Interview with Martin Brennan and Michael B Jackson, creators of “13 Coins”

Over the last week Titan Comics kindly arranged for the Comic Crusaders to speak with Martin Brennan and Michael B Jackson about their current series 13 Coins, after conversing via email for the last couple of days here is what they told us about their series from Titan and thoughts on comics as a medium.

13 Coins #1 cover INC

Comic Crusaders: Seeing that you have previously written for games such as Hitman Absolution I wanted to ask if you find any similarities between the game and comic medium and how do you approach writing within the different mediums.   

Martin Brennan & Michael B Jackson: The similarity between comic books and games is the freedom of unlimited creativity, you can pull out all the stops and let the story and characters flow and grow because you don’t have to worry about budget or safety of actors or any limitation.  You can let the story happen; it still has to be a good story and your audience has to connect with your characters, but the story and characters can really take off.

Also, both these mediums tend to be ahead of the curve, the audience is open to new ideas.  Actually the audience wants new ideas, whereas other mediums tend to play it safe because they don’t want to go against the status quo or don’t want to anger sponsors.  Comics and games understand that they are releases for their audiences, but they are also methods of expression.

CC: Do you think the medium of comics give you a unique opportunity to express your creativity both with writing and with the art that makes up the book?  

MB & MJ: The best comic books use both word and art to tell the story.  That’s different from the art simply showing what has happened, the art has to convey emotion and it presents a visual aspect of the story that enhances the words on the page.  For this to work, the writer has to understand the artist’s strengths, and the artist has to really understand the story and characters.  The object is to cause the reader to feel the flow of the story on the page, almost to the point that his mind interprets the words and art into movement, giving the page a sense of action.  But that only happens when the story has captured the reader’s imagination and the art captures the emotion of the story, then for that brief instant you see the motion in your mind.

CC: And getting on to the art has Bisley’s style influenced the way in which you approached writing this book? How does his style inspire you and how do you play to his strengths when writing the book?  

MB & MJ: Biz’s style, as Biz himself is perfect for this book.  His personality is as strong and unpredictable as his art and able to convey emotion and mood incredibly well with his art.

It complements our story perfectly and that is the key.  Biz is able to take the story and put emotion, power, drama, intensity into the page.  He doesn’t just bring the characters to life, he brings the story to life.  He allows us to write with confidence that he will be able to put the idea and emotion of the scene on the page.  So, we haven’t had to adapt to his style.  It’s a good match.  Because this is our first comic book series, one important thing Biz does is tell us what works and what doesn’t work in comics.  We are learning from a legend.

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CC: Having read the first issue, I am curious to know where this idea came from I have seen books and games about wars between heaven and fallen before but, not quite in this manner what was your thought processes when writing the book?

MB & MJ: The initial idea that led to the story was a simple question: what makes some athletes so much better than others?  Why is Lebron James so incredibly coordinated for someone that size?  How the heck can some men hit 700 home runs when others hit 500 and are still considered superstars.  The hand-eye coordination required to hit a baseball coming at you at 80-90 miles an hour is amazing.  Ever seen freaks of nature called NFL Defensive Ends?  6’6” of muscle that can run as fast as men a foot shorter!  Incredible, then there are real warriors like Navy Seals who are truly living weapons.  There’s got to be a reason some people seem to be born to be soldiers, fighters, samurai, and reasons some people seem born evil.  13 Coins offers an explanation.

CC: Off the back of that question was there anything that influenced you both when coming up with this story?  

MB & MJ: Current head-lines strongly influenced us.  With the internet and all the news outlets, we hear so much more about what’s happening all over the world.  There’s craziness everywhere and it seems to be spreading.  We gave the craziness a reason and came up with a story.  The reason according to our story is that evil wants to renew the War for Heaven.  We let our imaginations flow from there.

CC: And were there any themes that you wanted to explore with the book?  

MB & MJ: The theme is love and sacrifice.  The love the central character John has for his girlfriend Brandi.  The love Gwen’s brother David had for her.  The love Gwen and Samuel have for each other.  The love The SON have for all men, so much so they fight a secret war knowing they will never receive any gratitude from anyone.  People willing to sacrifice themselves for the people they love, the most noble of causes.  On the flip side of that, is hate born from love.  The Fallen who were angels who loved God, felt betrayed because they were not forgiven, but man is repeatedly forgiven.  Their love becomes hate so vile; they despise all men, even those who have no idea why they are hated.

CC: From my reading I feel a lot of the groundwork has been laid for a quite an expansive tale, where do you see this book going in the future? 

MB & MJ: Yes, that’s the plan of the project- to lay down a foundation for a world, create an audience, and build a franchise.  This first series tells the back story and give the audience a complete understanding of what’s going on.  We got a little bit of flack for taking so long in telling the back story in such detail, but it’s necessary for the audience to truly understand the story.

In the following series as the story continues, it really takes off as John can go either way: good or bad.  But really, is anyone all good or all bad?  And what determines good or evil?  Everyone reacts according to the circumstances that are placed before them.  What is your end goal and what are you willing to do to reach it?  How do you decide what’s right or wrong?  Would you follow your heart, or would you turn against the one you love and follow orders?  Would you risk the world to save the one you love?  This is where the story is going.  Can’t wait to see what happens.

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CC: And finally, is there anything else you would like to talk about regarding 13 Coins?  

MB & MJ: We would like to say thanks to everyone who has purchased the comic and downloaded the app.  That’s right, there is an app: 13 Coins Comic, available on Apple and Android. It’s cool 3D art from Biz, with more to come.   We appreciate the support people have given us.  Thanks for the reviews and the patience to stay with the story.  We have already agreed to do the next series and continue the story.  We’re looking forward to watching the franchise grow.  So pick a side: The SON or The Fallen.  Get ready for battle.  The winner gets Heaven.  Forget Earth.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank Martin and Michael for their time, and for giving us some insight into the world of 13 Coins and the thoughts behind it.

Be sure to check out the 13 Coins website http://www.13coinscomic.com and keep up to date with latest develops with the book via the 13 coins Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/13CoinsComic), be sure to give them a follow on Twitter (@13CoinsComic) and when you are in your LCS ask for 13 Coins.

By Matt Deery

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