Welcome back to Part Two of Confessions’ 2nd interview with the one, and only, Mr Jasper Bark!
Tonight’s segment is slightly different from our normal format. Firstly, we have a guest interviewer! Kevin J Kennedy read and reviewed Jasper’s new graphic novel, Parassassin for Confessions and will be asking Jasper some questions about that and all things comics. Watch out for Kev’s review of Parassassin later in the week.
The end of Part Two of the interviews normally sees the author tackling the dreaded Ten Confessions. As Jasper as answered these in a previous interview, tonight, he is the first victim in our new feature: Jo’s Awkward Question Time!
This is a serious of totally random (and we mean, random) questions that Jo spent a lot of her precious time coming up with to totally confuse, and confound Jasper, and drive him even more insane than he was.
Believe me, this is an interview you do not want to miss!
It’s Tuesday night so you probably need a laugh. Go get some beer and nachos and sit back, and most of all…..enjoy!
CoaR – With having a couple of new releases from you this time around, we had to enlist the help of a good friend of Confessions, Kevin J Kennedy, to have a look at your new graphic novel, Parassassin, and he had some questions for you as well.
Take it away Kev:
KJK – I felt like Parassassin could have fit nicely between the pages of 2000AD. Are you a fan of 2000AD?
JB – I bought the very first issue, as a young child, in 1977. I even remember the four-page pull out that ran as a preview, in the centre of Buster comic the week before it came out. I was unbelievably excited for the entire week before I finally saw it on the newsagent’s shelves, replete with the free orange space spinner that was sellotaped to the front so that you couldn’t remove it without damaging what would later become a collector’s item. I’ve read 2000AD, off and on, ever since.
Not only that, but since 2003 I’ve also written, sporadically, for the galaxy’s greatest comic. Mainly Future Shocks and Terror Tales, but I also created the series Earth War for them, and, as a I mentioned above, I penned a novel about one of my favourite characters – Strontium Dog.
Parassassin could have been a 2000AD strip, but I chose to work with Aces Weekly instead. Aces Weekly is like a 2000AD for the 21st Century. It was founded by the legendary David Lloyd, who co-created V for Vendetta and designed the famous anarchist mask that’s worn by everyone from Lulz Hackers through to protestors in the Arab Spring. Aces Weekly is a weekly, on-line anthology that’s totally paper free and co-operatively run. It’s a fantastic showcase for established comic creators and also the most exciting up and coming indie creators. They were a great outfit to work with, and I would heartily recommend getting a subscription and getting all the back issues from their online archive.
Parassassin is a paradoxical, time travelling, political parody, that sits on the bleeding edge of sci-fi, it’s a dark and gripping work and has more twists and turns than a hi-octane rollercoaster.
Once it had finished its run in Aces Weekly, I was approached by leading UK comics publisher Markosia, who wanted to bring the collected story out as a graphic novel. We were able to expand the story a little, because of this, and to include some exclusive material that didn’t appear in the original run. You can grab a copy of the collected graphic novel here.
KJK – What are some of your favourite comics?
JB – I have so many, I could fill the whole interview just listing them. I do like European comics; my favourite European comic has to be The Incal by Jodorowsky and Moebius. I also love underground and independent comics. I’ve been reading Love and Rockets, by Los Bros Hernandez, Hate, by Pete Bagge and all of Dan Clowes’s work since I was in my teens.
Some of my favourite horror comics would have to be Swamp Thing, both Wein and Wrightson’s run, and Moore, Bissette and Tottleben’s run (though Mark Millar and Philip Hester’s run was also excellent). Man Thing by Steve Gerber, Val Mayerik, Mike Ploog and others, was also a phenomenal comic. As was Tomb of Dracula by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. I love all of the EC Horror Comics, especially Vault of Horror and many barking mad, pre-code horror comics from the 50s. I also have a huge soft spot for the black and white ‘70s Horror Mood magazines put out by Skywald Publishing, like Psycho, Scream and Nightmare.
More recently, I’ve hugely enjoyed Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke and Key, and Joe Hill’s take on Tales from the Darkside. The Fix by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber is turning out to be a great series and I really enjoyed The Last Days of American Crime by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini.
KJK – Do you read many indie comics?
