Creator Spotlight – Eric Cooper, Author/Publisher of Knight Seeker

Cosplay Fan & Eric Cooper

Cosplay Fan & Eric Cooper

ARTISTIC/DEVELOPMENT

As it relates to your earliest memory as an artist, did Art choose you or did you choose Art? The Art of writing that is, explain.  I believe that the art of writing had tapped me on my shoulders and said, “Hey Eric, your life maybe pretty boring without me. We should get together and show the world what we can do.” But seriously I have been writing stories since I was in Junior High School. My mind was always in outer space and my escape from the normal everyday life was drawing what I saw in my mind. After a while my thoughts started to show up in a writing form.

Who or What were your earliest inspirations and present influences that that inspired your art/comics/writing?  My imagination was sparked by Star Trek (Original Series, Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine). My style of writing was influenced by watching the gritty sci-fi action movies of The Terminator, Aliens, and Predator.

How important is it to study your art and how do you approach keeping your skills sharp? The funny part about my writing is that I studied under no one. My skills are sharpened by the movies that I watch, and getting peoples’ reactions to what they see on the screen during mid-night showings. I’m not the most verse English guy in the writing community, but I sure as heck can give you a kick-ass concept and story. The stories unfold in my mind like a movie. When people read my novels they feel as though they are watching a movie screen as I take them on heart pounding adventure.

 

What are some books that are on your personal shelf?   That’s a good question. Most of the books on my shelf at home are from independent novel writers. Keith Thomas, a friend of mine has a series of books called Penance, and The King of Fools. Keith’s style of writing is great. He keeps you laughing but at the same time he shakes up your senses, and gets your attention with the action sequences inside of his novels. John Cullins who is also a friend is the author of a novel series called Dusk: A Crown of Horns. Dusk takes place in a fantasy realm such as Lord of the Rings, but to add the novels have the essence of Mortal Kombat. The last person and friend I would like to highlight is Allen Paul Weaver III, the author of Speedsuit Powers. This novel series is about a high school kid who starts off as a nerdy guy but develops into a superhero by using his mind and his unique gifts in engineering and design. Speedsuit Powers also focuses on the issues of bullying.

Are there any titles that you are currently reading?  Yes I am, it’s from a cool buddy of mine John Graham, who wrote a graphic novel called the Zombie Survival Almanac. It’s pretty funny, and it’s about what would you do to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse if it were to ever happened. It’s creepy to see who much thought that John has placed into this graphic novel; almost as if he has been planning this end of the world scenario for years.

 

WORK/STYLE

Give us a description of your Creative Lab or Studio where you work and how is the environment a co-creator or partner in ultimately what you create?  Most of my creative work is done on the road at a Starbucks, McDonald’s, or restaurants. It’s hard for me to work at home because I would get too comfortable and lazy. I need the noises and the feeling of people around me to write since most of my work is on a personal level with my readers. Miles Simon is one of my co-writers for a series of books that will be releasing soon called Star Enforcers. I give Miles my vision of the story and he has fun adding more life to it. His writing mixed with mines gives us an awesome balance. Miles is half my age and he will become a strong creative force in the writing industry. The other co-writer that has been inducted into my writing circle is, Juliana Cat Manning. She has grown some of her own wings in creativity and will be assisting me in writing a new series that will be DC Comic Book related called Color Blind High. I do not want to disclose too much of this new work, but I promised to carry on the vision of the late and great comic book writer Dwayne McDuffie.

If Art can save the world, then that makes the Artist a Superhero; and every Hero needs theme music.  Name the song or songs that you listen to for inspiration as you create?  Awesome question! While I’m writing out this interview I’m also listening to Epic Movie Scores from You-Tube. You-Tube has an extensive library of music to listen to for hours to keep the creator’s creative juices flowing. I highly recommend it for people who love to write and do artwork. Orchestra music sets an amazing atmosphere that no other music can compare to. Every note and melody has a purpose, same as it should be for the writer’s words, and the artist’s stoke of a pencil or paint brush on a canvas.

