If Christian Lee Hall is going to be the next Stan Lee, he knows it will be a long journey—it already has been. But he has more than just a name in common with the Marvel founder. Like Lee, Hall has created a distinct comic book universe, replete with multiple superheroes and villains and has published one three-volume series already: Vasion: All Out War, under his 2nd Coming Comix banner.
Unlike Lee, however, Hall’s central team of superheroes is dominated by people of color, primarily African Americans.
“Sure, I’m looking to have more titles and get as big as Marvel, but I definitely want to work on more characters of color,” he said. “I don’t think there are enough out there right now.”
Hall’s first series follows the exploits of the 11-member Vasion team, which traces its origins back to biblical times, as they battle the villain Devour.
“It’s a full origin series, multi-ethnic but more Black-focused,” he said. “I actually started working on it in 1993. Published the first book in 2008 and the second and third in 2010. The second series, Vasion Exposed, is complete, with the first issue at the printer now. The third series, Vasion: The Rise, is in development and all three of those will come out in 2019.”
Though he writes all the stories, Hall is not an illustrator. So for his first series, he employed local artist, Nate Johnson. But he has now engaged an international team to do the art for both the Exposed and Rise series.
“I wanted a more detailed look, like Marvel or the Image Comix from the 1990s,” he said. “I found this guy Verry Woong. He’s in Indonesia,” he said. “Then another guy, Yuan Cackra, contacted me because I was looking for a new colorist. By coincidence, he’s in Indonesia too. My printer is in Canada.”
So now, Hall’s business consists of him working up 24 pages of rudimentary blocks, three to four per page, and synopsis of the story, which is sent as a pdf to Indonesia—twelve time zones ahead of the U.S. Then there are weeks of back-and-fourth among Hall, Woong and Cackra as the work is refined.
“Sometimes Verry will send me something and I’m like, ‘wow’—that’s way better what I had in mind. Let’s go with that,” Hall said. “And if they message me at 4 a.m., I always get up because I’m excited to see what they’ve done. I always go back to sleep with a smile.”
There are, however, no smiles in 2nd Coming’s profitability, not yet anyway. Hall printed 3,000 copies of the very first Vasion book, and half-jokingly admits he still has some of those. He printed only 200 of all the subsequent editions, and all sold out.
As it stands now, Hall is covering printing costs and little else, which is why he is working two full-time jobs to support himself and his six children. Conversely, all that work affords him little time to promote his company and his comix. So far, they have been available at primarily the Phantom of the Attic stores in Oakland and Green Tree. They are also available online via the company’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.
“It’s about increasing exposure, and it’s hard to do the necessary promotion working two jobs,” he said. “I’m currently negotiating with Grace Dinaranan, an animator in the Philippines, to put together a five-minute preview to put online.”
As hard as the business is, Hall said he is determined to succeed.
“It’s hard work and there are disappointments. It’s a grind. But if you have a dream, you should go for it,” he said. “And it’s such a great universe. There’s a character that looks like me, Shadow-Gazzer, who can use his shadow to walk through walls, and move instantly to another shadow. My brother has a character—Mean Streak, who feeds on pain, so the more you hurt him the stronger he gets. There are telepaths, people with fire powers, and of course they all have vulnerabilties—but you’ll have to read the books to know what they are.”
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