Gerry Kissell and Kurt Yeager are the minds behind an amazing Kickstarter Project: A Comic Book Series called ‘Vindicated, Inc.’ The protagonist in the series is an amputee war vet. Gerry and Kurt have successfully raised over $10,000 - their goal was $8000. The idea really intrigued me, so I reached out to the creators and asked if they would mind answering some questions.
First off, for those readers who may not know who you are, can you tell us a little about yourselves?
(Gerry) Well, I have been drawing pretty much all my life. I served for a brief period, in the early 90’s, as a combat medic in the U.S. Army. Having served in the military had a huge effect on me, and, after seeing our men and women going to war in 2001, made me take a look at where my art career had gone and where I wanted it to go. I wanted to focus all my energies on serving those who served. Which is why so much of what I have done is military themed. But, it all lead to this book, Vindicated Inc., which is my love song to every soldier who has left a piece of themselves on the battlefield.
(Kurt) I’m a full time actor, writer and BMX stunt rider. Some of my favorite work has been on Sons of Anarchy as “Greg the Peg” and I’m looking forward to a new pilot I’m shooting for Cinemax/HBO called Quarry.
What motivated you to pursue this project?
(Gerry) Well, I was inspired by wounded vets, and had wanted to do something special for them for a long time. But, the inspiration for this story came to me last year, while on my way to drop of rent to my landlord. I drove the three blocks from his office to my apartment so I could write down the story concept. I then contacted my friend Jeff Sear4cy, who used to be with Wounded Warrior Project, and told the story idea to him, and after his reaction, I knew I had done it; come up with the perfect tribute to wounded vets.
(Kurt) I work with a lot of veteran and active service military groups. These guys and gals are the heart of our country and should be given far more than they are. I hear about the problems they face when they come home and it’s a big problem for some of our service members. These stories need to be told, and what better way than to tell it through the eyes of one of those who struggles from both physical and mental issues.
What’s do you hope to achieve with your work?
(Gerry) First and foremost, I hope to shed more light on PTSD and other veteran issues. I also hope the book is successful, because we cannot achieve anything if people don’t read it.
(Kurt) Firstly, I’d love to portray the PTSD and physical disability as authentically as possible. Everyone deals with PTSD in their own way, so it won’t reflect everyone’s experiences but it must be authentic. This isn’t a trivial matter and we won’t treat it with anything less than the respect it deserves.
Secondly, I want to make one hell of a graphic novel and film. I want this project to be an action thriller that twists and turns in ways that are anti-cliché. Who wants to make a movie that is like the rest? Not me. I want this to honor those who have served and make those service members cheer when the film ends.
Many veterans are coming home with some degree of PTSD and are experiencing major difficulties transitioning upon returning home. Do you have any intention of addressing this issue?
(Gerry) PTSD is a major theme within the story. Our main character, which Kurt will be playing in both the comic and in the live action film, has to learn to deal with his PTSD in order to survive. It drives him to do every action he takes.
(Kurt) Absolutely. This is a major theme of our project and needs to be expressed in the film with all the care and accuracy we can afford. I feel this is something that isn’t talked about because of fear, or “looking weak” or shame. It should be the opposite. It’s like a fist fight; you don’t hide your bloody knuckles after you pummeled some jerk-off. You show them off, tell the story, and wear the scars with a little pride for the rest of your life. This is no different. PTSD is not a good thing, it’s scary, painful and debilitating, but it should not be looked upon as a weakness or a failure of spirit. No; this is a result of being in a horribly dangerous, stressful position for a prolonged period of time. You’ve seen things you don’t want to remember, let alone talk about and this is a natural result. The only way to beat something back, like a bully, is to admit it, face it and deal with the reality of the situation. Is it easy, hell no. Is it necessary, yes. We hope to portray that.
Suicide is another very real danger facing many veterans when they come home - what are your thoughts on this issue? Will they be incorporated into the storyline?
(Gerry) I have planned to do at least three graphic novels, and suicide plays heavily in all of them, though more so in the planned Vindicated Inc: Book Two. In Book One and the film, Our main character lives in a veteran housing facility, and some of the residents, over time, take their own lives and our main characters have to come to grips with it.
What’s the tentative timeline for release?
(Gerry)Not totally sure yet. We are going back to the drawing board, so to speak, in writing the script. Kurt, Shane, Josh, Ernie, Mac and I all have given so much to the writing of my story, but in the end, it’s my baby and I need to make sure that no matter what, the final script stays true to my original vision of a character; a guy who starts out looking like an antihero, but as time reveals, he is as much a hero in the streets of Seattle, fighting crime, as he was as a soldier fighting terrorists. I suggest just visiting our sites to find out more on when to expect it to be released.
Where can my readers go to stay up to date on the progress of this project?
(Gerry) They can visit our website at:
as well as my site, http://gerrykissell.com
or even our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Vindicated.Inc
Needless to say, I am very excited to see how this project moves forward. Any project that depicts disabled veterans leading lives of honor and integrity while learning to cope with their disabilities is a vital step in the right direction.
Thank you, Gerry and Kurt, for taking the time to answer these questions for my readers. I look forward to seeing what comes from your project in the coming months.
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.