The Wave that Breaks

THE WAVES THAT BREAK is an anthology that deals with grief and death. In the book, the characters battle against grief in the modern day, in the far-flung future, and the recent past. Shoe selling, time travel, and vampires all make up elements of their respective stories in a diverse but linked reading experience. THE WAVES THAT BREAK made its public debut at Dublin Comic Con, and will officially launch in comic stores on the 23rd of August. We were fortunate enough to sit down with writer and artist Aaron Losty and cover designer Becca Carey at their booth to talk about THE WAVES THAT BREAK. [Editors Note: This interview was originally recorded and then transcribed for your reading pleasure.]

ComicsVerse (CV): Could you just tell our audience a little bit about THE WAVES THAT BREAK?

Aaron Losty (AL): Well, THE WAVES THAT BREAK is a three-chapter book essentially about death and loss, particularly pertaining to the loss of a parent. And although the three stories are linked by theme, they are not linked narratively. I tried to cover a few different genres and put a spin on it, essentially, of a similar tale in each. Someone struggling with the loss of a parent, or who was soon to lose a parent.

The Waves that Break
Image courtesy of Aaron Losty

CV: Was it originally going to be three chapters or was it just going to be one story?

AL: No, I’ll give you a little bit of backstory on the book. I was originally writing another book at the time, last November 2016, and I was planning to do a graphic novel and get back on the scene. Both my parents were sick with cancer at the time and I went back through just notes I’d written and I’d realised I’d written the three stories already. I had plot breakdowns of just notes I’d written in my spare time and I was like, “Oh, well that makes sense,” and that really felt like a book I had to make now. So that’s basically the origin of the book. I had these three short stories that just happened to be really linked thematically as opposed to narratively, and then the book kinda just came together. Between November and the end of December, I had written the book. I mean, in my spare time as I was working part-time. That was basically the origin of the book. Purely because I wanted to have something made majoritively by myself. I wanted to illustrate it as well even though I wouldn’t be that skilled as an illustrator.

READ: Comicsverse attended DCC in 2016. Find out how we got on here!

CV: Did you think of asking other artists to come on board this project or was it a case of “I want to draw this”?

AL: The story was so personal. As soon as I switched focus from the other book I was initially writing, it wouldn’t make sense for anyone to draw it other than me. So I felt I had to draw it myself.

CV: I noticed the artwork in the first chapter is quite realistic in the way you drew it, while the second and third story feels more polished, with the line work being cleaner and thinner. When it came to drawing THE WAVES THAT BREAK, did you adapt a certain style or teach yourself how to draw?

AL: Well, I’ve drawn all my life, but I’m not classically trained or anything like that and this would have been the most extensive product I’ve drawn ever. I love the character of brush work so I dove in with the brush work for the first chapter and I was just really honest with myself and I just hadn’t got the skill to continue that on with the book. The art is what it is in the first chapter but after that, I just went and switched back to pen — something I was more comfortable working with, like inks and pen and a nib. I just kept it simple for the following two chapters.

The Wave that Breaks
Image courtesy of Aaron Losty

CV: You had three separate colourists on the book. What do you think each one of them brings to the chapter they are working on?

AL: The three colourists we picked were so talented. I had worked with Dee [Cunniffe] before and I love his stuff. Dearbhla [Kelly] actually asked to be on the project when I initially pitched her the book. Although the first chapter is set somewhat in a modern day, she gave a real edge to the psychedelic dream sequences as well, which I thought was great. Because Dee was the first one on the book, I asked him which chapter he would prefer and he asked for the sci-fi story. Obviously, he did a great job as well. He specifically asked could he do a really restrictive colour palette. He went with like three or four tones on every page, so that worked out really well. Again, there are flashbacks in that, and time travel; he gave it a great mood to the different sequences of the story. I saw Michaels [Doig] work a couple of months previously on twitter and I don’t think he had any professional credits as a colourist, but I just had to ask him because of the stuff I’d seen of him working on with India, his partner. When he sent me an overview of a few test pages, it was crazy, I couldn’t not have him on the book because the last story is so bonkers, there’s vampires, there’s World War 2 and somewhat, well not modern-day, it’s more set in the late eighties. There’s no way I could not have him on the book and he just gave an incredible edge to that last story.

CV: How difficult was it to write those stories? For me, reading it was quite emotional. You talk about your background and your parents going through their cancer scares. How difficult was it for you to put pen to paper?