What techniques & tools do you employ to bring ideas to life?  If you are a writer I would recommend going to mid-night premiers of movies and seeing what stimulates a crowd. I would also recommend looking at some of the older films from decades ago. Lastly I would suggest is to attend writing panels at comic book conventions, and attending mines on the East Coast when even I am present at a show. I love doing panels, and getting a packed room of eager writers that want to pick my brain as they absorb what I tell them. The greatest comments coming from people that attend my panels along with other panelists is that we speak from the heart. No corporation owns us, so we give the attendees real life experience in writing and we don’t hold back any punches.

How would you describe your writing style or artistic technique?  I like to call my writing style, Caption Novel. The reason why I use this name is because I write on more of a movie construct. My writing is not full of fluff, and meaningless tangents. I have always told writers never bore the audience, keep them moving and interactive in the books. I don’t get too specifically wordy in my works either, which seem to drag things out. I want to give the reader just enough and let the story and characters form in their mind to excite their own imaginations. Another feature that I have incorporated into my books are illustrations in the beginning of each chapter that gives the reader a more visual effect as they venture through my novels. At the beginning of each chapter an illustration is displayed that gives the best sequence of the action in that chapter so that the reader is curious to know how it occurred. I have assigned an art director, Shawn Alleyne of Pyroglyphics Studios that works with a handful of illustrators at a time. Shawn’s job is to make sure that the artists are submitting artwork that compliments the chapters in the Knight Seeker Saga. I have also assigned a different art director by the name of Nick Harris aka Phoe-Nix Nebula, for a new series of Caption Novels called Merge that I hope to release in late 2014.

SOUL/ART

In terms of personal projects, what is the Flagship creative project for your company and how did you come up with the idea for the concept?  Knight Seeker is the flagship character of my company called Seeker Entertainment. Knight Seeker was created about ten years ago when I was going through depression in my life. Nothing was going right for me during that time and I had no idea what to live for. To take my mind off of things I started to get involved in Cos-Play and it was my escape from the everyday life when I attended comic book conventions. Later I wanted to be a Spider-man performer for promotional events for Marvel Comics and I developed a black character to usher into Marvel’s world if I was hired. Some not so fun things happened to prevent me for working for Marvel Comics and the character I had in mind had to be altered to make Knight Seeker. The main character Nygel Spinner shares an essence of my past and my readers tell me that he seems very real to them.

 

Knight Seeker Trilogy

Knight Seeker Trilogy

What are some of the most immediate/follow-up projects?  Star Enforcers (2014 Caption Novel): It is a take on combining the ideas of Star Trek and Star Wars together. Co-writer Miles Simon

Knight Seeker Trailer Film: It will be related to the black and white comic book called Players of the Game, which are some of the highlights to Knight Seeker Vol.1

Merge (2014 Caption Novel): A new superhero in Knight Seeker’s world but it takes place on the west coast, and a special guest featured in this writing is the spirit of the late Trayvon Martin.

Defenders of Sector 5 (2014 Comic Book): Created by Jabaar Brown, and Wayne Sutphin, I am the assistant writer. This comic book features three superheroes, Soul, God Particle, and Knight Seeker.

Talk about the difficulties of being an independent artist and the hurdles you’ve overcome to produce and publish your own works.  Since my work is not typical and it’s multi-ethnic I had to go the self publishing route. I was happy to do so when the bigger publishers were not sure how to handle the work that I submitted to them for Knight Seeker. I said to myself that I will create my own fan base and following. The big companies will seek me out when the time is right for them. My responsibility was to produce books and that is what I have done.

The only hurdles are the ones that you set up for yourself. I tell all writers and artists don’t let your skin color or your religion set you back. It may take you a longer time to become established in the industry but strive for what you want. It will take work and effort, but put your ass on the battle field and take your shot. If you have a worthy purpose it will be supported.

What is your preferred medium for your stories; comic book, graphic novel, animation or movie?  Most of my writing tends towards novels that have a sci-fi twist. I have to write my stories out by hand then transfer them to the computer. It’s harder for me to just go straight to computer writing. I have to feel my work when I am writing it. The stories that I compose also have to have a grittiness and realness to them. I want the readers to step into the characters’ shoes at all times.

Here’s a fun question.  Name a mainstream project/character or an independent project and/or character that you’d love to work on or revamp and what would you do to put your twist on it?  If I had the opportunity I would love to work on The Terminator for Dark Horse Comics. I would want to bring in more ethnic diversity to the stories including the ruthless cyborgs that go back in time to kill John and Sarah Connor or whoever stands in Skynet’s way to dominate Earth. To add a little more fun I would add in Robo-Cop, Aliens, and Predators from time to time.

