@’s by THE SQUIDDER’s
Now he’s got a new project, a 144 page hardcover graphic novel called THE SQUIDDER which will be released by his publishing company 44FLOOD and it’s being crowd-funded by Kickstarter here. Here’s what Ben had to say when I caught up with him recently…
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): So tell me a little bit about this new graphic novel, THE SQUIDDER.
BEN TEMPLESMITH (BT): THE SQUIDDER? Well, I do nothing but talk squid all day anyway. I've a love for all things tentacles and horror, so why not finally embrace it with a proper book I can let loose on? It's been a bunch of ideas in my head and in various notes for several years now. I just needed an overall narrative to fit a few things together and expand on the world I've created.
And that's where "THE SQUIDDER" himself comes in. He's a tired old man, built for a war long lost. He's got to come to terms with that loss and the changing world around him. None of those changes being good, mind you. Humanity didn't win. He's a vet, who lost everything and everyone else moved on. There's going to be lots of Squid religion involved, the heat death of the universe, ideas of control, propaganda…and a few sexy squid ladies and horrific fight scenes along the way.
And so many tentacles and Squid Things.
BUG: Squids seem to be your spirit animal of sorts, as they often shows up in your work. What is it about that type of creature, tentacles especially, that appeals to you?
BT: Well, who doesn't love cephalopods of all kinds? Tentacles are so much more…efficient than opposable thumbs! Squids, octopi and cuttlefish are so alien and beautiful looking, yet older than us, by far.
BUG: Obviously there are Lovecraftian themes at play in THE SQUIDDER. What other films, books, or stories influenced this story?
BT: Other influences for THE SQUIDDER? Well, a bit of Harry Harrison's WEST OF EDEN trilogy perhaps, actually. Roman history, oddly enough…all sorts of things. A love of Conan the Barbarian and Mad Max, as well as the overall Lovecraftian ways of certain pop culture these days. Learning of the horrible way veterans are treated in America, yet culturally held up as figures to be strangely deified at the same time. I'm not really sure where this thing is coming from. So many little things that I took from. I do worship a Giant Holy Space Squid, so it's probably his Tentacle of Power that guides me in the end. HAIL SQUID!
BUG: Most of your books, I'm thinking of WELCOME TO HOXFORD and especially WORMWOOD: GENTLEMAN CORPSE, have a dark sense of humor. Does humor play a factor in THE SQUIDDER as well?
BT: I'm sure it will, just not as much. I didn't have it in my mind that this would be a deliberately, overly "funny book" in tone. I'm sure there'll be elements there. I'm quite screwed up in my view of the world, so it's bound to seep in! I have other things, though, where I'm deliberately going to go dark and black in humour, later.
BUG: What made you decide to go the Kickstarter route with this particular project?
BT: I guess these days the better question may be "why not?" Why not go direct to an audience, why not cut out a middleman who would dictate price, structure and potentially seek rights control for the mere act of fronting a relatively small amount of money to print or an advance so an artist can eat while he or she works? Kickstarter and crowd funding have been a boon, I think, on the cottage industry that is creator owned ( and truly controlled ) works. Going direct to the fans, with enough support, allows way more creative freedom and an actual unimpaired vision from a creator--and above all else, the chance for that creator to actually share the most in future successes, since it was self-financed.
In the end, it's sort of a no-brainer to at least try that route, if there's enough support… and amazingly, I have incredibly supportive fans…and, uh, a large number of "tentacle enthusiasts".
BUG: If this were ever a film, who would you cast in the title role of THE SQUIDDER?
BT: Honestly, I've not thought about it and since even if it ever was translated to film, despite some early interest...creators don't get to cast roles…I try not to fantasize. I mean, Keanu Reeves as Constantine, Ben Affleck as Batman? Look at all the ideas people have for Jesse Custer right now if Preacher gets made! I'll stay out of casting, I think. I'll just disappoint myself. I have no idea who'd do him, outside of a resurrected Dolph Lungren perhaps? Russell Crowe or Ray Winstone maybe?
BUG: When writing or drawing your stories, do you see them cinematically? Are these movies playing out in your mind, or how do you envision them playing out?
BT: Yeah, I see them all cinematically in my head as I do them. It's really a big difference between working on my own work or working with a different writer. While I can interpret a script, I don't always see another person’s vision as a real thing in my head, shot for shot, the way I'd do things.
BUG: Being a fan of your work for a long time, I've seen your art evolve and grow through the years. Is there anything new artistically that you are trying to do with THE SQUIDDER?
BT: Hmm…more detail, more paint, some more mixed media, but really, delving more into some storytelling where I can let things breathe a little and also explore some other techniques. Really, just get back to the reasons I wanted to do comics in the first place. Explore telling stories, not just reinterpret someone else's vision.
BUG: Speaking of past works, what's the status with WORMWOOD: GENTLEMAN CORPSE and, especially, FELL?
BT: Heheh, once I get a few things under my belt with other creator owned books, I'll definitely be revisiting both. They're not dead, just frozen. And I've a promise made to Warren.
BUG: What do AICN readers need to know about THE SQUIDDER which will convince them to fork over their hard-earned dollars to support for the book?
BT: Well, if they like comics on the darker side, with art that's…well, art, not just the "classic" comic look with it's bright candy colours and a story that's not written to a corporate formula to go on as an endless monthly always maintaining the status quo that's at least mildly entertaining...THE SQUIDDER might actually be for you. Plus there'll be an intro by Warren Ellis. Where he'll swear and tell you the secrets of the universe and such. Because that man KNOWS.
And of course, it's being put out by the startup outfit I'm now a part of, 44FLOOD. We're just a small group of people sharing a studio, not some huge publisher with deep pockets. We're doing all this ourselves, and the only way we can get things out there is by direct support of amazing people grabbing the things we produce or wish to produce. We're about the art first, the commerciality second, and about bringing the fine arts into the comic realm & vice versa.
BUG: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions.
BT: Thanks for asking, Mark!
BUG: If this interview has raised your interest in THE SQUIDDER, support the project on its Kickstarter page here!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Mark’s written comics such as THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, DEATHSPORT GAMES, NANNY & HANK (soon to be a feature film from Uptown 6 Films), Zenescope’sGRIMM FAIRY TALES Vol.13 & UNLEASHED: WEREWOLVES – THE HUNGER and a chapter in Black Mask Studios’OCCUPY COMICS. FAMOUS MONSTERS’ LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (co-written with Martin Fisher) will be available soon in trade. Mark also wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK and its follow up THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G