AL: It was extremely difficult. The first time I would have wrote those words and some of the speech in the first one, because the first one is somewhat autobiographical cause I used to work in a shoe shop and those customer interactions are real, unfortunately. Those conversations, if you’ve read the book, there’s a woeful one in there. I think it’s the second customer interaction that actually happened, which is awful to say. When I wrote that dialogue first I probably would have been crying. One of the first times I would have put it on page how I felt, it was somewhat cathartic but it was obviously very difficult for me, but that’s when I knew I had something. I knew I was right. I’m very much about writing honest comics and I think it’s very easy to see when you read a book that has an honest edge to it. Most recently a book I can think of is REDLANDS which I read the other day, and it has an extremely honest edge although it’s about witches. It’s a great book but the honest edge you can see running through it. Another book I can think of is Scott Snyder’s and Jeff Lemire’s AD: AFTER DEATH as well. You can really hear Scott’s voice in that and, right now, I don’t how much we are getting that in comics. A lot of people are following in each other’s tracks, I just wanted to make something as honest as I could. Obviously, it’s a sci-fi story, it’s a vampire story, and a slice of life story.

READ: Want to know what we thought of REDLANDS #1? Check out our review here!

CV: Becca, how did you get involved?

Becca Carey (BC): We’ve worked together before and we spoke about the project from the beginning, so, to be honest, it was assumed that he’d ask me — I would’ve been so mad if he didn’t!

CV: At what point does a cover designer come on board? Is it when the book was already put together or was it earlier than that?

BC: Well, I just happened to be involved in this project from the get-go which was really great. I felt like I really knew the stories because of that which obviously really helped once it came to expressing the book through the cover/design. A designer can become involved at any stage but the main thing I’d say is that the book design isn’t an afterthought. Even though the designer might handle the top to tail and through the book, stuff like that. With any creative person you want them on board and you want them to do their best and really get to the guts of it. If you’re going to hire a colourist you want them to read the script and really be in it and it’s the same thing and that’s kinda how I try to approach things. What’re the guts of this story and how can I convey it on the cover so that if somebody is walking by, it’s going to get their attention. They’re going to get the theme and the atmosphere. Does it appeal to them? Does it not? They can make that decision because people make those decisions in less than three seconds. Y’know, it’s a gut thing. I’ve said that word so many times in the past thirty seconds. It’s just so important to package your product and have something that you know you are going to get the demographic that you want, and that is going to be interested in the book. So if you are going to approach a designer let them really learn the story and get in there. Get the guts of it, I’m gonna keep saying it, yeah.

The Wave that Breaks
Image courtesy of Aaron Losty

CV: Do you have a particular demographic in mind or do you think anyone should be able to pick it up and relate to it?

AL: Yeah, I think there are so many emotions in it and I think everyone can relate to the fact that we’re all going to bleeding die. The book does deal with the selfishness of “oh, I might lose a parent” and the immediate selfish thought is “oh, what am I going to do?” if they’re gone, not the fact that they are going to die, the fact that I’m still here.

BC: If someone close to you dies, there is a sense of anger that lingers because it’s like “how dare you do this to me” and that takes a very, very long time to get over, if ever. And even if you can’t acknowledge that there are so many universal things throughout the book that, whether you have gone through it or whether you haven’t, everyone has their baggage. Everyone knows what being sad and mad and left behind and rejected is.

AL: To use a cheesy quote, Rocket Racoon says in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, “Everyone has dead people.”

BC: Yeah, they do.

READ: We throw a spotlight on indie creator Livali Wyle!

CV: Going forward, do you have any other projects lined up or is THE WAVES THAT BREAK something you will be focussing on for the foreseeable future?

AL: THE WAVES THAT BREAK is my main focus for now, but I already started on the next book. I don’t want to talk about it yet.

BC: It’s a doozy.

AL: It’s a doozy… The soft pitch would be COCOON meets THE GOONIES. It’s, again, I can’t get away from this, it is very much a somber book as well, but there’s a bit more fun to it than this. I’d also like to mention how important Hass [Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, the letterer] was on the book. We talked about colourists on the book but Hass was incredible. He was on the project from the get-go and we talked a lot about it and he added so much to the story telling and the narrative drive throughout the whole book and it was… I felt it was important, though I know we had different colourists, to have the same letterer on the whole book, and someone as skilled as Hass, it was incredible to have him on the book.

BC: I’m working freelance and I’m available. I love doing comics, I love doing books, I love movie posters, anything where there’s a decent story. It’s such a challenge to have a cover to just get it out there and get people’s attention in those few seconds.

CV: Thank you very much for your time.

READ: We reviewed THE WAVES THAT BREAK. Find out what we thought here!

Want to know more about The WAVES THAT BREAK?

The WAVES THAT BREAK will be released in stores on the 23rd of August. If you want to know more about Aaron Losty and Becca Carey, follow them on twitter at @AaronLosty and @Becca_See.

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