It is rare to find the author of a creative work who was an instant success, never tasting the bitter flavor of failure. Those who persevere despite failure generally gain valuable knowledge that is forged in the exhausting and often demoralizing process of moving past the most recent rejection and onto the next opportunity. This struggle is an experience that Albuquerque-based David Pinter and Samuel Dalton may know too well in bringing their animated series Indigo Ignited to life.
Indigo Ignited is a Japanese anime (short for animation) created by Pinter and Dalton and revolves around a post-apocalyptic fantasy setting which follows an orphan named Kieran and his friends in their struggles against the evils of their world.
For those unfamiliar with the art form, anime is a billion-dollar industry in Japan and continues to grow in popularity in the United States. Streaming websites like Crunchyroll and Netflix have helped spread this uniquely Japanese storytelling and art style to many Americans. This has led generations of American children and adults alike to find inspiration by the anime (animation) and manga (comics) produced by Japan.
Pinter and Dalton are perfect examples of life-long fans of anime, who then hoped to break into the industry using their respective talents in writing and artwork. Far from reaching a conclusion, their story begins in nostalgic youth, transitions to the difficulty of establishing themselves within a competitive business, and now finds them on the verge of fulfilling their wildest dreams as they seek funds from Kickstarter to aid in the creation of Indigo Ignited by an actual Japanese anime studio.
We spoke with Pinter to get a better sense of how their project reached this pivotal moment, and the emotional ride involved in getting this far.
How did you get interested in anime and manga, and how did you and Samuel Dalton come to work together on Indigo Ignited?
David Pinter: I originally moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico for college from a small suburb outside of Corpus Christi, Texas. Growing up in a small town definitely has its advantages and disadvantages. Back in the 2000s, anime wasn’t as accepted or accessible as it is right now and I think the glaring disadvantage of living in a small town is that you get lumped into a grouping pretty quickly due to your interests. I fell in love with anime, the storytelling and art aspects were very captivating for me but going back to the disadvantages; I had to hide my love for anime. The first anime I ever watched was Dragon Ball Z and I was pretty hooked after that.
Similarly, Samuel [Dalton] grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico but didn’t have many opportunities to
explore his artistic passion of drawing manga/anime. Samuel started drawing at a very young age,
inspired by comics, manga, and anime, but was extremely limited to learning these art mediums. Being completely self-taught, Sam would spend countless hours drawing characters from Dragon Ball Z, erasing, learning and redrawing over and over again until
his craft was at a point of professionality. Inspired by several video games, anime and manga, Samuel has an intricate art style that is often hailed as a perfected balance of Japanese and American styles. Samuel has an extensive collection of anime, comics and manga that have influenced him over the years.
We met through a mutual friend. I had developed a personal story into a script and wanted to adapt that into an anime because I felt that would be the purist version for it to be told. Samuel and I met over coffee in 2014 and I shared with him the script and the reason I had to tell this story. Without hesitation, Samuel agreed to work on the project as a partner and help me develop and flesh out the entirety of the project.
Tell me about the origins of Indigo Ignited specifically, how did this project get started?
We had a lot of difficulty getting the project started because when we started working together, we always saw the series as an anime, but when we approached several studios with questions, a vast majority of them brushed us off and laughed at the prospect of creating a traditional hand-drawn anime. Feeling heavily discouraged, we decided to take everything one step at a time. This lead us to use the traditional methodology employed by the Japanese to get their show(s) noticed; make a manga first.
The following year, we worked tirelessly to create a manga that we believed in and poured our heart and soul into every aspect of making something we were proud of. Eventually, our dedication was noticed. Had we not started as a manga, we see how impossible it would’ve been to secure a Japanese studio– so we are definitely glad we went that route first!
Which Japanese studio are you working with to adapt Indigo Ignited into an anime series? How did you come to collaborate with this studio?
We are working with D’Art Shtajio to adapt Indigo Ignited into an anime. D’Art was formed from the remnants of several talented artists of famous Japanese anime studios who had left their studios to pursue projects that they felt upheld artistic integrity and could challenge them as artists. We began collaboration with D’Art through many-many-many-many ‘Nos’ from other studios– 38 ‘nos’ to be exact. Eventually, we reached out to Henry Thurlow, an American animator working in the Japanese animation industry. Henry was very skeptical of the project at first but through many meetings, he agreed to take it up to his superiors to review the project for approval. An incredibly nail-biting and stressful week landed us a ‘yes’.
Can you explain the significance of your tagline, “An American Anime Series”?
I think it’s important to note the general Juxtaposition of that tagline. There are some shows that tout the fact that they are ‘Americanized’ anime, which basically translates to ‘art that is anime inspired’. My take on that is if you’re driving a car that looks like a BMW but it doesn’t have the BMW engine; it’s not a BMW. We took careful consideration in making sure we had the best Japanese animators work on the project from start to finish. All the sequences, art and storyboards are hand drawn and completed in true Japanese anime fashion, no shortcuts here. We’ve actually started using a new tagline ‘Anime: Redefined’ because we felt we were offering a completely new definition to what anime is understood as, which at its core is unavailable to Americans until now.
What is really involved in the process of getting a comic project ready to pitch and transition to a full anime series?
An enormous amount of passion. Samuel and I really struggled to find our place not, just in the industry but in life itself. During the beginning stages of Indigo Ignited, we had essentially left our jobs to pursue something that had no track record for success, no roadmap and no security. This is obviously a very difficult conversation to have with your family and is usually met with a fair amount of pushback. I think being very explicit with your goals, ambitions and never yielding on your passion really says a lot though.
We had to secure investment to get the show made – and that was hands-down the most stressful part of the process – but because we presented what we had already overcome, that alleviated a lot of doubt. You have to be prepared. You have to think of everything like a business and you have to present business opportunities through your art. Having a clear-cut plan with supporting evidence of success helps your claim. Mostly, you need to find a deep-seeded love in order to drive you past the sleepless nights, the constant rejection and the looming fear of failure.