ZURVAN CLUB - A WEB-COMIC WITH HEART

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Now it not everyday that a chap from London can say that he has had the honor of meeting a very creative chap called Adolf. Well, it's not normally a done deal, is it? Though I can contradict this stance. My mate Adolf does not want to kill or harm anyone at all. In fact, all he wants to do is spread love into this world with his great web-comic, Zurvan Club. Here, check out this conversation I had with him just the other day, whilst we were helping some blind nuns cross a road.


The Economics of Web Comics


1) In your own words, how would you describe your web-comic?  Well, I’d describe it as a pure adventure novel seasoned with several mystery ingredients. I care much about the script because my intention is to connect all the episodes in a big story. Now I’m working on the second episode that clearly is the continuation of the first one, but I have the third already in mind, all of them connected, (as life itself).

I moved away from the classic stripped comic style, because this comic is clearly intended to be read on smartphones, tablets, or computer screens. So landscape orientation rules the layout and people can read the story in their telephone without zooming or scrolling. Some friends after read the comic told me that it looks like “still frames” of a movie and I agree that it could be easily converted in a movie script.

2) What are your own origins, Adolf, and what path did you take to get where you are today?   I come from a humble Spanish family and the lack of money taught me to appreciate things when I finally could afford them. Curiosity rules my life and I always want to know more about everything. 

In my youth I studied Engineering of Telecommunications, but I quickly switched to the amazing and in that time, emerging world of computers. I had the luck to start working on NCR as a night watchman. But then, I realized that when you really like something, you can spend all the time and energy necessaries to achieve your goal. 

Two years later I was working giving support to the NCR dealers in their special projects. After that, I moved to other companies and spend several years programming and developing applications. I was caught on the fast lane and tasted some of the allegedly great things of the success. But I discovered that fast cars and expensive watches did not fill me up. 

I love to create and to be proud of my work and in all the projects where I worked, profit was the only important element. I left that world and learned again to live with less money but more time for myself and finally I decided to do something completely different, (as Monty Python says), and took advantage of my knowledge of graphic programs for animation and my accumulated experience. I looked for a creative project that depended only on myself, (and my partner Izara) and here we are, after a year and a half of intensive work, with the first results on the table and eager to move on.

3) Who are your inspirations? Both artistic and story wise.  Wow! I’m not precisely young and my whole life I have been reading comics and books, so I probably have a lot of influences. I have been a devoted fan of science fiction books and enjoyed reading stories from the classics as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Jack Vance, etc. But also liked the adventure novels, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne or Edgar Burroughs to Michael Crichton, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child or Dan Brown.

In the artwork I share my admiration between several masters as Herge and his mentor Edgar P. Jacobs, the recently deceased Jean Giraud “Moebius”, Franquin, Frank Margerin, Liberatore and many more.

Unfortunately I have to admit that my drawing skills are limited, so I moved to use computers as a main tool for my artwork. It results in a drawing style that is quite different of all that I have seen on the web until now. I’ll keep working to improve.

4) What piece of music, movie, or object, would you say your web-comic was like, and why?   For the objects, just take a look to the index page of the website. They are there... Old books, and ancient carvings that puzzle us with mysterious messages waiting to be decrypted and binoculars, cameras, walkie-talkies, compasses and all kind of adventure and exploration stuff that you’ll need in your adventures.

About movies, well, take a little of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “The X-Files”, The TV series “Lost” or “The Mummy”. They mix adventure, ancient myths, mysteries, romance and action and that’s what I want for “The Zurvan Club”.

About the music, there is a theme that I think that matches perfectly with the spirit of the story. It’s “Under the Milky Way” of “The Church” and I would like to make someday an animated clip with this music. I was amazed how music and lyrics seem to be made for my web-comic despite this song is quite older. I cannot explain why, just I feel it.





5) If you could assign a smell to your style of story, what odour would that be, and again, why?  Interesting question. There is one smell that I particularly like and came to my mind when reading the question and it’s the smell of wet earth after a heavy storm and more precisely when you are in a forest. I like the fresh sensation of crystal clear air and water and I would like to transmit these feelings in the comic.

