• R. Benjamin Wesley

I started my first graphic novel approximately four years ago as I prepared to retire from my cardiology practice. My initial vision was to write a novel based upon my experiences over my thirty year medical career. I started with a prose novel, which took place during my years as a medical resident. After writing a chapter, I decided to change my novel from fiction to science fiction/fantasy. I changed to a graphic novel format to fully utilize my creative storytelling skills and my drawing skills which I developed in childhood. I created some conceptual sketches on a laptop using Microsoft Paint, and proceeded to create one hundred comic pages on my iPad. At this point, I realized that my project needed upgraded hardware to succeed. I purchased a Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 tablet, and started over with my graphic novel using Clip Studio Paint EX. I utilized my weekend time to advance my project, as I completed my cardiology career.

After retirement, I added a desktop computer to my desk, which I linked to my Wacom tablet. After creating ten pages, I shared my work with friends to receive feedback. I finished thirty additional pages, and invited more creative friends over for dinner to gain additional feedback and suggestions. I rewrote my graphic novel a third time with new page layouts. After approximately one year in full time production, I completed a polished draft. With additional feedback from my teenage daughter, I replaced my text fonts to add a more professional look. My wife assisted me with editing. I sent my graphic novel to several publishers. I got feedback from these publishers, who stated they were not ready to commit fully to my project for at least twelve months. I talked to a physician friend who had recently self published a book, and another friend who had self published a comic book. I completed my graphic novel, and decided to self publish it through an online printer as a comic book edition. I subsequently self published a graphic novel edition through a local printer. I marketed my comic book edition through Amazon, Ingram, and Goodreads. I marketed my graphic novel edition through local bookstores including Quail Ridge Books. I marketed electronic books through Hummingbird Digital Media using the My Must Reads app, and Rakuten Kobo using an epub format.

I published "Portal of the Ancients: Book One of the Ancients Saga" on February 28, 2020. Since that time, I have seen some initial success in my three local bookstores, as well as modest success through Amazon and Hummingbird Digital Media. My wife and I formed Hearts Quest Studio, and created a website using Wix. I have reviews on my website as well as Amazon. To further promote my books, I created six animated videos which I uploaded to my website, as well as Pinterest and LinkedIn. I am currently working on my seventh video which includes events which take place in the first third of my graphic novel. My goal is to animate a six minute video with a soundtrack which includes the entire storyline of my first graphic novel. I plan to finish this by the late summer of 2020. At that point, I will start official production on my next graphic novel, "Quest of the Ancients: Book Two of the Ancients Saga."

My marketing strategy consists of two tiers. My first tier is a local strategy which utilizes three independent bookstores in my area, where I market my high end graphic novel edition, which I produce through a local printer according to my precise specifications on seventy pound gloss paper which showcases my original art, which I created at 600 dots per inch resolution. Quail Ridge Books has a convenient website which allows this version to ship across the United States. I promote this graphic novel edition through comic conventions, mailing lists, and contacts throughout my geographical region.

My second tier marketing strategy focuses on my comic book edition, utilizing my webpage which links to multiple sites including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Deviant Art, and Indie DB. Deviant Art is a website which hosts a large community of manga, anime, and graphic artists. Indie DB is a gaming website. On LinkedIn, I connect with a variety of gamers, animators, comic artists, visual effects artists, authors, readers, and film producers. I upload the animated videos which I create to LinkedIn, as well as to my website, Pinterest, and Deviant Art. These websites link back to my Hearts Quest Studio website, increasing my website traffic. My comic book edition features a matte finish which has a comic book look. It is more affordable, and is available through Amazon and Goodreads, as well as many other worldwide retailers. I market the comic book edition through the Ingram catalog, which distributes globally as well. I have reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and my website. My electronic book editions come in a high resolution format which is compatible with many readers, available through the Hummingbird My Must Reads app, and a medium resolution e pub format, available through Rakuten Kobo, which has a low memory requirement and is ideal for tablets and mobile phones.

My goal with my animated videos is to make readers more familiar with my characters and worlds in my stories. I have a series of short videos, but my recent videos are longer with an in depth storyline, as requested by multiple enthusiasts and creators on social media. I have noticed a significant increase in traffic due to these videos, especially on Pinterest.

