Interested a comic that’s a cross between The Hobbit and a Clint Eastwood movie? Then you’ll want to check out The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer, the debut comic from Stranger Comics. We had the chance to interview the writer and founder of Stranger Comics, Sebastian Jones, and his enthusiasm about the book–part of an entire universe the gamer has spent years creating–is infectious. Read on:
TFAW.com: Hi Sebastian, thanks for talking with us!
Sebastian Jones: Hi, it is nice to be spoken to!
TFAW.com: Tell us the story of The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer.
SJ: Our tale takes place in the hellhole Town of Oasis. It’s a one-horse haven for killers and thieves hidden in the Desert of the Dying Tree, all within the vast and volatile world of Asunda.
Asunda is a brutal fantasy universe of epic proportions I have spent twenty-some years creating. Even though Asunda is inhabited with Elves, Dwarfs, and Sorcerers, I wanted to have my “Hobbit” be a simple, yet dark and gritty tale of atonement for past sins by any means necessary.
Here’s the pitch: The initial story line revolves around a lone Stranger, taking that “Clint Eastwood” drifter’s walk across the sweeping desert towards the Town of Oasis. Ten years ago he ran the town with malice and harshness. As his wife and child were on the verge of turning him [toward good], they were murdered, and so was he.
This Stranger is then offered a deal to get out of hell. He is granted seven days to reap seven souls and gain a chance at revenge. Conflict arises as a young girl reminds him of his murdered daughter. She acts as his conscience and becomes his only hope for salvation.
TFAW.com: What inspired this comic?
SJ: I mentioned Clint Eastwood, but I could easily have said Toshiro Mifune. I have always been inspired by these classic films, where our anti-heroes are uncompromising but often flawed men. So I really try and bring that mood and atmosphere to the storytelling, which art director Darrell May and artist Peter Bergting convey so well.
Peter’s stunning and vivid paintings draw you into each panel like a Sam Peckinpah or Sergio Leone frame. You can smell the blood and liquor that lingers in the air, and feel the sand sting your eyes. Peter Bergting is a master and I am honored to work with him. Plus he’s a damn good cook!
However, the true inspiration for the tale is my son, and wanting to be a better father. Always. I think most men can relate. Because I am a gamer, and a dreamer, it was easy for me to set the story within Asunda. Our tales will focus on the raw condition of man and woman, as opposed to the classic fantasy tales of questing for magic rings. (Although we do have magic rings!)
And finally, I always thought how cool would it be to see two dudes with swords in cloaks square off like gunfighters. Now that rocks!
TFAW.com: Who are the Kraven?
SJ: The Kraven are a rogue’s guild of vicious mercenaries that pass for law in the Town of Oasis. They’re comprised of wicked men, tainted Galemren (Wild Elves), and a mute Grachukk (Orc) named Kersheg. Again, if we were watching a Leone flick, the villains would be a mix of whitey gringos, banditos, and perhaps a turncoat Native Indian.
They are the Sopranos of the town, and when the Stranger was alive, he was the Tony Soprano. When you dive into the story, this savage bunch is led by Phylax and Lariel. The former is Stranger’s jealous older brother, whereas Lariel is his jealous mistress. Trouble.
TFAW.com: Where does Niobe fit into the story?
SJ: The ultimate question! She is the soul of our story. Her purity offers the Stranger a second chance at being a good man. Her innocence cleaves through the darkness, and the thorns that shroud the Stranger’s heart.
There is a lot to discover about Niobe that I don’t want to spoil, but she radiates a destiny that represents everything good in the world.
TFAW.com: Is your protagonist good, bad, or both? Why is he so set on revenge?
SJ: He and his family were murdered. I’m sure that would tick off most folk
To me, the Stranger is the raw epitome of man with all his flaws and redeeming qualities on maximum volume for all to see and judge. We will love him or hate him for his deeds, and sometime both. He is so driven and focused to avenge his family’s death, he is willing to do bad things. It is the journey he takes that will open his vision to salvation. We hope he makes the right choice.
I am sick of the prototypical good guy, and even the supposed gray-area anti-heroes of today, with their waxed eyebrows and perfect weaves. I was raised on Woody Strode and Robert Mitchum. William Holden and Ernest Borgnine in The Wild Bunch.
Imagine dudes like that with swords instead of six shooters. And being born and raised in England, if I hear one more affected England accent in a fantasy flick I am going to chop my own foot off and beat someone with it!
TFAW.com: If he escapes Hell, what then?
SJ: The sequel. Essessa, our beautiful and murderous Vorkas Vampire, might just come calling. Can’t say too much more about Essessa, except she is our smoking hot Darth Vader.
TFAW.com: What has been the most surprising part of founding a comic book publisher?
SJ: It is expensive! Perhaps, just a tad more than I realized. And, as we are a green company, the recycled paper we print on costs a lot more. Unbelievable!
The workload is brutal. I work seven days (for seven souls) a week, mornings through night. My family sacrifices more than anyone so they deserve the credit for our company, which is attempting to bloom in a very harsh climate.
However, it is ultimately rewarding to share our books with the people on the street. Sounds cliché, but that feeling rocks! And the feedback has been tremendous.
TFAW.com: What kind of books will Stranger Comics specialize in?
SJ: We have three brands under our banner. The aforementioned Asunda, (our fantasy universe); Arcane Imagination (children’s stories/folklore/faerie tales); and Black Eye Dog Studios (tales for film/and other worlds).
TFAW.com: What comics do you read? What are your influences?
SJ: And I still go back to Kingdom Come and Watchmen . . . mmmnnn . . . Jack Kirby is my biggest influence. “This Man This Monster,” probably inspired me more than any other comic book. The depth of emotion and sacrifice to this piece spoke volumes to me.
Other books, writers, and artists include Stan Lee, Sal Buscema, Frank Miller, Jeph Loeb, Afua Richardson, and our own Peter Bergting, Steph Stamb, and Hyoung Taek Nam. Plus, keep a look out for Darrell May, Christopher Garner, Sheldon Mitchell, and Tomo. These cats keep me inspired.
TFAW.com: How many issues with The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer be?
SJ: Seven issues. Seven days. Seven souls.
TFAW.com: Thanks again!
SJ: Thank you!
Make sure to check out our First Look of The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer #1. You can also enter to win one of three sets of issues #1 and #2, plus the variant of issue #1, each signed by Sebastian Jones and artist Peter Bergting right here.
So what do you think of the premise of The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer? Are you excited to see what comes next from Stranger Comics? Post your comments below!