We recently got a chance to sit down with Cody Sousa and Dan Sheppard creators Sonitus for Alterna Comics. Here below is the interview, we hope you enjoy. And when you are done don’t forget to check out Alterna Comics for some great creator owned books like Sonitus!
SHS: Have you always wanted to work in comics?
C: Since I started reading them, yes! I got into comics very late in the game. My friends growing up weren’t too kind to the medium so I was a dumb kid who didn’t want them making fun of me, so I’d constantly check out the JLA, Spider-Man, and Superman DK Encyclopedias from my schools library without anyone knowing. I’d read them front-to-back each week. Eventually I stopped giving a shit and when my local bookstore was closing, they had all these deals on trades and graphic novels, so I bought as many as I could. It was awesome! DC’s New 52 line was where I started following single issues and had a place to start from.
D: Yeah, growing up I did the typical stuff where I wrote my own stories and illustrated them horrendously myself. Mostly comics inspired by Goosebumps books – short little goofy horror stories.
SHS: Were you a fan of comics growing up? And if so what were some of your favorite books or characters?
C: I was a fan of the characters for sure, but I mainly watched the animated shows and live-action films. Justice League, Batman, Superman, X-Men, and Spider-Man. Pretty sure my first Batman film was Batman & Robin. That film is atrocious, but it holds a special place in my heart.
D: At the risk of sounding like a stereotypical stock answer, comics have been a huge part of my life for nearly two decades now. Spider-Man in particular. I still have the first issue of Spectacular Spider-Man (#248) that my dad bought me at a Newbury Comics when I was about seven. I know I had been given comics prior to that, but it was weird odds and ends that I didn’t grow to appreciate until later on. That issue of Spider-Man is what hooked me. From then on, I would always run to the corner store up the street after doing a few chores to buy an issue or two. Almost always Spider. That’s my long-term goal in comics if I were to answer that question too – write Spider-Man.
SHS: Can you please give us a brief description of your book Sonitus?
D: Sonitus is a book about what happens when you try to repress painful memories instead of dealing with them. It deals with how running from guilt can actually amplify it in a disastrous way. Our main character, Ben, has made some extremely poor choices in his life – they’ve subtly taken their toll on him for years, and they’re about to smash his world into a million pieces, all starting with an annoying sound only he can hear that he’s been living with for years.
C: There’s a lot to Sonitus, but we don’t want to give too much away. We went out of our way to make sure that the book keeps its secrets just like the main character does.
SHS: What was the inspiration behind this book?
D: I have some type of tinnitus mixed with Eustachian tube dysfunction, which results in not only the constant buzzing in my ear typical of tinnitus, but also causes a strange pressurization. In dead silence, I can feel air forcing it’s way out of my ear, wooshing around, and I actually realized that if I were just a little crazier, it would totally sound like whispering voices coming from inside my own head. I had thought about turning it into a horror series of some kind for quite awhile, and when I sat down with Cody to talk about it, we quickly crafted it into the idea for Sonitus.
C: When Dan and I were talking about working on a book together he proposed a horror story focused on tinnitus while I proposed a haunted house story. We pretty much meshed the two into this one story that we couldn’t be prouder of. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker were big influences for this book for me.
SHS: What do you feel sets Sonitus apart from other comic books?
D: Sonitus deals with guilt in a different way than other stories do – it’s a personal journey for our main character, but not necessarily one that shows him grow or change. He has to face these “monsters” in his mental closet, sure. But at the end of the day, to me, the story is more about realizing where your guilt stems from than it is actually dealing with it in a healthy or meaningful way. That’s realistic. We’re not all going to have these wonderful moments of self-discovery. Sometimes we find what we’re looking for and are helpless to save ourselves.
C: I don’t think I could say it any better myself. Grant Morrison once told me to “think outside the box” and that’s what I strive for. Sonitus is Dan and I bringing something new to the comic market. Like Dan said, we’re not all going to have a happy endings or a quick journey to recovery. That’s not the real world and we want this book to reflect that. This story gives a sense of hope, but not in the way we all recognize. This isn’t a story with countless predictable beats where you can guess the ending right away. It’s a lot deeper than that.
SHS: How/when is the book being released, how can people get a copy?
C: Sonitus #1 will be available in comic shops February 21st! It’s a three-issue bimonthly series. It’ll also be available on newsstand later in the year. You can head to your local comic shop and tell them to preorder it for you either through Diamond or directly from Alterna Comics.
D: What Cody said.
SHS: We at Super Hero Speak have a motto of “Don’t let your cape get caught in the door” which basically means don’t let your own foibles, insecurities, or hang-ups get in the way of your own success in life. What is your “cape” or Achilles’ Heel that you have to work to prevent holding you back?
D: I’m awful at time management, and I’ll be the first to admit that I put work and personal relationships ahead of comic work. Cody is an unbelievable work horse and I give him all the credit in the world – he really stays on top of me to make sure I get my stuff done, while being super patient with how little time I actually have to work on it. It may be an Achilles’ Heel, but he’s been kind of the metaphorical ankle guard for me this whole time.
C: Well thank you! Mine definitely has to be that I either burn myself out by writing too much or that I overthink everything to the point where I’m not working. I’m either hot or cold. I can go from writing twenty pages of a script in one day to writing just a few lines of dialogue depending on my mood.
SHS: How do you measure success?
D: Set your own goals for yourself. Don’t let others tell you how long it should take you to get somewhere, or how much work you need to put in to do it. At the end of the day, you know yourself better than literally anyone, so understand how your brain and your personality works, and use those to set realistic and attainable goals that you can also be proud of. If you meet those goals, you’re successful. I believe that’s all there is to it.
C: Success is really how you perceive it as. If your goal is to make a comic and you did that, then that’s awesome. If your goal is to make a million comics and be the biggest names in the industry, then do it. We all see it differently so you can’t measure the way you perceive the same way someone else does.
SHS: How can people find you online?
C: I’m on Twitter and Instagram under the handle @WhyImCAS
D: I’m on Twitter and Instagram @whattamaneuver
C: You can also follow @SONITUScomic and @CROAKcomics on Twitter as well
SHS: Do you have any other current or upcoming projects people should keep an eye out for?
D: Yes! Cody and I co-wrote a short crime story in this year’s IF Anthology from Alterna Comics. It came out on 11/22, so definitely check that out!
C: I also have the Kickstarter for the graphic novel of my other series CROAK launching in the spring! Croak was also published by Alterna Comics and the graphic novel will be the “Director’s Cut” edition. The three issues are already available at comic shops, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and online. This version is going to be a totally different one and I’m adding a ton of content because I love when collected editions do that! There’s going to be some really awesome stuff in the Kickstarter that I can’t announce just yet, but definitely keep an eye out for that.
Thanks for reading!
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