“It’s the ultimate tap to let all of the story water out of our brains!” We meet Big Punch Studios the creators of new comics anthology BPM
You’ve got to love a multiverse! Afterlife Inc and 7String creators Jon Lock and Nich Angell certainly do, as they have followed up their Heavenly Chord crossover with a a new monthly magazine called BPM which features a whole host of new character as well as some old favourites. Produced by the fearsomely titled Big Punch Studios, they are ably assisted by letterer Lucy Brown and writer Alice White so we caught up with them to find out what BPM is all about.
Tell us a bit about why you’ve decided to create BPM, what was the inspiration to create a magazine as well as all your comic projects?
Nich: The main idea behind BPM was to be able to tell more stories, simple as that! As any small press creator will tell you, it takes a hell of a long time to make a book…
Jon: …Nich and I had been working on 7STRING and Afterlife Inc. respectively for a few years, and while we’d both made great progress with our series, we felt frustrated by how time-consuming those bigger projects could be. We care about making high quality stories and great looking products, and that kind of thing requires a lot of effort – especially without the backing of a major publisher.
Lucy: Big graphic novels in the style of 7STRING and Afterlife Inc. are major propositions. Even the big three publishers might only get one trade paperback out per year, per property, and Nichangell Comix and Jon Lock Comics are run from spare bedrooms! There were more ideas than would ever see the light of day in this format, so a different type of publication was needed.
Jon: Nich hit on the great idea of producing a magazine on a more regular basis that would be a home for our new stories, and keep us publishing material while work continued in the background on our main titles.
Nich: Jon and I got into this business because we had a whole load of awesome concepts, stories and characters rattling round in our heads – and Ali and Lucy had their own ideas on top of that! Afterlife Inc. and 7STRING are such a tiny tip of the iceberg of our EPIC STORY PLANZ; we have so many more ideas!
Ali: Aside from wanting to tell lots of awesome stories in a shared universe, we were also really keen to work with one another. Over the years the four of us have become close friends, and we could think of nothing better than sharing our stories and inspiring one another.
Lucy: The stories in BPM are entirely spewed out of the brains of the Big Punch team. If you like our other tales, this is a way for you to get more content, more often.
Ali: I think BPM offers something completely unique, in terms of stories, style, format and the fact that we’re not an anthology, we’re four brains combined into one! Existing fans will know Jon and Nich’s work, and they can expect more of the same epic battles, overarching story lines and kickass combat, but by combining our collective powers we’ve taken it to a whole other level!
Nich: It’s the ULTIMATE TAP TO LET ALL OF THE STORY WATER OUT OF OUR BRAINS.
Who are the team behind Big Punch and how did you all meet and get involved? Do you all live in a big house together or drive around in a van solving mysteries?
Nich: Four meteors fell to earth on exactly the same day in four different locations around the world…
Ali: The four of us met through the comic convention social scene, which, once you do a few cons a year, becomes a peripatetic family that you come to know and love.
Lucy: I met Jon through work in 2009. I hadn’t read a comic since My Little Pony as a child but, keen to impress the new man in my life, I dutifully read everything he handed to me (in return, I got him into the epic fantasy stylings of Brandon Sanderson.) In touring conventions together with Afterlife Inc. we met many wonderful and varied people, two of which were Nich and Ali…
Jon: Since then, we’ve been hitting conventions and hanging out together on a pretty regular basis. Working together on a new project like this just seemed like the next natural step.
Lucy: The four of us did hit it off pretty much immediately and, during a fateful joint holiday to the Yorkshire Dales, the first draft of The Heavenly Chord appeared and a multiverse was born.
Ali: Funnily enough, we may actually be living in a house together this autumn… and whilst we do not own a van (yet), I will make it my mission to acquire us a van and take us to disused fairgrounds.
What’s the story behind the name Big Punch? Who from the team has the ‘biggest punch’ and have you ever seen them use it?!
Jon: I take most of the blame for this… but I’d like to deflect some of it onto Nich for enabling my madness! In primary school, the first ever comic I made with friends was called ‘Big Punch’. Years later, I shared these origin stories (mint condition; slight foxing on the edges) with the group. Once the laughter had died, Nich was kind enough to say that he loved the name and quickly whipped up a logo. It seemed the perfect symbol of what we were trying to achieve as a studio: punching above our weight. Big publisher storytelling; indie studio heart.
Nich: With regards to the BIGGEST PUNCH, though, I once channelled all of the Chi in my body into my fist and unleashed a punch that pushed Wednesday out of its previous position (in the middle of the weekend) into the place we all know it in today.
Lucy: Well, I’m the black belt. Nich has really long arms though and Ali looks pretty tough…
Ali: I think Lucy is too kind – whilst I might look tough, I’ve been losing arm wrestles to my much younger sister since I was 12. We all punch pretty damn hard when it comes to BPM though!
Jon: I do not punch hard. I write strongly worded letters.
