December 25th, 2013 | → 1 Comments | ∇ News |
by Ghastly McNasty
José Ortiz Moya died yesterday, aged 81. The Spanish artist worked on comics including Warren’s Apocalypse, Night of the Jackass and Coffin in Eerie, and Pantha in Vampirella and of course The Thirteenth Floor.
He also co-created Hombre with Antonio Segura in the magazine Cimoc, as well as founding the publishing house Metropol in the eighties. During that period he also worked on British comics Eagle, Scream! and considerable work on Rogue Trooper for 2000AD as well as Judge Dredd.He also created and co-created the comics Ives (later, Morgan) and The Thousand Faces of Jack the Ripper, sci-fi comic Burton & Cyb, and in the nineties Juan el Largo.Since then, he worked on Italian comics Tex Willer, Ken Parker and Magico Vento.
José Ortiz’s contribution to Scream!, his work on The Thirteenth Floor and other stories that appeared in the comic, helped to elevate Scream! above the standard level of comic output in the 80’s. Personally, I’ve always considered The Thirteenth Floor as a real gem of a story, Jose’s art took it to a whole new level. He was one of the very best.
Something slightly different here at Terror HQ – acclaimed creative force Colin Lorimer, artist on Harvest and creator of UXB, kindly took time out of his busy schedule to talk to Sidesy about UXB, his process and the benefits of working in the comics medium.
Sidesy: UXB is a beautiful looking book with an interesting take on post-apocalyptic fiction. Where did the idea come from and how did it evolve? How long did it take from conception to release?
Colin Lorimer: I started developing UXB quite some time ago in my spare time, after the day job working in animation. I self-published a one-off comic simply for my own enjoyment and then took it online as a web-comic for a short time. Once Dark Horse picked it up, I reworked most of the earlier pages and started into the GN in earnest!
The idea was quite a simple one. I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if I could create something that allowed me to ramble on about my love of film and somehow pay homage to a lot of my favourite flicks?’ Of course, as the story began to take on a life of its own, this fell more into the background. What if there is some sort of global disaster and our technology fails us and we enter a new dark age? Perhaps three spoilt rich kid brothers have the only functioning power source in the entire world, allowing them to continue to access their beloved media. Maybe give them suits that make them, in effect, walking PlayStations; take it a step further and make them experimental protective life-suits, with military style capabilities, that also gives them additional powers, making them almost superhuman. It’s the end of days, the world has turned upside down, a post-apocalyptic nightmare, where these three brothers could be helping to rebuild the world around them, but prefer instead to fall back on their old distractions… looking for their next fix of a movie or video game. It continued to grow and develop from that…
I also knew from the early on, that I did not want the atypical superhero cyber-suit. That’s been done to death. I wanted something that was purposely, aesthetically unpleasing to the eye, something clunky and ridiculous. More ‘Black Adder 2’ than ‘Halo’. The massive codpiece seemed like the obvious choice and just helped to visually sell the obvious sardonic, black humour of the piece.
S: The three brothers of the story are our Nano-technologically advanced guides through this post-apocalyptic vision you have. What’s the background to their creation?
CL: Originally, it was simply called ‘Das Bombast’, after the main narrator of the piece. I think I was listening to ‘Bombast’ from The Fall’s ‘This Nation’s Saving Grace’, and I just thought it would make a great name for a main character. That is usually where it all begins with me; a name and then I build on that. I knew I wanted him to be the central character to some extent. The smart, level-headed one. Muc Olla was a name from another strip I had written; originally the name was Muck Olla, the name of a Celtic sun God in Druid times. I won’t elaborate too much on that…but maybe that’s a nice little titbit for the readers. Muc was the typically sensitive, shy and awkward brother (also adopted) and the one that I felt the readers would most relate to. Rifter, of course, is the volatile, unstable brother, the bully who always needs to be restrained by the other two. Although, he’s not really a bad kid…just a little lost.
S: What made you choose London as the location for the story?
CL: UXB, if anything, is my love letter to all the authors, directors and visionaries that have turned me on over the years and it just so happens that most of those influences are predominately British. So there was nowhere else that it could have been set.
S: What would you say differentiates UXB from other tales about the end of the world?
CL: You certainly have all the usual post-apocalyptic tropes surrounding the boys and their story, but the approach is different. To the boys, the end of the world is nothing more than a backdrop; it’s all still a playground to them. Most apocalyptic tales are about survival…these guys are living it large and indulging in the same habits as before. To them, nothing has changed, bar the fact that finding uncorrupted media to play on their suits has become a little more difficult. Also the pre-apocalyptic build-up of the boy’s life in the bunker makes it a little different to the usual fare.
