Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Indie Spotlight - The Illumi-Nerdi Interview

Today's indie spotlight focuses on The Illumi-Nerdi. They're two guys with a blog and a dream and they've built quite a following for themselves so far.

 More questions after the jump:

1. Who are the members of your core group?

There are only two members that work on our blog: Phil Butehorn and Brian Harris. We both work at Ruby Tuesday while we attend graduate school (Phil at Brooklyn College, Brian at Queens College). Let me tell you, we are awesome at serving America. But if the fanboys want to read “Shepherd” then we will no longer need to be waiters. So please….be interested.

2. How did the Illumi-Nerdi start? What was your original goal?

Sometimes being a waiter can get boring and we needed an escape. Right away, we had these enormous dreams like getting published by Image and having comic book groupies (that’s a real thing right?). Well, almost a year and half later we are no longer na├»ve. In the beginning, the purpose of the blog was to create a fan base so that we could introduce our comic book entitled “Shepherd”. Along the way, we have interviewed Matt Hawkins, Scott Lobdell, and Joe Esima. We ended up getting so caught up in doing interviews and creating Top 10 lists for heroes and villains, and our Artist/Writers Deathmatch. However, that is all about to change.

3. How have things changed since then?

Recently, we decided to do something that has never ever been done before. We decided that the best way to create a fan base was to be bold and crazy. Remember VH1’s “Behind the Music”? We created a concept called “Behind the Writing”. At the moment, we are giving our fans a behind the scenes look into the creation of our book. Since June, we have allowed our fans to vote for the title of our book. The winning title was Shepherd. More recently, we unveiled our first art promo, which was done by Kelly Williams ( For everyone that loves our Artist Deathmatch contest, there is talk of a possible All-Star Artist Deathmatch.

4. Tell us about your first deathmatch from concept to finish.

The first Deathmatch was incredibly successful. We had 10 contestants and five rounds. Each round consisted of a well-known comic book character. We used Wolverine, Superman, Batman and a few others. We had one rule, no colors. At one point during the contest, we had 350 votes in one day. It was this contest that made us realize that we need to be constantly doing something different to bring new viewers.

5. Tell us about your second deathmatch and how it differed from the first.

Sadly, this contest didn’t do well as the first. Steven ‘Sash’ Scott was unable to participate so his title was up for grabs. Unlike the first contest, the winner of the second Artist Deathmatch would get prize money. We thought this would bring 15-20 contestants but it only brought in 10. In this contest, we wanted to introduce our characters from our book and we were successful in that. However, fans had no idea who these characters were and while that might be interesting to some, the fact that the characters were unrecognizable didn’t help the contest. The most votes we got in one round were about 250. The most consistent thing about the two contests was the incredible talent that we were able to bring into the blog. The winner of this contest was Greg Kimmett, who actually came in second during the first Deathmatch.

6.What is your current comic project about and who are your creative team?

Our first comic book is titled “Shepherd” and it is written by two handsome guys from Long Island, Phillip Butehorn and Brian Harris. We already have the first five scripts written and have twenty-two issues outlined. Shepherd is Smalllville and The Breakfast Club meets Runaways. Our story focuses around several high school students that have abilities. Unlike other comic books, this book tells the actual journey of our teenage characters becoming either a hero or villain. From the very first issue, the readers can only begin to start making guesses on who becomes the hero or joins the dark side. One of our favorite heroes is Spider-Man. We enjoy reading Spidey because we were able to connect with the character. One of our goals is to have our audience make a personal connection with our characters. Do you know a cheerleader who pretends to be a bitch because she is insecure? Do you have a parent who scares you when they drink heavily? Do you worry too much about your friends and family and put too many of your burdens on their shoulders? Well if you answered yes to any of that, I think you found the comic book that you’ve always been looking for. Yes, our book is about the origin of our superheroes and supervillains but every issue has a lot of realism.

7. What are your publishing plans for the project?

Actually, breaking news, you’re the first to know about this. We are planning to create a preview comic book for Shepherd. We are hoping and praying to maybe start handing out this book in the beginning of 2013. The preview will consist of the first few pages of issue one and then the rest of the book will consist of certain pages from the first five issues. If the 200 copies are sold, then we are going to kickstarter.

8. What characters would you like to be able to use in a project?

We would love to write a one shot about Alfred. The entire issue would focus on Alfred trying to solve a crime during the day. In parallel to the story, the reader is introduced to Alfred’s journey in becoming the Wayne’s butler.

9. When did you start reading comics and what are some of your fondest memories?

It all began in 1993. Batman’s back was broken, Superman died and 4 Supermen took up his mantle and Kyle Rayner became DC’s new Green Lantern. The first 40 dollars Phil ever made was spent on a Superman movie statue. According to his mom, he started humming the Superman theme song around 3 years old.

10. How do you think crowdfunding is changing the indie game?

Sites like indiegogo and kickstarter are a great way to branch out and get your name and project out there. It is amazing to see how many people are willing to contribute to a project. IT has really changed the way indie comics are sold and often created.
Brian Harris and Phillip Butehorn

11. Who should the big companies be bringing in from the independent scene?

We want to see Riley Rossmo do a Batman book. His art from Green Wake was dark, creepy and brilliant. If Runaways was to ever come back, Marvel needs to think about hiring Landry Walker. He does a phenomenal job throwing the Superhero sidekick stereotype out the window.

12. What creators would you like to work with in the future?

We would love to co-write a story arc with Robert Kirkman or Kurtis Wiebe.

13. What does the future hold for the Illumi-Nerdi?

Well, we’re going to keep pushing “Shepherd” and do some more stuff with the Behind the Writing for our blog. While we do that we’ve been working on a second book. This one is titled “617”. Without spoiling anything, it is the Rapture meets Lost. We have a detailed outline for the first five issues and have a basic outline for a rather ambitious fifty total issues.

The Illumi-Nerdi
Behind the Writing
Who is Ron Darius?


  1. Nice interview guys. I know more about you than I did. Keep plugging.