FalseSTOP! Interview with Hunter Jurkowski
We had the opportunity to speak with Hunter Jurkowski CEO and Creator of Kiaata Studios (Formerly FalseSTOP! Studios). Co-Creator (Scott Cox), Design Advisor and Financial Advisor (Chris Johnson) and Director of Music Composition (Daylon Camerena) also took the time to field our questions. The official Kickstarter was recently started for a FalseSTOP! Graphic Novel.
Could you tell us a little about how FalseSTOP! originated?
Hunter: That's always a long-winded question that never ends up with a short answer (laughs)... So get ready for a long answer...
Honestly, it was when I was just 3 years old. Amazing huh? I found myself at home alone for the most part, with my older sister in the other room, watching over me. I found paper from a "Memo-Pad" and I started drawing this Bald Eagle from a National Geographic Magazine, and as with any 3-year old, their art isn't the best when growing up, but amazingly enough, my character actually, and genuinely, looked like a Bald Eagle.
However, as a child, you are compelled to show off what you have created. At the same rate, with any parents when you first show your artwork, they are usually busy with bills, or something like that, and respond with "Oh, that's Great. Can you go back to drawing for a bit?" as probably the nice way of shooing me off. This would probably create the earliest combination between inspired to be a better artist, and rejection from my mother and father. It's not their fault, though, because they were having a very hard time raising us when my father wasn't very nice to me or my sister.
Over the years, my mother and father would take me to church, and after church, we would get the Sunday newspaper and some donuts. When we got back, I would get to eat some donuts, and while my parents were reading the Sunday Paper, my Mother or Father would give me the funnies page. This constant part of my life would eventually mold what would be the basis of what I wanted to do with my life.
Eventually, my parents also gave me a single sheet of printer paper every Sunday with the Comics, and then I began to draw my own 3-panel funnies. There were only three characters at the timing to the series, a Snapping Turtle, a Monitor Lizard, and of course, the Bald Eagle. They all didn't have names for the longest time. Funny thing was, I felt that the Snapping Turtle was more the main character for the longest time... but eventually, I took a favoring to my Bald Eagle. He seemed to always get caught in the misfortune of both of these reptiles, and he was always left out. I guess from my subconscious, I had created a character that would be the scapegoat, and everyone (including myself) took pity. Even when the title of the series was more revolving around the Turtle, everyone wanted to see more of the Eagle. Eventually, I changed the series up a bit, and began to write more comics based of this Eagle. Out of pity, the comic strip I drew became ABOUT HIM, and no longer about the Turtle. I eventually dropped the Turtle. I also focused the Lizard as his mischievous best friend who would drag him into trouble, including a running gag where they would get run over by a train.... a lot.... seriously (laughs). Similar to how Charles Shultz would never let Charlie Brown get the football... or Dick Van Dyke and him always tripping over the stool.
Around the same time, my parents filed for divorce. It was inevitable.
This would thrust my Bald Eagle (still unnamed at the timing) into truly, the front row of my characters. About when I was 7 years old, I finally came up with a name to my series. FalseSTOP! The name, just... kinda just manifested itself ontop of the paper one day. I can't even begin to describe what the title, "FalseSTOP!" even means. Like, I know what it means, but I can't really describe it. I guess it was kind of a phenomenon.
Through my childhood all the way until now, I kept drawing, redesigning and collaborating the character with my friends, and after a while, my best friend (Who I will reference again), Scott moved away along with my other friends. The project became my own again. I had to write the series on my own again. He still gives his contributions and opinions, but the project is mostly my work now.
However, Scott also created his own character for the series. Archie, an otter. What inspired his creation of Archie, His Otter? It would be better if I didn't describe out his character, and let him explain it out. However, he and I had a small falling-out (we are still close friends, but when he moved away, we lost contact about the series), but I still see him as the Co-Creator of the entire series.
Scott: I created Archie when I was in Grade School with Hunter, who was my best friend. At this point I can't really remember the original inspiration for the character, but I remember making him up out of alot of characteristics that I wanted in myself at the time. I don't know what Hunter has done with the character since I left the project, about 10 years ago, but that's what he was when I created him.
Hunter: For the most part, I kept writing Archie in the same way, still writing most of the same characteristics, while writing it as if I was emulating Scott's personality, with a touch of Mischievous personality.
You have been working on this project for over 20 years... how to you keep yourself motivated?
Hunter: Sometimes, it's hard to be motivated. There are days that from my emotional withdraws, that I would lock my doors of my room, and do nothing but either read, listen to music on loop, watch movies or play video-games. However, these sources can inspire me just as much as they can be a distraction. Even sometimes I have went for walks outside in the fields, out in a forest, and within the quiet area, I begin to feel inspired, as if I was going on an adventure through a medieval period of time, or post apocalyptic. Heck, sometimes I have even role-played my ideas (believe me, it sounds weird, but it's not THAT crazy). Infact, that's how most of my ideas would come forth when I was younger.
