On the eve of Australia Day 2016, Comic Crusaders caught up with the very talented Australian writer Nathanael Hopkins-Smith. Nathanael has been on our radar since the debut of The Vagabond and as part of that, the improvement in his work can be seen in every new issue. Now, tackling a different genre, with Wrestlers In Space, Nathanael is looking to show his versatility as a writer.
Cue entrance music:-
Comic Crusaders: For readers who may not recognize your name, can we have a quick bio please?
Nathanael Hopkins-Smith: Sure, I started out making short films in high school. One of the shorts I wrote and directed ended up turning into my first comic “The Vagabond”. I have since released 3 issues and working I’m on the 4th; I am also the creator of the recently launched comic “Wrestlers In Space” on Kickstarter which will be available soon on ComiXology.
CC: What difficulties do you find working in the comic book industry? How do you overcome them?
NHS: I think if you’re starting out as a comic book writer the hardest part can be finding a good Artist to work with, chances are you’re going to be with someone else starting out and after the first issue they might not be interested in making comics anymore. Once you have self-published a few issues and done the rounds at the conventions, people will start to notice your work, you network, and you will slowly build up a portfolio to start approaching bigger and better artists to work on your projects. Instagram has been a great resource for meeting other comic artists, In fact 4 of the pin ups featured in Wrestlers In Space are artists I have discovered through Instagram.
CC: I have to say, I really enjoyed the pin-up section of the book. Inspiration wise, who floats your boat? What comics are you reading?
NHS: Lately I have really been enjoying Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour. It’s almost like an unofficial sequel to Walking Tall, set in a rough little country town full of shady characters. I briefly worked at a wood mill in a small town, and it captures the small town mentality quite well. I’m still keeping up to date with Walking Dead and Invincible by Robert Kirkman and I’ve always been a big Garth Ennis fan from Preacher to his run on The Punisher.
CC: In the recent Comic Crusaders podcast, fellow Aussie Nicola Scott was mentioned as a top 5 artist? Which other Aussies should fandom be taking notice of?
NHS: There are 2 Aussies that have worked on this new book that you should definitely keep an eye out for: – Craig Bruyn, Recently did his first cover for IDW Skylanders #4 and he has a creator owned series “From Above”
– Dean Rankine, has a creator owned series through Action Lab called Itty Bitty Bunnies as well as working for Bongo entertainment, doing shorts for The Simpsons Comics and next week he will be featured in Dark Horse Hell Boy Winter Special (CC: Check out this weeks’ review section from Wednesday, for more information on the Hellboy Winter Special)
CC: Wrestlers is totally different from your last book, The Vagabond. Which style do you prefer writing?
NHS: They are both equally as fun to write, The Vagabond is the comic that portrays a social commentary of the current status of the world. Wrestlers In Space is like having my own pulp magazine, one issue I can have my characters battling aliens, and in the next issue they could be thrown back in time to rescue the 3 stooges.
CC: As this is a wrestling book, I have to ask, who is your favourite wrestler and what makes him great?
NHS: My top 3 Mexican Wrestlers (Luchadors) would have to be Blue Demon, El Santo and Mil Mascaras, not only were they kings of the ring, they also starred in over 50 feature films where the Luchadors would battle Dracula, Werewolves and Zombies.
The idea of Wrestlers In Space is a kind of throw-back to that pulpy 60s/70s feel, and I think there is a lot more you can do with the characters story-wise.
CC: The art in Wrestlers fits the book well, how does the creative process work for you and Francesco Chiappara?
NHS: Francesco is great to work with, he’s an amazing Artist and he has a few creator owned books that look fantastic, The only problem for me is they are in Italian (and I can’t read it) but going on face value they are really kooky and have interesting social commentary. As for the creative process, he was very easy to work with. I would send him scripts via email and he would send me back roughs that I would then approve for him to work on the final inks.
Even though he was in Italy, the time zones didn’t pose too much of an issue. I look forward to working with him again on #2 of Wrestlers In Space.
CC: With what looks like another Big Two reboot / restart, now seems a good time for smaller books to strike. How can independent books improve their standing in the industry, to fans of brand heroes and books and a cluttered comic rack?
NHS: If you really want your work to be noticed, you have to deliver content that’s comparable with what’s on the shelf, as long as your book has interesting characters I don’t really think it matters what genre you write in, I think there is still a lot of stories you can tell with superheroes, you just have to put the right spin on it, in saying that comics can be about anything really and that’s what makes them so great.
CC: What’s next for you, The Vagabond and the Wrestlers?
NHS: Funnily enough, on the topic of Australia day, my next project is an Australian book called “Bashman” since Australia used to be a penal colony, I thought what better origin for a Masked Vigilante than to be an ex-criminal who accidentally gets mistaken for being a superhero while engaging in illegal activities. There is a little sketch that Gemma Marie McCulloch did for Bashman and she also did a pin-up in Wrestlers In Space. This project is pending release end of 2016 early 2017.
Thanks for your time Nathanael. Good luck with Wrestlers In Space and have a great Australia Day!
For those interested in Nathanael’s work, check out our review section of r reviews of The Vagabond issues 1-3. And keep an eye on the review section for a future review of issue 1 of Wrestlers In Space.