Editor’s Note: The following interview is available in full in this month’s issue of CGMagazine, available now!
TITAN1STUDIOS is a Canadian-based publisher developing transmedia content across novels, comics, video games, animation, and live action TV. They are currently publishing three series that will hit the shelves in Q1 2017. Knight Guardians of Relativity arrived in comic shops in January and is the launch of the Relativity Universe. The company recently partnered with Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., the world’s largest distributor of English-language comics, to bring the Relativity Universe to comic shops. CGM had a chance to speak with lead writer Taran Chadha and Executive Producer and publisher Rathan Moorthy about what this means for their company and their future plans.
CGMagazine: Tell us a bit about yourselves. How long have you been writing comics, what got you into the medium? Who are your influences, both in the past and currently? What titles do you read and enjoy?
Taran Chada: I started writing a mix of films and comics since the age of 13, but when I came out of college it was tough breaking in, and to be honest my work then was still amateur. It lacked a deeper understanding of human drama and motivation. But after a few years working as a writer in advertising, I got a project for a birth control product and decided to create a comic for the print ad, which was a pretty weird choice on my part. It was a blast to make though, so I started freelancing in advertising to pay the bills, while writing and drawing comics on the side with my friends and self-publishing. We did a 300-page graphic novel that took years to finish, which we’re proud of, but was still not quite at that professional level. Eventually after lots of work, trying my hand at writing films in LA, I ended up in Toronto at the RAID studios, and was able to push the work into a realm that felt good to me a few years ago. And that’s an exciting time, when it finally clicks, and all you want is time to pump out as much as possible, it becomes an addiction. Like that high you get from running, after the first few months of grinding through it, when it just feels good. Now I find it hard to go a day without writing, like my body hates me unless I’ve punched those keys for a few hours every morning.
In terms of influences, I remember reading Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and thinking, “Holy shit, this guy has read all these books to write this”. So I decided to do the same. I read the original Sherlock books, A Picture of Dorian Grey, Frankenstein and so on. And they were amazing, so I kept diving in. The original Dracula blew my mind, it was genius. So I still try to read as much literature as possible to inform my writing. But for fun, comics are hard to top, recently I’ve been loving Southern Bastards, and Prophet is fun to read for the weird worlds they create. Saga is something I always recommend to people, top-notch art and writing, with a lot great human moments in-between all the epic sci-fi. I like to think about it, because it feels personal, even though it’s intergalactic, and that feels like an accomplishment to me as a writer. One-Punch Man is a great Japanese Manga/Anime show! Okay, I’ll stop there otherwise I could go on forever…
Rathan Moorthy: In April of 2013, I was disenfranchised by the Canadian broadcast scene. After a few years of successfully producing sports and entertainment related content to the broadcast and sponsorship community, I found it increasingly difficult to find partners to deliver the niche/indie style stories that we wanted to produce. It seemed that everything that was making it onto TV was a derivative of some other successful show, or a reboot or remake of something that existed a few decades previously, etc. We had a few good scripts in our portfolio, stories that dealt with the challenges of minority communities living in Canada, and an episodic comedy-drama (similar in subject matter to Aziz Ansari/Netflix’s Master of None), but we were not getting any traction in the broadcast community. So, I thought it was time to pivot. I reached out through a mutual acquaintance to Gareth R. Roberts (Award-winning Harper Collins UK novelist) and pitched him a dystopic ‘Knights of the round table’ concept that dealt with protecting the use of time travel, and framed it within the context of humanity having destroyed itself during a series of temporal wars, and now existed within a series of remaining city-states.
Gareth loved the concept and over the next few years of weekly Skype calls, delivered a 70,000-word manuscript that would go on to form the backbone of our graphic series.
As Gareth was writing, I started visiting comic shops in my area to see what was out on the market, thinking that we could use the comic medium to deliver the first elements of our story. I was ready to be ‘rebirthed’ as a comic reader. Having only really followed Superman and Spiderman in comics as kid, I was not really prepared for how the industry had shaped and shifted since the mid-1980’s. To be honest, I found it all quite overwhelming … until I found Cary Nord’s work in XO Manowar. I took a deep study into the first trade and loved what Valliant and Cary were doing with the franchise that had both mainstream superhero feel with solid indie storytelling. I was sold … we weren’t trying to develop Knight Guardians as a cape story, but we knew that we had to draw enough mainstream publisher components to have a chance at being relevant in the market. I went through an exhaustive search to find a creative team to deliver the graphic series and through found Taran, who was working out of the RAID Studios. Together with Taran, we added two more RAID Studios artists in Irma Kniivial (colourist) and Gabriel Sapienza (Cover Artist) and Barcelona-based sequential artist Abel Garcia. Now, about a year on, our team is finishing up work on the fifth Knight Guardian book, and ready to launch two new titles with two additional creative teams.
As far as influences go, I’ve already referenced Cary Nord and XO Manowar … but currently (having gone from a comic shop newbie to now a $50 per week shopper), I’m totally taken over by the work of Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, and Babs Tarr in Motor Crush. This series, for me, is the hottest thing on the market. From character, to story, to art, to world building … this creative team is totally knocking it out of the park. Something tells me that these three are up to something bigger than what they’re revealing in Motor Crush, and as a fan, I can’t wait to see what that is! As a note, we’ve been fortunate to add Motor Crush letterer Aditya Bidikar to our creative team, who, in my mind, brings serious artistry to his letters, which is very difficult to find.