Last Driver is the newest title from Dead Canary Comics WHICH they’ve just launched the Kickstarter for and I was lucky enough to fire some questions in the direction of its creator C.S.Baker AND get an early look at the completed book.
Q&A with C.S.Baker
What inspired you to create Last Driver?
Originally I had a five-page script that was meant to be a silly romp. Something fun for an artist to draw and a chance to write some hard-boiled dialogue. At the time I was working on another short with Shaky Kane, he read it and wanted to read more. I had no choice but to write the damn thing!
Frank Sudden is a fantastic character, did you base him on anyone in particular?
I’m a geek, a big one. I wanted to make the hero we all need or wanted around in those moments when the shit rises like cobra hopped up on anger. Frank is every Kurt Russell/John Carpenter collaboration with a dash of my alter ego. I feel very close to Frank, I really do. He’s just a normal guy, nothing special, no super powers, nothing. He’s pretty clean-cut too. Not a tattoo on him, clean pressed cloths and a sensitive side to boot.
The story is pretty full-on from the beginning, did you always intend that to be the case?
I had been writing some very heavy stuff with Matt Fitch at the time, really dark and deep shit. We had finished Reddin, which is pretty dark and hopeless. Beautiful but hopeless. I saw Last Driver as a way to kick up my heals and have some fun. I always feel a nugget (no a boulder) jealousy when I read the Frogman Trilogy. Pure fun on a bun! Wise cracks and danger panels! I wanted a slice of that, so I guess Last Driver was my Frogman. Matt and Mark have put together a fucking awesome book there, lots of time and love. I hope that the fast passed thrill ride that is Last Driver is half as successful.
Were there any elements you left out of the completed story?
Too many to mention. Matt Fitch did the first edit but then it fell to Paul Clark Force (writer on Tale of Shadows and Ministry of Normal) the DCC team went at that script like a pack of wild animals and turned a 90 page petrol head epic in to a tight 60 page story. Once Shaky had finished we went back again and did another edit. This time the story too on s few major changes. I lost my favourite page, but it’s all good. That’s what we do, Last Driver was s true team effort.
How does Last Driver compare to your other projects – was it easier/harder to write?
The writing was actually very easy for me. I turned a script over in about a week. I’m the first to admit that the story is hardly a masterpiece, it’s a no-nonsense action read. Nothing clever or complex. That was what we set out to make. Reddin was a damn sight harder. Matt was the lead writer on that and it too us both much longer to get a script turned in. We also had Paul Clark Force writing ‘the adventures of Kirkwood & Driver’ which helped massively to build the world and characters. I suppose Last Driver lacks the depth of our other titles. But it’s got style.
What was it like working with Shaky Kane on this?
Kane is crazy. A real loose cannon, but he gets results. (I joke). Shaky is one of the most creative and imaginative people I’ve ever worked with, he has such a wonderful way about him and is never short of ideas. We spoke often, this was a beautiful collaboration. It’s pretty cool working with a UK comics icon. I’m proud to call him ‘friend’
Does the art match what you had envisioned for the title?
Honestly, I wrote it for him. The first short was that bit on the road at the beginning (what’s left of it) I had no idea about art then. Everything after was tailor written for Shaky.
What made you choose Kickstarter for this title?
I’m one of those ‘pro Kickstarter’ people. I love how it puts the power in to the hands of the audience. All we have to do is make a fucking outstanding product and give it a showstopper of a pitch. We don’t want to use the crowd funding model forever but until Last Driver comes out on the PS3 that’s how we get books made.
Will we see more from Frank & Last Driver?
I have a loose script for a sequel titled ‘Good Luck Frank’ but I’m not going to work on that anymore. If the book is an underground success and the mob cried out for more, I’ll dust it off and get it tight. This might be a good place to ask your readers “if you back the Kickstarter and love the book, TELL US YOU LOVE IT!” Feedback better than sex.
What else are you working on just now?
Paul Clark Force is busy working out the kinks (of which there are very few) for his swan song to superhero teams ‘The Ministry of Normal’. Paul writes smart and funny, believe me when I tell you, this book is brilliant and drawn by the powerful Will Robson (Starlord). Paul has been working on this book for a while and when you read it you’ll see why. Matt and I have a mini series we want to put out on our site, it’s not quite at the production stage yet but it’s nearly there. We also plan to release an anthology of our sci-fi short stories. Busy busy busy!
C.S.Baker & Shaky Kane bring us the newest action hero that you’re going to be quoting and cosplaying very soon in the shape of Frank Sudden in Last Driver. Frank is a hard-drinking, fast driving, angry, swearing product of a world that’s descended into abject chaos and while the civilised world seems like a distant memory he’s firmly focused on surviving his days with style & a cold beer in his hand wherever possible.
It’s a world filled with monsters you have to see to believe and power-hungry mob bosses that are hellbent on embracing the chaotic world they’re trying to take control of. It’s a mix of 90’s action movie & adult cartoon that drops the reader firmly into the middle of the action with break-neck speed and we’re soon swept up in the raw energy that our central “hero” seems to embody.
Baker has got the world pitch-perfect with all its weird & wonderful characters and life or death situations that capture nostalgic themes at a time when comics, TV & movies are awash with reboots, re-imaginings & remakes but Last Driver manages to steer clear of being a photocopy of a past story that’s already had its 15 minutes of fame. Instead, the unique blend of ideas works better than it ever could and teaming up with Shaky Kane on art duties seems to be a master stroke in the Dead Canary plans.
Kane doesn’t do mundane or run of the mill but instead he sees Baker’s vision and takes it off the chart. It’s bold, it’s brash but it’s ballsy too and the creative team takes a small-press title and slaps it in the face with some mainstream sensibilities. Paul Clark-Forse adds his strong lettering that helps highlight the energy & capture the insanity of some of the events appearing across the pages. This makes sure that it slots this title into an ever-increasing niche of releases that feels like a book from a big publisher and helps to challenge the idea that indie/small press are in some way inferior. In actual fact it helps highlight the depth & quality that has seeped into the bones of the best indie titles around to give them the ability to challenge and surpass some of the titles that flood the shelves of local comic book stories across the country & world every week.
Heavily stylized in terms of art and tone with enough smart-ass quips and action-filled pages to make this a page-turner while leaving you convinced that this won’t be last we’ll see of Frank……or at least we hope not. A special nod goes to Juan Jose Ryp & Boo Cook on cover duty as they’ve captured every aspect of Frank’s character and the world he lives in through one well crafted introduction to the issue itself.
Treat this Kickstarter as one of the no-brainer additions to your pull-list because that’s EXACTLY what it is. Go pledge here and see which of those rewards you’re after…..then count down the days until the book arrives – you won’t be disappointed.