After a successful launch at this year’s London Super Comic Convention 2016, we catch up with the members of new indie comics collective Close 2 Immortality – Brethren Born’s Jon Laight, Redshift Press‘ Chris Sides & Chris Travell as well as Jay Martin the writer of their debut series ALV, and founder Phil Woodward – to hear all about the merits of joining forces in the competitive world of small press!
Close 2 Immortality is your new comics collective – who is involved and how are you hoping it will help you?
Chris Sides: The founding members are Michael Burgham and Phil Woodward from the original incarnation of Close 2 Immortality, Jay Martin (Yeah Write Jay/CAF Printing), Jon Laight of Level 8 Comics and myself and Chris Travell from what was Redshift Press.
Phil Woodward: Individually there are lot of obstacles that can hinder independent creators whether that be cost of production, time spent promoting and ability to attend events throughout the year they all add to the person’s responsibilities. What my hope from this venture is the ability to have my book at events for both ones I can attend and the ones I am unable to which in turn builds more visibility of my book. Consistent as well as constant updates and news via social media will create a better and more informed following to our products.
CS: Phil approached Chris and I last year about joining forces in some way, to set up a collective where there’s that solidarity in numbers he mentioned, where we cut con costs and signal boost each other and our work.
Jay Martin: That would’ve been about the same time for me. In fact, I think we all got the same email. I have really lucked out becoming part of this group. While we are all at roughly the same level creator wise, all of these boys have a hell of a lot more experience than I do with cons, promotion etc. I guess that’s what it’s all about really; each of us pooling knowledge and experience so we all get to where we want to be. And, if LSCC was anything to go by, die laughing in the process!
PW: Strength in numbers is key to independent creator’s ability to move beyond small press. The biggest positive from collectives is to share success with likeminded individuals and to be a part of a community that strives to improve and better themselves, creating an evolving entity and recognised brand, a place I can call home
Jon Laight: As the answers above have said, we’ve got a pretty cool and diverse bunch of creators. From a totally personal point of view, it helps me a shedload as I am very new to the small press world compared to the other guys. Being able to ask advice, share contacts and get feedback from people I know will be open and honest and only take the piss a little bit is so beneficial for a relative newbie to this amazing community.
CS: Also, Phil said it would be like joining the X-Men, but without the costumes. And the powers. And the cool house and jet that comes out of the swimming pool. Nothing like the X-Men, really, I just made that up.
What inspired you to combine your forces together and how was your first launch weekend at LSCC?
JL: I met most of the gang at the ICE festival in Birmingham last September. I was writing an article for the legend John Freeman and his downthetubes.net website and got talking to Phil. He introduced me to Jay and the two Chrises and a few weeks later I was invited to the collective mostly due to my obvious excitement and puppy dog enthusiasm.
JM: I met the Chris’ and Phil at LSCC in consecutive years so it was real nice to bring it full circle for me and have the launch there. As for Jon, I made the mistake of sitting next to him at ICE in Birmingham last year and haven’t been able to get rid of him since. Thankfully that turned out to be a good thing!
All these guys are wickedly talented and massively passionate and driven in what they’re doing, I’d have been stupid to turn down working with them.
PW: The inspiration for me was the amount of amazing talent that exists in the world of independents and the atmosphere at events I attended over the years.
Meeting the other members through social media and event attendance, having a beer after and just talking for hours about all the things we are passionate about. It was through this that we became friends and supported each other’s work both online and offline.
We all shared the same vision of what we wanted to achieve and felt that doing that as a larger force would make that a more realistic dream. Dreams that are coming true as our first event showed.
CS: Mixture of reasons, some of them above – we’re all friends in the same boat, so why not all under one brand?
PW: It started slowly, but the momentum eventually built up to the point that each and every member were able to interact with fans and creatives with a real buzz in the air. Atmosphere at an event really separates the good and bad days to the point that it was very noticeable to the team.
JL: Now we have our first Con under the belt as a brand/collective and reflecting on how well it went, even with the almost vertical learning curve, I am pretty sure we are on to a winning formula.
CS: Launch weekend at LSCC was amazing. We got off to a bit of slow start, a bit unsteady on our feet, but by the end of Sunday, we were buzzing for more.
JM: The launch was amazing. I honestly loved every minute of it. There was a hell of a lot of excitement, and beer, the atmosphere was amazing. We had a practice run on the Saturday and then ironed all of the kinks out for Sunday and killed it! It was a really steep learning curve, but we adapted real well and now we know what to do and, more importantly, what not to. Bring on the next.
The first book you have released is ALV – which is a female superhero tale about the world’s only superhero coming out of self-imposed exile – why did you chose this to be the first Close 2 Immortality titles and where did the inspiration for it come from?
