Matthew Weldon: The New Brighton Archaeological Society
Matthew Weldon: Drawing the NBAS
In most cases it's today's youngsters growing up to be adults, but sometimes fate comes to roost while children are still young. Sometimes they're meant to take on challenges a bit early.
In the recently released graphic novel New Brighton Archeological Society, four children of famous archeologists must step into their parents' shoes to pick up where they left off after their tragic death. Take one part Batman's origin but mix it with a big dose of Indiana Jones and Courtney Crumrin, and you might get something close to this book. But accept no substitutes for the real thing.
New Brighton Archeological Society (or NBAS for short) comes to you by way of writer Mark Andrew Smith (Amazing Joy Buzzards) and newcomer artist Matthew Weldon. The series debuted as several short stories in Image's Popgun anthology series, but that was merely a test flight for this full-length graphic novel.
Last year we talked to Smith after the book's announcement, and now we turn to the artist Mattew Weldon upon the book's release.
Newsarama: Thanks for talking to us, Matthew. How'd you end up partnering with Mark on NBAS?
Matthew Weldon: I was fortunate enough to win an art contest on Satellitesoda.com to see my pin-up published in the Aqua Leung graphic novel. I drew in a completely different style that I’d never actually tried before. Shortly after, the Superstar Mark Smith approached me and asked me to draw up his story-arc in that style. And I thought yikes at first, cuz I didn’t feel too confident drawing in that style but I did it for two reasons. First, it was a comic that was wholesome and not something that was filled with Gore, Sex and Profanity. Second, It was my chance to get into a real Image publication. So I abruptly and hastily replied “I’m In!"
MW: My favorite part of working on this book has been getting a hold of Mark’s scripts before anybody else and reading them and knowing the whole story J I know what’s going on behind the scenes and I know what’s around each corner for these little adventurers. In all seriousness it’s been fun trying to almost animate the characters and give them personality. That when you look in the characters eyes you think that character has a soul.
NRAMA: How did the initial design of these characters & the look of the book progress?
MW: I wanted to design a world that was original and almost tangible to those who read it. When I first started on the book we had a colorist that worked tremendously well, but strictly with watercolors and colored pencils and pastels. So my first works were pretty plain and simple so the colorist work could shine through. And I wasn’t part of the colorist arrangement so I can’t say with any certainty why, but we decided to move forward with a different colorist. So that allowed me to get more wild with the landscapes and start really detailing the characters and their environments. It was fun being able to go off entirely on imagination alone to design another world all together for these kiddies to explore.
NRAMA: This book was originally planned for a November release – what was the cause of the delay?
MW: When the book was initially scheduled for that November release the script had approximately 120 pages in it. And I know that sounds like a lot, but Mark and I felt like it was missing something. We wanted to give the readers more so we decided to add an extra 60 pages of story and art to it to bring the final page count to around 180 pages. And because I was cutting the 120 page deadline pretty close as it was the extra 60 pages really caused us to spill over the deadline because then it had to be colored, lettered, etc. I think the book flows much better now with the extra plot line and I think it helps the reader develop a better sense of environment and purpose. I think it was all worth it and I can only hope the readers do too.
MW: I sure hope so and I have every expectation that we will. There’s so much more story left to cover and I, as well as everyone that gets a chance to read this book will demand some closure to this adventure. I would do it in a heartbeat. I enjoy doing it and it’s something that’s wholesome and uplifting as well as action packed at times.
NRAMA: Now that this book's finished, what have you got planned next?
MW: At the same time I was recruited to draw New Brighton Archeological Society, I was asked to work on another story for the Popgun anthology Popgun called "Ellie Saves the World". I also produced a short little story of my own called "Post Zero Hour" that came out in Popgun 2, and there’s another short on "Post Zero Hour" and "Ellie Saves the World" coming out in Popgun 4. Since I agreed to do both my challenge now is trying to ration my time between New Brighton Archeological Society and "Ellie Saves the World" since I agreed to do both. Now in all fairness it’s time to devote myself to developing the storyline on "Ellie Saves the World". We’re gonna try to get a 6 or so issue story-arc published through Image but that’s not final yet.
NRAMA: What's "Ellie Saves the World" about?
NRAMA: Before we go, lets get a little background. Tell us about your history in comics up until this point – what else have you worked on?
MW: I haven’t worked on much other than New Brighton and "Ellie Saves the World" up to this point. I’ve had a few pin-ups printed in a couple of Image comics like Aqua Leung and Strong Arm #2. And I’ve done a couple hundred or so pages of freelance work for independent peoples and labels including a 6 page story-arc called “I’m not the Bad Guy” for a Ronin Studios Comic. I also illustrated a 12 page comic that was published through IndyPlanet.com called Geist. They're also reprinting a couple of short stories called VirtuaGirl and Ryan & Radar in an ongoing comic from Indyplanet.com named Tales from the Plex. And an 85 page graphic novel for Platinum Studios but as far as I know it never got colored and published, and I can’t remember all the other miscellaneous names of the others but I’m still very much a rookie in the comic field.