You mention that this is a plan for a ‘multiverse’ does this mean we will be seeing whole episodes from 7STRING and Afterlife Inc in future issues? Or will we be seeing characters crossing over and appearing in different universes? Cat & Meringue in Afterlife Inc perhaps?
Nich: Whether you see episodes of 7STRING or Afterlife Inc. in BPM remains to be seen. I have a lot of ideas for another story set in Melodia, the world of 7STRING, which will be appearing in the pages of BPM, for sure. It will be set alongside the events of 7STRING. I’ve already drawn the cast and everything! Characters and events crossing over, though… you can bet your bottom dollar on that, sir. If you examine the first issue close enough (and have a decent knowledge of 7STRING and Afterlife Inc.) there is already some crossoveriness to spot!
Jon: Afterlife Inc. and 7STRING meeting over in The Heavenly Chord was just the beginning. As the events of the crossover remain in canon (and are referenced in 7STRING volume 2), without realising it we had inadvertently created a shared universe. Nich had plans for all his stories, published or yet to be, that linked them to a much bigger picture than just 7STRING. I had the same plans for my stories. Merging our grand schemes made so much sense it would have been a crime not to…
Lucy: Cat & Meringue actually already crossed over with 7STRING in the original 1000 Days of Adventure; that was kind of why they absolutely had to be involved in BPM! I can’t wait to see what Ali, the new series writer, does with them; I’m as excited for more Cat & Meringue as for anything else, I think!
Jon: While Afterlife Inc., 7STRING and all our new titles in BPM each exist in their own unique universes, a greater plot thread is developing in the background. Keep an eye out in BPM for characters moving between worlds and hints to something BIG… It might take us 10 years to finish, and I hesitate to use the phrase ‘Final Crisis’, but…
Are the stories in BPM new or have they been published elsewhere before? If they’re new how do you fit creating all these comics into your hectic day lives?
Nich: They are all brand new; these are stories that were either waiting in the wings in our brains (Orb, The Wall) or have been made especially for the new magazine (Cuckoos, 99 Swords). They have not been published anywhere before and they won’t be published anywhere else. They are the lifeblood of the Big Punch Multiverse… they can only be found here.
Lucy: Who needs sleep? Just kidding, I love sleep. It helps to have artists other than Nich involved, if only for the sake of the poor man’s wrists! It means that work on Cuckoos, Orb and 99 Swords can be going on simultaneously, so long as Jon and I have written the scripts!
Jon: It is a lot of work, even when shared between four people, especially when we all have day jobs to balance. It’s making these stories that gives us the energy to keep going, however. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Ali: Issue 1 was a challenge, as I’m in the midst of a Masters degree! I’ve discovered that there are always enough hours in the day if you’re willing to use them, and I was more than happy to give my time to BPM. I absolutely love the magazine and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve created. When it comes to writing Cat and Meringue, which was an honour bestowed upon me by Nich, I have to set aside two weeks of meditation in the jungles of Salisbury, followed by two days in solitary confinement. This allows me the time and space to delve into the depths of my mind, pulling out only the very best and most stupid scripts for the deserving duo. Alternately, if the solitary confinement chamber is booked up, I just write it on a napkin during lunch.
Any plans to let anyone else into the BP gang? What would they have to do to get published in BPM – pass some kind of initiation, go on a quest, or perhaps beat you at Kerplunk?
Lucy: At the moment, Big Punch Studios is just the four of us, with honourable mentions to James Stayte and Jack Tempest for their art on 99 Swords and Orb respectively. We are not running a publishing house, this is a self-contained continuity with a grand plan; and while some stories will come to an end and be replaced by others, for the foreseeable future they will be all ours. ALL OURS! MWA-HA-HA!
Nich: No plans yet. That’s not us being mean, it’s just the nature of our vision. There are a lot of anthology comics, or magazines that represent the output of a collective of creators, out there. Big Punch is neither of those… Think of us as one creator with four heads: a comics hydra. But who knows what the future holds. We want Big Punch to be as big and successful as it can possibly be; growth is something we discuss regularly. James and Jack, although not members in a technical sense, are a couple of art dragons that hang out with the Big Punch Hydra in its cave.
Finally, tell us where we can get BPM from, how regularly can we get it and can you give us a sneak peak at what will be in issue #2 or is it still in the back of your brain?
Jon: BPM is released quarterly in our spring, summer, autumn and winter issues. Issue 1 is available to buy from our Comicsy store, in case you missed it, and issue 2 will be launching in June. Most importantly, BPM is available as a subscription service, so every three months we’ll send a brand new 46-page, full-colour magazine straight to your door or inbox, depending on whether you’d prefer a physical or digital copy! More info is available on our website.
And in terms of what awaits our readers in issue 2, well… Expect acrobatic action as Cyanne and her team of expert catchers leap into action to defend the city of Prizm in The Wall; explosive alien action as the mysterious Orb descends on New York; a hint of cosmic horror and conspiracy as a simple business transaction goes dangerously awry for the crew of the Reflektor in Cuckoos; and, of course, lots more swords in 99 Swords…
Lucy: Swordy sword sword sword.