B.Earl - Author of RIGLAN
Author and Marvel comic writer!
B.Earl is an American comic book writer and filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles. Earl has been working with Marvel Entertainment since 2017, writing MASTERS OF THE SUN, WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, GHOST RIDER: KUSHALA, and most recently DEADLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDERMAN. He and his creative partner, Taboo, also contributed to the special series MARVEL #1000 and INDIGENOUS VOICES. Earl is currently writing a graphic novel for the video game PLANETQUEST as well as developing a soon-to-be announced Marvel Comics series.
When not writing comic books, B.Earl and Taboo run their creative studio SkyView Way which has a multi-project deal with Gaumont Entertainment. They are currently developing several scripted and animated series. B.Earl is also a well-respected expert in the web3/metaverse space, speaking on digital collectibles and storytelling. He oversees the web3 strategy for the high-end collectible company Sideshow, where he focuses on bridging the gap between digital and physical.
1. I have to start with a fanboy question - what's it like working for Marvel?
Working for Marvel has been a dream come true. It actually all started out through documentaries in the early 2000s, but ever since I was 11, my dream was to make comics for Marvel. Through a very long and windy road, I ended up getting the very first comic I ever wrote with the Black Eyed Peas, MASTERS OF THE SUN, published with Marvel Comics. I worked with original characters created by will.i.am for that project. But then getting the keys to the Marvel Lamborghini so-to-speak and being able to work on Spider-Man has been incredible. It's just been a dream come true to work in the world of Marvel and work on new characters and embellish older characters. I was also able to bring characters like Spider-Man to Los Angeles and Pasadena and I’m always dropping Easter eggs in all the stories.
2. You obviously have no shortage of things going on. What made you want to add to your already-packed schedule and venture into the world of Web3/NFTs?
I got into NFTs before it was even NFTs. I started in crypto back in 2017 with a company called Millennium. We took a project called UNDISPUTED and were looking to finance it through an ICO. It ended up not working out due to timing - I'm sure some of you recall the bear market back then. But the NFT protocol had just come out. CryptoPunks had just come out (I didn't buy any, unfortunately). I wasn't really interested in any of it as an investment. I was looking at the technology to amplify the opportunities for creativity. I was also talking about blockchain to one of the major studios back in 2019 as part of the development strategy. I told them I really wanted to take our characters and make them into digital collectibles. Then I got an opportunity to be part of a project called the Chiwawows in 2021 on Solana. More recently I've been working with Sideshow Collectibles on their digital strategy. So as you can see, it's been a long journey for me in the Web3 space.
3. What is RIGLAN about and where did the idea come from?
I conceived RIGLAN as a cartoon back in 2015. I pitched it around town to Cartoon Network, Disney, Dreamworks, and all the big players. We got really great feedback on it, but unfortunately, it wasn't a good fit for any of them at the time. So I decided to go and write it as a book. I wasn't writing for Marvel at the time so it was basically just something for me to do.
RIGLAN is the story of a young boy who discovers that his family protects this multi-dimension called the StoryVerse, where all of the stories that have ever been created exist. Everything from Robin Hood to the Wizard of Oz and beyond. Riglan and his family have to protect the StoryVerse from Bad Ideas that are infecting all of these stories and ruining the beloved storylines from these tales. When they do that, it actually affects the real world because these myths have become guiding lights for us as humans and influence our dreams and aspirations. So when these Bad Ideas seep through, it messes with the real world as well. It shows just how powerful ideas and our interpretation of stories can be.
It came about from an idea that I had when my Dad was working at a company called Terminex, a termite company, after working in white-collar jobs for a long time. So I thought, what if I assumed my dad was digging around killing termites, but actually, turned out that he was a superhero? I spun around with that idea for a while. Then a buddy of mine from Cartoon Network said he wanted to work together on something. So I pitched him that idea and they already had some similar bug-related concepts, but he liked the father-son aspect of it. From there it continued to evolve and eventually became what it is today.
4. How did you connect with Soltype and why did you feel it was a great fit to launch RIGLAN on?
I met Paco through LinkedIn and someone from the Soltype team reached out to me. We started talking, met a few times over Zoom, and I told them that I had written a book. I told them it was my first draft I was happy, and it's something that I want to put out to an audience to form a community around. I want people to be able to contribute to the creative process. Paco and the team were very interested in my ideas and how I want to experiment with some new ways of developing a draft with a community, and the partnership just made complete sense.
5. Did you find it challenging to write a full-length book after working on comics for so long?
They're definitely different. I've been working in film forever and have written screenplays and made movies as well, so I've jumped from story medium to story medium. When you write a comic book, you really have to be specific with what you write because you have a finite page count. At Marvel, we usually have about 110 pages in our comics. With a book, you can write as much as you want. You can get inside the character's head and write as long as you want. Writing comics is a bit like poetry with a visual component whereas a book involves a lot of brick-and-mortar to give your audience an understanding of the world they're going into. How it looks, how it feels. How the characters walk and move. In comics, you can rely more on visuals.
6. What's your vision for books in Web3? Do you think that one day we'll see an entertainment entity, such as Marvel, that exists predominantly on the blockchain?
My vision for books in Web3 is that it's a new way to build communities through stories and fandom. I get to write in my fandom as a Marvel nerd, which is super cool. So wouldn't it be cool if we can create worlds that we can turn over to our audience for them to be able to create incredible fan fiction about that world? Of course, that fan fiction would be connected to the blockchain where the percentages are clean and clear so that when they write and create in this world, everyone can earn their fair share.
I think that's one of the biggest challenges when you start connecting the creative process to money - you really have to look at who is getting what. So that's where I think the blockchain as an accounting system can really work and has a lot of potential as a technology to empower the next generation of creatives through building the IP together. It’s a lot like the Open Gaming License in RPGs and how D&D was able to scale its community by giving them the power to create within the d20 game mechanics.
7. Is there anything else that you're currently working on that you would like to share?
Honestly, I'm working on so many projects right now that are in so many different stages of development. I have several projects in development for television as well as a hip-hop documentary I’m directing which we are in post on. I’m also working with a team on a really cool transmedia project with both physical and digital products and stories. I’m currently writing and producing a sci-fi graphic novel for a pretty big NFT video game in development which I can’t announce just yet.
Deadly Neighborhood Spider-Man is out and will be collected in a trade at the end of May. And I’m also starting another Marvel comic book project featuring a major Marvel character and released sometime next year. It hasn't been announced yet but will be a five-issue miniseries. That's all I can say about it for now so stay tuned! I’m sure there are other things I’m forgetting that are in various stages of creation and development but I think that’s enough to share. And of course…this RIGLAN story is just the beginning of a much larger series I want to write and explore!
Make sure to follow B.Earl to keep up with RIGLAN and all the other amazing projects he's working on!
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