Andi Ewington On Fathering ’45’
Andi Ewington’s “45” is inspired by actual events. No, not in the ridiculously redundant and deceiving Hollywood tag line sense – and no, the author makes no claims to have dealt with authentic super humans. What Ewington did do, however, was put the power of his then-pending parenthood to work on a full-length graphic novel.
Arriving in stores next week, “45” gets its name from the 45 interviews reporter James Stanley conducts with the world’s super powered population in preparation for the birth of he and his wife’s possibly superhuman child.
The self-contained tale combines prose with sequential art pages commissioned from 45 individual illustrators including Liam Sharp, Jock, Sean Philips, Randy Green, Charlie Adlard, Dan Brereton and many others.
But just as the OGN’s protagonist is leaving his child’s chance for super powers to fate, so did Ewington and publisher Com.x Comics place “45’s” artwork in the hands of its illustrators with no mandate for their artwork aside from the inspiration of their section of prose.
Ewington shares his inspiration for the undertaking, his thoughts on the project’s process and more after the jump…
ComicsAlliance: Tell us a little about the impetus for “45.” How did the concept for the book come together? Which came first, the multi-artist concept or the story itself?
Andi Ewington: Well, my wife was pregnant at the time. As an expectant father, you tend to a lot of thinking and planning for your kid’s future, you know? At the same time, I’d decided that I wanted to write again and was looking for an idea that appealed to me as a reader and expectant father. Luckily, I work closely with Ed Deighton of com.x in his other company, an.x, a design agency for video games publishers. I pitched him the idea of James Stanley, this expectant father in a world of superheroes, who wants to know what will happen to his family and his child if the kid is born with powers. Clearly, the concept of a guy in a similar position to myself, was particularly resonant. Though the multi-artist concept was something Ed suggested after I presented the idea to him, and I knew it was right for the project the moment he said it.
CA: “45” is pretty unique in the collaborative freedom it gave to its artists. Given your design background, were you nervous at all about how the project would turn out given how relatively loose the guidelines were for illustration? How did the end result measure against your expectations? Did you have any “happy accidents” or surprises in the process?
AE: Considering my background, it was incredibly hard not to have any predetermined ideas and aims, but I remained vigilant not to walk that path. I allowed every piece to come in and allow it room to breath with the text next to it. There were plenty of surprises and things I hadn’t even considered (too many to list), but I reveled in those moments and the end results were beyond anything I ever expected.
CA: Creators have a tendency to both “write what they know” and write for their audience in terms of setting (a large number of American super hero books take place in New York, Doctor Who stories tend to wind up in the UK, etc.). “45” is a global book, but given your status as a UK creator, were you at all inspired to write key scenes set in your favorite/most frequented locations? Did your personal geography or travel history factor into the story in a significant way?
AE: A good question, I did use plenty of settings I had been fortunate enough to visit, Berlin, Lyon, New York, Auckland, Los Angeles, to name a few. I also enjoyed researching places I hadn’t visited. I also have an excellent resource in a number of editors that kindly jumped onboard to help, they would check tone-of-voice for specific areas and came back with good suggestions. Overall, I wanted the interviews to be as authentic as I could possible get. together I think they did a stellar job of it!
CA: In his travels the protagonist runs into a number of characters who are quasi-analogous to existing comic book heroes (you mentioned Batman and Robin and Captain America as examples in a recent interview). What were some of your favorite super hero archetypes to explore through your own creations in “45?”
AE: I tried my best not to explore too many existing superheroes as I didn’t want them to be the basis of my characters, however I’d say there are a few respectful influences. Ones that spring to mind are ‘The Thing’, ‘Daredevil’ and ‘The Flash’, it was nice to reinvent these types of heroes into the world of ’45’.
CA: Between the birth of your son and everything that comes with being a new parent, you understandably had a lot on your mind while you were working on “45.” Are there any literal moments from your personal experience that found their way into the story?
AE: I’d say the ending in part – there’s a particular moment that I would say was directly lifted from my own experience. I don’t want to say too much without giving away the final scene.
CA: A lot of comic book writers talk about the importance of drawing inspiration from outside the comics medium. Given that you were writing about super heroes and people with powers, did you sneak in some comic book reading as a kind of exception to the rule? How much do you think comic books themselves factored into your world-building/characterization process?
AE: I didn’t to be honest – the only thing I was really reading to any depth then was Kurt Busiek’s ‘Marvels’ which helped me form a 3rd person viewpoint. The other influences were ‘World War Z’ by Max Brooks with his transcript heavy approach (a perfect inspiration for ’45’) and a plethora of films and comedies that helped me form solid characterizations. As for world-building, I drew upon my many years playing Dungeons & Dragons to help me there, it’s been pointed out on numerous occasions that I ‘live in my own little world’ sometimes…
CA: Did you sneak any Easter Eggs into “45” that fans should keep an eye out for?
AE: I’m finding them all the time – it’s usually the artists themselves that have dropped little gems in – look out for Anthony Castrillo’s page – there’s a great one hidden there. On the writing side I’ve laced the stories with plenty of subplots and references for people to unearth.
CA: What can you tell us about your upcoming comic plans? Anything else in store for the “45” un
AE: Definitely! I’ve just signed a contract for book 2 which will be a 40 page one shot that I’m going to write with Eddie Deighton, can’t say too much but it will feature one or two of the characters from the ’45’ universe. I’m also planning book 3 as we write this. Of course my ultimate goal would be to create a follow-up to ’45’ but that’s something I’ll need a long run up to, let’s see how the first book progresses!
CA: Is there anything else I didn’t ask about that ComicsAlliance readers should know about you or “45?”
AE: For myself I think it would be to let your readers know this is a debut novel for me and I was totally stunned at how the artists, colourists, and editors took to the task. For ’45’ I’d say, savour each page for both the art and the words, there’s more underneath if you scratch away at the surface.