Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of 13 Shots of Whiskey! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise, and what was its inspiration?
Markus Pattern: I would describe the series premise a collection of stories no one else was letting me draw. Often when I would start working with writers, they would ask what I wanted to draw, and I would come back with a couple of options, westerns being one, cos I like drawing horses, and these fine fellow creators would choose something else. So, I was like, well, if you want something doing, you got to do it yourself.
The inspiration was because I had a failed Kickstarter, time on my hands, and a lot of f**k-you energy that I need to channel into something. This book was born of a bad mood, a desire to carry on, and keep creating comics. To flex, to be like, “Hey, I can create a comic, soup to nuts in 7 weeks, hire me to do it so I don’t have any more gaps in my calendar.” Jim Rugg created Octobriana 1976 in seven weeks, and I wanted to see if I could also create a comic in 7 weeks. (It was more like 9, but I got ill week 5 and had to go back to my regular job cos of Christmas, which delayed things, stupid national holidays.)
As for the inspiration for the story, I dunno, something about an old white guy who lies about his past glories get shot by a minority in 2021 seemed appealing, can’t think why. As I said, this book was born out of a bad mood.
BD: The first story within the series is “The 3 Deaths of Willis Waterhouse.” What makes this story the fitting starting point for the series?
MP: It was the first story that popped in to my head and I wanted to get something out. There really wasn’t much thought process behind the order of the stories other than what was captivating my interest at the time. I wish I could say I planned it all out, did market research and jazz like that, but I didn’t so I’m not.
BD: What can you tell us about your creative process in bringing this project to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
MP: I started with a lose script, and cue cards, I was intending to be a bit more loosey goosey with this comic, a bit more spontaneous. Only plan for a couple of pages ahead and hopefully have more organic, free flowing scripting process. I quickly dropped that idea, I’m not Sean Philips nor Ed Brubaker, I needed a more ridge structure. So, I went back, wrote a script, then used the cue cards as a way to edit and re-arrange scenes and sequences make sure I had the correct amount of pages, and the beats landed on the page turn, and flowed into one another. I then spent a couple of days researching and designing the character, the settings, getting the prep work done. What I didn’t do, and what I am doing now, is I didn’t thumbnail the entire book. I was only ever 5 or so thumbs ahead, and that’s no good. For Burnt Ends, I spent two days thumbnailing, rough little sketches of the page. The problem with doing thumbnails first thing in the morning is, they’re pretty taxing, and you need to pay them a lot of attention, they take a while to do, and if like me, you office is the corner of a living room, and your wife and child are around, you don’t have the tranquil meditative state to do them properly.
So, after a having break down trying to draw barely legible sketches that indicate where the characters stand, I do character sheets, which is tedious, the worst part of the whole process. I tend to do 3 designs of each character, and if I was working with a writer, I would send them the options and get their opinions (their wrong opinions, they’d always choose the design I liked the least). Seeing as it’s just me however, I ask my wife, who seems to know what I actually want to draw and makes the right decision.
And then, it’s simply a case of sitting down at the tablet and drawing the page. All the heavy lifting is done in the prep stage, so now it’s just drawing. If I’ve done it correctly. I use an XP-PEN Artist 22 (2nd Generation) and Clip Studio Paint EX.
In terms of creative inspiration, obviously Jim Rugg, I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t explained the process behind Octobriana 1976, and, more importantly, highlighting you can turn around a comic in such a short amount of time.
BD: Do you have a certain number of issues planned for the series as a whole?
MP: Well, I definitely have 3 issues planned, I’m currently drawing the 2nd , Burnt Ends, a detective noir set in the late 50’s early 60’s, about a private eye trying to prove that Mayor killed Roxy Jackson, not the serial killer they pinned it on. The 3rd issue Nikal Gaddaar is basically a trans man doing the Raid, but in Peckham, with Zombies. My hope is that I’ll have 7 in total this year, with the last one being a collection of short horror stories, but I need to see how the 1st 3 do, no point in having 7 issues of a comic no one reading. I don’t have nearly enough room in my flat for one thing.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
MP: I planning on doing a short 3-issue Savage Dragon mini with Erik Larsen, then doing something with Robert Kirkman. They don’t know that yet, but I’m sure they’ll be down when they find out.
As it stands, my focus is doing 13 Shots of Whiskey this year, hopefully get my name out there, and then expand from that. I basically want to draw comics, I like it and I think I’m good at it. I also like doing commissions, if anyone wants me to draw something pretty and weird for them. I’m available.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about 13 Shots of Whiskey and your other work?
MP: I’m pretty active on Twitter and I’m a blog on my Ko-fi Account.