At last, Massacre For Boys Picture Library #1 is out there – and what a corker it is! Featuring some of the most talented folks in the small-press world (and me), this work of wonder is wrapped up in a David Frankum cover that’s the equal of anything you’ll find in the pro comics world. For a full rundown of the contents, have a look at mastermind Chris Denton’s blog here. Suffice to say, you need to get your hands on a copy, and pronto!
My contribution, in collaboration with the awesome John Caliber, is the inaugural appearance of The Zen Fusilier, also known as Captain Appollinaire Sartre. Operating in the year 1901, Sartre is a Fusilier Marin who has spent considerable time in France’s eastern colonies and developed a unique philosophy and fighting style that fuses oriental wisdom with Gallic imperialism. Now, he fights supernatural horrors opposed to spiritual ascendance.
The character evolved out of a number of ideas and influences. The main one was my fascination with world mythology and folklore. Put simply, I love monsters, the weirder the better, and as my ‘Martillo’ collection suggests, I also love researching the supernatural lore of foreign lands and discovering the mythic beings that have haunted a culture’s imagination. Connected to this is my fondness for Hong Kong vampire movies, particularly the classic ‘Mr. Vampire’, the film which popularised the jiangshi or ‘hopping vampire’. Even the classic tv series ‘Monkey’, with its insistence that demons are to be fought, helped inform Captain Sartre’s mission.
Another very different jumping-off point was a song, specifically ‘A Shogun Named Marcus’ by the band Clutch, about a redneck samurai. This got me thinking about characters who embodied a clash of cultures, and led to my writing a never-finished comic script featuring a parallel world where different historical cultures had merged together. This was done mostly on the basis of my being able to engage in a bit of wordplay with their names, so it included Naztecs (Nazi-Aztecs, later used in ‘Spencer Nero’) and Kung-Fusiliers (‘Kung-Fusilier’ was my original title for ‘The Zen Fusilier’ strip.)
Captain Sartre was also a bit of a reaction against the aforementioned Spencer Nero from PARAGON, who was steadily and enjoyably evolving into a bit of an arse. As a contrast, I wanted write a character who really was a decent guy – who might be an eccentric, infuriating, never-loses-his-cool know-it-all, but was without doubt very moral, genuinely devoted to vanquishing evil, and completely lacking in pettiness.
So there you go. I am at present working on a new adventure for Captain Sartre - one that will see him visiting France's African colonies. Keep 'em peeled, and watch out for strange lights in the night sky....