Filmmaker and writer Etienne Kubwabo’s 2020 comic book Beats of War is one of the more notable publications of recent years, introducing readers to DJ E.T., Scotland’s first black superhero, who comes to Earth to find a way to save his home planet.
Set in and around Glasgow, with a clever clash of styles and cultures, it brought a fresh and approachable voice to the often closed world of comic books. SNACK caught up with Etienne Kubwabo to talk about the release of Beats of War 2.
How does it feel to be releasing Beats of War 2 into the world?
I feel grateful, happy and excited about the release of Beats of War 2. People were waiting patiently for the next issue and it has received positive feedback. Doing projects independently is never easy, but when it comes out and touches people, like Beats of War is doing, it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world because I feel that I am contributing to this human experience we are all having.
What has happened since the first issue?
Since the first issue came out, I have been going around schools and charities doing workshops related to Beats of War. The focus of these workshops has been helping kids re-imagine the world they want to live in, recreate it in their minds positively through stories and comics.
I have also been working on more issues of Beats of War. I am so excited about the seed I am planting at the moment. My focus is always on Scotland and Congo, and how I can link them through a fictional and epic story that will reach more people around the world.
I have been attending a lot of Comic Con events too where I have met amazing creators in Scotland. I have attended Dundee’s BGCP Comic Con, and I have more planned this year. My plan is to get all the people of Scotland knowing about the new superhero story happening right outside their door. Most Beats of War fans love the fact that it’s set in Scotland.
How challenging has it been to get this issue made and published?
It’s always a challenge making comics independently, especially when it comes to financing. When issue 1 came out a lot of people loved it and they told me to start a GoFundMe campaign and that they would be willing to help the production of the next one in that way. I am so grateful to have raised almost £2,000, which went towards issue 2. We have a community in Scotland that is always willing to help creative people. The other challenge was the pandemic, but my team is passionate and committed to Beats of War and we managed to make a plan of releasing these coming issues.
There are many influences in the first Beats of War, such as Marvel comics and the MCU, as well as Peaky Blinders and the history of Glasgow’s gangs. Does that continue in this issue, and are there other influences that people should look out for?
The history of Scotland will be in this one too, and I have also used African cultural influences to create and add some futuristic spaceships for ET and the new characters. And look out for real places in Glasgow – places you will recognise – and more action, of course.
When we last spoke you mentioned that you would like Beats of War to be made into a film? Is that still the dream?
I definitely want Beats of War to be a film. I still believe there is a jaw-dropping epic superhero story set in Scotland that has not been told. This could start off with a TV show, which then gives enough time for people to know the characters, and eventually we make it into a film.
You must be delighted about the positive response to the first issue. Were you surprised?
I was surprised by the response because, coming from my culture, only a few of us create and write comics. Some of my friends asked me, ‘Who is going to read that, mate?’ But I had this feeling in my gut that I should do it. So, my advice to others is to be honest with yourself and tell your story, and leave the rest to the world. One thing I know is that if you believe in what you are doing, believe it enough, people will definitely check it out.
Should we expect Beats of War 3 soon? And if so, is there a way people can support its creation?
Beats of War 3 will be out very soon. The production of my comics is stable now, and you will be getting the next issue in a few months. My GoFundMe is still running. If you search online for ‘Etienne Kubwabo GoFundMe’ you’ll find it.