Spotlight

A Murder Brings Up Old Sins From The Past – EYE HAND VOICE

James L. Sarandis currently lives in Pennsylvania with his lovely family and he is originally from extremely rural Upstate New York. When he is not writing, and taking care of his great kids, he works in security.

Nick Valente lives in sunny Florida with his amazing family. He is a full-time artist when he is not a full-time dad. He’s always looking for new ways to share his art.

They are the creators behind EYE HAND VOICE.
EYE HAND VOICE

Synopsis Two monsters and an ex-cop in an invisible suit are recruited to protect a city lost in time and space from even worse monsters. But a murder brings old sins from their past to haunt them and threatens the family they have made, and the life they care about.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
James: I’m mostly self-taught. I did take a single playwriting course at Broome Community College that was useful. Though, I would say the history degree I got from SUNY Fredonia does come in handy when I’m doing research.

Nick: I’m self-taught as well. Many, many hours spent drawing and studying to hone my skills. Continuing to learn and grow as an artist is always a major driving force for me.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Mystery, particularly in the vein of film noir. The 90’s were heavy with film noir references and they really stuck with me. I have a fondness for the hard boiled detectives and the cities that are characters in their own right.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Sci-fi, Fantasy, Giant Mecha, and Eldritch Horror. To be honest I haven’t met a genre I haven’t liked and this comic has the ability to draw from all of them.

What was your inspiration for the story?
I stumbled across these 1940’s public domain pulp characters while trying to enter a contest and I’m sure I was semi-consciously inspired by a book I read in middle school, “The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm,” by Nancy Farmer.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
James: I think the writers who affected me most in my formative years were Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr’s Spider-man run. That said, I’m always looking for inspiration. One of my most recent faves is Tillie Walden’s “On a Sunbeam.”

Nick: Wow, this is a long list for me, but I’ll keep it short. John Romita Jr, Bernie Wrightson, and Greg Capullo, are just a few artists that greatly affected my work as a comic artist. I have a wide appreciation for art, and there are many other artists I find inspiration from as well.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
James: To write the whole issue, usually a week to write and a few days to edit. Though, I often break down the whole story for a while in my head beforehand. A page can take an hour or if stubborn, a whole day.

Nick: All in about one full day of work, anywhere from 8-12 hours depending on how complex the scene may be.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
James: I write in a small notebook first, then move to Google Docs to type it up. After Nick does the initial thumbnail I use GIMP to scale up the images to layouts, though for that step I have used MS Paint and Waifu2x in the past.

Nick: I start with really loose thumbnail drawings, which are small 2×3 in drawings of the overall page layout. After that, I take any feedback from James and complete a full size pencil layout before proceeding to inks and then finally an acrylic ink gray tone wash.
James: After that we bring in our fantastic letters. We’ve been very lucky to work with Adam Wollet and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.

Is your comic a finished work? If not, how long do you think it’s going to be when it’s complete? Is there a definitive ending or will you just keep going for as long as possible?
Not yet. The first arc will be complete with Chapter Five, barring any surprises. If the audience is enjoying it we would have around one or two more volumes, if not we might take a break to work on some other projects, but there is an end already in mind. If we are very, very lucky there is a plan for a spinoff that could continue indefinitely and would bring in new artists, writers, and creators.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
I honestly jumped in feet first trying to make something for a contest and fell in love. The story has evolved over the years with some significant rewrites this year.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the course of making your comic? If you could go back in time to the point where you just started making it and give yourself a pep talk, what would you say?
James: We’ve gone through a couple recessions, deaths, breakups, but we’ve kept going. Sometimes it is scary thinking that others might not love this project as much as we do as we’ve been working on it for 10 years at this point. I would tell my younger self that he is going to learn and grow a lot and that he’s surrounded with some amazing people and going to meet a bunch more.

Nick: I have to echo what James said. We have definitely had our ups and downs but even through all of the challenges life can throw at you, we keep moving forward. That’s just how passionate we are about what we’re doing. I hope people see that when they read our book.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
James: Seeing the amazing work Nick does. I am always amazed he is still able to work with me and not swamped with work from every company.

Nick: The absolutely bizarre and amazing cast of characters coupled with the almost extra dimensional aspects of the world. It’s fun to be able to go over the top and always trying to push things further.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
James: I work around 50 hours a week and have two amazing kids and a wife whom I love so much so time is hard to come by, so I don’t look for a perfect time to write, I just take what I can get.

Nick: Again, like James said, time. As a full time artist I’m usually juggling multiple projects so it can get crazy to keep up with. I also make sure I spend time with my family which is very important to me.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
James: Originally it was Timoteo “Tim” DaSilva-Brant aka the Voice as he was just such a loveable down on his luck loser with a heart of gold, but lately it’s Curly Brand who is making the city a better place by hell or high water.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
James: Eye. They often feel unfathomable.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Nick: Wow this is a tough one. They all have unique differences that make each of them so much fun to draw. If I have to pick one, I really enjoy drawing Voice. I love the fact that he has an invisible mask. Drawing a floating trench coat getting into fights is just FUN!

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Nick: Another tough one, haha. Mechanical characters give me a bit of trouble from time to time. Also something I like to concentrate on is making sure the environments are believable, and almost act as characters themselves.

Where can we find you?
Tapas https://tapas.io/series/EYE-HAND-VOICE
Webtoon https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/eye-hand-voice/list?title_no=352679
Comixology https://www.comixology.com/EYE-HAND-VOICE-1/digital-comic/853666

James: You can reach me on Twitter, my handle is JamesLSarandis.
Nick: You can find me on Instagram at NJValente or my website at: www.njvalenteart.com

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
If you want a comic always ready to surprise you, filled with powerful emotion, and with a devoted creative team, this comic is for you.

Have you read EYE HAND VOICE yet? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Also, shout out to ShadowBestie for helping me format these interviews!