I recently caught up with John Richard Farman to talk about his new venture Vital Publishing that will see a new home for his titles & a new set of challenges.
Having left Black Hearted Press last year – John used the next six months to take a look over the 6-issues of School of the Damned, an issue of Royal Descent and the two Children of the Damned issues he released under the BHP banner. Remastering these issues and prepping them for a hectic schedule of reprints and continuing issues we’ll see these being released through Vital Publishing.
This marks John’s aim at going it alone to bring his unique mix of stories to what he hopes will be a wider audience. While the titles will feature reprint and collected trade paperback editions it’ll also see new creations appear from his on-going work with John Howard and a number of other artists that he’ll team up with. I got the chance to catch-up with John and talk over what we can expect from the Vital Publishing comic releases……
Issue #1 of this already impressed me enough to give it a straight 10 out of 10 as it embraced a fairly unique approach to the needs of the masses, the Royal Family and the overall culture we live in today. John’s aim for this was to provide something that held a real message about the world we live in today by taking a satirical look at the austerity we see all too clearly across the UK and beyond.
While the idea of pitting the members of the Royal family against each other met with some controversy it tackled some far bigger questions to match his aim for the book. A fan of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta and it’s resonance with a political world where the haves & have-nots are competing for their survival the idea came to him following a visit to see Battle Royale at the cinema. The eureka moment came from that and the response of his friends who said he couldn’t use the Royals as fodder for a similar concept…..John’s response was “Why the hell not?”
The real challenge with this book came with writing a difficult & complex hierarchy and keeping track of that as the body count started to rise…..something he achieved by constantly referring to several documents that tied the whole world together. That difficulty was eased further by killing off 70% of the characters in the first four issues – which we’ll see released in 2015 along with a trade paperback collected edition….and all before starting the second arc in issues #4-8 which should follow soon afterwards.
Artist John Howard acts as the catalyst for sticking to that schedule with his work rate and turnaround time on each of the issues being praised by John Farman himself. Not only for the rate of work but for the quality that he’s producing too….a quick glimpse at issue #2 of Royal Descent confirms that further with a significant step up in the quality….something that Farman describes as some of his best work to date.
Here’s an early look at issue #2:
There’s also talk of a followup somewhere along the way that could well see that reality TV element mix with gang warfare starring politicians…..challenging the establishment again and courting further controversy but that in itself is an interesting direction to take.
The School of the Damned
Issues #1-6 of School of the Damned will be reprinted before being collected into a trade paperback and again the previous art work by James Devlin, Dave Alexander, Jason Mathis, David Braysher, Neil Hood & more will be seen in all it’s black & white glory. Acting as John’s love-letter to the horror films of the 20’s & 30’s these are the easiest for him to write as they come so naturally to him…..partially for the love of the genre and partially for the need to add more to that growing body count.
There’s more planned for this though with a series of 2-part stories in the next 4 issues will bring us a Sound of Music/Night of the Living Dead mashup in #7 & #8 before we get to see a story that John’s been aiming to write for a while with the Origin of Victor Frankenstein in #9 & #10. These will slip into the tight schedule easily as John Howard will switch between new issues of this and Royal Descent…..which again maintains momentum thanks to his output.
Tales of the Damned (originally Children of the Damned)
Having kept two of the original stories from the previous Children of the Damned series John will incorporate these into this title which will take a new direction. Acting as a Spotlight series with John’s characters taking it in turns to take centre stage for an issue at a time. Promising to bring more recognizable monsters to the black & white pages and emulate the crackle of old movies as he gives some serious nods to some of the most recognized creations & creators from the horror genre. The quarterly release will bring us more of John’s horror-themed creations too and slot into the schedule of releases for the year.
Here’s a glimpse at issue #2 by Argentinian artists CJ Sauret and Rodolfo Ezequiel
A title that excites John after seeing a documentary on the Purity Ring movement in the US where children aged 5-16 are given a ring that represents their marriage to Jesus……so he chose to take a group of elite members of the movement and inject a slasher element….it seems so obvious. He’ll bring his love for all things Slasher movie related and bring us a female-driven story where the core members of the Purity Ring elite take on their rivals in the group……and try to survive. Safe to say they won’t and after an old-school approach with School of the Damned/Tales of the Damned and a modern element in Royal Descent this marks a big step into new territory with a more american edge to it.
Writing it in a film script format this again slots into the schedule for 2015 and as a glimpse at early pencils below shows it’s progressing well……aiming to be released 1st April this year.
The titles don’t stop there though with a couple of other projects in the works like Drumchapel, a 70’s/80’s autobiographical book bringing some funny & weird stories or Slags (with John Howard) which is a prison book where a Krays-like character takes on his nemesis in flashbacks to his crime days in the 70’s.
A special mention went out to ALL the artists he is working with now & worked with in the past during his time at Hope Street Studios where he developed his style and lead to the broader range of releases which will hit the stands thanks to John acting as the driving force behind that Vital Publishing’s schedule. Joined by some of that exceptional artistic talent along the way as he promotes these titles at events up and down the country they should hopefully gain a wider audience and more exposure as a significant contributor to the Indie scene in Glasgow AND the UK.
Praise too went to City Centre Comics (Glasgow) & Deadhead Comics (Edinburgh) for their support of these and other indie titles released in Scotland as they push Indie titles in general. The knowledge and passion in these stores for ALL comic books help bolster the place of Indie comics with more mainstream exposure……one of the biggest obstacles given the big publishers flooding the market with an endless run of titles.
We won’t have to wait too long for the next release either as a launch for Royal Descent #2 launch is this coming Sunday (22nd February) in City Centre Comics in Glasgow with giveaways, sketches & the chance to speak to creative team further on ALL the releases from Vital Publishing.
Keep up with their releases over on the Vital Publishing Facebook page