Today Black Ship brings an interview with yet another talented creator from the M4 anthology. Indie creator Paul Bradford of Inertia Publications talks with us about M4 and his other projects in the comic industry.
Black Ship Books: So how do you know Mike Rickaby and how did you get on board for M4?
Paul Bradford: I discovered MEGABOOK M1 when I was searching around the internet. It had just been released so I missed out on that issue. However I got in contact with Mike when he was looking for M2 submissions. I submitted a story for that issue titled Astral Crusaders: The Standard Bearer. Subsequently I submitted a follow-up story for M3 titled Astral Crusaders: Fields of Death. With M4, Mike was looking to offer a print version and was requesting black and white submissions, so I submitted a couple of black and white stories being Undercurrent: The Good Samaritan and The Adjudicator: Make the Call.
BSB: Tell us about your stories, The Good Samaritan and The Adjudicator.
PB: The Good Samaritan was my attempt at creating something with a “noir feel”. I wanted this story to try and capture the mood of those old noir movies. It was an idea I had for a while and it actually wasn’t the first story written for the Undercurrent series, however at his point it is the only story that has progressed to final art. The Adjudicator was written for an Australian comic competition. I found out about the competition quite late on so could only put together a four page story. I was thinking along the lines of a Dirty Harry type character and managed to get Randy Valiente on board to get the artwork done fairly quickly. He’s the same artist that worked on the Good Samaritan also.
BSB: And The Good Samaritan story is a part of your larger Undercurrent universe. What can you tell us about the Undercurrent series?
PB: The Undercurrent universe revolves around the crimes that happen in an unnamed windy city. It follows the cases of a young detective as he is promoted to the homicide squad. The crimes that he eventually investigates have some strange twists to them and in turn they start to twist him in strange ways. The Good Samaritan is a lead in to the whole Undercurrent universe and plays a part in the young detective getting an opportunity to become involved in the homicide squad as he steps out of a cold case unit.
BSB: Outside of the Undercurrent series are there any other projects you have in the works?
PB: I’m constantly producing smaller stories for anthologies, which keeps me writing and seeing the end result published. I have a few titles that I would like to develop into longer runs and am working on those at the moment. I keep my Astral Crusaders universe ticking over by producing small stand-alone stories on a regular basis that see print in various anthologies around the place. I also have a few short works completed or near completion that will be out this year or early next year. These will be in various US, UK and Australian anthologies. People can keep up to date with my new works by visiting inertiapublications.blogspot.com.
BSB: Having had so many short comics and stories published over the years in all of these different publications, what has been your biggest challenge when it comes to getting published as an independent creator?
PB: The biggest challenge is finding places that will publish your work or anthologies that are seeking submissions. Not all publishers actively advertise that they are seeking submissions and all too often you only find out about them once they are actually released. Although there are a lot of independent comic publishers out there now, which is opening up the opportunities to have your work published. I’m not sure that this option was available a few years ago, so that side of things is improving. Although on the flip side, it may be flooding the very small independent market with too much competition so your work ends up getting lost in a sea of indie anthologies.
BSB: Even though you’ve written a variety of stories, do you have a specific style or genre you prefer over others?
PB: The majority of my stories seem to lean towards horror, although science fiction and action stories form part of what I like to write. I think the horror genre tends to have more companies out there seeking submissions so that may be the main reason that a lot of my stories have a horror theme. There does appear to be a bit of a resurgence in horror comics of late which may be a cyclic thing which is seeing horror coming to the forefront again, especially with indie comic publishers.
BSB: You are a huge proponent for independently-owned comics. What kind of developments do you think will occur for creator-owned books in the next decade or so?
PB: That’s a big question. It’s hard to know what direction they will go in. There is definitely a larger stable of indie publishers out there and many of them are refining their books and increasing the quality of the comics that they’re producing. It may be that we get a tier of these comics in the market that prove to be popular enough to remain sustainable in the comic book industry without becoming too mainstream.
BSB: Besides comics, what other passions do you have?
PB: A lot of my time is spent sleeping. But when I’m not sleeping I enjoy playing sports and watching it (more watching than playing now). I’m into all sorts of sports including soccer, rugby, motorsports, tennis, and just about anything else really. I enjoy watching movies, both new releases and older movies. A good movie is one that you can keep watching over and over again and still enjoy it. Although I do have a tendency to find and point out movie mistakes as I watch them, which can annoy those that I’m watching the movie with. I guess my other passion is nature and I wish there was more that I could do to stop animals from being hunted to the brink of extinction and also to prevent cruelty to animals in general. Perhaps one day I’ll be in a position to do more on that front.
BSB: What do you think has shaped you into the writer you are today and given you the drive to continue as an indie creator?
PB: I think the comics that I used to read as a young kid in Scotland, such as 2000 AD and Battle and Action to name a few, had an influence on me in general. Many of the stories in those comics filled my childhood with great adventures and I want to create those adventures for people today as well as for myself. Also, movies and music influence my writing. I often see a movie or hear a song that is powerful in some way and think to myself, ‘I need to create a comic that has that sort of punch to it’. As far as what has given me the drive to continue as an indie creator, that’s hard. Probably a mix of persistence and stupidity. I have had many false starts and broken promises over a long time, but have made some really good contacts more recently with artists and publishers alike, which has given me a new drive and passion to continue on this crazy journey.
BSB: Are there any other words of wisdom you would like to impart on readers?
PB: On readers? I would like to encourage them to give an indie comic or two a go. So much time and money goes into producing indie comics for very little return, usually a loss financially. For readers to just pick up a comic every now and then would be great for indie creators. If you buy a lot of comics then why not expand on your normal reading and see where that leads. Indie comics have come a long way recently, so if you gave them a try years ago and weren’t impressed or if you’ve never ventured into that dark corner of your comic shop where the indie titles hang out, then I urge you to try a few that are out there. You never know what great comics you might be missing out on.
BSB: Thanks for the interview, Paul! There are more creators from M4 on the way, but to follow Paul and his amazing moves in the indie comics community, please do check out his blog at inertiapublications.blogspot.com! Until next time!