Comic timing

Nathan Doyle

Photo By carolyn king

Comic books have always been a medium for authors and artists to show how they think the world really looks. And for most of them, including Davis artist Nathan Doyle, the world’s a pretty messed-up place. I caught up with Doyle to discuss his new comic, Aftermath, and to hear his views on Clint Eastwood, zombies and the upcoming apocalypse.

So what’s up with Aftermath? Break it down for me.

Back in 2005, I interned at Marvel Comics in New York City, which was mostly superheroes. I wanted to do different types of comics, like action comics or adventure comics, so I thought, what could I do to make an untraditional superhero/apocalypse story?

What themes are happening in the book?

Basically, what if every worst-case scenario were to happen? We outsource our militaries to companies who are serving their own interests, riot control dominating American citizens. … Plus, it’s all set in New Mexico, so Mexicans are put in concentration camps. It’s got people rising against the powers that be and weapons turning against their masters. Little bit of biting the hand that feeds leading to the demise of humankind.

Is that influencedat all by present-day circumstances?

I wanted to make it timely in regards to Iraq and the whole issue of indefinite detention, but at the same time, I included a lot of right-wing conspiracy theories, like the New World Order. I wanted to make it so the characters weren’t real-world, but more like caricatures inspired by people in our world.

What about the art—how’d you go about drawing it the wayyou did?

I did it with pencil, and I digitized it with Photoshop to make it higher contrast and give it more of an “ink feel.” My style kind of changed over the years I was drawing it, but I wanted to make it look agitated, to bring about the tone of the comic itself—the feeling of fear and constant oppression. It’s got a lot of different styles of drawing, but all with this sort of chaotic pencil line work.

That’s sick. Where are you going now that your project is done? Starting any new projects, or are you just going to push this one?

I’d like to have this one be picked up by a publisher, but I’m actually working on another comic right now that’s a little more mainstream, called Psychopomp. It’s a Western comic about a guy that fights people in their dreams. I was thinking, “What would be more cool than some Clint Eastwood guy fucking the people who killed him up …” wait … “fucking up the people who killed him?” (Laughs.) That sounds weird.

Will Psychopomp be similar in terms of themes and art direction?

It’s going to be a lot more image-oriented as opposed to trying to progress a story line. I want to have beautiful dreamscape images and portraits of Old Western architectures, like the gallows and taverns. It’s a darker take on the Wild West.

That should be awesome when it’s done. Where can I pick up Aftermath?

It’s going to be available from Comic Express. It’s a Web site online, I will be self-publishing the book through them, because right now it’s the only way I can imagine doing it. Keeping it underground, you know? Davis is a good town for doing it; we’ve got a history of good comic-book artists.

Right on. Anything else you want to mention about Aftermath?

Um, the views expressed by the characters are not necessarily those of the author. (Laughs.)

Worried you mightget some pipe bombsin the mail?

Yeah, this is going to be one of those ones where it should upset everybody. (Laughs.) But it’s meant to be a fun read, where you can sit down and read 10 pages of funny dialogue to action sequences that can last a dozen or more pages. I wanted to just make a fun action comic, because I wanted to do something I’d want to read. Unfortunately, most action comics today are written about zombies or, um … well, just zombies.

Not that there’s anything wrong with zombies.

Who doesn’t love zombies? I’m eventually going to a zombie comic myself. But for now, I just want some people punching each other in the street [and to] put some weird esoteric images in there; make people think for themselves about the story they’re reading. But there’s so many zombie comics now. I went to a comic convention, and half the comics were apocalyptic zombie comics, and I was like, “Well, I got the apocalypse, just without the zombies.”

The zombie apocalypse is just one of the many possible ones.

Yeah, we can also have the apocalypse created by human greed and arrogance, which is the more likely one. I actually got all the printing for my comic done before November 4, so I was hoping to have it before [George W.] Bush got out of the White House, but he’s faster than I am.