Andy Poole says that one of the reasons that attracted him about being a colorist is the satisfaction of “seeing black and white art brought to life with color, under your very hands.” In a previous interview, we have also learned he enjoys playing with conventions when it comes to coloring comics. But how did Andy face the Warlock 5 challenge?
Did you read Warlock 5 before joining this project?
I’d never even heard of Warlock 5 before joining the project, as comics were not an interest of mine up until maybe ten years ago, so a Canadian comic from the 1980’s was completely off my radar. I did get myself into gear and do some research on the series however, reading reviews and finding what books I could.
Did you discover a favorite issue?
Not a particular issue, no. The original Warlock 5 had a cliff hanger at the end of issue #3, which I won’t ruin here, but it’s a pretty good one. Unfortunately, it was never resolved in later issues, so despite the writing continuing to be good and fun, I kind of gravitated towards the artwork instead of the story. From that point of view, any issue from #4 onward is a favorite.
While the first three issues had great artwork, the later issues kick it into overdrive with some of the most incredible black and white paints and inks I’ve ever seen. A page in issue five is especially nice, with the Robot Warlock Argon’s ship moving through space in front of a rocky, crater marked planet, with bright sun and ethereal nebula behind it all. The lighting is fantastic and makes the entire scene both dark and mysterious and beautiful too.
How about a beloved character?
Tanith. I find that the other Warlocks know their positions, powers, responsibilities and conspiracies well, but Tanith has had a lot of growth as a messenger of peace and harmony realizing that her standing as one of the Warlock 5 means performing acts that are far from savory. She’s straddling the line between her personal views and philosophy, and the corruption and violence that dealing with The Grid and the other Warlocks is pushing on her. Personal conflict is the most human story, my favorite kind of story, and she fits the bill the most.
Warlock 5 is tied to this 80’s view of a dystopian multiverse. How is it to work on such a setting?
The setting is interesting because it’s not a single setting at all, it’s like being thrust into 80’s Horror, or Urban Fantasy, Cyberpunk and I even get a Masters of the Universe vibe every now and then. These are all different worlds that rather than make the book feel convoluted, they make it work. They’re defined as individual worlds, not a mish-mash of genres. Working on that is interesting, it gives me the opportunity to join in on defining those individual worlds and genres using the colors, which is quite obvious when you see the color theory in practice.
The series has a – quite large and – faithful fanbase. Did that put any different kind of pressure onto you?
Not at all, mostly because I’ve remained blissfully ignorant of the fan base. But now I know… I did put pressures on myself though. When I saw the artwork from after issue #4 of the original run, I assumed that anyone who saw the art would pretty much instantly fall in love with it the way I did. As a Colorist I have to live up to that standard, and that is not easy at all.
The greyscale art is detailed and rendered expertly, and is something I would personally love to see the new series of books rendered as. But I’ve been brought on to modernize the story along with Cullen, Jimmy and Jeff, the writers and artist respectively, so I had to color the thing in a more modern style. I wanted to keep an eighties vibe, so I limited the color palette to suit that, but it’s still obviously a modern take.
Warlock 5 has always stricken me as having these bright colors. There seems to be something nearly violent about that approach. Do you agree with that? Or is it a misconception?
I can certainly agree. The original four issues had a very, I guess you could call it a sharp style of inks. They felt very in place with a violent story. Denis Beauvais, the artist, could reel that style in when the story required a softer touch however. I’ve tried to live up to that myself.
The original work must have cast a heavy weight, but what other influences did you have when tackling this project?
I’ve tried not to be influenced by anything but the original source material and the creative team around me. If I feel I’m capturing the atmosphere of the original, I’m happy. If the Writers, Artist, Letter, Editor, Publisher and Creative Director are happy with it, I’m happy with it.
Are there any specific scenes that stand out?
Tanith using her magic stands out the most. It’s bloody brilliant, in the literal sense. Bright blue and white glowing power, taking the form of butterflies that Jeffrey Edwards must have killed his knuckles drawing. But he pulled it off excellently! I hope that I lived up to his efforts in those scenes, because he deserves nothing but the utmost praise for pulling them off.
