It’s quirky, it’s fantasy and it’s horny. Though Real Hero Shit was just recently announced from Iron Circus Comics, Kendra Wells‘ upcoming comic is highly anticipated. Wells is a comics artist and illustrator known for wit and humor far sharper than the sword that they own. They’ve worked with everyone from Dark Horse to BOOM! Studios — they’ve even published in The New Yorker — but their most regular cartooning can be found over at The Nib. There, you can find Wells’ insight into pop culture, politics, and whatever else they deem satire-worthy.
With Real Hero Shit, which hits stores in 2022, Wells is diving into some of their first long form comics work. The Beat reached out to Wells via e-mail to get details on progress and what fans can expect from the upcoming graphic novel.
Josh Hilgenberg: With a 2022 release, Real Hero Shit is still a bit of a ways off, so most of what we know has to do with the main character: a horned, purple prince who hangs out with thieves. He’s far from the standard princeling! Will the rest of the cast be as unconventional as he is?
Kendra Wells: Absolutely! Eugene, our purple prince, is an egomaniacal blowhard pretty boy who joins our intrepid heroes for funsies, much to their chagrin. The rest of the party consists of Michel, a mysterious and stoic half-elf who uses daggers with murderous efficiency, Ani, a human mage with anger issues who taught herself magic to avenge wrongs done to her family, and Hocus, a non-binary cleric with a heart of gold and the moral center of the group who is trying very hard to keep everyone from killing one another. I love stories where the main characters are very tightly knit and care deeply for one another, but I wanted to write a story about people who can barely keep it together enough to do what they’re supposed to do: like save the world or whatever.
Hilgenberg: I love how you’ve described this series so far! “A story about four shitty 20-somethings on a road trip.” It seems like you’re taking this really relatable, modern experience and merging it with a classic genre. Can we expect a traditional fantasy world, or should we be ready for some other timely twists?
Wells: It’s a traditional fantasy world in that there are swords and magic and castles, but I wanted to update the language of it a little. It seemed to me that a lot of medieval-type fantasy stories are either vast epics with chapters upon chapters dryly explaining how the Viceroy insulted the Duke in the Great War 400 years ago, or wacky raunchy stoner comedies winking at the camera about how adult they are. I wanted to find something in the middle, the kind of story that I personally would be interested in reading.
SIGNED by ICC: REAL HERO SHIT, by @kendrawcandraw!
So the only son & heir of the queen was born under odd circumstances. And purple. W/horns. NOT A BIG DEAL.
And now he's an adventurer! Taking Thieves Order contracts w/total randos. IT'S FINE. EVERYTHING'S FINE.
Coming 2022! pic.twitter.com/siDsfZbANu
— Iron Circus Comics – ALA 2108A (@ironcircuscomix) May 31, 2019
Hilgenberg: I couldn’t help but notice your Dragon Age fanart on your website — does that game or any other particular work shape the world here? What kind of fantasy stories do you gravitate towards?
Wells: Yes!! I was really inspired by the Dragon Age games, which combines intricate politik with very real-feeling characters bumbling their way through sex and friendship and their own personal demons. I had never played a game like that before, that gave equal weight to deciding whether or not to take your infantry troops through a fast but dangerous shortcut, as well as trying to figure out how to tell your crush that you want more than just a sexual relationship with him. It also throws out a lot of the traditional Eurocentric and heteronormative ideals of Tolkien-type medieval fantasy, and is just a big, lovely, queer franchise. I can only hope to emulate the feeling the games gave me in RHS‘s future readers.
Hilgenberg: For those that aren’t subscribed and keeping track of what you do on your Patreon, how far along is Real Hero Shit?
Wells: I’m going to start writing the first book of RHS relatively soon, but currently my other project (Sirens of the Southern Seas, Abrams 2020) is taking priority. I am as excited as everyone to get working on this, but I want to make sure I do it right so it’ll be worth the wait. Following my Patreon is the best way to keep updated with its progress!
Hilgenberg: Have you been working with these characters and this story for a long time? Is there a time in your life you point to that really helped Real Hero Shit grow?
Wells: RHS has been cooking in my brain since 2017, but I’m only just now really getting down to business with it. I graduated with a degree in Comics and Cartooning in 2013 but have been paralyzed with fear to do any long form comics work in the years since. I was going through a lot of intense life changes in 2017-2018 and had to step back and really evaluate what I wanted to do with my life moving forward. I’m still terrified to make these books, quite frankly, but I’m done letting my hesitation stunt my growth.
Hilgenberg: Iron Circus prides itself on being strange and amazing, and its titles more than support that optic with comics like How Do You Smoke a Weed? and the bug-eating book, Meal. From the little we know about Real Hero Shit, it definitely fits in! Could you talk about what brought you and your story to Iron Circus?
Wells: Iron Circus was my first choice publisher, and the first place I sent my pitch! I knew I wanted to make the RHS I saw in my head and I couldn’t bear the idea of clipping its weird, horny wings to make a more traditional publisher comfortable. I have worked with Spike [Trotman], and ICC previously with the 2014 volume of Smut Peddler, and had a very good feeling that RHS would be right at home there. It’s an adult book, for adults, and I know ICC will treat it right.
Hilgenberg: Right now, people can check out your hilariously snarky comics over at The Nib, and you’ve also got Sirens of the Southern Seas coming out in 2020. Are there any other projects of yours on the horizon we should be looking out for?
Wells: Yes! I did all the character design for the second season of CollegeHumor’s Dimension 20 show! It’s a live-play Dungeons & Dragons show run by my dear pal Brennan Lee Mulligan, and I was approached to illustrate all the player characters and non-player characters in the season. It was a total dream gig and I’m so excited to see them all in action. Episode 1 premieres on July 9th on dropout.tv!
Until Real Hero Shit launches in 2022, Kendra Wells has plenty of content coming through the pipes. Mark your calendar for Sirens of the Southern Seas, their collaboration with Sam Maggs at Abrams comics and keep up to speed on their satire over at The Nib. Kendra Wells is on Twitter, Patreon, and you can check out their site for more.