We recently talked to Newton Lilavois of Dream Fury Comics about his supernatural comic Crescent City Monsters. The story follows Jonas, a blues musician and sorcerer practicing Creole Magic, who’s determined to track down who put out a bounty on him.
Midwest BSFA: Tell us about yourself.
Lilavois: I was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. When I was about 12 years old, I enjoyed doing two things that I still enjoy doing till this day – computer programming and making comics. For a long time my main focus was on computer programming. In fact, my full-time career is in IT consulting. About three and a half years ago, I decided to pursue my childhood dream of creating comic books. So when I’m not writing code, I’m writing comic book stories.
Midwest BSFA: How and why did you start Dream Fury Comics?
Lilavois: I always had stories in my head that I wanted to share with the world, but usually kept them to myself. What pushed me to pursue my childhood dream of creating comic books is when I started taking notice of indie creators using Kickstarter to publish their books. One creator in particular, C. Spike Trotman, had a couple of PDFs that broke down the business side of running a Kickstarter. This really turned what seemed like a nebulous idea about starting a Kickstarter comic book campaign into something more concrete. So I started Dream Fury Comics as a company that would publish my stories using the Kickstarter platform to help fund the printing of the books. It’s been an amazing ride from the get go.
Midwest BSFA: Tell us about Crescent City Monsters.
Lilavois: On the night of his first paying music gig, Jonas and his girlfriend are attacked by creatures known as the Grunches. Jonas discovers there’s a supernatural bounty on his head and the Grunches plan on collecting that bounty. The results of the battle with the Grunches changes Jonas’s life dramatically as he tries to discover why the bounty was put on his head.
Midwest BSFA: How did you come up with the concept?
Lilavois: I’m a fan of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic book series and loved what he did with the story so I wanted to create a zombie comic book also. But, I wanted to create a zombie comic book that wasn’t like anything people have read before. I decided to base the Crescent City Monsters zombies on Haitian voodoo lore. Zombies in my story come back from the dead and are under the command of whoever “bring them back to life.” They don’t go around eating people or infecting people to become zombies. I wanted to elevate zombies to the same supernatural level that of vampires and werewolves.
Midwest BSFA: Why was the chosen setting (New Orleans) of interest to you?
Lilavois: Originally, I had planned on having the story set in Haiti. I’m a big believer in doing research for my stories. I knew if the story did take place in Haiti the research I needed to do would be tremendous. I was really anxious to start the story so I decided the next best place would be New Orleans. Haiti and New Orleans share some cultural and historical connections. Also, New Orleans is a place known for the supernatural. As I was writing chapter one, I went to visit New Orleans to do some research and fell in love with the city. It was the perfect choice.
Midwest BSFA: What other projects have you worked on besides Crescent City Monsters?
Lilavois: Crescent City Monsters is the main project I work on with artist Gian Carlo Bernal. There are some side projects I’m working on, but none of them are ready to be revealed.
Midwest BSFA: Who are your favorite speculative fiction creators (any genre and/or medium) and why?
Lilavois: Usually I’m reading either a technical computer book or comic books. I rarely read prose books, so I would have to go with my favorite comic book creators. And even with m y favorite creators, I don’t necessarily love everything they do. Usually it’s a particular series they create that I really get into. With that said, I’m a fan of Kirkman’s The Walking Dead and Outcast. I’m also a big fan of Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s Southern Bastard. I love stories that are dark and gritty with interesting characters. Those series have all those ingredients.
Midwest BSFA: What are some of the benefits and setbacks of indie publishing?
Lilavois: The biggest benefits to indie publishing is that you can do whatever you want. I don’t need permission to create the stories I want to create. There are no gatekeepers to go through. Personally, for me, the biggest setback is not being able to do this full-time and give it my 110%. That’s one of my main goals- to build an audience large enough to be able to be a full-time publisher.
Midwest BSFA: We know 2020 is pretty much a dumpster fire but what are your goals for the rest of the year?
Lilavois: With cons being cancelled, beefing up my online presence has been my main focus. I’m working out ways to connect to my audience more and grow my online fan base. I’m also working on providing exclusive content through my Patreon page.
Midwest BSFA: Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Lilavois: We plan on launching a Kickstarter for chapter four at the end of August, so look out for that. With this Kickstarter, we’ll be offering the trade for chapters 1-4. In the meantime, if you’re new to Crescent City Monsters you purchase chapters 1-3 at our online store at DreamFuryComics.com.