Thursday, April 5, 2012

WQ Magazine Interview by Jason Nahrung. Profile: Paul Mason

(WARNING: This post is a little self-indulgent, I admit ;). But I am very pleased to be interviewed, and I believe it's the first time that I'm featured in a magazine or newspaper NOT for being in a tournament or kicking someone (I'm sure I still have cringe-worthy clips on VHS somewhere :P), but actually for the work I'm trying to put in to get somewhere positive with my comic work. So I hope you get something out of my thought in pumping out comic books :D)

I got a great email during the week from Jason Narhung, editor of 'WQ Magazine'- it was the latest magazine for April (ISSN 1444-2922), featuring a Profile that Jason wrote on me of all people (I know, right? ;D), based on a phone conversation we had earlier this year.

From the magazine:
"WQ is the monthly publication of the Queensland Writers Centre(QWC). QWC is the leading provider of specialised services to the writing community of Queensland. Through its annual programs, it promotes skills development and professional practice and works to advance the recognition of Queensland writers and writing, locally, nationally and internationally."

I am very grateful for the interview, and appreciate the support. As the magazine goes out via the Queensland Writer's Centre, I thought many of the Soldier fans might not get the chance to see it, but Jason has kindly allowed me to post his article in its entirity here. There were also some great artilces about writing and comics by some of the guys from the Brisbane-based 'Ashcan' comics. If you're keen to find out more about the Queensland Writer's centre, I urge you to go here:

So here it is, guys, and thanks again:

Article pp4 WQ Magazine #217 April 2012. Edited by Jason Nahrung and published by the Queensland Writer's Centre.

Profile: Paul Mason
By Jason Nahrung.

Paul Mason’s comic series The Soldier: Legacy is on the
march. The title began its life as a self-published university
project, then was picked up by Australian publisher Black
House Comics and gained further exposure through an
insurance company television ad.

It’s been an affirming couple of years for Mason, who traces his
interest in creating comics to his childhood.

‘When I was 13, I got for my birthday a book called How to
Draw Comics the Marvel Way (by Stan Lee and John Buscema).
I’d always loved drawing, but I hated the idea of tracing or just
copying an image, or: step 1, draw a circle; step 2, add a line
to it … This book was about the principles and methodologies
of Marvel artists that you could adapt to your own work; not
necessarily shoehorning you into a particular style, but giving
you the tools to be able to structure a character or a scene,
composition, perspective, foreshortening ... that kind of thing.’

The Brisbane-based storyteller studied a Bachelor of Animation
at Queensland College of Art, operated through Griffith
University, completed an honours year in 2009 and is now
pursuing a Doctorate of Visual Arts.

‘You still do quite a hefty thesis component but there’s quite a
big studio component as well. If I want to get into the comics
industry here and overseas, I need that studio component.
The companies don’t want to read a thesis – they want to see
the work produced. I’m pretty much focused on different
methodologies of comic artists. There’s no real rules about how
you write or how you draw a comic book page, but there are

The first issue of The Soldier: Legacy was a project for his
honours, self-published in April 2010 and acquired by Black
House in mid 2011. Two trade paperbacks and three issues are
due this year.

The comic stars both a masked Australian soldier’s feats during
World War II and a descendant fighting crime in modern

‘It’s a concept of trying to tell an Australian story or an
Australian sentiment in an art form that’s inherently American.
‘We can do an action or superhero type thing and it doesn’t
have to be set in New York. It doesn’t always have to have
American characters in it. You can tell a story you don’t cringe
at when you read it – there’s still a cringe factor when you see
certain Australian films. I try to steer clear of that. If a kid or
a teen reads (Soldier) and decides to google something about
what we did in World War II for instance – that’s something we
don’t see in American stories.’

The Australian industry, producing a diverse range of material
outside the superhero genre, is still at a cottage stage, he says,
with only a few professional publishers operating.

‘Anyone could come up with a decent concept, put together
a book and head to a con and start selling and be a part of the

‘A lot of the time the comics are coming together from the love
of writing and the love of drawing. You have to find the right
combination of people. That’s why you get a lot of anthologies
– it’s a bit less commitment to having to write a 22-pager every
month or two months.

‘If you’re a writer, you can be a lot more productive than a
penciller, for instance, because you can be in a lot more books.

‘You can write a short story and you don’t have to know how to
draw. If you are able to structure something out and describe
it visually to someone and have an idea of how many pages
you want, you can have an artist put together that sort of thing
and come back later; you can have several artists juggling at
the same time and really, that’s what Stan Lee was doing in the
’60s – he had a handful of guys who he trusted. He’d dictate the
stories to them.’

Lee, the legend behind Marvel comics, is one of Mason’s idols,
along with Lee’s collaborator Jack Kirby. Lee is a guest at this
year’s Melbourne Oz Comic-Con, the first year the US-founded
event has been held in Australia (an Adelaide event has just

‘I’m a big Jack Kirby fan; he was the work horse of the two,
pumping out the artwork and the characters, and I did my
thesis on that.’

While digital printing has helped reduce printing costs and the
internet has facilitated networking and collaboration, the form
still holds its own challenges.

‘The hardest part … for a comic book artist is you have to
construct the world yourself. It’s choosing what you need
to show in terms of being able to tell the story with clarity
– clarity’s the number one thing – but also telling it in an
entertaining and visual way,
’ Mason says.

‘You want to make sure the words and the art are working
together as one entity. That’s the part that takes all day. I’ll sit
there and I’ll have a particular scene I want to get down, and by
the end of the day I’ll have four or five bits of paper with little
scribbles on it, and “is that all I did”? That was the agonising
over how the pieces were going to fit together to tell the story.’

Further information
Paul Mason’s website,
Black House Comics,
Oz Comic-Con, Melbourne, 30 June–1 July,"

Thank you again Jason, a pleasure talking to you. And I did notice too, some kind words later in the publication, such as from Mitch Knox's article "Writing for Comics: The Big Picture":

"Black House has delivered some fantastic local titles such as
Paul Mason’s The Soldier: Legacy (see page 4) and Christopher
Sequeira and Phil Cornell’s Sherlock Holmes: Dark Detective.
The publisher is taking submissions for their bimonthly zombie
anthology After the World and their new superheroics-themed
collection ParaHuman."

Updates to come re: Soldier Legacy #4 as I battle to finish up and send to print. Good news is too, the Dr Nikola vs. Soldier Legacy part two for Dark Detective #8 is virtually in the can :D

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