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So Many Explosions: A NYCC Interview With Alex de Campi And ChrisCross About Bankshot

Written by Tim Midura on Tuesday, October 17 2017 and posted in News with Benefits

So Many Explosions: A NYCC Interview With Alex de Campi And ChrisCross About Bankshot

On explosions, sound effects on art, and using your friends as reference.

Source: New York Comic Con

Alex de Campi is a British-American comic book writer. Her credits include Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight, No Mercy, and Archie vs Predator. ChrisCross is an American comic book artist. His credits include Blood Syndicate, Firestorm, and Captain Marvel. De Campi and ChrisCross are currently working on Bankshot for Dark Horse Comics.


Tim: Bankshot wraps up in November. How has the ride for the last few months been?

Alex: Full of explosions.

Chris: She does a very interesting story with these characters so I can't cheat at all. With all these locales and trying to make it all a part of a scene. I've got to imagine what it looks like inside all this stuff. There's all these weapons. The DShK. Is that what it's called?

Alex: Yeah, yeah.

Chris: The machine gun. That drove me nuts.

Alex: I'm so sorry.

Chris: No, no, no. It's good. I have this fear of getting stale. You can't get stale doing this stuff. There's a lot going on on those pages and I've got to break it down. I'm trying to make it look like what she wants to say and still have them move around, do the action and plot it. It's almost like doing a movie as the director. This person has to be there, this person is coming this way. Each panel has to set the situation and make a smooth transition. You have to have a whole awareness campaign to make it all right. I try to make the flashbacks work in tandem to what's going on in the present. So I'm trying to get it through my mind. I don't know if I've achieved it, but I'm pretty good at trying to absorb what a person wants and putting it down on paper.

Alex: I do try to give him links to things. Artists should spend their day drawing and not googling.

Chris: It doesn't matter. I still do it anyway.

Alex: You fall down this Wiki hole. The story is complicated because there's a constant flashback structure of things that are relevant to the story that we haven't told you yet. And it is full-on action. It's full script. It's a very detailed script. There's also a big health warning at the front that says "feel free to ignore any of this". Some days you just want to get up and draw the script and some days you want to innovate. It's there as a safety net.

Chris: I always try to one up her. Just a little bit. So she thinks "I didn't think of that". Has my art changed the dialogue in any way?

Alex: I change the dialogue anyway. I letter my own books generally, except for work for hire. Chris tries to fit the art to the story the best he can. I get the art and think "past me wrote too many words", so I'll change things. There's this process of passing the pages back and forth, which I really like.

And when you letter your own work, you really appreciate what your line artist and colorist do because you're looking at it at like 800%. Because you're really emotionally invested in the book, it's your story. You're trying to fit the sound effects and word balloons in in a way that most complements the art. They kind of disappear into the art and you're not fighting it. It's not like you're slapping a huge sound effect on top of the art like an uninvited guest, blocking all the nice stuff. Every time you cover up art with a sound effect, you're like "this took effort to draw and the world can never see it".

Chris: I try to leave a lot of dead space.

Alex: You do leave space.

Chris: That's just part of it. I've been doing this 25 years now or whatnot. You learn to create dead space because you know something is going to get covered so it's not a big deal. I try to leave a lot of space because I don't know what she's going to do. I try to leave her room to play around. I wish I had pictures of you, I could've made you a character or something. That would've been cool.

It's just a lot of technical stuff along with the creativity. We're also working with Snakebite Cortez who colors the book, so we had to work together also. I'm kind of doing all the production myself so I had to leave everything in photoshop separate so he could do his colors without having to cover anything or miss anything. It's a crazy process the way I work with her and work with him. It's like kind of dealing with a whole company in ways. It's cool though. I try to make things easier for both parties, so when they see what I'm doing they don't have to work too hard and just be organic with the process. Which I hope I'm doing.

Alex: It's my favorite way to work anyway. We're all like friends and we can talk to each other. If there's a problem, it doesn't have to go through an editor. Editors are incredibly useful people. They can generally keep us on time and catch some of the mistakes we all miss because we're human beings. But sometimes it's much easier to just message someone, rather than have it sent upstream and upstream doesn't bother to check.

Chris: It's a fun script. She does some deep characters. When people find out that Alex is a woman, a white woman, writing a black character from Somalia, they're like "Really?" Because she can write. She gets it. She knows the voice of the characters. She knows the soul of the characters. You can just see with Marcus there's this thing going on. The other guy, the British guy?

Alex: Reg.

Chris: Right. That guy is crazy too. They all kind of have their thing. If this ever becomes a TV series, you can just see how the characters are going to be right away. How they're going to act, who they're gonna be. It's laid out. There's really no guessing.

The good thing is each one of the characters is based on real people I've seen before. Sariah is based on a woman in Venezuela. She hit me up and saw I was doing some comics work and said "I would really love it if you put me in one of your comic books." When I saw what she looked like, that was Sariah right there. Marcus King is based on Shawn Martinbrough, the guy who does Thief Of Thieves. We've known each other since college. I said "Dude, I don't have a face for Marcus. Do you wanna be Marcus?" He goes "Okay." It's awesome. If you don't know what a person looks like, ask your friends. Don't be surprised if you're in the next one.

Tim: Looking forward to it. Is issue five going to wrap it up completely or do you have more plans?

Chris: There's story I'm pretty sure.

Alex: This story wraps up completely. I don't end mini-series on cliffhangers because I'm not a jerk. I hate that. So many Kickstarter projects are like "I've Kickstarted my comic and it ends on a cliffhanger." I will remember this until the end of time. We can always do more things with the characters. It's a heist book. I already have a London gold heist story that we could do at some point. I'd like to. Working with Chris is a blast. He is the action king for a reason.

Chris: Have you ever thought about doing comedies? Like a comedy book?

Alex: Definitely. I tried to write a romantic comedy with Steve Lieber. He had some free time and I was swamped with other things. I was like "Steve, I'm so honored and I would love to write for you. I just can't pull anything out of my ass for the rest of this year. I'm so underwater." So, I missed my window because he got a bunch of other projects. I have this half-written romantic comedy. The first issue has two murders and explosions. It's like a romantic thriller/comedy. It's a Steven Chow film.

Chris: She likes explosions. There's a theme here.

Alex: I like challenging myself. I default to thrillers so I try to write something and it becomes a slash thriller. This year is easing up in term of workload, so I can address some of the things on the backburner and that's one of them. It won't be Lieber anymore because he's busy. I'll have to find a new artist.

Tim: Well if there's explosions, there's Chris.

Chris: I'm always in stock on explosions.

Alex: Explosions, kissing, and throwing up. Not necessarily all in the same scene. But I'm looking at that now as a challenge.

Chris: Maybe one day I'll be able to draw a romantic comedy. I want to be able to touch different genres at some point and be able to push myself. Get into actual storytelling. It doesn't exactly have to involve shooting. I want people to see that I can do other stuff. It's just not being done. It would be cool to be a part of that. People would go "Chriscross actually did that?" Like yeah he did. Two people kissing? I could do that.

Alex: It's fun to throw yourself curveballs and do something different every so often.

Chris: Locales? I can do that. I have Google Images. There's tons of stuff out there. This book made me get my stuff together. Like I said, you cannot cheat with this book. I've never drawn so many Hummers in my life. And I did this book called Xero a long time ago for DC with Christopher Priest. There might've been an issue where there's one Hummer and for this book I've been doing like eight or nine Hummers in a panel. Now I know them by heart. Could probably build one now.

Alex: My friend Carla [Speed McNeil] buys model cars. She has this collection of model cars that have been in various books she's done.

Chris: I have the old Hummer, a die-cast metal one. That's the one I was using for the book. I took pictures of it. It was really easy doing it.


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About the Author - Tim Midura

Born in the frozen tundra of Massachusetts, Tim Midura has long possessed a love for comic books and records. After stealing the beard of Zeus and inventing the pizza bagel, a much more heavily tattooed and bearded Tim Midura has finally settled in San Diego. He's the world's first comics journalist who doesn't want to become a comics writer. Find him on twitter, facebook or by email.

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