Between me and my best friend, Scott, back in the 5th grade, he and I would hang out after school or during recess and literally role-play out each scenario from what would be the story of FalseSTOP! Afterward, we would either write down the story in a notebook, or keep it logged in our heads. We did this every day, ever recess. We were constantly inspiring each other, and we both made a full creative outlet for each other. Eventually, as I mentioned before, he moved away, and I lost not only my best friend, but my creative outlet that had helped me remain inspired. It took me a year before I could begin to write and draw again. I began to base each character on either or a combination of my irl friends and/or emotions.
I find that from my emotions, I can create stories that shock and shatter perception, but also deeply inspire, to make people question controversial topics where others would not! Also, I had found ways to recreate and newly purpose my characters, rewriting them over and over again over the 20 years...
Perhaps the number one thing that motivates me is a combination of a obligation, a promise I made to a friend who passed away since, to keep going forward in her memories... and my friends/fans who keep telling me I'm on the right path, encouraging me to keep inspiring and writing this story. That they want more...
The idea that maybe I can change this world for the better, with a story. If I was forced to do a mundane, everyday job, I would probably be a physician so I could help people stay in good health... but I can't stand the sight of gore or organs. I honestly wouldn't know what to do from how much I would be fainting at the sight of a pencil stabbed... well... I won't go there. However, I couldn't handle the thought of being in healthcare because of those reasons. If I am to do what I want to do with my life, by drawing, writing, etc, and make people say to themselves, "maybe this is what I want to do with my life..." by inspiring them to possibly become the next Bill Gates, or the man who finally discovers the cure to cancer... if I have done that, then I have done my job.
Not to mention, for me, this is my therapy. If I am having a bad day, it just pulls me back in by making me rewrite and repurpose my ideas and thoughts into a creative medium. Just knowing that I have done something good, and inspired people to give them strength when there is none is what makes me push forward.
It's the memories, it's therapeutic, and it's the drive I get from people and their encouragement to continue my motivation.
Could you tell us a little known fact about False - the Eagle, that we may not already know?
Hunter: First, and this gets a little complex, but little surprise, his name is Lawrance Luxzor (yes, with an extra "A" instead of two "E's").
False is just the inner being locked inside him.
I know, that's kinda confusing. Let me elaborate a bit.
Within the storyline, he was created as a superior guardian being from the stars above, but his heart got corrupted in the process, rupturing into a black hole. The Deities of this series managed to save his life, by wiping his memory, giving him a synthetic heart, and turning him into a bald eagle until the time came that he would have to save our universe. Within his mortal-bound name, he goes by Lawrance Luxzor. When that time would come, his synthetic heart would shatter, and a black hole would come back in place of his heart. The Black hole would become his heart, and if anyone was to stab his heart, a black hole would unleash, and rip the universe asunder in a matter of moments. Because of that black hole, he technically is not suppose to exist. Thus, his secret name that only the stars know, is "False". It's what's called his "Starborn Name" within the Graphic Novel. His LEGITIMATE name.
I don't know if I was able to clear that up, but one thing I felt I should clarify first.
His personality is the calm, cool, level headed one of the group. However, he's also found as a sad, and quiet character for the most part. He's not a silent protagonist by any means, but he doesn't make a whole lot of conversation either. He's often the one who is found lost in requiem... and because of it, he can be considered the wise character of the crew.
However, one quote I can take directly from my writing that can sum him up in two sentences:
"I just want to belong. I just want to EXIST..."
...which in a way, describes a lot of us. We just want to be a part of this world of society, and we just want to be here making an impact.
Final thing most people don't know about him and the reason why I elaborated on my life up above, is after a while people began to complain that he wasn't three dimensional without a personality. I felt that every-time I put him into a scenario, I was seeing things through his eyes. So eventually, I began to write him as if it was coming from my emotions, my perspective. So in a way, Lawrance kind of is myself... but with a few different random traits thrown in. His outlook on life may have similarities but some of the things he likes and supports are broadly contrasted from some of my own beliefs.
How did you create the video game based in the FalseSTOP! universe?
Hunter: Let's just say when I was in high school, a combination of desperation, boredom, and creativity came together, and I started to search up various game creation technologies, and at the timing, there wasn't a lot available to work from. I was never skilled with programming anything. The most I could create was a power point presentation, and turn it into a 2000 slide animation (which by the way, generally anything back in Window XP that was over 2000 slides would glitch out and break the power-point. I often found myself making 8 part slideshows that were 1900 slides each)!
