On Colonialism and The Legend of Jamie Roberts

The other day, I got on Twitter, because I’m back on that platform for the fun of it. (Follow me for RPG content and hot takes). While scrolling, I spotted a Critical Role fanart piece. For folks not in the know, Critical Role is a show where nerdy voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons. In the fanart, The Dungeon Master sits at a table with miniatures scattered across it. The miniatures, of course, are the players’ characters.

One of the responses to this fanart said, “Hey! This is so good! Shout this out to Crit Role so they can use this into their intro sequence instead of using colonialism!”

Did that make you scratch your head? Here’s the missing piece:

Critical Role’s intro reel shows the cast in explorer costumes, poking around fantasy ruins. This is a callback to fiction like Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan) and H. Rider Haggard (King Solomon’s Mines). You know…fiction where rich white explorers poke around “lost continents” (read: Africa and India) to search for treasure.

Burroughs and Haggard wrote in a time when this narrative was seen as “romantic” and “adventurous.” Nowadays, this isn’t as good – it’s seen as exploitative of the native people. (Because it is).

Thing is, this Twitter commenter got me thinking about my own comic, The Legend of Jamie Roberts. It’s about a genderqueer pirate and their two best friends treasure-hunting in a land full of dragons. This is true – but it also leaves out the Indigenous people I have in the story. Put a pin in that for a second.

One of the works that inspired this comic is the Dreamworks movie The Road to El Dorado. It’s no joke that this movie is a foundational piece of who I am as a person. A LOT of my humor and sensibilities stem from this movie. (And The Emperor’s New Groove, but that’s for a different time).

Here’s a secret about The Road to El Dorado, though…

When the movie came out, the ads declared that this movie would have a “respectful presentation” of Central American history. Why? Because the art and animation teams went on location to do research. So imagine the backlash the movie got when people watched it and said, “ah shit, of COURSE the Indigenous people think the two white guys are gods.”

Now, Breadsword on YouTube already did a fantastic video on the history behind The Road to El Dorado. So watch that for more context. But the reality is: The Road to El Dorado is a callback NOT to Indigenous Central Americans. It’s a callback to Bob Hope and Bing Crosby comedies. The Road to El Dorado’s twist was that not everyone believed the two protagonists were gods. But the doubters kept up the charade for the sake of the people.

When I rewatched this movie for roughly the 187th time, I thought, “What if white people came to a new land… and actually INTEGRATED instead of raiding?”

That’s how I started writing The Legend of Jamie Roberts. At least…one of the previous drafts.

Now, The Legend of Jamie Roberts DOES have three white people plotting to rob Indigenous people. I’m not going to sugarcoat that. They’re pirates, after all. So what’s my twist?

Well, in Chapter 6, Jamie Roberts is going to do something that has lasting consequences. And they destroy something. And for the rest of the story, they have to deal with the consequences of their actions… and the reactions of the Indigenous people.

In Chapters 7 and 8, the story is going to shift from “I’m seeking treasure” to “I’m seeking redemption.”

That’s right – I’m going to subvert the White Explorer narrative.

The trajectory of “I’m seeking redemption” has been at the core of the story since the start. It took several drafts and many years of writing to figure out WHY. But I’m confident in this final draft of the story.

I hope you stick with me. Because The Legend of Jamie Roberts is about to get REALLY juicy.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

Falling A Twee Bit Behind on Some Things…

here's a picture of an art piece in progress. The 11 inch by 17 inch paper has a monster depicted whose body is mostly made of leaves. Next to the canvas is a tin full of colored pencils.

I want to talk a bit about how to set goals to be…more realistic. Because I have fallen a twee bit behind on a few things.

First, I wanna’ talk about this piece, pictured at the top.

Right now, the title is (tentatively), “Cryptid of Leaves.” I started this piece all the way back in 2019. So…it’s been A WHILE. I worked on it, then set it aside, because those leaves ALONE took effort to draw. And then I thought, “Let’s color this with colored pencil! That’ll get the look I want to achieve!”

