Five for Creating with Team Angela and the Dark
Welcome to Five for Creating! An interview series here at ComixCentral where we focus on getting to know Indie Creators and what they are working on through a series of five questions. This week we chat with Writer Umbrus Syn and Artist Russell Fox two members of the creative team behind the comic Angela and the Dark.
1. Tell us about Angela and the Dark.
UMBRUS: Angela and the Dark is an anime inspired all-ages action-adventure series set in the year 2137, which follows the exploits of our young heroine Angela, and our slightly older heroines The Dark in cyberpunk Metron City. My favorite pitch that I give for it is to imagine the dark and serious world of Blade Runner…then drop Pippi Longstocking right in the middle of it. Madness and shenanigans ensue.
RUSSELL: What he said!
2. What are some of the biggest influences to the story of Angela and the Dark?
UMBRUS: Angela and the Dark for me is a love letter and homage to some of my favorite things growing up, including especially anime. I was and still am a big fan of Akira, Cowboy BeBop, and Bubblegum Crisis which you can definitely see elements of. Angela herself has that trickster energy that Spider-man has when he’s in mask, and as the story progresses we’ll see how that shapes the course of events for everyone she encounters. The social and economic dynamics of Metron City were inspired by looking at history and how human beings tend to behave given a certain set of conditions, then positing a “what if” in the future. Elements of Ancient Rome, Hong Kong, New York City and the standard operating procedure of the worlds Super Powers since the end of World War 2 helps guide the backbone of it.
RUSSELL: I took onboard a lot of influences when creating the look of Metron City. Umbrus and I discussed it at length, but the general aim was a less oppressive Blade Runner aesthetic. The level of tech was kept “within reason” so it didn’t become too fantastical. For example, there are flying cars but they’re only used by law enforcement, it’s not the Jetsons.
Visually I drew from Blade Runner, Akira, Ghost In The Shell, Star Wars…
Everything had to be designed, and everything had to work. Footwear, buildings, armour, clothing, vehicles… I didn’t want to just throw in a bunch of crazy sci-fi designs; there had to be a thread running through fashions, architecture, etc. Background characters needed to be fully realised, the city itself needed to feel sprawling and lived in.
3. What is the dynamic like between the two of you creatively when you sit down to start working on a book?
RUSSELL: We’ve known each other a long time, worked together enough, that we have a good back & forth when working. Umbrus might have suggestions or concepts he wants to see in the art, I might have dialogue or ideas I want to read in the story.
Volume Zero is based on a one shot Umbrus wrote & illustrated several years back. I didn’t work off a script, I looked at the one shot and… expanded it. Just redrawing it panel-for-panel didn’t really interest me, but working like this gave me a chance to put my stamp on it. He then wrote the script to my art. I threw in some stuff that he built upon, and vice versa. There’s a lot of freedom, it’s a fun way to work.
UMBRUS: What Russell said! It’s one of the greatest honors of my life to work on projects with him as he’s insanely talented. We had a motto of sorts when we set out to do this and that was that it had to be fun. We have to be having fun at all times, and I hope that comes through in the pages. I love it because he brings things in that I either didn’t think of initially, sees them in a different way than I did, or just brings so many layers to it that it truly comes to life and gives things an “this could really happen” organic nature. It helps keep everything fresh and fun and feeling new.
4. What is the plan for the future of the series?
RUSSELL: The plan is to eschew the 25 page format in favour of a series of 100 page books. I think that’s right? Umbrus knows better than I do. And also a TV series, because it would be awesome.
UMBRUS: Volume Zero is our introductory issue into the world and dynamics of all our main players and we plant the seeds for all the twists, turns, surprises and adventures in store. We’re looking ahead to releasing a 100 page graphic novel, really diving in and putting the entire first story arc out. As indie creators we can try different formats and takes and aren’t locked into the traditional way of doing things, and we hope by doing it this way we can make a greater impact telling the story we want to with the ideals we want to put forward.
5. Here at ComixCentral we are about supporting all things Indie! With that being said , besides your own work, what is one Indie property or creator you think everyone needs to go check out right now?
UMBRUS: I have a couple of really good friends that are doing some amazing things. One is Jamie Gambell who has been putting out The Hero Code for quite a while, and another one is the amazing incredible Tim Fielder who is breaking the mold with Matty’s Rocket! Check these guys out!
RUSSELL: A guy I’m friends with on Instagram called Dave Law, I love his work. Crazily inventive. He works on a book called The Space Odditorium. You should definitely check it out.
A. Diallo Jackson aka Umbrus Syn, is the writer & co-creator of ANGELA AND THE DARK. In comics, he has also published THE PARANORMALS with Russell Fox, and is currently producing a new project called E.A.R.S and currently at work writing his first YA fantasy novel. Along with published novels THE CLAYMORE and the science fiction serialized novel MAYA, he has also written for a number of publications including Yahoo! Games, US Weekly, and Geek & Sundry, and is also the writer of 2017 Producer’s Guild winning Weekend Shorts short film, BEAUTIFUL STRANGERS. When he is not dreaming up ways for his characters to save the world, he daydreams of being the showrunner for a revival of Quantum Leap, writing the definitive Green Lantern movie, and being the best.Unicorn.ever.
Russell Fox is the artist & co-creator of ANGELA AND THE DARK. With delusions of grandeur from an early age, it was on his first day of school at age five that he told his teacher he intended to draw comic books for a living and twelve years later began his first commission as an illustrator for JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE. After some years in advertising as a visualizer he moved back into comics as co-creator of two graphic novel series, one of which was adapted by the BBC into THE MYSTI SHOW. He has produced concept art for the films KILL ‘EM ALL and THE SHADOWED, and worked on several indie comics projects including BIO-MORPHS, HUMANS VS ZOMBIES, DIE CONFISERIE and THE PARANORMALS.