Steve Mannion has been quietly creating one of most entertaining and fun horror books in “Fearless Dawn”. It’s a laugh-out-loud monster mash which follows our female protagonist as she mixes it up with monsters, blasts off one liners, and throws haymakers. Mannion puts all the elements of classic horror and movie monsters into a blender and spits out a hilarious romp.
Steve Mannion is currently putting together the next installment of “Fearless Dawn” entitled “Eye of the Beholder” and has turned to Kickstarter to help raise the necessary funds to produce the book full-time and cover the cost of printing. Mannion sat down with Bloody-Disgusting to discuss his approach to horror, surviving in an industry that is geared towards superheroes, and what is looming on the horizon for “Fearless Dawn” in “Eye of the Beholder”.
Bloody-Disgusting: For those readers that aren’t familiar with Fearless Dawn already give us some background info on the project itself…
Steve Mannion: Well she’s a bikini girl with a machine gun that fights monsters and stuff. Like the Cramps song. Here’s the Cramps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fyr0zbaFyE. Anyways, yeah, It’s good ol’ Shepard’s Bush entertainment, good versus evil with hot chicks and monsters. Comic book stuff. The stories are more or less self-contained. FD’s origin can be found in “The Bomb” Trade Paperback if you can find it, or go get it here http://indyplanet.com/store/index.php?manufacturers_id=2282. I did start the series based on this young gal who’s bullied in school and then works out with a regimen she gets from a comic book ad, you know those “Sand Kicked in your Face” kinda muscle man ads they used to have in comic books. The whole thing was a celebration of comic books; real simple stuff. Now she’s a mature ass kicker so that’s great.
BD: Fearless Dawn is the type of character that is sexy, can tell a joke and throw a punch. Was your intention to create a character that could do a little bit of everything?
SM: Not really. I just tried to draw stories that I’d like to see. And finish them. It’s a challenge for me to put together a story, come up with characters, and finish it. I get a big kick out of the struggle, trying to make each one better, freaking out over the inks, reading the snarky reviews after it’s done…I’m kind of hooked on the process.
BD: Tell us a bit about the upcoming “Eye of the Beholder” arc and what fans can expect?
SM: I was at a point in the series where it just felt right to have something pretty crappy happen to these people. So there’s some repercussions, people are having nervous breakdowns. You know, joke’s over. I wanted to tell a bit more of a dramatic story. So in “Jurassic Jungle” things start to go south, in the “Hard Times” issue they really start to suck and “Eye of the Beholder” is about the healing process I guess. Now, don’t you fret, ’cause some crazy-ass shit happens. Just like in the comic books. Just like life.
BD: Tell us a bit about the role that “One-Eyed Hans” plays in the book and his relationship with Fearless Dawn’s arch nemesis Helga Von Krauss in the book…
SM: One-Eyed Hans is a patsy. Well, he is a willing participant so I don’t know if that’s totally true.He’s on this recon mission to find Helga’s whereabouts as the main force follows safely behind.I keep thinking of Mongo from Blazing Saddles. You guys ever see Mongo? Here’s Mongo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28khv-BydeY. Funny thing is, One Eyed Hans started out as this throw-away character and now I really like him. So there’s some plans for him in the future stories for sure. His history with Helga??? There’s no real history in between him and Helga. That’s where Dr. Panzer comes in…wink. wink.
BD: The influence of old school Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood, and EC Comics style is apparent in Fearless Dawn. What is about those classic horror comics that you find so inspiring?
SM: My Mom bought me a lot of Mad Magazines as a kid, maybe that has something to do with it? I’m definitely a fan of academic drawing and those guys did that. Wally Wood draws great water, trees, metal on planes, everything I guess! And it’s easily identifiable so I study that. Textures, line weights and stuff. There’s comic book shorthand that can be really great too, what with the Kirby’s and the Jim Lee’s but that stuff goes too far in the wrong hands…I dunno. I guess it’s in the eye of the beholder!
BD: At the core this is a fun book that doesn’t take itself too seriously, much like Dark Horse’s The Goon. How difficult is a book like this to sell a book in the mainstream comics market when the gatekeepers (comic book retailers) are mainly interested in superheroes?
SM: Comic books are a tough business all around I think. Fortunately, I’m just compelled to draw these crazy stories and a lot of great folks really want to read them. Well, it’s a lot to me. We’ve seen slow growth over the years and tools like Kickstarter and Print On Demand have been super helpful. I can’t say enough good things about Frank Forte over at Asylum Press, he might have more faith in the book than I do. It seems every time I’m ready to quit, something really cool happens. Like someone will tell me it’s their favorite comic book ever, or that we’re inspiring someone to do their own comics, or Loretta Vamps shows up in full on cosplay Fearless Dawn regalia, with her friend Alyssa as Helga. Man I had a kid when I saw them two in San Jose! (Thanks Chris, Alyssa And Loretta!) Hey, at its core, comic books are fun. And I’ve had a lot of fun doing them over the years.
BD: Throughout your career in comics you’ve largely done creator-owned works rather than work for work-for-hire. Obviously you could easily get work doing work for just about any company, but what keeps you working on your own projects rather doing other projects?
SM: Well, waiting around for people not to call you back might be a factor. No really, I’m pretty inspired by what I do. Maybe I’m too much of a control freak. I tell you it would be a pleasure just penciling a monthly at this point because I’m so used to doing all of it. If the right thing came down the pike, and the timing was right I’d certainly do somebody else’s character. But at this point, I’m really enjoying what I do so I’m not aggressively seeking anything else. I’ve got a couple more stories to tell.
BD: This project currently has a KickStarter campaign to raise the funds to bring the book to fruition. Why not take this project the traditional route and try and find a publisher?
SM: Man, it was like circumstances beyond our control dictated that we try Kickstarter. And the response was so great, I couldn’t believe it. It has given me the freedom to produce the books and interact with the fans, full-time and keep a roof over my family’s head and food in our bellies, as I draw comics for 12 to 18 hours a day. Send ’em, pack ’em up with the help of my excellent fulfillment team aka my gal, Una. Take some care, you know? It’s awesome and quite humbling. And I am grateful. Frank at Asylum Press is running the issues into stores like 6-7 months after the Kickstarter so we have a store presence also. “Jurassic Jungle” will be hitting shops this Wednesday December 11th as a matter of fact. That scratches the publisher itch I reckon.
BD: This is your third Kickstarter project that has been funded successfully, what wisdom could you give to readers looking at Kickstarter as a way to fund their passion project?
SM: Do your best work! Make affordable, fun levels. Communicate and be clear. Research other successful Kickstarters. Look at your own work and be realistic. Enjoy yourselves!
BD: In recent months, KickStarter has drawn a fair amount of detractors who equate the site with a digital form of pan-handling. How do you respond to that and what are your thoughts on the surge in popularity in crowd-funding sites?
SM: It’s a phenomenon to me. I was thinking maybe folks like having a hand in things, the intimacy of it. As far as the haters, they don’t have to support it if they don’t want to. And that’s OK. And if the Kickstarter is meant to die it’s gonna die.
BD: Give us your best pitch for why people should get in on the ground floor for this project on KickStarter or pick up Fearless Dawn…
SM: Looking for some fun in your comic book reading experience? Maybe some sexy Pulp fun? With really cool art? Well, look no further my friends. Fearless Dawn has just rolled into town!