featurebanner_ashes_featuredkickstarterAshley Neuhaus 21-MARCH-2013 I’ve been slacking on digging through the projects of Kickstarter and bringing them here to spotlight. The newest project I bring to you was delivered to my inbox by Amber so I’m still slacking. ASHES is a great story regardless of how I came to know about it. We’re all used to the spandex and capes stories when it comes to heroics but Mario Candelaria brings a different kind of hero to the world. He gives us Matt, an NYC firefighter who suffers from a career-ending injury. coverCandelaria has enlisted the artistic talents of Karl Slominski to bring this story to life. And you can see from the 18-page preview on the Kickstarter page just how amazing Slominski’s work really is. In addition to the preview, we’re also told exactly what the money is going to be used for. Some of the great rewards for backers include a PDF copy of the book, printed versions of the book, sketch cards, become a character, etc. The campaign for ASHES ends on April 27, 2013 and they’re only asking for $5,500. Let’s help bring ASHES to the masses. The pair behind the book were kind enough to answer some questions I had for them and I must say, they had the fastest turn around on these things so they are clearly excited about this book and getting the word out. AN: Was this your first venture into comic writing?

MC:  Not really. Back in high school I wrote a script for a parody comic featuring a Frank Miller Dark Knight-esque Hamburglar who declared a one man war on other fast food mascots. My good friend, and Kubert School alum, Colin Crose drew it during free periods and during our after school shifts at McD’s. Unfortunately I have no idea what happened to the pages but that was more of practice in the form of a joke than anything else.

My first real attempt at comics didn’t come until 2009 when I created a mini-series with the amazing JC Grande titled LA FAMIGLIA TARGIA. The story is about a super powered but lazy Italian-American teenager whose legendary superhero great grandfather fought against Mussolini back in the good old days. It starts off with Mussolini suddenly come back from the dead seeking revenge on the Targia bloodline and (spoilers) it ends with time travel. To paraphrase the great Stefon “This book has everything”. Aliens, cyborg zombies, pirateship/starcruiser mash-ups, house parties, and clockwork horses. I was really on something else when we created this story.

After placing it on the shelf for a few years I am happy to say that we have signed a deal for a collected edition to be released through Arcana! We just need to get the old gang back together to finish the final issue but I’m confident we will hammer out the details and schedules soon.

AN: What made you want to write this kind of heroics story instead of a spandex and capes one?

MC: Superheroes have always been my main love when it comes to comics. From the age of three right up until today I’ve read almost every issue of Spider-Man and the various X-Men titles. That said, capes really aren’t for me. At least not at this point of my life. I’ve entertained a few ideas for a Magneto story or maybe even Red Hood should I ever have the good fortune of being asked to pitch something to an editor at the Big Two but even those are cemented in the minutia of real life.

I feel that I’m more Steinbeck-ian with a touch of Woody Allen-itis when it came to characters that really resonated with me, and since I grew up in New York I felt almost compelled to view firefighters as the ultimate amalgam of man and superman, a hero for the people but still of the people. Stories that feel like they can happen anywhere in the real world have a special place in my heart.

AN: You’ve destroyed Matt’s career in quite a debilitating way. Is that the worse thing you’ve ever done to a character

MC: I want to say yes but I recently wrote a short screenplay in which the main character’s marriage falls apart around her head. Emotional pain can be a lot worse than physical injuries if they affect someone in the right way.

AN: With a history in stand-up comedy, ASHES seems to be something completely different.  Did you find any difficulty in writing such a serious subject matter?

MC: That’s easy! I have multiple personality disorder so when it’s time to be serious I just skip out on my pills. But seriously, for me it is all about telling the best story possible. Life is both comical and tragic depending on the perspective that you choose.

AN: I’ll be honest, this is only the second piece of your work that I’ve seen and both are black and white. Do you ever color your work?

