Talkin’ Indie, Comics2Movies & Gladiators with the Creators of XCT

Spartacus was brought to life by the very talented writer and creator duo Shaun Paulet and Brendan Halyday. Their series Xtreme Champion Tournament (XCT) began with #0, 1 and 2 already on the shelves. If you haven’t read it… do ya’self a favor! Based in Australia, both Shaun and Brendan were kind enough share their journey..
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CC: What made you get into comics?

SP: For me it really was by accident. I was creating a business called COMICS2MOVIES producing fan art with some very creative individuals when I caught the comic creating bug. Being surrounded by people who are so creative, where already in the industry and that you can bounce ideas off, really helped and inspired me to come up with my own comic idea. Although XCT is my first foray into the creating and publishing of a comic book, the team I have in place have put me in a good position for the comic to be extremely successful.

BH: For me, I fell in love with comics as an eight year old, and knew even then i wanted to make comics. I had already been making and publishing comics here in Australia for several years when i met Shaun, having a table next to him at a convention.

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CC: Who were your greatest influences (creator, character)? And why?

SP: My greatest influences as creators growing up was Jim Lee, Ron Lim, Humberto Ramos and Todd McFarlane. This was mainly due to the fact that their art style really spoke to me and engaged me to read titles such as X-Men, X-Men 2099, Spawn and Spider-Man. As I grew older I started to appreciate the writing as well but it wasn’t till then that I realized how visually driven I was on whether I liked a story or not. This really helped shape my own comic creating as I knew that for me I needed to have artwork that appealed to me visually and an artist that was able to convey the story the way I imagined it.
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In regards to characters I was a huge fan of X-Men and Gambit was always my favorite character. I really liked the idea of this thief, bad boy and player could change himself and become a hero. He always felt real and relatable to me and appealed to the side of me that always wanted to do and be a part of something bigger than oneself.

BH: Comic creators that have influenced me greatly include Bendis, Frank Miller, Craig Thompson, Will Eisner, Mark Bagley, Eric Larson, Todd McFarlane, Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Garth Ennis, Daniel Clowes, Chester Brown, Bryan Lee O’Malley, John Romita Sr and Jr – but hey, I could go on and on for hours. I learn a lot about storytelling from movies and TV as well.

I certainly look at how comic characters have been constructed, what are the elements that make them likable, relatable and interesting. Peter Parker/Spider-Man, for example is a superbly crafted character. I love the 60’s era Marvel characters, so many great characters, although some like Daredevil and X-Men never hit their greatest heights until the 70’s or 80’s
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CC: Tell us a bit more about Comics 2 Movies and what fans should look out for.

BH: I think I’ll leave this one to Shaun!………

SP: COMICS2MOVIES is one of the fastest growing pop culture businesses in Australia. We specialize in creating collectible fan art for both the public, conventions and companies. We have over 100 different fan art prints in our very own “VS” stlye. This has become a trademark of most of our work and what the fans are screaming for. We usually release 10-20 new prints per convention season so keep an eye out for our new range coming soon at a convention near you or online at www.comics2movies.com.au. COMICS2MOVIES also has a publishing wing which is where our comic XCT fits in. This year we are expanding the publishing side of the business producing another two confirmed titles and hopefully another of our own titles.

An example of the VS Style:

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CC: What influenced bringing XCT to the comic world? And especially Spartacus?

SP: I was a huge fan of the STARZ Spartacus Series and when the series finished I was pretty disappointed, (Spoiler) even though I knew in the end Spartacus would lose/die. I’m also a huge fan of the UFC. One night after re-watching the Spartacus TV show at about 3am in the morning, the idea of Spartacus fighting in the UFC against all these different characters from different time periods came into my head. I jumped out of bed and started writing. It wasn’t until my wife came out at 6:30am to find out where I was that I even realized I had been writing for that long. After talking about the idea with Brendan, he was able to help me take those ideas and story and really shape it into a script for a comic. And the rest as you say is history.

BH: My motivation was simply to tell great stories, and slowly, piece by piece to build a fully realized world. My focus has been to create likable, relatable heroes, scary villains, and for the book to be just plain fun! Spartacus is a great character to work with, as there is obviously some historical information to start from, but there are a lot of blanks to fill in, giving me a degree of freedom with character building.
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CC: No spoiler intention, are there any new opponents brought from the ashes to face Spartacus?

SP: We are currently working on a new graphic novel project from the XCT universe which will see a bunch of new heroes and villains introduced. We have tried to take characters out of almost all ancient civilizations not just western ones. We hope in doing this we broaden the demographic of who is interested in the comic book series as well as introducing people to cultures that may not know or heard of.

BH: There will definitely be new heroes and villains in upcoming issues. We have some cool new introductions planned, some might really surprise (and delight) our readers.
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CC: Do fans expect to see more titles from Comics 2 Movies? If so, when?

SP: Other than the XCT graphic novel we are working on, we have also just recently announced in conjunction with DreamCast Productions the printing and distribution of a graphic novel called Deadmans Land. An awesome graphic novel base on a bunch of paratroopers in WW2 getting trapped behind enemy lines and having to fight genetically modified NAZI Werewolves. Cool yeah!

As mentioned earlier we hope to announce another series developed by us later this year as well, plus another title I can’t say too much about yet.
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CC: What do you guys do to rest your brains aside from making comics?

SP: Rest? What’s rest? LOL. I actually find it hard to switch off sometimes but I really do enjoy kicking back and watching a good movie, watching my AFL team Hawthorn win, taking my dogs for a walk with my wife or actually just getting out of the house and away from the computer and having a cuppa coffee with my wife, friends or family.

BH: What do you mean, aside from comics? When I’m not making them, I’m reading them. Am currently reading through Amazing Spider-man (1963 series). I’m up to issue 80. It’s a lot of fun. I also enjoy watching movies and TV on Netflix, and trying not to critique the writing while I am doing it. Love watching sport too, NFL, AFL and NRL mainly.

CC: Are there any dream collaborations you’d love to work with? (Writers, artists)

SP: I am a super fan of J Scott Campbell and Humberto Ramos so if I ever got the chance to work with them (even if it was just a cover) it would one thing I could tick off my bucket list.
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Imagine JSC drawing Spartacus?

BH: Artists include Jim Lee, Craig Thompson, Jack Kirby (a man can dream), and Writers Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt.

CC: Where can fans get their hands on your works?

SP: Fans can get their hands on our work online at www.xct.com.au or www.comics2movies.com.au or in the following store around Australia:

Kings Comics in Sydney www.kingscomics.com,
All Star Comics in Melbourne www.allstarcomics.com.au,
Minotaur the Pop Culture Megastore also in Melbourne www.minotaur.com.au,
Mac’s Comics and Collectables in Mackay Queensland www.macscomics.com.au,
Kersplatt Comics also in QLD www.kersplattcomics.com.au,
Kaboom Comics in QLD and Adelaide Comic Centre.

Fans can also help out by getting their local stores to stock the series if they don’t already.

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