Harris & Hutchison Deliver A Bohemian Rhapsody With Launch Of “Rockstars”

It’s Led Zeppelin meets The X-Files as writer Joe Harris and artist Megan Hutchison talk about their forthcoming Image Comics series “Rockstars”. Strap in for a Rock ‘n’ Roll mystery tour like no other!

 

GG: Congratulations on what looks like an awesome new series! Joe, tell us a bit about “Rockstars”. What is the series about?

JH: It’s a rock ‘n’ roll supernatural thriller; a love letter to the music I adore, and an exploration into what’s hidden behind the music.  It follows two young investigators named Jackie and Dorothy (along with Skydog, Jackie’s cat) as they try to get to the bottom of unsolved, even previously unknown, mysteries related to rock history both known and secreted away.

GG: How did you come up with the idea of Rockstars? Is this Led Zep meets X-Files?

JH: That’s sounds about right! I’ve been saying “Almost Famous meets Supernatural,” but I think I like yours better! The genesis of this idea is really the outgrowth of what feels like ten lifetimes spent being absolutely captivated by rock history, in particular, the glamour of the 1970s arena rock heyday. I’ve always loved getting to the bottom of things like the clues the Beatles would weave into their recordings to f@ck the audience over the “Paul is Dead” rumors, and the debauchery I’d read about in books like Stephen Davis’ Hammer of the Gods and Jerry Hopkins’ Doors book, No One Here Gets Out Alive. Further, my last two creator-owned series at Image were kinda heavy and dark environmental disaster sci-fi titles, and I wanted to do something fun. Of course this is looking pretty gloriously dark too, so who knows what I’m really up to here.

 

 

GG: How much of your own musical influences can we see in this series? Is this a personal tribute to the kind of music you love or grew up with?

JH: Yeah, absolutely. Rockstars will have one foot thoroughly planted in the 1970s, which is where the bulk of my love of music resides, but we will be branching out to explore mysteries tied to other eras and genres within the great, broad rock ‘n’ roll family tree. I love it all. We’ll get to 80s metal. I’d love to figure out how to pull off a 90s rap story at some point too. But I postulate that I could write a “Rockstars” story set in 18th century Vienna that explores the celebrity and debauchery that revolved around Mozart and Beethoven, the rockstars of their ages.

