Coming this October from Source Point Press, Goth: Young Lovers at War is the first in a series of one-shots from writer Paul Allor, artist Seth Adams, and colorist Josh Jensen exploring goth in all its shapes and forms. The first issue focuses on the doomed love affair of two Visigoths in 237 AD. Bleeding Cool spoke with Adams about the comic, his art process, and goth in general. Read on…
Though the Diamond solicit calls you "exciting newcomer Seth Adams," this isn't your first comics work, is it? Where might indie-savvy readers have seen your work before?
Goth is my first published sequential work. I had a runner-up illustration in a Darby Pop Contest and I THINK Verotik published an illustration of mine in the mid-nineties before I stopped drawing for way too long. I also have done some illustrations for magazines and books here and there, but this is my first dive into sequentials. You are never too old to fulfill childhood dreams, right?
Goth: Young Lovers at War is a one-shot, but Goth will be a series of one-shots exploring goths throughout history, up to modern times. This first one is about Visigoths, but I noticed there are some visual elements (like Gerda's makeup, for example) and general melancholy that will remind the reader of goth in the sense of someone who is a fan of The Cure. Can you talk about tying these stories across history together, both in terms of story and also with the general concept of "goth?"
This was definitely the brainchild of the writer Paul Allor. I had just finished an online workshop class with Robert Atkins over at Comics Experience and I was on the forums posting my work. I'm not sure if Paul already had the idea brewing, but he contacted me there on Comics Experience and asked if I would be interested in collaborating. Paul mentioned "Cloud Atlas" with Goths, which hooked me right away. He had an idea for each timelines setting, and I started to think about the connective tissues between them all. It was decided at the beginning the character designs would appear throughout the series. From there it was sort of thinking about what visual elements could appear throughout a series while knowing I would want to vary the art approach on each book to best suit the story for each issue. Since we were starting with Visigoths, I wanted to incorporate little Gothic touch-stones. There is no architecture or wardrobe, so places like Gerda's make-up and the way interior scenes were "lit" were important for a "gothic" tone.
Despite opening the comic with several pages of a nude fighting ritual, I counted just one visible penis, which I thought was an interesting choice. If you're showing one, you've crossed the line into a mature comic, but despite having ample opportunity, the nudity (and violence) doesn't feel gratuitous in the way something published by, for example, Boundless does, something geared to titillate. What was the thought process there?
I finished this well before The Bat-Peen Incident, so I can't claim that as an influence. I'm actually a big fan of erotic comics and art, and chunk of my comic fandom has for decades orbited the Twin Suns that are Milo Manara and Geoff Darrow. I enjoy some gratuity here and there. With Goth, it was all about the story at hand and what best served that story. It was important to show this crazy ritual; to have these guys naked and fear-less on the opening page, training with their own brethren, in the falling snow no less, was Paul and I revealing just how stoic and tough these warriors are. The violence and the nudity through-out always tied into this specific story. After that I wanted any nudity and violence to just be an organic part of the story. The tone of the story didn't require for us to veer into erotica or over-the-top violence. All that being said, if a flaccid penis sell's more issues, maybe it will be "Cloud Atlas" meets a penis. I'll have to check with Paul.
What went into figuring out how to depict goths throughout history, particularly in the distant past as in this first one-shot, but also in more recent times where fashion is a lot better documented?
For the Visigoths there was a lot of internet research. From old paintings and archives all the way to battle recreations. All of the helmets and weapon designs were taken from that time period. Even though this isn't a historical document, those elements were important to me. I watched and now am a fan of The Last Kingdom, which influenced some of my design choices for characters. The locations and time-period were very helpful in designing the backgrounds and living quarters.
How did you work with colorist Josh Jensen to produce the final product readers will see?
Josh is the MAN. I initially planned on colouring the book myself. This a great time to give a reminder this is my first book. I coloured the first couple pages, and as I moved into the book Andy Schmidt and Paul VERY wisely suggested that it was starting to get muddy and pull focus from the storytelling. They were familiar with Josh's work and he did some samples. There is a page in there I hadn't quite figured out how I was going to colour and when I saw what Josh had done with it and how much better he made my art I was blown away. After that it was just what I assume is the regular back and forth of notes and specific ideas while he made me look much better than I am.
