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).


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.


010: Story Is King (Part 5 of 6): The Hero’s Journey

Thursday, January 21, 2016 – 1 hour and 1 minute

Epic stories. We love them. We cheer for them. But how many of us wish we could write them? From taking a ring to a far off land to a farm boy becoming a member of an elite community of knights, these epic stories have captivated our love and intrigue time and again. Wouldn’t it be great to do the same for your own story?

In this episode, Brent takes the lead in sharing with us another story theory: The Hero’s Journey. Found in epic movies such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars, The Hero’s Journey invites us to tell a story using a Three Act Structure, 12 steps your character must go through to grow, and character archetypes that will challenge your character and entertain your readers.


009: Story Is King (Part 4 of 6): Dramatica

Thursday, January 14, 2016 – 42 minutes

For weeks we’ve been telling you to just starting writing, and now we’re at the point where we hope you’ve been listening to our advice, because this episode starts both the beginning of our story theory episodes and the last three remaining episodes in our series: Story Is King.

There are several storytelling theories out there, but today I’m going to be talking about the one I believe most people have never heard of: Dramatica. This starts a new paradigm in storytelling. It’s a complex theory, but worth learning and working through it, because it delivers some of the most sound and thoroughly told stories we’ve ever come to know. From Finding Nemo, to Toy Story, to Casablanca, to Aliens, the Dramatica approach has proven itself to be the end all, be all of all the storytelling theories out there, but it isn’t for everyone. It’s complexities, intricacies, terminology, and mindset change truly require patience and understanding, but the payoff is well worth it.

In this episode, Ed does his first solo show as he walks you through an introduction to Dramatica, going over a few of it’s signature defining features: the Story Mind; the Four Throughlines; and the 8 Character Archetypes that saved his characters from becoming convoluted and repetitive.


008: Story Is King (Part 3 of 6): The Narrative Conflicts

Thursday, January 7, 2016 – 1 hour and 7 minutes

There’s something challenging you everyday. That “thing” can be getting to work in the middle of a snow storm, competing against a co-worker for the same promotion, or battling with yourself as you struggle to overcome great fears and monsters of your own. Regardless of what that thing is, you’re up against it. And what you’re up against is conflict.

Conflict keeps our lives interesting. It gives us challenges to overcome and allows us to grow as people. The same conflicts you go through are the same conflicts your character(s) need to go through in order to drive your story forward.

In this episode, we break down several narrative conflicts under three categories:

  1. Internal Conflicts
  2. External Conflicts
  3. Additional Conflicts

These will help you get an idea of what conflicts you can use to enhance and move your story forward if conflicts aren’t present. We also go into Arclight’s intense and thorough character design and creation process that helps us to create great internal conflict within each of our characters.


007: Setting Your Comic Project Up For Success in 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015 – 17 minutes

Never wing success. Don’t leave something so important up to chance. You have to be very deliberate and intentional when it comes to such a thing, and a major part of that intent is planning.

In this episode, we talk about the importance of planning and organizing for your comic project. It isn’t enough to say, “I want to make a comic.” You need to have steps in place to get to that end goal. We share some of our mishaps and mistakes from not planning, Arclight’s big mistake with Facebook, what happens when you don’t have the resources to maintain social media, and more.


006: Respect Goes a Long Way

Thursday, December 24, 2015 – 24 minutes

“Y’all recorded on Christmas Eve?”

Sort of. Not really. But we decided to record two episodes back-to-back last week to have this episode available even on a major national holiday. Welcome to the first of our many mini sabbatical episodes. These episodes won’t be as long, but during our sabbatical week, Brent and I; myself; or just Brent will be recording a small episode during these breaks for you to enjoy and get the same quality of value out of.

In this sabbatical episode, we talk about the importance of respecting those who have come before you. You have to keep the disrespect in check when talking about the giants of this industry. We’re talking about Marvel, DC, Image, Milestone, and countless other companies who have paved the way for us to be here on the indie scene today. Your inspiration began somewhere. Your gateway into superheroes and comics were because of the larger companies/corporations. You may not agree with everything they’re doing, but we have to honor and respect the journeys they individually traveled to open the doors for us.


005: Story Is King (Part 2 of 6): The 7 Basic Plots

Thursday, December 16, 2015 – 48 minutes

Overcoming the Monster. Rags to Riches. The Quest. You’re indirectly familiar with these titles, because we’ve seen and heard them told in the movies, TV shows, books, and comics we’ve consumed for years. Author Christopher Booker had come to the conclusion that there were 7 Basic Plots in fiction. There are 9 altogether, but 7 of those 9 are the most prominent in what we’re familiar with today and throughout history.

In the 2nd episode of our 6-part series, we go over all 9 plots, their examples, and even go into how they’re used in our own comic projects and stories. We explore some of the more popular ones and their examples, namely Star Wars,considering the release of The Force Awakens that starts premiering tonight at Midnight in select theaters. This is an introduction to the 9 plots for those who may be unfamiliar.


004: Story Is King (Part 1 of 6): The Importance of Putting Story First

Thursday, December 10, 2015 – 49 minutes

Where your Why is the holistic driver of your project, your Story is the driver of the entire product. Without story, there is no book. Just a collection of well-polished ideas, thoughts, and a whole lot of high-end concepts that have no mobility or movement forward because there isn’t a story in place to take all that anywhere.

In our new 6-part series, we dive into the most important component for you comic project: Story. Putting one together is the make-it or break-it of the indie culture. We’re all full of ideas, but if those ideas have no structure or foundation to not only hold them in place, but tell them in a way that’s captivating, entertaining, and giving your audience something to read, those ideas are worthless.

In this first part of our 6-part series, we dive into the importance of putting story first in your comic project. We also talks about the dangers of world-building and briefly run down the basic story structure cycle so that you can get started writing immediately after the episode.


003: Finding the Soul Of a Character (Part 2 of 2): Superheroes, Villains, and Support Characters

Thursday, November 19, 2015 – 1 hour and 2 minutes

Should you give as much resources and time to your villains? Should you even waste your man power on supporting characters? You’re creating comics in the superhero genre, so more weight should be on the hero, right?

Your hero is only as great as his or her villain.

And without a supporting cast, your character lacks the much needed personal world to tell their stories outside of those superhero moments.

In this episode, we breakdown the souls of Superheroes, Villains, and Supporting Characters, and why it is beneficial in finding the soul in each.

Episode 002: Finding the Soul Of a Character (Part 1 of 2)

002: Finding the Soul Of a Character (Part 1 of 2)

Thursday, November 19, 2015 – 1 hour and 15 minutes

Your characters have the responsibility of not only telling your story, but keep those stories going for long periods of time. Without doing the necessary research and due diligence, you run the risk of not being able to that.

Your character’s soul is the makeup of their core beliefs, their values, what they stand for, and how all of that influences their decisions. Finding the soul is taking a stereotype or a trope and flipping it on its head to create a living, breathing, 3-dimensional character that can stand the test of time and provide your comic with stories for years to come.


001: Your Why Drives Everything

Thursday, November 19, 2015 – 1 hour and 12 minutes

You just started your new comic project. You’ve got all your friends on board, everyone is excited, and the hype train is in full throttle. But then a month goes by and everyone starts giving you their excuses.

“Hey man. I kind of want to work on my own thing for now.”

“This is fun but life is getting too busy.”

“I can’t commit anymore. Sorry.”

Do you give up too? Do you call it quits? When everyone leaves and your the only one left with the project, what keeps you motivated to finish what you’ve started?

Your Why. And it is the single most important component to starting your comic project.


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