Comics Anonymous

May 14, 2012, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: , ,

We’ve kicked off our week long feature on indie comics publishers Black Hearted Press by reviewing School of the Damned issues #1 and #2 – so following on from that, we spoke with it’s creator and co-founder of BHP John Farman.

By his own admission, John “fell into comics”, having previously worked as a playwright though, he was following in the footsteps of one of comic’s greatest creators:

I was approached by Dave Braysher to work on a comic called Black Maria. Dave had already drawn all of the artwork previously, so it was all finished artwork, and I came in almost like the old Marvel way where Stan Lee would say “go and draw this and I’ll script over the top of it”. I had 18 pages which I scripted over the top.

It’s not a technique he’s keen on repeating, however the experience gave him the taste for creating comics:

When I got the comic in my hands, having been a comic fan for 40 years,  it was a sweet moment, to actually see your own words on a page in a comic. I realised I should have done it a lot earlier.

Having been a co-founder in BHP and help get things off the ground, John’s managed to use it to publish his own original comic series School of the Damned, with two issues released so far and a third not far off (check out the incredible splash page from issue #3 above). When speaking to John it’s easy to tell that he’s a big fan of classic horror, and it’s no surprise that his comic follows in the same vein in what he calls his “love letter to 1920/30’s black and white, silent and talkies horror”. The book isn’t some gimic though and putting horror’s most famous bad guys in some kind of far-fetched situation, instead John’s keen to honour these characters:

There’s a huge amount of respect and love I have for all of these characters, from Van Helsing to Dracula.  I feel like as a writer I want to explore all the themes that are prevalent in a lot of the horror genre – isolation, unrequited love, self loathing – there’s so many metaphors within there that makes it such an exciting project to do.

What’s most interesting about this story is where and when it’s set, something John was keen to tap into – “in 1936 there’s so much happening in Europe, a lot of changes are taking place.”. It creates both a fasinating back-drop as well as posing some interesting questions:

Basically the main concept is “Who are the monster?” – in one corner you’ve got Van Helsing, who’ll kill anyone. And then on the other side you’ve got the Third Reich. And in the middle you’ve got these characters, who by all intensive purposes look monstrous but they are not the monsters in this story. This is what makes it interesting for me is to delve into who they are, why they react the way they do and what they want. And in the process kill half of them – oh yeah it’s going to be a blood bath!

As a fan of horror, John has of course been enjoying the likes of Swamp Thing and Animal Man in the recent DC New 52 reboot, but he also confessed another love:

Aquaman – out of the DC New 52 I think it’s by far the best comic. I think he’s a rock star – I’d like to say as one of the 4 Aquaman fans in Glasgow, that Aquaman is definitely back on the map.

As well as working away with BHP, John is also involved in the running of both the Glasgow Comic Con and Glasgow Comics Marts. The con is shaping up nicely for 2012 with dates, venues and some of the guests already announced, and according to John, is planned to be “quite a different format from last year”

It’s very exciting, it falls under our umbrella because the whole ethos of BHP isn’t just to make comics, it’s to collaborate. We do the comic marts and the comic con, that’s the whole spirit of collaboration. We give a platform for small press people to be seen, sell comics and network. It’s very much the same with the con, it’s just the next step forward which gives you the chance to actually hang out with professionals, chat with them, pitch ideas, get opinions or advice, get feedback from the public, but also sell your own stuff.

John’s future plans with BHP are looking strong too – not only will he continue with the SOTD series, he’s got a planned spin off called Children of the Damned in the works, as well as the film rights to SOTD being optioned.

Craig @hastiecraig

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