Bridging multiple genres and employing multiple artists, the unique anthology OGN Fusillade showcases just how diverse comics can be. Set for release in July, Fusillade springs from the mind of enduring indie comics creator Howard Shum who created and wrote each story, as well as recruiting and supervising artists hailing from France, Italy, Mexico and his home country of the United States.
Shum has been a talent-to-watch in recent years, from his indie series Gun Fu and Hyper Kinetic to the fan-favorite Alpha Monkey which ran on DC’s Zuda Comics website. But Fusillade shows the creator stretching a different set of muscles: writing concise and diverse stories, each with their own characters, style and subject matter. Shum talked with Newsarama about the series, and how it was reigning in the globe-spanning creative team it took to bring the book together.
Newsarama: Howard, what are the basics about Fusillade?Howard Shum: Fusillade is a collection of imaginative character-driven action stories in various genres (science-fiction, western, fantasy, supernatural, horror, gangster, and more) drawn by visionary artists from around the world. All the stories are written by me and the art is by Antonello Dalena, Rad Sechrist, Armando M. Zanker, Gunt, Régis Donsimoni, Francesco Abrignani, Lelio Bonaccorso, and Dustin Foust. There are also articles in the book. I interviewed actress Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad, She’s Out of My League, and the upcoming Apartment 23), comedian-actor T.J. Miller (Cloverfield, Unstoppable, Gulliver’s Travels), and top cinematographer Larry Fong (300, Lost, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, Super 8). If you are interested in the creative process of talented people and how they became successful, these articles will interest you.
Nrama: There’s a lot of stories going on under the hood of Fusillade; can you break them down for us?
“Witch Trouble” is drawn by Rad Sechrist. Rad is a story artist at DreamWorks. It’s about young kids who discover that a woman in their neighborhood is secretly a witch and responsible for the disappearance of their friends.
“Water Lily” is drawn by Antonello Dalena. Antonello is an Italian comic book artist. A Marine recently back home in the U.S. from the war in Iraq searches for a young woman who was taken by mercenaries. There are conspiracy undertones.
“Wilde Agency” has art by Gunt, a French comic book artist. It’s a supernatural-comedy about a female L.A. private detective and her two associates who take on strange cases. It’s like a funny X-Files.“Los Diablos” has art by Armando Zanker who drew The Middleman comic. This is a western about three groups after a lost stash of gold. A supernatural force hampers their plans. This is like a Sergio Leone western mixed with Stephen King.
“LoveQuest” is drawn by Régis Donsimoni, a French comic book artist. This is a fantasy-comedy about a nerd who decides to battle a big monster who is taking tribute from his town. He is doing this to impress a girl he loves.
“From the Heart” has art by Francesco Abrignani, an Italian artist who draws Disney comics for Europe. Francesco wanted to draw a violent gangster story because it’s not something he gets asked to do in Europe and I obliged. It’s about a mafia hitman who investigates the death of his childhood friend.
“L.A. Amok” is drawn by Lelio Bonaccorso, an Italian comic book artist. An ordinary man with a super power, which he has never used for a heroic purpose, has less than two days to save Los Angeles as a government experiment goes awry and becomes deadly. I would like to think if Alfred Hitchcock ever did a super-hero movie, this would be it.
“Intersection” has art by Dustin Foust who is a video game artist in San Francisco. This is a science-fiction story. A young boy and his dog struggle against killer flying machines while he searches for his parents whom he has never known.
Nrama: Although drawing this book is split up between multiple artists and their own stories, the whole book from cover to cover is written by you. That doesn’t count editing, publishing and packaging it. What led you to committing to such an ambitious and challenging format?Shum: I know a bunch of amazing artists who have busy schedules that can’t accommodate my normally longer stories. I think it was Randy Green who suggested I do shorter stories. It’s funny that he still didn’t have time to do something for this. I liked the challenge of coming up with diverse stories with fascinating visuals that would interest talented artists.
Nrama: Acting as both editor and writer, was there anything that happened over the course of the book that surprised you?
Shum: When working with great artists who are in the same mindset as I am in storytelling, they are going to add things to make it better while not taking the story off track. In “Witch Trouble” I had a kid in his bedroom, but Rad suggested we put him in a cool tricked out treehouse which made sense because the kid is an inventor.
Gunt put in visual accents to “Wilde Agency” that made it even more funnier.
I love the character expressions Réj did in “LoveQuest.” That’s great acting that few comic book artists are capable of doing.
Nrama: And how'd you assemble this line-up of artists?
Shum: If you look at all my creator-owned books, Gazillion, Intrigue, Gun Fu, and Hyperkinetic, you’ll see that all of them are drawn by phenomenal artists, Keron Grant, Kaare Andrews, Joey Mason, and Matteo Scalera. It’s the only way I do comics, working with incredible artists. I continue that with Fusillade. Most of the guys are friends of mine or people that I have known for a while. The others are guys whose art I admired and wanted to work with. These are all artists whose work other artists like.Nrama: Those other creator-owned stories are what you’re known for, and they’re all longer narratives than the shorts inside Fusillade.Could you see yourself expanding on any of the stories here in Fusillade at some point down the road?
Shum: Some of the stories and characters in Fusillade lend themselves to a grander scale, but a few of the stories here are one and done. I can see expanding some of the stories in future volumes of Fusillade.
Nrama: Before I let you go, what would you say was the most challenging part of Fusillade for you?
Shum: I did my best to write different types of stories and not repeat myself while maintaining my voice. As an artist myself, I knew I also had to have great visuals in the stories to keep the artists excited while they drew. Drawing comics is hard work so I wanted to give the artists stories they could be passionate about doing and also make it entertaining for readers.