Battle Brick Road is a post-apocalyptic retelling of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” children’s fantasy novel. Lions, tigers, and bears are the least of Thea Gale’s concerns in a fractured utopia called Oz.
On a desperate search for her missing father, Thea Gale and her trusty protector drone, TOTO, descend into the bizarre world of Oz. Governed by four powerful robotic beings known as the Watchers, Oz is home to a vast assortment of genetic hybrids, roving androids, and a mysterious scarecrow on a quest for vengeance.
Battle-hardened, survival-savvy Dorothea Gale, nicknamed Thea, searches for her missing father through the futuristic technological wasteland called OZ, Operation Zephyr after receiving a message from him found by her uncle Henry. At her side is the hovering drone named TOTO, Target Objective Tactical Overwatch, given to her by her father as her trusty protector. On her journey, she will meet the mysterious Scarecrow, a skilled vigilante, with firearms and a deadly scythe, who is on a quest for vengeance.
The bleak world of Oz has wound up divided into four separate spheres of influence, ruled over by the Watchers of the North, South, East, and West. And some of those Watchers are downright wicked. The villains are served by their armies of perverted biological and technological creations, an assortment of genetic hybrids, and roving androids. Can Thea form a team, find her father, and survive her journey?
THE CREATIVE TEAM
The creative team working on the main story consists of artist and letterer Eric Weathers, writer Zeb Hatfield, colorist Vinicius Townsend, and editor Brandon Crowther. The main cover art was done by Farah Nurmaliza and Eric Weathers. Variant cover art by Kenneth Rocafort.
Eric Weathers is the letterer for most of the books I backed since last year including DragonRage: Cradle of Embers Issue #1, The Lucent: Waking Dream, The Saints: Unearthed, The VeilWalker #1, Alien Alamo, Guardians of Erloth, and Star Circuit Chapter 1.
Battle Brick Road is the first time I got to see his work as a comic artist. Based on my research this would be the second crowdfunding project where Eric is the artist. The first one being “The Flying Fortress”. Zeb Hatfield is known as one of the writers of Frankenaut Vol.1. I have no idea who the remaining team members are.
Zeb Hatfield, Mark Marianelli (Six AM Comics), and Eric Weathers worked on the short story titled “Meet me in St. Louis”. I know Six AM Comics for his work on Charlies London: From the East Lane to the Limelight. His art is very distinctive and easy to recognize.
The supplemental book features art from Eric Weathers. The book layout and design were done by Ryan Onorato and Von Klaus. It includes an ashcan written by Zeb Hatfield with art by Eric Weathers and colored by Marcos Martins.
Just a general reminder to project managers that crowdfunding campaigns are open to everyone to back including people that will pick up a comic book for the first time. For the artists, on crowdfunding projects, their art will speak for itself but the remaining team members which are also part of the selling point, unless mentioned they will remain unknown during the duration of the campaign. Therefore, I think a short bio about the artist should be on the campaign. If a bio is too much work at least mention some of the names of the projects, they worked on.
Battle Brick Road is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thrilling story published by Eric Weathers and Zeb Hatfield for young adults. It has some horror and unexpected thrilling moments that will keep you rooted in the story.
The spot glossy softcovers and interior art of the books are printed in full color on high-quality paper. The campaign offered the main book with 2 covers and a supplemental book. The main book is an 80-page full-color graphic novel containing, a foreword page, 64 pages of the main story (if you remove the black page), a page with the listed team members, a 13-page short story, a thank you page to the collaborators of the campaign (I’m assuming) and a fanart page at the end.
The supplemental with a full glossy cover is also an 80-page full-color book that includes the ashcan “2018 Operation Zephyr Ashcan” that illustrates the colored and black and white version of some interior pages on 14 pages, a short summary about Oz illustrated on 2 pages. Further, we will find 33 pages of concept designs and 13 pages of fanart.
MY WORLD OF OZ
I don’t remember seeing the complete movie from 1939. My mother says I did but I don’t remember. Over the years I have seen clips from the movie and had friends who were fans of the IP. Through them, I knew the basics of the story and who the characters were.
I think because I am not as attached to the IP as them and know the basics, I’m more open to watching other interpretations of the story. I liked the 2007 Tin Man miniseries and I found 2017 Emerald city interesting while my friends were not as enthusiastic about neither.
“Tin Man” offered a unique take on the concept. Syfy produced this three-part miniseries in 2007. In this version, DG, a descendent of Dorothy Gale, played by Zoey Deschanel, finds herself in the magical world of “The O.Z.,” which is ruled by a cruel sorceress named Azkadellia.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Oz if DG didn’t team up with some familiar characters to accomplish her goal, among them is Glitch played by Alan Cumming, this world’s take on the Scarecrow as half his brain was taken by Azkadellia, Raw played by Raoul Trujillo, a telepathic human/lion hybrid, and Wyatt Cain played by Neal McDonough, a former member of law enforcement in The O.Z. known as a Tin Man. All of them embark on a journey to find “The Mystic Man”, played by Richard Dreyfuss. The series is on Netflix and Amazon but also can be watched for free on Pluto and Tubi.