MH: I think both Joe and I are really into music. We both play music and grew up identifying ourselves with certain genres [he was more classic rock, I’m more new wave/goth] so it inevitably shows up in our respective work. Sometimes in the script, Joe asks me to specially include something in reference to a band or song. However, I do that on my own as well, pulling fashion and set dressing from not only the music I like but the influential periods in rock history.
GG: From the very first page of the book, there are iconic rock history references. Is this a book that will be enjoyed more by lovers of rock?
JH: Well, lovers of rock ‘n’ roll are going to be extra rewarded for sure. I take my references very seriously. That said, I hope we’re telling stories that are universal. That’s the goal. To my mind, no matter what you like in terms of musical taste, this series is entertainment in its own right. Rock is the backdrop. And if people who never flew an X-Wing fighter and fought for the Rebel Alliance against the Empire can find a way to enjoy Star Wars, I posit that Rockstars is as blank a slate for any and everyone to enjoy.
MH: I think people who love story and character and silliness and horror will enjoy this book. You don’t have to be super into rock, but people who do love it will be thrilled for sure. I’m also hoping that this will be an eye-opener for people who don’t know classic rock or the major influences in rock history.
GG: Joe and Megan, how did you both get together on this project? 
JH: Darick Robertson introduced us back at Emerald City Comicon a few years ago (we have many mutual friends, it would turn out), and we ended up on the same flight down to LA afterwards. Megan had just published her first Original Graphic Novel and I really liked her style, and her personality and attitude, which is so important both in a collaborative sense, and just in a representational one. We don’t like all the same things at all, but I think our differences compliment and she brings this dark, sexy and cool vibe that only feels more entertaining to me the way it all swirls together rather than dense or something other than fun, you know? The energy was good. I was intrigued.
MH: Joe and I get along really well so I knew from our first discussion that this would be a ton of fun to work on together. The fates aligned that we should meet and work on this book.
GG: Megan, you have a totally unique style of art that seems to really give life to a project. Your Will O’ the Wisp book is a great example. And it looks like Rockstars will be the same. Even looking at just the first issue, I can’t imagine this book being brought to life by anyone else!
MH: Thank you! I always wanted to draw comics. Growing up in the 90’s everyone drew superheroes a certain way and that was never the way I drew, so I gave up on that dream for years. To have not only the opportunity to work in comics but to also have people dig my style, is beyond awesome. I think my style fits the book, it’s dark and weird and a little fantastical/goofy. Also, Joe has really allowed me to grow as an artist, writing things that he thinks would be fun visually and including things that would suite my style. And in turn, my art has influenced his writing.
GG: Joe, the character Jackie Mayer is very interesting. He seems like someone who is at the same time both inspired and burdened by the events of the past.
JH: Jackie grew up with his dad, a former security guard who worked for lots of massive rock acts on the road, but who’d found himself down and out and on his last legs by the time Jackie was old enough to understand the life he’d left behind. His father died under mysterious circumstances some years back, and Jackie’s been sort of living to please his father’s memory and seeking guidance from the “conversations” (which are akin to how Dexter would speak to Harry, or how Jesse Custer would hear from the faceless ghost of John Wayne) he has with him since. And the reason this all works, we’ll learn soon enough, is that Jackie is sort of “attuned” to music and music’s secrets in a way that you, I, and we aren’t. He’s got this strange, almost psychic connection that reveals what’s really going on behind the music and the legends and the secrets, to him. It’s also about to get him in some serious trouble.
GG: What was the inspiration behind him? And what kind of conflicts can we expect to see for this character moving forward?
JH: I’d say there’s some of Patrick Fugit’s character from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous in there. But there’s, really, some of every kid, me included, who covered their binder with band names and logos in school in Rockstars. I’m sure a lifetime of watching movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont HighDazed and Confused, and every teen screwball sex comedy franchise from Porky’s on down, comedies like Caddyshack, television like That 70s Show — it’s all probably represented in the series somewhat.
So far as the conflicts go and pushing Jackie forward, he’s going to come to realize that his talents, for lack of a better word, are connected to this supernatural conspiracy  centered around demonic possession, sympathy for the devil and the same kind of bad luck and screwed up destiny that consumed his father back when.
GG: Talk to me about the character Dorothy Buell. She seems like a very strong character, someone that Jackie may well need as the series progresses.
JH: Dorothy is awesome, not one for bullshit, and a definite grounding presence for Jackie who’s kind of got his head in the clouds a bit. She’s an aspiring music writer who bemoans both the state of music and entertainment today along with the decline of media and journalism. She’s a bit of a crusader underneath it all, a young woman who fancies herself a hard-charging Woodward and Bernstein type, or a current-day Erin Brockovich fighting on the side of angels against the powers that be. But that’s something of a dodge, I think, too. In the end, she’s hungry for a story. And Jackie isn’t just going to expose her to trove of subject matter as her source, but as her subject too. He just doesn’t know it yet!
MH: I tried to juxtapose Dorothy and Jackie. Her hard, outgoing, bulldozer personality with Jackie’s shy, nerdy, mystical nature. As the story progresses I think they’re going to start rubbing off on each other, developing characteristics reminiscent of one another.
GG: The series kicks off with a lot of reference to 70’s Rock. Where else will you be taking these intrepid rock investigators? 
JH: The next arc is going to delve into 80s metal, I think, along with some of the movements and genres that informed the Iron Maiden and Judas Priest era. I’d love to touch on Motown, along with other R&B scenes from the 60s and 70s like the Stax Records scene, or Muscle Shoals out of Alabama. 1960s British Invasion. 80s hip-hop, potentially. There’s a lot of ground to potentially cover.
MH: I’m pushing for glamrock into 80’s goth just because I want to draw that. However, as the series progresses you can bet there will be a lot more hair and sparkles.
Rockstars will be released through Image Comics on December 14, 2016. Order at your Local Comic Shop or go to https://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/rockstars-1
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The Top 10 Graphic Novels of all Time!

By IzzyLFC

Comic book charachters are now more popular today than ever before, thanks to Film and TV as well as the comic industry’s best creators. However it all started with 20-page magazines starring iconic characters like Superman, Batman, Captain America and Spiderman. I’m looking at the greatest graphic novels ever to be written. Do you agree?!

 

10. Crisis on Infinite Earths – Marv Wolfman

 

 

 

Probably DC comics’ biggest event ever, Marv Wolfman creates a masterpiece with Crisis. Featuring the first appearance of probably the most powerful villain ever, The Anti-Monitor, this 12-issue series was a crisis since two of DC’s most loved characters died protecting not only the world or even the universe but the multiverse. Both Supergirl and Flash die protecting the ones they love.

9. Blackest Night – Geoff Johns

 

One of my favourite writters Geoff Johns delivered probably the biggest and best Green Lantern storyline ever in 2009-10. When Hal Jordan returns from the dead, he brings death with him. A figure going by the Black hand is leading the living dead or Black lantern corps into destroying humanity. We see our favourite heroes and our most despised villains putting on rings to unite against a common threat.

 

8. Daredevil: The Man without Fear – Frank Miller

 

and respected writers in the comic book world created one of the great Daredevil stories. Explaining the origins and early life of Matt Murdock, Miller creates nothing short of a masterpiece.

 

7. The Killing Joke – Alan Moore

Alan Moore creates more of a Joker tale than a Batman tale. Aimed at mature audiences, this comic shows the gruesome and insane nature of the dark knight’s greatest foe. An iconic scene where Joker is dressed in a tourist outfit, he paralyzes Barbara Gordon, ending her run as Batgirl.

 

6. Civil War – Mark Miller

 

Now a Blockbuster MCU film, Civil War was definitely one of the great comic book events. Looking at the more realistic and political side of Superheroes, the Superhero Registration Act or “Sokovia accords” in the movie brings the superhero community in the cross-hairs of the law. Tony Stark and Steve Rogers represent to the two conflicting sides of the argument and suddenly the Marvel Universe is at war! One of the most iconic and impactful moments was the unmasking of Spider-Man as Peter Parker.

 

5. Flashpoint – Geoff Johns

 

probably the most impactful event in Barry Allen’s history. It also kickstarted DC’s New 52 and still reverberates through the DCU. When Barry travels back to save his Mother, he doesn’t realise the consequences of his actions and how they will affect the timeline. Thomas Wayne is now Batman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war and Superman is a lab experiment. Trust me, you’ll finish this in one read!

 

4. The Infinity Gauntlet – Jim Starlin

 

Jim Starlin, the king of Marvel’s cosmic universe, creates probably Marvel’s biggest storyline ever. Avengers Infinity War, the MCU movie that everything has been leading up to is based on this. This story shows the true power of Thanos and the 6 Infinity gems. One of my favourites.

 

3. Watchmen – Alan Moore

 

Now starting to appear in DC rebirth comics, Watchmen is the first Comic that isn’t mainstream Marvel or DC on the list! Alan Moore creates another adult aimed story which is about a more realistic society and the kind of threats that superheroes face…and are! Watchmen is widely regarded as one of the greatest graphic novles ever!

 

2. The Dark Knight Returns – Frank Miller

 

Expected first? Well first or not, TDKR is the greatest Batman story ever. Bruce Wayne hasn’t been Batman for many years, but returns to face the mutants, Joker, Superman as well as training a new, female Robin. Christopher Nolan’s TDKR is based on this and the Knighfall storyline. Batman at his best!

 

Old Man Logan – Mark Millar

 

As you can tell from the image, Mark Millar creates one of the goriest but greatest tales ever. Logan has quit being Wolverine in the future but gets back in the game with an opportunity to pay rent. Sadly, he isn’t on time and the landlords, AKA the Hulks have killed his family. He goes berserker mode and wipes out almost all of the Hulks family. A simple but memorable story, also now a blockbuster movie in “Logan” played by fan favourite Hugh Jackman.

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The Indie Index is expanding

The Indie Index has been swamped with reviews, interviews and Kickstarter campaigns since the very first day of the announcement.

Up until now, The Indie Index was a one-person project headed by myself, Mike Speakman. It’s time to expand the ranks as I don’t have the time available for all of the incoming requests that I’ve been receiving. That being said, The Indie Index will move forward with the assistance of various contributors along the way.

The first of the new contributors are Aaron Magnuson and Steven Randall. They are each reviewing projects and will be published here through The Indie Index. Keep an eye out for their articles over the next few days.

I look forward to bringing more and more contributors onboard as time progresses.

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The Indie Index – Review – Hail #6-7

Hail issue 6 & 7 has successfully been funded on Kickstarter. And they have delivered. If you’re not familiar with Hail, do yourself a favour and go buy the previous issues.

