feels like they have become part of the SoVerse family.
B: Other than comics, what other media do you draw inspiration from.
T: A lot of different media actually!
Music is a big one! For instance, when I was deployed in 07, I wrote a story that centers around a character that this whole universe stemmed from. I was listening to the Tech N9ne song, “Paint a Darker Picture,” from his Killer album. I named that story/issue (they’re 30+ written stories/issues for this character) the same as the song and, the mood of it draws heavily from the mood of the song. Can’t wait to get that title out!
B: So, what is the SoVerse exactly?
T: SoveReign Comics aka The SoVerse is an interconnected universe. It’s a shared universe amongst the titles that are in it. It’s a huge venture and it’s incredibly fun! I like to think of the stories as stories that anyone can read. All are invited to the SoVerse! It’s a diverse universe (in every way) however, the stories come first. I concentrate on giving a good story over other ideas and methodologies. I want the readers to enjoy their time, have fun, laugh, cry, get angry and escape from the real world for however long it takes for them to read an issue.
B: So, let’s break down the SoVerse – what are the titles and characters out there right now?
T: This one might be easier to name titles! There are A LOT of characters in these books (especially TEMPLE High) …and many more to come!.
The titles that I have out right now are:
However, this is just the first phase of titles. Which is a great start as Cypher Team is the flagship title and the others have a bunch of titles that spin-off from them. In all, now, I would say that I have about 15 titles.
B: You just got done with a very successful Kickstarter campaign, tell us about that.
T: Yes, indeed!
The name of that title is Ayanmo Stigmata. It was a campaign to get issue 2 finished and introduce the world to issue 1. It’s a story that follows a Tuskegee Airman after he is whisked away to the other side of the galaxy during WWII by two scuffling foo-fighters.
In space, he goes from being a hunted bounty to a Bounty Hunter. He is eventually teamed up with other hunters who were once bounties and they are charged with tracking down, apprehending or killing the top 100 bounties in the galaxy.
The KS did well and now, I am working on fulfillment. I am in the process of planning an Indiegogo for it because a lot of people asked me to bring the campaign over there and I will.
I like crowdfunding, mainly because it allows my comics to be seen by others who may not have seen it otherwise. It isn’t easy and it takes some learning but, it’s well worth it. You just have to make sure you hold up your end of the bargain and keep your customers/fans happy.
B: You write and letter all the issues. I think lettering is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of comic creation. I don’t know that there’s a question there, just a point.
T: Haha, yes! I feel the same way. Everyone has their part that they love about comics. Some think that what they love makes the comic best, whether it’s the art or the story however, the letter helps so much and a good letterer will enhance both of those aspects making the comic that much better. You can letter in a way that forces the reader to scan across the page to see the art drawn. You can letter in a way that tells who characters are. You can letter so that the art isn’t covered, and the book is enjoyed even more. I love lettering…probably more than I love writing and inking…well, they’re my three pillars but, I love it. Oh, and I do letter if an indie creator needs a letterer.
B: As a writer, what appeals to you about storytelling via comics versus other mediums?
T: Hmmm? Well, I’ve always loved comics, so it was a no-brainer for me to go into that medium. I have thought about writing novels as well as finding a way to turn these stories into animations but, I felt that comics would allow for me to present the stories in the way that I wanted them to be seen.
I do still have a novel planned. It won’t be tied to the SoVerse and eventually I would like to get animations done but, right now, I’m more concentrated on building content and building my fanbase.
B: Do you have a favorite character of your own?
T: Ah man, that’s always a hard question to answer because, I feel that I put a bit of myself into all of my characters but, Kunoichi is one of my favorites from Cypher Team and she’s usually my go to if I have to pick one but, my ultimate favorites are the Reign Twins and, they will be introduced soon, either in phase 2 or phase 3 of title releases.
B: I would say you’re part of a resurgence of black indie comics right now. Do you have any other indie titles that you follow from that genre?
T: Oh wow, well I appreciate that! I would have never thought that, haha!
I have read a lot from black comic creators: Raxon Universal Dominion, Tuskegee Heirs, Is’nana the Werespider, Crescent City Monsters, Power Knights, Ret Con, The Gentleman…there’s a lot that I have read, this is just some on that list.
B: What advice would you give others wanting to go into the industry?
T: I would ultimately say…study the industry. I did a lot of studying before I got started. Why? Because I wanted to know how things worked so that I wasn’t spinning my wheels in mud for the first couple of years. I built my universe, and this allowed for me to have titles for days. I still had a lot to learn and when I began to work on comics, I learned some additional stuff that I couldn’t learn without doing them.
Understand that you aren’t going to get a movie deal or become a millionaire overnight. Concentrate on your content. That’s what’s most important.
See what works and what doesn’t work. Do what works! Don’t be afraid to tell a different story, one that interests you.
Find a team. Doing it all yourself is possible but, if you can’t draw, or can’t ink, or can’t letter, find those who can. Don’t shortchange your team. You get what you pay for and if you don’t pay…the comics world will find out.
Edit, edit, and edit some more! Or, hire an editor, I’m open!
Remember your customers/fans! As you start to gain them, understand that they are the reason you’re making money. Treat them with respect! Learn marketing and branding and get acquainted with social media. They will be your friends.
B: What’s next for the SoVerse?
T: There’s a lot planned but ultimately, its building. We’re working with the 5 titles that we have now to get out of phase 1. Taking our time to ensure that we give the customers and fans some awesome stories! In phase 2, if phase 1 does well, there will be an introduction of 5 more titles that will build more to The SoVerse and I’m excited to show those new titles.
The next comic that we’re going to is TEMPLE High i02 and that will start in about 2 weeks.
B: Where can people find the SoVerse and your work at?
T: You can find us all over the place!
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To buy comics you can go here:
http://bit.ly/GetSoVersed – our store
http://bit.ly/SoverseComixology – comixology (and if you have the unlimited account, you can get our comics on there!)