We have been fortunate enough to have a good chinwag with the delightful boys from Horde Comics! Throughout this edition of Let’s Talk Comics we have a look at the stories that make up the first anthology, Horde Volume 1 and chat to the boys to find out just what makes them tick! So let’s dive right in and i’ll give you a brief overview of each tale in Horde Vol 1.
Berserk; Written by Andy Conduit- Turner, Art by Beth Varni and Lettering by Robin Jones
Berserk gives us a new twist on a storyline we are quite familiar with but leaves us wanting more! I was eager to see the events that had led to this snapshot and also what the fall out would be afterwards! Also it’s a great looking piece! Love Beth’s art style it is really crisp and clear.
Entombed: Written by Andy Conduit- Turner, Art by Gavin Mitchell and Lettering by Robin Jones
Really liked Gavin’s colour palette throughout and the characters styles and expression really gave me 80’s Scooby Doo vibes! Loved this strip, I throughly enjoyed the concept and lost it at the ‘Choose Life” t- shirt! I’d love to see this piece opened up further, I think it brings another interesting twist on the traditional tale of the Mummy!
How long would you say the writing love affair has been going on?
It’s been something I’ve enjoyed for as long as I remember. At school, the national curriculum (or at least when I was at school) didn’t have much room for creative writing so it was something I never did much of until after I’d left. The first thing I remember writing and truly ‘finishing’ was a concept piece for a competition for Capcom / Gamesmaster Magazine. The brief was to submit your ideas for a new Resident Evil title (at the time either Code Veronica or the RE-Make was the latest game out).
I really threw myself into it, writing up a story, character bios, new monsters, boss creatures and new controller schemes and duly sent it a huge sketch book off to their offices…A few issues later I’d only gone and won! I was so proud, even before the prize arrived, that something I’d written had been picked out.
When Resident Evil 4 came out a couple of years later and featured smarter zombies and a monster called the Regenerator (both of which had featured in my entry) I of course never imagined that my contest entry, on the other side of the world, had influenced the actual game, but the thought that some of my ideas were in line with what the official team came up with was a real boost and I’ve been excited by creative projects ever since.
What was it about the comic book medium that drew you to it over books/ animations?
I’ve been a fan of comics for a long time, and even had a crack at drawing some of my own over the years (I’m, sadly, no artist). A lot of other mediums still hold a great deal of interest for me – I’d personally love to have a hand in creating something in every format this side of interpretive dance (where I’d have ZERO clue). Comics seemed a great place to start as not only a format I loved but also one with lesser financial / hardware barriers to entry than exist for film making and game design.
What story/ character do you wish you had created and why?
That’s a really tough call, Character wise, I’d love to have created a character that sets the mould for those that follow…so to that end I’m going to say Sherlock Holmes. The stories, remain some of my favourites today and I love the character. Holmes has a lot of depth, and while his skills are incredible, he’s still a character with a series of notable flaws. I wonder what Arthur Conan Doyle would make of Batman, who owes some of his keen detective traits to the old master.
Returning to comics, it’s really hard to pick. I’m sure the feeling of creating any of the big characters that are recognised and loved the world over today would be incredible. It must also be amazing (if a little frightening) to see your character evolve beyond your own original input as more creators run with new stories and designs over the years.
What was the inspiration behind Entombed?
There were a few sources really. Given that they don’t get nearly as much exposure as Vampires and Zombies, a Mummy story was firmly on my writing bucket list.
I took some additional inspiration from the story itself from Dave’s years working as an archaeologist. The chocolate wrapper the team find is based on a real game he’d mentioned they really used to play when excavating sites. The team’s attitude to proper record keeping is a direct exercise in trying to give my old friend a stress related aneurism when we reviewed the script.
What is a typical day for you?
While writing isn’t my full-time job, I’m lucky enough to work from home the majority of the time. My dogs seem to enjoy having company in the house and the lack of commute every day gives me a little extra time to commit to writing along with all of the regular life stuff.
Things are usually pretty busy but especially since we started talking about publishing our own comics, I’ve tried to find a few minutes each day to read something else already out there in the world…I’ve found some new favourite creators, stories and even friends as a result too!
