Now that ONE AND DONE, InvestComics’ anthology in support of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, is available and ready to order, we are beginning a series of IndieCreator columns featuring some of the marquee talent that contributed to the book. What better place to start than with the talented tandem from South Africa that contributed more tales (five!!!) than anyone else? Writer/Letterist Arno Hurter and Illustrator/Colorist David Edwards are absurdly talented comic creators you probably aren’t aware exist but definitely should know. I “discovered” them (actually they submitted material to a Heske Horror anthology that blew me away) a few years ago, and I have been an avid − no, make that “rabid” − fan since. What makes them so entertaining is that they are versatile and can spin any graphic tale with an acumen that would make Stan Lee blush. Take a trip with me to the far corner of Earth and meet two guys with some amazing stories to tell … here’s Arno and David!
1) Arno Hurter and David Edwards is destined to become South Africa’s version of Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night). How’d you two hook up, and what was your first piece that was published?
HURTER: Hi Bob and audience. Thanks for the compliment, as well as the opportunity. Dave’s wife and I used to work together, through whom we eventually met. Dave’s a full-time freelance illustrator in the coastal city of East London, South Africa, and I was well aware of his exceptional artistic ability (he’s somewhat of a local legend, but is way too modest to ever tell you so himself, whereas I have no such qualms) and I’ve long been a great admirer of his. We were passing acquaintances for years until, not having seen each other in absolute ages, we bumped into one another at a local DVD rental store, then again in a grocery store about a week later. On both occasions Dave asked if I’d be interested to collaborate on creating comics with him. Unable to believe my lucky stars, I immediately said yes and our partnership – STOMPIN’ MASTODON (the naming of which is a story unto itself, but we’ll save that for another day) – was born. Many brainstorms and beers have followed since –
EDWARDS: Good times.
HURTER: — As well as some pretty cool pages. We’re still plugging away, doing what we love, and the creation is still an absolute joy. As for our first published piece… well, Bob, we have youto thank for including our first two stories in your remarkable anthology – 2012: FINAL PRAYER – that was published a few years back. It was our ‘first’ and, as such, will always be fondly remembered. BTW you were real gentle, Bob . The day those comp issues arrived, all shiny and magic-dust new, knowing that two children born of our imagination had found a home within those sheltered pages… man, what a buzz!
2) You have the most entries in InvestComics’ ONE AND DONE anthology which benefits the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Arno, give us a one line on each story title.
HURTER: Before I give with the one line per one-pager, let me just say that writing and illustrating a complete (and hopefully satisfying) story in the meager space of one measly page is quite a challenge and really got our creative juices flowing. What we tried to do is condense as much story as possible within the constraints of the assignment, I mean we really tried cramming it in there, so hopefully it feels like 2 pages worth of narrative per yarn (if we got lucky, perhaps even more).
“… COLD!”: The title in panel one actually follows the last word of dialogue at the end of panel twelve (hence the quotation marks), which gives this brief B-movie a looping quality that hopefully makes you want to read it twice in a row.
SAYING GRACE: Perhaps my favourite title, it features a vampire priest trying to save the world one orphan at a time – throw in a psychotic serial killer and a thirsty young protégé and you’ve got yourself a nicely rabid little tale.
PRIME DIRECTIVE: This one’s a welcome change of pace as it turns the basic premise of ONE AND DONE (tales that end in death or the implication thereof) on its head by positing: what if the horror came not from dying, but being forced to live; also, Dave draws one kick-ass cybernetic artificial life-form, which was a thrill to see realized.
THE VOW: I love revenge stories and have a particular fondness for pathos, so I drew a vial of scarlet inspiration from Bram Stoker’s DRACULA (the movie starring an incendiary Gary Oldman) and wrote this sucker to its soundtrack – also, this is the only tale I did some actual research for, which is vital if you’re using history as a backdrop.
FINAL TAKE: This is our pick of the bunch and, as it’s the only tale that could actually conceivably happen (an horrific indictment of the world we live in), it’s also the most genuinely dark and disturbing.
3) OK, David — now your turn. Which of the five was the funnest to draw and which was the most challenging?
