I pray all is well. Keeping the interviews rolling, today we have John Hervey. John is a co-founder of Beyond Time Comics & Film along with his wife, Priscilla. His education is in business and finance, having an MBA from MIT Sloan, and is using his experience in this arena for the benefit of Beyond Time. He has experience in media, having worked for Motown’s animation division, as well as experience owning a comic book shop and a start-up in the telecommunications software space. His passion is writing with the objective of making high quality stories for God’s glory.
And now for the interview…
When did you first get into comics as a reader/fan? As a writer/artist/creator?
As soon as I could read I was into comics. Comics actually helped me develop my vocabulary when I was younger. I remember back in the day when comics were available at drug stores and newsstands. I would go with my mom to the store, and she would usually let me pick up a couple of comic books. One day, I picked up the Mighty Avengers #184; it was the perfect mixture of art and story. I didn’t know who George Perez and John Byrne were nor that their art alone was worth buying the book (for a whopping $0.40!). It’s been years since I read Avengers #184 (so I hope it holds up), but the story courtesy of David Michelinie was good, and in combination with the aforementioned artists, I was hooked. I closed the book, looked at my mom and boldly proclaimed to her “I’m now a comic book collector.” She said, “OK, baby.” I proceeded to open the comic book and read it again, having no idea that comics would still be a passion of mine so many years later.
As a hobby I’ve been making comics since I was a kid. The budget simply required art supplies and an imagination…the latter of which I’ve been blessed to have in abundance. The first comic books I received writing credit for were a three-issue mini-series called Troubleman from Motown Machineworks back in 1994.
From a young age, I was always captivated by the medium. As a kid, it seemed like a no-brainer; making a living by doing my favorite pastime – using my imagination. You’d think I would have expanded into some higher level of consciousness as I grew up, but not so much. At its best, comics combine great writing with beautiful art; the reader gets to participate as the characters and situations come to life in his/her mind. For me, comics have always been an interactive experience in that way. Without the fuse of the reader’s imagination all that creative fuel in the books is inert.
In terms of what I like most, the creative and collaborative processes have actually become my favorite. As a writer, I love the process of receiving an idea (that’s literally what it’s like, God downloading ideas into my head), giving structure to that idea through writing and then working with artists who are able to not just bring form to those ideas, but take it to another level by applying their graphical acumen and style.
Say a little about the project(s) you have worked on in the past (if any), and what they were about?
The first published project I worked on was Troubleman, which was a four-issue mini-series of which only three issues were published. It was created by my friend Chuck Drost and was like Men in Black meets Mobius. In 2004, my company, Beyond Time, published the first four issues of Black Tiger: Legacy of Fury, which was to be a six-issue mini-series. For reasons I did not understand at the time it wasn’t to be completed then. God did a real transformative work in me in the following years, taking me away from comics for years to which I thought I would never return. Then He renewed me with a purpose in Him. I re-scripted the series and finished it with God’s direction; we re-colored and re-lettered the first four issues and produced the last two issues. God transformed it from a book of vengeance to what I call a “thief on the cross” story. I co-wrote an accompanying film, Black Tiger: Hunter Hunted, which we currently have a live Indiegogo campaign for. The film stars Robin Shou (Mortal Kombat series, Death Race series) and Angela Fong (WWE, Castle), and will debut at Alamo City Comic Con in October. Please support it and spread the word!
What project(s) are you currently working on?
Currently I am working on Black Tiger: Dual Dragons, which picks up where Legacy of Fury left off with Eric’s sister, Jenn, now wielding the mantle and needing to make decisions about her own relationship with God. The second project I am working on is called Magna: The Last Pantheon, which is focused on the most important decision anyone can make, which is for Christ. Can the offspring of man and a created being also choose Christ? The third project hasn’t been published yet, but should be published in the fall, and I will be sure to let you know more at the appropriate time. All six issues of Legacy of Fury and the first issue of Magna are both available via our web and Android comic book readers on the website. The Apple iOS reader is in the works.
Thus far, all of my published works have been mini-series. I’m enjoying the mini-series format, especially for Black Tiger because I’m going to tell stories about different holders of the mantle throughout time. It also gives the freedom to write a prequel to something I’ve already written to make the world more rich and coherent.
What sources of information and inspiration have helped you along the way?
I thank God that I don’t have a shortage of ideas, He keeps them flowing, be it from world events to personal interactions for large story-arcs, small vignettes or even dialogue.
Say a little about how you’ve been able to communicate your faith through your project(s)? What has that process been like? How has it evolved over the years?
At first, I struggled because I thought I needed to give a sermon every issue. While that is compelling to me, God put on my heart that for the stories I’m currently writing, the characters just need to live in a world governed by His spiritual laws and truths. Characters will make their decisions, as we all do everyday, and they will experience the temporal and spiritual repercussions of these decisions as they either heed or rebel against God’s call. This has actually been very liberating and made writing more exciting than it ever has been for me.
Listen to God, not man, regarding your calling in writing. The diversity of the Bible is staggering, from poetic, romantic, dramatic, historical, you name it – all of it is God-breathed and all pointing to Christ. Jesus’ earthly ministry was amazing in that He met people where they were at and was sometimes celebrated, but often vilified for it. With that, He ministered to tax collectors and prostitutes without stepping out of His character. He showed us how to be in the world but not of it. I truly came to Christ as an adult; I have been that non-believing comic book reader and have a flavor for where many of my non-believing friends are coming from.
Now I am a believing comic book reader who has been called to write from a Christian worldview. The stories I’m currently writing are gritty, but there are parts of the Bible that are gritty. Characters make their decisions, but there are spiritual and earthly consequences for all of these decisions. In mainstream, the preponderance of worldly consequences continually break these spiritual laws in an attempt to self-deify and empower, so that death has no sting and vengeance is man’s, which just isn’t true. I want readers to see that even superheroes and villains are beholden to these principals, and everyone will stand before Christ to give an account.
What is the best way for people to contact you, and to read/purchase your work?
God is sovereign. Even when He gives us a vision, often times we don’t really know what the path will look like…Joseph’s a prime example of that. Follow what God has put on your heart. Do not be disheartened by what you see or experience, because if you persevere, God is faithful to complete that which He has started in you for His glory.
Wow…very inspiring. I hope you enjoyed the interview, and be on the lookout for the next one.