The following is an interview with Jon Slater and Mike West, two of the creators behind Cog Life Comics’ comic book anthology, Survivor. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Slater and West about the genesis behind the anthology, the shared creative process of the entire team, what they hope that readers will take away from the stories, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your latest comic book anthology, Survivor! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the anthology’s premise, and what inspired the genesis of this collection?
Jon Slater: Thank you! Survivor is our second anthology containing five short stories based on the titular word. After last year’s Isolation, we wanted to explore another broad and unusual theme that we again chose while visiting Thought Bubble.
Our single-word anthologies began after being inspired by the wealth of small press talent in the UK. Driving home from 2016’s Thought Bubble Festival, there is an isolated house in between two stretches of motorway that we learned defiantly refused to move for construction, so they had to build around it – this inspired our first theme. From there, we really enjoyed the diverse stories that came out of a single word so we wanted to do it again!
BD: How would you describe the process of bringing together the writers and artists involved with Survivor, and what can you tell us about their shared creative process?
Mike West: With Cog Life Comics being an independent, small press comic, one of the main factors we face is keeping costs down to create the best anthology we can without bankrupting ourselves in the process. The majority of stories are written and illustrated by Jon, Dec, and myself as we enjoy the process and challenge of creating the comic and seeing our stories evolve from anthology to anthology.
We also are lucky enough to work with some phenomenal artists, colourists and letterers like Benjamin Filby, Daryl Gillham, Rob Jones, David Cooper, and Toben Racicot. These talented people bring another level of depth and professionalism to Cog Life that inspire Matt, Jon, Dec, and I and show us what we can do to take the next book to greater heights.
Jon Slater: I’m lucky enough to have known Mike and Dec for over a decade, so putting together the book is as simple as a night in hanging out with friends – we have such a blast doing it! As Mike mentioned, the stories in our collections are generally both written and illustrated by the same person, so it’s vital that we don’t work in our own respective bubbles – we’re always reviewing and critiquing eachother’s scripts and drawings.
Twitter has been invaluable for meeting and working with other creatives and as Mike said, has really inspired me to improve with every book.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from the collection?
Jon Slater: We’re hoping that readers enjoy our stories and find they are something that they want to go back, re-read, and peel back the layers of the worlds we’ve let them have a brief glance into.
BD: The stories within the collection often portray various styles and genres. How do you feel that the divergent characteristics of the story complement one another?
Mike West: We are fortunate enough to have four creative minds in this book so we can cover a diverse range of genres, subjects and styles and vary the art styles to enhance these stories without comparing notes. I think if we all came back with the same story one day that will be the day Cog Life ends!
We all have a similar sense of humour and familiarity that complements one another while still having a unique voice which I think is one of the strengths of Cog Life.
Jon Slater: We found that Survivor leant itself to, mainly, horror-based stories, so they complement each other in that sense; however, these are all different types of horror – from fantasy, to an homage to Hammer Horror movies, to tragedy.
That said, the final story, “Follow-Up.” is a welcome palette cleanser after the heavier stories throughout the book.
BD: Do you have any plans for the next themed collection?
Mike West: The drive back from Thought Bubble this year was inspiring, and we came up with the next 3 collections! We won’t give away all the names yet – so stay tuned for those.
Our next anthology theme will be Hero. It seemed obvious, clichéd, and almost an easy route but the more you scratch at that word, there is over 80 years’ worth of material that makes it a challenge for writers and artists to bring something new to theme. We are looking forward to adding our stamp to this and our readers will definitely be surprised by our take!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
Mike West: Hero will be out next year, and we can’t wait to share it with you all. I am working with Good Comics and contributing a story to their awesome Dead Singer’s Society, as well as bringing out our first solo title under Cog Life Comics that will be expanding on my story in Survivor, The Night Shift – a series I am describing as American Werewolf in London meets Hot Fuzz and I can’t wait to bring it out.
I’m also bringing out my first full-length record, The Next Life, and will be touring up and down the UK and EU next year.
Jon Slater: Apart from working on Hero, I’m submitting a short story to Frisson Comics, another Liverpool-based collective, for their latest Knock Knock anthology. I’m also working on a zine fueled by my zealous adoration of Nicolas Cage.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Survivor?
You can find us on our Facebook page or Twitter for updates. You can read our books digitally, exclusively on Comichaus – a really neat app that is basically Netflix for indie comics.
You can also buy the physical book online from Mike’s website, or better yet – come and speak to us at one of the many conventions we attend!