Superheroes Ltd Issue 2 is a brand new comic by Sam Webster, creator of the original Superheros Ltd Issue 1 as well as the very entertaining Arcadia (in which a small town is horrified to discover the theft of ALL their games consoles). Webster is currently in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to fund Superheroes Ltd Issue 2 and I had a chance to speak with Sam – who is both writer and illustrator of his super-world where people with powers are almost as normal as you or I!
A Place to Hang Your Cape: For anyone who isn’t familiar with Issue One, can you tell us a little about the story so far and the main character, Joe Cape?
Sam Webster: Superheroes Ltd is set in a world superheroes aren’t exactly a rare breed. In fact, there are enough to warrant private companies being founded that act sort of like a car breakdown cover… Only instead of your car breaking down and a mechanic coming out, it’s someone getting mugged and a superhero coming out. Joe Cape works for one such company, the titular Superheroes Ltd and the first issue is centered around Joe’s frustration with the fact that the idea of his job is so far removed from the reality of his job. Red tape gets in the way, people call in for stupid things that don’t really require a superhero, he has to drive between jobs because no one will insure him to fly – that kind of stuff.
AP2HYC: What are your aims for Issue Two? How do you hope to develop the world that you have created?
Sam: Issue Two is the start of a small arc called The Government Job. It allows me to expand the universe and give focus to characters other than just Joe and allows me to tell a slightly more complex story. A super powered human in this universe has very limited career options, they can’t just blend in and get a normal job. They’re registered, regulated and monitored from a young age so most of them either end up working for a company like Superheroes Ltd, working directly for the government as muscle, or even being thrown around as weapons of mass destruction in a war! If a super human follows one of these three paths they get to use their powers, but only during working hours, with tight restrictions and they’re aware they’re ultimately being used as tools. If one of them decides not to follow a career which utilises their power set, they’re banned from using their powers altogether. Of course, if a such an individual then used their powers anyway, they would be considered as having “gone rogue”, and they’ll be on the wrong side of the law.
Without giving any spoilers for Issue One, I can tell you that Derek and Bryan, two of the heroes featured in issue one are working under a government contract throughout issues two and three. We’ve sort of covered life working in the private sector, so let’s give a glimpse of the public sector. I can’t tell you what Joe or Maria will be doing doing, only that their paths will cross with Derek and Bryan’s, sorry!
AP2HYC: You both write stories and create artwork: do you prefer either over the other? Why or why not?
Sam: That’s a tricky one! Writing is quite liberating, because I can throw words around all day and literally make anything happen. “A wormhole opens up, a seven headed demon with two swords can be seen within the portal. The ground is splitting apart, lots of cars are being sucked into the vortex whilst on fire and Joe is just staring blankly and hopelessly at the scene before him” is very easy to write, but a pain in the arse to draw! Art has always been a passion of mine from a very early age, and when I look at a comic the art is the first thing I judge. If the art is bad or even just not to my tastes, then I can’t read it (several arcs of Iron Man have this precise problem and while I can watch the Soul Eater anime, I can’t read the manga). Art is the bit that gets me excited, my earliest influence was an artist as opposed to a writer, when I went to university I studied art over writing. Don’t get me wrong, writing is something I love to do and I was ecstatic to learn that I was actually good at it, but I taught myself to write, art is something I could always naturally do, it’s in my blood. It’s like being asked to choose your favourite child, everyone says they can’t, but they can.
AP2HYC: What have been your biggest personal influences? What was it that drew you into creating your own comic books?
Sam: Richard Elson. The man is my absolute hero! I was a pretty big Sonic the Hedgehog junkie as a kid, in fact, that’s never changed, and Richard Elson was a regular artist for Sonic the Comic. He really made scenes come to life and I was genuinely upset when an issue didn’t feature any of his work. Every time I see the man’s work it just sets off a spark! I went absolutely giddy when I saw Amazing Spider-Man #698 (to give a more recent example of his work). Other influences include Akira Toriyama, I borrow a lot of his muscle structure and he still has the most dynamic fight scenes ever drawn. I adore Ed McGuinness, especially his work on Superman/ Batman and more recently Nova. He’s got a very clean, crisp, art style and he makes fantastic use of line weights. Yeah, I’d actually say those guys are the big three actually.
