I started reading comics from a young age. I'm not saying these next images were the first images I ever saw but they are the oldest images I can remember.
This is Iron Man confronting the Hulk.
This is the DC universe when heroes were friends.
This is the adventures of the overwhelming New Gods.
I have continued to read comics all my life and the reason I have never put them aside is because a comic book story can be any story it wants to be. It can be action packed, romantic, full of intrigue and funny. The best superheroes are malleable with an ability to be interpreted in many different ways without losing who they are. My favourite versions of Batman in order are:
Christian Bale Batman.
Dick Grayson Batman.
Adam West Batman.
How beautiful is it to see a character reinterpreted in many ways but you would never for one instance say that none of them are Batman. As I have grown older my tastes in comics have changed from the pop art heroes to the grim and gritty anti-heroes to the deconstructed heroes. Lately I have been discovering my love of these characters has begun to drift as the success of the movies have brought in (what I believe) a conservatism in the comic book industry. Where we once believed a man who had amazing abilities would just slip into a tight fitting costume to fight crime, we now have to make it an armour or it just doesn't make sense in the real world. As you slowly impose one new set of rules upon another you begin to limit the types of stories you can tell. With this happening across the board at the big companies I am reading less and less.
I spoke about this with my friend Garth and he told me about his ridiculous plan to put together an Australian anthology of short stories told by some of the best artists and storytellers in the country. With superheroes still dominating the shelves a book of stories that delved into Ozploitation style tales seemed like the type of idea I would once hear about from men who were convinced that if they held on to their Golden Key issues they would one day become millionaires.
Luckily Garth is too well groomed and handsome to be one of these men and with the energy he was expending in telling me his idea I was hooked. He asked me if I would like to write a short story for his anthology dubbed "Home Brew Vampire Bullets" that I could set anywhere I wanted and it could also be any style. Later that night I wrote down the idea for a tale set in my home town of Adelaide that would feed off the dark energy that sometime pervades that city. I thought back to the visceral thrill I received when reading Jamie Delano's "Hellblazer" run and wanted to tap into those old memories to write a story that would feel comfortable in that milieu.
I was also very lucky to be teamed with the excellent Arran McKenna who has begun sending through some preliminary artwork that I hope my little story will live up to. Already I can see the dread in those characters coming to life (or death) and cannot wait to see the finished piece. After all these years I am finally writing a comic and while it is only a short story I hope it is not the last.
Check out some of this preliminary artwork from Arran. From the top one can you work out where in Adelaide my story takes place?
It is very exciting seeing a story come to life. If you would like to follow Arran check out his Twitter handle @azzamckazza. If you would like to keep posted on this anthology you can do so either through Twitter, Facebook or the site. Just click on the links to find the pages. I've seen some of the other work that is coming through and it looks like it will be a lot of fun. As this is the first anthology Garth is taking his time putting it together to make certain it is all tip top but the energy that is involved is quite intoxicating. It is also exciting to be a small part of a collaborative work, something that is quite different from my usual job.
As for the story? There are no superheroes. Just a kid who has fucked up and a man who does his job. And a demon. I've already had ideas for more stories. Who knows where this could all end?
12th of September, 2013