AMBER LOVE 22-NOV-2012 After several scheduling conflicts I was so happy to finally catch up with JOSH FINNEY and KAT ROCHA from 01Publishing to talk about UTOPIATES, CRAZY MARY and side projects.

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The 01Publishing open submissions for Lovecraftian flash fiction is max 2,500 words. They do have specific rules that writers should remember when drafting their work.

UTOPIATES originated as a short story by Josh but after receiving strong interest from a different publisher, he expanded it to several short stories. Josh’s background in the music industry exposed him to the darker side of “recreation” that many of these extremely successful and talented people turned to: heroin use. In UTOPIATES, people are addicted to programmable drugs that can be customized to illicit more than a high; there are things like “family” to be experienced.

“People would talk about heroin in religious terms — and I found that incredibly disturbing.” ~JF

Josh revisits the turning point in his past when he was shot. Then he exposes the “nightmares and demons” that creeped in which years later were diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Kat explains her understanding that the PTSD is something Josh has to deal with for the rest of his life. This channeled into Josh’s second UTOPIATES story about the paramilitary organization and soldiers/mercenaries.

(Around the 25:00 mark) Before you even delve into the stories, you’ll immediately notice the photo realistic artwork designed by the couple together specifically for this book. Kat’s talent for realism lent itself to the truthful plots of how all types of people can self destruct. Our discussion specifically hits on their – shall we say “bravery” – in not conforming to comic book norms of body types. There are varieties in ages, gender, ethnicities and yes, weight/size. The handling of human anatomy in mainstream comics is a slap in the face to the diverse population that reads and wants to create books that reflect humanity more honestly.

“The yellow-orange was again, you can never tell if that’s dawn or sunset, and I guess typically, I guess the assumption is it’s sunset and thematically that’s always been it’s kind of twilight, you’re on the edge of things; it’s neither night nor day, it’s kind of the weird in-between time. That was continually used over and over again when people were making decisions to set that mood.” ~JF

Josh was quite concerned changing the book from black and white to color. We discussed the color palette and the emotional resonance of the warm spectrum.

“Whenever the characters speak honestly, usually it’s in the stark light.” ~JF

Self-reflection was another theme which was addressed through the use of the amber gradients. Then red was used when important action happened.

“I’m here and I’m definitely committed to the project. I’m reliable and I’ll show up to the shoot,” Kat said about her likeness being used for the main female character, the drug dealer.

“She’s kind of representative of the drug itself,” Josh said about his mesmerizing drug dealer character.


There are some reasons that Josh and Kat don’t believe they will ever return to mainstream comic publishers. Both of them feel the treatment of female characters like Amanda Waller and Harley Quinn took 20 years of progress and went down the drain. CRAZY MARY, another 01Publishing book we discuss, was written by Michael Colbert with art by J.K. Woodward; it’s another fine example of a female protagonist that has unique traits and talents and doesn’t have to be a relegated to eye candy or seduction techniques. It was one of the top selling products for the first week it was on ComicsPlus. It has sold consistently well since. Perhaps there is a distinction between readers of digital vs. print comics in regards to their taste in visual material.

There is a prose anthology called URBAN LEGENDS set in the Utopiates universe in the works. There is also an exciting Utopiates audio drama in the pipeline featuring the voice of Denise Poirier (Aeon Flux).




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