For the independent artist, how has technology affected the way you are able to do business or make progress on your art?  For example, but not limited to: Finding Clients? Artistic Collaboration? Getting work done?  The internet makes it easier to look up ideas and reference events in time, but also to communicate with other writers and artists. The internet enables creators to set up a website for their creations which also gives them more leverage on the copyright of the worlds they have created.

Here are two questions about event presentations, conferences, fairs etc.  What are the conferences that are on your yearly schedule to attend?  My own Underground Comic Con in Delaware, Philadelphia Wizard World, Mega Con in Orlando Florida, Baltimore Comic Con, Allentown, PA Comic, Pittsburgh Comic Con, San Diego Comic Con, New York Comic Con, East-Shore Fan Con in Maryland, Dragon Con in Atlanta GA, and others.

What advice do you give to aspiring artists of all mediums about the importance of events and how do you prepare to maximize your potential at these fairs?  I would say get around the audience you want to attract around your work. See what they like and what they this like. Also see how you can improve on what they like. The world and the people around you are your pallet to paint with. It’s your world of creation but make sure that people can relate, and adapt to the vision of your world. Another good thing suggest to anyone starting out to do conventions are to ask artists and writers how they prep for cons. Know what supplies to bring and how to pack.

 

Knight Seeker | Trayvon Martin Tribute

Knight Seeker | Trayvon Martin Tribute

LIFE/EXPRESSION

On the idea of Art Imitates Life or Life Imitates Art, is the role of Art in human existence a catalyst for behavior and community

building or is Art a mirror to reflect the world of what was and what is?  I believe that, ‘Art Imitates Life’. There are not that many creators in the world any longer and everything is being rehashed to adapt to today’s world and its people. I believe that a true creator makes a new world for people to have fun in and to also incorporate people of all colors and races. That is the way true creators get real recognition for what they do. Most artists just want to entertain you; as for me I want you to walk away with something that will add to your life and the people around you.

Due to budget cuts for schools, classes and after-school programs, primarily in black and Latino communities, the youth are not getting exposed or are exposed to very little physical education and the arts.  How important do you feel the arts are to the lives of the youth?   Youth of different races need to see themselves in the role they read about or watch on screen. To expand their minds they need to use their imaginations, and to have hopes for a better life for themselves. With poverty and little in the way of properly educating the youth of lower income households these children tend to slip into the cracks and lose hope. If you give the ability for children to dream and see a better way of life they will tend to have higher standards and strive to reach their goals. I would love to have more mentoring programs at these types of schools that encourage kids to dreams big and to have a true purpose in life.

Whether it’s the concept of Six Degrees of Separation or Its A Small World, the culture to are smaller than outsiders know.  To bridge the gap between yourself and your peers, do you belong to any artist groups or forums, if so which ones?  I am not on any true forums, but I do frequent artist and writer pages on facebook to offer my 2 cents here and there.

Now to bridge the gap between your art and the public at large, give the name and address of your sites and forums where people can see your creativity and how people can get in contact with you for commissions and/or to follow your work?

Website: www.KnightSeeker.com

Personal email: ericcooper@knightseeker.com

What impact would you like your art to make on the world?  My impact on this world is through my writing. I intend for my Caption Novels to give the reader a sense of discovering yourself and seeking your true purpose in life.

What are your favorite quotes or philosophies of life that help you improve as a person or artist?

Knight Seeker: “Whatever you start, you finish.”

Mr. Spock (Star Trek II): “The needs of the many out weight the needs of the few or the one.”

(I referred to those quotes because that is my core of thinking and why I do what I do. My writing and my world will be something that you will carry with you throughout your life.)

 

Is there anything else that you want the readers to know, feel free to elaborate?  I would suggest looking into independent work and take a hold of creators that have true vision. As for me I want fans for life, in no way am I a fly by night writer. I’m here to stand for what is right.

 

Thank you all for your time and attention as I gave you a piece of who I am and where I intend to go with my career in the field of writing.

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So that was Eric Cooper, Creator of Knight Seeker!  Thanks to Eric for the interview and his time. I hope you (The Readers) enjoyed it!  If you’re a Creator, Artist Etc and you want me to interview you. Contact me via 360beyond@gmail.com!

