Black Wing Comics have announced a kickstarter for their first ever release, Toy-Z.
Described as ‘Toy Story meets The Walking Dead’, the new release will be set in a post apocalyptic world, where most of mankind has been turned into zombies. Toys suddenly find themselves in this new alien environment where they have no meaning. Cliff has described the story as a metaphor for ‘loss, redemption and finding yourself’.
Cliff Hughes and Nicci Thompson, co-writers and creators of the new Black Wing Comics TOY-Z: THE BALLAD OF MR HUGGLES, have announced that they will be launching a kickstarter to help fund the project on the 6th of June 2017.
I had the pleasure of meeting both Cliff and Nicci at Granite City Comic Con 2017, where they briefly discussed this new project. Recently, I got to sit down with Black Wing Comics creative director Cliff Hughes, to discuss Toy-Z and the kickstarter campaign. Check out the full interview below;
“Can you tell me a bit about how Black Wing Comics was founded?”
Well it is a bit long winded. I met Nicci through media work I was doing, and we started talking about comics and we thought it would be cool to make comics ourselves. So, I started doing it under a different name, and then we thought it would be a bit difficult for him because he was part of Crow House and Black Wing, and then being part of a different company making comics. Then I met the Crow House and the Black Wing guys, and we discussed what we were going to do, and it was a no-brainer to get on board with them, with everything they were bringing to the table. So, we stopped the old comic book company, and that has now become part of Black Wing, that I will be sort of running the same as I was before.
“So, will Toy-Z be the first comic from Black Wing comics?”
Yeah, our first release will be Toy-Z.
“Toy-Z, it is said to be part of an ongoing series. Do you have any other comics planned for the series?”
Yes. At the moment we have another comic in production called ‘McKenzie’, which is quite similar, but also not. It’s the same, but different, to Sin City. It’s got that noir, vigilante kind of feel to it. We will then have a little break, sort of a debrief on the Toy-Z kickstarter and then that will hit kickstarter as well.
Funnily enough, the artist we got for that one got on board because he was doing story boarding for the Crow House film, so we met through that, and he was on board with doing a comic with us as well.
“The story is described as Toy Story meets The Walking Dead. Can you tell me just a little bit about how this story was inspired?”
Not long before I moved up to Scotland, I came out of a long, like a 12-year relationship, and I always wanted to write about the experience coming out of that and how things were. I could never think of an idea, as I didn’t want to be that blatant, or a decent vehicle for it. Then I was watching ‘The Big Bang Theory’ one day, and it was the episode where Leonard was crying at ‘Toy Story’, and then I got the idea of a world where there are hardly any humans, but you still have these little toys and how do they cope by themselves in a completely alien environment. I thought it was a good metaphor for how I felt at that time in my life. That is kind of where the idea for the story came for.
“Have you always wanted to create a story for the zombie genre, or was that a spontaneous decision?”
The addition of zombies just came about as something to add to the world that the story takes place. I have had a published prose about zombies before. So, when I was looking for something to add to the environment, zombies were the thing at the time. I also quite like to take something that has been done to death, and create something new with it. I thought putting zombies in the ‘Toy-Z‘ would fit with that.
“I do think it will be a completely unique take, because a lot of zombie genres are starting to focus on the human element, such as The Walking Dead. Zombies are there, but the humans are the big part of it. I think it will be really good to add a toy aspect to that, and how they cope with not having anyone need them”
“So if you can, can you tell me a bit about the main characters and the journey they are going to go on?”
Yeah. So the main characters are going to be Kitty Kat, who is like a teddy cat, and we have Robert the Robot. Kitty Kat, now she was kind of loved. She is one of those toys that you got when you were a kid, and you still have them when you’re older. She is one of those toys, so she is a bit more streetwise than the other toys, as she has seen a lot more. She has seen people get older, she has been in a university environment and seen things like drug taking. Whereas some of the other toys are quite naïve, as they have only been around kids.
Her sidekick is the other main character, which is Robert the Robot, and he has had a bit of a different life. The main crux of the first big issue, what will be the second part of the story is built around him. He is not official merchandise, he was one of those toys who is given as a present, and it is quite sad. He was given as a present from a grandparent, and when the grandparent was there it was like yeah play with the toy, but when the grandparents are gone he was put in the bottom of the toybox and only pulled out when the grandparents were there. The working title was I Robert, and it is them trying to make this decision; do they save mankind or what do they do? They are like, “do we really want to save mankind?”
So, you find out a lot of his (Robert the Robot) backstory in what will be the second issue.
“So, will the question of saving mankind arise for some of the toys from the way they have been treated by their owners?”
