Tuesday, 19 May 2015

UnEarth One Shot - An Interview With John-Paul Bove

They dug too deep.

They couldn’t be told.

A group of archaeologists searching for signs of a lost civilization deep in a long extinct volcano discover that the answers may just lead to their undoing. 

Some things buried were buried for a reason. Some things once unearthed cannot be undone...

A tense and terrifying one-shot from writer and colourist John-Paul Bove (Teenage Mutant Turtles, Transformers, Judge Dredd) and artist
Conor Boyle (Cross), featuring a cover painted by Ben Oliver (Marvel and DC comics).

It starts off in Sicily in 1895 and from there we delve into the deep, dug caverns of a Volcano where we join the archaeologist's and that's where stuff starts going batshit cray-cray

It's an awesome story, one that reminded me of the old Tales From The Crypt comics but much darker in tone

The art is sublime too, it starts off all bright in the first page, then gets incredibly darker and richer with the thick blood by the end, and those creature designs are spectacular, not one is the same. I want these to be made into figures like the old Todd Mcfarlane/Clive Barker twisted souls collaboration

This is a superb one-shot that made me really dig JB's stuff, I will definitely look out for his name on comics, especially Transformers and Turtles as I'm a big fan of those!

The comic launches this weekend at MCM Expo in London or you can buy it online HERE

So me and John-Paul had a little Q&A about the comic, how he's feeling days before the launch and what his favourite comic story is...

Who are your favourite comic book characters?

Well I've always been a bit partial to Spidey but my favourite character changes a lot as I'm a bit of a writer groupie and will often follow writers onto books I wouldn't have typically read before.

As a youngling I think I would have said Simon Furman's Optimus Prime!

And artists?

Oh this is not an easy one to have a short answer! Transformers being a big part of my comic experience growing up (and later professionally) I'd put Andrew Wildman up there as the guy I most wanted to be able to draw like growing up! If I ever find the drawings I did trying to ape his style... Casey Coller, Guido Guidi and Nick
Roche and insanely talented TF artists I've had the pleasure of working with and honestly anyone working on modern TF today is pretty much incredible.

In the wider world I adore Rebekah Isaac's work on Angel & Faith and the Buffy books; she does likenesses great but more importantly there's such expression in each panel and each page. I love Olivier Coipel, Gary Frank, Steve McNiven, John Cassiday. 

This list could be almost infinite but a lot of the ones popping into my mind are ones that tend to have a strong relationship with their inkers and colourists to produce some just flat out incredible work. As I spend a lot of my time colouring professionally I tend to really admire the collaboration rather than any one part.

What about writers?

The aforementioned Furman (that should be his superhero moniker!) and J. Michael Straczynski definitely had the biggest impact on me growing up in terms of wanting to tell stories of my own. 

I really like Mark Waid, Chris Gage, "edgy" Mark Millar rather than "trying to shock" Mark Millar... Warren Ellis is amazing too, he throws out ideas for one issue that other writers would spread across 6 issues!

What's your favourite run?

Hmmm... I think I may left field this a bit and say Warren Ellis' Planetary. I adore that whole series. The way it looks, the characters, the level of inventiveness and imagination that went into every page and every panel. I loved how it touched on every genre and how it almost reinvented itself with every issue. 

I have the two oversized hardcovers of this run and it's something I return to often and always find something new.

Favourite story?

No way I can find a single issue! I can think of a single trade which is JMS' and Gary Frank's Midnight Nation. I don't know if you've read that but it's comic book perfection. It's got a mythological aspect to it but an amazing sense of mystery and hope to it too. There aren't too many books that have moved me the way this book does, especially at the end. 

Not one panel is wasted and once you've read it and read it again it becomes a whole new experience.

What's on your pull list right now?

Right now my pull list is a pile of comics unread for the last 6 months! The last 3 years have been so hectic I have never been so behind in terms of where things are at the moment! 

Is the Clone Saga still going?! 

Who is this "Jim Lee" everyone keeps going on about?! 

The unread pile includes Hawkeye, Winter Soldier, Black Widow, the two main Transformers ongoings, a lot of JMS's trades. 

If you'd told me that working in comics was going to leave me such little time to read them... Some weeks I was averaging 110 hours work... Still I have a lovely column of paper that will soon reach the ceiling... My wife used to work in a comic book shop so she also has the most amazing collection of comics and trades that I am forever playing catch up. 

I'm open to suggestions!

Now onto the comic...

So what made you decide to write your own comic, and how did you come up with the idea?

Well I've always been a writer. I've written scripts and screenplays though nothing I'd done too much with. I've written for a few small press books and also recently wrote several issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so I've always been trying to get my own stuff on the radar. I only started colouring as a means to get my own books done! 

I hadn't expected to have my colour work received quite so well and to be so busy doing it. The schedule has been so full I haven't had a chance until now to really move anything forward until now. As for the idea, I think the germ of the idea really was "if heaven could be a place on Earth then why not hell?" Usually with stories they tend to percolate in my head for a while churning around until suddenly the pieces align and the whole story clicks and I have to get it all down on paper as soon as possible. I actually wrote this in about 2006/7 and had an artist start it but it was never finished and it ended up in a drawer. There's a lot of stuff I've written waiting for the right moment to be unleashed! 

With a bit of a gap opening up in my schedule this was a nice, self-contained one-shot that I hoped I could recruit an artist for, colour, letter and assemble in the time I had. I was a bit scared when I pulled the script because it was written so long ago that I wasn't sure it would hold up but I was pleasantly surprised when I read it! 

It had been so long since I wrote it that it felt like someone else had! 

It's in effect a mini horror movie.

It's a few days before it launches, how are you feeling?


When working for someone else the promotional side of things is all done by "the machine". As talkative and loud as I am there's that part of all writers when showing off your work to the world that just wants to go back to the dark, quiet room with a keyboard and hope the book sells itself! 

But I am very happy with how it has turned out. The script is creepy with little humorous moments in and Conor's artwork just took what I had written and made it better than what I had in my head. His little touches like the inks bleeding of panel edges and the panel borders being "angry" at times just adds to the feeling of dread, the subconscious unease to add to the words on the page.

I changed my colour style up a lot for the book and I got to letter it too and I'm really happy with some of the risks I've taken on both fronts there. I'm certain my letterer buddies will have a few comments but I wanted to have some film-like tricks come into play like the scene with the transparent and blurred speech balloons. I hope there's a few things in there that will surprise people!

Also one in three comics comes with a £20 inside!*

*this is lies. But buy three copies anyway right?

I loved all the ...I'm just gonna say creature designs, did you work on those in collaboration with the artist?

My scripts tend to be just detailed enough to give the artist steer as to what we should be seeing. Some of the designs were called out in the script but I said to Conor early on to feel free to go wild. The only caveat was "no two the same" because that's a key point in the story. Conor just let his dark side go wild and it was a joy (a creepy joy, but a joy none the less) to see each new page come through.

So if this is Hell on Earth can we expect to see a Heaven on Earth comic from you in the future?

Most of my stories tend to be a bit unusual so if you do see a story with heaven in it won't be at all what you'd expect...

What can we expect next from you?

Next up will be some Judge Dredd stuff (dates and timings yet to be confirmed) and some movie tie in stuff which can't yet be revealed! I'm also currently working on a collection of short stories to collect as a graphic novel as and when that can be fitted in. It's been on the cards almost as long as UnEarth has but hopefully the next 12 months will see it finished!

Okay now onto the quick fire round...

Marvel or DC?


Mario or Sonic?


Chocolate or Vanilla?

Mmmmmm, chocolate...

Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask?


Demons or Angels?

Angels. I know which I'd rather have staring at me!

Captain America or Iron Man?

Well I'm a bit of a man out of time and a goodie-two shoes so Cap is sort of my totem. But honestly, who doesn't want to be Iron Man?

And finally, if you could write a story featuring The Legend Of Zelda characters - Which game/timeline would it be and why?

Funny you should ask this because I have such a good idea for a LoZ film/comic... If I had to pick a game or a timeline it'd be Ocarina inspired.

Thanks for your time JP!

I say again, the comic launches this weekend at MCM Expo in London or you can buy it online HERE


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