Southwest Florida’s Lee Milewski is heating up indie comics with a slew of successful comic book projects. While the genres are diverse, the stories deal with themes of personal introspection and world exploration. The comics are brought to vivid life with a unique brush art style.
He’s recently released a fantasy graphic novel Hunter’s Lore through Stache Publishing. Now he’s ready to blast off into the stars with Focus Shift. A current Kickstarter campaign is underway to fund production of the sci-fi graphic novella.
In this interview, we get the inside scoop on the artist and his work.
So Lee, how did you get started making comics?
Honestly, I never read many comics as a kid – even now, I don’t read a TON of books frequently, but the first one would probably be a Batman comic at some point growing up. I still dig those. Right around the time I dropped out of film school, due to me wanting to be creatively driven but not having the money or resources to attend. Comics are perfect for the budget-minded creator. I just always knew I wanted to have a creative job but never knew how to approach one. When I sorta “found’ comics in my early twenties, it took off.
You’ve recently published Hunter’s Lore, a fantasy graphic through Stache. What can you say about that release?
Essentially it’s a story of personal redemption. A knight named Rowan Black is destined to a life of solitude within impenetrable walls. Once he realizes his cause is unworthy and forfeiting of its purposes, he ventures out into the world to take on a quest. Hunter’s Lore is different than a lot of fantasy comics due to it being a smaller scale story – it’s not necessarily “save the world and achieve great things”, but rather a slow trudge through Rowan’s necessity to reclaim his life and pride.
Stache seemed like a great place to get ideas out into the world, especially on a broader spectrum than I could personally accomplish. I’ve debated with publishing Hunter’s Lore with a traditional publisher and Stache and the team won me over.
With Tangled Weeds you took on horror, Hunter’s Lore delved into high-fantasy, now Focus Shift peers through the lens of sci-fi. Do you prefer any particular genre or do you like to work on different ones?
Personally I don’t have a preference with genres so long as there’s an interesting story and character at the heart of things. I like to mess around in genres mainly because they’re so recognized among most readers and it’s easier to create something cool and unique in a recognized framework.
From the preview, Focus Shift evokes a similar sense of world exploration as Hunter’s Lore. Would you agree with that?
For sure. Our main character, K, is much less sure of herself than any past characters from my books, and that unsureness is probably what will make her actions stand out. She’s specifically NOT a hero.
On the Focus Shift campaign page you mention that you are influenced by Hayao Miyazaki’s works. What most resonates about his films and do you have a favorite?
I had actually been introduced to Miyazaki films in my early twenties by my wife, Kathleen. She swore by a few of them and now that I’ve seen them, I do to. I think this studios use of small touches is what makes them so unique- a character will trip as they walk up the stairs, get hair blown in their face, etc. It’s stuff that you don’t typically see with animation and these guys have been doing it for years. Nausicca is my favorite!
One of the things that is appealing about your artwork, is your choice of color pallets. Is this something you purposefully consider when approaching a story?
Yeah and more often than not its just a guessing game until I find what works. I am using a more cut style with the characters and the same painterly style as I used in Hunter’s Lore. Hopefully it works out!
You’ve funded production of several comic projects through Kickstarter. What does crowdfunding mean for you as independent creator?
Kickstarter is a job within itself! I wouldn’t wish it on anyone – it’s stressful, extremely time consuming, and I love it. Basically, I see it as the new way of putting out comics, at least for smaller independents like me. Running the Kickstarter is extremely stressful but ultimately super satisfying to see your idea become something out of nothing. I hope [readers] love it and tell their friends, but I also hope that it gives them a reason to pursue their own stories and comics. Independent creators are truly the blood within the comics industry. When newer and upcoming creators receive support, they’re more inclined to stick around and make awesome art and create awesome stories. This is true for ANY independent creator, not just me.
Lee Milewski’s new fantasy graphic novel Hunter’s Lore is available directly from Stache Publishing or through online sellers like Amazon. To check out and support his current project, visit the Focus Shift campaign page.
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