Written by Neil Greenaway
At a quiet spot in Denver, I had the chance to sit down and talk with Scotlynd “Xing Xin” Bedford of Ximphonic Versus about his take on publishing indie comics. This interview originally ran on Bleeding Cool on 9/29/2016, and you can read their version of it here.
“In a contemporary and Gothic world ruled by Victorian Dynasties, Modern City Kingdom’s, Magical Beings and Mystical Swords Of Power, a prince seeks to reclaim his throne as he must make a choice between two evil’s and the woman he loves.”
That is the premise of both the new television show Ximphonic Versus: Fabula Cristallum Thronus (due out in 2017 from the Global Genesis Group) and the comic book on which it was based. I recently had the chance to sit and talk with the creator of the Ximphonic Versus universe about the future of his book and how he became a writer and Executive Producer on this new show.
Neil Greenaway: Today we are speaking with Scotlynd “Xing Xin” Bedford about his series, or multiple series at this point, because you have announced extra comic series. Is that correct?
Scotlynd Bedford: There’s quite a few more, but there are a few that I am trying to bring out a little sooner than others. So Ximphonic Versus is the first. That is the one that will come out first. Then there’s 9 Ryu, SIFU, and a few others. I should have some artwork that I can show for those in a couple months. But for right now the main one is just Ximphonic Versus book wise. And then there is also the TV series that’s in development for that one.
NG: And do those all tie into the same universe?
SB: They do. They all exist in the same world. The planet is called Levisominos Vie and that means “to be under the influence of sleep”. It’s like something has almost put a spell on you, and you have fallen into this deep sleep and drifted into this dream world. Levisominos Vie is Latin and that’s really what it is making reference to. The connection between Ximphonic Versus, SIFU, 9 Ryu, and the rest is that they all exist in this same world but at different time periods. Some things are connected by genealogy; some characters are related by blood that spans decades, or hundreds, or thousands of years by the generational gaps. Then there are other books that I’ll do that have a deeper connection to each of the series. That will come out in these various stories.
NG: Now are you actually doing the writing on each of these series?
NG: But you do have different artists working on a few of them, do you not?
SB: I create, write, draw, ink and do all the flats. And I’m the second digital colorist. Then my two main colorists are Endro Gatotkaca and Kevin Combs. Endro is from Indonesia and Kevin is from Chicago.
NG: How did you get hooked up with those guys?
SB: I remember I was looking for people to work with. And I went looking because I knew if I was going to try and do all this grand scale stuff, you can’t do it by yourself. It gets to this point where you reach this plateau. You say, “I can do A, but if I’m going to do B, C, D and all these other things, it’s going to take so much longer.” I need to be able to work with people who have talent and abilities that match this project. So I ran across Endro, and his talents are nothing short of spectacular. That’s really the best way to put it. Kevin in Chicago has, again, talents that are unbelievable. Things in his own personal projects that I’ve seen are amazing. So I was like, ok, let’s bring our forces together so that we can build upon something very unique and very vast. It really is, when you look at it, much like how you look at video game design or a movie. You have to have the director, you have the writer, and the producers. But then there are all these other people involved. They all help to bring that one vision to life, and it’s kind of the same fashion.
NG: To jump back just briefly, how long have you been working on this? Because I know that as a series it’s gone through a couple different names, it’s gone through a couple different incarnations. How long has the core concept been in motion?
SB: Since the end of 1995 into ’96. It literally has been 20 years. It’s funny; originally, years ago, Ximphonic Versus was called Destiny. Then, after that, it was called Endless Fantasy Versus. But because of how the story is set up, there are many plays on words with musical aspects. A lot of the references made are to things in an orchestra or symphony setting. So I realized I wanted the title to be a representation of the emotional elements that were going on. So then it became Ximphonia. But I had always liked when it was Endless Fantasy Versus, and I thought, “Well let’s combine them and make it Ximphonic Versus”. When that one came out, it just had this ring to it, and I knew that’s what I needed it to be. But the core story has remained the same this whole time. Very few changes story wise. Originally the main character was Frost, and it was about her and her twin brother. But then that changed and it took this different perspective. Now, Addonnis is the main character. Addonnis’ role has always been the same in the story, he plays the villain. He is actually the bad guy, because the story is about a man who has to make these choices between two evils. When you think about it, how can you do what’s right when your only choices are both wrong? He has to pick between one of those wrongs and find a way to make it right using only the same evil choices that began everything in the first place. I don’t want to call him the antihero. As a perfect example, look at Avatar: The Last Airbender. We have Zuko, who was definitely evil. But Iroh, his character changed after his son got killed. He began to realize that the way we are doing things is probably not how things should be done. I just use that to illustrate how it’s the same kind of thing with Addonnis. He was just brought up in this environment where, you’re nobility, you’re a prince, you come from this divine linage, you can do whatever you want and there are no repercussions. And that’s the disposition that he has. That’s how he really is, and as the story goes on, elements about him change. So he is not the MAIN villain, there is a greater evil, someone very bad, very terrible, that he is fighting against. But he is a villain.