Hail follows Lena, an aspiring lawyer who turns to glass when anxiety strikes. She learns to work through her anxieties and turn it into a strength to help those in need.

With so many superhero comics being released, it’s easier for readers to get superhero fatigue. That’s why Hail is so refreshing. It’s a story that has an honest insight into someone dealing with anxieties and depression. Lena is high functioning; she is successful at her work as an aspiring lawyer and is learning to control her powers. However, she is still overwhelmed by the daily aspects of life and battles her depression internally while battling the villains in the streets and on the rooftops.

Issues 6 and 7 are the strongest yet in the series. Richardson’s writing is fluid and well-paced. The character dynamics and dialogue are like a pair of well-worn slippers, comfortable and familiar. From Issue 1, Lena and her supporting cast have never felt stiff. I found myself smiling and chuckling as I enjoyed the company of Lena and her friends while they bantered and interacted.

Lam’s artwork, with her supporting art team, is at its most consistent in the series. Lam’s detail to character expressions evoke their nuances and emotions without dialogue. Lam also has the arduous task of conceptualising a character who turns to glass. I applaud her and her art team for achieving this. The line work of Lena in her glass form is detailed and creates a seamless look whilst also making her feel grounded in the world they’ve created.

Issue 7 brings to close the first arc of Hail’s confrontation with the serial killer, the Shepard. It packs in so much more for future issues, including a violent unknown vigilante, the revelation of a friend’s secret, and how the outcome of her battle with the Shepard will affect her future.

This is an Australian superhero comic leading from the front. Go get it.

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The Indie Index – Review – Tart #6

Sweet with just enough sass.

 

I must confess, I was a newbie to the epic adventures of Tart Acid, before yesterday that is. Written by Kevin Joseph, the quick paced action in Tart starts on panel one and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.  The first five issues are an excellent combination of the telvision show Quantum Leap meeting Kill Bill and tossing in a little Dr. Who.  Tart, the recently deceased demon hunter, has the unfortunate time traveling side effect of temporary memory loss. This leaves Tart in the same place as the reader, never knowing what could be coming around the next corner.

Catching up with the first five issues as I did, couldn’t be easier with the current Kickstarter campaign already fully backed for issue 6.  One reward has all past issues available for $8.00 in digital PDF format or physical copies for only $25.00.  But be warned, catching up means tagging along through 1950’s New York, a demon infested plane and even a glacial ice age French Riviera, as Tart learns the ropes of time travel, battling demons along the way.

After five beautifully illustrated issues with Ludovic Salle on art, issue six adds Karl Moline to the team to take over, which he does without skipping a beat.  This newest chapter has a tad more action in than the previous issues, and Moline’s first issue in the series doesn’t disappoint. Issue 5 ended on cliffhanger, as once again Tart struggling against three merpeople, who know her, but she has no memory of ever meeting.

Sprinkled among the issues like children’s teeth (the highest form of currency), writer Kevin Joseph leaves the reader with just enough clues to wonder what is truly going on in this strange, new, vibrant world he has created.

You can pledge to the Kickstarter campaign HERE.

 

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The Indie Index – Interview with Cy Dethan

Who are you and if you were to have any super power what would it be, and why?

I’m Cy Dethan – writer of comics, freelance nihilist and recovering professional magician.

As for picking a superpower (assuming that immortality and total invulnerability to all forms of physical harm are off the table), in order of preference:
1) The Midnighter’s ability to analyse and predict the outcome of any situation.
2) Karnak’s ability to find the flaw in any object, concept or strategy.
3) Uh… something awesome with lasers, I guess?Or Satanic Sex Powers, maybe. Either’s good.

 

Your first break was with Starship Troopers in 2006, how did that come about?

 

Arse-backwards. I was playtesting a miniatures wargame for Mongoose Publishing, based on the Roughnecks TV show (a spin-off from Starship Troopers). The company, as it turned out, also had the licence to produce Troopers comics, so I threw in a pitch. That ended up as about two years’ worth of comics work in their monthly gaming magazine, Signs & Portents. When their licence expired, I moved across to Markosia to take over their ongoing series. Right place, right time.

 

 

You seem to have a lot in the pipeline for 2018, can you divulge any information about any of your projects?

