Set to hit shelves later this month from IDW Publishing, Victorie City is the debut comic book offering from 44FLOOD member Keith Carmack.
Described as “a hard-boiled detective story wrapped in a psychological thriller”, we were instantly intrigued by the upcoming four-part series, and were lucky enough to be able to sit down and have a chat with Keith about its inception, its characters, and his involvement with the rest of the team at 44FLOOD.
Big Comic Page: Before we get to Victorie City, would you like tell us a little about yourself, and how you ended up working in comics?
Keith Carmack: I guess it starts with music. I’m a musician, played jazz trombone, played guitar in rock bands, and somewhere along the way started learning about sound design for film so that I could write some film music. Once I started getting small gigs I realized how hard it is to get people to follow through. It was very frustrating starting a project and not seeing them finish because the actors stopped showing up or the camera guy couldn’t get the day off work. I wanted to take matters into my own hands and began working on a documentary.
I figured I could make a doc alone if need be and by the end of it all, I might convince someone to give me a budget for the next one. Cut to: me writing movie scripts that were more like comics to begin with. I was going to conventions and getting to know creators, spending more time hanging around that scene than film or music. It finally hit me that I should be making comics. It took me 6 years to make my documentary and somewhere along the way the stories I wanted to tell changed from being audio to visual, from film to sequential art.
BCP: Let’s talk a bit about your involvement with 44FLOOD. How did that come about, and what’s it like working alongside so many incredibly talented creators?
KC: It was mostly me flailing my arms at Ben Templesmith on twitter. I had hung out with those guys a couple times so I thought they’d recognize me. I saw that they were starting a collective/publisher and kept asking if I could come in and help. I started out filming some of the promo videos and pitching in where I could. Now I have my first book with 44FLOOD/IDW Publishing with plenty more projects in the pipeline.
It’s an honor to be a part of these projects and to get to work with some of my favorite artists. What we do are creator-owned passion projects, I really enjoy having a roll in bringing them to fruition. I learn a lot from each project, each artist, and I get to bring that back and use it on my own stuff.
BCP: Okay, so let’s move on to Victorie City. For those of our readers who may not have heard of it, can you give us a brief summary of just what it’s about?
KC: It’s kinda like Se7en. You’ll see a dual storyline between a detective trying to solve a murder and a serial killer on the loose. It starts off with a lot of the classic tropes you’d expect to find in a noir thriller, but it takes a supernatural twist and by the end, the whole murder mystery is turned on its head.
BCP: Tell us a little more about the detective, Hektor Ness. What’s his story? There definitely seems to be something of a young Jim Gordon about him, would that be accurate?
KC: Totally. I wrote Victorie City before it started but the TV show version of Jim Gordon in Gotham is a lot like Hektor. He wants to do good but there’s so much corruption in the system he has to operate in these gray areas in order to get anything done. It’s a dangerous tightrope walk but he’s too stubborn to back down.
BCP: The unnamed serial killer who makes his appearance in the first issue is pretty damn memorable, to say the least. What kind of inspirations did you dawn on in terms of his appearance and chilling monologues?
KC: It’s great to hear that, I hope people find him interesting. He’s been in my head for so long I’m not sure where his voice comes from anymore. I bet I saw a movie back then and had an idea about it, probably had a redneck accent at the time, but not anymore. He speaks very well and the tone is just above a whisper for the most part. It’s like he’s holding back this rage all the time. His appearance is from my buddy Mike who used to play in a band with me. He was what we called “rock thin” which is basically the look you achieve with long hair and cocaine. The problem comes later when the hair starts to thin up front and the coke can’t stop you gaining weight in the gut anymore.
BCP: There are a lot of dark, brutal crime thrillers out there, but what is it about Victorie City that you feel helps it stand out from the rest of the pack?
KC: Definitely the villain. I came up with his origin when I was in the 7th grade and knew I would write a story surrounding him someday. I’ve been updating his character and writing new details ever since. When I finally landed on the murder mystery part of Victorie City I knew it was time. The real reveal on him doesn’t happen until issue #2 so I don’t want to say too much but he’s intelligent and has a strange fascination with something called honor killing.
BCP: Vincent Nappi gives the book a very distinctive visual style. Was he an artist you had in mind when you were first putting the story together?
KC: No, I didn’t meet Vincent until after the the scripts were written. I had been looking for a long time and finally met him while on a trip to meet with George Pratt. If you don’t know George, he’s got Hero Status as an artist and in comics and I’m honored that he did a cover for issue #4 of Victorie City. Me and the 44FLOOD guys were talking with him about potential projects at a school where he teaches and he introduced us to Vincent. I looked at some of his sequential pages and knew he would be a fit.
BCP: What has the collaborative process been like between the pair of you? Are you fairly ‘hands-on’ when it comes to the artistic side of the book, or are you more happy to sit back and let Vincent to his thing?
KC: Through the first 2 issues I was trying to act like more of a director. We had a few meetings about the tone and style, Vincent is a diverse artist so we talked about specific things he can do that I was hoping to see in the book. I was giving quite a few notes on layouts as well. But Vincent hit his stride after that, he knew what I wanted and I was able to back off and let him do his thing.
BCP: You’ve also got something of a musical background. Let’s say you were putting together a soundtrack for Victorie City – what kind of tracks would you include?
KC: That’s a good question. Ideally I would be writing it myself but I know what you mean. A couple Miles Davis tracks would be great, gotta have a trumpet in a noir story. I would have to find a reason to put an Against Me! song in there. Maybe the track Two Coffins would work somewhere. Then a main theme that could build on other things and act as a showdown piece …like Miranda That Ghost Just Isn’t Holy Anymore by The Mars Volta.
BCP: How has it been working with IDW Publishing on the book’s release? Did they have any kind of input into the finished product?
KC: It’s been great! They green-lit the book and set me up with an editor. He’s basically just been giving me deadlines which is easy because the books been done for a while. They haven’t really given any input but the guys at 44FLOOD have helped me. Templesmith really championed this book and did a cover for issue #1.
BCP: And finally, if there are any readers out there who are still unsure about whether they’re going to pick this one up or not, what would you say to make their minds up?
KC: If you like the classic noir stories or if you’re a fan of mysteries and thrillers with brooding inner-monologue that gets a little too cheesy at times, this book is for you. That’s the type of stuff I always go back to, that’s what I want to read and that’s the kind of story I wrote.
BCP: Thanks so much for your time, man. Let’s hope the book does as well as it clearly deserves to.
The first issue of Victorie City goes on sale on January 27th, and you can find out more about the characters and story at VictorieCity.com.