Friday, October 20, 2017
Home  >  Features  >  Mighty Creator Spotlight: Sean Fahey and Black Jack Press

TALL TALES FROM THE BADLANDS #3

 

For MightyVille's newest Creator Spotlight, we're going in with guns blazing with writer, editor, and publisher Sean Fahey of Black Jack Press! Known for their Horror-Western Anthology series, Tall Tales from the Badlands, BJP is branching out soon with Vikings! We got a hold of the first three issues of Tall Tales and were beyond impressed and intrigued by the eerie tales of America's Old West. We reached back out to Sean and got the dish on what's ahead for Sean and Black Jack Press! Read on, cowpoke...

 

SEAN FAHEY

 

MightyVille: What got you into creating comics, and how long have you been working in the medium? 

Sean Fahey: Like most creators, I've been a fan of comics for as long as I can remember. Sgt. Rock, Green Arrow, Batman, Conan and (of course) Jonah Hex were some early favorites; the guys that had to rely on their discipline, training, wit and character in order to survive. The self-made men. I find those kinds characters and their stories compelling. Always have. 

With respect to creating comics, my history is pretty simple. I have stories I want to tell, and the fastest way for me to tell them is to put pen to paper and publish them myself. So, about four years ago I started Black Jack Press and have been putting out books ever since. Not as fast as I’d like, but we’re getting our stuff out there. We started with “Tall Tales from the Badlands,” our Weird West anthology (now three issues deep) and will be branching out shortly with the first issue of our “Vikings” anthology as well as our first mini-series, “The River of Blood.”

What inspired TALL TALES FROM THE BADLANDS? How did you get involved in writing for it? Any specific Westerns that influenced your work?

I love Westerns. The stories that have always appealed to me are stories about rebirth, redemption and revenge. There’s no better genre to explore those themes than the Western. I’m fascinated by the struggle between individual human values and ideals against “progress” and “civilization” (and what follows in its wake) that epitomize so many classic Westerns. Until the west was “tamed” and “civilized” it was (for the most part) a true meritocracy. You could become anyone you wanted with enough hard work...and a little bit of luck. That appeals to me as a storyteller. When I decided to start writing and publishing comics, there was never any question in my mind that I would start out with a Western series. 

With respect to influences ... truth be told, my influences come from all over the place, even for my Westerns. There’s as much Jim Thompson and John Le Carre in my characters and stories as there is John Ford and Sam Peckinpah. Even if you’re going to work primarily in one particular genre, I think it’s critical that you draw as much as you can from outside that genre for inspiration. Otherwise, you’re just repackaging what’s been done before. Matt Ryder, the Sheriff from “A Nation of Laws” in issue two of “Tall Tales,” is based in part on Alec Lemas from LeCarre’s “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.” A man who comes to see the institutions he’s spent his whole life defending as a cruel joke. A game without winners. So, he ultimately chooses not to play the game anymore, despite what that decision ultimately costs him. Matt wouldn’t have come to me from watching “High Noon” or “My Darlin’ Clementine” or reading “Riders of the Purple Sage.”

 

TALL TALES PREVIEW

 

What can new readers expect if they check out this comic? What can you tell us about the characters, the stories, and the settings?

They should expect (and we deliver) entertaining (sometimes even thought provoking) stories with compelling characters, often with a clever twist at the end, beautifully rendered by our insanely talented art team. If folks want to give “Tall Tales from the Badlands” a shot and ultimately disagree with that statement after reading the book, I’ll buy their copy back from them. Our latest issue is a “weird west” themed issue. So if folks like their Westerns with a healthy dose of the supernatural or the super-weird, they’ll want to give the book a shot. Just to give you a quick rundown of the stories and the creative teams in issue #3:

“The Judgement of the People,”  written by Mark Wheaton, art by Jerry DeCaire. Judge Buell has made a career out of cruelly distorting the letter of the law to secure his own bloodstained legacy; but in the hereafter, the scales of justice have a way of tipping in favor of the wrongly accused.

“Apologies,” written by Sean Fahey, art by John Fortune. No parent can stand idly by while their children suffer, and after being trapped in the remote Colorado wilderness with his family for weeks without a crust of food, Robert Mannon is prepared to do what it takes to see his children’s suffering end, even if his wife is not.

“Rustlers,” written by Robert Napton, art by Franco Cespedes. Rumors of a priceless cargo aboard a mystery train draw the attention of a gang of ambitious stick-up men looking to cash in on an “easy score.” The owner of the cargo has other ideas though…as does the cargo.

“All Mine,” written by Matt Dembicki, art by Ezequiel Rosingana. There are few afflictions that will consume a man faster than “Gold Fever;” it turns good men bad, and bad men worse. But even a mountain of gold only has value if you’re alive to spend it.

“Where the Heart Is,” written by Sean Fahey, art by Ruben Rojas. Colorado. 1872. After making countless sacrifices and suffering endless hardships to make the trip West, two families of settlers are about to realize that “home” isn’t a place, it’s a state of mind.

 

TALL TALES PREVIEW

 

What have you enjoyed about creating and writing for TALL TALES FROM THE BADLANDS?

Obviously, I love the process of telling stories. From the first kernel of an idea, to developing the plot, creating the characters and working through the dialogue, each stage of the process has its own unique challenges, and I enjoy working through each of those stages. Some days are easier than others, but it’s always rewarding to see the final pages come back from the letterer -- the sweat of your brow on paper, so to speak. That said, putting together creative teams might be my favorite things about working in comics. I love looking for artists and writers and developing relationships with them -- that’s the creative process. Collaboration. Finding new voices and new styles. I would say to any aspiring editor or comic creator that you better love looking for talent, because until you establish yourself you’re going to spend a lot of time doing it.

We met at Big Wow! Comicfest in San Jose. Have you been to many comic conventions? What has been your craziest/most fun experience at a convention?

I've been doing a few conventions. Alternative Press Expo. Big Wow! Stockton-Con. A few others. To be honest, I think the craziest experience was my first Con as an exhibitor, the East-Bay Comic Con. After the Con started, it was a good forty minutes before I made my first sale. I was convinced that absolutely no one would be interested in “Tall Tales” and that all the cliches about how “Westerns don’t sell” were true. Then it just picked up, and it didn't let up. I brought fifty copies of the book with me, and sold all fifty about an hour before the Con was over. The demographics of the people that picked up the book were all over the place. Young. Old. Male. Female. Black. White. Asian. Hispanic. It was an insane experience. My take away was to pitch everyone. Everyone just wants a good story; that’s common across all demographics. 

 

TALL TALES FROM THE BADLANDS #1

 

Since it's an anthology series, can any of our readers get involved or submit stories?

Absolutely. We post solicitations for all of our positions on our Facebook page and through our Twitter feed. Most of the positions we post solicitations for are for artists, but we did a call for submissions for “Vikings” and for the fourth issue of “Tall Tales,” and that went well for us. We may do it again. 

What is coming up on the horizon for TALL TALES FROM THE BADLANDS? 

Issue four is underway. Similar to issue three, issue four will be “weird west” themed. About half of the scripts are in and we’ll be posting solicitations for artists soon. Some great stories in that volume already. Mark Wheaton turned in a script about a ghost ship in San Francisco bay at the height of the gold rush that is downright creepy, and Derek Fridolfs and Ken Jones are working on a pre-Civil War era Western that is straight out of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” a very clever thriller. 

 

VIKINGS Preview

 

Are you working on anything else that folks should look out for?

Oh yeah. Our “Vikings” anthology will be the next release, probably late winter/early spring of next year. That will be followed by the fourth issue of “Tall Tales from the Badlands” early next year as well as the first issue of “Ruprecht,” a kind of “Dennis the Menace” by way of Charles Addams kids comic. By the middle of next year, we’re hoping to release the first two issues of “The River of Blood,” a Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft inspired pulp-horror mini-series. The story is about a group of exiled Varangian Guard Vikings trying to return North from Constantinople up the Volga River. Suffice it to say that their journey home is interrupted, but this presents a chance for redemption... if they can survive it. Thematically, it’s about the contrasts between ideals and institutions, and barbarism and “civilization.” Carlos Trigo is working up the art for issue #2 right now, and it looks incredible. 

In the interest of shameless self-promotion, the best way to keep update on all things Black Jack Press is to follow our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BlackJackPress!

Who wins in a showdown: Django or The Man with No Name?

Blondie. Easily. You have to remember, even by the end of “Django Unchained” Django is still a “rookie” bounty-hunter and gunslinger. When “A Fistful of Dollars” begins, it’s clear that Blondie is seasoned. By the time we get to the end of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” he’s damn near unstoppable. I suspect though that if these two met, it would never come to that. They would size each other up, and there might be an exchange of words, but that would be the end of it. 

 

VIKINGS Preview

 

Any famous person you want to call out for a Wild West Duel?

Fredric Wertham. I wish I could travel back to 1953 and gun that lying, manipulative son-of-a-bitch down before he had a chance to publish “Seduction of the Innocent.” 

Thanks Sean!

 

Well, readers? If your fancy as tickled as ours was? Well then head on over to DriveThruComics and pick up the first three issues of Tall Tales from the Badlands now! Then come back here and share your thoughts... 

 

More Spotlights on MightyVille:

Versatile Visions: A Spotlight on Eric Canete

True Colors: A Spotlight on Laura Martin

Spotlight on Mick Gray: Batman, Ink

 

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