An ambitious new multiplatform sci-fi epic merging high stakes space opera with 70s blaxploitation B-movie nods, Lone Star Soul begins with the graphic novel Book One: Sole Invitation (pick it up now for 9.99 euros, approx £8.40) and is set to continue its sprawling tale across not only further volumes, but an app and an animated series.
We caught up with writer/artist/creator Peter Campbell to try and wrap our heads around the world of the Lone Star Soul…
Where did the idea of Lone Star Soul come from?
Lone Star Soul is actually a spin-off from an animated series that never got made (laughs). In fact, Lone Star Soul is a prequel to it.
There was an incredible amount of world-building that had went on in the creation of that series (right down to the cast of characters being designed, the pilot episode scripted and storyboarded, and 25 episodes of a proposed season plotted – I even wrote a full A to Z outlining everything in that universe!), and I thought there was too much there to just throw away. Whilst it was completely different in tone to this, I still deliberately wrote Lone Star Soul to fit into the already created universe that animated series existed in.
So, in the event that I got to tell this story here, I thought, well maybe it might lead on to me getting the opportunity to tell that one later on. But to do so in a way that won’t conflict with what’s come before continuity-wise. You never know! It’s the same overall storyline, and the same universe; I just thought it could work great if I incorporated more Western imagery, themes and feel. After injecting this same mixture into the character of Leroy, (ie giving him a long coat, a gun-belt and a massive gun, Sergio style) it all then just clicked, giving him a more fully-rounded look visually. The kick ass, kung-fu, wrapped in Western garb, 1970s blaxploitation Actor Leroy Soulo was born.
Did you watch a bunch of spaghetti Westerns or obscure blaxploitation classics to get in the mood?
It was actually my big brother who started bringing my attention to the joys of the blaxploitation movie genre. It was the grittiness, the streets, the so-cool swagger of the leads, the dialogue, the chic and style of the early 70s, the grainy production aesthetic – but not at all the least – the background music and soundtracks! I was already massively into my rusty old funk 45s from DJ-ing a bit, so I was already completely away off on that tip. There is just something about late 60s, early 70s American cinema, the way they were shot, the casts, the stories – the movies then weren’t afraid to use silence as a soundtrack (something the Coen Brothers paid homage to in No County For Old Men). And for a time, mainstream 70s cinema definitely overlapped with certain tropes from blaxploitation films.
You can’t mention the 70s without mentioning Star Wars (one of the greatest Westerns of all time in my opinion!). There’s just is no point going into how massive a fan I am – it verges on decadent! The love of Westerns I think just comes from getting older – and turning into your old man! I would have gorged myself on 2000AD, for sure. That can’t go unmentioned. But, the rest is just a mish-mash of all my interests over the years. I have a love of fusing genres, Lucas did it, Tarantino does it. I love it. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a massive amount of blaxploitation, sci-fi and Western mash-ups, that have a rusty, rockin’ old funk-soul soundtrack, has there?
So, in a nut – Lone Star Soul is Shaft meets Star Wars, meets The Searchers! (You can also expect to see cosmic funk bands, killer space zombies, time travel and sassy space cats!)
It feels like you’re setting up an epic here, how far ahead have you planned the story?
Pretty far. Actually – very far. This can be both bittersweet and a bit presumptuous, as you’re assuming folk will want to come along on this adventure that you’ve planned out. Given that the story is also multi-platform (utilising the best of transmedia storytelling), it lends itself just so well to this way of telling a single, sweeping epic narrative.
I’ve mapped out the whole storyline from end to end, where Sole Invitation is just a one, tiny part. This story will continue for another batch of six books, encompassing what I like to call an ‘arc’. There are five of these so called ‘arcs’, and Sole Invitation exists (chronologically) in around three quarters way through of Arc Three. Yes, that’s right, a whole of stuff happens way before – and after – this story takes place. As the promo blurb says, it is an “Epic Sci-Fi Western Space Opera” after all!
Book One can stand alone, but it really is the opening shot of something bigger. I’m a complete sucker for big, epic, long-running storylines, and it’s safe to say that this Book (Lone Star Soul – Book One: Sole Invitation) is just the tip of a very large iceberg. And, as with most icebergs, most of it is unseen. I plan and hope for that not to be the case in this instance!
Anything you can tease about the direction the series is going in?
Well, in the next instalment, the main teasing image for it is a gravestone – with the main protagonist’s name on it! Arguably not the best way to treat a character who has just been introduced to us, but have faith, there is a method. But, suffice to say, that gravestone has a lot to do with the figure that is encased in stone on the double page spread on page 6. And that, in turn, is one of the consequences of Leroy being pulled out of his own time (1973) to this planet. Death will follow him on the next part of his journey…but it will have a familiar face.
You’re going to find out more and more about the Lone Star Soul, and the brother called Leroy Soulo. We’re going to find more about his time on 1970s Earth, and why his vanishing coincided with the appearance of strange megaliths in the African desert.
I can’t give too much else away, but he does get to drive a White Dodge Challenger through a sprawling desert (anybody get that other classic 1970s road movie reference?). The cast expands (well, by one) and we’ll find out more out about Thelonious, and what his role in the bigger picture actually is.
After that, you’re going to be treated to more sweeping desert landscapes, littered with vast, strange structures. You’re going to get closer to the mysterious Afro-Sphinx (Leroy Soulo’s ultimate destination). And then, there’s the next story of what happens after he reaches it!
Find out more about Lone Star Soul at www.thelonestarsoul.com.