Okay, let’s see… right now I’ve got a book called Phantom Lung & the Garden of Dead Liars in the works at Markosia that’s been ticking over for a while. Hopefully the artist will be free to work on that fairly soon. I’ve just received the contract for another book, but I don’t have the green light to talk about that just yet.
I’ve got a story called Murderbox with Roland Bird in the next Bomb Scares anthology from Time Bomb comics and another for an upcoming volume of Jimmy Furlong’s S**t Flingers.
There are also two more one-shots and a graphic novel in the works for Barry Nugent’s Unseen Shadows project, three or four tentative collaborations brewing and about half a dozen graphic novels I’m currently shopping around.
I guess it actually does sound like quite a lot when you list it all out like that, but it’s the nature of the business to have a lot of creative balls in the air at once [insert generic “balls-up” joke here].

If you could only write one genre for the rest of your career, what would it be?

I honestly can’t say that I ever think consciously about genre when I’m writing or developing ideas. A lot of my stuff tends to get racked in the horror section, I suppose – but if I had to pin down a single genre to work in I’d probably go for crime.

 

Torsobear was quite popular on Kickstarter, why do you think that is?

I’d have to say that Brett Uren’s the main reason for that. Brett’s got a perfect combination of unrestrained enthusiasm and raw talent, which is precisely what it takes to push through a complex, multi-team project like Torsobear. When I first saw the plot bible he sent me, I was just blown away. He managed to keep a chaotic mass of creators focused through three volumes of the series, and I never once saw him losing his excitement.

 

What do you feel you did differently for Torsobear to gain the attention that it did?

I wish I could claim any kind of credit for that, I really do. I wrote three of the stories and did my part in promoting the series – but the real work of grabbing people’s imagination was done by Brett. That goes for getting other creators excited as much as for getting attention from backers and readers.

 

 

One piece of advice that you would give aspiring indie creators?

Your talent is a lock pick, not a battering ram. The comics industry is guarded by ranks and ranks of people whose only job is to say no to you – because the moment they say yes they’re risking someone’s money. I’ve almost never met a writer who broke into comics in any major way via hammering out blind written submissions.

 

Plug your work.

You can find pretty much all my creator-owned stuff on Comixology, or through Markosia’s site (www.markosia.com). I strongly recommend checking out the Unseen Shadows site (https://unseenshadows.com) for a glimpse into the universe that Barry Nugent’s building over there. Brett Uren’s Torsobear site (www.torsobear.com) is the internet’s #1 destination for Fluff-Noir fiction, while Simeon Aston and Jeremy Biggs’ Metal Made Flesh project (www.metalmadeflesh.com) has provided me with some of the most intense and rewarding creative experiences of my time in comics. My website and blog are in great need of modernisation, but you can find them at www.raggedman.com and www.cydethan.com, respectively.

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TWILIGHT HOTEL

Twilight Hotel tells the story of a 100-year-old West Florida hotel that has a very sinister secret. Built on land that was once the home of the most notorious plantation in all of North America, where thousands of African slaves and Seminole Indians were murdered in ritualistic ceremonies. It is also home to an ANCIENT EVIL DEITY named… “SHE”. With a supernatural ability to attract and influence people, she lures unwitting individuals to the Twilight where they are subjected to many horrible things including, MAN-EATING BED BUGS, PSYCHOTIC GANGSTERS, ZOMBIES, SERIAL KILLERS and worst of all… themselves.

 

 

A Kickstarter campaign in support of the comic book has already launched and the project’s creators hope to hit their fundraising goal by Nov 19th. Copies of the completed first volume and other very cool backer rewards are available so, anyone interested in lending their support can go to:https://www.kickstarter.com/…/twilight-hotel…/twilight-hotel

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“The Greatest Comic Book Covers” Series Preview

Geek Genie launches a regular series looking at the greatest comic covers of all time! Which one is your favourite?

Scanning the rows and rows of comic books on offer at your local comic book store, what’s the first thing that grabs your attention? Chances are that the cover of the book will go a long way in determining whether or not you’re going to give this book a shot.

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is sound advice in general and even with comic books. But maybe more than any other medium, the cover in the case of comic books is often an integral part of the overall value (creative as well as monetary) worth of the book.

Comics are there to be read, but they’re also there to be looked at and admired. It’s a literary and visual medium and there are hundreds, maybe thousands of artists who have contributed to the long list of great comic book covers.

