Saluting the New Recruits - Part III

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The names of Ian Culbard, Nick Smith, Adam Adamowicz, Andrew Krahnke, Jacob Chabot and Rafael Silveira probably don't ring a bell with you. However, on January 4, 2006, you will become a little more familiar with these six gentlemen when they make their comic book debut in Dark Horse's New Recruits anthology.

In case you don't remember, the anthology is the result of the 'New Recruits Contest' Dark Horse held from late 2003 to early 2004 in the hopes of finding new talent. And the company did. The six finalists were asked to submit original stories, tales that will find their way to a store near you early next year.

Each Thursday, we take a closer look at one of these horsemen of the future so you can get more acquainted with them. On duty today is Ian Culbard.

Saluting the New Recruits - Part I: Andrew Krahnke

Saluting the New Recruits - Part II: Rafael Silveira

BROKEN FRONTIER: What do you do in real life?

IAN CULBARD: I'm an Animation Director who makes TV commercials and helps develop TV shows. 

BF: At what point did you decide to enter Dark Horse’s “New Recruits” contest?

IC: At the very last minute.  Basically, I saw it as a long shot and thought "What harm could it possibly do?"  I was just looking to get feedback because I thought, at the time, that getting published was just too much to hope for, but getting professional feedback about my work seemed a realistic possibility. So, the surprise was pretty overwhelming.

BF: Did you have any experience in visual storytelling before you sent your submission of to Dark Horse?

IC: Storyboards mostly.  Aside from that I've been drawing my own comics for my own amusement ever since I was a wee bairn.

BF: Many of today’s current writers and artists have been die-hard fans of comics ever since they were kids. Has becoming a professional comic book creator always been a dream of yours?

IC: Always.  I was brought up bilingually as a kid (I'm half English, half Polish) and took the long way round to learning to read English, so comics were great because I could understand them long before I could read what was going on in the speech balloons.  My essays in class, right up to the age of eleven, were basically comic books.  I had real trouble telling a story in prose, so I would resort to drawing it in sequence in little boxes on lined paper. An essay on the Battle of Hastings was probably nothing short of a graphic novel.  In a sense, I depended on the medium to communicate my ideas right from an early age on.

So, at the point when other kids aspired to walk on the moon, I wanted to write and draw Batman.  Not a great deal has changed. 

BF: If you read comics during your childhood, which books appealed to you the most, and why?

IC: I really loved and still love Mike Ploog's work in "Werewolf by Night" and "Monster of Frankenstein". They're great examples of really well constructed, precise and functional story telling. I snatched up the Essential Monster of Frankenstein book when it first came out.  Amazing work.  I loved Universal Horror movies, and "Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein", so I was sold on anything with the words "Werewolf" and "Frankenstein" in the title.

I also used to read a lot of Tintin, Captain America, Batman and Strontium Dog.  Those seemed to appeal to my sensibilities.  I remember I used to sit and stare at the artwork in the Tintin books for hours. 

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BF: What about the current comic book landscape? What are some of your favorite reads today?

IC: Street Angel by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca.  That is one heck of a great book.  I've been hooked on Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's "Ultimates" ever since Captain America yelled "What are you waiting for, ladies? Christmas?"  Ovi Nedelcu's Pigtale and The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman are on my reading list as well.   I'm also following "Seven Soldiers" at the moment and getting rather excited that Frankenstein is soon to make his debut. [Laughs]

BF: Has your perception of comics changed, both in terms of comics as a medium and how the industry works, now that you’ve got a story being published at a major company?

IC: So far, it seems to be fairly similar to the animation industry in that you have to get your head down and work hard to stay in the game, which is true of any creative industry. 

All the people at Dark Horse have been really great to work with and the advice and guidance Mike Carriglitto (the book's editor) has given me has been invaluable. 

BF: What is the story you submitted about?

IC: There are two stories. The first is Wild Talents: The God Machine. It's about two adventuring sleuths in Victorian London who serve as consultants for Scotland Yard and are called in to deal with a mechanical menace in Whitechapel. 

The Way of All Flesh is set in 1777 and is about the occupants of an Inn on the Great North Road who are beset by the walking dead.  It's a story of brotherhood and betrayal.

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BF: Why did you decide to enter the “New Recruits” program with these particular tales?

IC: The ad said something along the lines of: "all entries will be reviewed", which was bait enough for me.

What I initially submitted was an outline for a four issue mini-series of Wild Talents, along with a completely written and drawn first issue.  It featured a liberal helping of zombies, and given the company's track record with supernatural titles it seemed the most logical place to take it. 

When talk of the anthology came up I decided to change my submission to better suit the anthology format, so I wrote a self-contained introductory story, which took place before the events I'd set out in my original proposed four-issue mini-series.  And that's how Wild Talents: The God Machine came about.

The Way of All Flesh came up after the anthology had started up and came from a discussion Mike Carriglitto and I had been having about zombies and about my original Wild Talents submission. 

That's pretty much how I ended up with these two stories.

BF: Where did you get your inspiration from when conceiving Wild Talents and The Way of All Flesh?

IC: "Wild Talents" was inspired by gossamer wings and horned helmets or the Victorian's capacity for reinvention.  Fairies and Vikings were both reinvented by the Victorians along with many other things which we sometimes take for granted to this day, so that seemed to be a good place in history to tell a big fat lie. 

"The Way of All Flesh" was inspired by classic Hammer Horror films.  I grew up in Greenwich, near Shooter's Hill.  Tales of highwaymen were in no short supply when I was a lad. 

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