The comics character Aaron Day, better known as Black Jack, is an African American adventurer created by comics writer, playwright and educator Alex Simmons, that stars in a series of self-published comics and graphic novels set during the 1930s. Simmons has lots of plans for Black Jack, including self-publishing a new anthology of illustrated Black Jack prose stories and the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the debut of AEON, a new online web entertainment, comics and gaming platform that has tabbed Black Jack as its flagship series.
AEON stands for the Arthawk Entertainment Online Network, a new transmedia platform with plans to launch a slate of pop culture properties as games, comics and online animated features. Simmons’ Black Jack series will be the lead series on AEON, but the platform also features three additional adventure series all conceived with mult-racial characters. AEON was conceived and founded by CEO Derrick Richardson, who has created comics art for DC, Marvel, Malibu and others. Simmons has come on board as the company’s editor-in-chief.
Simmons, a longtime comics writer and playwright who is also founder of Kids Comic Con, the annual kids comics festival hosted in the Bronx, said AEON plans to offer affordable content—the mini-video games, online comics and animation will be free, to start—as well as content with a diverse cast of characters. Simmons said the AEON platform will use a free-to-play model like Candy Crush based on advertising but offer also players the ability to buy in-app extras for more complex games as well as merchandise.
But the challenge, Simmons said, is the need to raise about $100,000 to capitalize AEON and produce an initial online comics story, animated episode and mini-game based on Black Jack to launch the platform. That’s where Kickstarter comes in. Although AEON has decided on a hefty goal—it hopes to raise $100,000 via the crowdfuding site. The Kickstarter campaign has launched and will end on July 2.
In addition to Black Jack, AEON will eventually launch three more series, they include Space Station Orbiter, a sci-fi adventure by Christopher Taylor, Action Angels International, a fantasy/superhero series by Derrick Richardson and James Allen, and I am Power Unlimited, another superhero series by Derrick Richardson and James Allen.
Simmons is self-publishing an anthology of Black Jack stories via Amazon CreateSpace. Black Jack Buried Secrets should be released this month with new prose stories by Simmons with art by Shawn Atkinson and Paris Cullins. And Simmons said that Black Jack: Second Bite of the Coba, the original Black Jack series with stories by Simmons and art by Joe Bennett, has been released in a foreign language edition in Holland.
He also said AEON is just about to launch a beta of its new website. The AEON platform will “go beyond print,” he said. “It will be multilingual for a global audience and we will offer more diversity with different genders, races and cultures. The entertainment industry has its big dogs, but indies have to look for new ways to connect to their audiences.”