By Marx Pyle
UK comic book creators Tony Wicks and Martin Buxton are the founders of a new comic book company called C2D4. Their company has been around for less than a year, but their books are definitely different from your typical comic book yarn. They publish titles such as Last of the Chickenheads, Jack in the Box, Crowman and (the upcoming) The Hack. They were kind enough to take a little time out of their schedule to talk about their books and future plans with the company.
Marx: So, lets start with an obvious question, why did you name the company C2D4?
Tony: Originally I wanted to call the company ‘Komikaze’, after a character I drew in the late 80’s. He was a Moebius-style birdman-cum-flyboy, who hurls himself off a cliff top and onto a giant inking brush. Dying for his art, so to speak. Anyway, a quick check in Google a year or two ago brought up dozens of references to ‘Komikaze’, some of which were specific to comics, so that idea went out of the window. But the idea of art, or comics worth dying for…that endured. It eventually became Comics To Die For. C2D4 for short.
Marx: Can you give me a little background on each of the three books on where the idea for the concept first developed and some highlights on their development?
Tony: Jack in the Box is a reprise of a much earlier idea. The concept of weird Scarfe style mutants raising a boy in a sewer became something else when I went to Paris with my wife, for a weekend break last year. While travelling on the Metro I had an idea of two beings being released from two markedly different sets of parents, one into the tunnels, the other into a main terminal. This straight away lead to the idea of the extra terrestrial nature of the ‘evil’ parents, seeing as the alien ‘Grey’ is notorious for doing nasty things to abductees.
The other set of parents had to be far more benign, even cuddly, so I initially thought ‘friendly sasquatch’. To make the difference even more stark, without having to use full colour and break the bank at the printing stage, I used an idea I first saw in Schlindler’s List. The comic would be black and white, except when the friendly characters were about, at which point I’d use spot magenta. So the sasquatch became ‘pink sasquatch’. I then wrote it as a short story, plotting every important twist and turn. When I approached Martin to see if he could make it into a script, Martin refined the sasquatch idea to tie in more with the alien Greys, and that was pretty much it.
Chickenheads was triggered by an idle doodling session. I’d drawn an Akira-esque bunker, but in a loose Moebius freehand style. I had the idea that there was a lone survivor of some conflict inside the bunker, emerging from the burning insides into the bright sunny desert. For some reason the character had a chicken’s head, and was carrying a katana.
I then drew the character as a full sized concept sketch, and sent it to Martin, asking him if he thought it ‘daft’ and expecting him to say ‘yes’. He loved it. The next day I was showering before work, and the entire storyline popped into my head. Which leads me to believe that maybe the doodle wasn’t as idle as all that. I’ve no way of really knowing though. Still, weird how the mind works!
Martin: The idea for Crowman wasn’t really a conscious decision to have one animal mask over another. Around three or four years ago, I saw something on TV about the Bubonic plague that affected Europe. The show has a plague doctor stalking around in a long cape and creepy bird mask. The imagery struck me straight away and I thought it would make a cool looking character.
Marx: What comic books or other mediums of storytelling influenced your style of writing and art?
Tony: As far as my drawing style goes, I’ve many influences. From a child it was everything from dinosaur reference books to Marvel comics. As I got older, DC Comics, 2000AD, and Warrior. Artists like Moebius, Bolland, Gibbons, through to Hunt Emerson. Recently I’ve been influenced by the clean lines and bright colours of anime.
I found films like Akira and Ghost in the Shell particulaly inspiring. Movies have always influenced me, for camera angles, lighting, framing of action. Artists like Bryan Hitch, Jeff Smith, Frank Quitely…these are some of the new guys that I like to follow. I like the cartoony approach as much as the realistic, and I find myself mixing it up a fair bit in my own art. My writing style comes from alot of the comics already listed, but also from reading the books of Stephen King, and Peter Straub, and from watching movies. Comics writers like Frank Miller and Alan Moore are probably my main influences.
Marx: Is it difficult to self-publish comic books in Britain?
Tony: It’s expensive! But seriously, actually finding printers who can do a decent job at fairly reasonable prices, that’s the easy part. Getting people interested in your stuff once it’s ready, it’s very tricky outside of the conventions which only happen a few times a year. Plugging it on the internet is one thing, but selling online is only a nice little bonus now and then, rather than a means to regular sell through. So you’re dependent on finding a distributor who isn’t going to fleece you. That’s the difficult bit. We’re still looking, so at the moment we’re content to sell a few at retail via Gosh Comics, and the bulk to the lovely people at the UK comics cons.
Marx: What other mediums (if any) would you someday like to see the books become?
Tony: Being a fan of video games, movies, and cartoons, any or all of those would do just fine. I think Chickenheads would have a lot of mileage as an animated series. The sky’s the limit as far as subject matter for plot lines goes. Martin and I have already got enough ideas for another five collected books at this moment in time. Many more to come, I’m sure. We’d like Tim Burton to pay us loads of money to make Jack in the Box into a dark gothic animated feature. So, if you’re listening Tim….