EDWARDS: I would say SAYING GRACE was the most fun. I love the idea of an old man and a kid turning the tables on an arrogant serial killer. The challenge for me was shifting from my preferred 4-6 panels per page to 8, 10 or sometimes even 12! In this game the words ‘fun’ and ‘challenge’ mean more or less the same thing. We enjoyed the one page format so much that we are definitely going to be doing more.
4) You also currently have 3 different graphic novels in the works. Let’s begin with ALTERED NATE. What’s the premise and where does the project currently stand? Are there any links where readers can preview some pages?
EDWARDS: ALTERED NATE (“AN”) is about a scientist who has a very bad day at work.
HURTER: Heh. To put it mildly. AN is a vigorous re-imagining of the Jekyll and Hyde archetype. After a teleportation experiment goes horribly wrong, our titular character(s), Dr. Nathan Vos, finds himself literally torn into physical manifestations of his id, ego and super-ego (in the case of the latter, an almost infinite number of ghost-like “echoes”). An uncompromising battle of monstrous consequence ensues. There are some killer supporting characters fleshing out this tale, including an ex-Russian model turned secret agent as well as a lethal, utterly deranged field operative in the employ of a clandestine American-led international agency (GOD – Global Observation & Defense) who’s been tasked with either capturing or killing the unknowable new threat created in the wake of the teleportation mishap. ALTERED NATE moves with the ferocity and momentum of an avalanche, one whose snow is bright, arterial red.
EDWARDS: The full synopsis is in our ebook (http://www.myebook.com/stompin-mastodon/), along with character profiles and the opening eleven pages. Our hope is to find a publisher who’d be willing to assist us complete the book. This would also make an awesome movie! For more on our comics (and all sorts of other interesting things) you can go to my website – http://artcore.co.za/ – and check it all out.
5) You’ve also been working on THE MUSE and ROXY. Give us a quick spiel on each of these and where they’re at.
EDWARDS: THE MUSE is a Faustian fable for the modern age with the world’s biggest rock star as its protagonist. As with ALTERED NATE we did an eleven page pitch introduction for it. While we would love to finish the story, we have been sidetracked with other projects, but would like to return to it at some stage (perhaps with a grittier style). ROXY is an action packed sci-fi meets surfing adventure that has tons of mainstream appeal. We’ve done a lot of pre-production and are in the process of kick-starting this baby. We’ll let you know as soon as its about to launch. Surf’s almost up. Can’t wait to ride the waves.
6) Your latest collaboration – BRUISER’S MOON — pairs a hit man and a porn star in an unlikely and bittersweet love story with action, thrills and kills. Tell us about it.
HURTER: At this stage BRUISER’S MOON is a novel in early progress that Dave will provide full-color illustrations for. The story’s going to be a wild excursion indeed, blending pulp fiction elements, some gritty, grisly noir; oh yeah, and a healthy dollop of unconventional romance. I’m really drawn to damaged characters (the more down on their luck and desperate, the better) doggedly seeking salvation.
As you mentioned, BM features a hit man and a former porn star trying to outrun the crushing weight of who they were and all the terrible things they’ve seen and done. Both end up in an anonymous, quiet little town where they try to make a brand new start and things actually go pretty well for a while. They’ve never been happier, except when it comes time to dream, when wolves of the past with men’s faces snarl hungrily from the dark, teeth bloodied and jaws snapping foam. They bump into one another at every turn and fall hopelessly in love against their better judgments (initially unaware of each other’s past, but sensing the baggage and hurt seared into their kindred souls), but theirs is a bruising love not to be contained or controlled. Its something much larger than themselves, a force that makes them mighty, yet renders them vulnerable in the extreme. They’re running from their collective sinful past, which has a nasty way of catching up, especially when stolen money and injured mobster’s pride are at stake, particularly when two relentless killers – one a psychotic giant, the other a sadistic dwarf – lead remorseless packs of hateful men to hunt our star-crossed lovers down, hoping to retrieve what’s theirs and carve monstrous reputations out of butchered human hides.
BRUISER’S MOON is ultimately a tale about the power of redemption and the interventions of grace, about love and guts, brawn and bullets and staying true to all you hold dear against demonic odds. No half-measures here. It should be a bumpy, bloodied rocket ride.
