INTERVIEW WITH JAY GILLESPIE, creator of “SEVERED SOULS”
LATELY YOU’VE BEEN BUSY working on your comic, Severed Souls. Jay, please tell us a little about this world you’ve created.
It’s set in modern times, but explores the underworld of the supernatural. We’re all familiar with extraordinary human abilities such as psychic, telekinetic, precognitive, etc., and familiar from a cultural standpoint, with the meaning of “Old Souls” and reincarnation. My story simply ties these ideas together explaining supernatural gifts as a consequence of possessing an old soul. Then I asked the question, “What would it mean if individuals were born with a truly ancient soul?” The answer: “extremely powerful and supernatural gifts coupled with torment as a consequence.” Second, due to the “nature” of reincarnated souls, the story intertwines with history. After all, if old ancient souls live new lives today, they must have lived before, many times in the past. The opportunity for flashbacks makes the story very rich.
This sounds very original! How did you even come up with this story?
Thanks, it really started simply. I wanted to find an original way to explain how my characters were able to do extraordinary things without being obvious. Take the X-Men for example, the explanation for their gifts is a mutant gene. I wanted something similar, and thought unique souls might be the key. It’s more subtle than something like alien blood; and could be a way of explaining why some people are psychic and others aren’t. Later, I realized it could explain so much more, like witches, vampires, zombies, perhaps even past historical mysteries. The idea is that the most common archetypal supernatural mysteries are not exactly how they seem and actually have an explanation that scientists and historians have missed. It wasn’t the original idea, but once it clicked, it got really fun to imagine the possibilities.
Are you doing all the work yourself? If so, what is your motivation to do so?
Yes, well I’ve just always wanted to do it. I have pursued other things professionally to make a living, but have always promised myself I would write and create a book “one day.” Thus slowly in no real rush, I spent several years writing and researching. That was followed by excitement and enthusiasm for the possibilities; that’s been my motivation. Plus, I’ve just always loved art and storytelling.
How many pages a week do you complete, and what can you say have been some of your challenges so far?
Challenges are multiple, but that’s with anything. I keep myself on track to complete 2 pages per week. One of the challenges is color; while I can color all the work, I believe coloring would double my time required to produce, so I’ve decided to work in black and white to save time. I work full-time and have 3 kids under the age of 8, so life at home and work are pretty challenging, just to find a few hours here or there to work.
Another challenge has been the lack of feedback. While I’d love to hear a lot of great things from people out there in the comics and publishing world (and earn lots of Patreon supporters), truth is, it’s been very quiet so far. Most of the support has come from family and friends. It’s been a great challenge just to believe in what I’m doing and not get discouraged—a downside to working alone on a project and being stretched to the maximum on the actual work, with little time to promote.
A family man with a job, yet you still find time to get work done. What’s your secret?
No secret, sometimes it just isn’t in the cards to get any work done, hahaha. My 1- year-old is usually pretty good at taking care of that! Sometimes I work late at night, other times when the family is away at an event. Wherever, whenever I can work on the book, I work. I guess determination is a big part of it.
Where can people go to check out your webcomic? And does it cost anything?
Currently, issues #1 and #2 #3 are all posted at SeveredSoulsBook.com. It is a Patreon account based on a donation level, you can get a copy of the books as they are released in print for free, even mailed to you for free at a certain level.
Since these issues are now out in print, where else can people grab a copy?
Issue #1 sells for retail in Houston for $3.99 at Bedrock City, Nan’s Comic & Games and 3rd Planet! Be sure to look for issue #2 as well!
Any plans for the foreseeable future?
I plan to hit a lot of conventions in 2017 and to start selling more books online. The biggest challenge is getting the word out; and I’d really like to build an interested following, but the story is so huge (I may have over-done it haha) that it’s taking a while to build. Hopefully, promotions and marketing in 2017 will get more attention.