During my visit to the last Puerto Rico Comic Con (PRCC) and this year’s Free Comic Book Day I met several up-and-coming comic book writers and artists. This article is the first of many about comic book creators on the island.
Title: Deepest Fears Project
Creator and Artwork: Keishla M. Rodríguez
Inking: Keishla M. Rodríguez, David E. Morales
Story: Keishla M. Rodríguez, Alexis I. Ríos, Xaymara Rodríguez, David E. Morales
Text Editing: Keishla M. Rodríguez, Alexis I. Ríos
The Deepest Fears Project Vol. 1 introduces a story about three friends who are like siblings that move to Puerto Rico in search of a safer life. It is set in a future where genetic manipulation has crossed animal and human DNA, and some people are part beast. The three main characters, besides being a mix of nationalities (German, Puerto Rican, Finnish, Chinese), are part wolf and panda. You can see it at first glance- they have animal ears and tails. Although this new breed of humans is openly part of society, some pure humans consider them abnormal and abuse them. Deepest Fears Project is written in English, but it may be translated to Spanish soon.
I spoke to the creator and self-taught artist Keishla Rodríguez about how Deepest Fears was developed, and future plans for the series. She and her team are all from Puerto Rico. Ms. Rodríguez definitely embodies promising young talent creatively, artistically, and entrepreneurially. Here’s the interview:
How was the PRCC for Deepest Fears?
It was my first time going to a convention and people really supported us, and we were able to recoup most of what we invested. I didn’t realize there was so much interest in manga in Puerto Rico, even though some people, particularly adults, weren’t familiar with it and we had to explain. It was super! Our writing team was there, all of us helping out with the setup.
The artwork is great! How did you learn to draw? Before Deepest Fears, had you worked on any other art projects?
I mostly learned to draw on my own, taking web tutorials and experimenting instead of formal training. I have two other mangas, but didn’t publish them.
How did the Deepest Fears Project originate?
It began as an RPG I was in with a friend. We developed our characters and thought of creating a comic strip. But when I took a course in Media Administration as part of my Communications degree I talked to my group and we decided to develop a manga as our final project. The title ‘Deepest Fears’ refers to the central character Shiro, who has made a deal with Hades and is trying to run from what he is, his fears, and inner darkness. Certain songs I listened to helped me come up with the title.
Tell us more about Shiro.
Shiro is the eldest sibling so he’s been taking care of the other two. Shiro and brother Paku were abandoned and grew up in an orphanage, and sister Kirsi had parents but they died. They were friends before the death of Kirsi’s parents, and were bonded even tighter when they did die. Shiro as the oldest feels he needs to be the strong one, yet inside he is afraid of failure and what he’s become.
Who are the ‘Disfigured Saints’ mentioned in the book? Are they the bad guys?
They are like army sergeants commanded by Hades. Each one has their own contingent watching over people according to their sin. They rid the Earth of evil yet ironically are evil themselves. Hades is a dictator type and dominates the planet, although there is someone above him.
How many volumes will the story end up having?
It’ll be eight volumes, possibly with other stories outside of the main story arc but in the same world. We’re working on the second volume now and it should be out around September, depending on how well the first volume sells.
What other products do you have in the line?
We make our own shirts, key chains, stickers, and posters. We plan on making figurines and stuffed toys- whatever we can think of! It’s a job I’m passionate about and once I graduate I’d like to continue making books and publishing them. I plan on finishing the series in Puerto Rico. I don’t know if in the future I’ll go on to formally study about making comics.
Thanks to Ms. Rodríguez for the interview! You can read more about Deepest Fears Project at their MySpace page here. Soon they’ll be up on Facebook. Order requests for Deepest Fears Project merchandise can be sent to DeepestFearsManga AT gmail.