New Pledge Levels Unlocked on the Sherbet Kickstarter
Seeing as we’re right in the middle of our pledge period, we’ve decided to unlock some new pledge levels. Rodney Ramos (Transmetropolitan, Green Lantern, Toe Tags) and Nate Bear (Three Armed Squid, Bear Brains) have kindly agreed to offer up some pretty bad-ass original art rewards for any bastard interested in upgrading their pledge. Both come with everything in the $25 Bastard Book Itself tier and these are limited to one backer each. If you want one, you can claim it by going to the main page and upgrading to your pledge to the desired tier.
Pledge $125 or more
BEAR-BRAINED BASTARD - Do you love NATE BEAR’S art as much as we do? (Hint; we love it a lot). For $125, Nate Bear will draw an original Sherbet Lock image just for you, and we’ll mail it over along with a signed copy of our TPB. Also; PDFs galore!
Pledge $150 or more *
NIGHT OF THE LIVING BASTARDS - Friend of the book and acclaimed inker of… let’s face it, everything you love; RODNEY RAMOS has offered to do an 11x17 convention-style commission of any character you want him to draw. He’s also throwing in a signed copy of TOE TAGS, the comic he worked on with George A. Romero and Tommy Castillo. (I’m sure it goes without saying that you’ll also get a signed copy of our TPB and the PDFs).
*Great for ZOMBIE fans.
Lots o’ love,
Why Do I Write/Read Counterculture Comics?
Counterculture comic creators are spiders lurking in the darkest corners of the industry. Sure, we’re little, but I like to think everyone is scared of us. Maybe that makes me a spider with delusions of grandeur, or at least one with an altered perception of reality, like those mescaline spiders I keep hearing about.
I personally didn’t set out to write an indie book. I started writing my peculiar Sherlock Holmes-inspired comic in around 2009/2010. Back then I think House MD and the first Robert Downey Jr. movie were the extent of prevalent Sherlock Holmes-inspired media, and with my (sick) British sense of humour, I felt like I had something significantly different and unique to say about the subject matter.
Sherbet was inspired by a lot of other things besides Sherlock, though – the recipe came from combining flavours from virtually everything I love.
Being a lifelong fan of the world’s longest running quirky science fiction show; Doctor Who, so there are shades of that in my project. You can’t explain everything there is to say about Doctor Who in one sentence. There’s a big, sprawling, energetic mythology to it that took years to form and a format that allows them to explore virtually anything. I wanted that energy. I wanted a format that would allow me to tell any tale.
Then there’s the X-Files. I remember, as a kid, being excited to learn about these uncanny monsters, generally things that lived on the edges of society, in places where nobody would think to look. One week you might be watching a story about alien abduction, the next week it could be werewolves and the following week it could be some modern American horror tale akin to something Stephen King might write. I loved that creative combination of myth and folklore new and old and how that was woven into the procedural story of these characters whom you quickly grew to know and love. I wanted to write that.
Remember when they were possessed by bunny rabbits? Great episode.
My teens were misspent reading 80s/90s Vertigo titles, like PREACHERand Transmetropolitan and loving those books for what seemed like their complete lack of censorship (they don’t make ‘em like that anymore). You got the sense that anything could happen, that the protagonists could lose, sometimes in horrific ways. Ultra-violence could punctuate a horror scene, or become the punch-line to a cruel, yet hilarious joke. It wasn’t all grit though, beneath the grimy ugliness of those titles, there was enough humanity to make you care. You never knew entirely what you would get, and that made it exciting.
This was mainstream once.
Throughout my life, I’ve made a lot of gay, lesbian and bisexual friends. My wife is a proud, outspoken bisexual woman who faced persecution (starting long before I knew her) based on her sexuality. I love my wife and I love my friends. I wanted to represent them, whilst creating a fictional version of reality where such persecution wasn’t a factor. Clearly that isn’t the world we live in, but in the ugly world I’d write, this was a singular element I wanted to idealize.
I wanted to combine all of these ingredients and cook them in the Sherlock Holmes pot. What we ended up with was ‘Sherbet’.
When Joshua Mathus rendered my first script and I was able to read it as it was intended to be read, it was like the best birthday present I’d ever received. I asked to work with Josh, because he shared my sensibilities and my sense of humour, so he made the book look the way I wanted it to look. Together we’d created this weird city that ran on its own peculiar rules and was filled with its own uniquely curious characters. It felt the way I wanted it to feel and reminded me of the things I wanted to evoke.
In the months that followed I showed the short Sherbet stories we made to pros working in comics editorial and publishing. I got mixed feedback from them. One publisher told me I had too much going on, and should consider setting it in the present day, instead of the future. An editor told me that it felt a bit too much like a monster fact file. Another editor asked me if it had to be so grotesque and bleak. Yet another editor told me, ‘you can’t put a bionic whale on that page, are you crazy?’ Then of course, there was that one fellow who asked the most profound & reasonable question ever asked in the history of comics; ‘why lesbian?’
I have way more respect for the guy who was fixated on the whale.
The interesting thing to me, is that this feedback completely contradicted virtually all of the reader feedback I’d received. My readers seemed to like the flying cabs and the futuristic city. They liked the fact-file element (as I know I do). I’ve been told by multiple people that our ugliest and most nihilistic story; ‘Milk’ is their favourite. And that bionic whale? It’s probably our most popular single comic-book panel ever. Not to mention that, in response to that most profound and reasonable question, the answer from fans seemed to be a resounding; ‘why not lesbian?’
None of this is to diminish the value of those comics guys who took the time to read my work and give me feedback. Editors are a valuable resource and they tend to know their stuff. Ultimately though, a DC editor is going to tell you how to make a DC comic… and that might not be what you want to make.
The most valuable thing I learned from them is that my book is fundamentally an indie book, because I didn’t want to change it. Sherbet is different and weird and experimental and I like that about it. That’s why I think this specific title is always going to be an alternative comic. I just want to be able to write the sort of thing I want to read, and I don’t always want to read DC comics. If that means it only appeals to other oddball-kooks who love the same things I do? So be it. I’m just glad that there are some of you out there.
There’s not really a place for books like these in the comics mainstream. For some time, the tide of ‘mature readers’ comic books has turned away from the classic 80s/90s Vertigo-type stuff that many of us still hold in high regard (see; Sandman, Preacher, Transmet, Enigma, Invisibles) and towards books that are basically little more than Teen+ titles with casual, occasional swearing. There’s nothing wrong with that, most of the comics I read are Teen+. What it does mean though, is that the truly edgy, more brutal work has been pushed aside.
Back in the 80s, Miracleman from Eclipse Comics featured an entire issue revolving around the graphic depiction of childbirth. It stood out, because not every issue featured something like that. Some issues focused mainly on dialogue between ordinary people and a man who was now essentially a god. But that issue was there, it happened, because it could happen. Because Moore and Davis weren’t censored. And you know what? No one who ever read that forgot about it.
Where are you going to find that kind of thing in today’s comics?
I think the answer is away from the mainstream, on the fringes of the industry. The creator owned stuff, the webcomics, the small presses, the counter-culture comics.
(OK, granted, I don’t think I’m going to forget that page from Saga with the giant’s infected testicles swinging around, but we don’t all have Brian K. Vaughan’s industry clout. Image isn’t going to let just anyone publish a book with a giant’s nobrot in it…)