So stay tuned and look out for the start of an ongoing series as Geek Genie brings to you The Greatest Comic Book Covers! 

 

Do you have a favourite comic book cover? Let us know by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Or better still why not contribute to the series? All you have to do is register on this site and hey presto! You’ll have your very own blog and can contribute to this amazing ongoing series! Well…what are you waiting for? Hit the “register” button on the top right of this page and get writing!

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RYAN O’SULLIVAN AND PLAID KLAUS READY FOR VOID TRIP

With the highly anticipated release of Void Trip imminent, Geek Genie caught up with the creative team behind the series, Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus.

GG: Can you tell us a bit about your background, how did you guys break into the comics industry and what other work have you done?
 
RYAN
Plaid Klaus and I broke in together as it happens, working on the webcomic-cum-graphic-novel TURNCOAT. That was back in 2016. Was so much fun working on that one together. We broke all the rules with it. They always say make your first comic a small thing, you know, just a little thing to show you can do it. We made it 164 pages. Plus it was superheroes. It was glorious.
Since then I’ve mostly done licensed comic work, such as Eisenhorn for Games workshop, and Warhammer 40,000 and The Evil Within for Titan Comics. I’ve not let Klaus do anything else. Keeping him locked in the basement working on Void Trip before it was announced was pretty much my main purpose in life in 2017.
KLAUS
Basement? You said it was the Batcave
 
GG: How did you choose your creative team? Can you tell us a little about them?
 
RYAN
Like all great love stories, we chose each other. Klaus’s artwork is perfect for the types of stories I wanted to tell in Turncoat and Void Trip. He’s cartoony, but uses a lot of black. Perfect for a comic one-part humour one-part existential angst. His colouring is beautiful – so beautiful that it can trick the reader into thinking that the life it represents is beautiful. But as we all know, life is nothing but suffering. Plus, he gets narrative. We came up with this idea together, so he’s as invested as I am in making sure that every page is a slave to the story.
KLAUS
It’s true we share a lot of sensibilities, both creatively and our dark sense of humor.  Also we’re both incredibly obsessed with making god damn good comics.  I’ve always wanted to run the full gambit artistically so I learned to pencil, ink, color and letter (I have bad lettering which is why we’re lucky to work with Aditya). Ryan’s writing chops are next level, but he also has impeccable formatting of scripts and trimming of story far.  So when I get a script it’s distilled to its literary essence which leaves me room to play around with world building and adding flavor.  Also ryan was the first partner to take the business side as seriously as I always have, so it’s a perfect fit.
 
GG: How did you come up with the idea for Void Trip? Did you always have this idea knocking around in your head or was it a collaborative effort?
 
RYAN
When we were finishing up on Turncoat I was reading a lot of American literature. The counter-cultural stuff like Kerouac, Bukowski, or Hunter S. Thompson. But also, the almost culture-enforcing stuff like Melville or McCarthy. I saw both sides of America in the authors I was reading. One half was the American individual dreaming of freedom, the other half was American society limiting your dreams. The more I thought about it, the more I realised this was just describing humanity as a whole.
So I had all this whirling around in my mind when I approached Klaus about the book. He dug it, even back in its earliest stages. I outlined some ideas, we bounced it back and forth. He was more like an editor or a co-writer in the early stages. Void Trip is very much something we created, conceptually, together. From there I went ahead and started scripting, and then Klaus started drawing it. It was a great way to work, and I’m sure the next thing we work on would be the same way. It’s the best way to do creator-owned collaborative comics. From a writer’s perspective, working with an artist from the early foetal stages of a concept really helps to invest both of you equally in the story.
GG: Klaus’ art work is really cool! It’s got a very unique style to it. What were you looking for when you were thinking about the visual elements to bringing this idea to life?
 
KLAUS
Thanks. The alchemical special sauce is in the collaborative process. As a team, Ryan and I produce worlds that wouldn’t be possible without both parties involved.  I’ve come to feel like a good comic team is like a band.  Take the Beatles for instance.  Each member went on to make their own musical ventures, but none individual had the magic of the Beatles. Together we both put a life force int out project; each set of ideas one of us has spawns new ideas in the other.