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
Wow…Tough call again! I have a fair few but now I think about it, the writers and directors whose style most influences and inspires me have similar approaches in the way they often blend elements of humour into darker or more serious subject matter. When it comes to comic writers it has to be Mark Millar as the author of some of my all-time favourites but going beyond that James Gunn from a writer / director perspective and even going into games (which have been huge influences in my life) and names like Suda 51 and Hideo Kojima have a style I’ve come to admire.
Do you have any plans to expand any of the stories from the anthology?
Yes indeed – We’ve some follow ups set in the same world as Quiet that look at some different elements of the King’s Games and follow different characters in the works.
We’re not planning anything quite as concrete as a direct follow up to the rest of the stories but maybe, just maybe you’ll see some of the characters turn up somewhere else in the future…
What would be your advice for those just starting out?
There’s a lot I’ve been lucky enough to learn from others with far more experience than I have but if you’re asking for the single thing I’d say most importantly of all:
Finish making something
Whether it’s a short or an epic, a movie a piece of animation…whatever make sure you finish whatever project you decide to pursue. It’s almost certain that you’ll get bored with an idea when you have to hash out the more complicated details, or lose confidence in it along the way sometimes, but the only way you’ll either release the great story you’ve been dying to tell into the world OR on the other hand, be in a position to get feedback, learn and get better is to finish it and put it out there for anyone (even if its carefully selected friends) to experience.
What is next on the agenda for you?
Right now, Volume 2 is very much on the agenda before I start real work on some longer form stuff of my own. Now we’ve got our first release out, I’m keen to keep up the momentum. Aside from Comics I work with our friends over at Hawk & Cleaver quite often and have written a few short stories for their Other Stories podcast, which has been a blast and I hope to continue doing.
Finally – And I’m saying this aloud to increase the pressure on myself to do it. Some people have suggested maybe taking part in National Novel Writing Month later in the year to up production on an actual full novel…It’s daunting but I’d love to do it.
Quiet: Written by Andy Conduit- Turner, Art by Gregg Mason and Lettering by Robin Jones
Love the colour palette for this comic, Gregg uses a stunning blend of greens, yellows and purples! What a disturbing tale! The Queen mask is serious nightmare fuel and the anarchic/ post apocalyptic setting really heightens the tension. The lack of speech really works and gives another layer to an all round seriously eerie experience!
Business: Written by Andy Conduit- Turner, Art by Stelladia
There is a theme throughout my thoughts on each of these strips and that is how much I LOVE the colours! They’re just so bright and crisp! Also the ‘Mayan’ imagery is really gorgeous I love the level of detail through-out. This strip made me laugh out loud! I think we could all admit to having met people like Chris before and I loved him throughout- it’s also comforting that even Mayan God’s aren’t safe from micro-management!
First up, is that your dog? If so what’s their name?
That little sausage roll is my main man ‘Hudson’ (after the character from Aliens) the Bassett hound. He is indeed my furry life partner and my harshest critic.
How long have you been illustrating?
Since I was about 4, although I had a couple of years break in my early twenties to concentrate on drinking and smoking.
Who are your major influences?
Simon Biesly, Greg Staples, Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz, Frank Frezzetta.
All artistic heroes with skills I can only hope to come close to
If you could give any character that has been created a redesign who would it be any why?
Slaine from 2000AD. He should be bald…like me.
What tools would you recommend for any budding artists?
Pencil/Paper/Imagination/Lack of fear
What is next on the agenda for you?
Horde Volume 2, Portfolio upgrade, and cracking on with writing some of my own stuff under the watchful eye of Hudson.
What is a typical day for you?
Wake up from a dream that I’m back at school.
Get up, brush my teeth and get changed.
Wake up from second dream of all that happening and actually do it in real life.
Go to work till lunch, home for two hours to draw/write.
Back to work till 5.30.
Home again, draw/write till unconscious
Wake up from third dream of all that happening and do it in real life.
If you could recommend any comic that has come out this year what would it be and why?
Horde volume 1…is that too cheeky?
Sorry, Aliens: Dead Orbit.
Got Milk?: Written by David Killian and Andy Conduit Turner and Art by Joe Flood
This is my favourite strip from the anthology, I was laughing all the way through! Got Milk is just a charming concept that I would recommend to anyone. There is a noticeably different art style in this piece but it perfectly accompanies the narrative. I absolutely lost it at the “bing bong’
I adored Got Milk it was my favourite out of the anthology what inspired the concept?
