Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Big Punch Comics - An Interview With Jon Lock


Big Punch Magazine, or BPM, is Big Punch Studio's flagship product. Big Punch Studios stands for engaging, dynamic and colourful storytelling for all ages, specialising in the stories they love to read. 

With two of the Big Punch Team already being seasoned comic book creators, BPM was conceived as a way for them to tell the stories they had waiting in the wings in a quarterly, episodic fashion.

Afterlife Inc. and 7STRING were just the beginning. Welcome to the Big Punch Multiverse...

I really dug this first issue of Big Punch Magazine, as anyone knows me will tell you I'm a massive fan of parallel worlds and multiverses which is what this comic is all about!

Like the 2000AD comics, each issue has several different stories, featuring different art styles and these are all beautiful in their own way, from the epic Star Wars/Guardians of the Galaxy style battles in the first part of Cuckoos, the post apocalyptic stylings of Orb or the fantastic cartoony stylings in the artwork for 99 Swords, this comic had me hooked from the get go! 

I see some great potential from these guys and I think the comic and Universe they are creating here will just go from strength to strength, you should definitely check it out so you can say you were there, Man!


So me and Jon had a little Q&A about the comic, how this collaboration came together and what his favourite sword is...


Who are your favourite comic book characters?

I grew up reading the Avengers, having started on Kurt Busiek and George Perez’s run in the late nineties/early 2000s and then catching up on reprints of the original sixties storylines, so I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for its many, many cast members! I’ve a real fondness for Ant Man, as it happens, if only because it’s a power set that doesn’t provide an automatic advantage. You have to be smart if you want to win. I also really like the idea of a hero with multiple identities.

Over the years as my tastes have changed, I’ve found myself drawn to some of the weirder heroes out there. The Authority was a revelation to my teenage self. A character who could speak to cities? A global shaman who could do pretty much anything? It was a wonderful and bizarre take on superpowers. Rebis from Doom Patrol – a radioactive, bandaged, hermaphroditic superhuman with three souls in one body – has to be one of my favourites, however. 


Actually, come to think of it, it’s weird how despite not writing superhero comics, superheroes do make up the majority of my favourite characters. They’re instantly iconic, I guess.

And artists?

Frank Quitely, Dustin Nguyen, Olivier Coipel and Doug Mahnke. All absolute powerhouses of their craft. Wildcats Version 3.0 is the only book I’ve ever bought for the art alone (turns out the story was amazing too); Dustin Nguyen’s work is effortlessly beautiful. One of the coolest, most stylish books I own. Frank Quitely is just brilliant on everything he touches.

What about writers?

To say that Grant Morrison’s work changed my life would be an understatement. It made me want to become a writer; it showed me that comics could be weird and beautiful and challenging and unsettling – and that they should me. There’s a magic in comics that crosses over into modern mythology. They get under your skin and refuse to let go. I know Morrison isn’t for everyone, and at times the weirdness of his stories can be a bit of a barrier to new readers, but even on an off day his work is so much more exciting than anything else on the shelves. Whenever I pick up a Morrison book I know I’m in for something different – and when 90 per cent of stuff out there is so generic, that can only be a good thing.

Warren Ellis is also, of course, consistently wonderful. Disarmingly so, actually. The average Ellis story might contain more mind-bending ideas, tossed aside and discarded, than a single writer could hope to come up with in their entire career. I’m always impressed by Joe Casey’s work, and feel I should probably read more of his stuff than I currently do. Brian Clevinger is consistently hilarious and charming with his work on Atomic Robo; and Kieron Gillen is doing something incredibly clever and subversive in his recent titles. Watch him: he’s going to be calling all the shots in the few years, I guarantee it…

What's on your pull list right now?

Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers titles, although, honestly, I’m not really enjoying them. The new series started out promisingly but since then it’s just become so slow and wordy. I think I’m continuing out of sheer bloody mindedness. I’ve been following the Avengers for years; I have to see it through to the end.


Other than that, I’m greatly enjoying Morrison’s ongoing Annihilator and Nameless series – he’s clearly having fun working on some weirder, creator-owned titles and it definitely shows in his writing. The Wicked and the Divine took me a little while to warm to – the characters make me feel a bit old – but it’s definitely blossoming as a series with more issues under its belt. Very intrigued to see where it’s all going.


Now onto the comics...


