VERSA VICE

For the last year or so, I’ve been working with artist Adam Huntley on a comic book submission. I haven’t mentioned anything here for fear of jinxing it, but now feels like a good time. versa-8Early concept art

The idea came one slow afternoon at work after a couple of Red Bulls. I dashed it off and emailed it to myself in an over-caffeinated burst. Much of it has been re-worked and refined subsequently, but the energy of that original premise remains.

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Some character sketches adorning my walls.

Here’s an excerpt from my pitch:

Versa Vice is a superspy series, a melange of balls-out action and goofy hijinks. It’s about making something audacious – the kind of comic that can have both six-barrelled revolvers and homages to Van Gogh. It’s a salmagundi of the high and low-brow, a violent and funny book where everything is turned up to 11.

 Versa Vice is the story of soldier-of-fortune Versa Vice (probably a codename), and rookie FBI field analyst Bea Honest (unfortunately her real name).

Versa Vice is a full-on, fast-paced, funny caper – a comic book that feels like an over-the-top action movie. It’s arthouse action, like Crank written by Godard.

I’ve written scripts for the first two issues (which combined complete the first story), and the outline for the first six. Once I had these written, I set about finding an artist.

After a few missteps, I found Adam on deviantart.

Out of hundreds of artists I looked at, Adam instantly stood out. There’s a plethora of good pin-up and sketch artists but dramatically fewer that have experience doing full pages of sequential art. Adam is equally adept at both – I wrote to him pitching the story and he immediately wrote back.

Thumbnail art for page two

His style is perfect for the bright, pop tone of the story. His work jumps off the page – to me, it’s in that sweet spot whereby it’s realistic without being gritty. It’s heightened, kinetic super-fun like some beautiful amalgam of Darick Robertson, Mike Allred, Phillip Bond. And his art moves – it’s visceral in a way that’s hard to explain or teach – none of his panels feel static. It’s the same type of smart-stupid as a good blast of punk rock.

Working together on it has been a protracted process, with life frequently getting in our way – Adam’s gotten married and I’ve become a father since we started. We’ve still never talked (Adam’s in California) but we’ve exchanged dozens of emails. In between the work back-and-forth, we update each other on our lives and have gotten to know each other (we’re both beardy comic and music nerds so there’s that!). It’s like having an old school pen-pal, which has been one of the most satisfying (and unexpected) parts of the process.

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A panel from Page 13

To say I am excited about this is an understatement – beginning with The Phantom when I was in primary school, comics have been an enduring passion of mine. And this is a story, while being far-fetched and wild, that has got a lot of me in it.

All art by Adam Huntley.

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