Well, thank you very much! That’s been the great thing about the anthology, everyone seems to have a different favourite. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have an almost phobic reaction to supermarkets. They’re just so boring and confusing. What’s worse than the apocalypse? Supermarkets, that’s what.
I really love comics that have really amazing settings where really dull and mundane things happen. Roughneck O’Dare in Viz last August is a classic example. Mars is going to explode and only O’Dare can stop it, then spends the entire comic stuck in a spaceport and his tools get sent to the wrong planet and his flight gets cancelled. Seriously, Google it, it’s brilliant!
What drew you to the comic medium?
I grew up with Andy Conduit-Turner! There was no way I could be friends with Andy and not get into comics. It’s a nice creative outlet but it’s got restrictions too, you’ve got to say a lot with not a lot. It’s like writing a novel in tweets at times, which makes you sharpen up a lot and makes it an interesting challenge. Plus, I’m rubbish at dialogue. Can’t have too much dialogue in a comic, it hides the images and slows the tempo. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
What s next for you?
I’m working on Horde’s first mini-series, Revenant, at the minute. Beth Varni who did the artwork for Berserk in the anthology is working with me on that. We’re just starting the art for issue 1. It’s a horror/mystery/alternative history story set against the backdrop of the ripper murders in 1888-89. Andy’s co-written the first issue. I’m writing issue 2 at the minute with another friend, Silvi Valkanova. Issue 1 should be ready around September if nothing slips too badly.
What advice would you give to writers suffering with writers block
Get co-writers and collaborators. Bouncing ideas off friends is always helpful, and fun. No-one is going to steal your idea, especially if you’ve been talking about it to loads of people, and most people are happy to help.
And don’t read anything by Terry Pratchett. That stopped me for a week because I realised I’d never write anything that good. Be as good as you can be, but accept you’ll never be as good as Terry.
What inspired you to pursue writing?
I don’t really feel like I’m pursuing writing to be honest. We’d spent literally years talking about stories that would be cool to see, and it got to a point where we had to do it or stop going on about it.
I actually feel really self-aware about writing, which is part of why I write under a pen name. Having the self-confidence to just throw it out there and say “You should like this”, with your actual name attached? That’s proper bravery. People say “I write for myself” but then why do you publish it? You do it because you think it’s good and you think people will like it. I think that, but at the same time there’s a voice in my head saying I’m an arrogant idiot and I’m wrong. I tend to tell people I only write because we’re just starting out and I have to chip in to make up the numbers. Imposter syndrome makes writing comics tricky sometimes.
What is a typical day for you?
I’m a freelancer by trade, so it depends where I’m working or what I’m doing. I was living at the seaside until last week and have been out of contract, so my days largely consisted of disappearing down Wikipedia holes and calling it “research” for Revenant or wandering down the seafront generally having a nice time. I’m back at work now, about as far from the sea as you can get in Britain, so it’s a case of getting up, going to work, coming home from work and doing a bit more work till bedtime. I’m that rock and roll!
If you could rewrite or reimagine any existing story what would you choose and why?
I’m already reimagining the Ripper murders for Revenant, but I can’t really think of any stories I’d want to rewrite. There are a few I’d like to go through and close plot holes. Nothing annoys me like reading a good story where the writer couldn’t be bothered to tidy up the internal logic.
How did you find the process of funding via Kickstarter?
Dave: It was a doddle for me. Andy dealt with all of it. He’s been an absolute saint throughout the whole thing. I’d made some big promises to be helpful when we started, then moved 200 miles away and was at work all day, every day and basically vanished for weeks at a time. He got everything sorted despite being crazy busy himself. The man’s a legend. There was a lot less stress because we’d already got the comic finished before the Kickstarter, and we’d already paid all the artists. We’re lucky enough to be doing alright at work, so we could self-fund the book without having to rely on Kickstarter to make it a reality.
Andy: I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t work – There’s a lot of admin and planning to consider and the marketplace is only getting more competitive *takes a quick look on Kickstarter* right now there are 164 live comic campaigns – I’m currently backing 5 *quickly closes tab before that number increases* It was ever so slightly terrifying being a new player in that game when there are campaigns from extremely talented, often more established, folks out there…It was less a matter of rivalry (everyone in Indie Comics we’ve met has been lovely) but a consideration that the audience can only pay attention to so many projects at once (and only have so much money).
