Earlier in the year we attempted to catch up with the unstoppable force that are Big Punch Studios, to find out about their first 12 months of Big Punch Magazine, as well as look forward to new 7String and Afterlife Inc. Inevitably with a gang who write comics, publish magazines, create hit table top games and now podcast as well (not to mention have lives away from comics!), it’s taken them a little bit of time to reply! But we were lucky enough to catch up with Jon, Ali, Nich and Lucy on a rare pause on their journey towards global domination to ask them: how it’s all going?
Congratulations on the first year of BPM, what were your highlights and lowlights of the first 4 issues? Is there anything you’d change and/or learn from?
JON: The real highlight for me had to be proving that we could do something like this. I never doubted that we’d be able to put out four issues in a year alongside our other work – when we put our mind to something we tend to be stupid to quit! – but it was a real validation to get through 2015, not just in one piece but also to schedule. It’s been hard work, but I’m so proud of everyone on the team, including our amazing artists, for everything we’d accomplished. That our fans have taken to BPM so well by taking us up on our subscription service is just the icing on the cake. I think we’ve learnt a lot about the format and what works and what doesn’t. With this knowledge, BPM is only going to get better and better!
ALI: My highlight has been writing Cat & Meringue and hearing from readers who enjoyed it! It’s the first time I’ve really put myself out there in a creative way, and it’s filled me with confidence to write more.
LUCY: I would say we learned to pay more attention to Christmas! We underestimated the amount of stuff that needed to be done around the same time as we completed Issue 4, AND THEN misjudged the Christmas postage. We’ll endeavour to do better this year!
NICH: NO LOWLIGHTS. All killer, no filler.
Issue 5 has undergone a bit of a revamp, with a new look and slightly different comics, what inspired these decisions?
ALI: The first year of BPM was such an exciting one; to be telling all these new stories was great, and while I put a lot of time into the design for year 1, I really wanted to amp it up in year 2. It’s a bit more grown up and a bit more visually arresting, and hopefully our readers like it.
NICH: We will always be revamping and improving as we get better at what we do, and we want the magazine to reflect that. We knew we wanted a refresh in layout and style, and Ali smashed it out of the park as our graphic designer on the magazine.
You’ve dropped The Wall from this issue, will it be returning and swapping for another title or gone for ever?
NICH: Oh its definitely coming back. I have some HUUUUUUGE plans for The Wall; it’s going places you will NEVER expect! I needed a bit more time to work on the next volume of 7STRING, so we put The Wall on temporary hiatus to give me some breathing room. Look out for a little glimpse of what our rainbow coloured heroes are up to in Issue 8!
JON: The stories in BPM are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the greater Big Punch multiverse. We always wanted the freedom to be able to switch stories in and out when the situation seemed right. With Nich also working on 7STRING Volume 3 this year, it made sense to take a short vacation from the world of The Wall and bring something else to the fore. But as Nich said, keep an eye out for the cast of The Wall making another appearance before the year is out…
You’ve replaced The Wall with some cool editorial pages, including the guide to the swords in 99 Swords, was it good to finally get some of those ideas written down and in print?!
LUCY: The Guide to the Known Swords has been great fun. We’ve known what each of the 99 Swords were from the very beginning, and we’re probably not going to see them all within the pages of 99 Swords for some time, so it’s great to have some way to show them off. It hasn’t been too hard to write, as James Stayte, the series artist, had drawn all the blades before the comic started, but as to the design work… I’ll have to leave that to Ali.
ALI: Laying out the Guide to the Known Swords has been a lot of work, but it’s so much fun! It’s the kind of subtle world building that supports the main story, but in an unusual, more meta way.
JON: Fleshing out the world of 99 Swords – how it works and, most importantly, how the magic of the swords has transformed society – has been Lucy’s pet project from the beginning. There’s a rather terrifying level of world building going on within her head, and it’s nice to see it escaping onto the page through the Guide.
It’s been a busy year for you and we couldn’t not mention the wonderful Sandwich Masters. How has that experience been, have you learnt anything that will help you with BPM and what is the best sandwich in the deck? (Can you offer us some pro tips from the experts?)
ALI: The success of Sandwich Masters has really blown us away, and as with everything we do we’re constantly learning. It was our first foray into the gaming community and we’ve been welcomed with open arms. My favourite sandwich is the Condimental, purely for the name, and my pro tip would be to lay as much bread as you can to open up your hand for new cards!
LUCY: Sandwich Masters has been a whirlwind. It’s only now that the dust is settling a little that we can actually look back and take stock of it all. It was a completely different experience to producing a comic. We actually started work on Sandwich Masters well before we decided to do BPM. The idea formed sometime in 2013 and the majority of the game design work was done in the summer of 2014, so we can probably say that it was a good testing ground for how we worked as a team.
Best Sandwich: Bread Sandwich, quickest 5 noshbucks you’ll make in the game.
Pro Tip: Hoard Health Inspectors.
With Sandwich Masters out of the way will you be returning to your main books of Afterlife Inc. and 7String? Has making BPM got you more energized for returning to your original titles or has it just overloaded you with more work?
NICH: We have so much on, but its always like that. I like it like that! I wouldn’t have it any other way! BPM gets me energized for 7STRING, which then gets me energized for BPM all over again! Knowing the future of these stories is so exciting! I can’t wait to draw them!
JON: Every story we tell ties into each other, whether in big, elaborate ways, or more subtle, devious little hints! This first year of BPM has been like a holiday, in that we’ve been able to stretch our wings, try new things and really push ourselves. We’ve come back so much stronger as creators that I can’t wait to apply myself to Afterlife Inc. again. BPM is hitting its stride in year 2, and with this great upswell of support behind it I’m itching to spend time with Jack Fortune and Co. again back in the Empyrean.
And finally what can we expect from Big Punch this year? More awesome comics obviously! More sandwiches! Or any other secret projects for world domination? Or perhaps just a nice weekend break for you all?!
LUCY: Obviously we’re continuing with BPM, because we’re masochists. We also have a couple more games in prototype stage. Apart from that, the new podcasting line-up is going really well and we have plans for future audio-only delights!
NICH: You will see 7STRING Track 6, the first chapter of Volume 3, launch this year for sure. Look out for that bad boy on Comixology!
JON: Afterlife Inc. Volume 4: Man Made God is, incredibly, halfway made! I’ll be launching a Kickstarter soon to fund the remainder of the book, which will hopefully be released before the end of the year! I’ve been playing producer for so long – assembling the team, finding funds etc. – that it’ll be nice to actually to act like a creator again!
ALI: World domination is scheduled for 2018, but for now we will continue to diligently work away on BPM and our graphic novel titles, as well as a new game, which is currently an almost working prototype. We’ve just recently had our weekend off for the year, so it’s back to the grindstone we go!
You can find out more about BPM, 7STRING and AfterLife Inc. (as well as Sandwich Masters) at bigpunchstudios.com. You can also follow them on Twitter @bigpunchstudios as well as support them on Patreon too!