Independent Comics In Focus – Greg Anderson-Elysee, Creator of Is’nana The Were-Spider

Welcome to Independent Comics In Focus, a feature here at Word of the Nerd where we talk to independent comics creators about their work, their process, and independent publishing. Today’s guest is Greg Anderson-Elysee, creator of Is’nana The Were-Spider.

Tell us about yourself as a comics creator. How did you get your start?

Is'nana The Were-Spider interior art
Is’nana The Were-Spider interior art

Well, I’ve sort of always been involved in the arts since I was little. I used to draw a lot and create books of my own and staple them together. This was before I even knew about comic books. I was always into stories and storytelling. As I got older, I got involved in fine arts, then eventually film-making and acting, and then modeling. Writing has been a passion of mine since elementary school and I’ve been wanting to make comics since middle school. I was finally able to get a short comic of mine printed in an anthology called Rx Tales: Stories To Make You Feel Better published by my cousin-in-law back in ‘09. I finally made a personal promise that I would be damned if I don’t publish a comic by the time I’m 30. I just turned 28 so yeah, Is’nana The Were-Spider is going to be my first comic book!

What is Is’nana The Were-Spider all about?

Is’nana is a coming-of-age fantasy story about the son of Anansi the Spider who comes to our world to find his father after he’s gone missing from their world, The Mother Kingdom. Is’nana accidentally causes creatures from other worlds to come into ours but he’s determined to fix this, all the while trying to discover his place in the world and having to live up to his father’s name to try to make him proud.

On your Kickstarter you talk about growing up hearing and being interested in stories of the African Diaspora. Of all the stories, what drew you to Anansi the Spider God in particular?

I love tricksters. They’re probably my favorite type of protagonists (or antagonists) and quite a few of the original Black based lore characters are tricksters. Anansi is probably one of the original ones. He’s extremely charming and funny but is a jerk. He’s practically the original Bugs Bunny. He’s clever as hell and his stories are just very colorful and a lot of fun. I also love the fact that he’s the God of Stories and he literally fought for his right to be the God of Stories. Without Anansi, there would be no stories. He’s this tiny annoying spider that is able to defeat a leopard, a python, hornets, and so many other giant animals and he just keeps getting away with whatever devious plan comes to his little head. And he represents such a beautiful background and culture.

This is your first Kickstarter, and you’ve already blown way past your goal. What advice can you give to other creators looking to launch a Kickstarter project?

Is'nana The Were-Spider promo art
Is’nana The Were-Spider promo art

Definitely take your time to prepare. Even if it’s a few months. Prepare your goals, your rewards, see if you’re able to make them and so some research and planning. I’d say figure out who your audience will be based on your product and find out where they may frequent on social media. That will go a long way. And be kind and build a nice rapport and reputation with people. Be real.

You’re working with several other indie comic creators like Walter Ostlie and Lee Milewski, who have also run successful Kickstarter projects. Did you find it helpful to work with people who have experience with the platform?

Oh yeah, most definitely. They were actually working on Is’nana when they were doing their Kickstarters and I remember admiring them so much. I was terrified of the idea of doing a Kickstarter for this book but they helped me so much in answering whatever questions I had and motivating me through my fear and nervousness. I’ve learned a lot working with them from the production of the comic to the Kickstarter.

Will there be more stories starring Is’nana in the future? Where do you go from here?

Yes, there absolutely will be! Passing my Kickstarter goal has actually allowed me to flesh out a bonus story I wanted to do initially and it will be included in the book, which will follow his origins. The main story takes place some time after he first comes to our world. I have my notebooks of ideas for the following stories and I’ve already been talking with my artist, Walter Ostlie, about the next one. If you know your Anansi stories, you may have a general idea of who we may be seeing next, maybe. Bzzzzzt.

What advice would you give to your younger self about making comics?

“Don’t buy all them damn Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh cards! You could be saving ALL THAT DAMN MONEY to pay all those amazing artists for future books you could be making!” Also to be very patient and work every day to develop your craft, no matter the obstacles or who may not be on the same page as you as far as your vision is. Then again, I’ve always sorta been a bit stubborn and just did me on the front. (Laughs)

You can find out more about Is’nana The Were-Spider by checking out the Kickstarter.

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About the author

Caleb Palmquist

Caleb is a freelance writer living in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida. He loves comics and science fiction, and he won't ever shut up about either. Writing about his passions is a dream come true.