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  • R. Benjamin Wesley

Although the first cathode ray tube entertainment device was patented in 1947, the first commercially available video games appeared in 1971. The first video game system widely available for home use was the Magnavox Odyssey, released in 1972. In the same year, Pong was released, which created record sales for the new video game industry. During this era, computer games were only available on mainframe computers such as Plato on university campuses. In 1975, several computer role playing games were developed on mainframes including Moria and Dungeon. Moria was a single player game in which a character with multiple statistics, such as cunning, piety, wizardry, and vitality, explored multiple mazes, fought enemies, and collected treasure, with the goal of reaching the highest score possible. Graphics were simple first-person three dimensional drawings of the game world. Moria inspired a more popular and commercially successful computer game in 1981, Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, released on Apple and IBM home computers. Rogue was released in 1980 with similar game mechanics, but top-down graphics displaying an overhead view of the game world utilizing ASCII characters. Rogue inspired the more popular and commercially successful Ultima, which replaced ASCII characters with graphic tiles placed side by side to represent an entire fantasy world comprised of continents, cities, villages, oceans, rivers, and dungeons.

Throughout the 1980s, Wizardry and Ultima sequels dominated the computer role playing game genre with hack and slash action, with almost no emphasis on narrative storytelling or ethical decision making. One exception was Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, a computer role playing game which started with a series of moral questions, which determined the baseline statistics of the character. Game decisions actually determined progression or regression of these statistics. The quest of the character to become an avatar actually represented a spiritual journey mimicking real life in a very basic way. Multitudes of computer games were produced using the hack and slash model through the late 1980s until the late 1990s. In 1995, two Canadian physicians formed a software company, Bioware, which published Baldur's Gate in 1998 through Interplay. Baldur's Gate revolutionized the genre by introducing a narrative story with ethical decision making with real consequences to gameplay, expanding the spiritual journey aspect of Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, and improving the top-down graphics with isometric third-person perspective in pre-rendered environments. Baldur's Gate spawned multiple expansions and sequels, and inspired development of the Dragon Age series, also published by Bioware through Electronics Arts. Dragon Age expanded on the ethical decision making and narrative storytelling elements of Baldur's Gate, and linked the main character's journey with the overall outcome of the game world. While computer role playing games depend upon the epinephrine-stimulating thrills of high resolution graphics, and the dopamine-stimulating rewards of quest accomplishment, the potential for a temporary suspension of disbelief from a masterfully crafted story may momentarily touch the spirit, yet leave its ultimate journey unaffected.

  • R. Benjamin Wesley

In the motion picture The Prophecy, Christopher Walken plays the archangel Gabriel, who brings a war of angels in Heaven down to Earth. This war started between the angels loyal to God, and the angels allied with Gabriel, who is jealous of God's love for humans. In the Ancients Saga, the Divine creates the universe, and gives His angels authority over the humans who live on the planet Promos. Falonayus, His first angel, becomes jealous of humans on Promos, and tempts them to turn away from the Divine, and His messenger angel, Gabriolus. The Divine commands Gabriolus to build a portal from the collapsing star, Vellorum, near Promos. As Vellorum deteriorates into a quantum singularity, space and time tear, creating a wormhole. Gabriolus suspends this wormhole in time, and elongates it, so that it travels from Promos to a planet, Urth, at the other end of the galaxy.

From His celestial realm, the Oververse, the Divine strikes down Falonayus, and exiles him to another dimension, the Underverse. Falonayus waits in his new realm, plotting revenge against the Divine and Gabriolus. The human sect loyal to the Divine and Gabriolus are known as the Promosatti, or people of the promise. The Promosatti remain on Promos to populate, prosper, and worship the Divine through the teachings of Gabriolus. As Vellorum collapses into a black hole, the intense gravitational forces, along with the time and space distortion, confer telepathic and telekinetic powers to the Promosatti. The Divine directs Gabriolus to exile the disloyal humans, the Dromosatti, or people of the dark promise, to planet Urth. Gabriolus gathers the majority of the Dromosatti, and takes them through the portal to planet Urth, to start new lives away from the corruption of Falonayus. A few Dromosatti remain on Promos long enough to develop the telepathy and telekinesis of their Promosatti kin. They burrow beneath the surface of Promos to build underground cities, far removed from the light of the Divine and Gabriolus. The Dromosatti on Promos secretly repopulate themselves underground, and use their telepathic skills to obscure themselves from the Promosatti and Gabriolus. These events create the setting for Portal of the Ancients: Book One of the Ancients Saga.

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