Kansas City comic book creator Juaquan Herron is adding another chapter to his ongoing graphic novel series, “The Scarlet Knight,” though this next iteration will be even more animated.
Describing the coming move as a long-expected next step, Herron announced he’s begun working on a five-episode animated video series — each about 10 minutes long — that will further “The Scarlet Knight” story.
“I did really well with the comic book, but I really wanted to get into the animation realm and really grow the comic book business, because I felt like I kinda hit a ceiling,” said Herron, who founded 2923 Comics.
He’s seen high-level interest in getting a “Scarlet Knight” series picked up by a streaming platform, though despite those conversations he continues to look for producers, showrunners, and animators who would like to get involved in the project and help him make connections.
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The pivot to digital animation is the natural progression of the comic book series, said Herron, who also is founder of Venboo, a booking app for vendors.
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“I’ve always known that we were going to evolve the company,” he said. “There was always a plan to go into some form of technology — we just didn’t know what. So I think this is a manifestation of where we wanted to see the company go.”
Herron plans to fund this new venture in part through the use of Artizen, which pools crowdfunded donations for 24 hours, up to $10,000, to award grants to a different project “at the frontier of art, tech, science, and design” each day.
Watch a promo video for “The Scarlet Knight” animated series below, then keep reading.
In return for their donations, Artizen contributors receive digital artifacts or NFTs related to the project, Herron said.
“It’s a process very unique to the artist community because now we’re going down the digital route,” he said. “These [digital] artifacts are going to be the way of the world here pretty soon.”
Donations culled by Artizen Jan. 18 went to “The Scarlet Knight.” Herron described the first haul as “pretty decent,” while noting he plans to re-apply for additional 24-hour cycles.
Herron created “The Scarlet Knight” upon returning to his native Kansas City to focus on writing after living in Los Angeles as a young actor and filmmaker.
“One thing I’ve noticed about entertainment in general is that you’ve got to put in the work first, and then they’ll come knocking if the work appeals to them,” Herron said.
He’s brought that mindset to “The Scarlet Knight” — especially with this latest endeavor as he works to shift the story from the pages to the screen.
“I’ve kinda tackled this in the sense that, ‘Hey, this is what makes me feel great. This is a great story to tell, and this is a way to tell it that’s unique.’ That’s how I’ve been running,” Herron said.
“I’m hoping that someone with a bigger bank account, someone who sees my vision and really wants to help the community — but more importantly give them a great source of entertainment — will pick it up,” he added.
Since its creation, the comic series — which is inspired by Herron’s own upbringing in southeast Kansas City — has been community-minded, tackling substantive topics like sexual assault, family separation, grief, and urban gentrification.
“I’m talking about different subjects that are hard to be in, but easy to swallow through the comic book,” Herron said. “It’s about how you can be raised in the same neighborhood, same community, same household, and still go to two totally different places in life.”
He attributed the success of the series to its relatability, noting that many fans tell him that they’ve experienced some of the same challenges faced by the characters.
“A lot of people invested in me more than they invested in ‘The Scarlet Knight,’ because my story is so intertwined with ‘The Scarlet Knight,’” Herron said. “People say, ‘I was raised by my grandparents, too. I want this book. I grew up in an underserved community. I want this book.’”
Herron believes fans will connect even more with the characters and these issues when seeing them portrayed on screen.
“To have that placed on the screen instead of in the comic book, I think that will be even easier for people to digest, because people take in information differently,” he said. “I’m hoping that it will not only create change, but also be a great source of entertainment.”