“It was a fantastic opportunity to try something different and take our stories to a whole new level” we talk to the team about Big Punch Studios about the conclusion of Extraversal

Four years ago we caught up with the team at Big Punch Studios to find out about a new venture they were planning which would see them create a quarterly anthology featuring a whole bunch of original characters whose worlds were interconnected. Four years, 16 issues and 3 titles later, the final volume of Extraversal is about to reach it’s epic conclusion. We gatecrash a Big Punch Studios planning session to find out how close they got to world domination!

Your quarterly anthology Extraversal has come to an end what made you choose to bring it to a conclusion? Did it always have a finite lifespan or is it just so you can concentrate on other things?

Nich Angell: It was almost too epic NOT to end it at that point! But in all seriousness, it’s only an end of the stories in that particular form. There’s so much more to come.

Jon Lock: We had two goals in launching Extraversal: one, to publish more regular content in between our larger graphic novel projects, and two, to expand the Big Punch Multiverse. While we could continue telling stories with these characters indefinitely, we were happy to end on a high with Perfect Storm, a year-long crossover featuring all our characters, that brought 16 issues’ worth of storylines to a neat conclusion.

Ali Angell: We always try to think big about what indie comics can do. Extraversal was a fantastic opportunity to try something different and take our stories to a whole new level. After four years we felt that we had established that format and that it had come to a natural conclusion, so it was the right time to think about what our next project could be.

It’s been through quite a few incarnations, starting off as BPM and evolving into Extraversal. Why did you feel it needed to go through those changes and what did you learn along the way that shaped those changes?

JON: While we were very proud of BPM or ‘Big Punch Magazine’ as a title we quickly realised that it didn’t really mean anything on its own. It wasn’t really a ‘magazine’ in the purest sense, so changing the title was an easy decision.

Lucy Lock: You should never be afraid to admit when something isn’t working and make changes. While the name BPM meant a lot to us, it was just a name… and Extraversal was a better one!

JON: Nich coined the term ‘Extraverse’ to refer to the strange realm in which so many of our stories took place, and Extraversal just became the perfect description for everything we do.

NICH: The word has grown into so much more for us now. When we come up with new ideas we ask whether they’re ‘Extraversal’ – that is to say, do they exist in the Big Punch Multiverse? It’s almost a label or brand at this point – it transcends the medium – and we’ll continue to use it!

ALI: Also, after selling BPM for a year on the convention circuit, we found that doing an elevator pitch was tricky – it’s a complex concept to sum up quickly! Extraversal was a really useful and exciting term that better summed up exactly what we were doing!

What have been your highlights from the whole Extraversal run,  any lowlights/things you wished you’d done differently and thing you’d change in a George Lucas style?

NICH: Drawing for Extraversal developed me as an artist, more than any other part of my career. Jon’s insane scripts forced me to think about, concept, scene-set, express, emote and choreograph things I would never have thought of on my own. They say that straying out of your comfort zone makes you better – that has never been truer than in the case of Extraversal for me, artistically. Right now, I am an objectively better artist than I was four years ago, and by a much larger margin than four years of ‘regular’ drawing would have afforded me. I am eight years better. Double better!

ALI: I’ve always loved being creative but I’ve not had an outlet for it, so I’m incredibly grateful and proud to have had an opportunity to colour Nich’s art, and to have shaped the look and feel of the book’s design. It was a great feeling to be a part of a team where we all contribute towards the one product.

JON: I’m immensely proud of everything we accomplished with Extraversal, both in terms of storytelling and sheer workload. I mean, we managed to publish over 700 full-colour comic pages while holding down day jobs! Making comics is as much about professionalism as it is creativity, and having these strict deadlines taught us a lot about organisation. It was a logistical challenge as much as a storytelling one balancing all these plotlines and creative teams. I genuinely think we’re stronger for the experience, even if the pace was exhausting. My biggest regret is simply how time-consuming it all was. It took its toll – and it’s nice now to pause, reflect and relax before we start something new.

LUCY: I’m terribly biased, but I think my favourite story was Drinking to Remember (year 3 of 99 Swords). It was so much fun to write each little vignette, and James Stayte did some really cool things with the artwork. It’s the first thing I’ve ever written that I think could have only worked as a comic. As for George Lucas-ing something… I guess we could have made Nich draw more crowds… whether or not it made sense…

Have you got plans to give the characters from Extraversal their own series in the future, or are their stories now done? And any plans to release collections of just their stories?

LUCY: There are still so many stories to tell with the characters from Extraversal – in particular, each of the crew members from Cuckoos has a history that we just didn’t have the time to tell. I’d love to go back one day and see how each of them ended up on the Reflektor.

JON: The series in Extraversal are all just different parts of the same overarching story, with characters popping up in multiple worlds and plotlines developing in the background that have massive implications for the entire Big Punch Multiverse. We can’t separate the series because they’re all part of a greater whole!

NICH: I have ideas for stories about some of the characters from Extraversal, post Perfect Storm. Jon and I have talked about some things as well, and we have the crazy FINAL EVENT that we’ve been talking about since the beginnings of Big Punch, so yeah… there’s loads to come.

JON: We’ve already collected Extraversal Year 1 as a graphic novel and we’re going to be doing the same for the remaining years, which will hopefully introduce Extraversal to a whole new audience. We haven’t seen the last of these characters – not by a long shot. Cuckoos lives on through our First Flight podcast and we’ll definitely be revisiting these worlds, just in a different format.

So now you have finished Extraversal, I know you Big Punchers don’t like to be too quiet, so what are you working on next – Afterlife Inc., 7String, Cat and Meringue, more Sandwich Masters or something completely new?!?!

JON: Anything to avoid a quiet life! Afterlife Inc. Volume 5 will be coming out this summer and we’re working on getting Extraversal Year 2 into print. 7STRING Volume 3 will hopefully be out in 2019 as well. On top of that, our first ever Cat & Meringue plushies will be arriving soon. Perhaps our biggest project at the moment is a remastered version of our card game Sandwich Masters, which is currently with our printer. It’s a challenge, but one we’re very much looking forward to!

ALI: We’re always thinking and creating and plotting! Much of it will be continuations of our existing IPs, but there are some new projects in the pipeline too. I think that 2019 could be a really good year for us! Extraversal was our first big property as a team and it really affirmed in our minds who we are and what we’re striving for. It was what we needed at the time, and now that the regular issues have come to an end, we’re going to take all of that energy and see what more we can add to the Big Punch Multiverse, and to the UK comics scene.

You can find out more about Extraversal and other Big Punch titles at: www.bigpunchstudios.com Download digital copies of Extraversal at: www.bigpunchstudios.com/extraversal Extraversal Volume 1 is available to buy at: www.bigpunchstudios.com/store