Art from Fans of The Shepherd: An Interview with Nick Meyer
The work of a comic book creator may appear to be all excitement and fun, but mostly it is just a lot of hard work, usually done in front of a computer screen. When I discuss the experience of making comics and graphic novels with other creators, we all agree that our work can be a very solitary undertaking. That said, one of the wonderful things that can happen to a creator is to hear from someone who has truly enjoyed our work and felt a lasting connection with it.
Trust me when I say that this doesn’t happen all that often. Sure, we exhibit at comic conventions and are encouraged by the reaction of new fans who are energized by our concept and buy our work. Likewise, it is always gratifying to have someone step up to our table and say, “I bought your first volume at such and such comic convention. Now, I want to get your other volumes!”
Of course, every now and then, we are fortunate to have a fan reach out and share their story, their story about how our creation has found a place in their heart. Sometimes, this means that they wear our t-shirt and we see them representing us at various events (see below: our friend and fan, Kevin Haldon, from Berwick on Tweed, UK).
Other times, it means that a fan might take our books with them on trips and have themselves photographed reading our books in front of famous places (as was done by José María García González of Pontevedra, Spain, who took Volume 1 to visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and our Volume 2 to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain!):
It may also mean that they become inspired to create fan art. We love that! Art can take many forms whether that be paintings, drawing, or crafty projects (as was done by Adria Peter in this beautiful piece of fan art):
Recently, Roberto and I had a fan reach out to us on Instagram. Bree Meyer wrote, Hello! My husband and I met you a few years ago at the MS Comic Con [Jackson, MS]! We are huge fans of yours, to the point where my husband created The Shepherd as a D&D NPC character in his campaign!! He just finished the miniature of him and wanted me to share with you.”
Bree then proceeded to share the following pictures:
Simply stated, I was flabbergasted! (Now, there’s a word you don’t get to use often!) First, I was amazed at how beautiful the figures are. If you really look at the pictures, you can tell that they were created with a lot of love. Just seeing that someone felt so strongly about the characters was really gratifying. Second, as an old D&D player myself, I was thrilled to imagine our characters in a D&D game! I immediately showed the pictures to Roberto. He was amazed too!
We knew we had reach out to them. So, I contacted Bree and she put me in touch with her husband Nick (a pilot in the US Air Force!), the creator of the figures (by the way, Bree and Nick are on track to be parents very soon--a baby boy!).
Once we made contact, Nick graciously agreed to do an interview for our blog.
ANDREA: Could you tell us about how you first encountered The Shepherd?
NICK: My wife and I first saw The Shepherd comic series at the Jackson, MS Comic-Con back in 2018. Bree, my wife, just so happened to come across the booth and immediately began talking to Andrea, who was dressed as Lawrence Miller, and after some awesome conversations we were the happy owners of the first two comics! We both actually finished them by the end of the day!
ROBERTO: Focusing on the first novel, The Shepherd: Apokatastasis, what was it about the story that resonated with you? Can you isolate the things that appealed to you most about the characters?
NICK: We have always been big fans of characters like Constantine, the Punisher, and other dark protagonists; so The Shepherd’s tragic backstory and rise to what he has become really pulled us into the storyline. I personally loved the vengeance and non-stop need to avenge his son… and the whole tag team eating/melting people thing… that was cool.
ANDREA: When your wife Bree sent us your pictures of The Shepherd and Legio as D&D characters we were blown away! Walk us through the process of you coming to decide, “Hey! I think I will make likenesses of The Shepherd and Legio for my adventuring!”
NICK: I loved how The Shepherd and Legio are walking a thin line between life and the afterlife. This plays heavily in the campaign I am creating and I needed a “guiding light” for my players to follow. Their likeness was perfect for one of the main events in my game: The Labyrinth.
ROBERTO: As you actually made the characters, how much was it a matter of repurposing previously existing figures? (We assume Legio was based on a dire wolf of something like that?) And how much was it about you making the figures? (We note how accurate that Staff of Truth is on the Shepherd figure.) Tell us about the creation process. We LOVE this nitty-gritty creative stuff!
NICK: As for Legio, I used a Pathfinder “Deep Cuts” Miniature I found of the Dire Wolf and painted him in his likeness. There wasn’t too much I changed, I cut some spines off the top of the wolf to make him look more like he does in the comics as well as I used special paints to create an outdoor/snow like flooring. As for The Shepherd, I actually used a website called HeroForge and custom made him. Once I received him, I cut his staff to further customize it which added the light of the Staff of Truth! It was a lot of fun.
ANDREA: In previous correspondence, you talked about actually using The Shepherd and Legio as NPCs in your gaming. Tell us how you envision the characters functioning in your game? How do you plan to use their distinct powers and abilities? Have you taken into consideration their abilities to shape-shift their appearances as is on display in Volumes 2-3: The Path of Souls/ The Path of Dogs? We want to hear your creative gamer ideas—as we love D&D too!
NICK: One of the new aspects of the campaign I am creating is introducing a mechanic called The Labyrinth. If a player dies, their soul is transferred to The Labyrinth where “Death” gives worthy souls the chance to find their way back to the world of the living. This being said, the player(s) (with the support of their team) must make it out without being caught. In the first instance that this occurs, the party will meet The Shepherd who will help them escape. As the storyline of the campaign progresses, the party learns more and more about the history between both The Shepherd and his faithful companion, as well as “Death”. We definitely will be using their abilities throughout the occurrences where the party and The Shepherd meet. Once we are done with the full background and details of their parts in the campaign I will gladly send it your way!
ROBERTO: What are the chances Team Shepherd can hire you to make us our very own set of The Shepherd and Legio as D&D figures? LOL
NICK: Definitely, I would be happy to make some for you! It means a lot that you would consider me to make them for you! I truly enjoyed making these figures, almost as much as we enjoyed reading your comics!
Okay, Nick, you are hired!
Needless to say, Roberto and I are very grateful for the support of all our fans. Please know that the little words of encouragement and acts of support DO matter to us and sustain us through period of doubt or even despair.