Another unique take on Oz was the 2017 “Emerald City“. This television series directed by Tarsem Singh only lasted one season. In this version, based on a variety of Baum novels, Dorothy Gale, played by Adria Arjona, is a twenty-year-old who’s on a personal quest to find her biological mother. That search ultimately results in her and a stolen K9 police dog driving in a stolen police car right into a tornado, the results of which transport both of them to what is revealed to be Oz.
And it’s a realm ruled by fear of the Wizard, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, and filled with variations of the characters fans will recognize like the witches and a complete new symbolic version of the scarecrow, as well as many that they’ve likely never encountered before. See characters of competing kingdoms, lethal warriors, and dark magic engaged in a bloody battle for supremacy. The series can be watched on Amazon.
In addition to the abovementioned, there have been of course many other movies, animated series, and miniseries created most of which I did not care about or just simply forgot about like the 2013 movie “Oz The Great And Powerful”. I remember seeing the movie, but I can’t recall anything about it other than Rachel Weisz playing the wicked witch. I’m still rewatching the Tin Man series from time to time. Some of the effects are not that great but the story is so engaging and most importantly it’s family-friendly. Battle Brick Road looked interesting to me because the flying monkeys reminded me of those in the Tin Man series and I like the sci-fi aspect added to the IP.
ABOUT BATTLE BRICK ROAD
Though Thea Gale was raised by her uncle and aunt in a world immersed in dust and gray, she has always possessed a knack for finding the color in life. In order to further her tireless obsession with finding her missing father, Thea joined the United Defense Coalition where she excelled as a tactical strategist, proficient weapons handler, and unsurpassed computer hacker. Disenchanted by the UDC’s dictatorial methods, Thea left the military to pursue finding her father on her own terms.
A loyal companion to the end, Target Objective Tactical Overwatch, or TOTO for short, was created by Thea’s father, Howard Gale. Like a veritable Swiss-army knife, TOTO possesses various tools and weapons to meet almost every threat. Most importantly, TOTO was entrusted to protect Thea and act as a trusty sidekick through thick and thin.
After receiving a message from her father with encrypted coordinates to follow the yellow brick road and find the wizard, Thea embarks on her journey along with TOTO. She discovers a completely new world and is faced with imminent danger coming from the Watcher of the East. She meets allies that help her find the yellow brick road. Once she found it, she meets a mysterious figure looking like a scarecrow. And so, begins her journey on the yellow brick road. Which other characters will she encounter on the yellow brick road? Will they be allies or enemies?
This has been an interesting project. What’s so special about the main story, the short story, and the supplemental?
THE MAIN STORY: BATTLE BRICK ROAD
- The Father/Daughter Relationship
In the stories of Oz that I remember Dorothy is either looking for both her parents or just her mother. This would be the first time I see her character looking for her father. I like the positive relationship between Thea and her father. It’s something that is not common to see in entertainment these days: A father that is always there to protect and clearly shows his love for his kid. This relationship is further explored in the short story “Meet me in St. Louis”.
- Never Lose Hope and Never Back Down
After the separation from her father, Thea never lost her hope to be reunited with him. Her love for him gives her the strength to move on. As a very stubborn young lady, Thea has one goal, to find her father, and she will do everything possible to find him.
- The Watcher of the East vs The Watcher of the West
Learning about the philosophies of the Watchers of the East and The West was interesting. Both have different approaches that damage human nature. The Watcher of the West is in favor of “Eradication” which reminds me of laws, sanctions, and wars that lead to this purpose. Once the targeted people are eradicated their place will be filled with those who comply.
One example I can think of is the Rohingya crisis where people born and raised on their land are considered stateless based on the 1982 citizenship law. The law established three levels of citizenship. In order to obtain the most basic level (naturalized citizenship), proof that the person’s family lived in Myanmar before 1948 was needed, as well as fluency in one of the national languages. Many Rohingya lack such paperwork because it was either unavailable or denied to them.
As a result of the law, their rights to study, work, travel, marry, practice their religion, and access health services have been and continue to be restricted. In February 2018, the Associated Press released a video showing what they say is the site of a massacre and at least five undisclosed mass graves of Rohingya in Myanmar. Myanmar’s government razed at least 55 villages once populated by Rohingya, destroying with them evidence of crimes against the minority, according to Human Rights Watch. So, you see how long this has been going on and how effectively it was handled in the media. Just ask around whoever saw anything about this properly covered in the media or even heard of the case.
But I also think there is the intent to eradicate ideas based on science and critical thinking that are not in line with the established narrative in “democratic countries” as seen during the Covid pandemic.
The Watcher of the East prefers “Rehabilitation” (brainwashing and assimilation) which can be easily executed when you have all the power over the citizens. In the real world, there are examples in the East and the West of rehabilitation. The most popular example would be China where people just forget history as mandated by the government and assimilate a particular way of thinking. Here the government has the power to rehabilitate.
In the West, this is done by Social Media Companies that have way too much power over the personal information of people. They are a necessity as well so when people get banned it does have an impact. The idea to treat social media as a necessary utility is not a bad idea, but it should be regulated and treated like publishing companies since they decide what goes out through their algorithms.
