Small town superheroes
Stoughton featured in quirky comic book series.
Superheroes in Stoughton? A giant rabbit threatening the city?
It’s all possible in the fantasy world of comic books, and this adventure focuses on two wannabe superheroes — Vidar, a Viking, and Hans, a free-spirited magic troll.
The Vidar and Hans comic book series is the brainchild of friends and Deep Well Studios LLC co-owners, Gary Nauman, 58, above left, and Nathan Peterson, 28, employees at Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.
“I’d been toying with this idea for a while,” says Nauman, a graphic artist. Then Peterson, a writer, approached Nauman with an interest in comic book cartooning, hoping to develop his art.
The idea of a character with a secret identity came to Nauman after attending a Viking encampment at a past Syttende Mai festival in Stoughton. As it turned out, one of the fully costumed Vikings was someone Nauman had met before, and it played on his creative mind.
“I thought, ‘Someone could have a secret identity and just be hanging out in Stoughton!’” he laughs. “Then we added a troll to complicate things.”
The storyline references familiar Stoughton backdrops and businesses. Peterson draws the two main characters, while Nauman illustrates the backgrounds and supporting characters.
“We were going to create every page as a one-panel, one-moment treatment, like ‘The Far Side,’” Nauman says. “But as we continued, we realized we could link ideas to continue the storyline. Now, it’s like these characters are presenting their ideas to us, and we’re rolling with it.”
A cliffhanger at the ending of Vidar and Hans, Issue No. 1, for example, launches the storyline for the just-released sequel, Vidar and Hans vs. Bunzilla.
“These characters want to be superheroes, but they don’t have a chance because not a lot happens in Stoughton,” muses Nauman. “They’re just chilling at the library or the coffee shop hoping something happens.”
That is, until Nauman’s creation, Bunzilla, a giant rabbit-supervillain, wreaks havoc.
Says Peterson: “Superheroes are always based in large cities, but don’t small towns have problems and need superheroes too? That was our angle.”
At first glance, the characters’ superpowers seem somewhat unimpressive. Hans, for example, can create porridge and root vegetables on demand. But wait! There’s more to that story, the creators promise.
Nauman and Peterson planned to introduce the comic book last year during Syttende Mai until their dream was dashed by COVID-19.
They formed Deep Well Studios LLC in March 2020 as a side business and will publish two issues a year. The comic book is available on Etsy.com and other online sites, and for sale in paper form at a handful of area shops, but Kickstarter has been its largest income-generator thus far. Each comic book sells for $5, and they hope to raise $5,000 annually to cover costs.
“We came into this just wanting to sell our comic,” notes Peterson. “We had no idea about the need to establish an LLC and handle sales tax, so SCORE has been a huge help in getting us more business-focused.”
They’re also not quitting their day jobs. “We just did an advertising cycle on Facebook and 10,000 people saw it, about 250 people engaged, and six people clicked on the link. I think we need to work on sharpening that,” he smirks.
Neither artist aspired to become a comic book writer. “Our creative interests just melded. I don’t think I’m particularly funny,” Peterson admits, “but when we get together, we make each other laugh. There’s something about the collaboration that works.”
Deep Well Studios LLC
Click here to sign up for the free IB Ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.