|Screens from "Stolen Suns"|
Think of your favorite band from high school. You knew all the words to all their songs, especially the non-album tracks. You went to every concert, even the 18+ shows. You snuck backstage, where the bassist spilled a bottle of beer all over you. You brought small gifts for the singer, who you address by their first name.
Now imagine they were vampires.
In “Stolen Suns,” a new comic series for mobile devices written and illustrated by J.M. Ringuet, the tabloid ink on the world's biggest rock stars swirls around rumors that the musicians are in fact blood-sucking vamps -- but are they? Issue #1 is available now in the iTunes store, and CBR News caught up with Ringuet to discuss the ins and outs of undead superstardom.
“'Stolen Suns' is a story about one of the biggest rock bands in the world who burst on the scene just two years ago and has been dogged by rumors of being real-life vampires -- which could sound like nonsense, clever marketing, or a darker mystery,” Ringuet told CBR News. “More importantly, the themes of vampirism and rock 'n roll life are used in the story as metaphors for being an outsider, for being feared and adored, for being different.”
The story revolves around Stolen Suns members Rey, the frontman, and Elton, the bassist, but also incorporates several layers of their celebrity orbit: manager Bronson Colby; Amy, the newly hired PR girl; Sean Lundgren, a burned-out music blogger with a plan; and Aaron, who Ringuet describes as a mysterious man on a mission. “'Stolen Suns' is a multi-character story, a kind of existential gothic soap opera told through the voices of many different people,” the cartoonist said.
The idea of fame is at the center of “Stolen Suns,” in a manner that should be familiar to anyone who has ever adored a band beyond reason. “One of the ideas at the beginning of the story is what makes Stolen Suns famous, their music and what they have to say, or the rumors that they are real-life blood drinkers?” Ringuet explained. “In a way, it's a question about any rock star, or even any famous artist for that matter -- is it the image or the art that makes them famous? It should also resonate with readers on a deeper level, and maybe make them think about issues of public image, personality, individualism, and self-expression. Each of the characters in the story are struggling in their own way with those ideas. What is the most important thing: what you appear to be? What you are? What you think?”
|Screens from "Stolen Suns"|
Ringuet noted that, as far as the Stolen Suns' music goes, it really shouldn't matter whether they are in fact vampires. But it does. “We are living in a society where image, perceived image, is all important,” Ringuet said. “If you take somebody like Britney Spears, to state the obvious, can anybody say at this point what makes her famous? I think people take different things and project their own emotions and desires on celebrities. That's what true fans do, in my opinion. The object of their adoration embodies something they are after. So Stolen Suns are the victims of that: some people love their music, some people love their image, some people love to think they are vampires and they are going to visit them in the dead of night. It's a complex issue for the band members to deal with.”
Because “Stolen Suns” is set in real-world 2009, though, if this band really does count a vampire or two among its members, this would certainly be news. “If Stolen Suns were revealed as vampires it would be an extraordinary revelation and because of their fame it would become known instantly at a global level,” Ringuet said. This, of course, may lead one to ask why vampires might open themselves up to this sort of attention. “If they were revealed as something else than human would their star status protect them? A lot of thorny questions that could be answered in the book,” the cartoonist said.
The first arc of “Stolen Suns” will run six issues, with #1 available for free in the iTunes store and future installments priced at $0.99 each. Ringuet said he is hoping the series will garner enough interest to become an ongoing. “There are a lot of characters, a lot of threads to the plot, and more ideas I would like to explore, so given the chance I could do a lot more of 'Stolen Suns' in the future.”
|Screens from "Stolen Suns"|
“Stolen Suns” is distributed to Apple's iTunes store through iVerse, and while it is currently only available for the iPhone and iPod touch, it will soon be released for devices running Google Android and will take advantage of the just-announced comics platform for the Sony PSP. iVerse, which distributes comics like IDW's “Star Trek: Countdown,” Image's “Proof,” and several titles from Archie Comics, recently announced that it had passed the one million download mark. “My main motivation in doing a digital portable comic is mainly trying to reach a bigger audience, attract new readers to the medium,” Ringuet told CBR. “I love comics and sequential storytelling and I hate the fact that because of a fossilized system of distribution new readers can not be exposed to them. There are over 30 millions iPhone owners as of now, just to talk about this platform, and among them probably a lot of people who never read comics or manga but would love to do it. Comic creators have to get out of the Direct Market right now if they want to survive and grow.”
“The second reason I'm interested in doing comics for those platforms is the format itself: mostly single panels seen one at a time on a bright RGB screen,” Ringuet continued. “That format allows completely new ways to tell a story, more akin to movie shots than traditional comics. The writer can better control the pace of the story, stretch or compress moments, use transitions and surprises in a totally new way. It's very exciting, and I'm just starting to discover all the possibilities.
“And when a book is on iTunes it's there (almost) forever, anybody can buy it at any time with a click or two and read it anywhere they can carry their iPhone or iPod Touch. That's a great thing.”