I had a dream once.
I was driving home late at night on a narrow dirt road that meandered through a dense forest. A flash of movement caught my eye, just beyond the revealing glare of my headlights. I passed it by quickly and a glance in the rearview mirror showed no sign of anything unusual, so I dismissed it as a branch swaying in the wind.
Then something soared across the road directly above me. At first I thought it was a cluster of broken limbs caught in the wind. But as my mind lingered on the fleeting image, I wondered…could it have been a figure with long arms and legs? I thought I had seen wings, but it was far too big to have been any kind of bird.
Shadows, I told myself. It must have been a large, leafy limb with exaggerated shadows from the harsh headlights. Just to be safe, I accelerated and hit the button to lock the doors. If it was something moving in the woods I wanted to distance myself from it. But then it appeared in front of me again and I realized it wasn’t something in the woods. It was the woods themselves.
A tall figure with great black wings took shape from the trees and landed on the hood of the car, collapsing the sheet metal right into the engine. The green dashboard light cast an eerie glow on the creature which squatted on the car like a praying mantis. Its lurking form was predominantly botanical, a gangly mass of gnarled wood wrapped in leaves, thorn-bearing vines, and burrs. Its twisted, skinny arms and legs looked like weathered branches, disproportionately long for its torso, and its wooden hands were strangely humanoid. The long legs ended with huge bird talons that punctured and gripped the metal like it was paper. Tufts of long black feathers encircled its wrists and ankles, clumped along its shoulders and upper back, and crowned it with an unkempt headdress. Some of the feathers in the wild mass atop its head hung down like messy bangs, partially concealing features that looked like they had been carved into its wooden face. I was hypnotized by the bright energy of some ancient magic that glowed within its eye sockets as it started at me.
Thistleheart is a dark fantasy comic book series that follows a magical monster on an inexplicable destiny to reclaim his lost humanity.
Coming soon to Kickstarter.
SO MANY LIVES HANG IN THE BALANCE...
Trevor Bennett is drowning in despair. Childhood tragedy has fueled a life of addiction, which has ultimately cost him his family, his livelihood, and his will to live.
Bishop Kelleher has a devious plan to cheat his own death. But the stakes are high when you gamble against evil incarnate.
Rā-va, Empress of the Sable Throne, is desperate to end the ageless war against The Bramble. So she creates an unstoppable warrior using the magic of her world and the blood of a dying outsider.
Sonte Anguish, Tyrant Priest of the Undead, has spent eternity in the depths of the Netherworld. Now he will stop at nothing to escape into the world of the living and the light.
When these lives cross paths in a tumultuous chain of events, the resulting dire consequences will threaten the existence of two worlds.
And then my car swerved off the road and crashed into the trees.
The image of this creature was burned into my memory after I awoke from the dream. I felt compelled to tell his story, and I had to find an artist that could illustrate it for comic book form. So I began the search for a creative partner. Unfortunately many artists thought the look was too difficult to illustrate, and a few excused themselves because they felt the character was evil. One even told me it sounded like a dark angel, uncomfortably similar to the devil. But I knew that wasn’t true. I knew in my heart that this character was a misunderstood soul trapped within a monster’s body and that he would ultimately prove to be heroic. I reviewed dozens of visual interpretations done by talented artists until I was finally satisfied. Unfortunately when it came time for the artwork to be started, the artist moved on to a more lucrative venture with a major publisher. The search began again, yet the outcome was the same. Another talented artist had found an opportunity that was too good to ignore.
Years passed and I focused my writing on other projects. But this character would not leave my memory. His convoluted story continued to grow in my mind. His origins came to light. His personality sprang to life. He took on a name. "Thistleheart." I knew his story would eventually be told, I just needed to remain patient.
And then it happened. I found the artist.
Harvey Bunda is a young man whose creative talents seem to shine in any outlet, using any medium. Like an assassin who has mastered all weapons, he is comfortable with everything from the stylus of an interactive tablet to the bow of a cello. He embraces his influences but strives for originality, and his abilities inspire my own. Beyond being an exceptional artist, he’s an amazing conceptualizer, and that’s what makes him perfect for this project. He was able to understand my imaginative vision, walk with me in the fantastical dream, and even spawn additional characters to add to the mythos.
Only an artist with such a rare artistic vision and unpredictable style could capture the mood of this story and create a truly unique hero from an outlandish world. Harvey Bunda is able to make us believe in the unbelievable.
Harvey Bunda brings Thistleheart to life. I invite you to join us.
— John Schlim Jr, 2017