I remember the first time I watched An American Werewolf in London. The movie made by the great John Landis was one of those campy horror movies that was both fun and scary. What stayed with me all these years from that celluloid classic was that it was the first time that I saw a Werewolf transformation on screen. I’ve seen many more since.
Probably the most disturbing transformations can be found in The Howling movies where we saw every type of transformation even from birth. The world of Lycans seemed to never be as cool as Vampires, that was until shows like Being Human and movies like Underworld. The mythology laid out by the latter gave us a world where it mirrored our own. It’s one divided by class and misunderstanding. In the second issue of the epic In Place Of Honor, we delve into a world where there are the Hunters and the Hunted.
The series is a dystopian retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, in which the Big Bad Wolf and Red join forces to save their people from themselves. In the second issue, we find Bennett awake from her transformation back to human form, in a place unknown to her, as she attempts to deal with events of the last few hours. We also catch up with Ryder, whose friend worries about her empathy for the Lycans outweighs her duty and loyalty to the Hoods.
Overall, an engaging story that elevates the genre, and feels like a cross between Twilight, Lost Girl, and Underworld, in something even better. The story by Kimberly Moss is exciting, well-characterized and layered. The art by Digo Salazar is truly breathtaking. Altogether, a story which will draw you in with its characters and leave you wanting more of this world.
A few months ago, I got a chance to do a review of the first collection, from the up and coming Comics publisher, InHiatus Studios, which has well of talent from the Bay Area in California, I got a chance to talk to each of the creators, this interview was with Kim Moss and Digo Salazar, who work together on In Place Of Honor.
A Dystopian Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, in which the Big Bad Wolf and Red join forces to save their people from themselves.
Kim and Digo talk about the book, their start in comics and what drives them.
Graphic Policy: What were your favorite comics growing up?
Kim Moss: My first introduction to comics was through Manga. The very first graphic novel I purchased was the pocket sized Magic Knight Rayearth volume 1. I then expanded into Sailor Moon, Ranma ½, and one of my favorites, Peach Girl.
Digo Salazar: I read mostly Marvel comics, still do. I would collect with my brother, we sort of had a shared collection so we kind of split it up, he collected titles I didn’t and vice-versa. X-men for sure was one of my favorite titles, especially X-Force, their powers were great, ensemble cast, and they had the best crossover story arcs. I briefly collected ‘What If’ during the late 90s, there was an issue with Peter Parker titled ‘Arachna morphosis,’ that was one of my favorite stories, really stuck with me.
GP: Is there a specific comics creator that influenced you?
KM: CLAMP has always been one of my favorite artist groups. Their designs and story lines were always very exciting. But as I got older I became fascinated with Ai Yazawa. There was such truth to her characters, and her art seemed to be able to catch so much more than surface emotion.
DS: I can’t say that there’s any one specific, I’ve been influenced by so many things. Funny enough, Leifeld’s early work on X-Force shaped the way I went about designing my characters, granted I was young and still a bit ignorant to things like perspective and anatomy, but whatever, pouches are practical and cool. That led to Image Comics, they were generally more graphic; had more blood and gore, more muscle bound men pounding on each other, which as a young boy I couldn’t get enough of. As I got older I was soon introduced manga and that really turned my world upside down. Manga had tons more detail and precision to it’s style, it employed different techniques like panel-breaking and taught me that there are comic stories that deal with more than just superheroes. Plus I used to draw my characters without pupils, until manga opened my eyes, and now I know the joy of adding pupil details. More recently, Jerome Opeña and Greg Tocchini’s work has impacted me on how I approach sequential art, especially with page layout, composition, and movement.
GP: Are there any influences outside of comics which you draw upon in your art?
KM: I actually draw influence from other stories, television shows, and other creators. I find that discussing creative works inspires me to look at things differently, and in turn can spark a new idea or character.
DS: I’m with Kim, definitely find inspiration from other media outlets or just seeing anything that looks cool. When it comes to designing a character, there’s always the internal struggle of fashion vs function. For example, a ninja who are generally known for their stealth, who operate in the shadows and out of sight, you wouldn’t really think of using the color motif of white, but you do it anyways because a ninja dressed in white looks sweet, yet certainly not practical.
GP: What influence do your parents have on your work? What was their reaction, when you told what you wanted to do for a living?
KM: My parents have always been supportive of my creativity. In fact I still ask my dad to read some of my work for feedback. He is also a writer, so I get a lot of my creativity from him. My parents have always told me to follow my bliss. I’m very lucky to have the parents I do.
DS: Same, my parents were extremely supportive, you know those kids who get sent to camp for the summer, ours was art. Anytime they found an opportunity for some kind of extracurricular art class or workshop they’d always see if my brother and I were interested in attending. Both of them have creative sides so it runs in the family, it’s in our blood so they always encouraged and supported us to continue and pursue this passion.
GP: How did you get started in comics?
KM: My start was when Don Aguillo approached me about doing a comic together. That project is also included in Shards Volume One. But I first was invited to join this project with my story In Place of Honor.
