Friday, 22 July 2016

Feature Friday #17 - Big Punch Studios

How did Big Punch Studios come about?

ALI: Nich and Jon’s eyes met across a crowded room… 

NICH: All four of us punched at the same time. This is a true fact. 100% true.

JON: Long before I’ve ever actually made a comic, I met Nich at a show and bought 7STRING off him, which I really liked. Then, when I did actually get my first Afterlife Inc. book made, Nich read it and also liked it. And then, as is generally the natural order of things, Nich, Lucy, Ali and I all went on holiday together! Since then, we started working more closely together, first as friends, then as collaborators (with The Heavenly Chord crossover) and finally as business partners!

BPM is a quarterly magazine. I feel like this format really works, and the stories you're continuing are all incredibly strong. I love the humour, unique subjects, and both the writing and artwork is top notch. Have you got a favourite ongoing story so far?

ALI: I know I’m horribly biased, but I really do love Cat and Meringue! I loved them before I wrote their stories, and even though I now have ‘control’, they are just as unpredictable and insane as before. I really don’t know what they’re going to do next, but chances are that it’ll be fun!

LUCY: I'm biased too of course, but I really like 99 Swords. It's just a solid fantasy romp. Knowing where Cuckoos and Orb are going though, Swords does have some competition!

NICH: My favourite is Cuckoos. We have only scratched the surface on what Jon and I have got planned. This story will blow your shins off.

JON: Don’t make me choose! Nich’s right to say that Cuckoos has some truly EPIC things on the horizon - things that may well have an impact on ALL our stories, both within BPM and without - but wow, are we only getting started on these stories. Orb’s been a slow burn so far as we build up the tension and establish the stakes, but things are about to go insane!

Recently, you guys managed to successfully fund your first card game, Sandwich Masters, via Kickstarter. Who came up with the idea for this, and how has the reception for this been so far?

ALI: The success of Sandwich Masters has really blown us away, and we are constantly learning with everything we do. It was our first foray into the gaming community and we’ve been welcomed with open arms. 

JON: It’s quite astounding really how well people have taken to Sandwich Masters. Who knew the world was crying out for a sandwich-based game - and one where you can ruin your sandwiches with a sneeze or broken glass no less! Compared to comics we were complete newbs going into gaming, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

LUCY: Sandwich Masters was very much a joint effort. I think it was the first product we put together completely as a team. The response has been amazing, far better than we could have imagined.

NICH: Awesomely this is the one thing we’ve produced so far that we all have a completely equal hand in; it is truly all of ours. The game was born out of a conversation the four of us had, stuck in a car in a traffic jam, at lunchtime. We were hungry and a huge amount of Sandwich Masters was worked out in that conversation!

Big Punch Studios is a comic con regular nowadays. What's your favourite aspect of a comic con?

ALI: As my aching bones grow weary I struggle to find as much energy as I had five years ago, but when I can manage it I love talking to other creators at their tables. The community is a tight-knit one, and there are always new faces entering the scene. There is so much talent out there, it’s important to support one another and also keep one another on your toes!

LUCY: I love meeting new people, chatting to the friends we have made on the scene, and playing cosplay bingo. These days, asking people about their cosplay is the only way I can keep up with current pop culture!

NICH: For me as an artist, there is an immense feeling that no one is looking at the stuff you spend hours drawing. It feels like you’re sat in a darkened room throwing pages at a wall. When I get to talk to people at a show who have read the stuff I’ve drawn and are talking so enthusiastically about it, asking questions about it, it fuels me up with inspiration to draw! I store that energy and use it to draw when I think no one cares or I’m down on my work. I couldn’t function without it.

JON: As Nich said, each conventions we go to - despite being utterly, utterly exhausting - is the best way to recharge our creative batteries. To have someone tell you how much they enjoyed your book, how much it meant to them… it’s just the greatest feeling you can imagine. It reminds you how worthwhile this all is, and why we do what we do.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a budding writer, what would it be?

LUCY: Just keep writing, even if it's rubbish. It's something I forget quite often but it's true.

JON: Are you writing? Then good, guess what: you’re a writer. Never worry about whether you’ve ‘made it’ or not. The true difference between a successful and an unsuccessful writer is simply that one of them stopped. Get your ideas out of your head and onto the screen/page. They won’t be very good. That’s fine. That’s normal. That’s all part of how we grow. Start again. Make it better. Build and build and build. You never start with the roof of a house. Lay some foundations and build upon them. Never delete. Just turn the page and start over.

What's next for Big Punch Studios?

LUCY: More of everything. Because we hate ourselves.

NICH: More games, we have three new ideas in the pipeline and they are special!

JON: Some kind of break from reality, perhaps? No wait, a holiday! We’re all due a holiday! Or failing that, in addition to another year of BPM, our podcasting and a new game or two, Nich and I are each working on the next volumes of 7STRING and Afterlife Inc. respectively.

Marvel or DC?

LUCY: Image

NICH: Marvel

JON: You might go mad without a little of both, but sorry, DC… Make Mine Marvel.

Chocolate or vanilla?

ALI: Vanilla all the way!


NICH: I don’t really like ice cream but if you’re talking shower gel then chocolate.

JON: Oh, is that what that smell is?

Captain America or Iron Man?

ALI: Cap.

LUCY: Black Widow could take them both!

NICH: Cap!!

JON: Long ago, I would have said Iron Man, but seriously, look at Chris Evans. He’s a dreamboat! Cap all the way.

Finally, if you could take any character and include them in a new comic, who would it be and who would you choose to write about?

JON: Don’t make me choose! This is EXACTLY why Afterlife Inc. is set in the afterlife. It means I can cheat whenever I want and draw upon anyone from human history!

ALI: I absolutely love Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones. I think Gwendoline Christie’s expressive face would lend itself perfectly to kicking butt in comic form!

LUCY: I love the quasi-historical setting of Orb. When I was helping Jon work out the shape of the world, I really wanted to get Stephen Hawking in there somewhere but it didn't work out. However, we have Robert Oppenheimer and Alan Turing so I guess I can't complain!

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