Yes. So, this first issue is sort of an introduction to the Toy-Z world, and we meet this teddy bear who has been in a room with his owner since it happened. His owner is dead, and he has just stayed there with him, and then they take him away and he has gone a little bit mad. Then in the second issue we will start the main story arc. Then they meet this other toy who decides to try and take over the world, like he believes mankind has had its time. So this is where the dramatic “do we really want to stop the this?” and “Maybe this person is right” will fit into the story.
“The title is The Ballad of Mr Huggles, who is this title character?”
Mr Huggles is the teddy that they meet and they go on a little adventure with him. Again, he is quite a tragic character. Part of what we wanted to do as well, was to juxtapose this quite visual childlike look of the comics with quite dark stories. These are quite dark, dramatic stories.
Meeting him is the catalyst for what happens later. I do not want to say too much about it. So he is a teddy at the start of the zombie apocalypse, something happens, and he just stays with his owner as they decompose and die. The characters then meet him at that moment, when there is just a dead body, and then sort of take him away, and that is the catalyst for everything that happens after that.
“You are saying you want to have this juxtaposition of the childlike characters with darker stories, what kind of tone can readers expect from this first issue and the series?”
The first issue is for me, a very sad story. It is a tragic issue, like I said, with this bright artwork. What made us go with Ammar, the artist, is that he has done horror in this cartoon style. So, I think he is going to be perfect for the project.
It is almost going to look like a kids comic, and there might be a warning somewhere in there saying don’t give to kids, because there is going to be some really sad stories
“So I am going to assume that is going to be a more adult based audience for Toy-Z”
Sort of early teen upwards.
“You are launching a kickstarter to fund the project, could you tell me just a bit more about how you are going to go about it?”
It will be launched on the 6th of June, and it will run for thirty days. We are going to have a load of cool unique pledge ideas in there that we can do with the guys from Crow House. So, we are offering things like, someone will be able to pay to have their image used in a comic, where they can be a character in a scene. Our biggest pledge idea so far is a walk on part in a future film production, where you can get a day on set with the guys from Crow House and get a walk on part in one of their films.
So that is how it will be kind of running. I will be running it, and there will be heaps of updates. We have a Facebook group that will have all the information about it and a Facebook event and launch date. There are also the Black Wing pages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, where you can find further information about the project.
“What was the idea behind the unique incentives?”
We just wanted to offer something different with our comics, and we wanted to do the same thing for this as well. So, we just sat down and thought about what we would really want to do.
“You were saying recently that you had some toys to do a video. What will this video be for?”
Well Jamie has some good ideas for it, but I am not exactly sure how it is going to plan out. A lot of the kickstarters have little trailer videos, but I think Jamie is talking a lot about CGI and toys eyes opening and things. So, I am going to find out after I have been here, and meet with the guys.
“Is there anything further that you would like to add?”
What we have planned to do long term, is to have four or five different comics with a new issue quarterly. It will be almost a trade issue size, so you can get a bit more comic for your money, rather than trying to a smaller one each month. We will build it up, so the idea with Toy-Z is to have a four-issue arc. So, a quarterly run over a year of each comic, but they will be released out of sequence. You will get one a month but with four different stories and issues.
Also I can tell you about the team that are involved with Toy-Z. We were really interested in getting Janine who did art work for the comic ‘City of Lost Souls’, but she was just very busy and actually recommended Ammar. So we looked him up and lucky he was free. He is a graphic designer and he does his own comic called “Wart”, which is described as lovecraftian stories, and when I saw his work I was like, ‘yeah this is perfect’. So he came on board, and he was quite keen to get on board straight away. So, he is doing all of the art work. All the stuff you will see on the Facebook page is just pencil sketches at the moment. Once we get full colored stuff done we will start putting that on.
For the cover art, we have an artist called Charlotte Herbert. She is better known for her modelling career, she is one of the Suicide Girls, but not many people know that she has got a degree in illustration. She has got her own comic as well called Patient 23, and she has come on board to do the cover art for us. I think that will be really good, and that she will bring a lot to the kickstarter as well, for kinds of cross promotion. So, that is sort of the team that is going to be doing this first episode of Toy-Z. We are still undecided if we will keep mixing it up, or if we will try and keep the same team together. It just depends of people are busy or not.
“Sounds like a really good team! How did you all come together?”
With Ammar, we initially went for Janine because we liked her horror work, but then she was not available and she recommended Ammar. With Charlotte it was more of a punt in the dark, we just messaged her on Instagram through her modelling account, so we emailed her through that and asked if she would be interested in doing the cover art. Everyone involved has jumped on board with the concept quite quickly, and we are happy with that. That seemed to be a good selling point right there.
Be sure to check out the facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/groups/141849526359716/ for any updates and details on the kickstarter.
You can also follow Black Wing Comics on Facebook and Twitter:
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