Inside Look: Matthew McLean on Forgotten 22

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In Forgotten 22, the devil is not necessarily) a bad guy. He just might be man’s best friend, heck, he might even be a figure God uses to help clean up His messes (read my introduction to the story here if you haven't).

Now, strangely, Red, as I prefer to call the devil, has always been a team player.  A leader, yes, but he's always bringing people to his side and thus enters Dakota, the protagonist, soldier, sheriff, bounty hunter, and ruler of his little portion of Hell.  There's a job to do and he's there to do it…

Page 1

Whatever function you serve as creator, be it artist, writer, inker, or whatever, you're collaborating with others when it comes to making comics and that means, at some point, getting to know some stranger you've never worked with before.  Which means there's a point where you're unsure if that person is going to be able to keep their end of the bargain.  In Stefano's case, when he finished page 1, those worries were laid to rest for me.

While the first page isn't relevant beyond the first issue of Forgotten 22, I think it sets the tone for the entire work.  Sure it's dark, but it's a comforting scene, with a nice house, in a good neighborhood, and a child sleeps comfortable in a big bed.  But there's something underneath it, something nasty and vile, waiting.  A bit like life that.  Stefano has captured the mood of, not just the scene, but the entire book.

Page 2

OK, so maybe this is where I knew Stefano was the artist for the job.  Forgotten 22 is an odd beast, a Western that isn't a Western, a drama that takes place in this life and the next, so the more naturalistic artists that I knew really wouldn't have been a good fit for the book. 

But as an alumni of 2000 AD and Heavy Metal, Stefano had drawn many a strange thing with a line heavy style that was a part of this world, but something entirely it's own.  It was a fantastic match.  Plus, just check out those wind lines in panel 4: There's no amount of prose that can convey the loneliness of that panel.

Page 6

Our first really good look at Red, or as close a look as you can get without going mad.  One thing I always loved about the original Night of the Living Dead is it never uses the word 'zombie'.  So the words 'Satan' or 'Hell' never get used in Forgotten 22, but but with a simple drop of red, Stefano makes removes any doubt as to who it is were talking with. 

Along with the heavy lines that make the wrinkles on his face and a bit of subdued dialogue, that first panel makes me about as happy as any single panel I've ever helped make.

Page 8

Here's where we seal the deal.  The most significant thing here is Red's dialogue Panel 4, “Then it's time to earn yer daily bread.”  That part of the Lord's Prayer always made me think a bit.  I mean, who alone works for their daily bread?  Well, a slave does.

Page 9

This page is Forgotten 22's first jump back into the world of the living and is a tricky transition, at best, given that it happens so suddenly.  There's no scene change, no dissolve, just BANG! back in some nameless city just as it's getting dark, with Dakota hard at work in the middle of his first job.  Not an easy task for any artist to pull off, but Stefano's grasp of tone and atmosphere makes it look easy.

Page 14

“Who are you? What is this place?” More important questions have, perhaps, never been asked.  In addition to being another tough transition for Stefano, this is the first physical sign that Dakota won't be alone in his town.  Yes, he is Red's hunter, but he's also his chosen, a prince of Hell, given absolute authority in his domain.  That becomes more...apparent later on.  

But to see that you'll need to pick up Forgotten 22 #1. The Diamond Order number is MAR111247. 

Forgotten 22 is written by Matthew McLean with artwork by Stefano Cardoselli. Follow Matthew McLean on Twitter (McLeanSix) or visit his website at madbastard.hypersites.com.

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