CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The top of Danny Boyd's website for his newest project describes him in three large words: "Professor, Filmmaker, Writer."
That may be too plain a description for a guy who in midlife reinvented himself as occasional big-time wrestler Professor Danger (he has worked more than 150 matches), and who co-wrote with fellow middle-aged wrestler William Bitner the 2008 illustrated novel "Death Falcon Zero Vs. The Zombie Slug Lords."
Boyd is perhaps best known to local audiences as a bootstrapping filmmaker who crafted the award-winning horror anthology film "Chillers," the sci-fi comedy "Strangest Dreams" and the dramatic fantasy "Paradise Park" (later renamed "Heroes of the Heart").
Now, at age 55, he has thrown the full force of his creative energies into two ambitious cross-continentally created graphic novels: an anthology of "Chillers" stories set for 2012 and a mythological epic he has penned called "Carbon," slated for 2013.
"First and foremost, I'm an entertainer. I want to do work in graphic narrative like I did with motion pictures, that reach a big audience. As I tell my students, don't be afraid to work in any genre," says Boyd, who calls graphic novels "cinema on the page."
A communications and media studies professor at West Virginia State University, Boyd began the Paradise Film Institute there in 1994. He has since added a "graphic narrative" focus and line of student-created graphic novels under the banner PFI Comics.
His students are helping him on the "Carbon" project, along with the Charleston-based comic book letterer Jason Arthur and some South American artists he hired through an ad on the comic site www.digitalwebbing.com. And, well ... possibly you.
To complete "Carbon," Boyd has leapt into the fray of "crowd-funding" new creative projects, pioneered by such sites as Kickstarter, RocketHub and -- the one he uses -- IndieGoGo.com.
If you visit www.indiegogo.com/CARBON/ you can view a video of Boyd, in which he describes the ongoing creation of "Carbon." Included are sample pages by Rascunho Studio illustrator Edi Guedes and colorist Alzir Alves at work in Brazil, a studio that does "DC-, Marvel-quality work," Boyd says admiringly.
He describes his story as "an epic graphic novel of gods, monsters and evil coal barons."
It's not easy to summarize in a short article, but the over-the-top tale features an environmental theme told with comic-book verve and vibrant art. The tale begins with an Atlantis-like legend, proposing that there was a world before the one we know and that the original Garden of Eden was found in what is now Mingo County.