NG: And then I know you’ve hinted several times that the weapons are important, that the weapons play a big role. Is there anything you can speak to about that?
SB: Yeah, the series, really it’s about these crystal swords of power. These swords came from the celestial dragons. The dragons forged all these swords by pouring their essence into them and it created these spectacular weapons that are actually alive. They are not just sitting there, they actually have life inside of them. So most of the swords are gone, most of them have been destroyed. Either because people destroyed them in conflict or the wielder was unable to control the power of the sword and they were destroyed by it. So now we are down to the last two. Well, in the story there is a legend about a crystal throne that could be claimed by the last true king. In order to do that, he would need to have possession of both the swords. But the swords have been gone now, they have been asleep for millennia. No one has seen them, no one has found out where they are. When the story starts, the swords have begun to re-awaken. And what happens is all these kingdoms and these various powers are aware that now this power is returning to the world so we need to claim it, we need to gain access to it. Everyone is trying to gain access to these swords, because with them you can have power to dominate. I wish there is more I can say about what goes on, but I don’t want to spoil it. I don’t want to take that away from people. But in the back of that, despite a war and everything else that is going on – the story comes down to Addonnis and Lunafryst and that’s really what it’s about, the very human things that go on but they are all parts of the story.
NG: So the story is also about Prince Addonnis and Lady Lunafryst. Are they related?
SB: She and Addonnis are not related but their relationship is like love, betrayal, mistrust, these kinds of things that make it work. It is inspired by and reminiscent in ways of Hamlet. Addonnis is very somber, very brooding. His disposition, he wears black all the time. There are just these very unique roles that each of them have in these divine charges that they are trying to fulfill. She is aware of hers. Addonnis, he really doesn’t like to talk about his power (the ability to see celestial light) because he feels when you are already different, the more different you are it just makes things. But when they meet, Lunafryst is very different. Her personality is very open where Addonnis is very emotionally closed off. So it’s a very interesting balance that they meet for each other.
NG: I know that you’ve had a couple publishers take a shot at this, so there are a couple comic book versions if the first issue floating around out there. As owner of a couple of these, I know the stories were different. Has the story changed at all? Or all they all in canon?
SB: Nothing changed, actually. The 2012 version was told from a later event of things that were happening. The Onyx Overture (which was just like another preview book), that is closer to the beginning of the story. So it’s not that the story is different, I have just showed two sneak peeks at two very different elements in the timeline. So when I did the Onyx Overture I decided to start a little closer to the beginning and kind of just reveal this introduction to Addonnis. I thought it was important to introduce him in the way he should have been introduced, so that’s why one book shows a certain element and then the self-published Onyx Overture shows other things.
NG: So if readers felt like finding those books, they are still considered by you to be in canon?
SB: Yes, it’s all still the same. The first book that came out in 2012, the events that you’re seeing are closer to episode 4 than anything else in the series. The Onyx Overture which came out last year – that is in episode 1, so it’s showing where things are starting. Then there are all these other parts that have never ever been shown the light of day, but once it does come out, I will show people everything in order the way it’s supposed to go.
NG: Also, back in 2012, there was a soundtrack with the book which you touched on just briefly. I know the soundtrack has also changed. Is the book supposed to be enjoyed with music? Do they go hand in hand?
SB: They do. The first composer that we had, he was a talented guy. He was very nice and we worked together on it. I didn’t want to put it out as soon as he did. But once it was all ready, he put it up on his website, and I was like ok, it’s already out, so let’s include it in the box set. On that soundtrack, he understood what I was trying to do, but not 100%. I knew that was something had to be revisited and had to be redone. So I met the famed composer Michael Roberts. And Michael Roberts is incredible. He has worked on award winning films. He did arrangements on Castlevania: Mirror of Fate for Nintendo 3DS, I mean he is incredible. So I had messaged him and said “I’ve got this project and I’m working on it, this is what I’m going for.” So we talked, and he saw Ximphonic Versus and I think he saw it and he could appreciate what I was trying to do. He was like, I want to help you do this. So he agreed to it and the soundtrack now is as it should be. It’s beautiful, it’s dark, it has that feeling of mystery and intrigue and suffering all of these things that play into this story. Ximphonic Versus really is just this story of victimized people victimizing each other, it’ really the simplest way to put it.
NG: Let’s move on to your TV show, having talked a little about the comic. How did the Ximphonic Versus show come to be? Did you have to go to them to shop it around or did someone see it and come to you?
