I've always been interested in stories of power struggles, caste systems, and most importantly, underdogs. The guy who doesn't stand a chance. The guy who will never out-muscle his competitors, no matter how hard he tries. The guy who has to use more creative means in order to survive.
This is Pogo, main character of the new, up-and-coming webcomic, "Demon of the Underground." Pogo has a big mouth, a smart-ass attitude, and a somewhat pervy disposition - and this was all fine when he lived above ground. But when he falls through a hole and lands in a secret underground society below Chicago, he finds that his big mouth can only bring him trouble.
The Chicago underground is divided into four spheres, each ruled by a "king" or "queen," and each with its own specialty.
The East Sphere
King: Jasper Samsid
The West Sphere
King: Roan Bardia
Specialty: Sex Trade
The North Sphere
King: Damen Mercury
Specialty: Drugs and Chemicals
The South Sphere
Queens: Noble, Freya, Iris
Specialty: Surveillance, Defense, and Machinery
Pogo finds himself in the middle of a tug-of-war between all four spheres, who want him for different - and often sinister - reasons. In order to survive, he allies himself with Jasper Samsid, King of the East Sphere. Samsid is not helping Pogo purely out of the kindness of his heart; he's discovered Pogo's telekinetic abilities and plans to use them for his own benefit. He promises Pogo that if he helps him rise to the top, he will give Pogo his freedom - letting him return above ground. But will Samsid be true to his word? And does Pogo have the ability to move beyond the politics of the underground and form a true, loyal relationship with Samsid?
My focus with this story, rather than being a vast and epic tale involving the fate of all humanity, is the interpersonal relationships between Pogo and the rest of the underground's citizens. My main inspiration for these interactions is, believe it or not, my experience in working for a large corporation. Hierarchies, questions of loyalty, backstabbing, and broken promises are the norm, both in the underground and in a work environment.
"Demon of the Underground" is a serious story that doesn't take itself too seriously. With this story, I wanted to break out of all the molds that are currently prevalent in the world of webcomics, most specifically the semi-cell-shaded full-color epic fantasy. I start each page with tight, shaded pencils, and I try to keep the earthy, moody feel of the pencil shading all the way through to my final page. The combination of traditional and digital media has always been my greatest love.
As a reader, my willingness to stick with a webcomic is almost completely determined by the strength and complexity of the main character. I put a lot of work and thought into creating a well-rounded lead, and I've had a lot of fun developing all the different sides of Pogo. He's not your typical heroic leading man. He's both lecherous and sweet, both crazy and perceptive, both loyal and selfish. He's plagued by inner demons, unsure of why he has the power of telekinesis - and how he got that mysterious cross-shaped mark on his back. He makes no secret of his bi- or rather, omni-sexuality, and is willing to try his luck with just about anyone drunk enough to say yes. His best friend and wing man? A ferret named Annie.
Demon of the Underground updates every Monday evening. I've really enjoyed the process of creating this comic, and I hope that my readers will enjoy it equally. The DotU website includes a variety of extras, including an image gallery and even an original deck of cards available for purchase - complete with a playable game. Demon of the Underground isn't for everyone, but it's definitely for people who love a story about a quirky, imperfect, and engaging underdog. Even as a writer, I see myself as an underdog - going up against the already-established grand and epic stories with mass appeal and instead targeting a smaller group of people who are into stories that are a little bit outside the norm. But if Pogo's any proof, the underdog will always have the ability to rise up the ranks.
This story is for all you underdogs out there!
Give it a read!