Andrew Irvin, Comic Book Yeti's International Interviewer Extraordinaire, welcomed Miles Gunter into the Yeti Cave to chat about God-tier level punches, different spiritual disciplines, their supernatural, and meditation. Plus, I think this is the second interview in a row where Andrew uses the word "phantasmagorical". That's a great word.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Welcome, Miles! I'm happy to say I read the first couple issues of Grammaton Punch, and I am waiting to see where you take the story next. I have to say, my eye was initially drawn to your work from the list of possible interview opportunities within the Comic Book Yeti team primarily because your title begged further inquiry - how did you land on Grammaton Punch? I immediately thought of the old Kirby Superstar Megaton Punch minigame, then upon digging into the story, the tetragrammaton Hebrew concept of God was evoked, which simply made me think of the wonderful trope, Did You Just Punch Out Cthulu? Can you please set me straight and give our readers some insight into how you arrived at this title?
MILES GUNTER: I’m glad you like the title. My first title choice was Ghost Punch which was unavailable. Grammaton is indeed an abbreviation of Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew name of God. I liked the idea of a God tier punch being wielded much like say Thor’s Hammer. One of the things I wanted to do with this book was to pull ideas from different spiritual disciplines as that’s very much how I approach my own spiritual practice.
CBY: I see the copyright is attributed to both you and Briane Andan, the artist on the project. Can you tell our readers a bit about how this collaboration originated, and how you enlisted Lee Loughridge, Taylor Esposito, and Ed Dukeshire for coloring, lettering, and logo design, respectively?
MG: I found Briane on twitter and thought he had enormous potential. Grammaton Punch seemed like a good idea for a project to develop with him given his style. I was blessed with access to Lee and Ed through Chip Mosher who is a long time friend and who’d invited me to pitch to Comixology. I worked with Taylor previously on my Image book Dark Fang and loved his letters and SFX. All these guys are top drawer talents.
CBY: You've opened up a phantasmagorical world, rife with a range of different types of ghosts. The Ghostbusters spectral classification system came to mind, as well as the broader supernatural bestiary from ghost stories around the world. Do you have a system of characterizing the spirits appearing in Grammaton Punch, and are you drawing upon types of ghosts which have historically appeared in myths and legends the world over for your design process?
MG: Yes, there is a classification system in Grammaton Punch. The majority of the spirits in the story are Feeder class- which are free roaming parasites. There will also be a Geist (as in Poltergeist) which is a more powerful class but rooted to a specific location and unable to roam. I don’t think I consciously drew upon anything historic or from myths/legends. I was thinking in terms of anime/manga/video game aesthetics because that’s very much Briane’s wheelhouse as an artist.
CBY: Regarding another visual element, you've found a means of giving your protagonist, Van, a strong narrative justification for his distinct appearance. To better understand the character development process between you and Briane, did the narrative element arise first, or did you have a look in mind for Van and write to match his desired appearance?
MG: The white hair came out of developing his origin as I was writing the first issue. I thought it was a cool visual signifier of how he has one foot in the human world and another foot in the unseen spirit world.
CBY: From B.P.R.D. to Dark Fang, Demon Cleaner, and Weird War Tales, you've built a deep portfolio of exploring horror in novel ways. What aspects of the supernatural do you feel you gravitate towards in your general interests? In your approach to writing, what helps you set rules to abide by within each fictional universe, and are there certain features you find you always adhere to or guidelines you always apply to set boundaries for what is possible in these fantastical worlds?
MG: Wow. Great question. With the supernatural, I always love seeing something new that I haven’t seen before. The comics medium has enormous freedoms over other mediums. The only limits are your imagination, effort and page count, so there is that opportunity to show the reader something new. For me, writing is an entirely intuitive process. You have to be extremely mindful and conscientious about everything with your passion as the fuel. With this book, the thing that was most helpful was my daily meditation practice. I’ve long dabbled in things like meditation, yoga and esoteric study, but during the pandemic I got serious about it and learned the Vedic technique which is the same one David Lynch uses. It’s been enormously beneficial and allowed me to go deeper into my process and have greater discernment when considering things like rules, boundaries and guidelines within a creative work. Anyone interested in learning proper meditation should check out www.archermeditation.com which offers online teaching.
