The Arclight Podcast

Starting out or in-the-middle of creating your first comic with no solid direction, advice, or guidance? From comic storytelling and creating iconic superheroes to team dynamics, branding, and failing forward, you’ll get the answers, the mentors, and the guidance we wish we had 5 years ago.

Join indie comic creators Ed Williams (Arclight Comics) and Brent Lyles (Lighthouse Comic Studio) as they invite you inside their discussions on the many facets of building a comic, a comic universe, and a comic intellectual property from scratch, for their first time ever. You’ll leave every episode with value and takeaways to apply to your own comic project and publishing business.

Ed Williams (left) and Brent Lyles (right).


026: Here’s Why No One Cares About Buying Or Supporting Your Project. You Need to Start Giving First (The Rule of Reciprocity)

Thursday, May 26, 2016 – 24 minutes

Buy my thing.

Click my thing.

Support my thing.

Donate to my thing.

Share my thing.

This is the state of indie comic creator and publisher marketing. And when Ed saw this he refused to be part of it. If Arclight was to get anywhere in this saturated market where everyone was creating spam and noise, he knew he had to go the opposite direction of everyone else and be different. In that quest he heard about the Rule of Reciprocity.

Give first. Then take.

Imagine that. Give something of value away for free first, then ask your audience to purchase. And this wasn’t something revolutionary either. You do this all the time. If someone buys you lunch, you feel indebted to that person. Eventually you will return the favor and close that feeling of debt out until it’s re-opened again by you or that other person.

And that was what Ed wanted to pursue when he wanted to do content marketing with the podcast. You have to start doing something different and start giving something away to get people to care and pay attention. This market we operate in is incredibly crowded, and in order to stand out you need to embrace, adopt and execute on the Rule of Reciprocity.

In this episode, Ed and Brent talk about the Rule of Reciprocity and the results they’ve gotten implementing this rule in Arclight’s business model.


025: We’re Just Getting Started

Thursday, May 19, 2016 – 1 hour and 22 minutes

We’ve been showing up every Thursday for over 24 weeks (counting the sabbatical episodes) and now we’re here. The big 25th episode we’ve been excited for is finally here—and it’s nothing short of a kick a– episode.

We’re bringing in our two newest full-time artists, Tim Wasney and Nephtaly ‘Neph’ Torres in this blow out episode that hits on everything.

We talk about everything from Tim and Neph’s transition from the show listeners to full-time Arclight artists; to how our team works and functions from day-to-day; we reflect on past episodes and topics; pitch ideas for newer ones and newer series; explain why we tell the kind of stories we tell in our mini issues; talk about our prequel issue launch; and when the Arclight villains are coming and how we’re approaching developing them.

No lie—it’s jam packed!


024: Overcome the Desire To Quit By Discovering Your Why

Thursday, May 12, 2016 – 1 hour

“Didn’t you guys talk about this before?” We sure did. But listen—this one is 10X more valuable than our first pilot episode! We were scared, we were nervous and didn’t have the best of confidence in episode 001, but now that we’re 24 episodes in and speak with more conviction we guarantee this is levels above that pilot episode.

During the last five years in developing Arclight Comics there have been major upswings and downswings. From finding artists to work with, to threats of lawsuits, to cancer scares, to even an almost year-long burnout and wanting to give into the desire to quit, we’ve really been through the fire. And when you’ve been through the fire, it’s easy to give up and quit.

If it wasn’t for our Why carrying us from downswing to downswing this entire podcast show wouldn’t exist. Think about that for a moment. If we quit, the podcast wouldn’t be here. Think of what you’ll be robbing the world of before you hang it up. It’s not just about you anymore. If you quit, who else are you affecting?

In this episode, we revisit this topic and go over how discovering your why helps you overcome the desire to quit your project. It will get tough. It’ll feel like all of this is in vain, that people don’t care. Things will go left, things will fall apart, and you’re going to feel like you may as well pack it up and quit. But you can’t. You can’t quit. You have to keep going. And the only way you’ll be able to do that is to have your Why in place.


SE002: A Special Episode Requires Your Participation

Thursday, May 5, 2016 – 4 minutes

We need your help. The more questions you submit for this episode, the better it’s going to be.

From any of the previous podcast episodes, to topics you may want us to cover, to asking things about the mini issues, or all things Arclight, just fill out the form at the bottom and send us your question!