As for what drew me into it? It was something I’d wanted to do for a very long time, childhood dream as corny as it is. I sort of procrastinated and got comfortable. I had a routine day job that paid the bills, a loving fiance and daughter, decent place to live, and don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t trade any of those things for the world and I’m extremely lucky, but they put me in a place where I wasn’t producing anything or told myself I didn’t have the time for drawing comics. Then we went to Melksham Comic Con in August 2012 and Nich Angell, creator of 7 String, and Jon Lock, creator of Afterlife Inc, were on stage giving a panel about their comics and their processes. Here were two guys, about my age, similar commitments, experienced the same frustrations with the constant procrastinating, only difference was, they said “Screw it.” and just got on with it. They were brimming with energy and enthusiasm, they got that it was hard to come home from work, eat dinner, spend time with the family, and then get some drawing in before bed, but if they could do it, so could I! Arcadia, my first comic, debuted in April 2013 at Gemucon and Superheroes Ltd debuted at Melksham Comic Con 2013. I was on the same side of the table as the people who had reignited my passion, launching a book alongside them. It was fantastic, and I owe pretty much everything I do from here to those two.
AP2HYC: What do you find to be the hardest or most frustrating of part of creating a comic?
Sam: For all the excitement and energy that creating a comic gives you, I usually find I hit a slump where I get back into my old habits of putting pages off. I commonly have to set myself a deadline, for example, Superheroes Ltd issue one, I gave myself three months. Month one I did maybe five pages, inked, no colour. Month two, I probably cranked out about seven, again, inks, no colour. Month three I actually ended up booking a week off work and did solid ten to twelve hour days pencilling, inking and colouring, it was insane! I perform a hell of a lot better under pressure, so I tend to find I put myself under pressure because otherwise the grind gets me.
AP2HYC: And what’s the most fun part?
Sam: For Superheroes Ltd, it was definitely that frantic week! I have never been so buzzed or been able to function on so little sustenance and I have never slept so well! It was a blast! Close second is taking the comics to conventions, meeting people who like the work I do, having people say “You know what? I actually want to buy this!” The other artists and writers make sure it’s always a fun time too and you always end up going for beer and food with these amazingly creative and like minded individuals who know exactly what you’ve been through to be able to put your work out there.
AP2HYC: What are your goals after this project? Will Superheroes Ltd be a continuing series?
Sam: This comic has the potential to be a series. There are a lot of ideas floating around in my head for various arcs that I could do, problem is, I don’t want this book to outstay it’s welcome a la Bleach. I’d like to at least do enough issues, maybe four to six, so that I could collect it in a graphic novel, ideally I’d like to make enough issues to have multiple graphic novels! I think I will know when it’s time to retire Superheroes Ltd, and I fully expect that I will do some side projects in between issues, such as one shots. I am amazed by how far my brain wants to take the concept, which scares me because most of the ideas I have yet to draw have a definitive start, middle and end, Superheroes Ltd doesn’t. I have a fair few comics of various genres and tones that I want to make. Most of my creations that have yet to be drawn are stories though. It would be wrong to continue them past the single plotline I have planned for them. With Superheroes Ltd… well, that’s the first time I’ve created a world instead of just creating a story and it has opened so many doors with regards to storytelling potential. I hope it does stick around for a while, I’ll keep drawing them as long as people keep buying and enjoying them and when I feel the time is right, I’ll put it out to pasture.
You can support Superheroes Ltd Issue 2 at the Kickstarter campaign here – but hurry as the campaign closes on October 10th! Alternatively you can check out Sam’s work and contact him by visiting his website here!