CUCKOOS




I loved Cuckoos and its talk of other dimensions, in fact I talked about my love of them in the children’s book day the other day and it's one of my favourite tropes. 

What fascinates you about it?


We have the misfortune of being born into a mundane universe. With physics being strict and unrelenting, we’ve had to dream of possibilities just beyond the veil. It’s nice, comforting even, to imagine that in a multiverse with infinite worlds anything could be happening out there. 

It doesn’t have to make sense; it doesn’t need to have a logical explanation… it’s simply the rules of whatever universe you find yourself in. Characters that can cross the boundaries literally have the best of all worlds at their disposal. Touring a multiverse allows you to explore endless possibilities, all within the pages of the same story, or even see the familiar made strange: worlds that are similar to our own in all but one subtle difference.


…and what is your favourite dimension altered or travelling story?


Well, the Authority and Planetary, both creations of Warren Ellis, did some creative things with the concept of parallel universes, particularly the introduction of the Carriers: sentient spaceships, 50 miles in length, capable of sailing between worlds. Fringe also presented an interested look at two neighbouring parallel universes, each subtly different from our own, going to war.


It's got a great use of breaking the panels and using a lot of motion to flow the story, were any of these moments scripted and did you collaborate with the artist on the look you were going for?


Nich and I first worked together on The Heavenly Chord, the crossover between the worlds of our respective creator-owned titles, Afterlife Inc. and 7STRING, which led to the founding of Big Punch Studios. I’m just a writer, so I’m used to working with different artists to bring a story to life. Nich, as a writer and artist, is used to illustrating his own scripts. As such, we’ve had to learn to work together, but thankfully it’s been a remarkably easy and natural process to adjust to. 

Cuckoos was created from scratch by the two of us; brand new characters and worlds to serve as the flagship title of our brand new magazine. As such, it’s been utterly collaborative from the ground up. The two of us brainstorm a story, and then I go away and prepare a script, consulting with Nich to make sure we’re both on the same page. Nich, however, is an insanely talented storyteller in his own right, so it’s not a case of me ‘telling him what to do’. We like to leave moments in a story where our individual talents can shine. I’m learning to loosen up in my control of a scene. When I get to a moment that requires awesome action or a dynamic transition, I just say ‘Nich, do your thing…’ The panel arrangements and sense of motion are all his work.


ORB





I really liked the way the word balloons were used in this, with the more... how do I say this... sciency look of the blue speech bubbles from the crashed technology. 

Was this in from the start, to differentiate the different aspects of the story?


Thank you for noticing! Lettering is a relatively new skill for me, and it’s something I’ve still got a lot to learn about, but I was really pleased with how the lettering effects turned out for Orb. One of the themes I wanted to drive home was miscommunication, and how two characters could be speaking directly to one other but still not be heard or understood. I had a very clear image of how the Orb’s dialogue would appear on the page. 

It’s something you can only really do in comics. I love messing around with the visual representation of dialogue on the page: how putting one person’s speech bubble in a different colour instantly translates into a particular sound or vocal effect in the mind of the reader.


That higher sentient being, are the rings rotating around like one of those human gyroscopes?


They are indeed! I hate the idea that aliens would look just like us, but with, say, pointy ears or blue skin. I like to think that aliens, if they did ever contact us, would be so far removed from us as to be completely unrecognisable as living beings. There’s something so disconcerting about a giant geometric shape floating above a city and acting as though it’s a living thing. It’s ‘alien’ in the truest sense of the word. Orb owes a lot to Neon Genesis Evangelion, which has some wonderfully disconcerting alien creature designs.


I'm guessing that the rings go down into infinity? Is this a link to them being higher beings that were to say, live in a multiverse that characters from Cuckoos would bump into?


That is the question, isn’t it? At the risk of being deliberately coy, I’m going to remain silent on this one. Let’s just say that as the cast of Cuckoos have access to a ship capable of sailing the multiverse, it would be incredibly unlikely for them NOT to encounter something like the Orb at some point…


99 SWORDS





So we've seen the Golden sword and a red chainsaw sword, can we expect swords from different myths and legends, or popular fiction?


No crossovers or guest appearances planned on the swords front. As the title suggests, we’ve more than enough swords waiting in the wings, and Lucy and I had a fantastic amount of fun coming up with names and powers for all ninety-nine.


