Two week ago, among the booths and busyness of the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention (MTAC), one vendor’s artwork stood in contrast to the rest. While the OEL manga he promoted featured beautiful artwork, like you’d expect to be displayed at a con, it was the piece’s purpose that was surprising. Tony Bradshaw’s manga, Iota Soul, is being developed to bring awareness to the millions of orphans around the globe.
The manga’s story focuses on Kyle and Alex, orphaned brothers struggling to survive. Their predicament grows more dangerous as an organization that conducts dark experiments on “forgotten children” sets their sights on the two, who must escape or risk certain death.
The project originally began about three years ago, when Bradshaw, who works with noted radio host and financial expert Dave Ramsey, was looking for a way to double his income so that he could give it away. “Many times you hear people say do something you are passionate about, so I came up with 2 ideas. Cars and Anime.” He started with the earlier, but had an experience which shifted his focus:
One night as I sat on the couch watching TV and working on my automotive community site, I felt as if the Lord was telling me, “Pssst. Not this project.” It was pretty surreal. I packed up my files and deleted all my work. Then I began working on Iota Soul. That was July 2009.
Bradshaw started work on a community site and spent the next two years concepting the story and doing character sketches. While he would focus on the storyline and website, Bradshaw needed an artist; he started looking for one on Craigslist. “Initially, 40+ artists inquired about the project. Many of them were not of the caliber style I was looking for. A few were really good, but they wanted full time work. A couple had worked for Disney and had some incredible portfolios.” Eventually, he connected with Jason Moody, an experienced artist whose background as a pastor’s son made the project a “good fit for his heart and beliefs.”
From the beginning, Bradshaw’s work on the manga has been influenced by his belief. “As my faith has been a huge part of my life since I became a believer at age 9, it drove me to look for ways to help people. At the time I started this project, I had 4 children and quite a few friends that were pursuing adoption. This caused a natural pull for me to seek out a way to help children in need. I took Jesus’ words from James 1:27 to heart.”
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Bradshaw’s goal is to “build awareness of the global abandoned children and orphan problem.” Instead of starting a non-profit to aid orphans, he intends to develop this media property to engage people and connect them to already-existing organizations that are addressing this major issue. While attending a Together for Adoption Conference in Phoenix, he discovered the depth of orphan problem. “That’s where I picked up information like there are 147 million orphans, but 400 million abandoned children. What a huge problem! It’s also where I learned more about child prostitution, child soldiers, and discovered great organizations like Both Hands Foundation.”
In 2012, the Iota Soul team pushed the project even further after Bradshaw felt God wanting him to launch it “in a big way.” Now, the first chapter of Iota Soul is nearing release. Bradshaw will distribute each chapter digitally on the Iota Soul website and through various manga readers, with chapter one becoming available later this month. Once ten chapters have been accumulated, the team will compile them into manga novels and look to distribute them through various outlets.
For now, anticipating readers can visit the Iota Soul website, which contains character profiles, photos, and more information about the manga, and also features a growing community of fans.