Saturday, 5 March 2011

Review - Stiffs

Written by – Drew Davis-PJ Montgomery-Joseph Glass

Art by – Gavin Mitchell

Colours & Lettering by – Adam Caldwell

Quality, that’s the first thing that springs to mind when I think about Stiffs (yeah stop sniggering), it looks amazing for a self published comic, the pages are weighty and the art and the colouring are brilliant throughout.  My next thought is Welsh, this comic wears its heart on its sleeve and it’s unashamedly Welsh.

Stiffs is the creation of writers Drew Davis, Patrick Montgomery and Joseph Glass and follows the adventures of Don Daniels and his spliff toting monkey Kenny. Horror stalks the South Wales Valley’s in the guise of the walking dead, zombies and it’s up to Don and Kenny to sort this shit out before it get’s out of hand.

I picked this 12 page preview of Stiffs up at CICE and I have to say it was money well spent. The story hits its stride straight away and finds it voice immediately, which is refreshingly Welsh, not just pretending to be Welsh I mean proper Welsh butty, ewe listening to me. The dialogue is fresh and sharp, with loads of great one liners and it’s quite often the monkey stealing the best ones.

The art by Gavin Mitchell is excellent and reminded me of a lot of Mike Mignola, especially the last zombie filled splash page. The colouring by Adam Cadwell (of the superb web comic The Everyday) is also excellent with the use of lime green put to great effect. Both artist and colourist have done a great job.

I for one can’t wait for more of the story to unfold and as great as this preview is it just isn’t enough, roll on issue number one proper.

I was luckily enough to catch up with the guys at CICE and have a little chat with them and they even signed my copy of Stiffs for me.  I also managed to get a short interview with one of the writers PJ via email, so here it is.

Nick - So how did the three of you Drew Davies, PJ Montgomery and Joseph Glass, get together in the first place?

PJ - Drew and I were friends already, as were Drew and Joe. Drew and I had both been telling the stories which would eventually become Stiffs on our respective blogs. It was on a trip to the Bristol Comic Expo where Drew introduced me to Joe, and the three of us realised that our stories might be good fodder for a comic.

Nick - Have you always been interested in comics and was it always part of the plan to produce your own stuff?

PJ - I've personally been reading comics since X-Men #52 in 1996. That was my first one, and I've been hooked ever since. I've always wanted to be a writer though, and it wasn't long after getting into comics that I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing them too.

Nick - The art in Stiff’s is of a pretty high standard, how did you come across Gavin Mitchell?

PJ - Gav was a lucky find. We'd been looking for an artist for a while, and Gav happened to be friends with a friend of Joe. Joe was put in contact with Gav, and we sent him some pages to see what he could do. It turned out that, not only is Gav a bloody talented artist, but he just got what we wanted to do with the book. I can't imagine anyone else drawing Stiffs now.

Nick - I’m a big fan of Adam Cadwell’s The Everyday, how did you get Adam on board as the colourist?

PJ - Again, that was Joe. We knew The Everyday, but it was Joe who just sent him an e-mail on the off chance. Thankfully, Adam, like Gav, liked the idea and got what we were trying to do with it, and he and Gav have become an excellent art team together.

Nick - Where did the inspiration for Kenny the spliff smoking monkey come from?

PJ - Believe it or not, Kenny was Drew's imaginary friend growing up. In fact, and you'd have to confirm this with Drew, but I think that there's a story about a time when Drew broke the dishwasher, and genuinely tried to blame it on Kenny. Kenny was a part of the original stories Drew wrote, and we decided to keep him in, because a) he's so much fun to write, and b) he's a unique selling point for a horror comedy book.

Nick - How have you found the process publishing your own comic?

PJ - It's been difficult, if I'm honest. It's taken us a long time to get this far. Finding the right printer, and getting the money together has been tough, but it's also very much worth it!

Nick - How was CICE for you and the guys?

PJ - It was really good. The atmosphere in general was fantastic, and people seemed to like Stiffs. We sold a number of copies, and have had nothing but good feedback. It's a really good feeling. We'll definitely be back at CICE next year.

Nick - Where can people get hold of Stiffs?

PJ - At the moment, it's being stocked in The Comic Guru in Cardiff, and is also available through his website, or you can contact Drew, Joe or myself directly. (You can find the guys on Twitter @PJMontgomery @DrewnoD @josephglass)

Nick - And finally when can we expect more Stiffs?

PJ - I can't give you a definite date, but it will be later this year. Keep an eye out for it!

So there we have it a brief review of the Stiffs preview and a short interview with PJ, if you can do, I would urge you to pick a copy of Stiffs you won’t be disappointed.

A big thanks to PJ for doing the interview.

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