"I've always been a fan of Greek mythology and character-driven stories," says Kingsport's Calvin (Cal) Sands about his writing.
"I started writing this in 2004, and have worked on it, off and on, since then. It will be released in October by my company, Faded Parchment Publishing."
Sands is not talking about his first novel, or even a volume of short stories. He is doing something many of us would love to do: he is writing comic books.
"My favorite comic book character growing up is definitely Spider-Man. Both he and his alter ego, Peter Parker, regularly faced overwhelming odds yet managed to persevere. He was written as an average guy which made him easily empathetic," says Sands.
"I have to admit that I did read all the comic books I could get my hands on when I was growing up," he confesses. "I absolutely support teachers using comic books in the classroom. Personally, they were a stepping stone that turned me into a voracious reader. I'm sure the same can be said of others. It's also very easy to find storylines that are inspired by classical literature. This can spur some students into reading the source material."
Reading comic books to writing comic books - it's not as easy as it sounds. From the classroom to the computer, Sands has read and studied the genre for literally decades. His dream to write comic books took foresight, a lot of planning and hard work.
"I founded Faded Parchment Publishing (fadedparchment.com) with my friend, Brett Hedstrom, and it was officially incorporated on Jan. 30, 2012. (Hedstrom and Sands will both be representing the company at CONjure in Orlando, Fla., the first weekend of August 2014.) The artist providing the pages is Luis Czerniawski, who resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I 'found' him through an internet site when I was looking for someone to provide the artwork."
Another major goal of Sands is to strike a deal with Diamond Comic Distributors, the largest distributor of comic books in North America. Ideally, "Elyse & Fields" will serve as the starting point for a number of titles that Faded Parchment can publish on a regular basis, including a monthly "Elyse & Fields" series.
"However, if I can find a small audience who says they had fun reading the mini-series, I'll be more than satisfied," he confesses, humbly. In the meantime, Sands is dreaming big and working hard.
"'Elyse & Fields' is 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' meets 'Hercules' when an unknown entity usurps the mythical powers of the Fates. Murders, which point to a modern-day Medusa, shock a normally unflappable New Orleans and it's up to an unlikely duo -- Beaufort Fields, who sacrificed everything for a life of service, and Elyse Alexander, who believes that everyone is at her service -- to work together, wielding the ancient powers of the gods to mete out justice and restore the fabric of destiny. Oh, and save countless lives. How hard could this be?"
"I printed a short run of 'convention exclusive' copies of the first issue that is only sold at conventions this year. The next convention I'll be attending in our region is Fanboy Expo in Knoxville, which will run from Nov. 7-9 at the Knoxville Convention Center," says Sands.
We'll be watching, with fingers crossed, as Elyse and Fields battle the bad guys in the Big Easy, save lives and generally make the world a better place.
Folks You Should Know is a monthly feature highlighting local folks with interesting stories to share. If you'd like to nominate someone to be featured, email Carmen Musick at firstname.lastname@example.org.