JB – Tonnes, as a creator, I go to a lot of conventions, and I mainly buy comics directly from indie creators. Recent favourites have included Future Primitive by Kevin Gunstone and Slobodan Jovanovic, Hunter Hunted by GM Jordan and Mick Trimble, Flintlock by Steve Tanner and others, Merrick the Sensational Elephant Man by Tom Ward and Luke Parker and most things by artist/writer Luke Cooper and writers Richmond Clements and Jim Alexander.
Perhaps the best Indie comic I’ve seen recently is a ground-breaking horror anthology called Outside from Topics Press and Ashram J Pure. It’s a beautiful looking book with some amazing art and some incredible talent inside.
KJK – Have you read City of Lost Souls by McCulloch or Vietnam Zombie Holocaust by Lennox?
JB – I love City of Lost Souls and didn’t mention it above because of this question. Janine Van Moosel’s art is superb and James McCulloch has come up with such a twisted plot. I haven’t read Vietnam Zombie Holocaust by Lennox and Devlin, but it sounds fun.
KJK – Do you think the rise of Kindle and the ease to self-publish has been a good or bad thing for the horror genre?
JB – Over all I think it has been a good thing. I know that it has allowed a certain amount of awful books to be published, and, even worse, a lot of mediocre work to flood the market, but it has also allowed a lot of writers to build an audience they wouldn’t otherwise have. Most authors self-publish a few of their books these days, even when they have a mainstream publishing deal. There’s no stigma attached to it anymore and it’s a viable source of extra income.
From a reader’s perspective, I have been able to read all kinds of authors I wouldn’t otherwise have heard about and I’ve also been able to read loads of out of print paperback originals, that would have been way outside of my price bracket if they weren’t eBooks. Certain companies like Valancourt Books, have done an amazing job bringing back hard-to-find classics, that have been out of print too long.
KJK – Any more graphic novels in the works?
JB – I have a portmanteau horror anthology called Beyond Lovecraft, coming out next year. It’s being drawn by the insanely talented Rob Moran. As you might guess, from the title, it’s a series of four stories inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft all brought together with a single wrap around story.
KJK – What else are you working on?
JB – I have just launched a new webcomic called Fear Fix over at my website www.jasperbark.com . It’s a homage to the old Black And White horror comics of the 70s put out by companies like Warren Comics, and the aforementioned Skywald, as well those excellent EC Horror Comics from the 50s. Every month there’ll be a new stand-alone story written by me and drawn by some of the biggest up and coming names in both mainstream and indie comics.
As with all great horror anthologies, it has a strange looking, somewhat creepy and untrustworthy host, only in this case that host is – me! That’s right, I’ve turned myself into a comic strip character and become the host of my own comic, introducing each story and cackling away at the end.
You can read the first story: A Bad Girl’s Guide to Making A Killing, right here for free.
And if you like what you see, or even if you like what you’ve read so far in this interview, I’ve just started up a new Patreon page which you can check out right here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
CoaR – As you had already confessed all for The Ten Confessions in your first interview, we decided to do something a little different to end this one.
My wife, Jo, who helps out a lot with Confessions, is a big fan of yours and had some questions she wanted to ask. To that end, we give you:
Jo’s Awkward Questions Time!
JO – Hi Jasper! I love your work and the quirkiness that you bring to everything you do so I know these questions are perfect for you!
JO – Did you ever follow through after too much Guinness?
JB – Hi Jo, and thank you for those very kind words.
I’ve never followed through after a pint of Guinness, but I did once give birth to a Badger, in County Sligo. I’d been drinking from the Landlord’s special stock, and it happened as I floated back over the moors. Luckily, the locals tend to believe that what happens in County Sligo, stays in County Sligo, though I do occasionally get mysterious postcards, postmarked from the area, all bearing nothing more than a single paw print.
JO – Do you like people? Or do you just tolerate speaking to them like me?
JB – I do like people, but if there’s something else on the menu, I tend to go for that instead.
JO – Did you ever want to be a dinosaur?
JB – I did once get stuck in a revolving door with a Velociraptor, from Swindon. Apparently, the residents of Swindon voted to remain in the cretaceous era, some years ago, and, as a result, they still have dinosaurs. The Velociraptor was quite friendly, in spite of his west country accent, but he was a wannabe rapper, and did insist on playing me his mix tape, over and over, until we were freed. It wasn’t very good, but I didn’t want to say anything because he had rather sharp teeth and claws.