Is it turning out the way you’ve envisioned it?
Yes and no. You come into projects like these, with very rich and detailed artwork, with a style in mind, but the work grows and changes all on its own, and you have to flow with it. I’ve found it both to be good and difficult for me to render, and it’s fallen away from my original vision, or perhaps my need to honor the original artwork. That aside, it looks quite nice, I’m pleased with how it’s turning out and can’t wait to see the printed pages. That’s when it all comes together, the experience of reading the finished product and holding those floppies or trades in your hands.
Thanks, Andy, for leading us through the colorful multiverse of Warlock 5!
Interview with Warlock 5 Writer Jimmy Z. Johnston
We’re excited to feature Jimmy Z. Johnston, writer for the Kickstarter-funded revival of Warlock 5!
What was your first contact with Warlock 5?
I picked them up new off the shelf in the late 80s. I remember seeing the cover to issue one and thinking it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.
Why did it capture you?
100% the cover. I bought it because that cover was one of the most incredible I had seen. Issues 2-6 had fully painted covers featuring the face of each Warlock. And they stand the test of time today as being some of the most striking covers of their time.
Did you have a favorite issue?
In many ways, the first issue holds that honor. It did such a wonderful job introducing the world.
How about a beloved character?
I have a ton of art I did through high school, and there is one montage I have of dozens of characters I loved from various works. Argon is in that montage, if I find it I will share it.
Did these change once you picked the books up to work on the project?
When I read them years ago, I never thought about the idea of where their story might go if I was writing it. It was a few years later that I began thinking about these things in earnest. But rereading the original series now is a tough thing to do. Because it is very much a product of the time. Storytelling was different back then. In issue 3 (I think) Zania sets off a nuke in Grid City. In issue 4 they don’t even acknowledge it. There is no way a writer could do something like that today, the fans would be all over it. They did resolve that eventually in the trade, but if you only get the issues you don’t see the resolution.
As for characters, when we started writing the series, I spent a lot of my time working on the new character Lycia, so my view of the original characters didn’t change much at all.
The original work must have cast a heavy weight, but what other influences did you have?
Clive Barker is my biggest influence. He tells stories in ways that no other writer I have ever read can compare to. I do find it interesting, having read comics spanning all eras, how storytelling in comics has changed. I worked on Micronauts with Cullen Bunn, a series that originated with Marvel in the 70s. I have talked to fans who wish we were writing stories like the ones Marvel did. But the reality is that nobody could write like that today. Readers wouldn’t be interested in it. There are many readers who seek out the older stories like that, but the nostalgia factor lets them be read without worrying about the storytelling. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series is one that stands the test of time. He did such a fantastic job telling the stories he told, that they will always be relevant examples of how to tell a story.
The writing process is a collaboration between you and Cullen Bunn. How is it to collaborate with other artists? Is there too much compromise?
In spite of what Cullen says, we work really well together.
But seriously, we sit down and talk out the idea. Then we write up a page by page outline. Sometimes that could be one line “FIGHT” or it could be a paragraph with dialogue we want to make sure we use. Through this process we make sure we don’t have too many scenes we are trying to fit in. In this case it was a 60 page script, so when we finished the outline, we talked about scenes we “wanted.” Cullen really wanted the Savashtar investigating scene, so we blocked that out for him. After we do that it is usually pretty close to an even split on the workload.
When we finish our parts, I combine it into one unified script and we both go over it. This part is fun because we get to revel in the genius of our parts and rewrite the stuff the other guy did. I joke about it. Usually it involves tweaking a few things here and there, but not too terribly much.
This is not the only project you two have partnered up for. Why did you start working together?
I met Cullen in 2003. He met me in 2004. There is a story there, but this isn’t the day for that. We were both at a horror convention for writers in New York (in 2004). Found out we lived very close to each other and when we got home started talking and hanging out more. He was working on writing prose, and I had discovered an innate talent for editing. I did an edit for him on a story and he really liked what I did. That was the start of working together.
Are there any specific scenes or narrative developments you want to include in this continuation of the 80’s comic?