Back since I was 5 years old, I have always desired to create stories, as I said before. I wanted to work in every medium possible, and to create something that would be considered a genuine work of art. Always trying something new, as long as it was simple to understand.
I was always deeply inspired by platforming games such as Donkey Kong Country 2 and Banjo Kazooie, while being fascinated by RPG's such as Super Mario RPG, Legend of the 7 Stars, and Pokemon. I guess from all the time I wasted in Mircosoft Paint, and Kid-Pix Studio Deluxe, as well as several other videogames made me desperate to make my own videogame finally.
So eventually, I spent a good majority of an afternoon seeking out Videogame Programming software. I had already created my own sprite-sheet of my character in Microsoft Paint. Now all that was left was finding the software.
I had found game software like Game Maker, Blender and Maya... but all the following programs either took too much time to learn, or too much time to render the game into a playable format. I can't say that I was about to lose hope, but I can't say I was also still tenacious to learn how to create my own videogame.
Then after a week of searching, I found a single, simple program that I could create any FPS-style RPG and Top-Down style platformer with... And it was Translated by Don Miguel.
RPG Maker, 2000.
It was a fan translation no less, but it didn't stop me from wanting to try it. I spent a whole 6 months programming into it after school, and finally, I had created my own videogame. The funny thing was that even the admins couldn't firewall this game, and they couldn't prevent the installation of it when me and my friends would play this game during class. It was hilariously disastrous for the Admins. That's when I met Daylon, my Music Composer. He took a fancy to my game, and after I discovered he could compose music ever so brilliantly, I commissioned him out, and he still does to this day.
After a while my game ended up having some game-breaking problems, and even two computer-breaking problems that couldn't be fixed. So finally, I scrapped the old game, and started from scratch.
I had discovered a Third-Person view version of RPG Maker, called RPG Maker 2003. This version wasn't translated, and it proved to be a little more in-depth, and complex to program, but still extremely fun. I had transferred schools at the timing, so whenever our teachers would assign us homework projects, I started making videogames based on the projects while everyone else was working on (no offense to former classmates) remedial or very low level projects. I had created quizes and historical studies put into a gameplay that everyone could take advantage of. Because of that, I would not only get an A on my project, but I would even score free extra credit for creativity... (despite I was a rather, sub-par student when it came to grades). XD
I have been working in RPG Maker 2003 ever since. However, it wasn't until just last month I finally got a genuine English-copy due to Steam finally obtaining the rights to RPG Maker 2003. Now, I have bought the Steam Version, and I am now reprogramming the game from the ground up again. l am also considering releasing a Full Game on Steam as soon as I get enough time to sit down and work on it.
How was the soundtrack created and what type of music is it?
Hunter: Honestly, I could answer that, but instead, I will let my friend, Daylon, my Director of Music Composition answer that question. However, he is in the process of recomposing the entire soundtrack.
Daylon: The music is mainly MIDI sequences created with FL Studio.
I generally try to push the limits of MIDI sound design to get as detailed and full of a sound as possible within those limitations. Though the arranged versions of the tracks won't be MIDI files and will have no limitations at all. The compositional style is very "proggy", Lots of irregular time signatures, lots of thick chords, but the complexities are subtle even if relentless. The focus for the listener is really is on conveying atmospheres or emotions associated with the setting of the game, which tend to be that of adventure, exploration and exotic nature.
Hunter: Often, I would give Daylon one or two pieces of music to reference from, and he would take their styles, and make something entirely new, something beautiful out of it.
Congratulations on launching your first KickStarter! Could you tell us how you decided what to offer at the different contribution levels?
Why thank you, Jason.
I felt that after 20 years, I had progressed enough into my Graphic Novel that it was finally time to start pushing myself into making progress on it.
A few of my main rewards include the paperback copy of the Graphic Novel at $17, A Copy of my Videogame with rare concept art at $32, and for those of you who like surprises, we have a simple grab bag at $30. We also have a few other big rewards like being put INTO BOTH the Graphic Novel and Videogame, as well as a Hardcover Copy of the Graphic Novel, Plushies, and even throwing in some advertising in the book (AND GAME).
Could you tell us about your design advisor and what that role entails?
Hunter: I'd be better off, again, letting my Design Advisor take care of that answer...
Chris: I provide quality assistance is matters relating to the final reception of the work, including: coloring and lettering; as well as graphic design aspects such as branding and promotional/ key art designs.
Did you just change the studio name to Kiaata Studios from FalseSTOP! Studios?
Hunter: Yes, we did. It was a suggestion from my Design Advisor, Chris Johnson. Eventually, we had a short board meeting, and eventually, we agreed that it would be for the better. I felt comfortable either way, but it will take some time for a few others to get use to this change. Chris had some legitimate reasons behind this though...