JO – If you were in a snow storm and you had to burn a book to stay warm, which one would you choose?
JB – Burn a Book???!!! That’s sacrilege! I suppose if I had to, it would be a copy of Twilight by Stephanie Meyers or anything by Tom Clancy.
JO – Did you ever steal nail varnish from the Woolworths outside baskets?
JB – Funnily enough, that was the initiation rite for the street gang I joined when I was in junior school. ‘Hell’s Transvestites’ we were called. Not a name that struck much terror in the hearts of our rivals.
JO – Did you ever want to just turn your back on being an author and eat Nutella all day?
JB – That was actually my plan to escape the salt mines of horror writing. I founded the ‘4 Week Nutella Diet’, sat back and expected to make a fortune. Sadly, my test subjects all put on over four stone, developed diabetes and sued the backside off me.
Sadly, it was back to the salt mines for me.
JO – Could you eat a full jar of pickled onions if your life depended on it?
JB – Probably.
True story, when I was a very small child, I used to think that burps were the ghosts of pickled onions you’d eaten in a previous life.
Now that I read that back, I realise what a very strange little boy I was.
JO – If you were a bar of soap, would you resent people rolling you around in their hands after they’ve used the toilet?
JB – Not as much as I’d resent them taking me into the shower to wash their rather ripe nether regions.
JO – Have you ever wished you were a windmill?
JB – I don’t know about a windmill, but I am a vegetarian, which means I sometimes eat a lot of beans and pulses. When this happens, I know my wife wishes I was fitted with my own ventilation fan, especially when she lifts the duvet, last thing at night.
JO – If you were a Lego piece, would you be disappointed if you weren’t a face?
JB – Not if I had lots of nasty square edges, and could lie in wait, on a bedroom floor, for the naked feet of unsuspecting parents who’d just turned off their child’s nightlight.
JO – Do you like dancing with your Mr Wooster tucked between your legs?
JB – Until you asked, I must admit, I had never tried it. But, in order to answer your question as truthfully as possible, I thought I would try it out, to see if I did like it. It was Friday afternoon, the kids were still at school, so I stripped naked, put Goodbye Horses on the stereo and had a go.
What I didn’t realise, is that it’s very difficult to dance when your legs are squeezed together. So difficult, that I tripped up and ended face first in the living room shag-pile, with my butt in the air. I really should have shut the back door before I started, because that was the very moment the guy called round to read our electricity meter, only to be greeted by my naked butt and the winking head of Mr Wooster nestled just below.
That was an embarrassing conversation, I can assure you.
CoaR – We aren’t sure if the embarrassing conversation was the one with the meter man or this one with Jo. Unfortunately, the meter man was unavailable for comment. When contacted, his employer told us he was on extended trauma leave.
Well, unfortunately, that is the end of Part Two of the 2nd interview with Jasper Bark.
I think you will all agree that the man is, quite simply, absolutely feckin nuts!
But what a great sport he is. We would like to thank Jasper from the bottom of our tippy tippy toes for spending so much time answering so many random questions to make this interview possible. It’s plain from reading about his life that he is a very busy man so his time for this is greatly appreciated.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night for our review of Quiet Places and then Thursday night for Kev’s review of Parassassin.
Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!
CONFESSIONS REVIEWS JASPER BARK
Jasper Bark is infectious – and there’s no known cure. If you’re reading this then you’re already at risk of contamination. The symptoms will begin to manifest any moment now. There’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no itching or unfortunate rashes, but you’ll become obsessed with his books, from the award winning collections ‘Dead Air’ and ‘Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts’, to cult novels like ‘The Final Cut’ and acclaimed graphic novels such as ‘Bloodfellas’ and ‘Beyond Lovecraft’.
Soon you’ll want to tweet, post and blog about his work until thousands of others fall under its viral spell. We’re afraid there’s no way to avoid this, these words contain a power you are hopeless to resist. You’re already in their thrall and have been since you began reading this bio. Even now you find yourself itching to read the whole of his work. Don’t fight it, embrace the urge and wear your obsession with pride!
And for more about Jasper, visit his site or find him on social media: