Review Fix Exclusive: J & M Studios Talks Diamond Age

Review Fix chats with Joseph Summers and Mandy Acosta of J & M Studios, who discuss their origin in comics and series Diamond Age.

Review Fix: How did you know a career in comics was for you?

Joseph: In my particular case, I loved making drawings since I was in pre-school. I remember spending many hours drawing using any tool and surface I could get my hands on, from pencils to crayons, and from white pages to newspaper margins, or even over the pictures in the news. During my school years in all the stages, I remember having spent doing such activity during class time, especially when I wasn’t interested in the taught subject, or when teachers didn’t get to me the way they should have. 

The same thing happened with comics. The latter started a bit later, during elementary school, most particularly during the second grade (7 years old). During that time, SNES consoles entered our neighborhood (not to my house, unfortunately), and the games that came with them opened up a new world for me. I remember that the ones that played a role in this were Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat, Bonkers and Wild Guns, from which I used to make what would be called FAN COMICS nowadays. My taste for comic and animated art got refined when I was 9 years old, when I watched my first anime when it aired on Cartoon Network: Ninja Senshi Tobikage (or in its English title, Ninja Robots). The art, the factions and the way characters acted and fought opened my world in ways I would qualify as unique.

My taste for comic series didn’t get refined until I was 13 years old, when I borrowed a 10 issue Marvel’s Spiderman arc from a good friend of mine. The part that called me the most was where the webslinger would fight the famous X-Men villain known as The Juggernaut, even trying to reach the group for tips on how to stop the guy. In my eyes, this crossover was made so naturally that it thrilled me. The firm smoothness that the characters acted, talked and interacted simply amazed me, and inspired me to create not just one comic, but a whole universe.

I then started looking at universes that were successful in the entertainment industry. I looked not only in comics, but also in the animated series and videogames that originated from them. Witnessing the beauty they projected, the power they gave the authors to create almost without any rules or boundaries, and the recognition they got as the bearers of products and franchises that make people happy, made me realize I had to bring something similar to this world. I had to bring something that would make readers happy. I had to bring something people would enjoy for a really long time.

That was the reason that made me realize that comic creation was not just a career for me. It IS my life.

Mandy: When I was a child, I saw my Friends drawing at school and I loved it. It is there when I decided to start drawing whatever I could think of. In primary and middle school, my teachers used to lecture me a lot due to the fact that all my notebooks were filled with drawings, most of them done during class time. 

Later on, in middle school, I started drawing fanarts of famous anime series and I started creating stories with them. It was not long before my original characters came to be. I made several comics with them, but never published them.  

However, when Joseph introduced me to this project, I loved the story, I loved the setting and I loved the character and landscape design, so I decided to hop on and take this trip together, no matter where it would lead us.

Review Fix: Who inspires you creatively?

Joseph and Mandy Studios: We wouldn’t dare say “who”, but we’d allow ourselves to say “what”.

What inspires us creatively? Seeing the beauty in other series and universes unfold with every chapter the authors bring out to the public, as well as witnessing their completely original characters live in those universes whatever the features may be. Manga and anime series like Dragon Ball, One Piece and Naruto, and Western comic and animation universes such as Sin City, DC and Marvel Comics are good examples of ongoing sentient worlds made by creators.

Our inspiration comes mainly from that sentience. 

Review Fix: How are your comics different or special?

Joseph and Mandy Studios: That’s a very tricky question to answer, since every creator believes his/her work is special one way or another.

What we can say for sure is that we have tried to bring a completely innovative and original series to the public almost in every aspect. We have a futuristic world with unseen tech, advanced daily magic usage, fantasy creatures living in a perfect society and…no poverty or hunger! For once, readers can witness a planet Earth that does not present itself as a wasteland, a war-torn dystopia or a highly corrupted medieval, modern or even futuristic society. There is no obvious conflict in any sphere to push our story into the tracks of war. There is just an amazing world that our main characters love despite its possible flaws and their own issues, and that they will defend against those who hate it or seek to destroy it. We simply present two seemingly average joes living in a world they consider worth living in, and worth fighting for. Of all the stories we’ve read, we’ve never seen such worlds nor heroic characters bent on protecting them.

The other aspect we consider special is our character build-up sequence. We’ve seen in many series the classic hero or villain that can, for example, bring buildings down with a punch, destroy entire planets using energy beams or, in a less divine way, disarm 10 armed guys with a single gun without receiving a stab or a shot. In our series, however, we present two Human average Joes with their very own fighting skills, weaknesses and personality issues. Contrary from most series we’ve seen, they do not start as powerful, nearly invincible guys, nor will they gain skills or powers that give them the excessive capabilities mentioned above. As their foes grow stronger with story progression, their increasing adeptness and strength will come from new weapons and tech, cyber implants, new fighting styles or moves and, at some point in the story, some minor powerups derived from all those new perks.