GG: Without giving away too much for our audience, can you give us a run down or a “written trailer” of what the series is about?
RYAN
Void Trip is the story of the last two humans left alive, taking a road-trip through the stars to the promised land of Euphoria. The problem? They’re a massive pair of hippies, more interested in getting high on psychedelic space froot than they are the usual sci-fi tropes. The bigger problem? An all-white, nameless, gunslinger is following them, leaving a path of destruction in his wake.
GG: What kind of themes do you explore in the book?

RYAN
The entire book explores the question of “How can we be free in a universe, if the universe will always course-correct to limit us?” The idea that we are inherently limited in what we can do is something I find infuriating. So, I wanted to create a story about two characters who, theoretically, have unlimited freedom. They’re in space. They have a space van. They aren’t beholden to the human race (because it doesn’t exist anymore). Taking two characters like this, and having them explore what it means to be free in a universe like ours…it was eye opening.
GG: Tell us a little about the main characters, Ana and Gabe?
RYAN
They’ve two halves of the same coin. Or maybe they’re just the same person a generation apart? Who knows. Ana is our lead, she’s a wide-eyed dreamer, intent on living life freely, following no rules but her own, never willing to compromise. Gabe is different, he’s a bit more long in the tooth. He’s been around the block a few times. He knows you’ve got to play along with the system a bit to be free. Gabe thinks he’s a realist. Ana just thinks he’s losing his fire a bit.
Which of them is right? Well, that’s up to the reader, not me.
GG: Do we get to find out what happened to the rest of the human race? Are these two humanity’s end?
RYAN
No. The story is a road trip story first and a sci-fi story second. It’s about our two characters going from point A to point B. If we started talking about what happened before point A or…even worse…started worldbuilding outside of the road, then we’d completely lose sight of the point of telling a story like this. Everything in Void Trip is a slave to the story. Including Klaus and I.
GG: What is this promised land, Euphoria? Is it real, a metaphor?
RYAN
It’s both. And also a potential spoiler.
GG: What are your hopes for the series? Are there a set number of issues you have planned out?
RYAN
I hope I do it justice. There’s a story in my heart I want to tell with it, and I hope I actually tell that story. There’s always a risk when writing that things can get lost in translation. I like to think I’m hard enough on myself for that not to happen. But you can never be sure. Whether people actually like the story is much less important. It has to be that way, otherwise nothing would ever get written.
As for the length, it’s five issues. There’s always the possibility of continuing on if the sales numbers are decent. But the five issues are a finite five acts. It’s self-contained. Hmm. We’re marketing it as a five issue miniseries. Let’s go with that for now.
RYAN
We’ve had a few networks approach us about the TV rights, but I don’t think this is something I’m interested in really. There’s this public perception I dislike about comics. The idea that they’re a stepping stone to greater things. I don’t like the “greater things” part of that sentence. I don’t consider other mediums greater. They can certainly be more profitable, but not greater.
So no, there’s no plans to pitch it anywhere. I’m open to discussing it, but Hollywood is not something I’m chasing.
KLAUS
Agreed.  When you make a work of art, the last thing you want is someone to give you green paper in exchange to appropriate the world you’ve built and cover it in diarrhoea to sell movie tickets.
That being said, if an amazing director ever expressed interest, we could certainly have a conversation about it.
GG: Finally, we have a lot indie creators who use our site. What advice do you have for them when embarking on a career in the comic book industry?
 
