Hot on the heels of my recent review of Cuddles, I speak with creator Jed McPherson about it’s origins, Kickstarter’s and more.
How did you come up with the Cuddles story?
I think it started with the opening page. I had this idea of John Rambo or equivalent struggling with bad customer service. There was something that appealed to me about the idea of a big tough guy that could easily kick the hell out of just about everyone being completely stymied by a jobsworth.
Then I worked back from that, coming up with the kind of character that would put themselves in that position. If you’ll allow me to get a little wanky, I think it speaks to the heart of the character. Cuddles is a violent man trying to choose the non-violent option. Then the rest of the story sort of came from that.
Was there an inspiration for that central character?
Visually, I knew I wanted him to be a bigger guy and I wanted him to be a tough guy.
I try not to fancast my projects but there’s an MMA fighter called Big Country Roy Nelson and he’s… How to put this kindly… He doesn’t exactly look like an athlete. But despite that he managed to compete at the highest levels. That’s the energy I wanted for Cuddles, someone that’s always going to be underestimated.
There’s a great style to the issue, how did that come about?
Thanks! I think we work really well together as a team. Marco’s line work is great. A lot of people have complimented the pace of the book and I think that a lot of that is down to Marco. He’s got a cartoonists sensibility when it comes to constructing a page. He knows that not all panels are created equally
That isn’t to say that he phones it in, just that he inherently understands that if you spend a bunch of time rendering everything in a panel then the reader is going to spend a lot of time taking it in and that slows them down. Simply put, if everything is special then nothing is. Some panels he’ll draw just enough to get the idea across and other panels he’ll get really detailed. It means that you spend more time with the important stuff.
In my mind that’s the difference between an illustrator that draws comics and a comic artist. Everything is in service of the story. Plus, his art just looks cool. His character designs in particular blow me away every time his inks hit my inbox.
The book looks great in black and white but Shan’s colours just bring so much atmosphere to the book. Early on we discussed colour palettes and Shan had this whole system where each character had their own colour. it’s maybe not something that you pick up on consciously but your brain notices. It’s really smart and their choice of colours gives the book a unique feel. I’m always surprised in a good way when I see Shan’s colours.
How did you team-up with Marco & Shan?
I’d actually worked with them before on a book called Transmissions for Tpub. I’d thrown out a call for artists on twitter and Marco responded.
Shan was recommended by the publisher and I’ve been in love with their work ever since. Honestly Marco and Shan are a dream team. I want to make comics with them forever.
There’s an insane amount of great Kickstarters right now. Any other books you’ve got your eye on?
Oh man, you aren’t kidding. I don’t know what it is but there’s just killer book after killer book hitting Kickstarter right now. Honestly, I could keep listing them forever But in the interest of (relative) brevity here’s my top four in no particular order.
Uncanny Valley: Archive 001 by Rick Quinn and Martyn Lorbiecki is excellent. I’ve read, and own, a bunch of the singles for this and they’re uniformly excellent. Smart, heart wrenching, and absolutely gorgeous. There’s literally no one doing speculative fiction like Rick and Martyn.
Off into the Sunset: I’ve not actually read it but there’s an absolutely crazy amount of talent in this anthology. Just hit up the Kickstarter page and look at the line-up. I bet there’s at least one creator that you’re a fan of, if not more. It’s basically a who’s who of indie talent.
Alex Automatic Volume One: by Fraser Campbell, with art by James Corcoran. I’ve only read the first two issues but man they’re great. The Kickstarter page lists a cavalcade of inspirations including Stingray, Joe 90, Danger Man, The Prisoner, Mr Robot, and Legion but it’s so much more.
The Samurai Slasher: Again, I’ve not actually read this one but Mike Garley’s always a good bet when it comes to quality comics. And his take on the slasher genre looks particularly excellent.
Would you do more of Cuddles – a prequel, sequel or even a spin-off?
Cuddles was designed to stand alone. Making comics is always a gamble and we wanted to make sure that if there wasn’t enough of audience to warrant a follow up we could at least give our readers a complete story.
But there’s also already a connection between the main comic, and the prose short at the back. – we’ve definitely scope to do more stories with these characters. I guess you could say that we prepared for success and we prepared for failure.
It feels a little counting your chickens to start thinking about more Last Chance books when the campaign is still going but the fact that the book was funded in less than 12 hours probably means the support is there. Obviously, it depends on budget, gotta make sure that Marco and Shan get paid, but I think it’s safe to say that there’s going to be more Last Chance stories.
That said, I don’t know if we’ll ever do another story where Cuddles is the main character. Without getting into spoilers Cuddles feels like an end point for the character. But, I definitely want to tell more stories about the world he inhabits, and if it makes sense I could definitely see him as a supporting character in someone else’s story.
Then again, who knows? I might come up with an idea that I just can’t put down. After all, writing the big lug was a lot of fun.
Will you do more crime stories after this one?
One hundred percent. I think I’m a crime writer at heart. I might go off and play in other genres but I’m always going to want to come back to crime stories. In fact, the whole idea behind Last Chance Crime was to give me series where I can just keep writing crime stories.
What else are you working on just now?
Cuddles has been taking up the majority of my time at the moment. I’ve got a couple of projects that are in pitch stages, and a couple of one shots that I can’t talk about yet.
I’ve also got a solid idea for the next Last Chance story. Just got to convince Marco and Shan that working with me again is a good idea.
You can also get hold of a copy through the campaign link below: