Mann Slaughter

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Archaia’s Some New Kind of Slaughter began in December 2007 but was put on the back burner due to the publisher’s restructuring. Now that it has returned, in completed form, artist mpMann talks to BF about the original flood focused series.In what has been to be one of the most unique titles of a series ever created, Archaia’s Some New Kind of Slaughter or Lost in the Flood (and How we Found Home Again): Diluvian Myths From Around the World centers on floods. Writer David Lewis and artist mp (Marvin) Mann worked together previously on Lone and Level Sands before embarking on the epic scope of Slaughter, which takes a look at different flood myths from around the world, crossing various nations, cultures and times.

BROKEN FRONTIER: You were away from comics for a few years, so what brought you back?

MPMANN: I was studying 3D modeling and animation at San Francisco State and an instructor invited me to provide a 240 page silent comic strip with two affiliated flip book style animations as a kind of sidebar piece to a book he was writing. The art was all to be done in 3d Studio Max and would blur the supposed boundaries between digital and traditional media. The book was Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Media (New Riders, 2002) Mark S. Meadows. Doing this project stoked the fires for more.

BF: You’ve previously worked with David Lewis on Lone and Level Sands, so did that make things easier with Some New Kind of Slaughter?

MM: I suppose so, in that we had developed an understanding of and respect for each other’s strengths and reliability accompanied by a trust in our mutual integrity. But the way we worked was quite different since this one (Some New Kind of Slaughter) we co-wrote.

The initial concept was Dave's and I had expressed some initial skepticism about it. By the time I was ready to try it, Dave was consumed by his doctoral studies and graciously permitted me to take the lead in outlining and providing a first draft. The first quarter of the book involved a lot of discussion and back and forth as we hammered out the concept and what we wanted. Once we had worked through that, the remaining 3/4 just flew along.

With both projects though, much of the initial discussion concerned what WE wanted to do, so it was never quite just "Dave has an idea, provides the libretto and I perform it on paper." We are currently discussing another idea and it’s very much a matter of back and forth as we work out what we want OUR story to be. This one may be "Dave writes and I draw" again, but it will be OUR story in a deep way. As a collaborative creator, you just can't ask for more than this.

BF: Did you help write scenes in Slaughter that you knew you wanted to draw, and how historically accurate were you able to be?

MM: I dunno about historical accuracy since the stories are myth, but I absolutely wrote stuff I wanted to draw and paced scenes in ways that I wanted them to appear. Dave did much of the first draft on the Noah story, which is about 40% of the page count, but Dave writes in a way that expresses his real understanding of the strengths and limitations of comics. His scripts are a dream to draw.

(Okay, okay, there was that panel in Lone and Level Sands where he wanted a long shot of a city and he wanted to see that it was covered in flies! So mostly he is a dream and only occasionally a nightmare.)

BF: It seems that Slaughter could’ve easily been quite an unwieldy project with its epic scope. Were there any difficulties you had to overcome when translating it to sequential art?

MM: Had we attempted to use even 50% of the stories we found, it would have indeed been unwieldy. So our first step was delimiting the volume.

We decided early on that we would focus in depth on four stories, with the earliest known, that of Ziusudra from the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh as the through line. These four stories weave in and out and are conducted in depth. Ziusudra is the narrator, his story explores faith and doubt. Noah is the richest and deepest, thanks to Dave's research and feel for family drama. It explores absolute faith. The Chinese myths of Nuwa and Da Yu were actually two very different stories, but I found a way to inter-splice them in a coherent way. It looks at duty and social obligation. The story of Sharon Boatwright is one I concocted whole cloth, and while it is intended to relate our themes to the contemporary world, its telling is the most dream-like.

The remaining stories are told more quickly at a single go and span the myths of the world... Africa, the Americas, Australia and a wonderful story from India are among these. These stories are then related as much by theme as plot, although a general plan of Warning, Preparation, Deluge and Aftermath helped to guide our placement and telling of these stories.


BF: It seems most of your work is somewhat left of center. Are you drawn to unusual tales?

MM: I guess, although I like a good genre story as well. But I do like myth and religion and stories with moral ambiguity. The Grave Doug Freshley (Josh Hechinger), due from Archaia in September is just good, clean fun, and Inanna's Tears (Rob Vollmar) coming in December isn't quite myth, but does deal with ancient religion in a very dramatic way. I have a few other projects up my sleeve that go back and forth between the left of centre and straight up genre fun. Hopefully these will see the light of day.     

BF: Is it satisfying to see your work, such as Slaughter and The Grave Doug Freshley finally in collected form, and are there any extras in the TPBs that we can look forward to?

MM: More than satisfying. I believe that the seen and unseen covers to the aborted pamphlet runs will appear as chapter dividers in the graphic novels, and both Some New Kind of Slaughter and Inanna's Tears will offer author introductions and guest forewords. Maybe the best extra is the exceptionally high quality of Archaia's print production.


BF: What upcoming work are you most forward to letting readers see?

MM: Gaaah! Why not ask me which is my favorite child? I will say this, The Lone and Level Sands was drawn first, followed by Inanna's Tears, Some New Kind of Slaughter and finally The Grave Doug Freshley. Each has its virtues, but I believe and hope that I've grown as an artist with each passing book. You'll have to read them all to judge for yourself. You might not agree.

The Some New Kind of Slaughter collection from Archaia is available now priced $19.95. Just look for the big turtle on the cover. It can also be ordered from Amazon here.

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  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg Aug 31, 2009 at 4:03pm

    Intriguing. The Lone and Level Sands was an interesting read so I'd like to check this out.

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Aug 31, 2009 at 7:00pm

    Yep it's definitely on my list as well once the massive pile of already unread trades and collections diminishes just a little. Lone and Level Sands was well worth picking up after all.

  • adlewis

    adlewis Sep 1, 2009 at 2:58pm

    Lies! All LIES!! ;-)

    (Except for my asking for a city covered in insects. That sounds about right.)

    Thanks to Kris & BF!

  • Kris Bather

    Kris Bather Sep 3, 2009 at 10:37am

    Hah! No probs David.

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