“It’s a shock doctrine of horror and political intrigue that plots the rise of the witch king of London” The Many’s Charlie Gillespie talks super powered cannibals and Tory politicians in gimp masks in his new series.
It’s not often you get a book that involves cannibals, magic flies, the resurrected body of Karl Marx and a demonic goat – not to mention Tory politicians in gimp outfits – but Charlie Gillespie’s new series The Many which debuts via ComiXology Submit this week covers all those bases. Mixing the weird psychedelia of Grant Morrison with the politics of Alan Moore and the dark humour of Garth Ennis, this first volume in the adventures of Thomas Darker defies description at times, so we contacted the man behind it in order to get his take on his truly unique world view.
Your new series The Many isn’t a particularly easy book to describe or categorise how would you sum it up to new readers?
CG: The Many is a shock doctrine of horror and political intrigue that plots the rise of the witch king of London and the birth of a world that is just a few clicks down the line. It will get darker before the dawn!
Tell us a bit about the inspiration for The Many, where did the ideas for the characters come from and how did they evolve over time?
CG: There are a lot of different layers going on in The Many, mostly a mixture of all the things that interest me I guess. It became a vehicle for all these things and I started it for that purpose I suppose. The characters are from lots of things, the lead character Thomas Darker is a variation of a character I used to draw as a teenager, one of his mates is actually a mate of mine and plays himself in the book – the Dave character. Karl Marx is in there for a lot of reasons that I’d rather not divulge right now and there are a few characters in there that you really don’t find out much about as yet, the great Goat, M and D, who are they? You’ll find out eventually.
You mix elements of horror and the occult with politics and more, How would you classify The Many in terms of genre? Did you always have a specific genre or direction in mind for the book or did you just write the story you wanted to write?
CG: Well other people have told me this is a horror book. I didn’t really start with this in mind. I started with something I wanted to express about the world and it became wrapped in what I know as it developed and I wanted to draw all the things in it. The very end of the story came first and everything grew backwards out of that ending. I’m not sure what genre it really is. To me it’s more a political fantasy than a horror book. I guess it wouldn’t be amiss as a Vertigo title.
There is a debate later in the story between some of the characters about, socialism, capitalism, neo-liberalism, utopias and dystopias which was pretty much what the whole thing is for.
The use of flies as a ‘super power’ is really quite chilling (more so even than the cannibal moments!!) how did the idea for that come about? Were you traumatised by a swarm?
CG: No I wasn’t traumatized by a swarm, well not in any physical sense lol. I wanted to find a way I could visually show Magic happening that wouldn’t be twee but was dark, I could use all over the place in different ways and I wouldn’t have to use words to describe. I felt if I used words to describe Magic that it would take something away from it. Hopefully that works ok, I enjoyed drawing the buggers and the cannibal moments will get bigger and funnier.
For those of us who are new to your work, what is your background in comics as a writer and artist?
CG: My background is in art mostly, I drew for 2000 AD/Judge Dredd Megazine when I was younger and have done a lot of computer graphics jobs in the games and media industries ever since.
The Many reminds us of big name British writers like Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and even Garth Ennis, have those guys inspired you as a writer?
CG: Well I don’t know if I could consider myself a writer, this is the only thing I’ve written and it was bubbling around in my head alive by itself well before it went down on paper. I’m into comic books and I have been since I was a kid and all these writers are artists that I’ve read all my life so I’d say they’ve all been an influence on me over the years. From Hell is probably the best graphic novel ever and I have a big soft spot for Preacher, it still makes me giggle when I read it. There are a few little nods and winks to my influences in there for people if they care to find them.
One of my favourite scenes is towards the end where you portray Tory politicians in some less than flattering outfits, what inspired you to do that scene? It feels like a real throwback to 80s/90s British comics.
CG: Ah the Tory thing does come from the 80’s and 90’s and there is a particular reason for it, lets just say that there is a certain someone who you’ve heard speak in the book who has yet to make a full appearance and has a part to play in the story’s internal dialogue. And it does go further. The politics of the book was the driving force for me, it’s the reason for everything else in it. At it’s heart the story is an exploration of political themes.
Can you tell us a bit about how and where The Many will be available and what, if any, plans you have for the characters in the future. This first volume ends with a pretty open ended conclusion so I’m assuming you are planning more stories?
CG: The Many, Once Upon A Time In Utopia will be available on Comixology Submit from the 23rd of April for 99c/p.
The overall story has 13 episodes, there are five in this first release. I plan two further releases, Vol.2 Appetite For Destruction and Vol.3 The End Of History which will both have four episodes each. I do it all myself so it’ll take a little while but a lot is going to happen to the characters and to the world. It’ll get Darker before the dawn!
CG: So far the Comixology experience has been straight forward, they’ve been pretty helpful at every turn. Currently there are no plans to release anywhere else but that may change. We’ll see how it goes. I’m quite happy for it to go out digitally, I’ve been reading quite a few digital books of late and I’ve gotten into to it. This book was designed a bit old school I guess so at some point it would be cool to design work specifically with the digital platforms in mind.