Review Fix chats with “Spring Heeled Jack” creator Tony Deans who discusses issues two and three of the new comic book series that pits Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his mentor against a baddie they’ve never quite encountered before. Discussing the growth of the series, in the face of its criticism and successes, as well as the future of the series, Deans gives us an inside look at the cool independent comic book series.
Review Fix: What did you learn from Issue One and how did it affect the next two issues?
Tony Deans: After the release of Issue One I have to say that it was a real eye opener in the realities of getting your comic out there and more importantly making sure that people are reading it. The reaction to Spring Heeled Jack, especially critically was for the most part extremely positive which is always nice to hear about any project you work on but especially on your debut. The real difficulty for me lay in ensuring that people were hearing about the release of the comic and the fact that it is worth reading. Now the critics helped with that as it’s easier to sell a book if you can let it be known that that what readers are buying has been well received but at the same time there are budgetary constraints limiting the impact any new release can have if it isn’t published by the big companies who have the financial clout to widely advertise I have to say that my choice to go for a publisher who provide at least some support was in hindsight a good one. As a new writer I can’t imagine that it’d be viable, especially in today’s comics market, to get your name out there without having at least a little bit of support from others in the industry. So for the next two issues the trick is getting the word out there to make people want to read and finish the story.
Review Fix: How will the change in art direction affect the series?
Deans: Not too much. Honestly the comics have all been written for some time, it’s just the process of drawing that seemingly takes time. I completed the series last November so it’s just been a matter of having Martha and then Seth complete the pages. I will say however that Seth is different in so far as backgrounds and such come to the forefront a lot more whereas Martha’s style concentrated more on characters. As the city starts to play a much larger role in the comic I think that Seth will really help to bring the fear factor and claustrophobia that I was looking for and allow the comic to be express such feelings better.
Review Fix: Where do these issues take us that the first one didn’t?
Deans: Although very well received, more than a handful of reviewers stated that they thought Doyle and Bell were essentially Holmes and Watson with different names. Now it’s true that obviously I wanted that dynamic but if you read the next issues (and reviews have noted this) you start to see that they are really their own characters who will commit actions and say things that you wouldn’t expect and that the relationship between the two goes far beyond that of Holmes/Watson. Furthermore, the horror factor really starts getting ramped up and readers who like a scare will be in for a treat. I think being completely helpless against a threat is truly terrifying and we start to see that us mere men don’t really stand a chance against the likes of Jack. Let’s just say that after reading the next couple of issues, I think people will start being a lot more grateful that Jack decided to disappear and isn’t around today!
Review Fix: For those who haven’t checked out the series yet, why do you think they should?
Deans: I think they should check it out if they want a change from most comics out there! Honestly the tone is very different from even previous incarnations of the character and what’s more it’s full of references, some obvious and some less so, that would make any fan of Arthur Conan Doyle, Spring Heeled Jack or even the Victorian era in general very happy,
Review Fix: How do you want this series to affect readers?
Deans: Ultimately I want readers to be getting chills as well as enjoying the characters and their journey. What’s more, the fact that I think in Jack we’ve got one of the best legends out there depicted in a way that readers probably haven’t seen before and is truly scary. I’d like to hope that more people become aware of him so that they can read up on what is the favorite legend of my native city, London. Forget Jack The Ripper, this guy was really nasty and unlike many legends there’s a lot of basis in fact on him. Now I’m sure some aspects were exaggerated but for the most part there was somebody out there terrifying the capital city of the largest empire the world has ever seen and I’ve tried to stick as close to these facts as possible in the story. That’s why I think it’ll really scare a lot of readers which is ultimately my main goal.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite element of the next two issues?
Deans: I don’t want to ruin it but let’s just say that the appearances of Jack are my favorite, especially in Issue 2. I always felt that The Joker (my favorite villain) shouldn’t be in comics that much because it makes it a lot scarier to have a figure like that appear when you least expect it. Obviously this is a by-monthly release so we don’t have the luxury of time to build up suspense over a period of years but without I doubt I like the fact that Jack really isn’t in the comic that much but when he is it means a lot and inevitably draws a few gasps from readers. The ending of issue 2 is in my opinion the finest moment in the series so far and issue 3 introduces elements that will pay off in a big way come issue 4!
Review Fix: What’s next?
Deans: Well we’ve got the final issue to come out and that marks the end of the journey of Spring Heeled Jack. We’ll have to see about sales to see if a paperback version is viable and of course I’d like to have one out but we may have to go via Kickstarter for that. Honestly I’d love to have a small print of about 100 graphic novels all of which I would sign and contain the original scripts, some extras and so on and have them out there and once they’re sold, that’s it. I think graphic novels are far too expensive nowadays so I’d like to sell them for a bit cheaper so that people could actually afford them. It’d be nice to create something for the fans who really care and which actually would have some value out there and be special for people who own them. Of course, it may prove that a higher level may work out better but that’s my ideal scenario.
I’m also sending out next week the official submissions for Hylox a completely original idea of mine that in my opinion is a significant leap in my writing. It features artwork by the extremely talented Patrick Mullohand and is lettered by Kurt Hathaway who I was very excited to work on the project. He’s worked for DC, Marvel and Image and has even lettered issues of Batman. I’d read some of his works when I was just a comics fan which I loved so to have him offer to work on the project was mind blowing. It’s was a great feeling to be working with somebody so talent on your second mini-series. The series itself is about a young African-American writer who after the death of his Grandmother goes back to the town of Hylox, where she escaped slavery in order to write a book about his families history but when night time rolls round, he’ll find that the sins of the past aren’t easily forgotten. I have high hopes for the comic and I’m extremely confident we can find the right home for the book!
Overall it’s been a great ride with Spring Heeled Jack and I can’t wait for the release of the final issue and to carry on with this wonderful journey that comes from creating works in medium that I love more than any other.