Penny Palabras and interview with James B. Willard

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Posted May 14, 2014 by Oscar Russell in Comic Books
We got the chance to talk to James B. Willard about his upcoming Kickstarter project Penny Palabras, fun was had talking about this supernatural book. You can check out the book here, and don’t forget to get backing if you like what you see.
We The Nerdy: So who or what is a Penny Palabras?
James B Willard: Penny Palabras is a teenager that can see ghosts and is in tune with the supernatural world around us. As a result of this, she’s educated herself about this other realm.
The ghosts don’t really bother her, but she finds it difficult to identify with her peers and family. When the Straw Man shows up and begins harassing her, she feels even more isolated, but she makes some allies in her search to find ways to banish him.
WTN: If you had to define Penny Palabras into a genre, where do you think it would slide in?

JBW: It would probably fit best under Supernatural / Horror. It’s a paranormal/ghost story on the surface, but it’s really about the way that Penny interprets and handles the world around her, her relationships, and her feelings.89479f74be3e019acb1541a5f7d22ea4_large

WTN: Who else will get to see in this book, some of the names sound rather intriguing, The Straw Man? The Pawn Brooker? What’s that all about?
JBW: There’s an eclectic group of characters surrounding Penny. Her friend, Stevan, knows she’s different, but he’s naïve to her true dilemma. The Librarian helps her, but seems to hide things from Penny, and Penny isn’t sure why. She meets the Pawn Broker – he’s a dealer in supernatural artefacts. He’s driven by profit, so Penny understands him, but she doesn’t like him – he patronizes her, brushing her off as some dumb kid. Penny also encounters a Tiger Devil and a Bear Devil in the story. They help her with her problems, too, but at great consequence.

WTN: It’s interesting to hear where character names come from, Penny Palabras is quite an odd one, explain if you will?

JBW: 🙂 You think it’s an odd name? Hmmm. Well, she’s an odd girl. So it fits.

WTN: The Season One of this cover 6 chapters, what plans if any do you have in expanding the PP universe after this?

JBW: I have some solid ideas and plans for the next story arc/season. The story will go on if there is a strong enough positive response to it! Developing a story and comic like this is expensive and time consuming, though, so if it doesn’t take off, I may have to find different ways to approach the advancement of Penny’s tale.

PennyWTN: Are there any key themes that run through out the collection?

JBW: Themes of family, friendship. Loneliness. What it means to be different than everyone else around you.

WTN: What inspired you to put this together?

JBW: I wanted to explore the idea of a character who would see a future presented to themselves and give them a chance to alter their course. Can Penny change her fate, even if she wants to? Or will she accept her life and learn to love herself and the ultimate outcome of the choices that she’s made?

WTN: Was the plan always black and white, or is this something that just happened?

JBW: When I talked to Patrick, the artist who’s really brought the series to life, we discussed the use of colour vs. greyscale in the story. Patrick’s a master at using light and dark, at casting shadows and creating mood. He advised that greyscale would be best for the overall feeling and ambience in the series, and he’s really knocked the artwork out of the park. It’s amazing. He’d send the completed pages to me every week and I’d always want more – his art was exactly what I was looking for and wanting.

WTN: How have you found the whole KS experience, and would you do it again?

JBW: The Kickstarter campaign has been exceptional. There’s been a lot of support both from friends and strangers for the series, so that’s been really encouraging.

WTN: What is your favourite part of the creative process?Album Cover

JBW: Having a world like the one that Penny lives in come to life – that’s really cool. Ideas of what would be spooky, what would be fun to see, and having these characters develop and gain depth as more than just words on a page. I love that.

WTN: Any last words..……..……

Something else that’s really cool happened as a result of the project – the story inspired a local musician, Faye/Samantha Saad, to create an EP of songs based on Penny’s tale. You can find that (for free download) here: https://fayetheband.bandcamp.com/album/straw-man-wakes-you-nightmares-take-you
I’m really pleased and flattered that she liked our story enough to put the time into her own project!


About the Author

Oscar Russell

Comics Editor for WTN, and co-host of the All New Comics Dash Podcast. I like comics and tabletop gaming!