BLEEDING COOL ARTICLE, NOV. 2013
This week I finished writing my fourth novel, and it’s left me somewhat battle-scarred.
While novel #3 (Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?) was all about Silver and Golden Age comic books, a future dystopia and a simple noir/pulp mystery, #4 — currently titled Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth — concerns itself with comic books too… along with a smattering of horror, mystery, domestic abuse, coming-of-age shenanigans, post-punk music, movies, organized religion, witch trials, and the 1980s.
As I say — this left me battle-scarred and I’m not entirely sure we should blame just the ‘80s.
The book was something I threw myself into over the past two and a half months, a beast that ended up cutting sleep ragged and eating into my dreams — hence the celery people and oversized Venus flytraps that have cameo appearances in the yarn. Some of the content (think horror/abuse, while not a significant part of the story) weighed heavy during the writing process, and much as I might admire the protagonist Mina Rapace’s gumption and perseverance, I’m satisfied to have moved on.
This journey was exhausting and a tad close to home.
Still, I got to tinker with tons of references and homages within the context of the story, citing things I love and/or admire that in turn complement the tale. The trick here is to deconstruct names as well as places for clues. I also think Mina is one of the strongest characters I’ve worked with to date.
And while this is intended to be a stand-alone story, it’s also 5% related to Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? — Only I can’t tell you why or how.
Basically set in the city of Nede (pronounced ‘Needy’), we follow the course taken by an introverted high school student — who, like James Stewart in the Hollywood movie Harvey (1950) has an imaginary friend to keep her company. But how imaginary is it? And who has begun knocking off her classmates?
Sadly there’s not so much more can I let on at this stage. Here is the tagline with which we’re currently toying:
Welcome to the city of Nede, Australia, 1986 — where the only real monsters are people.
I’m sure something that has better flair and panache will surface during the course of copy-editing and organizing the cover art. The image here is for the back cover, by super Japanese artist Sukapon-ta.
Our front cover is awaiting confirmation, but regardless this book is scheduled for publication in the first quarter of 2014.
PAUL D BRAZILL ARTICLE, FEB. 2014
Over the past three months I’ve rammed through Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s entire run on Captain America, their superb reconstruction of the birth of Marvel heroes in the ’40s (The Marvels Project) and the duo’s recent work on espionage thriller Velvet.
I also rifled through issues one to twenty of Brubaker’s horror-noir Fatale with artist Sean Phillips, all of Matt Fraction’s insanely cool take on Hawkeye with artists David Aja, Annie Wu and Francesco Francavilla, and other recent comics like Black Science, Red Sonja, From Above, New Avengers, and Day Men.
Along the way I backpedalled into classic stuff like The Spirit by Will Eisner, Miss Fury by Tarpé Mills, the Jim Steranko run on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Kazuo Umezu’s Orochi Blood, Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä, and Hergé’s Tintin.
I also stumbled once more into the fairly hilarious (and dated) Avengers comics from the mid 1960s by Stan Lee with Don Heck and Dick Ayers — I mean, in #25 alone Wanda (the Scarlet Witch) has a crush on Captain America. Hawkeye is jealous and calls Cap an over-aged square. Pietro (Quicksilver) is kind of like background wallpaper. And Hawkeye then defeats Doc Doom with a “Sneeze-Smog Arrow”. Of course. The Fantastic Four from the same period (by Lee with Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott) has aged far more gracefully.
Meanwhile, book-wise, I was being buffeted by Jedediah Berry’s The Manual of Detection; a hundredth reread of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, and way too many Dr. Seuss tomes to count (with my daughter Cocoa).
Thing is, at the same time, I’ve been making my own comic books with artist Matt Kyme (our Tales to Admonish series), assembling an anthology of sequential art noir by a bunch of other artists (the Black/White project we just released), and finishing up my fourth novel.
That’s titled Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth, will be published mid-year via Perfect Edge Books, and is no doubt subliminally influenced by all of these things (above) along with nudges and winks at three of my favourite comic book artists (Kirby, Mills and Steve Ditko) and a whole wealth of 1980s post-punk/goth music. The cover painting, by French artist Kmye Chan, was chosen as much because of its references to manga and gothdom as it was for the likeness to the art of Ditko.
I think my head is a bit of a mess, but messiness has its good points since you’re not exactly thinking straight, and creativity bounces off at right angles.
Which brings me back (in black?) to Black/White, that comic book anthology I mentioned, which captures the mind-bending artwork of guys from the UK (Andrew Chiu), the USA (Nathan St. John), Canada (Drezz Rodriguez, Michael Grills) and Argentina (Marcos Vergara) — messing with my hack words.
It’s the art that speaks volumes here.
Their focus? Noir, tongue firmly in cheek on some occasions; withheld in others. Set in a near-future Melbourne, these yarns veer into the territory of crime, graf, femmes fatales, assisted suicide and post-apocalyptic dystopia — and that’s just for starters.
Black/White is being published by our indie Aussie comic book house IF? Commix in March 2014, with the digital version available already to pre-order online — for just $1 — at the website: iffybizness.weebly.com