7) What else have you done recently?
HURTER: We’ve completed another six-page comic short called HANDS that’s a pretty full-on excursion into horror – it was designed to make your skin crawl. We’ve sent that off to Heavy Metal magazine, whose sensibilities this story was tailor-made for, so we’re anxiously awaiting their response. Other than that, I’m busy writing both Bruiser’s Moon and Altered Nate as novels. Dave and I are also keen to continue with the Altered Nate, The Muse and Roxy graphic novels, see if we can’t get a corporate sponsor or publisher on board to really add some momentum.
8) Since you contributed a sci-fi story (ANNIHILATION REVELATION) and a gloomy graphic tale (BIRD’S EYE VIEW) to Heske Hororr’s 2012: FINAL PRAYER Armageddon anthology, you’re well aware we bite the dust on 12/21/12. Which or your works will you bury in a titanium container for the next species that inhabits our planet to discover to know you were here?
HURTER: Here’s hoping that what we “hatched” (inside joke here) in Bird’s Eye View doesn’t come to pass, nor any of the other ways the string unravels as imagined by the tales in your Armageddon anthology. Extinction wasn’t part of my new year’s resolutions. I think. Better double-check on that one. As for which of our works to preserve for the next dawning of life-forms to discover… gosh… darn… Hmm, well, I really wouldn’t mind the five tales we’ve contributed right here, y’know. They cover a lot of territory (three contemporary, one historical and one futuristic), so I feel – even though they’re brief – they say a lot. That and Altered Nate, I think. At least at this stage.
9) Regarding your BIRD’S EYE VIEW story, I should let everyone know that your story received rave reviews from just about every person who critiqued and reviewed the book (As did HARKINTON, by Sandman #38 illustrator Duncan Eagleson, which is also re-printed in ONE AND DONE extras section). Have people in the industry finally started to take note of your talent?
HURTER: The critical acclaim we’ve received has certainly been gratifying and tremendously appreciated, as it often feels like you’re working in a vacuum. We can only hope that even more editors and publishers A) become aware of us, B) like what we have to offer as keen, committed storytellers and C) are prepared to give us a shot at the big(ger) time. Regardless, we’ll keep on telling tales, man, the taller and more imaginative, the better.
EDWARDS: Bring it on!
10) What’s in store for 2012? And please provide links to websites where we can follow your work. And are you guys for hire in case anyone out there is looking to hire a writer/artist team that’s ready to break out?
HURTER: Any editors or publishers out there willing to harness our abilities and give us a shot at doing this even for a part-time living, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and make some storytelling magic together. Once again, thanks for the opportunity, Bob. Hopefully you’ll rope us in on your next anthology, ’cause it’s sure to be a class act. Congrats to everyone else who made it into the collection; we can’t wait to check it out.
EDWARDS: Yeah, looking forward to it. Any interested parties, please feel free to contact us via email@example.com (Dave) or firstname.lastname@example.org (Arno). You can also visit my website at http://artcore.co.za/ for more info. Thanks, Bob. It’s been a blast.
HURTER: Happy reading, folks…
Thanks guys! I encourage everyone to check out Arno’s and David’s work at the websites above and in ONE AND DONE. For only $6.99, ONE AND DONE is a great little book supporting a great cause, unveiling new talent as well as established creators.
Buy it here.
An award-winning indie comic creator and screenwriter, Bob Heske is currently writing/producing a micro-budget horror film called UNREST (http://www.indiegogo.com/unrest). Bob wrote THE NIGHT PROJECTIONIST, a vampire horror series to be published by Studio 407 (http://www.studio-407.com) with film rights optioned by Myriad Pictures. Through his Heske Horror shingle, Bob self-published his critically acclaimed horror series COLD BLOODED CHILLERS. Bob’s trade paperback BONE CHILLER (a “best of” CBC anthology) won a Bronze medal in the horror category at the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards. His “end times” anthology 2012: FINAL PRAYER was also released in late 2009. Bob was editor and contributor to InvestComics’ ONE AND DONE charitable anthology. Email him at email@example.com.