WonderCon has come and gone, but I connected with a handful of promising artists and creators, and I’m excited to feature them in a series of WonderCon Spotlight interviews!
Today I’m happy to spotlight The Creative Extreme, a collection of artists and creators who took on an ambitious goal of creating a new superhero concept every day for a full year. The result was the creation of a vast universe with heroes and villains that cover an expansive world. President Christopher Ikpoh and CEO Steffon were kind enough to answer a few questions for us – take a look at what they had to say about their inspirations and motivations for their continued work on The Creative Extreme!
First, tell us a little bit about your respective backgrounds. What got you interested in creating comic book characters, and what did you do before starting the Creative Extreme?
Steffon – CEO
I began writing when I was about 12 years old and eventually graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in English Literature and a concentration in Creative Writing. After finishing Oberlin in 2003, I landed a job as an associate copywriter and editor at the American Greetings Card Company in Cleveland, Ohio, where I primarily worked on juvenile properties. While in college I had developed a love for screenwriting and began aspiring in that direction. I started working on a number of ideas for screenplays, which generally centered on people with extraordinary abilities. I left American Greetings in 2007 and continued to work as a freelance writer while pushing forward with my screenplays and serving as the Early Childhood Director at my church and the pre-school that was attached to it. I was afforded several opportunities to ply my creative skills, as I directed kids musicals, wrote and performed puppet plays, and created curriculum for the children. In 2013 I left that job and dedicated my full efforts to getting my stories out to the public. That is when I connected with Chris – my former college basketball teammate – and we began to combine our creative efforts into what would eventually become The Creative Extreme.
Christopher E. Ikpoh – President
As a kid, I loved the comic book world. From the comic books themselves to the cartoons, movies, TV shows, action figures, costumes, I indulged in them all. The “X-Men” were my first comic book obsession, though, and to this day I still get pumped up when I hear the theme song from the 1990s cartoon show! These things eventually led me to working with my little brother and childhood best friend on our own comic book. It wasn’t quite as good as what we are doing now, though, with The Creative Extreme, haha!
All throughout high school and college, I continued to feed my love for all things comic book related. Then, I met Steffon at Oberlin College where we played basketball together. Next, I graduated in 2005 with a degree in Pre-Law and Religion. However, life saw me deciding to forgo law school and eventually I settled into Sales. Today, I am a Vice President for Bank of America in the merchant services division. All those years, though, my fire and passion for writing grew exponentially. I completed hundreds of short stories, narratives, poems, and recorded a journal of all my theological and philosophical musings. This led me to completing my first novel, which is book one in a series. Consequently, I started my own website under the name “The Christopher Isaac Society” to share all of my work with people. It was this that caught Steffon’s attention so many years later, and after he reached out to me and eventually blew my mind with all of the things he had been writing, we joined forces to establish The Creative Extreme!
The following answers were collaboratively written by Christopher and Steffon
What is “Project 365”, and how did you get the idea for it?
Project 365 is our flagship project where we created an original fictional character every single day of 2016. Each character was released via their own profile, and each profile comes complete with original artwork, bio stats, power rankings, origin story and how they fit into the larger overarching story and universe. The idea came from a desire to present to the world a number of characters from stories we’d both been working on individually in the past. We wanted to figure out an impactful and unique way to introduce the characters and so we came up with the idea of combining all of these characters into one universe. When we initially combined our previously created stories we had somewhere around 70 characters, so we needed to create more. In order to do so we dove deeper in to the stories we already had and we worked like crazy to create new stories and new sagas full of new original characters.
Creating a character every single day must have been a very strenuous creative burden – how did you come up with a formula or process that helped you flesh out this universe without recycling the same character models over and over?
In short, our formula was to just imagine all the possibilities and then dive into the details of said possibilities. In other words, we sought to develop a vastly diverse universe and we were able to draw infinite inspiration from the world we live in – i.e. a variety of cultures, ethnicities, cities, mythologies, history, religion, science, space, fiction, non-fiction and so much more – then base characters and stories on those diverse aspects. We found that as we researched all of these sources of inspiration there were a multitude of stories waiting to be told.
What do you think makes the Creative Extreme characters unique?
What makes our characters unique are their completely original stories which hinge on the socio-economic, political and racial issues that our society has wrestled with forever. You’ll find that the vast majority of our characters are heavily influenced and defined by both their own perception of their place in the world and universe as well as what others believe their place to be. Additionally we’ve taken a unique approach by drawing inspiration from rare mythologies, philosophies and theologies that have been widely ignored by the masses. Furthermore, we’ve strived to take traditional and well-known super powers and create unique and interesting ways for our characters to embody and display those abilities. We’ve also worked to imagine what we believe to be a few never-before-seen super abilities.
Each of your characters has an artistic rendering; how did you create the network of artists that helps bring them to life?
We’ve had the fortune of working with over 15 talented artists based all around the world to help bring our characters to life, and we’ve gotten connected with them through a variety of ways. We built our team through personal connections, networking via social media and comic conventions, and recruiting artists whose work we’ve come across on the Internet. Also, we’ve had quite a few artists reach out to us when they’ve heard about or seen what we’re working on. We strive to be as artist-friendly as possible by fostering a collaborative environment centering on good business practices, favorable processes for the talent, and open communication.
So you’ve created over 365 characters, as well as a vibrant universe for them all to live in. What’s next for this roster of heroes and villains?
Yes, we’ve created more than 500 original characters to date! Moving forward we have a number of ideas and prospects we’re currently perusing and looking to peruse in the future. In the immediate future we are diving deeper into the individual stories of some of our marquee characters from Project365 such as Lt. Rashard Bonds, Captain Noble, The Alpha Initiative, The Sista Clique and The Iga Cla in the form of books, as well as digital and print comics. We are also developing a number of video and animation projects. And we are ultimately looking to produce content suitable for original television series and full feature length films.
Do you have convention plans for the rest of the year? Where can people connect with you throughout 2017?
Yes, we just recently participated in C2E2 in Chicago, and we plan on attending a number of other conventions throughout 2017. You can visit our website at www.thecreativeextreme.com to stay informed on where you can see us in person. Online you can catch us on Facebook at /thecreativeextreme, on Instagram @thecreativeextreme, and on twitter @CreativeXtreme1. You can also subscribe to our website, and if you’d like to get in touch with us you can email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any other plugs or information you’d like to share?
The Creative Extreme’s ultimate goal is to reach the level of entertainment companies such as Disney, Marvel, and D.C. Comics. One of our primary ambitions is to look for an opportunity to form a joint venture with a company where we have access to publishing, advertising, marketing, distribution, etc., and they have access to our endless well of original characters and unique stories. Overall, we are excited about the prospect of continuing to create original, diverse content that has the potential of reaching a wide audience in a variety of ways. We are The Creative Extreme; where imagination without limitation is the only expectation!
We’d like to thank Christopher and Steffon for taking the time to answer our questions! Definitely keep an eye out for future projects from The Creative Extreme!