The following is an interview with Zac Thompson and Bayleigh Underwood regarding the upcoming release of the comic book series, Nature’s Labyrinth, through Mad Cave Studios. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Thompson and Underwood about their shared creative process in bringing the story to life, what they hope that readers will take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Nature’s Labyrinth! Zac, what inspired you to bring this survival thriller to life?
Zac Thompson: I’ve always wanted to tell a Battle Royale-style story but with a more socially conscious message at the center. There’s something really revealing about human nature in the context of a battle to the death. I’m really drawn to the idea of who people become under extreme stress and if they’re able to move beyond their past and redeem themselves in the face of being labeled “a violent felon.” Is that true of everyone involved? Not to mention pushing the subgenre into a sprawling, complex maze that constantly changes and evolves as the contestants move through it.
BD: How would you describe your shared creative process in crafting this non-stop action tale?
ZT: It’s always about painting a clear mental picture for Bayleigh and then saying, but if none of that works, just do your own thing. I script everything in a way that’s layered with photo reference and tonal callouts. So, sometimes, it’ll just be a simple thing where I say they pick up a sword that looks like this. Other times, it’ll be like, I imagine this sequence plays out kinda like this scene from Kill Bill Vol 1. It’s all about creating a sense of attachment to the characters within the context of the intensity of the death game while creating memorable and killer sequences that people can’t stop staring at.
Bayleigh Underwood: Working off of Zac’s scripts has been great. He’s very good at leaving notes and describing the exact vibe he wants for a particular scene.
BD: Bayleigh, did you have a specific art style in mind when you first read the concept for Nature’s Labyrinth, or do you feel that your design evolved over time after working through the script with Zac?
BU: Yeah, we were thinking of something similar to the Legend of Luther Strode which worked perfectly for me since that series has been a huge influence on my art and style.
BD: Zac, what makes Made Cave Studios the perfect home for this story?
ZT: Mad Cave are the best possible collaborators. They always encourage creators to go all out and bring tons of creativity to everything they do. So, they’re the perfect publisher for a book like this because they encourage creative risks and encourage creators to make comics that embrace everything amazing about the comics form. So, expect to see lots of insane action, gore, and interesting layouts!
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 the story will connect with and impact readers?
ZT: I hope it makes them think about the nature of justice and injustice. At the end of the day, Nature’s Labyrinth is a story about trust and redemption.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
ZT: I currently have a folk-horror, detective noir series at Aftershock called The Brother of All Men which is about a WWI veteran who tries to retrieve his estranged brother from the clutches of a mysterious cult.
BU: I’m working on a big, two-part graphic novel soon with Emily Riesbeck that we just announced. It’s going to be like 5 years of my life, but it’s going to be fantastic I think!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Nature’s Labyrinth and your other work?
ZT: Follow along on social media! I’m ZacBeThompson on both Twitter and Instagram! I’ll be posting preview art and mysterious teasers for my work, pretty much every other day.
BU: My twitter (@Iceghost_art) and my website [iceghostart (at) gmail.com] are the best places to look if you want to see more of my work, and I will occasionally post previews, art, and new information on Nature’s Labyrinth through twitter, as well!