Comic books find popularity in two ways: by allowing the reader to escape reality or by giving the reader something with which to empathize. Baton Rouge natives Brad and Leslie Brown have used both methods to grow their fan base and fund a print collection of their webcomic “Blaster Nation.”
The 250-page book, funded by a Kickstarter project, will cover chapters one through eight of “Blaster Nation.” Pending the Kickstarter’s success, the Browns plan on distributing a minimum of 500 copies of the book. They hope to sell the book online and at comic conventions they attend.
“Blaster Nation” is set in a fictional Louisiana city called Sucre Marron, influenced by both Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The fictitious town also contains a KLSU-inspired radio station that employs one of the characters.
The Browns said they listen to KLSU all the time and found a way to pay tribute in “Blaster Nation.” One of the more obnoxious characters, Dan, consistently bothers one of the DJs to play hardcore video game music no one but him knows. Brad said he does the same thing in real life.
“If DJ Gameboy or Miniboss is reading this, thanks for always working with my dumb requests,” Brad said.
When the Kickstarter hit its initial goal, the Browns had just finished a lot of comic work, and Leslie had passed out on the couch. Brad checked the progress of the Kickstarter campaign and woke his wife to tell her the good news. Her groggy response was a small “woohoo,” but shortly after, the reality of their success set in.
“We still can’t believe we were able to hit our goal in just a short four days, and we’re eternally grateful to have such awesome fans,” Brad said.
“Blaster Nation” began as a hobby for the couple. After losing their jobs, they looked for something to keep them occupied while searching for new employment.
Brad does most of the writing for “Blaster Nation” while Leslie controls the art aspect. The two communicate ideas with each other to make sure their webcomics are an effective combination of both efforts.
“Creating a webcomic was always something we wanted to do together,” Brad said. “I guess being unemployed finally gave us the time and motivation to make it.”
The Browns felt there were plenty of webcomics that depicted the everyday life of nerd culture, but those comics failed to connect with their audiences. They decided to tell an ongoing story and give people what they considered an accurate depiction of nerds. Their characters were written to represent actual people — they are weird and funny and deal with their own sets of problems.
“People continually send us messages to talk about how much they relate to this character or that character,” Brad said.
The Browns will host a discussion panel at Louisianime, an anime and gaming convention, on June 13 through 15. After Louisianime, the comic couple plans to move to Kentucky with some fellow webcomic creators.
“It’ll be our last time hanging out with our Louisiana fans, so I hope they’ll come see us,” Brad said.