CBY: As your writing pertains to our world, you've published stories through Antarctic Press, Beckett Comics, Dark Horse, Image, and Vertigo - what led to the publishing arrangement with ComiXology for Grammaton Punch? Can you detail for our readers how this came about and why it ended up being the right fit for the title?
MG: The book wouldn’t exist without Chip Mosher, formerly of Comixology and now of DSTLRY. I was bummed when Chip left in the middle of production but his shoes were quickly filled by Bryce Gold who has been an incredibly enthusiastic champion of Grammaton Punch. With this book I wanted to make something more along the lines of say Spiderman where there is more of a universal appeal. I’ve never done a book like that and Comixology felt like the perfect home for it. Thankfully they received Grammaton Punch with open arms.
CBY: Under the current run, you have five issues of Grammaton Punch planned for release. Without spoilers, can you give us a bit of an indication as to the narrative scope you've considered for this world? What sort of arc have you ultimately had in mind for this world to tell the full breadth of Van's story and follow all the narrative paths you've devised?
MG: Van’s arc is about breaking out of his own patterns. He’s had to live a guarded life because of his abilities, which have created a distance from other people. These first five issues are about him confronting that and the consequences, both good and bad, when he starts doing things differently. By the end of issue five he’s in a different place from where he started, but there’s the potential for things to continue.
CBY: You've had the opportunity to work with luminaries and seasoned veterans of the industry such as Mike Mignola and Kelsey Shannon. Can you tell our readers a bit about your time coming up as a writer and how you've cultivated these relationships and made these opportunities part of your career path?
MG: Two important parts of the equation of becoming a comics writer are doing the work of making comics (even if it’s just for yourself) and making relationships with other creatives. Working with Mignola and Kelsey both came about through my friend Mike Oeming. Mike liked my Weird War Tales story and brought me on to work on his book Bastard Samurai which is how I met Kelsey, whose astonishing color sense changed the way I think about imagery. The success of that project led to collaborating with Mignola, which I consider to be the most significant learning experience I’ve had as a writer. He is the master and I’m still using the lessons I learned from that collaboration.
CBY: On the note of industry inspiration, what books - and their creators - did you incorporate into your aesthetic and feed into your style and subject interests as you grew into the medium? With NYC Mech and Terminator notched up, sci-fi clearly has a place in your wheelhouse, as well. What factored into your eclectic taste growing up?
MG: My two main formative inspirations for making comics are early Vertigo books like Sandman, Enigma, and Shade the Changing Man and old Viz manga reprints like Crying Freeman, Fist of the North Star and Baoh. I think my approach to comics is very much Vertigo manga. Weird character-based stories presented in a visually kinetic way.
CBY: Finally, what material, both within the world of comics and beyond, is providing you with inspiration these days? What would our readers be missing out on if you didn't take the chance to clue them into now?
MG: Readers are so smart and informed, I don’t know that I can offer any unseen gems. Lately I have been rereading Brian Azzarello’s Hellblazer run, which is so incredibly well paced. I was affected by PTSD Radio, which I’m not so sure I enjoyed but it definitely made a genuinely creepy impression. I really dug Spawn: Unwanted Violence with gorgeous art by Mike del Mundo. I recently finished my first short film which was an amazing learning experience and has changed how I watch movies. So I’ve been revisiting old favorites by Kurosawa and DePalma (Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Body Double) and studying their visual storytelling as I contemplate the next steps on that new artistic road.
CBY: Miles, thanks for your time today. Grammaton Punch is off to a great start, and if you have links to share to social media and ComiXology, please feel free to include them below!
MG: Thank you so much for reading and helping to spread the word! People can follow me on Twitter at @milesgunter.
Issue 1 is available at Amazon and if you’re a Prime member you can read it for free.