023: Who Else Wants to Tell Character Driven Stories Forever? (Unleash the Soul: Part 3 of 3)

Thursday, April 28, 2016 – 30 minutes

We conclude the last episode in this series, touching on your character’s physical description, their powers and abilities, and last but certainly not least, their name. In today’s episode, we go over why the process is in this order. Everything informs the next in succession towards the name. You want to have a name that really resonates with your character? Want to have powers that just make sense? Then this episode will help you get there.


022: Who Else Wants to Tell Character Driven Stories Forever? (Unleash the Soul: Part 2 of 3)

Thursday, April 21, 2016 – 47 minutes

Do you want to tell stories as great as Spider-Man’s?

Or maybe you want to take your characters on a journey over the next five, ten, fifteen, or twenty plus years and still hold your reader’s loyalty and attention like Batman or Captain America does.

You want to have so much storytelling potential in your characters, that Netflix approaches you and wants to create a series based on your character, because that character has won the hearts of many, has amassed a huge following, and their stories and journey have become so addictive that generation after generation cannot put them down.

So how do you go about doing that?

You start with finding the soul of your character, then you unleash it to your audience.

We’re back for part two. If you didn’t catch it in part one, we’re writing an incredible eBook based on our pilot episodes Finding the Soul of a Character. We’ve taken that concept and decided to go deeper with the material. In part one, we covered how to build better backstory and develop core personality traits for your character.

In part two, we’re sharing what you need to do to create believable character motivations, flaws that challenge your character, and how to approach the origin story.


021: Who Else Wants to Tell Character Driven Stories Forever? (Unleash the Soul: Part 1 of 3)

Thursday, April 14, 2016 – 35 minutes

Do you want to tell stories as great as Spider-Man’s?

Or maybe you want to take your characters on a journey over the next five, ten, fifteen, or twenty plus years and still hold your reader’s loyalty and attention like Batman or Captain America does.

You want to have so much storytelling potential in your characters, that Netflix approaches you and wants to create a series based on your character, because that character has won the hearts of many, has amassed a huge following, and their stories and journey have become so addictive that generation after generation cannot put them down.

So how do you go about doing that?

You start with finding the soul of your character, then you unleash it to your audience.

For this special series, Ed starts us off on a solo show and goes into how to unleash the soul of your character and get into the nuts-and-bolts of how you create a storytelling powerhouse out of that character. Arclight has a process. We have a character design process and we have a character-driven story process for each character that allows us to create rich backstory, core personality traits that jump off the pages and unique origin stories with powers and names that compliment and accent the characters in a way that just makes sense.

In the next three episodes, we’re going to break down this eight step process for you. If you pay attention, take notes, and just give us your ear, this will shift your entire perspective and mindset on how you approach developing incredible storytelling powerhouses out of your character.


020: Building an Epic Indie Comic Studio Team That Gets Stuff Done

Thursday, April 7, 2016 – 54 minutes

I gotta be honest.

When the team in 2014 fizzled out I was done.

It was a combination of bitterness and discouragement. I told myself that I was just going to go at this alone 100% and not bother with a team until it was absolutely necessary. After all, people quit on you. They disappear and don’t even say goodbye. And guess what? I did it. I got things done. I wrote our prequel issue, I built our website, I came up with the idea for a podcast, I hired a concept/character designer to handle what I couldn’t and built what I could until I ran into a brick wall.

That wall was me meeting the limitations of what I could do. It was at that point I realized that I couldn’t do it all. Now don’t take this the wrong way, but I can humbly say I am a very talented person. Surely I could do this all on my own, but it would take years of practice, learning, and giving up almost everything in my life to see it all through. And that’s when I had opened myself up to bringing people back in again. But not just anyone.

I made it a mission to bring in epic people. People who wanted to be here, people who were passionate, and people who were talented with amazing attitudes and a love for what they did, the vision of Arclight, comic books, and superheroes. And as of today, this team of people behind me has catapulted Arclight in a direction it would’ve taken me years to build on my own.

You need a team. But not just any team. You need an epic team surrounding your indie comic project and studio to not only build it up, but blow it out the water altogether. In this episode, Brent and I talk about how you should go about building an epic indie comic studio team that gets stuff done. Because if you aren’t getting stuff done, you aren’t going anywhere. And in order to get somewhere, you need all the right people in the right places to start.


