What would you do if you found a substance that can destroy and replenish life?
For Shelby Bly, the heroine in Lizzie Prusaczyk's graphic novel, she wants to use it to save her father, a globetrotting archaeologist and adventurer, who was kidnapped because of his knowledge of the substance, called Vril.
Set for release in late 2018, Prusaczyk is in the process of polishing her prose and creating the illustrations for her graphic novel that follows the adventures of Shelby Bly as the 20-something college student works to free her father, Dr. Robert Bly, from the clutches of a group of mercenaries hell-bent on getting their hands on Vril.
"Refusing to sit by and do nothing after his abduction, Shelby decides to find the Vril source herself and trade it for her father's safe return. The truth is, although Shelby is determined, she has no idea what she's doing out in the field," Prusaczyk said.
With the help of her friends, Shelby will race against time to keep Vril from falling into the wrong hands and save her father in the process.
If the story seems like Indian Jones and Lara Croft had a baby, that isn't by accident.
"I love Indiana Jones movies and pulp novels plus the Tomb Raider games. Those were, of course, heavy influences for me," Prusaczyk said. 'Romancing the Stone' is another heavy influence. I love that movie!"
Prusaczyk even studied archaeology in college and has an associate's degree in history.
Her fascination with the subject partly inspired the character Shelby Bly. Once Prusaczyk had a character, she needed a reason for adventuring.
So, Prusaczyk spent weeks researching ancient legends and mythical artifacts, going down rabbit holes of lost civilizations and secret societies before coming across a series of sci-fi novels called "The Coming Race" by Edward Bulwer-Lytton and written in 1871.
"It's mainly about a race of people who live in a hollow Earth and use a substance called 'Vril' to give themselves superpowers," Prusaczyk explained.
"What intrigued me about it most is that the novel was so unusual for the time period that many took it as fact instead of fiction," she said. "This led to stories of a secret society called the Vril Society, which had connections to the Nazi occult."
The parallels to Indiana Jones's fights against Nazis made her start thinking about Vril and led her to imagine a lost civilization called Vril-ya.
But she wanted to make the story about more than just a treasure hunt.
"It's also a story about family, friendship, and the dangers of keeping secrets," Prusaczyk said.
Illustrating her novel
When it came to illustrating her graphic novel, Prusaczyk only has one choice.
Her fascination with 3D computer-generated images started when she was a child and has only grown since.
"3D art is my chosen medium for all my artwork, not just my graphic novel," she said. And while illustrating it by hand might be quicker, "I'm a 3D artist at all times; it's what I do."
But she hopes the photorealistic 3D illustrations will set her graphic novel apart from those that are traditionally produced.
"My novel, as seen in my concept art and promotional artwork, will be illustrated in the style of 3D realism with Poser 11 Pro and a touch of Photoshop," Prusaczyk said.
Not that she has anything against traditional art.
"I started out as a traditional 2D artist and was quite good at it (lots of practice!) The only formal training I have is in 2D art," she explained.
But she had to put the pen and brush down in 1998 because of arthritis in her wrist. She picked up Poser in 1999.
"3D art saved me and set my muse free as holding a mouse or a stylus is low impact and therefore far less painful. I still sketch out ideas occasionally but I'm primarily 3D now. I still hold onto the best of my 2D traditional works as artifacts of a bygone era," she said.
In 2006, Prusaczyk opened Dream 9 Studios, her store on Renderosity and her website, d9s.co.
On her website, she sells fine art and original content for other 3D artists. The website will also offer digital distribution of the Shelby Bly graphic novel.
Prusaczyk is finishing up the final draft of the story. She is also gathering resources to start rendering and plans to have the first couple chapters illustrated by the end of the year.
"I intend to have the novel published both in physical and digital form so that it can be enjoyed by everyone no matter their preference. Personally, I can hardly wait to hold that physical book in my hands and get a paper cut turning those pages," she said.
Who is Shelby Bly?
As for Shelby, she would rather work in a museum than out in the field, Prusaczyk explained.
"Although her father was an adventurer, he decided to keep her 'safe' from that kind of life so she really has no idea what she's getting into until she's in the thick of it," Prusaczyk said.
In this way, Shelby is a bit like her creator.
"I think her vulnerability seems most familiar to me, along with her tendency to act first, think more or better of it later," Prusaczyk said.
They both like driving fast cars and are surprised when their reckless behavior doesn't end in chaos.
"Shelby often has those 'wow, I actually just managed to do that' reactions in the story rather than just taking her accomplishments in stride or her growing abilities for granted. That would be the most 'me' that I see in her," Prusaczyk said.
Shelby may be a bit of a risk-taker, but she also has a "smart-mouth sense of humor and a loving heart. She will do anything to get back her father whom she loves very much," she said.
Find out how the Shelby Bly fairs when the graphic novel is released.
More info ...
Dream 9 Studios, http://www.d9s.co/
On Pinterest, pinterest.com/dream9studios
On Tumlbr, lizziedream9.tumblr.com
Shelby Bly, shelbynovel.com
Michelle Willard, EIC of Renderosity Magazine | Former newspaper reporter. Recovering archaeologist. Political nerd. True crime junkie.
View her articles here