KS: Actually, I used to work exclusively in full-painted color narrative. I dredged through art school idolizing creators like Bill Sienkiewicz and Enki Bilal, their work is incendiary. I’m still hot on the heels of their bodies of work. I’ve got a couple things in tantilizing technicolor coming out in the next few months, so stay tuned on that note.

AN: Can you talk a little bit about the upcoming technicolor projects?

KS: Sometime in the next month or so I’ve got a sardonic homage to the eighties-inspired dark fantasy genre coming out written by Jeff Dixon called RUN LIKE HELL. Then after all the dust settles from these couple gigs, I’ll be finishing up my own book, IN THE COMPANY OF DEAD MEN. It’s a paradoxical acid-noir yarn about the end of the world- it’s kind of the bastard child of William S. Burroughs and Raymond Chandler reading old Amazing Stories comics to each other while listening to Pulp’s “This Is Hardcore” and taking mescaline. I’m probably over-selling it, I just needed an excuse to draw giant robots and fake science.

AN: On the Kickstarter page you said that you begged and pleaded Mario to work on this project. I’m intrigued…what sort of things did you promise him? Your first born? 1,000 virgins? A unicorn that poops gold?

KS: Ah, but these are the tawdry secrets of the ultra-elusive comic book nobodies. I can say that it’s slightly cooler than a talking cat and about par with a flying car.

sampleAN: I really love the panel layouts in the preview given. How much of this is Mario’s description versus letting Karl do his thing?

MC: I like to give some general direction in my scripts but unless I am very adamant about a specific shot I like to let Karl run with what he feels is best. Karl even managed to drop a page off the preview without me even knowing!

KS: Mario’s actually really receptive to me going completely off the reservation and playing around with the sequential aspect of the story.  I think any time you’re telling a story that’s grounded in real world logic, you’ve got to keep the camera moving to play up the drama. I think a lot of mainstream comics are debilitating themselves by focusing too much on the !biffbampowaction! and letting the character interactions play second hand. Some of the best stuff out there, whether it be indie or from the big two, is when the artist can make a conversation between two people in a room JUST as exciting as someone tearing a car in half with their bare hands.

AN: Is ASHES the start of a beautiful partnership in creating amazing comics?

MC: Totally! Karl and I already spoke about working together on a short story for my collection of stories titled THE RECEPTION when this is over. He has such a malleable style that I’ve already constructed a few ideas for something a tad more on the humorous side.

KS: We’re actually planning on doing a shot-for-shot adaption of Short Circuit as soon as I convince Mario that’s the best idea of all time.

AN: Do either of you have any convention plans this year?

MC: I will be at SDCC and NYCC, but I attend them as a fan. I think I’ll be at Baltimore Con and Wizard World Philly too but that’s up in the air. Karl spoke about promoting ASHES at cons but we’ll see how the funding goes. I am an avid social drinker so I’ll more than likely be found at the bar.

KS: Potentially. I’m not the most gregarious person in the world and I suffer from severe work-aholism, so maybe if someone dangles Jameson or baked goods in front of my face I could be convinced to play nice with the other kids on the playground.

(I have told Karl that I can certainly dangle those, among other things, in front of him if it’ll get him to come hang out at a convention).

AN: Where can people find you and more of your work?

MC: I have a few pages from a very short noir style test comic with Colin Crose that I hope to revisit on my Google Plus page, and starting on March 21st nine chapters from my personal short story collection THE RECEPTION will be featured as a regular monthly webcomic on Trip City. The first chapter features a story drawn by Victor Santos (MICE TEMPLAR, FILTHY RICH). I have been fortunate to work with some amazing people on what I like to call my “mix tape” such as one of my personal comic book idols Dean Haspiel.

I also have a twitter but i must warn that it is a very personal one in that I will tweet anything and everything that comes into my head. It is a bit more filtered than it used to be but if you love fledgling ideas for jokes please add me @TheOtherMarioC (funny story behind that name). No Facebook for me but I can also be reached by messenger pigeon and disturbances in the force, but that’s for use ONLY in emergencies.

KS: DeviantArt, Tumblr, Blogspot.