Be friends with any one group long enough, and you'll probably get a nickname. You've probably have had one yourself at one point, but it probably doesn't compare to something like "Choker", "Worm" or.. wait for it… "Dick Puncher".
Those are just three of the characters featured in the upcoming Image comic Choker. The 2010 miniseries is coming from artist Ben Templesmith and newcomer writer Ben McCool. McCool's cut his teeth on small comics in the UK, but Choker marks his first real stab into comics.
And that's not the only stabbing going on in this comic, from what I've read. But I'll leave it to the Ben's – McCool and Templesmith – to tell you more about this series.
Walker aka "D*** Puncher"Choker is about Johnny’s own personal redemption, and with it comes some startling revelations about him and the world in which he dwells.
Nrama: And from "Choker" to someone nicknamed "Dick Puncher". Should I be afraid? Who is she?
McCool: Afraid? Why yes, absolutely! Every bloke should be. Flynn “Dick Puncher” Walker is a nasty piece of work, her malice and scorn crafted by a lifetime of male mistreatment. Ill-fated enough to be a female police officer working Shotgun City’s streets, she’s not one to shirk a challenge, especially if it pisses off a few guys along the way. She caught her husband in bed with her mother, sister and best friend (three separate incidents would perhaps have cushioned the blow) and things pretty much went downhill from there.
Flynn’s job goes from bad to worse when Johnny is placed under her jurisdiction, working on a case that could put him back in the forefront of the city’s police department. But as with everything in Shotgun City, it’s not gonna be that straightforward…
Nrama: Who are the other big characters in the book?
McCool: Well, for starters there’s Seaton “Worm” Price, who’s unlucky enough to be Johnny’s secretary, hired after City Hall banned Jackson from ever again employing a female member of staff. A manic-depressive with a Russian literature problem, he’ll find himself more involved in proceedings than a confidence-devoid nerd would like.
Milton “Chief” Ellis is Shotgun City’s Chief of Police, and predictably, he’s a quite exquisitely horrible bastard. A firm believer in corrupt justice, Ellis is the free thinker’s worst nightmare. As I might’ve mentioned elsewhere, he’s Mr. Burns on crack.
There are more characters that’ll feature prominently, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Can’t go giving everyone away just yet…
Nrama: Speaking to the collaborative nature: artist Ben, about developing these character; did Ben McCool give you all the characters pretty much fully-formed, or did you have the opportunity to collaborate on the people involved?
Templesmith: I was adamant I wanted to work on a story Ben wanted to write. His own thing, without me requesting things etc, and to have it be a creator owned thing. I see myself as the artistic element to this project mostly, though I'm basically handling everything apart from the writing on it at this point. Lettering it too. It's very much Ben's story, I'm just brining my thing to it. Sure I'll have/had suggestions but the characters and overall story are fully-formed, yup.
Nrama: You have a lot of experience at establishing setting, from towns to worlds and even a few dimensions. What's the town of Shotgun City like?
Templesmith: Hmmm, potentially like what you'd get if the Chicago of the 1930's had a one night stand with the city scenes out of Blade Runner. Slightly futuristic yet quaintly odd in places and thoroughly dirty and dank. At least, this is the ambition.
"Worm"McCool: Well, let’s put it like this: there’s never a dull moment. A bewildering twist of 1930’s Chicago and a technology-infused postmodern metropolis, it boasts as many bowler-clad gangster types as it does avant-garde cyberpunks. The cops are bad, the crooks worse, and good things very, very rarely happen. Inhabitants would think of Camden, New Jersey as VACATIONLAND!
Nrama: This one's for artist Ben; looking back at your oeuvre, you really have a distinct thread through all your works. Dark, twisted, quirky - but all with an element of humor in it. What do you think led you do doing these types of books?
Templesmith: Basically that's probably just my personality. Life isn't usually about unicorns and rainbows, it's a sad, sick and rather twisted affair once you realize what human beings do to each other on a daily basis. But there's always those clever buggers who can crack a joke and brighten the mood amongst the crap we all put up with. Guess that's always really been the tone of my work. Always dark but never completely serious. It's probably also more fun as a creator, to have an audience actually laugh at something they should otherwise be technically appalled and horrified by. So far I've been lucky enough to find an audience for my work who dig that.
Nrama: What goes into your picking your projects?
Templesmith: Well, they've got to be similar yet different. I really don't want to be known as the "vampire guy" or the "zombie guy" or whatever. I do like variety so there's quite a spectrum among the books I've done but tonally there's always a darkness to them I guess. Even if I did a super hero book in the future, it'd still have to have certain elements. Really, since doing Fell and Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, I've realized the niche I've carved out for myself with creator owned work. As a creator, if you're lucky enough to gain an audience over several projects, your name is essentially a brand. I wouldn't want to betray that brand too much at all in the nature of the work.
As a general rule while drawing is my first love I'm also digging writing now, so I'll probably never do two projects in a row written by someone else. I enjoy the freedom of doing everything myself too much. Sometimes it's just nice to concentrate on the visuals though.
Nrama: A preview of Choker will run in the upcoming Liberty Comics #2. Why'd you decide to run here for your first outing, and what will it be about?
McCool: Liberty Comics #2 will feature a six-page prelude, introducing Johnny Jackson and Seaton Price, showing off a little of Shotgun City, and upsetting the nation’s grandmother community.
I’m a devout advocate of the CBLDF and jumped at the opportunity to contribute to a benefit anthology. This provided reason enough to showcase Choker here first, but to be included in a book with the likes of Neil Gaiman, Jim Lee, Dave Gibbons, Gail Simone, Cameron Stewart and Paul Pope (to name but a few) is an unbelievable bonus. Liberty Comics #2 is going to be a massive title.
Nrama: Is that prelude exclusive to Liberty Comics #2, or appear in the first issue or trade down the road?
McCool: It’s a self-contained and exclusive story that won’t be appearing anywhere else. Though not integral to the mini-series to follow, it’s a nice little teaser of what’s to come and good fun in its own right. Well, we think so, anyway.
Nrama: This is your big coming out party to comics. What's your background and what led you to this point?
McCool: I’ve been lurking around the comic book scene for a couple of years now, starting off by writing some small press stuff back in the UK. I then had a story published by Desperado/Image, illustrated by John McCrea, followed by a few tidbits at DC Comics. This is both my first mini-series and creator-owned work, and I’m extremely excited to get Choker out there. I’ve a few other projects in development, too, so expect some big announcements soon!
But for now, it’s all about Choker and the first issue (we’re hoping) will be out in February, just in time for 2010’s initial batch of conventions…