By Robin Jones
Written by Dan Butcher
Art by Dan Butcher
Welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!
We have an awesome, pulse pounding, British action/adventure webcomic for you this time around in the shape of Vanguard from writer/artist Dan Butcher! The Vanguard team are a group of meta-humans, working for the British Government in covert ops around the globe, the art is punchy, gritty and realistic and the story is engaging and full of depth! This is for fans of superhero team ups, like JLA, the Avengers or the Unity team! I was lucky enough to speak to Dan about his work!
Me: What was the inspiration behind Vanguard? Where did the idea come from?
Dan: The idea for Vanguard came to me when I was working on something completely different. I found as I worked up a back story to that tale, it became apparent that it wasn’t something I wanted to skip over, but actually explore further.
Me: Vanguard is a classic superhero/meta human team up, did you want to add your own twists to this flavour by having them as a military response team rather than an independent group?
Dan: Well, I wanted the Vanguard to be endorsed by and work for the Government. That being the case, in reality they’d operate with and alongside the Military. You’d have several departments handling their publicity, media image, and their deployment in the field. In the comic, these roles are filled by several characters (McPhaidon, John Hatcher, General Phelps). In regards to the chosen candidates for ‘super powers’, if the Government were going to pick out half a dozen people to give these abilities to, I’d imagine they’d pick people from Law Enforcement/Military or someone with a proven record of following orders. I’ve done my best to research elements within the story, to the point where I was asked if I’d ever served in the Military. Nope, just read a lot of books, watched documentaries… and 80’s action films. Littered through the first two issues are numerous references to ‘Predator’. See if you can spot them all.
Me: Which comics do you read yourself and which creators have had the most influence on your work?
Dan: Comics I read at the moment? I have a standing order for just one, which is ‘Invincible’, by Robert Kirkman, Corey Walker and Ryan Ottley. The writing on this comic is excellent. Constantly moving forward, always changing with twists and turns every issue. As much as I love the classic superheroes, Batman, Spider-Man, etc., the idea that they never change/grow bugged me more as I grew older and my tastes changed. In regards to the art, Ryan’s work is amazing. Detailed, explosive and dynamic. His style has influenced me greatly, these past few years. I’m sure some of his influence can be seen in my work.
Comics that have influenced me? I’ll mention some of the ones that had particular influence on me as a younger reader: Marshall Law, Judge Dredd/2000AD, Dragon’s Claws and Action Force/G.I.Joe. These titles either focus on a team of characters or are set in a dystopian future, similar to Vanguard.
Certainly a lot of the elements/ideas within Vanguard have their roots within some of the aforementioned titles. Public Spirit from Marshall Law, for instance. He’s the World’s number one superhero, who behind closed doors, is a drug fuelled ego-manic and murder. He certainly went some way to inspire MaXtreme in Vanguard.
Me: If you could describe Vanguard using one sentence, what would you say?
Dan: That, is a hard one. Maybe – ‘In a bleak, dystopian future, a team of disparate government endorsed superheroes battle to foil a Machiavellian scheme bent on Global domination’?
Me: So, why a webcomic?
Dan: It was/is the best medium to tell the story. The comic is free to read and anyone with a web connection can get at it. Webcomics are a bit of a double edged sword. Anyone can make one, but with no quality control, anything can and does get posted up. Fortunately, I receive great editorial input from Gary Cohen, a chap I met on Twitter, who writes the excellent Mallville Rules. He has tempered and harnessed the content and storytelling, making the overall read feel ‘tighter’ and more focused.
Me: Do you have any other projects lined up for the future?
Dan: I have several. It’s getting harder and harder to not to add another project to what I’m already doing. I often over work myself and burn out. I’ve tried to limit the amount of projects I commit to because of it. That said, I often provide artwork to webcomics and/or creators that I like/admire.
Me: Has the idea of crowd funding a printed edition of Vanguard ever crossed your mind? I understand Vol 1 is available to buy?
Dan: Yep, the trade paperback of Vanguard, which includes issues one-five can be bought online HERE
I’ve not considered doing a crowd funding edition. One of my problems is that I’m a creative, not a business man. I’m more at home punching out the artwork than selling it. A situation that I need to address, because the bills can’t be paid otherwise!
Me: Hypopthetical now, if the Vanguard team had to take on the Unity team from Valliant Comics, who would win?
Dan: Ha ha! I can’t say I’m not familiar with the Unity team. Readers will be able to tell that the Vanguard can pack a punch, but put them up against heavy hitters like the JLA or the Avengers and they’d struggle!
So, to read Dan’s Vanguard web series, just follow this link and it’ll take you to the start of the series! You can follow Dan’s exploits on twitter right here and there’s also a facebook page here for all your Vanguard needs!