SB: It’s funny, I had never known how to really get in touch with some of these big guys except for the open channels that they have. Like you go to Cartoon Network, or Nickelodeon or these various animation studios and they have things where you submit and you pitch it. I thought, hey, it’s a shot in the dark. Then Charles Morris, who is the Vice President for the Genesis Group, him and Rick Romano run it. I saw Charles online and I messaged him, we weren’t even friends yet on Facebook and I messaged him and said, “look I was just wondering, I see that you work with film and television, is there a way I could show you something that I’m working on, that I am trying to really show people something I don’t think they have seen in this medium, so can I just show you?” And I didn’t know what he was going to say, here was this Hollywood guy making movies, so I had no idea. But he messaged me back and he said sure. So I sent him a picture of Addonnis holding is swords and his phantom powers activated so you could see it around him. Charles saw it, and he liked it and he said, “I’ll tell you what, I’m going to give you our corporate number and you call us at 3 o’clock.” Mind you, at this point I’m freaking out, I’m like this cannot be happening. So I called and he says, “Tell me about your series.” And we talked for maybe a 12, 15 minute conversation and at the end of the conversation they said “Ok, we like it, we’re going to send you a contract for it.” And here we are with this TV deal. And the funny thing is, they said yes to something, and there’s all this stuff that is involved in it. We’re talking worldwide television and they said yes when so many people said no, because they didn’t like or they didn’t get it. And I thought the thing about comics creativity was to be unique, and to be different. But I have had all these huge publishers look at it, and nothing ever panned out the way I would have liked it to. That was unfortunate, but now we’re going to do this and it’s so much bigger. Charles looked at it and he saw enough of a value in something that we could talk some more. It was a very nice kind of like reassurance, like you’re not crazy. Because I spent a lot of time thinking maybe, did I do something wrong? Is there something wrong with the story? It’s been a really exciting experience and I’m looking forward to have things to show people. It just all kind of happened that way and we’re in active development and we’re moving forward.
NG: Having seen the book, it’s very lush, but not only is it lush there are a lot of fantastical elements to it. In bringing that to the screen, are you looking at live action that would be heavily CG’d or are you looking at animation?
SB: We’re going to do; it’s going to be like an anime. I am not opposed to live action, I would love to get live action as well. I would love to do that as well as the series, but we are starting with animation. I look at Kingsglaive, just phenomenal, that was very, very good. If we could do that kind of CG, I would love to at some point. But I know that where we are at right now is animation. So that is what we are looking at. It would be much closer to an anime where it would have that kind of aesthetic feel and what I am hoping to gear it towards production wise like the Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. That movie is phenomenal. That movie is one of the best animes I have ever seen. So that is like the kind of quality that I want people to see when they see Ximphonic Versus. To be able to have people see what I see in my head moving around the screen, that’s really what I’m looking forward to.
NG: Then going back just a little to the comics again, you had said that once the TV show gets on course you would like to revisit publishing it as a comic book, perhaps under your own publishing house. Would the comics that came out be telling the story covered by the show? Or would you be doing a divergent path, telling a tangential story?
SB: The way the story is written right now, the TV episodes and the comic episodes are the same. I want to be able to publish it with my own company. But let’s say a professional publisher came along and said they wanted to do it before the show, I would still put it out and the show would still follow those same beats. There are always little things that change between books and TV, it always happens, but for the most part it would stay very consistent.
NG: Another question looking into the future. You have said the universe is so big and there are so many stories, and you already know what the stories are, would you ever consider moving into a 3rd medium and perhaps trying to do a prose novel?
SB: I have thought about novelization for Ximphonic Versus and some of the other stories. Those are things that have come across the table and if that was something that was done, I would like to partner with an author who knows what they are doing and they are well versed in certainly something closer to that type of fantasy. That I think would be the best way to pursue that. But those are things that I certainly would like to be able to experience and do.
NG: You are obviously very heavily influenced by Asian style not only in the name, but right down to the art, even the writing style has a cadence to it that seems a little more eastern. Have you spent any time there, or how did you come by that as an influence?
SB: Part of my family is Asian and as far as I can remember I have enjoyed that culture. I have really come to appreciate it over the years more and more and not because of the anime or the manga, but because my day job deals a lot with Japanese history and philosophy and culture. They are amazing people, they really are, it’s just absolutely mind blowing how their culture has survived for so long. That’s where I drew it form, that’s where it comes from, all these different elements. With Ximphonic Versus I tried to perfectly meld European and Asian reference very carefully together.
NG: Really just one more kind of wrap up question. If folks who are reading this wanted to find you online, want to see more, want to know what’s going on, where would they look?
SB: So Ximphonic Versus has its official Facebook page which is the Fabula Cristallum Thronus, there is also a Broken Heart Productions Facebook page – that is my company that I own and is the studio that produces the book. The Global Genesis Group is the Hollywood company that has optioned the book and the show is also on IMDB, it’s up there. They have a synopsis and artwork so when I saw that it blew my mind. So that’s where everything is at. You can always contact us from one of the Facebook pages. I always make sure that myself or one of the admins replies to the messages that come in, so we always try to make ourselves available to anyone who is wanting to talk or curious about things.
NG: Good stuff. Thank you for your time.