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Setting the World on fire - An interview with DC Horn & Brendan Albetski

We welcome our two friends DC Horn & Brendan Albetski into the Yeti Cave to discuss their latest Kickstarter for The World Ends In Fire. They have a little over two days left in their campaign so let's dive in before!

 

COMIC BOOK YETI: Hello, and thank you both for swinging by the Yeti Cave DC & Brendan!! Today we are talking about The World Ends In Fire #1-2, which is currently live on Kickstarter until March 9th. Feel free to kick your shoes off and grab a seat, it’s time to dive in! How are you two doing today?

DC HORN: Fantastic! I’m thrilled to be back with the Yeti!

Brendan Albetski: Doing great, thanks for asking! Always a pleasure to get yeti'd CBY: Before we get too far, let’s start with the basics. Who are you and what are some of your previous titles? DC: I’m DC Horn, writer & editor-in-chief at XanCon Entertainment. I am one of the people behind stories like CAT GOAT DOG, Once Upon a Time in Xanatopia, Rust to Rust, DynastyPOP Presents, FOOD FOR THOUGHT, and Maxwell Howard: The City of Lost Souls. BA: I’m Brendan Albetski and I’m an independent freelance comic artist. I make Maru Kiru Destroy the Moon, which is my creator-owned series where I do all the jobs. I’m also the artist on an upcoming series called Circuit Champ for Wild Hare Comics, and I’ve done interior art for a bunch of anthologies including Insomniac’s Delights, Fractured Realms, and The Amber Door. CBY: At its core, what is The World Ends in Fire about for you? DC: At its absolute innermost core… to me, The World Ends in Fire is about experimentation. We’ve done some very weird things in conjunction with this project. We’ve made coloring books with Brendan’s line art. We’ve made a roll-up banner version of a comic to take to conventions where people can see a full issue at once. I have a big plexiglass print of the second cover. I used to have a little “THE END IS NIGH” sign that I’d carry around at conventions. Now we have a hot sauce. The World Ends in Fire is about being creative, exploring new boundaries, and having fun.

Now the second inner core is probably about optimistic nihilism. Brendan & I throw terms around like “tragedy you can dance to,” or “a road trip to the apocalypse.” Things are a little bleak and our heroes have tragic backstories but they’re still moving forward.


BA: Yeah, to be really blunt this comics business can just crush your soul. But we have to keep going and pushing and doing new and creative things in spite of all the stuff trying to hold us down, because it’s a labor of love and we’re driven by this unquenchable passion for the medium.

I personally feel really lucky to have found a creative partner in DC who encourages me to do weird stuff and just really be myself on the page. It makes TWEIF a joyful book. It’s joy in the face of insurmountable odds, and I think it represents where DC and I meet ideologically. When everything is crashing down, if you can find a way to keep smiling and help those you care about, that’s still worth doing. That, and magic car chases

CBY - A group of unlikely Heroes that team up to save the world from well..ending in fire is intriguing. Was it hard to balance their unique personalities, and for Brendan was it challenging to bring those to life?


DC: TWEIF (The World Ends In Fire) is my first ensemble story and I’ll admit to being intimidated by having to balance multiple main characters. I love Brendan and I already know that he’s going to talk about silhouettes in a moment LOL. His philosophy about character silhouettes also applies to writing characters. Each character needs to be noticeably different. Fortunately, we’ve been able to lean into character “types,” and then after I found each character’s voice they’ve basically written themselves. I sometimes cast actors as the characters and that helps me distinguish their mannerisms and voices. For example, to me, Asterisk is a combination of comedians Wyatt Cenac & Ron Funches… which probably doesn’t make as much sense now that it’s out of my head. BA: It’s funny, I never really think about it as a challenge, because the work is the work and it’s just what I do. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a joy to do.

I can break down the formula for you because IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SILHOUETTES, FOLKS. Really, it is! We have 4 main characters that are frequently participating in frantic action or riding in a car shot from a distance or getting on the bus or whatever, and they need to read instantly from whatever distance or angle they’re portrayed in. A comic is always choked for time, and the way characters look is an excellent shorthand that is required for effective storytelling. You know what each character’s role in the group is just by looking at them, from any distance or at any level of detail.

I love to lean on tropes, too. I think sometimes people get so bogged down in wanting to break all the rules that they forget why those rules existed in the first place. Asterisk, 84 and Warcott form that stereotypical WIZARD/THIEF/FIGHTER triad that has carried this genre for decades. And Phil is Phil, our walking mystery box. We’ve managed to blend a lot of eccentricities into what is a very basic recipe, and I think the result is a lovable cast that speaks for itself.


CBY: What served as the inspiration for your cast, both in terms of script writing and design? Do you have a favorite character? DC: Warcott was based on an unused character from another story. That character was inspired by a Darksouls 1 enemy with mossy stone armor. Warcott became more refined when he was inspired by a couple of UFC fighters that famously didn’t talk much before a fight but did all their trash-talking in the ring. Brendan then added a Klingon pride aspect to his character.

Asterisk is an aloof wizard with steadily declining mental health. The idea being that there is a price to pay for magic. Asterisk was a character intended for “Once Upon A Time in Xanatopia” but he never made it in. That character was going to be a cowboy, drifter, wizard that wandered the outskirts of civilization. I personally think that still exists in him. Issue 4 gets into Asterisk’s backstory some and it’s honestly my favorite part of the series so far.

84 is kind of an overly responsible kid. She’s the expression “20 going on 40.” She carries herself seriously and maturely yet is still very vulnerable and emotionally naïve. She was meant to play the rogue role of the party. That turned into being more vigilante than thief.

Phil… well Phil is a skeleton. Phil was inspired by a dumb Halloween tradition I have. During October I put a life-sized plastic skeleton in the car and ride around with him. That’s Phil. He’s a clockwork puppet with a finite amount of energy.

But my favorite? Honestly… my favorite character from TWEIF is a side character we see in issues 3 & 4, “El Gallo,” and I refuse to spoil him… but he is the greatest. I love that in the original script and concept of the character completely changed the moment I saw Brenden’s design. The character was fairly well formed to me at the time; I already had a voice for him… and instantly… the moment I saw his design everything changed.

BA: Asterisk came to me pretty much fully formed, but after my first couple time sketching him out I gave him this kind of billowy tank top and just went “OH NO, HE’S HOT.” I just sent my sketch to DC with the note “HIMBO WIZARD” and he found an painfully tragic way to get that into the backstory.

Warcott is physically kinda based on this guy I used to work with who was an aged powerlifter. A big ol’ boulder man. Aesthetically he’s one part Steiner (FF9) and one part Potemkin (Guilty Gear).

When I was doing 84 I was thinking about Tony D’terlizzi’s Tiefling designs from the old AD&D Planescape art. I was really high on that stuff as a kid and I wanted to do my version of that. She’s very much “the dexterity character” so she’s got a lot of bits and bobs from various thief/ninja/acrobat-type characters. And she’s the driver, so I originally had her in driving gloves but then thought it would be cooler with big fantasy gauntlets.

Phil was inspired by a sack of potatoes with a skull and a clock glued to it. Until we get to a certain point and then he was inspired by a bunch of awesome Shaolin Spade videos I watched on the internet.

And I can’t pick a favorite, I love them all. They are all my children haha. I agree with DC, though, I’m excited for everyone to get to El Gallo.


CBY: Thank you both for the opportunity to read both issues, I felt both the story and artwork complimented each other perfectly. What is the takeaway you hope readers feel after reading TWEIF? DC: I hope that readers… “dance through the tragedy.” TWEIF is a comedic tragedy. I hope readers laugh… and I hope readers’ cry. Then I hope that they buy… that way I can continue to work with Brendan Albetski! BA: Yeah, I think this is a great comic. I hope people get a lot out of it, and I hope they make the same kind of connection with the characters that I did. It’s important to remember that this a truly independent operation, so if you DO love comics like this and want to see them get made, please strongly consider making a purchase so we can keep it going! We won’t let you down!


CBY: As of right now you are Kickstarting the first two issues with all 4 being available on GlobalComix. Can we expect any more installments from TWEIF in the future? DC: We are currently working on issue 5. The goal is that TWEIF will be 12 issues & if things go well, we can build a sequel later. One of our main priorities for 2024 is audience building. BA: I’m so in love with TWEIF I’m gonna be heartbroken if we only get to do those 12 issues. I’d keep working on it forever but we definitely need you (yes YOU) to tell your friends and help us get everybody on this train. Then we can write a train heist issue.

Also, I joke a lot about there being a TWEIF animated series someday, but I honestly think that would be cool. I think it has a lot of potential as an IP, and I think DC and I would be all over soundtracking that.


CBY: If the world was going to end in 24 hours, what would be the first (and last) thing you would do? 


DC: Have you ever seen the music video for A Perfect Circle’s – “So long and thanks for all the fish?” I’d probably be just another lunatic in that town. But… I don’t know… I quit smoking 8 years ago or so. So, the first thing I would probably do is smoke a cigarette and watch the sunrise. The last? Take a deep breath as I surrender to the infinite nothingness BA: Maybe I’d finally try 24 hour comic day.

CBY: Thank you both once again for dropping by once again! Before we officially end things I am curious, what recommendations do you have out there for our readers to check out? We are always looking for new titles to check out!


DC: A comic that I recently found and really enjoyed is Thunderbeast by Wes Griffith. BA: I’ve been reading some awesome fantasy stuff recently, I have 3 recommendations for you: ORCS! – Christine Larsen, To Hell and Galgenbeck – Lukasz Kowalczuk, BIRDKING – Daniel Freedman & CROM.

Also if you’re looking for a big reading list you should check out the Cartoonist Co-op’s website. There’s a huge directory of independent comics by creative and diverse talent.


CBY: Thank you for joining Comic Book Yeti today, if you have any social media platforms or other links you would like to shout out, now’s the time.


DC: I can be found on Twitter @xanconent, Instagram xancon_entertainment, facebook Xancon Entertainment… and online at www.xancononline.com. If you sign up for our email list you’ll get a free digital comic. BA: I’m on everything as @BrendanAlbetski, if I’m on a thing, that’s what I am. Also, check out my website BrendanAlbetski.com! If you’re looking to hire me for comics work, hit me up at HTBComics@gmail.com. Oh and subscribe to my newsletter at https://brendanalbetski.substack.com/


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