Last but not least, comes our Diamond World: a planet Earth with twice the diameter of the one we know and live in, with more space, land, places, natural resources and a unique society readers will know and love, or hate, as they advance. A world that big offers endless possibilities for spinoffs (which we are already exploiting and preparing), as well as never ending means to collaborate with other authors, always respecting its laws and the essence of our story. In other words, it’s not just a world people read about: they have the possibility to get immersed into it as long as the circumstances play favorably. 

We think those aspects are the ones that make our series unique.

Review Fix: What about this comic? Sell us. Sell us hard. 

Joseph and Mandy Studios: Diamond Age takes place in a futuristic and technologically advanced planet Earth, in which humans live with other mythical creatures (namely elves, orcs, dwarves, gnomes, vampires and werewolves, among others) in a perfect society that welcomes them all as part of its whole. Thanks to unprecedented worldwide technological advancements and centuries-long research, diamonds have been discovered as an infinite and clean energy source that has since kept the world (dubbed as “Diamond World”) in a paradisiac status, eliminating resource wars, poverty and hunger. However, crime, corruption, conspiracies, fringe science and dangerous paranormal events still occur, some of them uncontrollable by authorities.

This is where our two main characters, Zack Vitallis and Alex Vastagus, come in. Both protagonists are two well-trained and well-armed humans that own and work in a private agency that dedicates itself to handle such cases, all under paid contract. Although many of their clients are common city folk who somehow need their “help”, they have accepted cases from the Centrallis Police Department (or C.P.D.), namely from the police chief, Helena Rose. Most of the jobs they get called on basically involve dealing with deadly experimental weapons in the hands of criminals, or handling unexplained paranormal events that cause big scale harm. However, as the story progresses, the characters they meet and the cases they take will gradually entangle them in several conspiracies that could destroy everything and everyone if not kept in check, thus making them and their agency important for the fate of the world in the long run.

The two protagonists are introduced in the story as highly trained “Average Joes” with several weapons and gadgets that help them do their jobs better, each with their respective areas of expertise and mastery. As the plot advances, readers will subtly witness the improvement of Zack and Alex’s strengths and abilities and the maturity and wisdom they will acquire. Contrary to many series in the genre, their buildup will not involve harsh training, and they will not show exaggerated destructive abilities or powers. As the story progresses, their strengthening will take place through the acquisition of new weapons, the installments of cyber implants and, further in the plot, some minor supernatural powers, all which will come along with the progression of the story. The extent of their powers and the way of attaining them will come in a realistic way, always keeping the coherence with the features the Diamond World offers to their inhabitants. It is what we may call “Fantasy Realism.”

However, the main characters’ journey will show not only their combat strengths and weaknesses, but also their qualities and flaws in the personal and social fields. Both their turbulent pasts, which they still carry to the story’s present day, will also come to play a major role in their advancement and buildup, especially in the unique way they will have to solve their issues and unfinished businesses. More than a pair of futuristic warriors, Zack and Alex will be shown as people that, not only they are part of the wonderful world we present, but also have florid personal lives. Through the chapter fragments that depict their private time, readers will be able to touch the depths of the Diamond World’s essence, the very same essence that makes our protagonists love the world they live in. Readers will know a paradisiac Earth and a unique society our guys take pleasure in worshipping: a world worth living in; a world worth fighting for.”

And what better way to illustrate this perfectly blossoming society than through a majestic landscape? Centrallis, the city in which most of the story of Diamond Age takes place in, is the very expression of the diversity and balance such a society needs. Considered the hub of the world, it is the home of and estimate of 40 million people of many different races. Their essence is seen through the buildings’ architecture (which will show our conception of futuristic human, elven, orcish and dwarven buildings), vehicles, landmarks and day to day interactions. Readers will be sucked into an already pre-established world with its own laws and social rules, which they will discover as they travel through the city while following the journey of Zack and Alex. 

In conclusion, our series present an unprecedented story no lover of action and fantasy genres should miss, set in a paradisiac world both protagonists love and vow to protect from their humble positions as private contractors.

Review Fix: Who do you think will dig it the most?

Joseph and Mandy Studios: Diamond Age is intended for a 16+ public that loves realistic action, fantasy and suspense long series. However, no matter the sex, ethnicity, age or religious beliefs, almost anyone who likes the combination of the aforementioned genres will totally love and follow it. Once they get the hang of the plot and understand the beauty and uniqueness of the Diamond World, they’ll want to read more once they face the annoying logo that reads “TO BE CONTINUED…” at the end of each chapter. 

