Many can relate to the search for identity.
But what if you’re a monster?
That’s an idea Sam Sawyer had as a teenager growing up in Phoenix.
Jump to the present, and Sawyer is a successful comic artist and visual designer.
She created the animated series “SALEM: The Secret Archive of Legends, Enchantments, and Monsters.”
“We’re in a new age of animated storytelling,” Sawyer says. “Cartoons got bland for a little while and were much more about action than heart and soul. But now we’re in a time where there are so many more stories to tell, and they’re not just for boys who are 8 years old.”
Sawyer will be one of the guests at Albuquerque Comic Con, Friday, Jan. 17, through Sunday, Jan. 19, at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
The animation is now being done for the pilot episode of the series. It is being voiced by Rob Paulsen, Laura Bailey and Adam McArthur.
It’s the story of a “cryptid” (creature) named Salem, raised by the Boogeyman, who learns that they are adopted.
Without a gender and without a core identity, Salem embarks on a journey of discovery among the world of fairies, goblins and other cryptids.
“I always knew this was a story about someone who was different,” says Sawyer, who identifies as queer. “Our main character identifies as nonbinary, because there are so many young kids out there who aren’t included in the typical story. We’re doing better telling stories about people of color or people with disabilities, so we’re opening up that story for people who don’t identify with a gender.”
Sawyer is enjoying the ride, although it has taken a lot of hard work.
“I felt like I was shoving it into people’s faces,” she says of the series. “It’s taken a lot of work to get it to this point. It’s also humbling to see it all coming together. That’s the best part.”
To pay for the project, Sawyer reached out through the crowdfunding company Kickstarter.
The project met its goal about two months ago.
“That opened a lot of doors because we were able to animate the episodes,” she says. “It’s kind of crazy to see the amount of support.”
From a young age, Sawyer has always been attracted to the fantastic and imaginative world of fantasy art.
“I’ve been making art since I was 15, and it was right when I was leaving middle school, that I had this idea to write a story from the monster’s perspective.”
Sawyer left her home in suburban Phoenix for Los Angeles while in her late teens, dedicating as much time as she could to developing her unique visual style, while still thinking about her idea for a story about a monster.
“Growing up, I was into really edgy animation – ‘The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy,’ ‘Invader Zim,’ ‘Courage the Cowardly Dog’ – shows that had a darker, spookier aesthetic. That style dropped off a bit, but ‘SALEM’ will help bring it back,” she says.