The thought that comes to mind when thinking of the expression "Swan Songs" relates directly to the end of things or potentially saying goodbye for the very last time. Swan Songs #1 really drives those thoughts home by capitalizing on how love can be a spotlight, even when the end of times is near. It speaks to how one might act when their last moments with a loved one are ever-so near. This book hits the feels when it comes to family. It also contains superior quality writing and art to help those feels really hit home. Comic Book Yeti Contributor Ty Whitton welcomed writer W. Maxwell Prince (Haha, Ice Cream Man) and artist Martin Simmonds (Department of Truth, Dying is Easy) into the Yeti Cave to chat more about Swan Songs. Be sure to order your copy of Swan Songs via the link at the end of the interview or simply let your local comic book store know to add it to your pull!
COMIC BOOK YETI: It is more than an honor to be able to interview two of the best creators in the comic book world today regarding a book that sounds incredibly cool! Before we get to the book, how has your 2023 been so far?
W. MAXWELL PRINCE: This week’s Supreme Court rulings were incredibly disheartening. But other than that, I’m just swell.
MARTIN SIMMONDS: So far, 2023 has been really busy for me - plenty of projects being created behind closed doors, all of which will see the light of day this year, the first of which being Swan Songs!
CBY: As this book is all about how certain things end, along with how they may continue on, it is certain that this project will be very impactful to many readers out there. After working on your most recent projects, what was it about Swan Songs that made you want to call this idea your next project?
WMP: I needed an excuse to work with Mr. Simmonds, first and foremost. But after that, books like HAHA and SWAN SONGS allow me to explore certain ideas in a more focused, clear way than ICE CREAM MAN does. And so: a miniseries about endings.
MS: I was already a big fan of WMP’s work, and I was going to be on a break from THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH for a few months, so this was a great (and perfectly timed!) opportunity to collaborate on something. It was also really nice to work on a one and done issue, something I’ve not had the chance to do before.
CBY: When it comes to the writing and art, what do you hope to convey to the readers through the first issue?
WMP: That therapy is worthwhile.
MS: Always look after your mum.
CBY: It’s such a great idea to create a project that has to do with some ideas that relate to what many people are afraid of! How did you prepare to create such a beginning to a miniseries focused on the end of things?
WMP: We’re LIVING the end of everything, so it’s actually a piece of cake.
MS: It's a real heart-wrencher of an issue, so despite all the end of the world imagery and darker themes, the main thing I wanted to communicate was the human element of the story.
My preparation was to focus on human expression to somehow try and capture that desperation, determination, and above all wanting to provide comfort to loved ones through the character acting
CBY: The art and writing complemented each other throughout the whole first issue extremely well, where multiple moments hit quite hard because of that chemistry. How did you communicate to create such a fluid appeal in a book such as Swan Songs?
WMP: I did that old trick of: hand your script off to an artistic genius and let him go to town.
MS: Haha! That's very nice of WMP to say, but in all honesty, that magic needs to be in the script in the first place! When a script is so well written, it makes it so much easier for an artist to work from. It’s great when the chemistry is there from the start!
CBY: As you’ve written multiple fantastic anthologies, such as HAHA and Ice Cream Man to name a few, what sets Swan Songs apart from your previous works?
WMP: It’s the focus–each issue of SS is about a different kind of thing ending, and each one is drawn by someone new. This format just allows me to stretch certain muscles I don’t get to in Ice Cream Man.
CBY: Regarding the art you’ve beautifully created on covers or in the interior of books such as Department of Truth, Dying is Easy, and Titan’s Death Sentence, how did you handle working on Swan Songs compared to those aforementioned projects?
MS: So the biggest difference is this issue of Swan Songs is almost completely hand-painted (there are a few minor post production digital tweaks), whereas in the past I may add some digital colour in places.
Going fully analog can sometimes mean it’s a slower process, but in this instance with it being a single issue, I could afford to take a bit more time.
Because it’s fully-painted, it did mean a different approach to my process, but that’s the kind of challenge that I like in order to keep things fresh.
CBY: What references or inspirations did you use to help give Swan Songs what it needed to stand out?
WMP: Better Home & Garden Magazine is the big one for me. I’ve spent a lot of time in dentists’ waiting rooms, and a rag about true, natural beauty never disappoints.
MS: As previously mentioned, I’d have to say working almost entirely traditionally as opposed to relying on digital tools meant it forced me to approach the process, and to some extent my art style, in a different way.
CBY: It’s noted that multiple artists will be participating in future issues of Swan Songs. Are you handling having more than a few separate main artists any different than your previous anthologies like HAHA and if so, how are you handling this project differently in that regard?
WMP: I always do it the same: let a brilliant sequential storyteller do their thing. Sure, I have my script, but that’s secondary to what comes out on the other side, and we adjust accordingly via lettering. (Shoutout to my boy Good Old Neon.)
CBY: In knowing that you’re the main artist on the first issue, and that this may be the only issue you’re working on within the miniseries in that role, can you tell us how you handled this situation differently than with projects like Department of Truth where your stay was much longer?
MS: Definitely the luxury of being able to spend more time on the issue! Having that space definitely helps to experiment a little more with process, and find new and interesting ways of tackling a panel/page.
CBY: Can you tell us anything about what to expect for the future of Swan Songs?
WMP: More things ending!
MS: A selection of amazing artists!
CBY: What projects, other than Swan Songs, can readers look forward to seeing from you in the future?
WMP: Ice Cream Man is still going strong, and other than that I’m trying real hard to make a new side table for the living room.
MS: Other than the return of THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH, I have another limited series with James Tynion which will be out this year. It may have even been announced by the time this interview is published.
CBY: Where can readers find you on social media and/or the internet in general?
WMP: Instagram only - @wmaxwellprince
Twitter - @Martin_Simmonds
Instagram - @martinsimmonds
BlueSky - @martinsimmonds.bsky.social
CBY: It’s been more than a pleasure to interview you about such a wonderfully-created book like Swan Songs! Thank you for your time and I wish the best of luck to you regarding this book’s future, as well as your other future endeavors!
*As an important note, please go take a look at Swan Songs via PreviewsWorld HERE and order yourself one or multiple copies of each issue available! At the very least, use the search function to find past and future availability to order the title! Another option is to let your local comic book store add Swan Songs to your pull! You will be happy that you did!!