Writer Kevin Gunstone initially hit my comic book radar a few years ago when he was attending the annual Portsmouth Comic Con to promote his excellent four-part mini-series “Planet of Daemons”. Set within the occult realm of the Qliphoth, the title follows the exploits of a puritan magistrate named Amos Deathridge, who acts as the jailer of daemons in the afterlife, and is prodigiously penciled by Paul Moore.
Now however, the author has decided to elaborate upon a tale of mythic adventure he first started telling in 2016, and delightfully the Big Comic Page were able to hold the increasingly busy comic book creator down just long enough for him to chat about Future Primitive Mag #1 and the “veritable smorgasbord of cool rewards” available during its campaign on Indiegogo.
BCP: What is “Future Primitive” about?
Gunstone: Future Primitive is a simple tale of warring Neanderthal and Australopith tribes, set on Earth following its transformation by supernova radiation. It follows the story of Kulkan, last king of the Neanderthal Skybearers, as he battles to save his civilisation, culture, and the all-powerful Aten energy source from the rampaging Moon Klan!
BCP: How did you come up with a story involving Neanderthal warriors and God-like energy sources?
Gunstone: The creative spark for Future Primitive was reading an article on the “Secret History of the World” – or similar – about how the first Neanderthals appeared in the wake of the Geminga supernova explosion, around 300,000 years ago. The idea of a lost Neanderthal empire intrigued me and I thought it would be a fun challenge to write.
The god-like energy source is the supernova radiation that hit Earth and transformed the Neanderthals, so they worship the containment dome holding the radiation as their creator god. There’s more to it than that, like interpreting the supernova in mythic terms and creating a religion based around it, but that’s how it started off.
BCP: What’s your background as a writer?
Gunstone: Like most writers I originally wanted to be an artist but lacked the imagination to draw without lots of reference. This was back in the pre-digital age and things may have turned out differently now. I worked with a few writers and was studying Related Arts at Chichester Uni (as it’s now called) at the time but grew frustrated drawing other people’s stories and began to write my own.
I felt more suited to writing, as I enjoy exploring ideas, and decided to focus on that. I could let my imagination run wild, ask for imagery I’d never be able to draw myself, and let someone else do all the hard work (joke).
BCP: How did you get into creating comics?
Gunstone: I created my first comics with some friends at middle school (one of whom is a longstanding 2000AD artist). I won’t say who as I’d hate to embarrass him. We printed them on the school photocopier and sold them at break times. This was just after the original Star Wars film came out, and I wrote a prequel about a young Obi-Wan called the Jedi Wars!
Many years later, I met Jon Haward (artist on Dan Dare, Shinobi, and a host of other IPC comics) via a mutual friend. Jon was very supportive and asked me to write a short horror story he could draw in a Sin City style. He sent it to Negative Burn and to my shock and delight it was printed in issue 24, which had a lovely Kaluta cover btw.
I began submitting ideas to American publishers and got interest from Antarctic Press. I wrote several Warrior Nun stories and then teamed up with the Antarctic head honcho Ben Dunn to produce Mangaverse for Marvel and The Agents for Image. Life took an abrupt sea change after The Agents and I spent 7 years DJ’ing House music in Brighton, sometimes London, and a summer as a resident in a small club in Ibiza – but that’s a whole other story!
BCP: Do you have any favourite comic book creators?
Gunstone: Comics have been a part of my life for a long time, but there’s an equal number of present-day writers I enjoy just as much as past heroes like Alan Moore, Jodorowsky, Grant Morrison, Pat Mills, and of course Stan Lee (even if Jack Kirby was the main creative force). These days I’ll read most things written by Jonathan Hickman, Tom King, Jeff Lemire, Al Ewing, and a few others.
The favourite artist list is endless but includes Kirby, Jim Starlin, Barry Windsor Smith, Alex Nino, P Craig Russell, Druillet, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Jim Aparo, George Perez, Mike Kaluta, and present artists like Matt Smith, Esad Ribic, Mike Deodato, Mike Perkins, Doc Shaner and countless others!
BCP: What’s the most challenging thing about working on “Future Primitive”? [Not sure if you want to discuss the frustration of the unsuccessful KS campaign? And you using Indiegogo for this one?]
Gunstone: The challenge for Future Primitive – certainly this new crowdfunding campaign – is to get readers to buy into the vision of what we’re creating and want to be part of it. We’re also blessed to be joined on the project by Prentis Rollins, who’s produced a stunning variant cover. The Future Primitive world is a visual treat, and we have a load of goodies as rewards that reflect that. They include Boban’s stunning original art pages, A4 concept art prints from when Boban first envisaged this world, and even an original watercolour of the Kulkan.
BCP: What’s the best part about working on “Future Primitive”?
Gunstone: Working with the fantastic Serbian artist Slobodan Jovanovic is a joy. Boban is hardworking, ultra-talented, and we have similar creative tastes and influences. He poured his heart and soul into the story and brought it to life brilliantly, aided by Stefan Mrkonjic’s lush and atmospheric colouring.
From a writing point of view I enjoy world building. Dreaming up new landscapes, places, myths, and the big (and small) historical details needed to give the story depth and make it an immersive experience. It was – and still is – a real challenge in that respect.
BCP: Can you state one lesson you have learnt from creating “Future Primitive”?
Gunstone: Try and keep it simple, which I find easier said than done. I accumulate story ideas and plot possibilities to the point where indecision can lead to inertia. I get there eventually, (I hope), but tend to go round the houses and up numerous cul-de-sacs!
BCP: What are your future plans for “Future Primitive”?
Gunstone: The first three issues of Future Primitive Mag reprint (and embellish) the original graphic novel published a few years ago by Markosia, which has been partly recoloured. Future Primitive, as you can imagine, is a bit of an epic, so it made sense to tell the story right from the start. It also gives Boban, Stefan, and me time to work on the next storyline which starts in issue 4. This is a world which we’ve barely scratched the surface of and the tumultuous events of issue three force Kulkan to explore it.
Aside from Future Primitive I’ve been developing several new stories including one called The Temple. This is my first stab at writing a story using elements of the Cthulhu mythos and it’s been fun so far. We’re close to completing the proposal and we’ll take it from there…
Future Primitive Mag #1 by Kevin Gunstone and with art by Slobodan Jovanovic is currently live on Indiegogo for the next twenty-four days. You can visit and pledge to the project HERE.