Chris: Its like Pauly Shore founding Pauly Shore Pictures. Obviously he failed as a performing human being and with a name like that his ship goes with him. If he named it Shorline Productions, he would've had a chance of staying somewhat afloat.
Hunter: After discussing this, and taking those considerations into account, as much as I may not be thrilled with the change, it will help for the business aspect and the future of FalseSTOP!... which that I can agree on 100%.
What do you expect the overall page design to be like once complete?
Hunter: I would love to tell you about that, but I won't go too far into detail on this one. I will say some of it will be basic, while some panels will be unusual and uncommon, maybe some stuff that nobody has tried before. I love doing diagonal angles too, and it's fun to pull that off.
However I'll stop right here and leave it at that, because most of the pages are still in production as we speak.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Hunter: How about I give you a taste of the writing from the rough draft of the Graphic Novel.
Before we start, I try to write the Graphic Novel first as if I was just writing a normal novel. If the novel perspective doesn't sound good or make sense, then it won't look good on the paper when I write it out in the standard script form, nor will it look good when it hits the page for the final piece.
To catch you all up to speed, Lawrance Luxzor just got dumped by the Girl of his dreams, and was trying to spend the following day afterward to piece together what happened. He's giving up at this point, heading back home to finally spend some time with his uncle. However, that takes a vicious turn for the worse when he finds his uncle murdered with a sword that was locked up tight, and hasn't been removed in well over 20 years...
"I had rushed as if all the thoughts in my mind were going mad. There was no substance or reasoning to what I had felt, nor the reasons I had inmind. I thought I had felt strong enough to get over it all, to be dumped by the girl I had been seeking my entire childhood until now to love. Then, to no avail, to see that my uncle had been impaled with the sword that he had locked away 20 years ago, shattered me cold. His 53 year-life, taken from him. The bullet-proof case that had the sword held tight in, shattered with what appeared to be a single punch. The same sword I was never allowed to touch when I was little. Even just getting close to looking at it, my uncle would flip. Nothing human, or animal, could've possibly broken that glass. It takes a ton of force to break bullet-proof glass... and to see something that had shattered bullet-proof glass in a punch, made me skeptical... wait, who am I kidding, it's not even possible to break bullet-proof glass with a punch.....
... is it? My beak was dropped as I felt a slight, soft shrill let out, looking at my uncle's lifeless corpse.
My heart was rushing with adrenaline, wings, as if they were flesh, clammy, chilled, helpless, like me. I could've been here to prevent his death, rather than waste time to figure out what the hell happened... to figure out why she dumped me for something that wasn't even my fault. I wasted my time, and now, I feel as if I am about to lose everything. Then finally, one sigh of relief, as my uncle seems to be able to utter a few words. He's barely alive... but he barely utters two sentences. Only the first one I can hear...
Then to the corner of my eye... a two dark maroon glimmering gems appear behind me. I then looked at the bloodstained sword, labeled "Kiaata" on the handle of the hilt. This was not just a combination of Eagle's blood, but also a being that had not been of what I could describe of this world. The Eyes behind me began to draw closer, and began to turn from a dark maroon to a bloodlust red.
As my uncle said the second sentence, and even though he was almost able to shout it, I couldn't hear him over my sound of my rushing legs, wings, and thoughts. I was on flight or fight. He exclaimed:
"Don't touch the sword...!"
Before he could finish the sentence, it was too late. I had began to get close to the hilt. The red eyes that had been creeping up to me finally dashed to me, and I could barely make out it's body.
It was an over-sized, demon-possessed hornet. I've heard of these in legends, nightmarish bedtime stories, dark alleys turned myths...
Thornets. They called them Thornets. Sentry of Lucifer Ifriatarious, himself. Lucifer Ifriatarious, that's right, the Emperor of all Demonic Beings. Even Satan answers to him.
As the Thornet reaches out to punch me to my death, my feather blades barely stroke the hilt....
A giant bolt of lightning strikes from the clear sky, hitting me. Suddenly, my blood went from rushing to surging like mad. I can feel unknown forces from the universe surging through me as well. I felt powerful, as the Demon exploded from the sheer impacting sound-wave from the thunder slamming into me. I felt a loud scream let out of me, as if it were the thunder striking through me. I felt wise, knowledgeable, as if the entire encyclopedia of the past to the future was in my grasp, without having to read a single page. I felt my eyes, turn from blue to a bloodlust red as well, as if I had became an invincible warrior. However, now the one thing I couldn't feel anymore....
.... was my heart."
This is the moment where he loses his heart, and his blackhole takes over. Mystery and intrigue... indeed.
Other than that, I would like to provide you with the link to my website and my Kickstarter if you don't mind: