In May of 2019, the comic industry lost a trailblazer in Robert Garrett. To say he was a prolific writer is an understatement; the man was a grinder, writing and creating a line of comics that most companies would’ve needed decades to create, build, nurture and sustain. In 2005 Garrett launched Xmoor Studios with a goal to “...create graphic presentations that comprise the vast spectrum of the multimedia market place with a ground base firmly placed in the arena of comic publications and Multimedia Intellectual Properties.”
With his passing, it seemed like the end for Xmoor Studios titles Galtow, Inheritor, Hero Born, Tool-Boi and N.E.O. Then, at a panel celebrating Garrett during the Schomburg Center’s Black Comic Book Festival, his daughter Niya Garrett, writer Regine L. Sawyer and artist Eric Nocella Diaz announced that they would be working on bringing these books back with a Kickstarter campaign. Last month, the mission to bring back the Xmoor Universe was launched.
The Xmoor Reborn Kickstarter campaign was set up to fund a reprint of the Galtow collection. Galtow is an alt-history story that takes place in a post-apocalyptic New York, with the world living in the shadow of four clans battling for dominance.
I was able to speak with two members of the team behind the Xmoor Reborn Kickstarter, the new President of Xmoor Studios Niya Garrett, and Publisher/Co-Editor Regine L. Sawyer.
The Beat: What’s the reason behind this campaign? Who was the man and creator Robert Garrett?
Niya Garrett: He was my father, he was a writer, creator, he took his comics very seriously as well, so when I think of him, it’s the push. I’ll always see him as a hard worker.
The Beat: Yeah he was always making moves.
Regine L. Sawyer: We’re doing the campaign because we want the people to know what his legacy is, as a writer, as a publisher, as a man. We want people to know how hard he worked to make sure that his books were quality. He was a quality writer and he expected quality art, quality editing, just the whole gamut. He wanted everything to be as good as it could be and beyond. The way he would craft his work, that would include Galtow, I mean he was meticulous about it and I know Niya would see this in the past where he would be working on his books, he’d be typing away at a Barnes and Noble, or he’d be sitting with one of the artists or maybe on the phone with them just to make sure that everything was crafted in a way in which he knew that his fans would love.
We just wanted to make sure that his legacy continued because his books are so important to the Black Comic Book Community, especially the Indie Community. Robert was and is Indie Comics, he was about that hustle, that push, about this crazy life of going to conventions, promoting yourself, being online before there was even heavy social media use, he was on the different comic book forums, sharing his work on Deviant Art, on his blogspot, and when he had a website he was doing that. And then when we got MySpace and Facebook, he just took over those groups, he made sure you were going to see Xmoor work. There was no way, especially when it came to Black Comics, that you would open up anything about Black Comics and not see him. We just want to continue that legacy, continue making sure that people have his books on their shelves, have them in the stores. We want to take all of his work, starting with Galtow, to the stratosphere, exactly where he wanted it to be.
The Beat: People look for confidence in Kickstarter campaigns. What is it that makes this team the right one to carry on the legacy of Xmoor Studios?
Garrett: I feel like, because we knew him personally, we knew the man behind the writing, so to know what type of amazing person he was, we can’t neglect something like that and let it stay on the shelf. Basically, I can’t let that not be out in the world. All the work he put in, day and night to create strong black characters, people that you can relate to as well. I feel like children and other people would be able to appreciate his work even though he’s no longer here.
Sawyer: I’ve been writing comic books for 13 years, I’ve been a comic book fan for over 30 years. My company is Locket Down Productions, we produce the comic books Ice Witch, the Rippers, and Eating Vampires. I also do freelance work, just recently I wrote a short story for the Dead Beats Anthology and an essay for Marvel Comics in Marvel Voices #1. I’m also the coordinator and founder of the Women in Comics Collective International; we host events around the country including our own convention here in New York City, where we do art shows, panel discussions, workshops, and we help promote and brand our members to make sure that they have whatever they need in order to be successful within their careers. So Women in Comics has been around for us, and this year is its eighth year.
The Beat: And what about your other contributor, Eric Nocella Diaz?
Sawyer: Eric has been an art director, toymaker, and graphic designer for over 20 years. He is a heavy hitter in the toy business. People really respect him. He’s also a sculptor; he hand-sculpted the bust on the Kickstarter.