We are looking at this as a continuation of the series. 30 years later, these 5 are still defending reality from threats. They have changed, but the dynamics amongst them are still pretty consistent. Zania and Argon are the “bad” pair, while Tanith and Savashtar are the “good” pair, leaving Doomidor in the middle as the balance between them.
The only thing I really pushed for was doing a cover based on the original issue 1. We are technically working on the fourth run of the series. The second run was a short mini series that did a new version of the issue one cover. The third run did not, but it deviated massively from the original concept. I am glad that we got to use a version of the original cover. Jeffrey Edwards did an amazing job on it, and on every page that will be between the covers.
The five main characters are extremely different and layered. What was the biggest challenge bringing them to life?
Anytime you have an ensemble cast it takes time to develop the individuals. It is much easier to write a story with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman because you don’t need to establish who they are. You see the S, the Bat cowl, the lariat, and you instantly know who they are.
We have 5 main characters we are essentially introducing to readers. Along with a handful of new characters to the series. That takes time to develop. Being able to do a 60 page issue helps massively with the character development aspect.
Is it turning out the way you’ve envisioned it?
I am still pretty fresh in the comic world, so I am loving the process. Seeing thumbnails come in, then pencils, then inks, then colors. . . Seeing my words and scenes turned into comic pages is amazing. It is so much better than I envisioned it. I love it.
In these shaken times do you try to embed your work with some subliminal criticism or do you keep it detached from the outside world?
Oh, I am constantly putting Easter Eggs into things. Many of which go unnoticed. Cullen is always telling me not to worry about things like that because no one will notice. The secret is, I am putting them in for me. I am ok if no one else ever notices!
I am guessing though that your question is leaning more towards the current political and social climate in our country. And that is something I try and avoid. I don’t need to make enemies right now as I get started in writing. Many writers and artists are taking positions publicly about their support or lack of support for our current administration. I will leave that to them for now.
Anything you can tell us without giving out major spoilers?
We start out seeing the Warlock 5 fighting against an incursion into Grid City, but we will be showing them in their own worlds. And a portion of this first volume is going to take place on a new world in crisis. This will be creating a dilemma for them as they have to choose between helping an individual world or pulling back to Grid City and simply protecting the Grid. It goes towards the question of what are you protecting. It is all good standing guard over a forest and making sure it doesn’t succumb to a forest fire, but when you let a lumberjack in to cut down a tree. . . well, it sucks if you are that tree.
Thanks Jimmy for opening up about the future of Warlock 5!
About WARLOCK 5 KICKSTARTER
Five guardians protect the multiverse against the chaos that lurks outside the boundaries of reality. There’s only one problem: they hate each other.
A mystical nexus, a crossroads connecting all times, all realities. Along the ley lines of the Grid, the multiverse clusters. To move along the Grid is to move from one reality to the next. To harness the power of the Grid is to harness the awesome might of creation.Five touchstone realities exist at focal points along the Grid. From each of these realities, a Warlock is chosen to act as one of five Guardians.
Savasthar, a shapeshifting dragon-like being.
Doomidor, a warlord from the Dark Ages.Argon, an advanced cybernetic organism from a techno-hell.
Tanith, an ageless sorceress.
Zania, a power-mad, machine gun necromancer.
Together, the Warlocks protect the Grid, thereby protecting all of space and time. They are the last line of defense against the awful forces of chaos that lurk in the darkness outside the Grid.There’s only one problem.They hate each other.”
Originally created by Gordon Derry and Denis Beauvais, Warlock 5 was published by Barry Blair, a Canadian comic book publisher, artist and writer, known for launching Aircel Comics in the 1980s. A fierce advocate for innovation in the themes, genres, and types of illustrations, Blair helped to bring titles to life that broke the narrative and graphic boundaries at the time — including Warlock 5.
The new Warlock 5 Kickstarter funded this continuation of the Aircel Comics classic fantasy masterpiece. This 2017 reboot is written by CULLEN BUNN and JIMMY JOHNSTON, illustrated by JEFFREY EDWARDS with colors by ANDY POOLE, letters by ED DUKESHIRE, and designs by EDWARD LAVALLEE and SHAWN T. KING. This saga of rivalry, betrayal, magic, dragons, and killer robots is aiming for a 60-page full-color (hard cover) original graphic novel.