People are harassed by online mobs into changing their views and values for acceptance and fear of losing their jobs. Forced to make apologies that later become meaningless to the mob some learn that it is meaningless to make apologies. Only with a set of well-defined rules that applies to everyone no matter their background, beliefs, and race will social media become a place of healthy discourse.
What I mentioned above is my interpretation but of course, everyone else with their own unique perspective may have a different interpretation.
SHORT STORY: MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS
The short story explores the relationship between Thea and TOTO since the moment she departed from her loving father. Her father told her the tale of the Princess and The Brave Knight. They always have to go on a long journey. Sometimes it’s scary but they always have each other. This is how the relationship between Thea and TOTO was built, trusting and protecting each other. The art is unique and cute. It’s another style of presenting Thea’s past for a much younger audience.
OPERATION ZEPHYR: THE CLASSIFIED FILES
The supplemental book titled “Operation Zephyr: The Classified Files” gives the reader an insight into the artistic creative process for Battle Brick Road including concepts designs for the logo, the main characters Thea Gale, The Scarecrow, Tin Man, The Lion of Oz, Howard Gale and more. You will also find” the great Aussie color-off contest between Michael Bancroft (The Lucent) and Kort Barton, along with the trading cards art by Clayton Barton (Thea Gale), Kenneth Rocafort (The Scarecrow), Dan Fraga & Matt Yackey (The Flying Apes) and Eric Canete (The Watcher of the East).
I liked the presentation with all the details on every page. It perfectly gives out the vibes that these are not files you are supposed to see. In the main story, we met Dorothy and Scarecrow, based on what we now know from the classified files we still have to meet Tin Man and the Lion. In the end, I’m sure everyone is looking forward to seeing Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion as technologically and biologically enhanced warriors working as a team in a dystopian world. The supplemental just gets you more excited for what’s to come.
THE CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN
When I finally decided to back this crowdfunding campaign I chose the “Battle Brick Road and Supplemental” tier which consisted of the Battle Brick Road main book, Supplemental Book, and a Fold-Out Poster.
The campaign finally got to the finish line. The project manager provided timely updates on the progress and the struggles encountered along the way. This is an important task for campaign organizers and project managers to perform. The backers should be informed of the progress no matter how small and not left in the dark.
Once I received the book, I liked the story and chose to back the “Kenneth Rocafort Variant Cover” tier which included the BBR Kenneth Rocafort Variant and a Fold-Out Poster because I liked the art.
The campaign also offered to the physical backers additional upgrades to the books and products for free for each tier backed which were noted as stretch goals on the campaign. These included:
- Main Book Quality Upgrade to Heavier stock cover and paper.
- Main Book Spot Gloss Cover Upgrade.
- Initially, an 8-page TOTO Ashcan by Six AM Comics. It became a short story by the end of the main book titled “Meet me in St. Louis” and is now 13 pages including the title page.
- A Bookmark with the phrase “There is no place like home”.
- A pack of 4 Trading cards including Thea Gale, The Scarecrow, The Flying Apes, and The Watcher of the East.
- A Battle Brick Road patch.
- A Holographic Sticker of TOTO.
The tracking numbers were timely provided and there were no issues receiving the packages. Everything was carefully packaged in a Gemini mailer (both times).
“Battle Brick Road” is a unique take on the World of Oz. If you like science fiction, horror, and thrillers this will keep you engaged. It will make you think while keeping you entertained. I find Thea’s character well-defined and a great example for girls to follow. She learned through life experiences how to stand on her own but there are dangers that she can’t handle on her own. Her protector and comrades will stand with her.
The quality of the printed books is good. The interior art is very detailed with vibrant colors, and even the chapters have title pages. I love books like this where you can see and feel the dedication put into them. The supplemental book gives you a look into the creative process which makes you appreciate the work even more. The only thing missing in the books are numbered pages.
There is a noticeable difference between the main books and the supplemental book with the main books being upgraded. The ending gives a clue about who we will meet at the beginning of the next issue.
Overall, I had a great time reading the story and I’m very happy with the books. As of date, the crowdfunding campaign is “Closed” on Indiegogo but the books are available at Eric Weathers’ online store. Make sure to check them out!
BATTLE BRICK ROAD 2
The sign-up page for the crowdfunding campaign for “Battle Brick Road 2″ is up. In the second issue Scarecrow, Thea, and TOTO continue their journey through the strange and deadly land of Oz following the yellow brick road.
What is a sign-up page? What’s its purpose? This is a feature on Indiegogo that most creators use to get an estimate of how many people are initially interested in their crowdfunding campaign before they launch it. For the backer (supporter) it is a tool that will keep you updated via email when the campaign launches and probably later on you will be receiving updates on the progress of the campaign.
For people who sign up early, there are advantages such as discounts and/or a free item for when you back the campaign, but you must back it in order to receive them. I don’t think it is not a mandatory rule to receive something specific in addition to the email but so far, most creators have taken advantage of the option to offer something to the backer in addition to the emails. Still interested? Sign up to get updated and know when the campaign launches.
My notes are all set. Let me know what you think.
See you on the next page!