Saturday, 14 March 2015

Bust #1 - An Interview With Dave Cook






Bust is an ongoing post-apocalyptic comic about the downfall of society at the hands of a terrible plague. It is most definitely not about zombies, which to me is a very good thing. Zombies are good and all but there is a ton of exposure on the market today and you don't want competition with THE Best Zombie comic on the market......iZombie.

Hey, I have my opinions, that's what makes me, me. :D



Written by award-winning video game journalist, author and beard-tender Dave Cook, Bust tells the story of Jack, a master card dealer from Las Vegas. He’s a con-man whose sleight of hand has ruined many lives, but when a viral outbreak hits America, he is forced to use his hands for good in order to save his family.

And illustrated with the talents of Chris O’Toole. You can see heavy influences if you've read early 2000AD stuff, and there's a nice cleanness to the artwork. You can check out his profile here and I highly suggest you do!

So me and Dave had a little Q&A about the comic, his influences and a few silly quick-fire questions.

Hi Dave how's it going?

Very well thank you - which is surprising as I just started a diet today! 

So what made you decide to switch from videogames to comics?

Until last summer I had been working as a game journalist for the best part of a decade. It was my dream as a kid to write about games, go to all the big shows like E3, and meet all of my favourite game developers. I did all of that and then some so I felt like it was time to tackle a new challenge. That, and writing about games does become a bit repetitive after a while, so I really wanted to write something with more character and where I could really let my imagination run riot. I thought comics were the obvious choice, and after I met Bust's illustrator Chris O'Toole online we discussed the concept and very quickly started making the first issue. It was a natural fit from day one

Who are your favourite comic book characters?

Hands down, top of my list is Transmetropolitan's Spider Jerusalem. He appeals to me for two reasons - the first being that he's a ruthless investigatibe journalist up against constant deadlines from his dickhead editor Royce (I know that pain), and second, he's essentially Hunter S.Thompson of the future. He's a total bastard, but a bastard of the people. I also think the writing in that series is truly outstanding and while its city setting is horrid, it simply leaps off the page like a place you can actually smell and touch.

Second place has to be the X-Men's Gambit. I just still really love his base power of charging cards and using them as weapons - I first saw him in the iconic 1992 comic series and still think he's awesome! It's just genius, and I love how slick the character is. I'm looking forward to seeing him in the new Fox reboot and to find out how closely they've stuck to that original comic concept, or if they'll botch it. Obviously I'd prefer the former!

And artists?

I'll pick a recent one for this as I'm finding it hard to pick out an absolute favourite, but although I'm late to the race with Brian Wood's series DMZ, I am absolutely loving the art style both Wood and Riccardo Burchielli bring to the table. Like Transmetropolitan before it, they've both managed to make the comic's setting - Manhattan after it's succeeded from the US and become annexed - truly believable. A few issues in and you really get a sense of tangible place from every panel, and you genuinely feel that despite all the decayed buildings, and conflict, there's strong community holding the island together. Definitely check that series out if you haven't already.

What about writers?

Sorry to sound like a broken record here, but it has to be Warren Ellis for his work on Transmetropolitan. I can't put my finger on it - maybe it's the fact I was a journalist for so long - but I find the writing in that series to be simply impeccable. Spider may be a frothy-mouthed sociopath at times, but when he puts fingers to keys and types out an article, it just sings off the page. Ellis nails the Gonzo journalism movement of the 1970s that Thompson popularised, and puts his own futuristic spin on the subject matter. The century may be different, but 'Transmet' is all about the rage felt by the forgotten lower classes and the sense of bubbling unrest and rebellion in the air. I feel it's essential reading for all comic fans - well, above a certain age (the language is brutal at points).

What's on your pull list right now?

Funnily enough, I just ordered the first three issues of Spider-Gwen so they'll be coming into my local comic shop for the next few months. I do love alternative universe fiction like Superman's Red Son - in which Kal-El falls into Soviet Russia instead of America. It's such a simple yet ingenious concept that throws the whole DC canon into disarray, so the idea of Gwen getting bitten instead of Peter really piques my interest. The art style is incredible too.

That aside, I'm actually more of a collected issues reader - and I'm currently working my way through the Fables Deluxe editions - those things are gorgeous! I think I just prefer to have several issues collected in one nice hardback I can place proudly on my bookshelf, but that said, I'll be adding more to my pull list once Marvel reboots its universe this summer. I figure it's a good time to get properly invested in single issues and I'm really excited to see what they do.






Now onto the comic


I love the desolate look of Texas from the outside, the walled off town and the "Welcome to Hell" sign on the shop. Were there core images that you thought of first before starting to write the story?


