Name: Orlando Harding
Company: 1First Comics
Job Title & Description: Creator and writer of the comic book series Night Stalker & R.R.H.
Jamie: How long have you been working in the industry/involved in your current project?
Orlando: I have been working on Night Stalker for just under five years now. It was a spinoff from my original comic book, Pariah. I originally self-published Night Stalker and was extremely blessed in winning the Glyph award for best female character in 2013. After winning the award the Night Stalker team was picked up by 1 First Comics. The new series of Night Stalker books should be hitting the stores in February. I have been working on my second title, R.R.H. for just over two years now and 1 First Comics have been very supportive of both the books. R.R.H is up to book five and has been getting really positive and enthusiastic responses.
Jamie: Describe why you chose the industry and the path you took to get there (education, internships, etc.).
Orlando: I have always loved the art of creation and storytelling. Ever since I was a child I loved hearing stories before bedtime and sitting around a fire at summer camp. I got into the business by accident. When I was in college, I collected lots of different comic titles, which included many independent titles. One title in particular was really, really bad and I was complaining to my wife about how bad it was. My wife responded that I had a pretty good imagination and maybe I should try a hand at creating a comic story instead of buying bad titles. I took her suggestion and never looked back. There’s nothing like creating a story that not only captures the imagination, but people can’t predict. I have prided myself in doing just that-creating great stories that people can’t figure out before turning to the very last page.
Jamie: Highlights of your career/current job or project so far?
Orlando: The Highlights of my career are without a doubt connecting with 1First Comics and them actually publishing Night Stalker and R.R.H. Our team was so blessed to get the Glyph award for best female character in 2013 and with that, knew that we had the talent to bring the most cool and unique characters with compelling stories to the comic book market. 1First Comics and Ken F. Levin made that possible for my entire team and with the help of Ken and Alex Wald (1First Comics Art Director) we knew that anything was possible. With Ken and Alex we could get the best guidance and support that any company could ever offer.
Jamie: Any lessons learned you like to share about your time in the business so far?
Orlando: Get used to hearing the word, no! Every company that I pitched Night Stalker and R.R.H to turned them down. I mean everyone! I had to keep going and believed in our product. I knew that we had something unique and different, but had to convince others of the same thing. This was, I believe more difficult because Night Stalker stars and African American woman, and even though some publishers thought her concept was cool, none of them were willing to take a chance on her. I finally found someone that not only believed in our character, but thought she was badly needed and would add to the diversity that was sorely needed on comic book shelves. Ken F. Levin not only believed in the stories that we wanted to tell, but thought a cross section of comic book society would also. It has been an uphill battle for my entire team, but we believe that we have a real chance on making an impact on the market with our titles as does 1First Comics. Our titles transcend race, gender and age and give our readers something they have never experienced before-something they want to keep coming back to. Another thing is that it’s hard to get shelf space in the comic stores when you don’t have a big name. I called most of the stores in the country and asked them to take a chance and try our new titles and many of them told me that they would not take the risk on any unknown team no matter how good or interesting the story sounded. Some stores just asked what company I was with and turned us down because they only carried Marvel & DC. We are all fighting for our small piece of an ever decreasing market and it’s important to take advantage of anything that can draw attention and distinction to our properties and separates us from the others.
Jamie: Any links to past/upcoming projects or a portfolio you’d like to share?
Jamie: Since this series does revolve around comics, what is your favorite comic of all time and why?
Orlando: My favorite comic of all time would have to be Spawn. It starred a character that looked like me, but was a lot cooler. I had never seen anything like it, and have loved it from the beginning. It was refreshing to see a character that was so versatile and a story that could go in so many directions, full of endless possibilities. It would be nice if Todd would actually let an African American write an episode of Spawn. I have always imagined a crossover between Night Stalker and Spawn, imagining all the twisted possibilities of their war. They are both from Hell and African American. I imagine Night Stalker ambushing Spawn and the greatest battle of all time ensuing. It would be a war like no other before it! Maybe one day-who knows?
Jamie: Any advice you’d like to pass along to someone interested in the comics industry?
Orlando: Keep moving forward and never let anyone talk you out of your dreams! I would also advise that creators ask themselves one question. What makes your story or your book better than all the others that fans should choose yours?
Jamie: Any last notes or information you’d like to include?
Orlando: There is nothing better than the art of creation. I am so blessed to be working with such talented individuals and want to thank all of my team and the family that made this happen. Ken F. Levin, Alex Wald, David Miller, Steve Cobb, Ed Dukeshire, Kel Nuttall, Andres Esparza, Caanan White and Michelle and Sydney Harding. I love all of you and appreciate all of your hard work! I want to tell everyone that this is just the beginning for 1First Comics!
Source: Black Girl Nerds