What has been your favourite sword to write into the story so far? If that's not too much of a spoiler :D


Our near-century of swords covers everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. When you’re designing magic swords, much as would have gone through the head of the legendary Swordsmith, you tend to start with the more obvious ones: a fire sword, an ice sword, an electricity sword etc. Once you hit the top fifties, you start to get into more esoteric territory. The big sword (the size of a city) is a fun one, as is the heavy sword (so heavy as to be impossible to lift and thus useless). We also have a slime sword… which can do nothing but produce copious amounts of slime. 

Some of the swords are decidedly scary once you realise what they’re capable of; others are just daft. The Man Sword, one of our main cast members and our only sentient sword, is just brilliant to look at. Hats off to James Stayte, the series artist, for his amazing design work. I just love how he has a massive head attached to tiny little arms (the Man Sword, that is, not James).


BIG PUNCH STUDIOS



How did the idea of a collaboration comic like this come about?


Big Punch Studios began as a friendship, then morphed into a studio ‘collective’ when our respective comics crossed over in The Heavenly Chord. As the events of The Heavenly Chord were in canon, without intending to, we had created a shared universe. Nich had big plans connecting all his stories, both published and yet-to-be, as I did. Merging our grander schemes made perfect sense, and forming an official partnership/company with Alice and Lucy was the next logical step. 

The four of us can achieve so much more as a group than we ever could separately. At the same time, working on our larger projects Afterlife Inc. and 7STRING is very time consuming. We needed a platform to bring some of our other stories to life. Nich suggested a regular magazine format as the perfect way to tell the stories we had waiting in the wings. Big Punch Magazine keeps us producing regular material while also working on our bigger books, which obviously have a less regular release.


Do you have other series that you want to fit into the comic at some point?


Oh indeed! We’re not short of ideas, and in addition to new series we’d also like to run some one-shots in the future. The one connection, however, is that if a title appears in Big Punch Magazine, or if you see the Big Punch logo on the cover, you know it’s part of something bigger.


Do you have an overarching plot for the entire thing?


I’m working very hard to avoid spoilers here… but yes, we do. Each story is a universe in its own right with a predetermined plot line and end in sight. However, when you consider the big picture, plot threads and webs of intrigue weave between all our stories, linking them to a greater narrative and threat with implications even for Afterlife Inc. and 7STRING. It might take us years, but we have a definite end and payoff planned for all our stories…


Will there be crossovers between characters?


That would be telling…


What can we expect next from Big Punch?

More exciting issues of Big Punch Magazine every three months! There’s no stopping this crazy train now that it’s been set in motion! At the same time, we’re also well into production on the return of Afterlife Inc. and 7STRING for a new season of storytelling. As amazingly enjoyably as our work on BPM is, we’ve not lost any of the passion for our original titles. I can’t wait to reveal what we’ve got coming up. 

Also, Nich, Lucy, Ali and I will be releasing our first card game under Big Punch Studios this summer. Sandwich Masters has been insanely good fun to develop and has generated a lot of positivity when play tested with the public. Game design is a new direction for us, and one we’re keen to make a name for ourselves in.



Okay now onto the quick fire round...

Marvel or DC?


I’ll always have a soft spot for Grant Morrison’s run on JLA, but it has to be Marvel.


Mario or Sonic?


The first comic that changed my life? Sonic the Comic. ‘Nuff said.


Travel forwards or backward in time?


Backwards, just as long as it isn’t a one way trip.


Master Sword or Lightsaber?


Lightsaber.


Lock or Key?


My name suggests I should probably choose ‘lock’ but who doesn’t enjoy the symbolism of a ‘key’? Gosh darn it, they just look so cool! And Locke and Key is an absolutely fantastic series.


Captain America or Iron Man?


Iron Man for life!


And finally, if you could travel into a parallel dimension, and everything would be the same except for the change you wanted, what would it be and why?

Just give us magic, dude! Or mutants! Just something with an air of the fantastic in the everyday world. Heck, I’d settle for slightly more forgiving laws of physics. Just something that would let the seemingly impossible play a greater role in our lives.


Thanks for your time Jon!

So if you like what you've seen here you can click the below picture or use a QR reader to subscribe , I know I WILL!!!!




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1 comment:

  1. Not only does Jon have the "unique powers and abilities required to deliver earth-shattering entertainment on a regular basis..."(I visited their cool site) but he has a cool name. John Locke was one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers...

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