The following is an interview with John Ward regarding the recent release of the mini comic anthology, Dark Fragments. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Ward about the shared creative process of working with various artists on the project, what he hopes that readers may take away from the book, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of Dark Fragments! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the anthology’s theme and premise?
John Ward: Dark Fragments is a mini anthology comprising six darkly twisted tales. Each one is written by me and drawn by a number of amazing artists: Francine Delgado, Juan Romera, Tyler Carpenter, Juha Veltti, Lawrence Denvir, and Ariel Viola. I wouldn’t say it’s a horror anthology per se, although some stories do veer into that territory. If I had to distill it down, I’d say each story is about someone struggling and ultimately confronting their inner demons, but tonally I think they’re all quite different – which I hope people will enjoy.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in working with artists Francine Delgado, Juan Romera, Tyler Carpenter, Juha Veltti, Lawrence Denvir, and Ariel Viola, and what (or who) were some of your creative influences for the project??
JW: My process for working on any project is more or less the same, and always begins with the story. That means I need to figure out who the main character is, what they want, what opposed them, and what the story’s really about. I sketch all these things down on paper well before I even think about the script. Once I have answers to these questions, or at least temporary answers, I start to think about genre and tone, and this invariably leads me to start thinking about artists – and who has a style that I think matches the story.
Usually around this part of the process, I’ll start searching for an artist online – I typically search on Twitter or Instagram, and then check websites or portfolios – then I reach out to them to give them some information about me (if they don’t know me), and the project including length, genre, tone, and check on their availability and page rates etc. Assuming they’re interested, I’ll then start writing the script.
For this book, each story was assembled slowly over time, so I was able to write the script specifically for each artist. Occasionally, there are things that required conversation, clarifying the intention of a panel for example, so there was some back and forth – but not a lot. I trust the artists to tell the story, so if they feel changes are warranted, they are always encouraged to make them and/or have a discussion. For some stories the process was pretty straight-forward, while for others there were several conversations.
In terms of creative influences, there are several creators who come to mind, but I was particularly inspired by creator Mario Candelaria, who released a great quarantine anthology, Tales from the Pandemic, in the summer of 2020. I had most of the Dark Fragments stories already finished but wasn’t sure what to do with them. Then, I read Tales, and it dawned on me to compile my stories into my own mini-anthology, and so here we are.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Dark Fragments’ stories will connect with and impact readers?
JW: I think horror and dark fiction are great vehicles for understanding who we are as people. We each have different lived experiences, but there are often similarities in the fears we face, and horror is a great way of tapping into those and making us confront them.
Overall, my hope is that the readers of Dark Fragments will be entertained by the different stories. I hope they will see elements of themselves in the book – not real-vampires or sentient voodoo dolls – but in the challenges that confront the characters in each story. I also hope they’ll feel satisfied with how the stories play out.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
JW: I have a new comic on Kickstarter as of February 18, 2021 (running until mid-March). It’s the first issue of a dynamic crime-thriller miniseries called Acausal, written by me with art by EV Cantada, and lettered by Lucas Gattoni. The link to the Kickstarter page is here.
The first issue focuses on Tara Becker, a disillusioned RCMP officer who must learn to trust a pair of determined criminals who are receiving messages from the future. Only by working together can this unlikely trio stop a maniacal anarcho-terrorist from destroying Toronto; a terrorist who turns out to be Tara’s former husband. We think this book would appeal to fans of Criminal or The Comeback.
I’m also a contributing writer for Sequential Magazine which is an online magazine dedicated to Canadian indie comics. This year is the 80th anniversary of the first Canadian comic book, and so Sequential will be putting out a massive anniversary issue in the spring to celebrate. I hope people will check it out as it’s going to be pretty awesome.
Finally, I have a story coming out in an upcoming anthology “XCT: Monsters,” which is set in the Xtreme Champion Tournament Universe. The Kickstarter for that is due to launch in the spring, and you can keep up to date by visiting this link.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Dark Fragments and your other work?
JW: You can connect with me through my website (www.arbutusfilms.com) or find me on Twitter: @arbutus_films.