And past me thought I could have this done in a month. On top of everything else I have going on. Which…(insert laughter here).

I have only worked on this in my free time, when I have the urge to do it. So I’m shifting the goal for this piece: I want it finished by…the end of October.

Why so late? Because I still have KickStarter rewards to fulfill and other books to put together. Speaking of which…

Second, I want to talk about the PDF for The Legend of Jamie Roberts, volume 1.

For KickStarter backers, I had said, “Oh this should be delivered to you by the end of May!”

It’s June 1st now. The PDF still needs put together. Oops.

To be fair, May was a big transition month. I quit working at NeverEnding (long story), and shifted back to freelancing full-time. Still, getting my freelance sea-legs back can only explain so much. All I can ask is please, continue to be patient. The PDF should still get done by the end of June. I’ll go more in depth about the process in a KickStarter update tomorrow.

Third, The Legend of Jamie Roberts.

So…I’m out of buffer. The month of May had some unexpected events that prevented me from keeping up with my usual production schedule. That means right now, I’m making the next updates as the story is going. That’s not a place I like to be in.

Does this mean that The Legend will get a temporary hiatus? I don’t know. But I’m tempted to have a short, two-week break from regular updates just so I can build the buffer back.

…Maybe I’ll just do that. Expect a more solid decision tomorrow, with The Legend’s usual Wednesday update.

I’ll end this here before this post gets too long. Thank you for stopping in! And thank you for your support.

You. Are. Awesome.

The Final Hours of Jamie Roberts, Volume 1 on KickStarter

We’re in the FINAL hours of The Legend of Jamie Roberts, volume 1 on KickStarter.

If you haven’t heard:

The Legend is the story of Jamie Roberts and their two best friends treasure-hunting with a stolen map in a land full of magic.

The story is a long-running webcomic project, but now…

  • We’re getting chapters 1 through 4 (plus bonus material) in one book.
  • The KickStarter launched to get funding so the book can go to print.
  • We reached our initial goal! And now we’re SO CLOSE to our next stretch goal!

Interested in getting the book? Back it soon – the campaign ENDS MARCH 27 – that’s THIS SATURDAY.

Rewards for backers include, but are not limited to:

  • Books!
  • PDFs!
  • Stickers!
  • Campaign-exclusive minicomics!
  • And more!

If we reach 50 backers, I’ll add new bonus material to the book: sketched versions of Chapter 5’s first 3 to 4 pages. Will you be our 50th? Or even our 51st?!

Broke? Share this post, or the campaign link (tinyurl.com/jamie-v1) FAR AND WIDE!

Thank you for your support however you show it.

You. Are. Awesome.

Last Week for The Legend of Jamie Roberts, Volume 1

a four-block design announces "The Legend's Last Week on KickStarter. Campaign ends March 27. More info at tinyurl.com/jamie-v1" In one block, Jamie blocks a sword attach from a soldier. In another block, Basho and Izhye gasp in shock. Another block announces rewards for campaign backers.

It’s the LAST week that The Legend of Jamie Roberts, volume 1 is on KickStarter. The campaign ends March 27!

The Legend of Jamie Roberts, volume 1 collects the first 4 chapters, plus bonus content, in one volume. If you love genderqueer protagonists, pirates, dragons, magic, and adventure, this is the story for you!

Early Bird rewards may be all claimed, but there are still other rewards. Like…

  • $1 – you get a copy of Jamie and Friends’ map made as a desktop background.
  • $2 – you get the above PLUS the minicomic The Legend of Norsa mailed to you.
  • $10 – you get the digital background PLUS a PDF copy of The Legend of Jamie Roberts, volume 1.
  • $25 – get the above PLUS the copy of the book with a custom autograph
  • alternately, $25 – get the digital rewards PLUS two copies of the book are donated in your name to your local library.

Can you back the campaign? Then check it out BEFORE MARCH 27!

Broke? Share the link to the campaign (tinyurl.com/jamie-v1) far and wide with your friends!