Review: Winter City
David Holloway is Bleeding Cool's Australian correspondent
Winter City is far from unique as a self-published comic hoping to do good – but I have to say it's one of the most polished ones I've seen this year. Co-written by Patrick and Carl Purcell, with pencils/inks by Pablo Verdugo Munoz and colours by David Aravena Riquelme, it's an Australia-based international collaboration. When I received the first three issues, I kept expectations low but was more than pleasantly surprised by what I both saw and read.
On the face of it, Winter City is a bog-standard gritty urban tale involving some horror elements. My first reaction, something I ask the creator about below, was that this was a Spawn wannabe. On a full reading I realised that wasn't really a problem, in that some of the better elements of that series (great art, underworld themes) are evident here, with enough of a unique approach to keep it fresh. The young boy who appears to be at the centre of the story, is particularly well written and the art here is at its best as well. There are certainly some clunky stereotypes that pop their head up at times, but no worse than a lot of mainstream books I've read this year.
After two read-throughs of the three issues released to date, I want to see more. If you like an engaging story with multiple threads, family angst, hardened cops and the odd violent death, then Winter City delivers that nicely.
There's plenty more of this series to come – we had an email chat with creator Patrick Purcell on the series:
DH: Can you give a potted history of how the creative team for the book came together?
PP: I had been playing around with a story idea involving a grim reaper inspired serial killer for a number of years. I had a very clear idea of how it would come together, who the characters would be and how the mystery would unravel. Unfortunately for me, with a career and a young family, I couldn't find the time to write my script. One night in early 2010, I was having a few drinks with my younger brother Carl. I decided to pitch my story idea to him. To my surprise, he was really excited by it and he offered to write it for me. He wrote the script, I edited it. Eventually we hammered out a twelve part story that I believed would be really appealing to horror/thriller fans.
I attempted to draw the comic myself, but again being very time poor, I struggled to make any meaningful progress. In all honesty, my artistic abilities were not really up to the task either. I abandoned the project for a few months while I came to terms with what I had to do to make Winter City a reality. In the end I concluded that I would need to hire a professional artist to draw my comic. I discovered both Pablo and David in November 2010, through DeviantArt.com. Both Pablo and David were promoting themselves as comic artists for hire. I commissioned them to do a single page. The results were far better than I had ever expected. I immediately got them both to sign contracts and we all set to work making Winter City Issue #1
DH: What was the inspiration for doing the book?
PP: My initial inspiration came from Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. I like the unstoppable, super powered villain and I always felt that the Grim Reaper/Death would make a really great one. I have a thing for the Grim Reaper and the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Over time my vision for the Grim Reaper character morphed into something more realistic. A Hannibal Lecter / Jigsaw / John Doe from Se7en type character. An extremely deranged serial killer, suffering from serious mental illness, who thinks he has been possessed by the Grim Reaper. A character mostly grounded in reality.
I think it might have been around 2008 when a concept entered my mind that I found really exciting and intriguing. I asked the question, what if Bruce Wayne wasn't a billionaire with a life of privilege? What if he had had an abusive and damaging childhood? What might Batman have looked like under significantly more painful circumstances? I figured he might be one of the most terrifying, remorseless vigilantes imaginable. I suddenly had my story. It made sense, it was going to be a huge amount of fun and I knew it was worth telling.
DH: How long do you see the series running for?
PP: For now, Winter City is a twelve-part origins story. The story will conclude in a very exciting and dramatic finale, but we are also simultaneously laying the ground-work for a larger arc that will be 36 issue or so.
Winter City has the potential to exist indefinitely. We are creating a world that has unlimited potential for horror, adventure, action and drama. All will depend on how much of a fan base we can build.
DH: For me the book seems to make a very big nod to Spawn – both in regards to the art and writing. Has that been an inspiration either directly or indirectly?
PP: I wont deny being a Spawn fan, but mostly just the early stuff. The similarities between Winter City and Spawn are only superficial. There are no supernatural elements to Winter City and we are working hard to ensure the story is as real and emotional as it can possibly be – even our Grim Reaper's glowing eyes have a back story that we'll cover before long. Spawn, on the other hand, is all about larger than life super powered creatures from heaven and hell.
Bio: David Holloway is a freelance writer based in NSW Australia – you can find out more about him here (http://www.daveholloway.com)