Bio: Byron Camacho is the creator, writer and illustrator of Star Boys Star Girls. Born in Trinidad, Byron grew up reading and creating comic books before leaving his home country at 19 to study film at New York University. He then spent 8 years working in the film industry, making his own short films, and teaching film in New York City, Los Angeles and his native Trinidad. After moving to Vancouver in 2017 where he received his BA in Graphic Design from Emily Carr University, Byron channeled his love for both film and comics into the creation of Star Boys Star Girls, a sci-fi comedy that follows two pairs of filmmakers in two alternative realities of 1970’s. The story is loosely based on and inspired by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg during the making of the original Star Wars movies.
Modular comics chatted with Byron about the story and design inspirations behind Star Boys Star Girls, his thoughts on digital comics and the future of the industry, and got some advice for other first-time comic book creators.
Modular Comics: What made you want to create a comic book, and why Star Boys Star Girls?
Byron Camacho: I've been wanting to make a comic book for a long time, and I came up with this story the summer before my final year at Emily Carr University [in Vancouver]. I was listening to this podcast about the making of the original Star Wars trilogy and I remembered how obsessed I was as a boy watching the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of those movies. I thought it would make a really cool comic and I ended up choosing to do it as my final project. It started out as a comedy about two filmmakers, loosely based on George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, getting tangled up with this UFO-worshipping cult. But after I presented a draft to my professor, she mentioned that a majority of these stories are usually focused on white, male protagonists and she challenged me to consider switching it up. At that point, I had already written all five issues and started illustrating the first one so I had no idea what the hell I was going to do. *laughs* But then it sort of hit me. I thought, well, what if I shifted the narrative from the male characters to female versions in an alternate reality? And that way, I was taking the story in a more progressive and conceptually interesting direction.
Modular: What was your thinking and inspiration behind the aesthetic and the design of the comic?
Byron: As this was my first full comic book series, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible. I decided to incorporate a very flat, almost cartoonish illustration style, inspired by artists like Abbey Lossing. I'm a huge fan of hers and I felt that the style suited the story, partly because of the comedic tone, but also because of the 1970’s timeline that the story is set. The covers were inspired by 1970’s movie posters and vintage sci-fi book covers and the interiors I drew partly from the work of Tom Muller, who designed all the aspects of the current X-Men comics. And, this one is a little bit more obscure, I was also looking at the work of people like Ted Butler, a designer from the 1970’s who created a design kit called Supergraphics which people could use to paint wall designs in their homes.
Pictured (left to right): Art by Abbey Lossing; Art from Star Girls #2
Modular: Do you think the style helps it appeal to a wider audience, beyond the traditional comic book fans?
Byron: Definitely. I wanted to create something that might speak to those people that might be into artists like Abbey Lossing or other contemporaries, and who might not be interested in comic books necessarily. I think that the comic book medium needs to evolve, and it needs to generate new audiences. I figured one way to do that is to try to put out work that feels unique and might appeal to a different person than [comics] normally do. So, yeah, I was trying to accomplish that with the art for sure.
"My background is mostly in film where every role is designated and you have less control or ability to actually oversee all aspects of a project. So to be able to see my comic through from the beginning to the end has been really, really satisfying."
Modular: The style is also very easy to appreciate in a digital format. Is that something that you intended?
Byron: Originally, it was intended for print. But then COVID happened and so this comic was just living on my computer. This was early on in COVID where pretty much everything was closed down and we didn't really know when that was going to end. So I thought that maybe I needed to embrace the fact that this was officially a digital comic, that this is the way it was gonna get out there. And when I viewed it on my iPad, it just felt right. I also knew it would be a good way to cut costs. So by the time I started working on the third issue, I really had [digital] in mind. So it is really informing what I'm doing now and I think that, looking into the future, it’s for the best.
Modular: As a creator and a comic book fan, how do you feel about that, the idea that comic books are probably moving more toward digital?
Byron: I think there's going to be a place for both [print and digital comics]. I'm excited to see where digital comics head next. There's a lot of room for innovation and I think that we've only scratched the surface of what can be accomplished. I think that it’s the future and it’ll also help the medium reach new audiences that have not previously existed for comics. It’s exciting!
Modular: You mentioned you had never created a comic book before outside of just pen and paper when you were a kid. How did you go from that to creating a 6-issue series with over 150 pages?
Byron: It was very much one step at a time. I realized I needed to decide on a process, decide on an order of things - that I was gonna do this and not do that. It took a while to figure that out but once I did, once I just set out to do the comic, step-by-step, it became easier.
Modular: What about doing it all yourself? That must have been challenging.
Byron: It's a lot! I don't know if I'm going to continue making comics this way. Hopefully the next one I do, I have at least one other person helping out with some aspect of it. But it's also extremely fun and satisfying doing it on your own. My background is mostly in film where every role is designated and you have less control or ability to actually oversee all aspects of a project. So to be able to see my comic through from the beginning to the end has been really, really satisfying.
Modular: Part of our aim at Modular is to encourage and inspire new comic book creators. What would you say to someone reading this thinking they would love to create their own comic but they have doubts, or feel like they can't?
Byron: Make a plan and just do it. As important as it is to develop and research, you don't want to get too bogged down and not know when to cut yourself off from that. I could have spent years developing this and never gotten around to doing anything. Fortunately for me, because I was eventually doing it for a class, I had a deadline and I had to have a very concrete timeline - what the stages were, how long I was going to spend in development and I needed to hit those. I think if you can do that for yourself, I think that's really important because otherwise you won’t get anywhere. Everyone has a different system and work ethic but I think having some structure and some system of accountability, I think that's important.
Modular: That's great advice, thank you! What other comics are you reading these days? What's inspiring you?
Byron: Right now I'm reading Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen by Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber. It's really, really funny and the art is incredible. Steve Lieber might actually be one of my favorite artists currently working. But like with a lot of Fraction’s work - he did Hawkeye and Sex Criminals - it feels like an indie disguised as a mainstream big two book. And that's a big reason why I really love it. It's very irreverent, and unique - I highly recommend it.
Download the first issue of Star Boys Star Girls for FREE here.