In reality the work to get the ball rolling really starts months before you hit that go button on your campaign, trying to build a following, and get people excited for your work so you know at least some people will be watching for your campaign. The runaway success of the whole thing was the promo videos that we have Gregg to thank for…based on the responses I’m sure that really helped us stand out.
As Dave says, having already paid for the book to be drawn helped reduce the target we needed. It was also the right thing to do as far as we were all concerned. We felt we needed to back ourselves and our comic ideas before rocking up, cap in hand, to ask anyone else to do the same.
Gregg: Loved it, Andy did the complicated bits while I put together the videos.
Will we be seeing a Horde vol 2 any time soon?
Gregg: You are only as good as your last idea so we’ve jumped straight on to the next volume. It’ll be bigger, better, sexier, more muscular and it’ll treat you right…because you matter x
Dave: We’ve started on it tentatively. I’ve got a few stories knocking about, but they’re all in a pretty rough state, and Andy and Gregg have been very gently suggesting that maybe they’re not very good, so I might sit vol 2 out. Revenant issue 1 should be the next thing to come from Horde in the autumn.
Andy: In a relative sense yes – While we’re not going to waste any time getting to work on Volume 2 we also don’t want to rush it out and have the quality suffer as a result. Once we have realistic dates and all of the stories are finalised and in production we’ll be sure to start stoking the engines on the hype train…The first images Gregg has produced for our first story of volume 2 are some of his best work I’ve ever seen so we’re planning to give this follow up everything we’ve got.
In the mean-time though we have the opening issue of Revenant and perhaps a few other small treats to keep everyone entertained.
What difficulties (if any) did you encounter during the anthologies creation?
Dave:We had some drama whilst we were making it, mainly coming from Dave. If you want to find out about it, it’s there’s a production diary which comes with the deluxe digital download, which you can get on our website, www.hordecomics.com/store. *Cough* Where you can get the comic cheaper than on Comixology and Amazon don’t take 50%… *Cough*
Gregg: I’m lazy, so I got told off.
Andy: In all honesty nothing too problematic, especially in hindsight – Creating anything and working with people (particularly people you know very well) comes with the usual challenges you’d expect, but seeing the finished product arriving with our backers and then seeing people buy copies was worth every late-night edit, bit of schedule juggling and tricky conversation about creative
disagreements the process generated. Long term, this probably put us in better stead for producing the next book.
Which tale from the anthology is your favorite and why? (if you can choose)
Dave: Got Milk, because it was my idea and that’s why it’s the best. Only joking, I really like Quiet, it’s the Hordiest of the book, and it’s the first one that made it in, Gregg did the artwork, so it will always have a special place in my heart
Andy: I find picking all but impossible – The stories are all so different and each has a key moment or memory tied to its production. Gun to my head…I’d perhaps pick Berserk. Beth was the first artist we got in contact with and it was the first story we had in a truly “Finished” state so that’s a special moment I’ll remember.
Gregg: Eerrrmm, Tossup between entombed and got milk I think. I hate my own stuff so I was really proud to see Dave and Andy’s work come to life without me scribbling over it or adding 1000 extra pages.
Who would win in a fight Megalodon or Superman?
Andy: 100% Superman if it’s a purely a fight and they are both just there to punch on…If this is just an encounter though I don’t think Superman would kill a shark (DCEU Movie Superman excluded Obvs) Although he could easily punch any size Shark into the sun, so h
ard that it’s teeth would compress into diamonds, shatter and fall as snow in the past (somehow) He’d more likely subdue the creature and find out who (probably Luthor) was making the creature attack.
Gregg: Ben Affleck beat up superman…I’ll leave it there.
Dave:One’s a massive fish, one can fly and shoot lasers out his face. Superman’s having massive shark fin soup for dinner.
And there we have it folks, we’ve talked typical days, The Horde and Superman Vs Sharks, big thanks to Andy, Gregg and Dave for taking the time to share with us their influences and creative process! I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Horde Vol 1 and would heartily recommend it to all! You can pick up a copy here: https://www.hordecomics.com/store and seriously, you should go do it! You can keep up to date with the upcoming projects and all the latest news from The Horde Comics at: https://twitter.com/HordeComics.