KLAUS
Just create in your own unique voice, be honest about your weak points, and develop them stronger (this means making yourself vulnerable to professional criticism).  Do the work as if it’s already your profession.  Also, don’t wait for an opportunity to be handed to you.  I’ve gone out and made every gain I’ve had as an illustrator and comic artist.  You have to make your own opportunities.
RYAN
For writers? Be good at writing. Don’t work for free, unless it’s for yourself. Writing scripts is pointless unless someone is drawing them. Don’t ever be content with where you are, always strive to improve your craft and your career. Treat it like a career or it will only ever be a hobby. Always credit your collaborators, and learn the ins and outs of what they do. It’s important to have a working knowledge of everything in comics. Not just on the creative side, learn the industry too. As a comic professional you are a small business. You need to learn how to carve out your own piece of the comic industry, because no-one is going to give it to you. Surround yourself with talented driven people on a similar level to you. Have a healthy competition with them, it will drive you on. Always remember no-one owes you anything, so make it impossible for people to ignore you. Always make sure you work with great artists, they will make you look good, and they will make people think you’re a good writer. Spend everything you have, time, money, and energy, on making this happen. Sacrifice friendships if you have to. Better yet, sacrifice friends. Become a Satanist. Kidnap people. Murder is fine if you get away with it. Learn how to hide the bodies. Consider not hiding the bodies. Maybe make the bodies your friends. Maybe slowly kill your entire neighbourhood so that they become nothing but a cadaverous puppet-show. Make them wear outfits. The sort of outfits you could never pull off, but that you like to think your cadaver friends could. Colour matching is important, learn the colour wheel. Get caught colour matching outfits for corpses when an ex-girlfriend surprise visits you. Blame her for it. Let her take the fall for all the murders. So many murders. So many you have to change your name to Ryan O’Sullivan and start a new life writing comics in England. Be careful not to admit to anything in interviews. Not even as a cry for help. Not even if it’s because you miss your old life and the only way to express that is through roleplaying in an interview answer. Yes, you might miss the cadaverous puppet-show, but it was just that – a show. They were just bodies. They weren’t real friends. They were real friends before you murdered them. But not afterwards. Afterwards they were just meat. Always remember that. New comic writers don’t always remember that.
But above all, be good at writing. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Void Trip is available in stores on November 22. Order your copy today!
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The Indie Index – Interview with Stephen Kok

Introduce yourself.
My name is Stephen Kok and I’m a Sydney based graphic novel creator!
You’ve just had your fourth graphic novel, Word Smith, successfully funded on Kickstarter. You make it look easy! What’s your secret?
Lots of coffee and late nights! There’s a lot of planning and work that goes into Kickstarter and I’m always thankful of everyone who supports my creative endeavours.
Your first graphic novel Tabby is about a family of cats with nearly no dialogue. Can you discuss the challenges you faced writing this and finding the right artist to bring it to life.
After I finished the script for Tabby (and lots of lots of editing), I was ready to find an artist to collobrate. The artist who did the initial design (Canadian Eric Gravel) was unfortunately not available at the time. I posted on Freelanced.com and it was over a 2 month selection process going through over 100+ applicants. Each applicant had to do one page trial. At the end of it, P.R. Dedelis was an easy choice and it won’t be the last project we collaborated on!
The release of Word Smith marks your fourth collaboration with polish artist P.R. Dedelis. Can you give us some insight into your creative process with Dedelis, especially with over 13,000km between you two.
According to Google, the distance is 15,716kms! A lot of work gets done before the panels eg. character designs, world designs etc. P.R. is the ultimate professional, we bounce back with different ideas on how to approach a page. I do take a lot of artistic guidance from him

You’ve received grants to help create 5 Seconds and Word Smith. What was the process to gain these grants and how important have they been in helping to produce your work?
Be prepared to spend the time putting together plans, budgets, references etc. There are artistic grants out there for all different purposes but it’s really making your project stand out from the rest. Be also very conscious of the time, I misread the end date, spent ages doing the prep work and forgot to submit on time!
You’ve mentioned in the past that you’ve always wanted to make graphic novels but you were forever procrastinating. You’ve now made four! What changed and how do you keep it up?
My daughter who’s 6 now. I’ve been telling my wife over 10 years ago all these story ideas but never spent the time to actually complete a script end to end. When my daughter was born, I want to be able to tell her to work for her dreams but I rather than just tell her I wanted to be an example. I was very fortunate that Tabby was well received leading to the other graphic novels!
Which current local and international comic creators inspire you?
In Australia, Queenie Chan who’s not just a talented individual but always trying to raise the profile of Australian graphic novels and Karen Dwarte an Inner West librarian who’s one of biggest champions for independent creators! She got Tabby into the first Australian public library. Internationally, Jeff Smith is an inspiration. He was able to bring to life the epic saga of Bone but still make it appeal to all ages audience. One of the best stories I have read.

What’s on the horizon for Stephen Kok – graphic novelist?
I’m working on a collaborative project with Melbourne publisher COMICS2MOVIES on a new science fiction series called Terralympus. Earth is a distant and the remnants of humanity now live aboard giant space stations. On the station Terralympus, Mia stumbles onto a conspiracy that could prove fatal. Other that than a sequel to 5 Seconds which I wrote as a trilogy. I’m hoping to launch this in Feb 2018 and of course spending lots of time with the family. My girl loves drawing and it’s awesome to hear her stories.
Interview conducted by Aaron Magnuson.
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