Category Archives: Ειδήσεις

Interviewing Mathew Reynolds, illustrator of The Mercenary Sea comic.

There are thousands of titles out there, vying for our attention each week, but a recent addition manages to grab it almost at once, turning out to be not only an interesting creation, but a work with the quality of a comic that could—in time—win the label “classic”, as well

Its name: “The Mercenary Sea”.

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So, how could we resist the temptation to arrange an interview on behalf of the audience of this comics community?

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However, while preparing the questions for this task, we realized that we needed to ask something a bit more “unusual” than questions on details about the plot and the characters of the comic —something that we actually do with our monthly presentations about this title—, or the way that the “Mercenary Crew” works to deliver the next inspiring issue each month.

Giving this matter a great deal of thought, it occurred to us that it would be more important to reveal something of the “mojo” and “the power of the craft” of this creation, than mere information, so we ended up with just four questions.

We hope that you’ll find them precise enough to give you a sense of the atmosphere of the comic, and intriguing enough to make you read some issues of “T.M.S.” and see for yourselves if the “prophecy” about a “classic creation” will be fulfilled some day…

And now, the torch goes to the illustrator of “The Mercenary Sea”, Mathew Reynolds, who was kind enough to give us a tour of his artistic philosophy and the worlds that he envisioned and brought to life for his readers.

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1. The structure of the script and the chemistry among the characters indicate that this creation took a lot of time to prepare. How long have you been working on the concept of «The Mercenary Sea»?

M: In many ways, Kel and I have been working on this since childhood. Kel speaks to me like a brother, a big brother. I have ideas, things I want to do with our characters. If he likes those ideas, he usually says «Ok, let’s think of the smartest way to use them». I’m emotional, fire and lightning, I’m always just waiting to unload an action scene, or a scene involving suspense, but I see the value in the «quiet scene» for dynamic balance.

Here is a good example of my dynamic with Kel. Kel is like John Carpenter’s THE THING. Measured character development, peppered with COMBAT and a laugh here and there. In the beginning, my approach was more like ALIENS. Relentless combat and a hopeless fight.

In Baseball, this is known as «throwing your arm out». Giving up all your best stuff in the first inning. Kel, in his way, has a way of telling me that I need to be cool, relax, and measure my adrenaline. In the end, we just wanted to make a solid little adventure story in the grand tradition of adventure storytelling. A diverse group of players that form a family.

Right now, we’re fighting to get up the hill. This type of story is really common, in all of our lives, in its way. We are all afloat on “THE MERCENARY SEA”, in one way or another. Seeking family and friends, while we weather the storms. It’s a comforting escape into a world where our heroes will never stop trying to reach a goal, or never stop loving each other, no matter what. I know some of the things these characters have done that you guys don’t know yet. Like ALL of us, they have done «questionable things». They have one another to stand by…they all become better humans together…well…most of them…some of them take the longer path. In that way, the characters are a lot like me. Like many of us.

2. There are many styles of illustration, but the simplicity of the line in “T.M.S.” and its harmonious balance—without impressive exaggerations—are not found so easily in today’s comics works. Did this approach result from the team’s collaboration on this comic title, or did you have something like that in mind before “T.M.S.”?

M: I had been studying TOTH’s work and the simplicity of animation character design. I did not know that this thing was going to be a color book. That was Stephenson’s thing, «It looks good but Reynolds is going to do it in color.» …That was scary. I was prepared for a b/w book…I had never done color before. Of course, NOW, I want to do everything in color. I spent several months just learning Photoshop and developing «Color Muscles». Fortunately, Kel was patient and a strange new creature evolved. I think it surprised us both. To Kel’s credit, and Stephenson’s too, they saw something in me-something ROUGH but workable. It’s a daily fight to get the work where I want it to be…as it should be…for me. I need something to fight for, I always have. (SO pretentious sounding) So be it.

3. The illustration and the scenario show that research has been done on the setup of landscapes and events. What we wonder, however, is whether you are relying on actual persons to develop the characters in the story.

M: I’m trying to hit acting beats with the dialogue. That requires research. Several actors from film and television light the way for me. Robert Shaw, Lee Marvin, Toshiro Mifune, Harrison Ford, Marlon Brando…Many others. Ford is actually an amazing physical actor. Watch him move in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK…next time you see it, just study his body acting…it’s amazing. From the opening sequence «SOUTH AMERICA, 1936» to the chase in Cairo…so solid. This is something different than what Brando brings. Brando brings a TON of facial and posture…Ford outperforms him with the action of body language. Ford is not as seemingly self-conscious about looking human/goofy…endearingly human and goofy…at least in RAIDERS. It’s so solid, his willingness to be one of us. Mifune, Shaw, Brando…those guys are normally in «Blade form»…bad asses. I love that too. I think in movement and then try to capture the peak moment of that movement. Kel writes in a way that I really see eye to eye with. Pat also brings a dimension to the table with his choice of expressions and sfx…my new favorite is «GAAAHHHHH!» The noise made after being struck suddenly. I love that one. GAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!

4. Do we discern a certain influence from «War Picture Library», «Ace» and other legendary war comics, or is it just our impression, because of the time period that «The Mercenary Sea» covers?

M: There is a lot of influence from the «Mens adventure magazines» from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Also the «War Picture Library» and James Bond film posters. Also the advertising art of G.I.Joe, paintings and illustrations of Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad, King Kong and, of course, Jonny Quest.

We thank Mathew Reynolds for his time and we wish him and the rest of the Mercenary Crew the best on their quest (Koji Ra and beyond…).

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