Comics: David Sandoval on The Tribulations of Abaddon

Demons at the gates...

By , Columnist

One of the great things about crowdfunding generally, and sites like Kickstarter in particular, is that it creates a level playing field. While long-time fan favorites might appear to have an advantage over the first-time creator, that’s simply not necessarily the case.

Everyone enters the system with essentially the same amount of space to state their case and solicit support. What that means is that, in essence, it’s all down to the presentation and catching the public’s interest. In a very real way, this new system of funding creativity has resulted in not only a new publishing paradigm, but also a real opportunity for those artists and writers to get noticed not only by possible supporters, but the comics press as well.

All of which brings us to David Sandoval and the The Tribulations of Abaddon Kickstarter campaign.

I honestly can’t remember how I discovered this particular project—likely it was mentioned by Tom Spurgeon or Brigid Alverson as part of one of their columns. Regardless, ever since I first discovered Robert E. Howard’s Conan, I’ve been a sucker for well done sword and sorcery fantasy combined with great art—both of which Tribulations of Abaddon has in spades, as Sandoval explains.

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Just so we’re all on the same page, what’s your elevator pitch for this book?

As humanity prospers and kingdoms grow, the balance of good and evil shifts into chaos when the demon Syria escapes from the dark bowels of Hell. On Earth, the Sumerian city of Larsa begins to consume itself as a demonic plague begins to spread at an overwhelming rate. Its defending warriors desperately strive to maintain their existence, and ensure their survival, by coming together. They overcome great odds as they fight for their lives, caught in the war between Heaven and Hell.

What provided the initial spark for the project?

I’ve always been a fan of theology and the supernatural, been reading books on it for years. My background being screenwriting, I figured I’d try and write something epic and add all the elements that make a good story great. The Tribulations of Abaddon is what I came up with. Initially written as a screenplay.

Tribulations of Abaddon $150 Reward -- pomo page by Kris Cagle and Dan Prado -- Original Inked page.jpg

I know that you spent quite a while developing the story and working on the script. Well, what took so long?

Long story short…life! I’m a full-time student as well so I had to put it off a few times to study and take care of a few personal things.

What kind of changes did the plot, characters and other aspects of the story undergo during that period? And how extreme were those alterations, really?

To be honest, the story hasn’t changed that much; locations and small minor things, but just rewriting and editing were what took a while. As time went by I noticed my writing getting better so the changes were mostly dialog.

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What guided you through all of those changes? Did you have an overriding principle or some rules to keep it all on track, or did your instincts as a storyteller provide you with all you needed?

A little of both. 

I usually outline my stories and use it when I get stuck in certain areas of writing. It serves as a reminder to where I want the story to go and helps keep me on track. Side notes keep my ideas afloat to use as I please where needed; even thought I might not have a use for it in a certain area I can easily fix and adjust to use somewhere else. Over all, wanting the story to see life was the main thing that helps me keep it going.

The Original Art Work to the Bakara PinUp by Patrick Blaine B&W with color.jpg

How did you know when the script was ready? Was there a specific moment that you realized you’d hit that point, or was it a bit more subtle than that?

A script has to be finished, regardless…if you keep re-editing, you never finish it…new ideas keep coming at you…

So, what I did was I followed my outline, and when I did the editing part, I realized that all I was doing was just enhancing the dialogue. When I finished editing the script for the second time, I decided it was complete. I added all my side notes and decided to use them for future reference in the story.

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You’ve gathered quite a remarkable group of artists together to help make Tribulations of Abaddon a reality. How did you go about enlisting their aid, and how did you know when you’d found the right artistic foils for your narrative?

NAS has been in business for almost two years, and within that time frame, I have had the privilege to make the acquaintance of and establish numerous friendships with various artists and inkers in the industry. As word got around about the TOA project, I received messages from different artists and inkers wanting to be part of this project.

After several test pages from different people, I decided on Kris Cagle for pencils, Juan Albarran as inker, and Tommy Shelton for colors.

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Currently, the future of the project is tied into a Kickstarter campaign. Why go that route? What are the advantages of using crowdfunding as opposed to some of the more traditional routes of financing this kind of endeavor?

We are all hoping to meet our Kickstarter goal. If we don’t reach it, the book will still be published, but it will take more time.

I couldn’t help but notice that the Kickstarter is only seeking funds to back a single 32-page issue. Now, unless I’m misunderstanding something, this is an epic tale that will take a few issues to complete. So why seek funding only for the first one? And does that mean that you’ll have to do a Kickstarter for subsequent issues, or are you planning to fund those in some other way?

TOA is actually 12 issues long…but with the popularity we are hoping that TOA funds itself after issue #1.

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As you noted earlier, you also established your own studio imprint to publish the book, which begs the question, “Why self-publish?” Why not take it to an established publisher and allow them to underwrite everything and handle all of the business aspects so you can concentrate on the creative end?

I do intend on seeking publication through other established publishers, but in the meantime, I want to publish all of my books. Call it “self-gratification” if you will.

What do you hope to accomplish with Tribulations of Abaddon? Is this an end unto itself, and once this tale is told you’ll be satisfied, or is it really more the start of a long artistic journey you’ve been planning to embark upon for some time?

I believe that TOA can be told through various mediums, so technically, this is a tale that really has no end for NAS.

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What do you get from doing all of this work? And what do you get from writing?

It’s plain and simple — I love to tell stories. But it all boils down to this: “A blank page is God’s way of showing people how hard it is to be Him..”  — author unknown.

How about putting the team together and overseeing their contributions to the effort? What do you get from that aspect?

Seeing this project come to life is like watching your firstborn take their first step…

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What do you hope your collaborators get from their efforts?

I truly hope everyone who is part of this amazing project gets the recognition they deserve.

How about those who contribute to the cause? What do you hope that your backers, and your readers, get from TOA?

I am certainly hoping they enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it…

Anything else you’d like to add before I let you get back to work?

I just want to say “thank you” to all our NAS supporters, because without them, we wouldn’t be anywhere without their support.

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A veteran journalist who has covered the comics medium since 1998, Bill Baker is also the author of Icons: The DC Comics and WildStorm Art of Jim Lee and seven previous books featuring his extended interviews with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and other notable creators. You can learn more about Bill’s work…

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