Summertime is a time many of us remember with fond memories. Beautiful weather and beautiful people. Long summer nights and laid back music. I'm sure we all remember supernatural summer camp.
What, you don't?
This fall, Actionopolis brings readers "Blackfoot Braves Society: Spirit Totems," a new illustrated novel written by Christopher Long ("Easy Way"), As part of the young reader imprint, the novel explores what happens to a young boy whose summer camp turns out to be quite more than they expected. Long told CBR News all about the book.
"'Blackfoot Braves Society: Spirit Totems' is a story about Jackson Brady, a young boy who has lived a very privileged life being the son of a wealthy business man," explained Long. "In an attempt to shed the confines of his elite upbringing, he talks his father into allowing him to spend his vacation at the Blackfoot Braves Society summer camp, which is located at the base of Granite Mountain in Montana. Once there, he quickly befriends two other outcasts, Austin, a wisecracking prankster who'd walk a thousand miles to help a friend, and Mazzy, who feels more comfortable in the company of animals than with people, but that's until she befriends Jackson and Austin. They soon discover that they've gotten more than they bargained with their summer vacation. Seeking shelter from a storm in a cave, they encounter a Ghost Shaman who teaches them to unleash their own animal spirit. It's a good thing, too, because they'll need those powers to fight a monstrous force that thirsts for revenge against humanity."
The mainstream media often presents supernatural stories with a lot of gore and "mature" themes, but Long plans to deviate from the expected by taking a psychological approach to the supernatural. "Some of the most terrifying childhood memories I have are of my grandparents, aunts, and uncles sitting around discussing the events prophesied in the Book of Revelations," revealed the writer. "These events are 'supernatural,' and they scared the crap out of me. The idea that some force had the power to cause that much human suffering and ultimately destroy the world as we know kept me awake at night. I believe that the most terrifying and scary things are what our mind's eye see, not having images force-fed to us. I tried to harass that dread and channel it into 'Blackfoot Braves Society.'"
As the title suggest, Native American culture plays a large role in the book, and unlike many other Native-centric projects, Long has done his homework. Being respectful of Native American culture was a priority to Long and ensuring the integrity of his story involved going straight to the source. "I've worked closely with a handful of Native American tribes throughout California, and I've seen firsthand their struggles to preserve their cultures and heritages for future generations," he explained. "With that said, let me be very clear: I am not trying to make a statement incorporating Native Americans in this story. Blackfoot Braves Society is a work of fiction. Elements in this story dealing with Blackfoot Tribes are fictionalized for entertainment proposes!"
The "all ages" moniker attached to "Blackfoot Braves" doesn't bother Long, as he feels it is more people's perception of the label, than the content of those books, that turns off readers. "I think people get turned off when the work, whether it's a comic book, cartoon, novel or movie, is dumbed down," he contends. "I think something can be 'all ages' without alienating adults.
"I have a 14-month-old son, and, yes, I would love for more work to come out that he and I can enjoy together. Actually, 'Blackfoot Braves Society' is the only thing I've written that my wife will let me share with my son before he turns 18 years old. No four-letter words in this bad boy!"
Michael Geiger provides illustrations for this novel, which makes Long a very happy writer. "Shannon Denton thought Michael and I would work well together. And I believe that Shannon was right! When I first saw the illustrations, I couldn't believe how much the characters came to life for me. Michael hit it out of the park. He read an early draft of the manuscript and ran with it. I'm looking forward to meeting him in San Diego at the Comic-Con this year. I'm hoping to continue working with Michael on future projects."
Like many of the Actionopolis books, "Blackfoot Braves Society" has been planned with further volumes in mind. In the case of this book, Long has planned a trilogy and has his fingers crossed that it'll happen. But in the meantime, he's keeping himself busy, revealing, "I am working with Jim Valentino, Kristen Simon, and Juan Ferreyra on 'Emissary' starting with issue #4. Other than that, I'm going to have to give you the token response from creators with pitches in various stages of development: 'I have a couple things being discussed, but I can't talk about them right now.'"