Having recently caught up with Dark Matter Volume 1 and then getting an early look at Volume 2 I caught up with Chris Sides ahead of it’s launch this coming weekend to fire some questions his way about the book, what’s next and the Close 2 Immortality group.
Have you always planned to return to the Dark Matter Anthology format?
It was always on the cards. I love writing short stories and I had quite a few scripts that were developed and others that were in progress. Most, like THE ROLLOVER (with Paul Moore and Charlie Hogg), were always for this, but others (FINE DINING with Jim Lavery, Aljosa Tomic and Ken Reynolds and THE LAST BATCH with Dan Cornwell and Ken Reynolds) were for other publications, but they really fit the theme of the book, so we included them.
Less is definitely more in the case of DM2, as fewer stories, but longer stories is a win-win approach – is that something you were aiming for?
Absolutely. We got some really great feedback for volume 1, but one of the criticisms was that there were too many stories, that it wasn’t focussed enough, hence less stories in this volume. Yeah, THE ROLLOVER is 14 pages and is the longest story in the book; maybe, with hindsight, it could’ve been trimmed, but for me, it felt right at 14 pages and did and said what I wanted it to do and say. In all honesty, that was written before volume 1 came out and I suspect it was me scratching a ‘longer form story’ itch at the time.
DM2 is a definite progression from the first volume in terms of writing and art, but did you approach this any different?
Thanks for saying, that’s good to hear. In terms of writing, I guess I was applying new things I’m constantly learning along the way, but with the art, we wanted a steadier consistency in terms of all colour strips and a perhaps a better match of art and story. We’re very proud of what we achieved with volume 1, but both Chris and I said there were things we would’ve done differently and we’ve tried to apply that to volume 2, for example.
DM2 is released through the Close 2 Immortality collective – did that influence the book?
No, not at all. Close 2 Immortality came about half-way through production on the book and didn’t have an impact on how and when we released it. That’s the great thing about the collective, to be honest, it’s just that; we’re not a publishing house, we’re effectively a group of like-minded folks signal boosting each other and supporting each other with our individual projects. If anything, I’m hoping it’ll influence the reach the book gets. The lads are really supportive in their social media sharing, so with our powers combined and whatnot, it means hopefully, more people’ll see it.
Does being part of the C2I group change how you approach your writing?
A little bit, yeah – it’s great to have a sounding board for ideas or scripts and get some feedback on what you’re working on. All of us have or are about to submit something for the Millarworld Annual, so we’ve been giving each other feedback on our subs, which has been dead useful. Both Jay and Jon are great writers, so every time I get a peek at what they’re working on, it makes me want to up my game. Plus giving me useful tips, like plugging my laptop into the mains and typing in the bath to relax; helpful stuff like that.
You’ve already worked with some great artists in both volumes of Dark Matter, but there other artists in the small press world you’d like to work with?
I’ve been ridiculously lucky to work with the folks I’ve worked with so far. It would definitely depend on the story, but I’d love to work with folks like Chris Imber, Rosie Packwood, Phil Buckenham, Grant Richards, Martin Simmonds just to name a few off the top of my head.
Will we see a Dark Matter 3?
Mayyyyyyyybe…probably. I hope so. We have plans, let’s put it that way!
What else are you working on just now?
I’m spinning a lot of plates at the minute – Chris and I are looking to release a one-shot, INTERSECTION, at True Believers Comic Festival in February, which’ll be followed by a 6 part series in COMICHAUS that we’re really looking forward to starting. We’re also chipping away at DEUS VULT, a graphic novel for Markosia with artist Dean Sandford. I’ve also got a sci-fi graphic novel, IMPOSSIBLE, launching at London Super Comic Con with artists Jake Rowlinson and Dan Franco for Markosia and another Markosia sci-fi something that’s soon to start production, as well as a few more short stories, one with SECRET IDENTITY artist Kier Gill launching sometime next year. It’s busy!