SHOGUN KNIGHT DYSON V is the next project we’re publishing through OUTLAND.
Anybody who has been following OUTLAND the last year or so will know that we’ve partnered with Mat Nastos on a variety of projects, AEGISTEEL, ELFLORD, and the re-release of The Barry Blair Library. Almost since the beginning of our partnership, Mat has been talking about an idea for a giant robot book. Well, SHOGUN KNIGHT DYSON V is it.
From Mat –
This is one of my favorite pieces of work I’ve ever done, and is based on my love for the giant robot comics and cartoons of the 70s and 80s. If you love Shogun Warriors, Tranzor-Z (or Mazinger Z in other countries), Giant Robo, Big 0, Grendizer, Getter Robo, or any of their cousins, then you will be blown away by SHOGUN KNIGHT DYSON V! Not only is it full color, but it is printed OVERSIZE at 9″x12″!! The book is a beast and simply beautiful.
Written and created by Mat Nastos, with artwork from Nicolás R. Giacondino, Mat Nastos, and Chunlin Zhao and letters from Ed Dukeshire.
Here is the official blurb –
With the corrupt Titan, BLACK ODIN, on a rampage, it is up to Lieutenant Jonathan “Hightower” Harmon and his team to awaken the guardian robot, DYSON-V, to stop him. Full color, Super Robot action in the vein of Shogun Warriors, Mazinger Z, Giant Robo, and Grendizer.
You see a preview of the first six pages below –
It will be premiering at the Amazing Houston Comic Con September 4 directly from Mat Nastos, but will be ready for pre-order from OUTLAND soon!
BLACKLANDS is the next in our list of Outland publishing projects coming to print.
This is a book completed almost entirely in-house – roughly based off a dream I had (Jeremy Mohler) some years ago, it’s created by myself and Edward Lavallee (our Director of Design), also written by Ed, penciled and inked by Erick Marquez (who is a LONG time friend and super talented artist), with layouts, designs, and colors by me. Lettered by the super talented Ed Dukeshire (as ever).
It’s pretty exciting to have a project like this come together. As I said, it began life from a dream I had, though the setting was pretty non-specific. But, being a huge fan of westerns, we decided to take it that way. The first attempt at this book was by my wife (Emily Hall) and I. We originally planned it as a submission to the now canceled DC webcomic site, Zuda Comics. Zuda closed it’s doors before we were ready to submit, however. So it got shelved until some years later when I dug it up as a project to pitch to Ed as something to work on together.
We’ll be premiering it out at the Kansas City Comic Con this weekend (August 07-09) in Kansas City. We’ll be at booth 1425. It’ll be an exclusive run of 150 copies with a unique cover you’ll only be able to pick up at KCCC. We’ll also have a few limited run sketch covers as well (only 25 of these).
I’m really excited about this story and the team and I hope you guys like it!
Here’s a bit about the story –
BLACKLANDS is an action/adventure that takes place in the years following the Civil War. Set in the tradition of the classic Sergio Leone westerns, BLACKLANDS has plenty of action, romance, violence, and revenge. Think of it as PALE RIDER meets TREMORS with a splash of TRUE GRIT thrown in for good measure.
When a young girl goes missing from the small town of Bliss, Silas, the town elder calls upon Virgil Kane to bring her home. Silas explains that details of Lorelle’s disappearance are limited, and that discretion in the girls safe return are imperative as to not bring shame upon his family. Virgil accepts the assignment unaware that Lorelle is pregnant and ran away to ensure the safety of her unborn child.
Danger lurks around every corner as Virgil falls neck-deep into the world-altering hellscape known as BEASTFALL – an environmental cataclysm that brings about a second Dark Age where fresh water and edged weapons are the key to survival.
Check out the preview below!
It’s been a year or two ago at this point, and I don’t recall exactly how we connected. Whether it was through an ad I answered online or if he found us, we’ve now worked on several projects with Martin Smith of Attackosaur Comics.