But there are also other smells that could be placed in different parts of this first episode. The smell of old books and relics in the Institute. The sweet and sophisticated perfume of Julia. The salty sea breeze of the open sea, all of them are included in the story.

6) Your website, ZurvanClub, has a very ‘members lounge’ and professional feel to it. What made you develop it in this plush manner? And did it come out the way you wanted it to?   Well, after all it pretends to be a Club and you have to feel proud as “member” of it. Doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, old or young. Doesn't matter the color of your skin and where do you come from. If you are the kind of guy that likes to learn something new every day and wish to enjoy life with the people that surround you, you are always welcomed. And... why don’t try to have a “touch of style”? :-)

Besides, the story has connections with ancient mythology and hidden cults and I thought that would be funny that the look of the site reminds you of a kind of “secret society”. (I cannot tell you more without spoiling future episodes).

7) What formats does your wares come in? And will you be expanding upon this in the future?   As I previously said, I developed the story in order to be read on screens of electronic devices. We have the whole first episode available for free download in our website in English and Spanish and three different formats, epub, apk android app and Adobe pdf. Depending of the device that you’ll use, there is a version of 800x420 pixels for mobiles and other bigger with 1280x720 pixels for tablets or computers.

Our project uses a Creative Commons Licence that allows you to download and make copies of the story but not to sell it or work on it. We would like to have enough diffusion to focus the incomes from advertisement and product placement, but until it happens, donations or “pay per download” will be our only source of incomes, so we are in conversations to also publish and sell the stories in the main platforms as amazon, ibookstore, android market, Barns & Noble, etc.

We would like to translate the story to as many languages as we can and we are working to implement a “wikipedia style” collaborative site in where people could help us to translate the dialogs from English and Spanish to their own language no matter how widespread it is.

8) If your main character was a ‘singleton’ looking for a ‘date’, who would that date be and why?  In the comic, all the characters are introduced as singles, (at the moment). Alex is a handsome guy but timid with women, absorbed in his work he’s not good flirting, probably he would be looking for some colleague to share his elaborate theories in a romantic restaurant, but, wait a minute! Doesn’t happen something similar in the story?

Julia is the kind of girl that most of us will look as “out of my league”. She’s pretty, rich and independent. She probably would be looking for someone that doesn't pretend to rise to the occasion but surprises her with a brilliant conversation that arouses projects in common, but, wait again! It happens on the comic too!

Romances have to play an active part in the saga, but all in due time.

9) If your web-comic has a message behind it, what would that message be, and why would you want to convey it?  Yes. I’d like to transmit the value of “cooperation” in a world every day more fixed on “competition”. So I found here a perfect way to give a message of... Hey pal! You are good but if you surround yourself with good company you become better. Everybody is important and has something to say.

Another message that I would like to transmit is that we have to feel good with the things that we do and follow our aspirations, no matter what they say. In my own experience I realized that is better to work in a job that you really like than in a job that gives you more money but is annoying and makes you a zombie. Live your life and don’t waste your time.

Why I want to convey it? Because it worked on me and I would like to share it with you. I think that everybody has to find a goal in his life, something that gives us the energy to get up excited every morning willing to work and never be retired.

10) Do you have any future plans?  Yes. Of course. Right now I’m working in the second episode called “The Hidden Power”. Meanwhile, with my partner, Izara, we are beginning the diffusion of our work on Internet contacting with people around the world and we have to initiate the blog “hidden & true” linked with the characters of the story. We are a little scared because the enormity of the project due that we are only two people doing all the work, (I have to mention here the inestimable and unselfish help from our friends Marina and Jenny).

At the moment though, the first results encouraged us. If the project becomes economically profitable we are planning to expand the company hiring people to develop other series of stories that I have in mind since long time ago as well as to print nice paper editions of the books for collectors, and implement a lot of ideas that we have, always using Internet as the wonderful tool that it is to share our knowledge.

So there you have it dear reader, my mate Adolf and his great web-comic, Zurvan Club. When you get the chance, please give it a click or three, plus remember they are also on twitter, facebook, and gplus. Its a really great read, and well worth your time.