Until next time,

Peace, Power & Prosperity!

Stay Creative!

– Ced Pharaoh

 

 

Milton J. Davis, Author and Publishing Force of Nature

 

ARTISTIC/DEVELOPMENT

 

As it relates to your earliest memory as an artist, did Art choose you or did you choose Art? The Art of writing that is, explain.
Good question. I think the art chose me. As I look back I’ve been writing of and on since the fifth grade. I never thought of it as a talent. It was just something I did when I felt like doing it.
Who or What were your earliest inspirations and present influences that inspire your art/comics/writing?
I read non-fiction, mostly history, until high school. The first writer to catch my interest was James Baldwin. I love the way he could say so much with so few words. My second inspiration was Frank Herbert’s Dune. It was the first time I read a science fiction novel where the world building felt real. It became my standard for world building. The book that made me think what I write was possible is Segu by Maryse Conde. It was the first fiction book I read using African history as the backdrop.

Charles R. Saunders is my most important present influence. We met online shortly after I finished Meji and we’ve been friends ever since. If I’d read Imaro when it was originally released I probably would have tried my hand at writing Sword and Soul years ago.

How important is it to study your art and how do you approach keeping your skills sharp?
It’s very important to study your art. I took two writing courses when I decided I wanted to write, and I’m constantly reading. Some authors I read not because I particularly like their work, but I read them because the writer is considered good and I want to figure out why.  As far as my skills, I write every day. I think that’s the key.
What are some books that are on your personal shelf?
 Wow. That’s a long list. I just completed The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabelle Walker, a book about the Great Migration. Fiction wise I have all of Charles R. Saunders books, the first two books of the Acacia trilogy by David Anthony Durham, and Dances with Dragons by George R.R. Martin waiting in the wings. And a slew of books by my independent writing friends.
Are there any titles that you are currently reading?
I’m currently reading the Tarik al Fattash, a history of the rule of Askia Muhammad, one of the rulers of the Songhai Empire. I’m also reading Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, an excellent alternate history/steampunk/horror mash up by Balogun.
WORK/STYLE
Give us a description of your Creative Lab or Studio where you work and how is the environment a co-creator or partner in ultimately what you create?
I write either in my study or at the kitchen table. It’s nothing fancy. I don’t need much, just a clear space and some good music.
If Art can save the world, then that makes the Artist a Superhero; and every Hero needs theme music.  Name the song or songs that you listen to for inspiration as you create?
My musical inspirations change based on what I’m writing. I have a jazz playlist that I usually put on when I’m writing in my study. It includes songs by Herbie Hancock, Esmerelda Spalding, Al Jarreau, and others. I’ve recently been checking out the soundtrack to Inception, and I love me some reggae.
What techniques & tools do you employ to bring ideas to life?
My ideas come from many sources, but I think the main two sources are history and music. I’m constantly reading history, which has been a gold mine for many writers. I love music, and sometimes the mood and lyrics of a song will spark an image that I’ll build a story around. In general, my Sword and Soul stories are inspired by history while most of my science fiction is inspired by music.
How would you describe your writing style or artistic technique?
When I decided to write I wanted my style to be exciting and efficient. I like books where the writer describes things by using the right words, not by being verbose. I also wanted my books to be action filled. Based on the feedback I’ve seemed to have accomplished my goal. I still have a ways to go yet.
SOUL/ART
In terms of personal projects, what is the Flagship creative project for your company and how did you come up with the idea for the concept?
Meji started it all. I had the idea for the book for years but it didn’t really come together until I got deep into my research of African history and culture. I wanted to write a book that celebrated these things while also displaying the beauty and diversity of the continent. This book set the tone for everything I’ve written since.
What are some of the most immediate follow-up projects?
I’m currently working on Woman of the Woods, which will be my first Sword and Soul novel with a female main character. I’m also working on my first publishing only book, Once Upon A Time In Afrika, a Sword and Soul novel by Balogun. I’m also laying the groundwork to release Charles R. Saunders first new trilogy since Imaro and Dossouye, titles Abengoni.
The Griots Anthology had been very successful.       I released it last year and it has become a flagship for Sword and Soul. If anyone was to ask you, ‘what is sword and soul?’ you could give them a copy of Griots. We’re currently working on Griots: Sisters of the Spear, an anthology of Sword and Soul stories featuring women of color. Our sisters have been seriously neglected in this industry, so this is our way of giving them their recognition and respect. The stories have been selected; the anthology should be available early 2013.
