Today, issue #3 of Black Mask Studios’ 5 issue mini-series X’ed hits comic book stores. The “sci-fi thriller about a next-gen form of psychology: ‘subliminal hitmen’ injected into your mind to hunt down and kill the demons that haunt you”, has been enticing readers for two issues. It’s an unorthodox tale with a complex and multilayered concepts, and has many wondering about it’s origins. I had a chance to catch up with X’ed scribe Tony Patrick to ask him more about his work, his inspiration for X’ed, and where he’s going next.
Photo of X’ed writer Tony Patrick courtesy of Black Mask Studios.
You have a previous history of writing comedy, but you more recently have been writing drama. Why is that?
They’re intertwined. They’re inseparable. Comedy and Drama. Comedy and Tragedy, they’re intertwined; interlocked. They’re brother and sister. The line between the two is tenuous. So, it just makes sense. Why wouldn’t I write something dramatic? If I had written a crapload of dramatic pieces, why wouldn’t I write something comedic? So, the challenge for any writer is pulling together all those elements of comedy and tragedy and in this day sci fi elements and then pulling a good story out of that.
Have you always been a comic book fan?
Yes, always. Since I was a kid. Since my father handed me a Captain America and Falcon comic book. Since my mom handed me an Archie and Jughead; Betty and Veronica comic book…I have been a fan.
X’ed issue #2 courtesy of Black Mask Studios.
Is there any specific book or series which inspires your current comic book endeavor?
There’s a lot of stuff on the shelves that I could say is inspirational. I’m a big fan of Brian K. Vaughn’s work. Even within our company Black Mask Studios there’s a lot of great storytelling happening. Which our most recent stuff is Clandestino, Space Riders, Never Go Home. There are books that are really pushing the boundaries, pushing their way through, and really becoming unconventional narratives. And I find that inspirational because it forces me to be on my A game.
I think if you look at the history of comics, or even the recent history of comics, there’s always these colossal figures that you wish you could live up to. I mean, I’d love write like Neil Gaiman. There’s a list. Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Dwayne McDuffie. There are these pillars of comic book creation that I definitely look up to and rest on their shoulders. But for now? All I’ve got is 5 issues to tell one kick ass story and that’s all I’m trying to do.
X’ed promo header courtesy of Black Mask Studios.
This book. It’s really psychological. Can you tell us more about where the inspiration from this book came from?
Basically, the way I mentioned it before and the way I usually respond to this question is that; I had an idea about ten years ago which was that I wanted to play around with the dreamscape and that there were cops in the dreamscape. I was beaten to the punch by J. Michael Straczinski who did Rising Stars, etc. It wasn’t until 2014 when I was pitching to Black Mask that I put a variation on my initial idea and the two words ‘subliminal hitman’ popped up, and that’s when this idea was born.
A lot of artists find some of their work to be cathartic. Have you found a sense of catharsis through this project?
I think everything you write in some way or another is either cathartic, or adds to your list of obstructions. Haha. So, you have a choice. You write your way to catharsis and through catharsis, or you stay blocked. In this case, of course there’s some catharsis. Additionally, I also think that the best stories illuminate the dark side of you, and also accentuate the lighter poignant sides of you.
Would you consider yourself somewhat new to the comic book industry?
Yes and no. This is my first book so there’s a whole dance that’s being done here that is entirely new to me. You’re dealing with comic book fans, retailers, conventions, buyers,…I’m learning about the industry. It’s new to me, but trying to break in is an old old struggle for me. I’ve been trying to do this since I was a kid, and my first opportunity happened in 2014. So yea and nay I’m new to it. I’ve even been around to see a few friends break into this industry. So yes and no.
What kind of things can we see coming in the future from you?
More comics. Probably some films. I enjoy crafting universes. I have a second book in the works now with a great artist out of Atlanta and we are hoping to announce that series this year. It’s again another unconventional sci-fi tale. But including African American leads. The project is called Hole and I’m really looking forward to that. It’s really an exciting project and another one that keeps me on my toes. I’m looking forward to creating more comics stories. Creating more film stories. Maybe even hopefully breaking into some tv, but comics has been so far one of the best mediums to participate in. I feel very privelidged and grateful to be creating comics and I really look forward to making more of them.
What do you find so rewarding about comics vs. film or tv?
Working in tv is a different grind. Film, theres the beauty of watching it again and again, and if you’re lucky you get something new out of it each time. But for me to be able to hold a comic book in your hand and read throughout sequential art, because that’s what it is ‘sequential art’. I mean, you can actually put this piece of art in your hands. It’s tangible. It provokes new ideas. It requires imagination. For me it’s gold every time I get to a page. If I get an ink page I get excited. If I get a colored page, I’m ecstatic. And if I get a book in my hands?…that’s winning the lotto! So, for me it’s instantly gratifying. Especially if I had something to do with it. It’s like the manifestation of a dream on each page.
Tackle your own inner demons and check out the latest issue of X’ed by Black Mask Studios.
X’ed issue #3 courtesy of Black Mask Studios.