S: UXB has a very cinematic theme to it, not just in the references you make in the story, but in the book’s tone and presentation. What films were your biggest influences for the story?
CL: If you’ve a good eye, you’ll spot a lot of homages to many movies throughout the book, some being quite obvious while others are not. The movie ‘Village of the Damned’ played a role, as did ‘A Clockwork Orange’. But that was just a jumping off point, as it’s probably closer in tone to the work of Mike Leigh i.e. the kitchen sink drama, or Lindsay Anderson’s ‘O Lucky Man’. I mean, it was never meant to be a superhero book, it was more of a character piece and I guess, if anything, a commentary of how transfixed we are with our tech toys and the banality of popular culture. Though, in saying that, the boys have pretty good taste in movies.
S: I’m always interested in those lucky buggers who are able to write and draw their own books. What’s your development process going into something like UXB? For example, do you work from a full script, if you already have an idea for what the book is going to look like?
CL: I do, for the most part, write full scripts, but because of my background in storyboarding, once I take it to visuals, the direction can sometimes take a different path. It’s quite an organic process. In TV, it is very rarely that I follow the script, as in more times than not, the written word just doesn’t translate and I’ll have to find a different way of staging it, especially when it comes to action scenes. The same applies to my own work…I’ll take my own script page and try alternate versions to find the best way of getting that information across. The same with the dialogue …I’ll play around with that until it’s ready to go to print. But, yes…it was a great experience and Chris Warner, my editor, gave me complete free rein on it. Working with other writers is interesting because I don’t think they are used to that approach…so I have to tread softly and find a healthy balance.
S: UXB seems like a real labour of love and the ending is, arguably and without giving too much away, left very open to more. Do you have any plans to revisit this universe at some point?
CL: I’d certainly like to. I have another two books worth of material…
S: You said in the extras of Harvest that you always pictured Ryan Gosling as the Benjamin Danes character. Who would you pick to play the three brothers in a UXB movie?
CL: That’s a tough one. The actor, Craig Roberts, who I first spotted in an episode of the British TV series ‘Being Human’ and later in a brilliant movie called Submarine, would make a perfect Das. Luke Treadaway, who I recently watched in a movie called ‘The Rise’ and also in ‘Attack the Block’, would be a great Muc. He may be a little old for the role, as I believe he’s hitting thirty – but he has a very young look to him.
Jamie Bell, who’s best known for his role of Billy Elliot, or Jack O’Connell (The Liability), would have the right attitude for Rif. There would have to be the younger versions of the boys too, but I just don’t watch enough kids movies to elaborate on that one …
S: You’ve worked in various other mediums of story-telling including animation, gaming and film. What attracts you to telling stories in the comics medium and is it your preferred medium to work in?
CL: All those mediums you mentioned are all equally great ways to tell a story. I guess the biggest plus to comics, and especially with creator-owned comics, is that your vision is less likely to be diluted, as your team are pretty much left to their own devices. Working in smaller groups, or as with UXB, on my own, just gives you a lot more freedom to create. With other mediums, it can be a design by committee type thing, whereby a really cool property can end up being slowly whittled away to a ghost of its former self. I’ve always loved comics and the marriage of words and art has always been a huge draw. It’s a beautiful medium if done right. I’ve still a ways to go…
S: What’s next? ‘Curse’ looks very interesting…
CL: After flying solo on UXB for so long, I decided I wanted to, if at all possible, work on a team project and collaborate, bump heads, so to speak…so when Michael Moreci (Hoax Hunters) approached me about possibly combining our efforts on a creator-owned werewolf book, I just couldn’t say no. We also have Riley Rossmo (Drumhellar) on that one and Tim Daniel (Enormous) – so it’s quite the mix.
I’m also working on another very cool project for the boys at Dark Horse and that should be announced very soon and developing another creator owned series.
S: Finally, in your opinion, is MacReady at the end of ‘The Thing’ still MacReady?
CL: He’s still MacReady. If you look really closely at Childs’ eyes, they blink seven times, which is Morse code for “beware me”. Then, as we pan away from the two survivors, we see a tentacle type shadow that appears to emanate from Childs’ chest and slowly snake towards MacReady…
Actually I just made that up…
S: Thanks for taking the time to talk to The Theatre of Terror!
CL: Anytime. Cheers!
UXB is published by Dark Horse and is available from your local comic shop or Amazon and is also available digitally on the Dark Horse website or via their app.
More of Colin’s work can be found on his blog: http://lubbert-das.blogspot.co.uk.
Click here to see our review of UXB
So far, in my time on this planet, I’ve managed to stay pretty clear of the whole ‘print vs. digital’ thing. I imagine waves of geeks, hurtling across a field, some carrying tablets, others carrying print, each lambasting each other for ‘selling out on the medium’ or ‘not embracing the evolution of’ yadda yadda yadda. I buy both. I read both. I enjoy both and I see merit in both. However, one of the reasons for continuing to buy print is quite simple. It smells so bloody good. Literally, it’s like geek crack. Now, I know I’m not the only one. My friend, Mark, he runs a comics shop, he said the same thing. Vertigo’s books always smell amazing. As does Mark Millar’s books. One of the best things about Kick Ass 2 was the rich waft of the print. Published by Dark Horse, UXB is a surprise entry in the ‘nice smelling books’ list, as my Dark Horse collection consists mainly of their small, hardback crime thrillers that don’t really smell of anything. And yet, here we have…okay, I’m going to shut up now.
UXB, or ‘unexploded device’, is a sci-fi horror from Harvest artist Colin Lorimer, who is also the book’s writer and, as with Harvest, which also smells amazing like a moth to a flame, you can’t help but open the book and be dazzled by the sheer bleak beauty of the artwork inside. More on this shortly.
UXB tells the story of the Atherton brothers – Wilfred (aka Das Bombast), Donnchada (aka Muc Olla) and George (aka Rifter) – who live in a deserted and dilapidated Buckingham Palace (a nice touch) in post-apocalyptic London. Each of the brothers has a mysterious ‘life-suit’ grafted to their bodies, that look like futuristic cod-pieces, granting them power beyond measure. Through a series of flashbacks, we discover the origins of the boys (the pampered off-spring of billionaire industrialist parents) and the suits (the ultimate in child protective measures in the event of a cataclysmic event), all the while marrying the past and the present, until we reach the twist. And then the horror side of this book really kicks into gear, wrapping up the various plotlines and finally serving us with probably the best head explosion committed to paper.
Lorimer’s story is a break from the standard post-apocalyptic fare in that, much like Warren Ellis’ Freakangels, it brings the action down to a small scale and isn’t that concerned with the wider world. You get snippets of humanity’s fate, but you only need to look at the ruined streets of a once great city to see that this is probably the case all over. Where Lorimer also breaks from the norm is the introduction of the ‘life-suits’ and the sci-fi element that dominates the first half of the book; surgically grafted onto the wearer, they use Nano-technology to enhance the boys into ‘meta-humans’, for want of a better phrase – enhancing their strength, giving them a nifty healing factor, allowing them to create weapons of their choosing using their minds and hard-light…they’re even equipped with DVD players. It’s sort of what you might get if you crossed that cool interactive screen from Minority Report and a Green Lantern ring.
Lorimer spins a good end-of-times yarn and fills it with pop culture and film references that dominate a large proportion of the dialogue. While sometimes a little too much, it gives the brothers a good excuse to bicker and banter, thereby developing them as characters, but it’s the subtler references that influence the story itself – look closely and you’ll see smatterings of great horror and sci-fi, all combined to create something original and superbly fantastical. While starting a little slow, Lorimer builds a steady pace and sprinkles enough mystery and intrigue to keep it interesting until the twist. I keep talking about the twist, hence I’ve added little description of what happens – needless to say, it’s really rather good and takes the story in a different direction, ramping the horror and action up, building on the sci-fi he’s delivered at the beginning and producing an ending that leaves you thinking ‘what the hell was that?’, but in that sort of gleeful head-sprouts-eyes-and-legs, ‘you gotta be fucking kidding’ sort of way.
As with Harvest, the artwork is stunning. It’s dark, gritty, cinematic, detailed, beautifully lit and beautifully executed. The sci-fi elements are effectively conceived; crisp lines and brightly lit rooms juxtapose the horror, which is deliberately messy, visceral and bleak. While not a criticism as more of a curiosity, I would love to see Lorimer do ‘epic’ – there’s a nice exchange between one of the brothers and their common enemy, where said enemy drops a double decker bus onto the brother. It looks fantastic, but it leaves you almost gasping for more. His is a style that would suit horror, or any genre, on a grand scale and it would be interesting to see, if he were take this further (and the ending seems open for continuation), what he would do if the playing field was more far reaching.
UXB is fine example of a creator on form. Yes, there are a few nit-picks, like the occasional unnecessary reference and unnecessary sweary bits (not that this is a problem, it just doesn’t feel like it’s a needed dialogue response in the context of particular scenes), but it’s an original book, filled with original ideas and incredible, atmospheric artwork that commands your attention throughout. UXB is available now, digitally or in nice smelling print.
Stay tuned for a special Theatre of Terror interview with Colin Lorimer in the next few weeks.
Buy UXB Hardcover from Amazon