CS: We had no choice. Jay made us do it.
JL: Jay, the writer of ALV, is the best person to answer this. It’s a shit hot book with an amazing take on the superhero genre that needs to be on everyone’s reading list. Plus, he threatened us with physical violence involving spoons, small creatures and a very nice woman called Graham.
JM: It’s all true! Sometimes it takes a heavy hand. But, I think by now they all know that if I’m cruel it’s because they’ve done wrong, and because I care. Graham gets a bad rap, but she’s actually quite nice. Mormon you know.
To be honest, I think it was more a case of fortunate timing. I have been working on the first book for at least a couple of years and have not really known what to do with it. Luckily for me these boys came along and everything fell in to place.
I really love ALV. I like the character and I have some really big plans for her in the future. The main inspiration was the fact that I wanted to see a Super Human in the real world and how she would get round all of the stuff that comic heroes take for granted.
Comic Super Heroes manage to get away with a lot of shit that people in the real world just wouldn’t put up with. Massive amounts of damage and pretty much free reign to go where they like and do what they want without repercussion, not to mention whether the people want them to or not.
So we are going to see how Adele (ALV) deals with her real everyday life surrounded with nothing but normal people and how she deals with her day job as a Superhero, and then how all that goes to shit and she has to go in to hiding.
Reading it back, it sounds pretty boring, but I swear it’s not! Have a read of the first one, it gets better from there. And Pablo has killed it with the art, so it’s worth a look just because it looks lovely. And she’s hot.
What can we look forward to from you next? I see the website is going to be launching at the end of the month? Will be there be more comics too?
PW: Website will be up end of the month with all of our current titles plus sneak peaks at what we have in store for upcoming books. We have one book coming to the end of a successful Kickstarter campaign [Brethren Born #2] and on March 12th we will have another project beginning that journey. We are also in collaboration to produce a collective anthology that can really be a pride and joy project that everyone has a part to play in.
JL: From acorns do mighty butt kicking comic collectives grow!! The website is just the first step on a very long journey…the potential is huge but we will take our time. The plans for several more comics and anthologies strategically launched at other Cons are in place. I am hoping to launch the second issue of Brethren Born #2 at MCM London, almost a year to the day I launched the Kickstarter for Issue # 1. The Kickstarter is live at the moment and we achieved the target in 12 hours. Peeing pants time for sure.
CS: There will be lots more from each of us. Chris and I just announced DARK MATTER II after the launch, which’ll be coming out in November of this year. We may – possibly, maybe, not sure yet – have something else that might, possibly, maybe launch this year, but we’re seeing how things pan out at the mo.
I’ve got another short in the excellent Sliced Quarterly – www.slicedquarterly.co.uk – along with something in the pipeline for volume 2 of [Markosia’s] British Showcase Anthology and something else with Markosia that I’m hoping to announce very soon.
JM: Yeah, there are tons of exciting irons in the fire. Obviously, I am working on ALV #2, but before that me and Pablo have a story in British Showcase #2, along with Mr. Sides. I have another anthology story in The Great War Memorial book, with artist Louis M. Slater, that is well in to production. Me and Louis will also be releasing our first graphic novel, a forty page one shot called Domeinion. I am hoping to release that and the first in the accompanying Novel series with Close to Immortality at Birmingham MCM. There is also another series on the way, but more about that soon.
And finally what does the name Close 2 Immortality mean to you and why choose it?
PW: This is where it may get a bit cheesy but I’ll do my best to keep it down. The name came from the belief and attitude I have with life and creativity. The belief that life is short and that many people do not follow their dreams because they feel it isn’t achievable. They live out their lives with only regrets to look forward to in old age and for me that is something I do not want. Dreams are only dreams until you do something about it, as Jim Carrey once said “you can fail at doing something you don’t like, so why not take a chance on doing something you love”
JL: Living a life worth remembering. To achieve something that seems so far away but putting in the graft to get where you want to be is an important lesson to the next generation. I didn’t choose the name…I wanted to be called “Super Bad Ass Hot Comic Male Men Dudes” but it received no votes. I thought it was kinda catchy…
JM: Everyone wants to leave some sort of legacy behind, this is us doing that. Bigger shoes leave behind bigger foot prints, and together we’re a size 120! I just hope they don’t stink when we finally take them off!
CS: Phil originally pitched us to be in a vampirically -themed goth dubstep/folk hybrid band called Close 2 Immortality, but I wasn’t interested, so he changed it to a comic’s collective and things progressed from there.
PW: Immortality might be a distant scientific discovery but until then being remembered is as Close 2 Immortality as we can get and that’s what the name means to me. To Be Remembered Is To Be Eternal.
My work living on way past my existence, and that is kind of special…
Author: Alex Thomas
Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.