Talk about the difficulties of being an independent artist and the hurdles you’ve overcome to produce and publish your own works.
The biggest challenge of independent writing is that you have to do everything yourself. You have to handle it like a business, which it is. Everything is a challenge; writing, artwork, editing, printing, etc. I had my own business a while ago so I have some experience at this. It’s been a challenge but it’s working out well.
What is your preferred medium for your stories; comic book, graphic novel, animation or movie?
My preferred medium is novel. I’d love to see my works 3D animated, and a movie would be great, too. Graphic novel would probably be my last choice, but in terms of cost it’s probably the most realistic.
Here’s a fun question.  Name a mainstream project/character or an independent project and/or character that you’d love to work on or revamp and what would you do to put your twist on it?
I can’t answer that one. I don’t have an interest in doing that. I’d rather concentrate my energy on creating new and hopefully unique characters.
For the independent artist, how has technology affected the way you are able to do business or make progress on your art?  For example, but not limited to: Finding Clients? Artistic Collaboration? Getting work done?
Today’s technology is essential to what I do. Ten years ago it wouldn’t have been possible. Print on Demand, social networking and e-books have leveled the playing field and freed writers from the limits of mainstream publishing. I think the internet has been the greatest tool for not only selling and promoting my books, but for also finding and collaborating with other artists.
Here are two questions about event presentations, conferences, fairs etc.
What are the conferences that are on your yearly schedule to attend?
I attend OnyxCon every year. I’m looking to expand to other conferences once my sales get more consistent. I have my eyes set on Dragoncon.
What advice do you give to aspiring artists of all mediums about the importance of events and how do you prepare to maximize your potential at these fairs?
I think it’s important to attend these events. You expose yourself to potential customers and you get immediate feedback on your work.
LIFE/EXPRESSION
On the idea of Art Imitates Life or Life Imitates Art, is the role of Art in human existence a catalyst for behavior and community building or is Art a mirror to reflect the world of what was and what is?
I think it goes both ways. I think art imitates and influences life. I believe this very strongly. Many artists and writers accept this and I think they create art for that very purpose. Other artists create for themselves and don’t concern themselves with the influence their work might have. I write for myself, but I also write to create positive images of black men and women with a sense of pride and place.
Due to budget cuts for schools, classes and after-school programs, primarily in black and Latino communities, the youth are not getting exposed or are exposed to very little physical education and the arts.  How important do you feel the arts are to the lives of the youth?
I think art is vitally important. Children must have a venue to explore and express their imaginations. That’s where progress comes from. Without the fresh imagination of youth there is no change.
Whether it’s the concept of Six Degrees of Separation or Its A Small World, the culture to are smaller than outsiders know.  To bridge the gap between yourself and your peers, do you belong to any artist groups or forums, if so which ones?
I’m a very active member of the Black Science Fiction Society. I also participate on my own social site, Wagadu. I spend a fair amount of time at SFreader, Blacksuperhero, and of course, Facebook. It’s essential as an independent writer to participate on social networking sites. It’s how you get the word out.
Now to bridge the gap between your art and the public at large, give the name and address of your sites and forums where people can see your creativity and how people can get in contact with you for commissions and/or to follow your work?
My site is www.mvmediaalt.com. This is where you can find and purchase my books. My social venue is www.wagadu.ning.com. This where I post stories, share ideas and fellowship with Sword and Soul fans. I’m also on Twitter (Milton Davis @thegriot) and Facebook.
What impact would you like your art to make on the world?
Wow, that’s a deep question. I have modest expectations. I just hope people enjoy my writing, and that people find it positive uplifting.
What are your favorite quotes or philosophies of life that help you improve as a person or artist?
My favorite quote? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I think it’s the perfect quote that explains how to deal with big challenges. Take it step by step, a little at a time.
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That’s it for now and If you or any visual artists or writers would be interested in an interview, be sure to contact me via one of the links below:

Be sure to connect with me on:
360BEYOND@gmail.com
Stay Creative,
Pharaoh