The Beat: Why should anyone care about these characters or stories? Who’s your target audience?
Sawyer: Robert was an amazing writer. His book are solid, his storytelling is solid. The way he would write a book just made you want to read the next one. You become fully enthralled in the world that he created because it’s so intricate and so clear in terms of where the story is going, and yet there was still surprise and intrigue. I’ve never found myself bored reading his books. There were some I would read for pleasure and there were some that he actually would have me edit so when it came to doing both, I always was into the book. His stories were the type that would stay on the brain. And also, as you’re reading the book, you could see how it could easily translate to film or animation or to a video game.
That’s how multi-dimensional his work is, especially Galtow which hearkens to the old kung-fu movies. You know, the ones were you’d have to go down to 42nd Street theaters to go see, it touches that. It also touches on science fiction, in terms of different characters having cybernetic parts like Jaya, the main female lead. Also, some of the characters are genetically enhanced like the Rhino-Sumos. The story just touches a lot of different genres in a very cohesive way that you can digest, and I do have to say a lot of [books] don’t do that when you have intricate stories, and you can keep up with it.
The Beat: Then you would say your target audience isn’t just little kids or just adults or just women or men.
Garrett: No, it’s open to everyone, I feel like everybody will gravitate to the book.
The Beat: Let’s look at the trade. What can readers new and old expect from this collection?
Sawyer: Backers can expect amazing art and solid storytelling. There will be some new artwork. For the first four actual singles, Robert had a myriad of variant covers for them, at least one or two, some three variant covers, and that art will be collected in the book. We also have five different variant covers in total backers can choose from. You’ll have the original cover and there’ll also be covers by Alitha E. Martinez, Chuck Collins, Julie Anderson, and Walt Barna. The last two, they’re like newbies in the industry, but they do like absolutely amazing, amazing work. We’ve been revamping some of the statues; we’re having some of the statues custom painted by some really phenomenal toy artists. And then we also have some rare pieces there are about six, six or seven variations of the statue itself, and the ultra-rare pieces like the gold-, silver-, and bronze-painted statues.
We also have some fun promo items like the tank top tier, a weekend bag, a drawstring bag, and a water bottle, but those are in extremely limited quantities. Only one or two people will have those items.
The Beat: What’s the future of Xmoor Studios past this trade? Will there be new stories set in the Xmoor universe, and if so who are you looking at for helping to bring these stories to the people?
Sawyer: Our main thing is reprinting the books that have been out of print, after this Kickstarter, we’ll do the next set of books because Robert had a full library. So that’s our concentration for the most part for this year, and then as we’re moving, 2021 will be a time for us to explore new stories. Robert was working on a new story arc for Galtow, [and] he was working on a children’s book, so once we’re done with the reprints then we can go on to new work. There are writing colleagues that Robert really enjoyed their work, as well as artists that also worked with Robert, and some whose work Robert admired that we’d be reaching out to. Those are people that I think we’d want to work with.
Garrett: I personally would want to work with people that may have had a history with him or just simply people that he was interested in, because we talked a lot about things that he was looking forward to for the company and what he wanted to basically portray for Xmoor Studios.
The Beat: Is there anything else that you want to let people know to come to your page to back your Kickstarter?
Sawyer: I will say that this is definitely a labor of love for us. We’re passionate about it beyond the money. When Robert passed it really hit the black comic book community pretty hard. But at the same time, his work is and was for everyone. And we want people to know that this work isn’t going anywhere, his legacy isn’t going anywhere, his legacy is beyond this Kickstarter. But this is a campaign that’s worth backing, this is strong work, this is beautiful work, this is work that belongs in stores and belongs to be in the public hands, and we want them to have that.
Garrett: People should back this Kickstarter because, I mean Regine has already touched on it, but there’s so much love there. We want to relaunch this company and get the book in people’s hands. So many people, when we’re out, they ask us when we’re reprinting, what we’re doing with the company, and I would see so many emails and messages regarding it. I know that it’s something that people will love and enjoy. I just want people to see how great it is.
The Xmoor Reborn: Galtow Vol. 1 Trade Paperback Kickstarter is live now.