Were you influenced by any particular art, comics or otherwise, in choosing the style for this story?
While I was working on the book I was looking at a lot of other artists and how they solve "problems". Problems being "what is the best way to tell this story in this panel and on this page and hopefully have it still look cool." What needs to be in there and what doesn't serve? Andrea Sorrentino and Mark "Jock" Simpson were huge influences while I was working on this issue. In no particular order I always have Frank Miller, Ashley Wood, David Mack, Frank Frazetta, Bill Sienkiewicz, Klaus Janson, Paul Pope, Dan Panosian, Jason Shawn Alexander, Marc Silvestri and Hayden Sherman playing in the background of my skull, but I'm not sure that is always evident in my work. Just a reminder to be better. I think if I were to just start over and re-learn everything I would definitely be a Daniel Warren Johnson clone for a while. Maybe I still should. Nah, there can only be one.
Music is a big help too. I like to make massive Spotify playlists for when I am inking that have the "feel" of what I am working on. I can't listen to music when I am laying out and pencilling, as I find it too cognitively demanding at that stage.
What setup and tools do you use to create your art?
Layouts and Pencils: 90% Procreate and 8% Clip Studio Art on a 12.9 inch Ipad Pro. 2% Clip Studio using an Intuos Pad on an Imac.
Inks. Currently 80% digital and 20% analogue. Sometimes there are pages I just want to have exist physically and I have the urge to make a mess. I print out the "pencilled blue lines" and ink over them. I also like the idea of having pages to sell or gift, but I wasn't aware of much demand until AFTER I finished this first issue and started getting enquiries. Oops.
My Lucky Rotring Art Pen EF that was "charged" by having Jock draw a sketch with it at NYCC. I need all the luck I can get.
Various Pens – Bit of a pen junky. Pentel, FC PITT, Muji, Tashikuma, Kuretake and Copic Multiliners. Art stores love me.
Canson Comic Book Art Boards. I like that they are a little bit "toothy" and the lines get textured.
Deleter and Maxon Zipatones. I didn't use these on this first issue of Goth but hope to moving forward. I use them a lot in my other work. It's laborious but great fun.
Are you now, or have you ever been, a goth yourself?
Ah, in high school I was a bit more of a Metal and Grunge kid, with a closeted Hip-Hop obsession. I of course had massive un-requited crushes on the Goth-girls. Who didn't? Eye-Liner and Nail Polish have been in and out of my life at various times, but I look less Nick Cave and more bass-player in a Nu-Metal band when I don that stuff, so perhaps it was ill-advised.
You're also an actor. Does expressing yourself through performance affect how you express yourself through art, and vice versa?
I can't imagine one without the other at this point. I find them both at times exceedingly difficult yet my life would be hollow without them. I like to joke that I wanted to be a comic book artist as a kid and when I saw how difficult it was to make a living I decided to choose a profession that is even HARDER to make a living. It's been a great journey, and I haven't needed to bartend in seven years, so that's nice. From a practical standpoint, being an Actor and Film-buff have been very useful for comics. Even more so on the issue I'm working on now, as there is a lot of "acting" and a lot of characters interacting all at once. There is also something to be said for the DIY nature of comics, which is a bit more difficult, but not impossible with acting.
Both careers are very similar in that you are taking everything you have at your disposal to serve a story and hopefully inject it with life.
Why should readers pick up Goth: Young Lovers at War on November 27th?
Because the great Paul Allor wrote it. Because indie-comics and creator-owned comics are consistently so much fun. Because we want to make more of these (we already are.)
Pre-order Goth: Young Lovers at War from your local comic book store with Diamond code SEP191980.
GOTH YOUNG LOVERS AT WAR ONE-SHOT (MR)
(W) Paul Allor (A) Seth Adams
The first in an exciting, genre-bending series of Goth one-shots from critically-acclaimed writer Paul Allor and exciting newcomer Seth Adams! When a young Visigoth warrior named Dolphus finds himself spurned by his lover, Gerda, he throws himself into battle, seeking an honorable death that never seems to come. As desperation takes hold, Gerda works to save him… preferably in the most painful way possible. It's the third-century CE, and love… love will tear them apart. For the first time.
In Shops: Nov 27, 2019