Celebrity backers draw plenty of eyes to ‘Myopia’

Local creator leverages Kickstarter campaign to publish new comic book

Jennifer Lopez
Special to the Daily Press

What do Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Margaret Atwood, and Dean Koontz have in common other than being literary giants? They all backed an independent comic book from local creator Richard Dent.

Dent’s path to publication was hardly a straight line and in fact, the project began life in an entirely different medium with some detours along the way.

Initially a screenplay, one that placed as a finalist in the Francis Ford Coppola Screenwriting Competition and the Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition, Myopia was set to be published as a graphic novel, a deal that never materialized when the publishing company collapsed.

Left without a publishing company, Dent took it upon himself to self-publish his work. Yet, there was a dilemma. Though Myopia was already set to be a graphic novel, the attached artist was part of the now defunct company and no longer available.

Owner of an incomplete book with no company to publish or distribute, Dent looked to Kickstarter to realize his book. He reached out to other creators and writers via letters and emails telling them of his project.

He did not expect much of a response but he received a personal letter of endorsement from Margaret Atwood as well as Neil Gaiman who contributed signed books to give away as pledge rewards.

With attention and money coming in, the Myopia Kickstarter campaign closed with 186 backers pledging $14,786, enough to not only finish the book but to also gain the attention of Dynamite Entertainment (D.E.), one of the comic industry’s bigger independent publishing companies.

Before the Kickstarter was finalized, Myopia was backed by D.E’s CEO and Publisher, Nick Barrucci. With Barrucci’s support came connections with other writers such as George R. Martin and Jim Butcher, both who have comic book adaptations of their novels published by Dynamite. “It was easy to accept Dynamite’s offer … it just made things so much easier to distribute,” Dent said.

With Dynamite, Dent maintained creative control over his comic, choosing to collaborate with Patrick Berkenkotter, an artist who has worked with creators such as Alex Ross and Jim Krueger.

Myopia #1 was released on November 2 to swift applause as a unique science fiction work with steampunk elements. The story is set in a not too distant dystopia and Dent described it as a story about a genetically altered man who wants to save a world corrupted by complacency.

Dent is excited and joyous when speaking about his comic and its influences.

“I was watching old sci-fi flicks like the Matrix and I wanted to challenge myself, sci-fi is always something I loved but never really thought I could write,” he said.

Dent is familiar with other genres such as poetry and literary fiction.

He also teachers Creative Writing and Screenwriting classes at Loyola Marymount University or National University
“Works grounded in reality, in realness, speculative fiction, and dystopias are what I like,” he said when asked of his interest in science fiction, “and I wanted to contribute to that.”

Following the success of the first issue, Myopia: Rise of the Domes, a 30-page special, is set for release in February 2018. It will be the follow up to Myopia #1 and is now available for pre-order at your local comic book shop including Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica (http://www.hidehocomics.com).

“This comic represents the indie-creator,” Dent said. “In a way, Marvel and DC Comics are limited in the stories they can and want to tell. There are fantastical elements to this story with no extended backstory ties and it’s relevant to what is happening now in our country.”

For more information about Dent or the comic, visit https://www.richdentwriter.com.