Sign of the Hammer!

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Martillo: The Spanish Composition, Part One:

'Martillo' is a sell-out!

I don't mean he's changed his sound to appeal to a mainstream audience - he's as Manowar as ever. But the final copy of the first print-run is gone, which gives me the opportunity to do one of my perennially self-indulgent 'director's commentary' posts on the various chapters of the story. So here we go:



Chapter Cero: Maneras De Vivir (Ways of Living - the title came from a song by the Spanish rock band, LeƱo) is a four-page prologue that first appeared in Temple APA. I discuss it here. The original description of the character, from which artist David Broughton brought him to life, was as follows:


  • Martillo is a powerfully built, imposing man in his early 40s. He is fairly tall and exudes a sense of menace and solidity. He has a broken nose, a shaved head and a permanent look of grim contempt. He may have a few interesting facial scars if you so wish. However, he dresses in a priest's dark robes, complete with dog-collar, wearing a black cassock that makes him look like a shadow come to life. Around his neck hangs a huge ornamental cross. He wears very specific headgear, a remnant of his days in the Guardia - a black tricornio hat / helmet which gives him a distinctive and odd silhouette.


ABC #1: Including the two pages from ABC, a pro-government newspaper of Franco's era, was David's idea. I really liked how these came out - the masthead is quite authentic. Most of the stories in the first ABC frontispiece refer to later chapters of the book, but the 'Devil' story is all that remains of an idea for an alternate chapter in which Martillo would encounter Lucifer himself, ready to offer the priest some unwanted infernal aid. The 'Saint Xabat' story, meanwhile, is the first mention of an individual who would later feature in 'Gallo'.




Uno: Que Viene El Coco (Here Comes The Bogeyman) is named after a terrifying engraving by my favourite Spanish artist, Francisco Goya - the engraving was indeed the basis for El Coco's appearance, and you can see a rendering of it in the book Martillo holds on the second page of the story.



I think David did well to capture some of the ungodly horror of Goya's sheet-sporting nightmare: from the very start, I always knew El Coco would prove pivotal in resolving the overall plot of the book. This chapter also introduces Detectives Gallo and Moles - Gallo was based on Donald Pleasence (probably my favourite actor) in the film 'Death Line', and wasn't originally intended to appear in 'Martillo' quite as much as he did. However, I loved David's design for him and really began to enjoy writing the character's dialogue, hence his larger presence later in the book. By the time I'd finished writing the whole thing, I found I liked Gallo more than Martillo, which is why we gave him a spin-off comic rather than doing a straight sequel.


Dos: Martillo3. This is my favourite part of the story - I think this chapter is one of the best comics I've worked on,and a good example of the sort of thing I like to write. (Mad stuff, basically.) It's fun to see Martillo in a different context, and there's lots of little character moments I enjoy - his disguise (note El Coco on the shelf in the panel where he contemplates going undercover), the fact he wears a hair shirt to curb the allure of the prostitutes, and the fact he regards a couple of Frenchmen sitting in a cafe as somehow depraved. I also like the fact Martillo feels compelled to use Picasso's full (insanely lengthy) name - Picasso's response is an Eric Morecambe line. But the main reason I love this chapter is David's art - the way he handles Martillo's passage through increasingly abstract transformations is absolutely superb, and one of the best pages in the collection. His design for Dantalion is also excellent - I've toyed with the idea of the 71st Duke of Hell returning in 'Gallo'. Dantalion is one of the 72 goetic demons from the Lesser Key of Solomon - these fellas are a handy resource to plumb any time supernatural wickedness is required in a story, and if the sequel to Brahms & Liszt ever emerges, you may just see me returning to this source again...




Tres: Agony in the Garden. David had a free hand in designing the Knave of Thorns - here's one of his earlier try-outs:



This chapter is basically Martillo's origin story, and reveals his real name - Lucero Martinez. I figured we had to have a story like this, since I might never write the character again, and I wanted this book to be a complete picture of him. (The origin is hinted at in the prologue, where Martillo is shown battling a thorny, tendrilly thing.) I love the panel of Martillo trying to machine gun the Knave - David's choice of perspective is superb. I'm not actually so fond of my scripting in this one though - it feels a bit overwritten, though I quite enjoy the Knave's off-kilter speech patterns.



Right. Before the year is out, I'll discuss chapters Cuatro, Cinco and Seis, in Part Two of this post. That article will feature an unusual rota, the sound of David Broughton's brain frying, the unexpected horror of noses and why Martillo's beard grows when his other hair doesn't.

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