019: The Case For Caution With World Building

Thursday, March 31, 2016 – 1 hour and 11 minutes

World building.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Just imagine.

You have the creative and imaginative power to recreate our world in your own image, or create a new world entirely. From warlocks, to elves, to a supervillain organization that runs the world, the possibilities are endless when it comes to world building. You can decide how power systems work; how political structures are formed; abolish our class structures, build new ones, and even name every single street, avenue, and lane until your heart’s content.

But the problem with world building is the same reason we love it so much in the first place: it’s fun. And because it’s fun, it can get addictive. So much that you can get caught up in the world’s design for so long that you forget you have to actually produce a comic book. The world’s design is important, but you don’t need to dive as deeply as you might think.

For four and a half years, Arclight got caught in this addictive fun. And for ten years, Brent saw no end in sight for his side project superhero novel. When you get to build your universe and world, there are no limits to what you can do, and that is why we’re stating our case for caution with world building. In this episode, we give you four strong cases with an additional four ways on how to approach world building that lets you have that fun and progress your comic at the same time.


018: The Importance Of Your Brand Name

Thursday, March 24, 2016 – 9 minutes

The name of your indie comic studio.

So important. So crucial. But do you know how to put one together that both resonates and has meaning to your audience? You have to be able to put a name together that is going to stand the test of time, communicate who you are and what you do, and fulfill the 7 pieces of criteria to take your name from “meh” to stand out.

We’re coming straight off of her sabbatical week with this, and in this episode, Ed dives into how to go about putting together a name for yourself, what should be given priority and weight, how Arclight found its name, and how you can set your name apart.


017: Build Iconic Characters That Last (Arclight’s Character Design Process)

Thursday, March 10, 2016 – 1 hour and 24 minutes

Are we doing this?

Are we really doing this?

This is something I thought we’d never share.

But here we are. A full episode on Arclight’s character design process.

Years ago we spent hours, days—even weeks on picking apart the most iconic Marvel and DC characters and asked the question: How are they able to keep these characters relevant for 25, 50, 75—almost a hundred years? Little did I know, we figured it out. And not only did we figure it out, we turned it into a process that’s given us Tremor, Bolt, Go-Girl, Braxton, Riot, and our newest character yet to be released, Solace (Noah).

In this episode, Ed shares the Arclight character design process in detail, going over the three major phases—Concept, Story, and Design—and some of the steps in each, including The Rapid-Pitch Method, Building the Visual Mood Board, and Making Yourself Vulnerable to the Character. Ed also shares what they concluded to be Marvel and DC’s formula in the design phase, highlight the three most important steps: Form & Silhouette, Iconography, and Color.


016: Invest In Your People

Thursday, March 3, 2016 – 39 minutes

I’ll let you know now: Arclight’s goal is to become the Pixar of comics. We want to own storytelling and produce amazing stories that fascinate, entertain, and take you on adventures. But Pixar doesn’t get to do that by forcing the work out of its people. They take a different approach many companies just haven’t caught onto yet, especially in our industry. And that’s investing in your people.

When you invest, develop, and support good people, they will invest, develop, and create good ideas in return. And it doesn’t even have to be a financial investment. Offering your words of support, encouragement, empowerment, and spending time building the relationships with the people you bring onto your comic project will have its payday.

In this episode, Ed flies solo again as he goes into detail on the importance of investing in your people, highlighting some of the moments he’s invested in both Brent and his artist, Miguel.


015: Failing Forward

Thursday, February 25, 2016 – 58 minutes

Failing is not the worst thing that can happen.

Your fear of it is.

We are a culture that doesn’t move onto the next step; that won’t pursue our dreams; that won’t go after our ambitions because of our fear of failure. It’s as if we may as well quit the entire thing because we made a mistake or didn’t quite succeed at something. And when it comes to a comic project as a first time indie creator, failure can wrap itself around your dreams like an anaconda and suffocate the life out of it.

We’re called to expose ourselves. We’re exposing our talents, our writing abilities, our art, etc., and to us, those things aren’t always perfect. We find ourselves failing more times than society would allow. But the key is to not see a dead end at the end of those failures. You have to keep going. You have to fail forward.

Failure is our teacher, not our undertaker. And we have to learn how to re-purpose the negative connotations and flip them to positive associations. Failures and mistakes can be used as learning tools.

