INTERVIEW: John Ferguson On the Grim and Gritty Underbelly of His Latest Project ‘Mean City’

The creative mind Scottish smash hit superhero series, Saltire, John Ferguson has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for his latest project. A noir crime thriller, Mean City is a comic series that will be released in four parts.

Given the success of Saltire, which was nominated for Best British Comic and named Illustrated Book of the Year, there is already a lot of interest buzzing around Mean City. Ferguson is joined by artist Toni Doya Heredia, colourist Phil Vaughan and letterer Rob Jones, resulting in the kind of creative fusion that puts independent comics on the map.

The Kickstarter is running until February 18th 2018 and is already nearing the 50% goal.

We talked to creator John Ferguson about the project.

Kirstie: Tell us about Mean City. What’s the story?

John: Mean City is the story of two underworld debt collectors in a crime ridden city run by an insane mob boss on a night where the celebrity vigilante, Calamity Malice, is going on a killing spree to take out the bad guys.

1Kirstie: Where did you get the idea for Mean City?

John: I wanted to write a new comic book title that wasn’t superheroes or science fiction and I love crime and gangster movies/tv shows. I was born and bred in Glasgow which has a very famous novel about its gang culture called No Mean City. It’s also a tip of the hat to my home town.

Kirstie: What drew you to the gangster noir crime thriller genre?

John: I love the genre. I like stories about real characters with flaws and sides to their personality that aren’t always black and white. There’s a lot of scope to play with characters in the comic noir genre.

Kirstie: What is the inspiration behind Calamity Malice?

John: Calamity is the ultimate female antiheroine. She’s a female lead who doesn’t have a man guiding her, informing her or approving of her. She’s also a bit nuts! I’d say she’s inspired by the fantastically strong females out there who are taking on misogyny in all it’s forms. Calamity is the fictional vigilante version of this ramped up to 11!

7Kirstie: What made you decide to split the story into four parts?

John: I like the traditional comic book form as it lends itself to great pacing so four issues will tell this entire story arc and not leave fans hanging for too long to complete the series.

Kirstie: How did you come up with Calamity Malice’s ‘inspirational quotes’?

John: I wanted to take a lot of clichés and stereotypes and play with them, adding a bit of crazy to the mix. Calamity has a huge fan base in Mean City and she likes to keep them entertained.

Kirstie: Is there potential for any further stories after the original four-part run?

John: Definitely. I’m hoping to use Mean City as the setting for many intertwining narratives over the next few years, fingers crossed.

2Kirstie: How did you build the creative team you have working on this project?

John: The artist Toni Doya Heredia applied during our talent search last year and his style and work ethic are both outstanding. He’d worked on the Back to the Future comics previously and he’s added so much to the visual appeal of Mean City and its characters. Phil Vaughan, the colourist has worked with us for years and is a top talent. Rob Jones, a new, young, and very talented writer also excels as a letterer. The three of them have made this an aesthetically breath-taking title.

Kirstie: You’ve said that this comic is, in part, inspired by the work of Quentin Tarantino. What is your favourite Tarantino film? Why?3-1842515611-1517842978990.jpgJohn: Wow, that’s hard. So many classics. Kill Bill gets an honourable runner up mention, but it’s got to be Pulp Fiction. The interweaving narrative, the brilliant characterization but most of all the dialogue is just razor sharp. Oh, and the soundtrack is immense!

Kirstie: How does Mean City relate to your Saltire series?

John: The new Saltire book, Legend Eternal, will be out in the spring and it’s made by the same creative team as Mean City. It’s a very different title, a big, epic, superhero mythology. Saltire is a very iconic character and we hope to make Calamity Malice the same.

Kirstie: Why did you choose Kickstarter to fund the comic?

John: It’s a great online platform to take a new book direct to its audience. Mainstream comics are so saturated with Marvel and DC that it’s hard to get noticed through traditional channels so it’s a refreshing change.

Kirstie: How are you finding your Kickstarter experience so far?

John: We’ve really enjoyed it. It’s helped focus us on what’s important about Mean City. Creating the campaign was great fun and we’re very excited by how many people have engaged with it straight away.

8Kirstie: What’s your plan for once the campaign is over? What are your hopes for the future of Mean City and Diamondsteel?

John: I’ll be attending quite a few comic cons to promote Mean City with the official launch at the brilliant Dunfermline Comic Con in March. I’ll also be completing the script for Mean City Episode Two and finalising a new title called Roamer about a man and baby trying to escape a nuclear fallout which looks great. We’re also hoping the new Saltire book will be as big a success as the last one with the release just around the corner. Overall a busy and exciting year ahead at Diamondsteel.

A huge thank you to John for taking the time to talk you us! You can back the Kickstarter here.


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