When I started toying with the Bust concept it actually wasn't post-apocalyptic. It was about a card dealer called Frank who steals from his own casino to buy-in to a mob-ran poker game. He shows up expecting a big score, but sees his boss at the table. Frank is then beaten senseless, his family captured and he's forced into bare-knuckle fights to pay back his debt.

But yeah absolutely, once a friend suggested I try the apocalyptic route, I knew I wanted to create a desolate, but tangible world that leapt off the page. I think that's the Transmetropolitan influences creeping through, and I'm a big fan of games like Fallout - so the idea of creating a decayed world gone insane really appealed. I wanted to create core images of smoking skylines filled with fractured skyscapers, and a shanty town made of corrugated steel and whatever could be salvaged before society fell. I hope everyone who reads feels a little bit dirty after the end of our first issue. If we can manage that I'll be happy.


What were some influences to you story wise?

I try to not get too hung up on other media I've seen or read when writing new comic concept, as I want to try and make something fresh, but Bust does have some pretty deep-seeded influences now you mention it. There's definitely hints of one of my all-time favourite games in there - Final Fantasy VII - as Austin definitely has flavours of that game's city Midgar in it. It's got a class divide, poverty, violence and is essentially on borrowed time. It can't last, and anyone within its walls who thinks otherwise is utterly deluded. 

I'd say the elements of Jack protecting his family has a whiff of The Last of Us about it, but the Fallout series is perhaps the greatest influence on the story. Those stylistic influences won't be so clear in our first issue as the world is still mid-collapse, but rest assured, the second is going to be even bleaker, weirder and tragic than what's gone before. That's when it goes 'full-Fallout' - so to speak.

I got an early Strontium Dog vibe from the ultra violent but still cartoony artwork, was that the look you were going for?

Not necessarily but now that you mention it, I think that's a fair comparison yeah. Chris and I just kind of ran with the words and style from the outset and I think we ended up with a tone that definitely feels old school in parts. I agree that it smacks of 2000 AD in parts too, which wasn't intentional, but actually kind of cool. I've tried pitching Future Shocks to them before with little success, but I really hope to get in there one day!

All credit must go to Chris though as I'm purely the words guy. He's a great guy to work with - enthusiastic, full of great ideas about how to improve things I've maybe overlooked, and a genuinely great person to know. We've never met in the flesh, but hope to do so at some point. We'd spend hours talking about games I'm sure.

What would be your zombie apocalypse survival strategy?

That's a tricky one. If we're talking the slow moving type, I'd run out of the city and into the retail park we have out of town. It's pretty quiet out there and the shop is so big - it's one of those Wal-Mart sized monstrosities - that I think there'd be enough food and sharp gardening tools in their home department to protect myself for years. Beyond that I've no idea. I'd probably die from eating all the food before the brain munchers got to me, if I'm being honest. My diet won't last, just you watch.

What can we expect from Bust #2?


More death. Well, that's a bit grim isn't it? Yes, more death, but also a decade-long time skip. I recently revealed this in another interview but what you get in issue #2 - titled Wasteland Ronin - is a place that's become almost like a new Wild West mixed with the wastes of Mad Max. Everyone's paranoid, armed to the teeth and slightly insane, but at the centre of it all there are slivers of touching humanity that give you hope that maybe, just maybe, America can be rebuilt. That is, until I snatch it away again on the next page and everyone dies again. It's like continuous Red Weddings without the nudity or promise of dragons.

That aside, if I had to sum up the key themes of the issue they'd most certainly be family and belonging. When the world or your circumstances change wildly beyond your control, would you be up to the task of adapting to meet that new world's demands. Everyone in Bust's universe has been forced to change in response to the plague, but some have handled it in - shall we say - more 'extreme' ways than others. You'll see what I mean when we reveal it.

Lastly, all the mutants are long dead from starvation in issue two, but the virus has evolved to target animals - which presents a whole set of problems for our cast. I didn't want this being another zombie series, so I killed them all off quickly - sorry zombie fans!

Okay now onto the quick fire round...

Marvel or DC? 

Marvel 


Mario or Sonic?

Mario 


Chocolate or vanilla?

Vanilla


Dome Fossil or Helix Fossil?

Dome fossil - Kabuto FTW 


Streets of Rage 2 - Axel or Max?

Axel - GRAND UPPER!


Captain America or Iron Man?

Iron Man, sorry Cap. 


And finally, if you could write a story featuring any videogame character, and you have the chance to either write in their own universe or do a re-imagining - Who would it be and why?


Oh lord. This is so hard. Err, I think Bayonetta, because her world is so insane and her ability for eye-popping action is just so immense that I would have an absolute blast with that.

Thanks for having me guys!



I for one am a huge fan of Fallout post Apocalyptic type stories and am really looking forward to seeing more.


You can check out the first issue of Bust online HERE





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