Not too long ago, we reviewed Borough of Churches #1 & #2, a series that promises to deliver a badass New York cop named Charlie Swanson as she’s thrown into the world of undead vampires. Here at AP2HYC, we sat down with writer and creator Adam Cheal to discuss his work.
AP2HYC: Can you tells us a little bit about Borough of Churches?
Cheal: Howdy! Sure. I think it is best to start with some basic history of how the book came about first. Borough of Churches is a six part horror comedy that I am working on with artist superstar Amrit Birdi. We are two creators that met while working on the first British Showcase Anthology. He was a two time contributor to the book and I was editing. We respected each other and had a similar work ethic and fixed idea about the kind of comics we wanted to create. I pitched the simple idea to him and he loved it. We got working on the book and completed issue one quite quickly. Issue two soon followed and we are now looking to work on issue three.
The story behind Borough of Churches is a very simple one. At its core, it’s the story of good versus evil, just like nearly every single other comic you’ve read. The goal here was not to come up with the next new original concept, but to take themes and genres we are all familiar with and to make the heart and soul of the book to be about the characters. So the story revolves around a hero cop called Charlie Swanson. Her family for generations have all been members of a secret organisation called the “Borough of Churches”. Their mission is to rid the world of a vampire horde led by an arch enemy called Brother Marcus. Of course, Charlie doesn’t know any of this hidden life and only by a chance encounter does she get sucked into it. I won’t say too much more as it would ruin the story.
AP2HYC: What were some of your influences when conceptualizing the story and characters?
Cheal: Amrit and I both love American style comic books and that over the top, larger than life style. A lot of that shines through, especially in the first issue. However, as the character of Charlie has developed, we realised she is so much more than that. So we have moved away from that style and into something more mature and respectful. Again, with the story, it started as my homage to some styles of comics such as the books by Zenescope and TopCow. I have not really wanted to write someone else’s characters, so it seem logical to create my own universe and characters in that style.
AP2HYC: When it comes to finding an artist that fits the style you are looking for, what was the process like?
Cheal: As mentioned before, Amrit and I had actively been wanting to work together for some time. So it wasn’t like I wrote the story and looked for an artist that would suit it. The whole process was created by both of us. I would bounce ideas of him and he would come back with character and concept sketches. This really was a true collaboration and labour of love for us. During the process of making the book, a lot has happened for both of us, so this has had to take a bit of a back seat. But it’s a story we kept on coming back to, and that’s the sign of a good book.
AP2HYC: Are there any parts of the story of character that comes easy to you when writing? Are there any that are more difficult?
Cheal: I would say in terms of things that are more challenging than others is always dialogue. Once I have the story in mind, creating the panels and direction comes swiftly. It’s keeping the dialogue consistent to the character and also not being clunky or stupid that’s hard. I always edit the script at least three times during the process. Even then, after the fact, there is often things I would change again. Having an editor on board really helps the process. Unfortunately, in the independent world, it’s a luxury most of us don’t have.
AP2HYC: One of the most prominent features of your story is the character of Charlie. What was it like creating her? Is she based off of anyone in particular? What were some of your influences when creating her?
Cheal: This is the only book I have written to date where the character of Charlie came so easily to me and everything about creating her just flowed. I have doubted other characters I have created but Charlie is my most rounded and complete character to date. She is not based off of anyone and it wasn’t even a conscious decision to make her female. I think this has helped the character as I didn’t try too hard to purposely make her seem too feminine. I just wanted her to be cool and a character that people could like and relate to. I would say that writing my first female lead character has been a truly rewarding experience and it really did open up the possibilities of where we could take the story. After writing her, men are so boring!
AP2HYC: Where can we expect to see the story go from here?
Cheal: Even though the books are in production, the full six issue scripts are actually complete. There are going to be a lot of twists and turns. Some expected and some not. There is also going to be a ton of emotion packed into the story. Charlie’s relationship with her emotionally abusive husband will unfold and she will be reunited with her estranged father. There will of course be some vampire butt kicking action and some other fighting members of the Borough of Churches will come into the mix. The book comes full circle at the end and I will say no more than this.