Getting Weird with DISKORDIA creator Rivenis

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Barbados comic creator Rivenis is making waves around the world with his dark fantasy comic, Diskordia. In the book, Rivenis channels Lovecraft and Leary to conjure a surreal world painted in electric Kool-Aid. The cast of characters is colorful as a social misfit named Jackal Black is lead through a dreamscape by his personal guide and bodyguard, Squidgirl.  Diskordia is wonderfully literary while still bringing plenty of action and humor as Jackal navigates Dreamtime and the dark manifestations lurking there in.

Rivenis steadily supplies his growing fan base with fourteen issues and more to come. While working on issue fifteen, he’s finishing a Kickstarter campaign for a printed collection. The GR1ND caught up with him to talk about his work.

Diskordia creator, Rivenis
Diskordia creator, Rivenis

What’s your origin story? How long have you been reading comics and what made you make the jump into creating comics?

I’ve been reading comics since my dad bequeathed his enormous collection of classics to me in the 90’s. My inheritance so to speak. I had been drawing comics as a hobby pretty much all my life. I didn’t think of it as an actual career path until much later however, when I realized that it was the medium that suited me best as an artist and writer.

Are there any particular comics or creators that you enjoy or have inspired your work?

I love very offbeat and experimental work. Some examples that directly inspired me are The Sandman, Tank Girl, The Maxx, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Lucifer, Transmetropolitan and Groo

What’s Barbados like for comic creators? Is there an active scene?

Comics have  been a thing in Barbados for as long as I’ve lived here however it has been very much an underground pursuit. Now keep in mind I’m only referring to being a fan of comics. The creating of comics as a serious commercial pursuit is quite new. Besides myself there is a comic collective known as Beyond Publishing which is making headway with Caribbean themed works. I feel quite positive that the industry will grow very rapidly here as creators like myself are beginning to prove its viability.

A few of the colorful cast of characters found in Diskordia.
A few of the colorful cast of characters found in Diskordia.

What’s the backstory for Diskordia? It reads as pretty stream of conscious. Do you have a long term plan or are you just letting inspiration lead you? Somewhere in between?

I’d say it’s somewhere in between. I take alot of inspiration from surrealist film makers like David Lynch. However there is a definite method to this madness. My goal with Diskordia is to perfectly straddle the line between surreality and narrative. There’s a strong, coherent story running through the book but it requires a little bit of extra effort and hindsight to follow.

In an early issue of Diskordia  you mix in some extended prose. As a storyteller, is there a reason for this?

The prose was very much experimental on my part, and only happens in the second issue. With the first section I was going for the air of a magazine interview though I’m not sure it worked. The second section is story book prose which I think works much better and may use again in the future.

With fourteen issues of Diskordia out already (even before a print edition) how do you manage to stay motivated as a one-man-show with writing and illustrating?

Mainly because I feel compelled to tell this story. I’ve been crafting worlds for as long as I can remember and watching it come together is immensely satisfying for me. Positive feedback also helps to pick up the slack whenever I get disheartened. Ultimately though it’s a self fueling system: the more issues I put out the more I feel motivated to continue.

You also wrote a novel called the Dreamless. As a writer, is penning a graphic novel different than a prose novel?

Creatively it’s two paths to the same goal; to tell an engrossing story. Writing a novel is more efficient as creating artwork is a very lengthy process. My main reason for doing comics instead is a selfish one. I wanted to exercise both of my passions at once.

Your Kickstarter for the first print collection has easily surpassed the original goal and is now tearing into stretch goals. Has the enthusiastic response been a surprise?

Actually, yes. Diskordia is a very niche work. I created it as artistic expression, rather than with commercial appeal in mind. The fact that so many people identify with my weird little story is very gratifying. Also as an independent creative I tend to be a little pessimistic. This whole campaign has caused me to re-evaluate that stance.

Rockstars of the Dreamtime - Jackal Black and Squid Girl
Rockstars of the Dreamtime – Jackal Black and Squid Girl

Which character is more similar to you, Jackal or Squidgirl?

It’s hard to choose between them as they both embody alot of elements of my personality. Whether it be Jackal’s calm cynical nihilism of Squidgirl’s Manic psychopathy. I’d say it’s an even split hah!

Where can I get an octopus hat? Shit’s dope.

Squidgirl knows, but she ain’t telling.

You can get in on the madness by reading Diskordia on Comixology or directly from the creator. Speaking of Rivenis, be sure to follow the “lord of Diskord” on Twitter. With only eight days to go on the Kickstarter campaign, be sure to preorder the printed edition while you can.

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