DS: My brother and our friend Ed Calizon started up a webcomic, ReGrBl, which originated from this silly idea in our younger days that only came to fruition after college. It was one of the first times we really stuck to a schedule and tried to produce quality comic content regularly.
GP: When did you know working on comics would be your career?
KM: When we decided to form a company. Hahaha.
DS: I never really thought about that till this question… so now?
GP: What lead you to form InHiatus Studios?
KM: I love working on creative projects with other people, so when we started this project it just seemed like the next logical step. We had a lot of fun working together, and I think we were all very inspired by each other.
DS: I wasn’t integral in the founding, I was sort of brought on late in the beginning to help out, like a hired-gun, a mercenary if you will, but no way am I that cool so I’d say it’s more like hero-support.
GP: What was your inspiration behind In Place of Honor?
KM: There are a few things that lead to the development of “In Place of Honor”. I’ve always been fascinated by the origin of stories, Fairy Tales in particular. I often wonder how much truth is behind a story, and I enjoy when a traditional tale is twisted and adapted to a different time and place. Especially those stories where the villain turns out to be the victim.
I also teach high school and read a lot of YA fiction. What I have found is very few stories that center around a deep loving friendship. And I have noticed that many of my students and their peers often associated love with physical love. I have been fortunate to have very dear friends in my life. So I wanted to create a story that portrayed two people who loved each other deeply, but were friends not lovers.
So when the name Bennett popped into my head, In Place of Honor was born. Staying
GP: What can you tell me about the world and characters of In Place of Honor?
KM: “In Place of Honor” is set in a modern world. There is a war going on, but it is more of a domestic war on the wolves. The power dynamic has shifted, and while there is still a central government, the militaristic group, the Hoods, are the true rulers.
The main characters are Bennett and Paige. Bennett is a descendent of one of the original wolf lines. Other wolves feel an immediate loyalty to the descendent lines, and many have died defending them. Bennett struggles with their sacrifice, and strives to do what is right in defense of them.
Paige is a Ryder, the natural enemies of the wolves. Paige is very good at what she has trained to do, but she takes serious issue with how the war is being handled. She resents the human’s involvement with a war that they were not meant to be apart of in the first place. Unfortunately, Paige is unable to hide her disdain, and this gets her into trouble with her own command.
Daly is the leader of the black market: Grandma’s Village. She has a history with both Bennett and Paige, though neither of them know that yet.
GP: How have you found working together?
KM: Digo has been great to work with. I love his style, and find it hilarious when I ask for something and he just delivers a fully painted piece that I never asked for. Hahaha.
DS: Kim is the best, she really keeps me on track and has a good sense of humor. She know what she wants, gives me great notes on how things should look, but also gives me the freedom to play around with art direction. She has this wonderful story so I am honored that I’ve been paired up with her. Get it, honored? Like the title, yeah you get it.
GP: Do you have any favorite comics you are reading right now?
KM: I am currently reading “Saga” and “Low”.
DS: I’ve recently read “Zodiac Starforce” and playing catch-up with most X-Men titles.
GP: What do you think is most important when capturing a moment in time to render in a panel for the reader to take in?
DS: It has to look super rad, like drawn real good, but a more serious answer I guess would be composition. A well thought out placement of the characters in their environments, background art and keeping in mind that a speech bubble might need to fit somewhere in there as well, all framed interestingly will help express that single panel’s message; ultimately looking super rad.
GP: When was the first time, you identified with a character on TV/in the movies/ or between the pages of a comic book?
DS: When it comes to characters I like in tv, movies, or comics, it’s not that I necessarily identify with them, it’s more that I admire them because they exhibit qualities I would like for myself to have.
GP: How important is representation in comics to you as a creator and to your target audience?
KM: I think representation is very important, but I also think it needs to be handled with care and thought. This is why my main characters are usually woman. I have never identified with the busty-sex-kitten thing, and I believe women are more than their ability to incite a sexual fantasy. In my English classes, I noticed that the women we read about were usually victims or focused on their male counterparts. I want to create women that fight for something and find strength in each other.
DS: I totally agree with Kim, even though I myself identify as a busty-sex-kitten. Taking race into consideration, I of course prefer more diversity, but I also understand it can also depend on the setting. If the story is set in old timey London, yeah I wouldn’t care if all the characters are white, but if it’s taking place in the present-not-so-distant-future time in San Francisco, I’d expect to see a lot more asians, *cough* Planet of the Apes.
GP: Are there any current artists/writers out there you admire and would like to work with?
KM: Joss Whedon, Lena Dunham, and Ilya Kuvshinov (inst:kuvshinov_ilya) – I follow them on Instagram and I love the style.
DS: I second all of Kim’s choices especially Kuvshinov, and add artist Guweiz, Mark Waid, and Matt Tarpley, creator of webcomic, MaryDeathComics.
GP: What kind of reception have you had with Shards Volume 1?
KM: I’ve had really positive feedback. I think people enjoy the spin on the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood”.
DS: It seems to be going good, sold a couple copies at my local comic shop near me, and the owner mentioned that one of the people who bought it asked when the next one will be out.
GP: What do you want our readers to know/or expect from In Place of Honor?
KM: I want them to expect characters that will sacrifice everything for what they believe is right.