Review Fix: How do you want your books to be remembered?

Joseph and Mandy Studios: Every author wants their books to be remembered for posterity as the best ever written. However, our desires transcend that mere wish.

First of all, we want to be read, no matter the opinion (if good or bad). In our philosophy, a frustrated artist is the one who doesn’t publish or show his/her art, since he/she is not sure of the quality of his/her work. 

Secondly, we want our series to last on the air (and we got the right number of chapters for that, plus those that could come along the way). From our projections, the base script itself covers at least 8 years of publishing (provided we manage to create the conditions for releasing a new chapter weekly). Adding all the planned spinoffs and additional materials to the pot would give us publishing material for at least 10 years…and counting.

In other words, more than being remembered, we want to show our work, we want our readers to enjoy our work and we want to stay active as much as possible, so they can keep enjoying our content…and then they can remember us!    

Review Fix: What are your long-term goals for your work?

Joseph and Mandy Studios: Obviously, our studio has projections that go beyond comic publishing. 

One of our most prominent long-term goals is to bring our comic series to animation and air it on the appropriate channels (which we will determine when the time comes), from start to finish. Within that animation project, we want to include all our spinoffs and the extra content that would be generated along the way and bring all the happenings of the Diamond World into the big screen.

Besides the animation goal, we also have other non-disclosable projections (due to studio policies and written agreements) that will involve the gaming industry and the prominently emerging VR and Holo-tech universes.

Review Fix: Why should someone support your work?

Joseph and Mandy Studios: There is a number of reasons which make supporting our work a long-term good deed. However, there are two of them that matter to us more than the rest.

One of the reasons we consider to be of importance is that we offer a series which activity would last for at least a decade, considering the length of our scripts, the simple but exquisite elaboration of our long-term developed plot and all the content we plan on releasing, plus all the stuff we can generate or refine along the way. As we say in every interview, the Diamond World is so vast that anything is possible. Every corner, every region, and even every inhospitable desert or jungle is a potential ground for any kind of artistic development.  

The other reason we deem important involves our fellow creator support initiative, which includes interactive publicity, cameos, crossovers and cross-promotions. Through that program, we started to bring a new system to life that, with the telling of our story and the showing of our world, we also offer a glimpse of other marvelous new series that are waiting out there to be told and read. That way, we can guarantee that anyone that supports us would also be indirectly helping other emerging creators with their work as well. In other words, those who support us would indirectly help new stories and authors get the attention they deserve.

Review Fix:  Anything else you’d like to add?

Joseph and Mandy Studios: Joseph & Mandy Studios is a relatively new and discreet creator society based in Cuba, a country well known for its harsh economic situation, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic that has been affecting every country in the world. Besides being in early development and working with limited resources due to the mentioned facts, we intend to bring Diamond Age to greatness. No matter how harsh things get, how hard the situation becomes or how strongly the situation slows us off, WE WILL NOT STOP. Our series will take the planned road and beyond. Our story will be told.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Joseph and Mandy Studios: We started publishing our chapters on Webtoons, as means of entering the online comic world and obtaining views from all around the globe, since our story is published in English, Spanish and French languages. We have already published 5 chapters, and Diamond Age is still barely out of its diapers. There are a lot of chapters yet to be published in order for us to start the next stage of our road, which involves self-publishing and paperback sales. There is a lot of work to be done, and there is no turning back. The only way out is through.

Review Fix: Where can people find out more?

Joseph and Mandy Studios: Behold the links to our comic and our extra content.

Main page : https://linktr.ee/JosephandMandyStudios

Comic links

English : https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/diamond-age/list?title_no=514149&webtoon-platform-redirect=true

Spanish: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/diamond-age/list?title_no=514149&webtoon-platform-redirect=true

French: https://www.webtoons.com/fr/challenge/diamond-age/list?title_no=665003&webtoon-platform-redirect=true

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/JosephandMandySt

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/josephandmandystudios/

Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/notifications

Mangafy: https://mangafy.club/profile/615b93393ca7d462cf36d6f2

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About Patrick Hickey Jr. 12200 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

5 Comments

  1. Congratulations on being recognized! I knew your story will go on for a long time and it has amazing stories to share! Looking forward to what’s coming next!

  2. You know in life everyone can be so negative and mentally draining while bringing all our cons to light and setting aside our pros . So when I read this interview it showed me that you can bring your work to life you just have to be a juggernaut about it. And the definition of juggernaut in my opinion after reading this review is Joseph and Mandy . They’re e working together and paving a path with childhood dreams And I know when the path is finished it will lead to a beautiful sunset

  3. Gotta love the “Fog Of Blood”!!! Haha always a fun read! Keep up the good work guys we love Diamond Age!!!

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