VALDOSTA — A Lowndes County man hopes to make a transition that a superhero alter-ego can understand.
Like reporter Clark Kent becoming Superman, or newsphotographer Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man, Steve Ekstrom is hoping to switch from comic book journalist to comic book writer.
And local folks can help him make that change.
Ekstrom is the writer of “The Ares Imperative,” an online comic he created with Swedish artist Mikael Bergkvist and colorist Jesse Turnbull. Ekstrom describes “The Ares Imperative” as “a mixture of worldly adventure elements from the old cartoon ‘Johnny Quest’; it has a realist feel and timely chronological structure like the television show ‘24’; it has thematics and story elements from the ‘Bourne’ novels and films; and it has this really scary sense of conspiracy sort of like ‘The Manchurian Candidate.’”
This week, “The Ares Imperative” is a contender on Zuda.com, a branch of DC Comics and Warner Brothers. Zuda is dedicated to presenting free comic books online for an Internet audience. Each month, Zuda hosts “a vote-based ‘American Idol’-style contest for 10 selections with the winner receiving a publishing contract with the imprint which can potentially lead to further publication with DC Comics,” Ekstrom says.
It’s an opportunity to mild shift from free-lance comic book journalist to comic book writer. He began his journalism career by reviewing various books on MySpace under the pseudonym The Masked Comic Dork. Troy Brownfield of Shotgun Reviews invited Ekstrom to review books for his Web site. This offer grew into Ekstrom “unmasking” as The Masked Comic Dork to join Brownfield in his Best Shots column on Newsarama.com, “the CNN of comic book news.”
By January 2007, Ekstrom had received recognition from Marvel and DC and began providing reporting pieces for Newsarama.com. He also writes a blog for Fangoria.com, the Web site for the premier horror magazine.
He hopes “The Ares Imperative” wins the Zuda.com contest, but doesn’t want to completely walk away from comic book journalism.
“I have learned so much about the ins and outs of the industry as a journalist that I don’t think I’d ever want to completely walk away from being an objective voice within the medium with access to such a large portion of the fan base on a forum like Newsarama,” Ekstrom said. “I think I’d like to continue leading by example for other fans and folks with aspirations of getting into the medium.”
The Valdosta Daily Times conducted an e-mail interview with Steve Ekstrom. Excerpts:
THE VALDOSTA DAILY TIMES: When did you start reading comics? And what comic book titles got you hooked?
STEVE EKSTROM: “I was introduced to comic books at a very early age back when spinner racks were in every gas station and cornerstore in the area. My actual first real memory of anything involves being at a showing of ‘Superman’ at the Ashley Cinemas when I was a very small child. I was crying and miserable — like most little children dragged to movies by their parents — and then, all of a sudden, Christopher Reeves caught the helicopter with Margot Kidder in it ... and I was in absolute shock and awe.”
THE VALDOSTA DAILY TIMES: What can you say about the storyline for ‘The Ares Imperative’?
STEVE EKSTROM: “Our main character, Adam Geist, is an experiment — a Human Weapon of Mass Destruction — who has alien mitochondria powering his cellular structure. He’s got built-in WiFi in his head; he’s super-smart and bullet proof; but he’s also losing his humanity as this malevolent alien seed begins to embed itself within his DNA. As the story unfolds, readers will not only get a little bit of a history lesson into some of the cooler governmental conspiracies of the 20th century, but they’ll also get a thrilling, fast-paced story that they can access for free on the Internet.”
THE VALDOSTA DAILY TIMES: Any other projects?
STEVE EKSTROM: “In this industry, it’s a real ‘feast or famine’ type of ordeal; so I have several projects in the works currently. My first story, ‘Breakfast,’ is being printed for a third time in a small horror anthology called ‘Blister’ from Tin Star Studios. My next story, ‘Haunted,’ is being published by Image Comics later this year in the fourth volume of their popular ‘mixtape’ anthology series, ‘Popgun.’ I was just recently invited to write a short Western story for the anthology, ‘Outlaw Territory,’ from Image Comics. I’ve also been invited to write a short story for an upcoming anthology from APE Entertainment called ‘Bizarre New World,’ where everyone on Earth discovers they have the ability to fly. I’m also working on a horror project with connections to actor Thomas Jane — and a modern crime novel set in Valdosta.”
For the full interview, visit the VDT View section of The Valdosta Daily Times. For more and to vote on “The Ares Imperative,” visit Zuda.com.
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