Vitriol the Hunter (DEC120473) is a new IDW vampire book from Good Charlotte guitarist Billy Martin, and co-writer Brent Allen. With issue #1 set to come out on February 20th, we wanted to pick the creators’ brains and ask how they worked together to make this new six-issue series which — they say — can go on for 60 issues!
PREVIEWSworld: Billy, as you’re the artist for Vitriol The Hunter, can you tell us what illustrators have impressed you the most as a fan? Is there any particular artist(s) you would cite as a reference for your own craft, and what was it about his/her style that made you stand up and pay attention?
Billy Martin: The first artist that blew my mind as a kid was Todd McFarlane. I went in to the shop looking for Punisher or Batman stuff and saw Spawn #1, and the art was like nothing I'd ever seen before. That was when I became obsessed with wanting to draw comics. Before that I was a Disney freak. Still am! Spent a lot of time learning to draw by copying "art of" Disney books. So naturally I was drawn to comic artists who had an animated quality to them. Skottie Young is amazing, and Humberto Ramos is probably my favorite. I love Francisco Herrera's work, Ryan Ottley, and Sean "Cheeks" Galloway. Sean has been a mentor to me throughout the process of the book. Many times I hit a brick wall, and he was always there with something to spark my ideas.
PREVIEWSworld: Billy and Brent: What are the most frustrating things for you as writers? The conflict of your schedule with Good Charlotte getting in the way of deadlines? Or are you your own worst critics?
Billy Martin: Balancing the band and the book has been a real challenge for us for sure. Deadlines were almost impossible, but IDW figured that out right away and were cool about it. We realized it would make more sense to finish all six issues before releasing issue 1. I brought art supplies with me everywhere, I drew Vitriol in hotel rooms, tour busses, back stages, on planes, really anywhere I could. Writing wise, Brent and I wrote this story fairly easily. We had what we thought was six issues, but when IDW set us up with Denton, our editor, he told us we had more like 60 issues, haha! So we had to narrow down some ideas and tighten up this specific story arc. Yes we are our own worst critic, I think you have to be! I look at issue one and I cringe at some of the art. By the time I drew book six, I had learned so much about drawing comics I looked like a different artist. I'm always striving to better my skills.
Brent Allen: I seem to always be my own worst critic whenever I do something creative. I have an idea in my head and if I can’t get to that resolution in an interesting way it can lead to frustration. A fun aspect of co-writing with Billy is that he and I can be completely honest with each other. There were hundreds of ideas that we both thought of that the other person would say didn’t fit correctly into the story. The key is to be honest with yourself, and know that what you are discussing is for the betterment of the story.
PREVIEWSworld: What do you two want people to take away from Vitriol The Hunter? How would you like this comic to be received?
Billy Martin: Anytime someone from another area of entertainment (i.e. acting, music) gets into comics, readers are always skeptical. I certainly didn’t just slap my name on a book, this project means a lot to both Brent and I. I dreamed of making comics before I ever picked up a guitar. I want people to pick up Vitriol and read it and have fun. Hopefully readers will give it a chance with an open mind and enjoy it as much as we do!
Brent Allen: I think there are different morals and stories in Vitriol that different readers can take away from the book. For instance, what these people are going through as a society and community seems to be the same stuff that we are going through now. Their world has been plagued by global recession in the past, pinning them to feel like they should be further evolved technologically and as a society than what they are. They are also constantly being attacked by an outside “terrorist” source. The citizens of Basilika are scared to leave their homes and have reshaped their social patterns to blend them into a world that holds daily violent threats.
PREVIEWSworld: Once the 6-issue series is done, do you have any tentative plans for what comes next for this project?
Billy Martin: Well as I mentioned before, we have a ton of more stories to tell. This is just the tip of the iceberg for Vitriol and the world he lives in. We would love to keep the series going, so hopefully people will like it and make that possible for us.
Brent Allen: When Billy was moving from LA to the east coast I flew out to Oklahoma City to meet up with him. We drove in a car filled with cats from OKC to Nashville. We talked about Vitriol the entire 10 hour trip. There is a series epic ending already created, and we have enough material for quite a few arcs. I truly hope to be able to tell the whole story because it really goes to some fascinating places.
PREVIEWSworld: In this day and age of “do it yourself” over the web, do you both think that you’ll attempt more comic projects self-publishing for the web? Or do you think it’s best to stick with someone like IDW for your comic work? And if so, why?
Billy Martin: I think both options are great. This being our first fully-published book, it was nice to have IDW show us the ropes. I've learned a lot about the comics world that I didn't know before and could easily use that knowledge to self-publish something in the future. I'd love to draw a book for some of the characters I grew up drawing and reading about. Whether it’s with a publisher or self-published, I just hope Vitriol opens the doors for me to do more art in the comic book world.
Brent Allen: I think both methods work depending on the project that you are creating. Larger companies like IDW have a team of editors that really work hand-in-hand with your work. Most people think that a larger publisher would change the story in subtle or even larger ways to make it more to their terms, however, our editor Denton Tipton worked fantastic with us. He really let us go out and create the story we wanted and never put us on any kind of leash. In saying that, self-publishing is a fantastic way for artists and writers to tell the stories they want with zero rules. You have no deadlines and you call all the shots. However, it’s harder to get the book in a reader’s hands with a more DIY approach.