Interview with Etienne Kubwabo (Beats of War)

First off, tell me about yourself?
My name is Etienne Kubwabo, I am a film director & writer and creator of comic books. I started off directing music videos and short films and over the years, I have focused on writing films and comic books.

Tell me about Beats of War, and what inspired you to write it?
When I moved to Scotland in 2009, I decided to join Clydebank college where I did my studies in media and communication, but during my time living in Scotland I struggled to fit in, faced a lot of racism that sort of made me question if I belong. I do DJ sometimes, so one summer my friends and I went to New York to tour, and I was there. We took a train to Queens and Brooklyn and we were talking about Spiderman and Captain America, since obviously I was a fan since I was a kid. So I asked myself why there was no black superhero with a story grounded in Scotland. I let that thought go. A few years later, I kept struggling to fit in, and that idea of a black superhero based on me, came back to me, and then I noticed how some of my friends would get in trouble with the law, due to ways maybe they reacted to racist people, or police being on their case. So I decided to take my anger, frustration and channel that into Beats of War. I wasn’t sure how people would receive it, so I got scared and held back. When Black Panther came out, I went to see it with my friend, I came back energised and started creating Beats of War. I remember waking at like 3am, and I was like let’s go. Then started writing.

Do you have the whole story mapped out for Beats of War or do you work on it on an issue by issue basis?
I have a story mapped for about 10 issues. I come from a filmmaking background, so I like to know the start, middle and end of the story before I start. So it’s all mapped out.

How do you want the story to evolve, and what would be the ideal result for the comic book?
I want the story to touch issues of immigration, especially people who struggle to fit in when they move to a new country, and importantly I want the story to tell the history of Scotland and also have my story in there as well. I want the comic to reach the world, and see my side of the story. We all have stories to tell but no one can tell your story better than yourself. So this is something fresh. A story that will make you see real places in Scotland and touch a bit more of my home country too.

Who else is involved in the making of ‘Beats of War’ and can you tell me a little about them?
I have an amazing team of three, Gary Chudleigh who is my co-writer and production designer, Ben Wilsonham who is my artist and Rob Jones who is my letterer. They all are professionals in their respective fields and bringing them on board to be part of the characters and universe I created was the best decision ever.

What advice do you have for people who want to create comics and tell their own stories?
My advice would be to be honest with yourself and tell your story. If you see Beats of War, All characters are my real friends and family, the story covers the journey of an alien coming to a new home to find answers to save his planet from robot invader, so in this story I am the alien who has moved to Scotland, find answers to save my home and inspire the young world worldwide back also back home, the character also struggles to fit in because they are different. This story also has important people, I lost growing up, which is important for me to deal with certain anxieties and move. And finally Scotland being my second home, I make sure that I pay homage to my new home through including their beautiful cities and great history.

Speaking of comic books, who are some of your favourite superheroes, and for fun, do you have any favourite villains?
My favourite superheroes are ET from Beats of War, Black Panther and Spiderman and my favourite villain is the Joker from DC universe, making Batman my favourite superhero too haha. Can’t have enough but those are the top.

If you could have superpowers what would you pick and why?
If I had superpowers, I would choose sound manipulation, because it is ET’s main power and also that power is related to sounds/music, which I think music is a universe language that brings people together.

Why did you decide on the superhero genre to tell your story?
I am fascinated by the universe, the cultures, the people, sea life, languages, animals and plants. So many questions I feel I have, and I want to find answers to. So creating a Sci-fi story makes me escape, and reimagine the world in the way I picture it to be in years to come but also draw inspiration from what’s around. This way, I keep excited, curious and passionate.

Outwith comic books, tell me more about what other projects you are doing?
I am currently editing my second feature film titled, “The Difference Between Us” which I directed summer 2021. I am really excited about this project, because it has a story message and I can’t for everyone to see it.

Which moment(s) in your career are you most proud of, and why?
Moments when I see my stories touching people, inspiring them and getting written emails or notes from them. This is important to me because I feel that, myself as a human being, I have contributed to this amazing experience we all have as humans.

Lastly, feel free to share social media links, and links to where people can purchase your comics?
You can get Beats of War by clicking here, and you can find me on Twitter and Instagram.

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