Russ Leach is a talented artist and software professional who is currently working with independent comic companies what the flux comics and new baby productions and took a couple moments of his busy schedule to talk about his projects Red Angel
and the Chronic Argonauts
Q) You just finished the work on the Red Angel mini-series can you give our readers an overview of the series?
Yes of course! Red Angel (Co-created by Larry Jarrel and Erin Pyne) is a story of intrigue and revenge centered around a sky captain (Victoria Angel) in the GTTC (Global Transmospheric Trading Company) fleet in the aftermath of a massive steam driven robot war. The GTTC are a cross between the entrepreneurial companies set up in the 17th and 18th centuries, like the East India Trading Company and a sort of empiric blade runner corporation. The GTTC have become governmental and very powerful by the
time our story starts and newer technologies, akin to Tesla tech, are now being introduced into the already stretched steam driven world. With SteamPunk firmly at its heart the writer, Erin Pyne, weaves a tale where the roles of justice and vengeance, state and criminal are reversed. The lead character and her crew find that all is not as they thought it was and that their enemies are in fact
fighting for the same thing they are. We end up with a heady mixture of SteamPunk drama, traditional comic strip action
and a love story to boot.
I think that’s covered it!
Q) Can you give us the scoop on the Chronic Argonauts; I saw that it was based on a H. G. Wells’ story?
Yes no problem. Eric Mullarky (Editor and owner at NewBaby Productions) approached me about art
duties on a graphic novel based on the short story The Chronic Argonauts. The story is apparently the first recorded use of a Time Machine in literature and pre-dates Wells’ own Time Machine novel by 7 years. It’s told from a third person perspective as a recounting of one of the main characters version of the story. The events that are only hinted at in the original short story and the characters within are hugely expanded and built upon by the fantastic writing of Jason Quinn. We had a great team on
this including colors by Tyler Smith as well as seriously experienced industry talents, Jason Quinn and Charles
The tale weaves backward and forward in time containing the obligatory loops with a beautifully crafted ending which echoes the fresh nature of the story. It nods to other great Wells novels as well as elements of old horror movies in it’s makeup and
ends up a great romp.
Q) Both of these projects have a strong steam punk element running through them was this part of what made you want to participate?
No absolutely not. I was approached by both studios about art duties and read the concepts and scripts in a kind of blinkered way, not really considering the SteamPunk aspect. I wanted to focus on the characters and their actions. They were great
stories, which is what drew me to them. I have to say though I’m really enjoying the SteamPunk genre..frilly shirts, flying ships, dirty machinery and steam driven robots using electric eels and atmospheric science for electrical technology..great fun!
Q) It looks like you have done a lot of high profile work in other fields what brought you back to illustrating?
I love it! I have been in production of one sort or another for 25 years. Early on I did design and paste up and then moved in to magazines and then on to retail. Once there the creative industry started going through a massive digital change and I ended up
moving into web. Bottom line is I have always loved drawing, comics and sc-fi and now another change is occurring not only in my own career but also in the comics industry. I see digital taking off and producing a market akin to the music
industry. Independents (good ones) will find their way to a larger audience and that’s what I’m after. I’m not saying print is dead or leaving the building, far from it, I just think that opportunities are opening up outside the bigger publishers. I want to tell stories with my art and for people to appreciate it and enjoy the books I contribute too. Also to be honest I think my artwork
required a certain amount of maturity for me to get the best out of myself, I’m just starting to see my work going in the direction I want it to take and be confident enough to be proud of it. I think it’s a set of circumstance coming together, my desire to draw again and the fact that I’m still a big kid who loves comics!
Q) Whose work do you study to get inspiration or improve your craft?.
Well there is a question. To improve my craft from an artistic perspective I think looking at nature, the world around me and past masters’ work (Da Vinci or Michelangelo). I love looking at figure work. I believe that you shouldn’t try and copy
another comic artists’ style – although I will admit that all of my heroes have had an effect on my style. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take in the great work of others, I just think that you should try and get the basics right
I still have so much to learn and artists who inspire me are many, but if I had to get it down to a short list it would go something like… Jim Lee, Brian Bolland, Neal Adams, Jack Kirby, Chuck Dixon, Jim Steranko. It’s not just the way
they get their work to look but their dedication to their work as well and also a little bit of nostalgia for the comics of my youth that I loved so much.
Q) What is the next project you are going to be working on?
Red Angel goes monthly in 2012 so that’s my first port of call.
Q) If people want more info about these projects or your artwork where should they head?
You can find out more at several web addresses…
Final four questions –we ask everybody
Q) When the zombies take over the world where will you be?
On my garden deck with my shotgun and my vodka
Q) Jedi, Ninja, vampire, were-wolf, pirate, fairy or Spartan?
Q) What piece of art, be it in the form of music, a book, a film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
Read the book jonathan livingstone seagull
Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?
I’m a second Dan Black Belt in Wado Ryu karate