With great excitement and anticipation for the October 31st, 2012 release of Dread & Alive #0, Island Stage caught up with the creator Nicholas Da Silva to talk about the books, the music & the journey. First, let us tell you a little about……
I was seven years old when I first journeyed into the rain forest of Jamaica, unaware of what lurked inside this unforgiving paradise known as the Cockpit Country. A strange and virtually uninhabited place, this was the home of the Jamaican Maroons, a tribe of free-spirited people, feared yet respected for their rebellious independence. Under the leadership of Cudjoe, their wise and benevolent chief, they lived in isolation and resisted all those who tried to tame them and bring them into submission.
My father, Philip McIntosh, was a direct descendant of this misunderstood tribe. An anthropologist by trade, he was a determined man with many righteous causes including the preservation of cultural identity. So when he was summoned by Cudjoe to come to the mountain village of Accompong, he readily accepted the invitation.
My mother, Maria McIntosh, saw it as an opportunity to come closer to her roots. For me, it would be another move, just as when I left my birthplace of Kingston to live in Montego Bay, or MoBay as the Islanders called it. For the next eight years, the Cockpit Country would become my home away from home.
From a distance, I watched my parents as they work fervently with the Jamaican Maroons to help preserve their culture and to replete their resources. And as time progressed, I too became a part of this unique society. Under the watchful eye of Cudjoe, I learned the ways of the Jamaican Maroons. I became familiar with the trackless rain forest. I learned how to live off the land, how to hunt and fish and, most importantly, how to defend myself from any outside threats. I guess you could say the only thing that separated me from the other youths was my physical appearance and my thick, natty dreadlocks.
But when I was chosen by Cudjoe to be the protector of a rare amulet said to give its possessor invincible powers, as fulfillment of a prophecy, I never expected that this talisman would bring so much trauma to my life. From the tragic death of my father and my near fatal confrontation with Shadowcatcher, the village Obeah Man, to the constant struggle to control the untamed savagery that lurks inside me, I’ve come to an understanding that the amulet has changed my life forever. My destiny has been foretold.
Now as an adult and without the presence of my father, I treasure my friendship with Cudjoe, as would a student to his teacher. And as I don the amulet bearing the seal of the Conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah, I keep in mind my vow to my father: To continue his work in protecting our planet and the rights of its inhabitants. To Cudjoe: to use my knowledge and training for the good of mankind and to protect the amulet from ShadowCatcher. And to myself: to use my strength and abilities to make the world a better place for all; a world of future, a world of love, a world of paradise!
My name is Drew McIntosh and I am the Roaring Lion, protector of the animal world to which all humans belong.
Why Dread & Alive?
Because of my love for reading fiction and fantasy stories as a youth. The fact that there weren’t many books or comic books featuring heroes that looked like me made me dream about writing and drawing my own series.
You are known for meshing cultural fact with fiction in your storytelling. How did this first come about?
When I first came up with the concept for Dread & Alive, I knew I wanted the hero to have origins from Jamaica, so I began doing research on the history of Jamaica. At first, most of the books that I could find on Jamaica were about the culture, music and lifestyles of the people today. I wanted to go back in time so I dug deeper and
sure enough, I began to find books that talked about a group of freedom fighters known as the Jamaican Maroons. I was hooked! The more I research the Maroons, the more I wanted to make their legacy known. I decided to pick an important event in Maroon history mix a bit of their cultural fact with my fiction story to create the story of Dread & Alive.
Can you tell us more about Dread & Alive: A Hero’s Journey?
This is the title for the three books that make of the Dread & Alive saga. Book One and Three have been written and Book Two is in the works, scheduled for a release date of April 20, 2013 (4/20). Dread & Alive: A Hero’s Journey follows the life of Drew McIntosh from youth (Book One) to teen (Book Two) to adulthood (Book Three). With each book, we watch Drew fulfill his destiny as protector of the sacred amulet of the Jamaican Maroons as he fights to protect the rights of all living things – humans, animals, and mother earth.
What are your future plans for Dread & Alive? In comics? Beyond Comics?
I am currently working on producing the three books into graphic novels. I’m also looking into working with the right studio to bring the series to either animated film or feature film or both. The story of Dread & Alive was meant to be enjoyed on the screen and it will happen… SO JAH SEH!
Are you working on any other new projects?
This summer I began working on an untitled music project for Dread & Alive. Having worked in the past with other partners producing collectives for Dread & Alive, I decided to go back to my roots and work on a concept album of my own. I call it a Roots Reggae Rock Opera. Think of it as a background soundtrack to the story of Dread & Alive. I’m
really excited about this project and plan to invite artists from around the world to collaborate on this series.
How can people learn more about you and your work?
They can visit the official website for Dread & Alive at www.dreadandalive.com
They can also follow the Dread & Alive series through Facebook and Twitter:
Do you have any advice for new and upcoming artists or writers wanting
to share their stories?
Go for it! I often hear people say that it’s important to Dream BIG or to Keep your Dreams Alive. I totally agree with them but I also think you should LIVE your dreams to make them happen. Everyday you should dedicate an hour or two (or more) to work on your dreams. Make it happen! No one else is going to do it for you.
Collaboration is also important. Sometimes an artist may have the voice to sing their song but not the music to make the song. Or a writer may have the script to tell a compelling story but not the art skills to create it visually. Network with other artists and collaborate. And be sure to make it a we collaboration and not a me collaboration – what I mean is offer your skills as well. 😉