Smash Pages Q&A | Luke Arnold + Chris ‘Doc’ Wyatt on ‘Essentials’

The writing duo discusses their crowdfunding project for the new graphic novel from The Lab Press.

Luke Arnold is an actor and writer best known for his roles as Long John Silver in Black Sails and INXS frontman Michael Hutchence in Never Tear Us Apart. His first novel The Last Smile in Sunder City came out in 2020 as part of the ongoing series The Fetch Phillips Archives.

Chris “Doc” Wyatt is a writer and producer whose work includes independent films like Napoleon Dynamite and Coyote, as well as animated series like Rocket and Groot, Lego Ninjago: Dragons Rising, Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many more. He’s also written comics for Marvel, Dark Horse, 1First Comics and more.

Together, they are the writing team for Essentials, a new graphic novel coming from the newly formed The Lab Press. The story centers on a mathematician who predicted the end of the world but failed to prevent it. He discovers there are other survivors, but they’re trapped in alternate realities full of zombies, robots, mythical creatures and more.

Each of these alternate realities will be illustrated by a different artist, including Vince Locke, Andrea Mutti, MK Perker,Brendan McCarthy, DaNi and Jason Howard, with colors by Jordie Bellaire, Brad Simpson and Wesley Wong, and lettering by DC Hopkins. Bill Sienkiewicz provides a chilling main cover.  

The graphic novel is currently up on Kickstarter, and has already reached its goal. (Please note that the interview was conducted prior to the project’s launch). I spoke with Arnold and Wyatt about the project, working with seven different artists and what’s “Essential” in this story. My thanks to them both for their time.

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Dark Horse serves up ‘The Butcher’s Boy’ in May

Landry Q. Walker, Pannel Vaughn and Justin Greenwood bring a tale of gruesome folklore to life in a new miniseries.

Landry Q. Walker, Pannel Vaughn and Justin Greenwood will hit the backroads of the Pacific Northwest for a folk horror tale in The Butcher’s Boy, a new miniseries coming from Dark Horse Comics later this year.

Walker, known for the excellent Danger Club, will co-write the series with Vaughn. Greenwood, who worked with Walker on The Last Siege, is the artist, along with colorist Bard Simpson. Letterer Pat Brosseau rounds out the team.

“Appetite – whether it be desire for food, affection, or power – and the ability that hunger has to drive you to become unrecognizable – even to yourself – has always sat at the heart of my favorite horror stories,” Walker said. “Writing this book has led me down some dark psychological pathways that border somewhere between healthy obsession and self-destructive spirals. On some level, you need to feel what you write. The goal of this story is to take that discomfort, that yearning appetite (in all its myriad forms) and contextualize it as a malignant and conscious force. As a story, one that is finally ready for consumption.”

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‘All Eight Eyes’ are on Steve Foxe + Piotr Kowalski’s new miniseries

Giant spiders invade New York in their latest project, which Dark Horse will publish in April.

Steve Foxe, Piotr Kowalski, Brad Simpson, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou have gotten the band back together for All Eight Eyes, a new miniseries from Dark Horse Comics about giant spiders and New York City.

The quartet previously worked together on a story for Razorblades: The Horror Magazine, which Foxe co-created with James Tynion IV during the pandemic. This new series continues the web of horror they started in Razorblades.

“I’ve been obsessed with giant-animal horror stories ever since seeing Them! and Gila! as a kid,” Foxe says. “All Eight Eyes is both an ode to the thrills of watching oversized predators chow down on humans and a reckoning with how much NYC has changed—not always for good—since the turn of the century, drawing on my own time in the East Village and Alphabet City. I’m so thrilled to be making this arachnid gross-out alongside Piotr, Brad, and Hass. The detail Piotr brings to not just the creepy-crawly aspects of the book, but to every chipped brick and sticky sidewalk of NYC, is unmatched, and Brad and Hass match his skill page for page.”

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Review: ‘Count’ puts a science fiction spin on a classic novel

Ibrahim Moustafa’s new graphic novel from Humanoids adapts ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ into a science fiction story, but ‘the magic is in what Moustafa and team add to it.’

When I was in school I was asked to read a lot of books deemed “classics.” Some I thought were okay, some I had to pull myself through even though I hated them, some I grew to love over time, but there was one book that had me hooked from the very first chapter. That book is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.

I absolutely adored it. It had an interesting hero, wrongly accused and searching for revenge, it had a daring escape from prison, and an interesting message. I had the pleasure of reading an adaptation of this wonderful story, this time with it turned into a science fiction tale. To say I was ecstatic to read this is an understatement, and this book lived up to that excitement.

Retitled simply Count, it’s written and drawn by Ibrahim Moustafa (High Crimes, Mother Panic) along with Brad Simpson as colorist and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou as letterer. And they all brought their “A” game here. It’s a faithful retelling of the story with a new skin to all the characters and settings.

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Read the entire first issue of ‘Black Stars Above’

Check out the entirety of the first chapter of the Vault Comics title by Lonnie Nadler, Jenna Cha, Brad Simpson and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.

Courtesy of Vault Comics, we’re pleased to present the entire first issue of Black Stars Above by Lonnie Nadler, Jenna Cha, Brad Simpson and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Described as a “chilling historical cosmic horror tale of survival,” the story features a desperate young fur trapper in 1887 Northern Canada who is hired to deliver a package:

The year is 1887 and a storm brews. A young fur trapper flees her overbearing family only to get lost in a dreamlike winter wilderness that harbours a cosmic threat. The fur trade is dead and the nation is changing. Yet, Eulalie Dubois has spent her entire life tending to her family’s trapline, isolated from the world. A chance at freedom comes in the form of a parcel that needs delivering to a nameless town north of the wilderness. Little does Eulalie know, something sinister hides in those woods and it yearns for what she has.

It’s a series that Shane Bailey said is “a masterclass in building tension and dread,” and is “the equivalent of a Shepard Tone, the illusion of the ever-rising note. Eventually the musician ends the song, ending that tension. In this case, though, I really don’t want it to end.”

You can check out the first issue below, and look for the just-released trade paperback at a comic shop near you.

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‘Crone’ fights one last time this November

Dennis Culver, Justin Greenwood, Brad Simpson and Pat Brosseau team up on a new comic from Dark Horse.

An old fighter fights again as Dennis Culver, Justin Greenwood, Brad Simpson and Pat Brosseau present Crone, coming this fall from Dark Horse Comics.

“This is a story I’ve long wanted to tell,” said Culver in a press release. “Crone is about facing death after a long life of regret and trying to rise to the challenge of making up for your mistakes when given one last chance.”

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IDW brings Mahnke’s ‘Lore’ podcast to comics

‘Wellington’ from IDW Publishing will explore the stories discussed on the podcast.

Aaron Mahnke’s Lore podcast has spawned books and an Amazon series, and starting in December he’s making the jump to comics. Mahnke will collaborate with co-writer Delilah S. Dawson, artist Piotr Kowalski and colorist Brad Simpson on Wellington.

“History and folklore are deep wells, and they are honestly a fiction writer’s dream come true,” said Mahnke. “With an amazing cast of characters just waiting to be called upon, and centuries of belief in the supernatural setting the stage, I’m excited to share these powerful stories in a brand-new way!”

The comic will delve “even deeper into Lore’s dark side of history.” It will introduce the Duke of Wellington, who investigates the mysteries and monsters discussed on the podcast.

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