Because we failed so much within the last 5 years, we’ve been able to start this podcast. In this episode, Brent and I talk about failing forward. We discuss embracing failure and how you are not the sum of your mistakes. We also break down the failures Arclight Comics and Lighthouse Comic Studios have made and what we’ve learned from them. Ed also shares one of Arclight’s most public mistakes to date: releasing a character that nobody liked, and how the backlash refined and created a character everyone loves today.


014: Branding 101 (Part 2 of 2)

Thursday, February 18, 2016 – 26 minutes

Branding is not so much the look of it, but the “feel” of it. It’s more than logos and colors. Branding is an opportunity to create strong, positive associations and affiliations with your business that keep people coming back for more, and in order to start building a brand that does that you need to have a solid grasp on the fundamentals.

In Part 1, we broke down 2 of the 5 Disciplines to Brand-Building. Discipline 1 was Differentiate, and Discipline 2 was Collaborate. In this episode, I hit Disciplines 3-5: Innovate, Validate, and Cultivate.

You may be asking yourself, “Why are they doing an episode on branding?” If you have a comic that’s going to market to be sold, you have a product. And once you have a product, you have a business. And whether you want it or not, when you have a business, you have a brand. And it’s important to start laying the foundation for one early on versus trying to play catch up.


013: Branding 101 (Part 1 of 2)

Thursday, February 11, 2016 – 1 hour and 8 minutes

Branding is perhaps one of the most misunderstood concepts out there. If you’ve ever said you need “branding” and are referring to a logo, colors, and fonts, you’re only getting the very tip of this mountainous thing called branding.

You have a brand whether you want it or not. And it’s your job to both grow your brand and make it valuable to your target audience. You don’t want to launch a comic—that you poured sweat and tears into—and launch to crickets because you haven’t properly built a brand we should care enough about to buy from. To influence and command an audience into buying from you, a brand must be established, maintained and be consistent. But you can only start doing that if you have an understanding of what branding is.

In this episode, Ed dives into his expertise and passion for branding. Running a freelance branding and design business, Geeky Dreamer Branding & Design, Ed comes to the table with Brent to take a plunge into what branding really is and how you can start building yours in part one of this two part series.


012: Friendship vs. Business: When to Separate the Two to Protect Your Project

Thursday, February 8, 2016 – 1 hour and 13 minutes

You started your project. You got your story finished. And now you need a team around you. I guarantee it, the first place you’ll look are the people you trust—your friends. And if they’re down for the whole comic making thing, your family might tag along too. You all get to a point where you’ve got about 80% of the work done, then all of a sudden, something happens. A certain conflict wasn’t handled right; you gave a piece of constructive criticism they couldn’t take; or you no longer see eye-to-eye on major ideas and beliefs. Your friend then tells you that they’re out, and if you use any of their ideas and/or characters, they’re going to sue you.

So not only do you have a major falling out with your friend, the prospect of getting sued is haunting you over your shoulder on top of losing a good percentage of the work you both collaborated on.

So now what?

In today’s episode, we cover one of the most important, fundamental steps to protect your comic project and to project your business’ infrastructure: contracts and agreements. Contracts and/or agreements protects your company from:

  • The prospect of your friend or family member leaving the project, threatening to sue if you use what they’ve contributed, and half the work along with them
  • Wasting valuable time and resources

They also establish and structure the expectations and relationships before they get started working on the project. You have to let the people you bring in know you mean business. This isn’t all fun and game. You’ve got work to do, and developing this project and protecting it is of the utmost importance.

In this episode, Brent and I share our experiences with contracts, agreements, or the lack thereof. We break down what protecting both the business and the friendship does; what happens when you don’t separate the two; what happens when you do separate the two; and the kinds of agreements and contracts you may need to get started.


011: Story Is King (Part 6 of 6): The 3 Act Structure

Thursday, January 28, 2016 – 25 minutes

It’s here! The final episode to our Story Is King series. We thank all of you who have been around for the entire length of this series. We understand it can get a little boring with all of this information sharing, so we decided to make this last episode short and sweet as Ed talks about the 3 Act Structure.

Ed also proposes the idea of putting story first and how important it is. He also takes us through his meeting with former Marvel Editor-in-Chief, Jim Shooter, and the mindset shift he had to take in order to get the meeting with him.


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