A Magic Warrior In A Savage World: Chatting With ‘Savage Wizard’ Writer Lesly Julien

by Tony Thornley

One of the cores of the Indie Comics scene is the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. New comics appear daily, and sometimes that means there’s a lot to go through. Other times pitches jump right out, like Savage Wizard, an epic fantasy tale that hit Kickstarter last week!

Created by writers Lesly Julien, Doug Wood, artist Brian Flint and letterer Toben Racicot with a cover by Alaire Racicot and Dearbhla Kelly, Savage Wizard is a tale of a barbarian warrior who discovers he needs to make some big changes to save the world. We were able to sit down with Julien to chat about the book, its characters, and how it all came together…

Tony Thornley: Hey Lesly! Thanks for sitting down to chat! Can you tell us a little about how Savage Wizard came into existence?

Lesly Julien: Thanks for chatting with me Tony! Around 2019 I was participating in pitchvember, coming up with a short pitch everyday. One of the many I came up with at that time simply said “What if a disgraced Conan-like barbarian trained under a wizard to save the world?” 

Tony: That is a fun concept that I’m surprised really hasn’t been done before quite like this. How did the creative team come together?

Lesly: Doug approached me about collaborating after seeing some of my short comics in a creators discord. We went back and forth on ideas but the barbarian idea very quickly became what we wanted to work on. After we finalized the script, I thought of reaching out to Brian. Years ago, Brian and I were in a weekly collaboration group that paired artists and writers randomly. We never got the chance to work together but I always wished we had. When I knew the art direction we were going for I hit up Brian and luckily he was into the script. Toben, after seeing Brian’s art was immediately onboard to join as our letterer. 

Tony: There’s a lot of moving pieces in this story you’re setting out to tell with the team. Tell us a little bit more about the characters and setting.

Lesly: R’Nar, our protagonist, has a head full of bricks but he usually means well. He is the de-facto leader of the Stoneheart tribe due to his physical prowess. Skom, his former brother in arms has been resentful that his brains have long been underappreciated next to R’Nar’s brawn. Oqora, R’Nar’s eventual magic mentor, is not a big people person after years of living in isolation but barbarians are especially low on her list. Karkea is a brutal and unforgiving land that tends to bring out the worst in its inhabitants. Only the strong survive.

Tony: Brian Flint, your artist, has this great exaggerated style that fits the sort of story you’re telling perfectly. What else does he bring to the table? 

Lesly: In addition to the great renderings of hulking barbarians, I think what’s underrated about Brian’s art is the incredible background details he puts into pages. The screentones he uses have a great manga influence that makes his art stand out and it seems like people are noticing.

Tony: Yeah, I have to imagine that makes it pop quite a bit. The world of Savage Wizard is obviously a big expansive one, just from the previews we’ve seen. How did you collaborate with the team to create this world?

Lesly: Doug and I wanted to create something that wasn’t just Conan-inspired. The world is very influenced by the characters. We pulled from the physicality and over-the-top nature of wrestling and were influenced by ancient warrior cultures around the globe. Brian definitely took things to 11 with his art and filling in the guides we gave him.

Tony: One of the best things about these original stories is how they bring to life something exciting and new. Is there a moment that you’re really looking forward to seeing on the page? 

Lesly: I’m really excited to see our character Oqora join the fray, her introduction is one of my favorite scenes in the story.

Tony: Just from the hint you gave about her a minute ago, I have to imagine she would be. What are your influences as a writer? 

Lesly: Brian K Vaughn has a pretty huge influence on me as a writer, The Runaways and Y: The Last Man are books that pushed me to want to write comics. A lot of my other influences stem from just the unique circumstances of life and all the shows and movies I shouldn’t have been watching as a kid. I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember.

Tony: Is the story you’re telling here complete or are there more tales with these characters and their world you’d like to tell? 

Lesly: This is the beginning of a four issue miniseries. We definitely hope to continue in this world past the miniseries.

Tony: Oh that’s fantastic, I can’t wait to see more of it! What other projects are you currently working on — either right now or to come together in the near future?

Lesly: I’ve written a short for the upcoming Project Big Hype Vol 2 anthology with Zak Kinsella doing art.

I have another miniseries, a comedic crime story, HeadCases with the creative team AJ O Mason, Paulo Sampaio, Warnia Sahadewa and Micah Myers that is likely bound for Kickstarter next year.

Tony: We can’t wait to see it!

Savage Wizard’s campaign is live on Kickstarter right now through October 15th. Be sure to pledge and check out all the action!

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