Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Interview with Garan Madieros of First Salvo

Garan was kind enough to spend some of his time and subject himself to one of our interviews. I have to say the more I "talk" to people in our industry, the more I realize that we have a great group of people in this business.

I also enjoy learning more about what drives the creators and it always enhances my appreciation of their material.

Jim: Who is Garan Madieros? How did you get interested in comics and what is your role in Contract (as a co-writer is listed).
Garan: Well let's see, I've been reading comics for as long as I can remember. They have been such a driving force in my life that I decided to attend the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. However, after graduating I really wanted to return home to Bermuda, which is not the best place to pursue a career in comics. *laugh* so I went to work in the print industry and then into advertising. I worked in an agency/marketing firm for about 5 years when I decided that I needed to get back to my first love, COMICS. So with the assistance from my wonderful wife I took the plunge and opened my own comic shop, which Bermuda had been lacking for almost a decade.

While I was in JKS, I had met Charles Shell, and we had always talked about working together on a book so when I contacted him and started telling him my ideas of what would become CONTRACT he was totally on board.

I am both creator and co-writer on CONTRACT. I like to be involved in every step of the process as well. Therefore, I am involved in the editing, lettering and coloring of the book. Also, I compile the finished pages for the printers and create the advertisements for the promotion of CONTRACT. I am pretty much a jack of all trades.

Jim: Who is First Salvo?
Garan: Well, when I open the Comic Stop, I started seeing a lot of the old faces from the past. Among those faces were Thad Branco and Anthony Cannonier, whom I had known for many years but lost touch with when I went away to school. They started talking about starting up a Bermuda based comic studio and before I knew it I was involved.

Jim: How did the idea of Contract come about? I think it had a Fifth Element kind of feel to it, a futuristic setting, but not worried about making a statement about the future just having fun with it.
Garan: It has been in the works for awhile now. I was a child of the '80 and early '90's, so I grew up watching movies like Predator, Aliens, Conan, Robocop, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. I read Jademan Kung Fu comics , watched Kung fu movies and anime and, of course, spent hours button mashing on video games. I wanted to incorporate that same level of fun and excitement in my book that I got watching, reading and playing those stories as a kid. I have had comments that the dialogue in CONTRACT is "snappy" and at times "humorous". That's what I want. It's that bit of humor, the contrast, that helps soften some story elements yet give an edge to others.

As mentioned before, Shell and I wanted to work on a book together. Shell brings that much needed other voice into the story. He has some fantastic ideas and is awesome with a hard science approach to stories which makes a great contrast to my more storyteller/character themed style.

Jim: You have a lot of artists listed for issue #1. Why?
Garan: Sometimes a particular artist is kept in mind for a specific story and we tailor the script to their style. However, each artist finishes their mini-series or one-shot. As you said our guest artist for CONTRACT's first issue is Dave Ross. Initially issue #1 was planned as our issue #0. A short lead in to the main story, but, Dave liked the characters and had such a great time with it that we expanded his work into a full first issue. We then had Sal Vellutto, who you probably remember for his run on Marvel's Black Panther contribute a Back-up as well as Kevin Sharpe who's previous works include Marvel's X-Treme X-men, DC's Superman and Batman and Crossgens Mystic and Sigil.

Kevin has finished a "Jessie Garrett One-shot" which looks fantastic, and Mark McKenna a veteran inker for over 20 years will be contributing some of his impressive talent over Kevin's pencils as well as Rich Ketcham another industry talent whose work is everywhere, including Runaways, New Excalibur and more .

Yvel Guichet, better known for work on Darkhorse's ArchEnemies and Aquaman has penciled a "Tsumi One-shot" with inks by the legendary Joe Rubenstein.

And last, but hardly least, Ariel Padilla artist on Tomo is taking the reigns as CONTRACT's series artist. He has really stepped up to the plate and every time I look at a new page of his I get chills. He has simple yet very dynamic style that captures some of the Manga and Anime like qualities that lead themselves so well to CONTRACT.

Jim: This I believe is First Salvo's second book, how have the sales of Danger's Dozen been for you?
Garan: Dangers Dozens sales have been fairly good and a good test of the waters for our small publishing group. Dangers Dozen was a different genre of book, dealing with more cosmic, high powered characters and adventures.

Jim: Contract really impressed me as being a well written fast paced high octane adventure. How was the book written, full script or plot outline and let the artists run with it?
Garan: The way we approach CONTRACT is that I will give Shell a rough plot outline of what I would like the story to be. He comes back to me with a rough first draft of the issue. This is where the brain storming commences. It is at this time we decide about adding, deleting scenes and other changes to ensure that the story flows, that we have enough action, and dialogue and so on.

Once we are happy with the script, we send it off to the artist. There is enough play in the script so that the artist can have fun with it and can also pass along to us any suggestions that can improve the story.

Jim: Where is First Salvo based out of?
Garan: A First Salvo is based out of Bermuda where the founders were born, live and work.

Jim: Are you selling into other markets besides the US?
Garan: Currently, CONTRACT is available to anyone who has access to Previews. However, I am looking in to other avenues to distribute CONTRACT.

Jim: Is this a paying job for you as writer or a labor of love?
Garan: These characters are my creations, so I have to admit that it is a definite labor of love. However, I would not mind getting money out of it *laugh*. What could be better than making a living doing what you love.

Jim: What are you short term goals for this book?
Garan: To generate interest in both the CONTRACT characters and the world which they live. There is an unlimited potential for stories. That is my aim – to tell good stories.

Jim: Would you want to work for the big two? If yes, what would be your dream project?
Garan: As a Spidey fan, I have always wanted to write or draw for Spider-man Unfortunately , with all of the history of these mainstream characters, it would be very difficult to write a story line that would bring a lasting change which fans would enjoy and accept. I find that it is easier to do this with the independent titles as the reader is reading and growing with new characters for the first time.

Jim: Everyone seems to have an eye toward Hollywood, are you hoping someone would option this project?
Garan: That was not goal of CONTRACT but I would not say no if approached. *laugh* How awesome would it be to see your creation up on the big screen, see by millions of people – plus getting paid for it. *laugh*

Jim: Do you think the direct market as it is structured today is hurting small press publishers?
Garan: Well, it is definitely not helping them. A small press publisher has to jump through so many hoops just to break into, never mind being noticed, in this highly competitive industry.

Jim: Did you consider doing this as a graphic novel and skip the mini-series stage?
Garan: It was considered but I wanted the retailer and consumer to be comfortable in buying the book. So with that in mind, I decided on an inexpensive introduction issue #0 and then continuing as a series of Minis - a low to no risk venture for both parties. As a retailer myself, sometimes if I see a new series or longer intro Mini (more than 6 issues) I am not as willing to invest as I'm uncertain if my customers will be willing to purchase all of the books in the series. Also the idea of CONTRACT works so well with Minis and one-shots.

Jim: What up next for you and /or First Salvo?
Garan: I do have some other ideas in the works but I am concentrating on CONTRACT at the moment. I want my readers to know that my attention is not being divided. After the first initial mini-series, there will be three one shots focusing on each of the three main characters. In this way we expand on the world as well as give the character a bit of spotlight to expand on there personality and abilities.Thanks for the questions it was a lot of fun, and if anyone wants to contact us with any questions or comments please send letters or even artwork to And make sure to mark it "OK TO PRINT!"


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