Martin has not only been a pleasure to work with in both instances, he’s also an extremely talented writer and designer. His stories are pretty fun and tend to be short, self-contained books, which I think is great. He’s not weighed down with trying to stretch a story out over a long period of time and he can release each book all at once. I think that’s a great way to self-publish comics and I love the fact that you can pick up the book and get a full story.
If you would like to read more about the project and see more samples of the artwork we completed, please head over here or check it out on our portfolio page!
Another project we’ve been working on for the last couple years is a webcomic called Flight of the Binturong from writer Sal Crivelli. Outland was hired to handle the art for this project. Here’s a little bit about the project –
IT’S THE FUTURE
But don’t worry. A lot’s still the same.
No evil Empire. No oppressive theocracy. No galactic struggle. The government’s too bureaucratic for all that noise.
The Binturong is a mechanic ship with a crew of four. In the heyday of interstellar repairs, if your ship needed fixing, rigs like The Binturong would come to you, make repairs, and send you on your way. Nowadays, newer ships (along with most technology made in the last few years) have self-diagnosing AI that assesses, isolates, and self-repairs. It makes for safer, further space travel (and longer unemployment lines).
Flight of the Binturong is a once-a-week comic, which will update every Tuesday.
Inspired by the works of James Cameron, John Carpenter, and Joss Whedon, we’re hoping to bring you a comic that invokes that old feeling of cool, gritty space, while hopefully taking you on some new, exciting adventures.
If you would like to read more about the project and see more samples of the artwork we completed, please head over here or check it out on our portfolio page!
Bleedback is an ambitious comic project that we are working on in conjunction with Scott Nihill and his company Embreate.
Scott was writing an epic sci-fi story and looking for help converting it into a 5-issue comic series. Outland came on in 2012 to manage the project. We handled all of the art including pencils, inks, colors, letters, and design. We’ve since partnered on the project and it’s become a joint venture. In 2013, we successfully funded our Kickstarter to print the first issue. As of July 2014, we are hard at work on issue 2.
So, a little about the project itself:
It’s New York, 2065. Both our dependence on and fear of technology has reached a critical moment. People are playing, fighting, shagging in virtual worlds, robots have become so advanced they might eliminate us. And then comes Bleedback … when activity in the virtual world seeps into the real world with sometimes terrifying consequences. Our central character Andrei, suffers the power of Bleedback firsthand.
The story follows Andrei, brilliant enough to captain any robotics lab but whose criminal record has barred him — on pain of serious prison time — from ever again wielding his gift. So he’s forced to work underground as a Breaker, a specialized hacker able to crack the most sophisticated government mandated robot restraints.
A bike mechanic by day, Andrei moonlights at The Beast, New York’s hottest nightclub, where every desire can be fulfilled … for a price. What free time Andrei has is spent keeping his daughter Angela out of the Global Revolutionary Movement (GRM) and on the right Life Path. Andrei’s comfortable life is turned upside down when a love bot he cracks goes haywire at The Beast. A shadowy military group snatches his daughter and he is hurled into the dark recesses of the global Robo slave trade.
Read more about it and see some of the finished artwork over here! Or read more about our other projects over here!
A big project I worked on last year was with a fellow named Henrik Jonsson and his graphic novel project The Norseman (scroll down to see pages).
Henrik is a graduate of the Joe Kubert School, where I attended from 1999-2001. I have fond memories of my first year at the JKS and I generally keep an eye out for talent coming out of the school. I’m not sure how, exactly, I ended up on this project, whether it was from an inquiry for work through Outland or whether I responded to a possible call for colorists, but I knew from the moment I saw Henrik’s work that I’d love to work with him on something.
There’s something quite stunning about his work and his use of blacks and I had a ball coloring pages. I think to date we’ve completed almost 70 pages – a graphic novel and a short story. These were released in sections through Fantomet in Norway. We’re hoping to bring the series over here (to the US), but we’re still working out the details on that.
As it stands, it looks like we’ll be doing a short story this summer and next year another graphic novel set in the world of The Norseman. I’m also scheduled to do a pin-up, which I really need to find the time to get done!
It’s a fun story I’m seriously proud to have been involved in. Hope you like some of the samples!
The above are samples from the last short story that we completed!