INTERVIEW: THE WORLD OF BUTTONPRESS WITH JASON BROWNE
Volume 3 of The Wren will be out at DICE so I thought I’d ask creator Jason Browne about the world he brought to life in the pages of The Wren and Artos and about the hints he’s been making on Facebook.
The world of The Wren is steeped in Irish mythology. Did you have to do a lot of research into that?
The first thing I wanted to do was to keep the folklore and myths Europe in the past. Too many comic books worldwide seemed to retell the same stories over and over or have these figure running round in present day. Of course these myths and folklore tales are wonderful but if I was going to write with these stories in mind, it had to be something new. Ireland would be become Hibernia, an alternative Ireland if you will, where myths and folklore are actual parts of Hibernian history.
Using the tales as a basis for actual history, I just built on the present day heroes and villains as descendants of these past great people. Working in a time frame (which can be found at the website, buttonpresspublications.com) that mapped out the beginning of Hibernia to present day, helped give a structure to the world. Luckily I had Sean Teeling of Star Trek Grissom fame, to help me. Every story I try to tell starts with months of background research as to make sure I have reached exactly where I want it to start from and end. Coming up with ideas is the easy part, plotting is the leg work.
What were some of the influences that led to the creation of The Wren character? I’m wondering what made you pick that name in particular.
Comic books have been a part of my life since I can remember and so pin pointing exact influences is near to impossible. When I set about creating a comic book, it was being honest with myself, seeing what was it I wanted to really do. Characters that are popular main stream recently have all been highly strung, mentally unstable, gun wielding, knife stabbing and baseball bat beating apparent superheroes. It is mainly an adult market now, comic books. This would have been easy to achieve but it would not be what I truly wanted to do. Comic book companies in the U.S had started bringing out some pretty great titles. Darkwing Duck was back, Mouseguard had arrived, Marvel started a new Power Pack series, Courtney Crumrin etc. Generally my needs where being met by these and other breaths of fresh air.
So I boiled it down to what I wanted in my hero and set about creating his world. The actual name was one of the hardest things to get right, until discussing it with some friends and after a few choices, one of them suggested the Wren was a great fit. They were right.
Also cartoons, totally addicted to all animation.
How would you describe the series to someone who is thinking of checking it out?
If you want pure no bones about it superhero adventure set with a historic backdrop of epic Irish myths and legends, then Buttonpress is for you.
The series is all ages. I get the impression that making more all ages book available is important to you.
More stories that did not depend on blood and guns really. Stories that have magic, monsters and fantasy elements more appeal to me. These stories usually do fall under an all ages bracket and so it fits. Also kids can actually read Buttonpress titles without their parents worrying. Real life deals us with enough gun violence an unnecessary bloodshed across the globe. Comic books should be for fun and adventure to me personally speaking.
When you started your second book, Artos, you brought in Mike Lynch to write it. What made you decide to bring in another creator?
Intially I had approached a different writer. The outcome was one many other creators have faced I am sure, the sudden silence of emails, no heartbeat, gone. Stupidly I should have approached Mike first as he lived in the actual area where Artos is set, lesson learnt. Creating is a wonderful thing. Drawing is my favourite part and so plotting I thought would be good to give to someone who enjoyed the writing aspect more. Buttonpress has always been in part work by many and I am always indebted to all who help make it work. Co creating is a blast.
Mike had suggested in the past we do something and Artos came about at the right time really. He is a busy man at the keyboard and so was lucky to nab him.
What were the influences behind Artos? What is his series about?
Artos came about because one day I decided I wanted to draw a bear based hero. Some intensive research (Google) led me to the Ailwee Caves in Clare. On visiting them, I was blown away. The actual fact that bears were in Ireland got me so stoked. Then Mike and I fleshed out his story.
Artos is about a boy who is last in line of a family blessed by an the Godess Artio. One would be chosen as to when needed, to help defend Hibernia. Hibernious as we had seen in the Wren, has disappeared. Dark sídhe are on the rise again. Hibernious kept the treat at bay with his group, The Flying Column but they had been hit hard in recent times by these dark forces who would not stay down forever.
Artio’s gift comes to fruition as Conor on exploring older parts of the cave system, finds a talisman that he knew was not just a legend past on through his family. With this talisman, he is given the gift to turn into a heroic strong Bear, Artos. The west of Hibernia’s champion is ready to stand guard and aid in the protecting of her shores.
The books have been crossing over as part of The War of the Fál storyline. It must be interesting to get to stage where you can do things like that.
This had to happen really. Jack and Conor had to meet and it is a great way to do it. The story is helping tie in to more of Hibernia’s history and further afield. The Dé Danann chose this land for a reason and others from across the sea watched and learned why. The very earth of Hibernia is bound with great magic and it is a power many crave and nothing will stop them at getting what they want. Not even time it self!
You’ve made the transition to colour on The Wren and Artos started out that way. Did this change your process much?
Yes, it takes longer but that’s cool. Like many small press creators, I have a day job and other commitments and so time is precious in getting pages done. Black and white is my favourite but I am coming round to colour as I learn the language of photo shop. Initially I was “eh,not sure” but when I started doing pages it was “Wow, yeah actually looks cool!” I so much enjoy drawing Buttonpress adventures and so never feels like work.
Volume 3 of The Wren goes on sale at DICE, what can the people that wait for trades expect from this volume.
This is the first all colour volume. It collects the end of the first arc in the adventures of Jack Mc Cormack, the Wren. Have to say, it looks pretty nice, can’t believe I have drawn so many pages at this stage and that is not even including Artos. There is also a couple a tasty surprises with it as always. We all love free gifts !
You have also been teasing something new from Buttonpress. More hints to come at DICE?
You do a lot of really impressive sketch covers with characters from DC and Marvel meeting your characters. What would your dream cross-over be?
Nightwing and the Wren. My favourite character who without I would not have my own boy wonder.