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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

INTERVIEW: Sam Gardner of Cape Fear Comics

If you’re one of those people who think that Marvel NOW!’s augmented reality feature is the cutting-edge of modern comics, then man do I have a surprise for you. Sam Gardner, overlord of Cape Fear Comics, does for comics what Nine Inch Nails did for music. He makes Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s Black Dossier, with its 3D glasses and different paper textures, look like just another picture book.  But enough hype, we’ll let the man speak for himself…


Sam Gardner at BCExpo 2013

I took the first two issues of Sioux Warrior to my local comic book club, and everyone in the room started squealing like little girls, so well done!

Thanks very much, glad they received such a reaction!

So, for the people who do not yet have the presence of Cape Fear Comics in their life, what is it exactly you do?  

We do a bit of everything really; usually if someone says we can’t do something, we give it a go. Our goal has always been to push the medium of comics as far as they will go and hopefully bring a fresh approach to how we tell our stories in the process. To date we have made a rock opera comic with its own built-in sound module (like you find in musical greetings cards), panels that can be twisted 90 degrees and become progressing panels of the story, a comic that unfolds into a superhero costume and later this year we will be releasing a time travel comic that has to be read forwards, then backwards, then forwards again (and has lots of hidden pages to uncover). It’s a bit of a labyrinth, but a lot of fun.



Making these comics must pretty complicated- is it a logistical nightmare?

Absolutely. The earlier books were a lot more straightforward as far as scripting went, but with it getting more complicated these days, I now make a prototype to know how the story will be structured; and also it gives me something to show my artist what the heck I’m talking about. We then tend to spilt the script up and put it all into chronological order. Once the final drawn pages are sent back, we then have to build the darn things and that’s where it can get really tricky. In recent years, we have had what we like to call Victorian Workhouse Club in my living room, where good friends too kind to say no are forced to help us piece these things together. I must say this year though, we have been spared a lot of hassle by the top guys at UK Comics Creative who have done a lot of the work for us. It is definitely a logistical nightmare and sometimes we wonder why we put ourselves through it, but when we get to the convention and show someone something that they’ve never seen before, it makes it all worth while.

If money, manpower and the laws of physics were no object, what would you like to do as a concept comic?

I’ve got no idea on all the logistics, but I wanted to make a theme park edition, which would be kind of like a flea circus but with rides based on the Cape Fear characters. There was gonna be The Gurner Stomach Churner and the Tunnel of Death to name but a few. It would have been a Sioux Warrior shoestring version of Disneyland. I wanted to have it rigged with microscopic cameras fixed on each ride that brought the reader’s vision down to scale, so they could get a perspective of being in the front seat of a ghost train made from cardboard, and that’s where it all got a bit complex and those darn rules of physics got in the way. You never know what the future may hold though. If anybody knows where I can get microscopic cameras on the cheap, let me know and this is happening.

Sounds awesome!  Speaking of Sioux Warrior, what made you decide to write about a Native American hero?

In all honesty, his name wasn’t originally going to have Native American connections.  It all started out as a bit of a cynical joke.  It was a story I wanted to tell after seeing all those ads on the TV with lawyers telling us we might be entitled to compensation if we’d been mis-sold insurance, or had an injury in the workplace.  It made me think about the idea of justice, what it really meant and whether it was just that super-heroic belief in the goodness of mankind, or something that a lawyer could get you, as long as he could add his flat fee at the end.  So this version of the character was gonna be the “Sue Warrior”and he would get his powers from an accident in the workplace, but instead of becoming a hero, he would just sit on his piles of money and let the world go to Hell.  It sat on the backburner for a long time and then years later, the Native American bit came into play.  I started doing research into the history to see if we could push this character further than just a bad pun.  Seeing such a rich culture, I felt there was so much there that would strengthen our world.  It felt like a really good way to pull this very selfish man from the world of capitalism and into a place where he had to depend on the land.  We’ve strated to hint at this part of his life in the “Shrivel Ray is Dead” issue, but it’s still a story I’m looking to fill out a bit.  We haven’t quite seen the real origin of the Sioux Warrior yet. 

The Sioux Warrior, by Lee O’Connor


Other than the Sioux Warrior, what other projects do Cape Fear Comics have lined up?

We have quite a few on the horizon.  Since December,  we’ve been working with local artists and writers to put together an anthology for the South West.  That’s been a lot of fun and given me the opportunity to adapt and incorporate quite a few local legends into a story called The Miner & The Mariner.  But the next really big project from Cape Fear is called The Creator and must be about seven years in development, if not more.  I don’t want to say too much about it yet, but it will be set in the future and will follow an anti-hero who creates his own villains to fight.  There’s a lot of twists and turns along the way, and hopefully it should have an ending you won’t see coming.  What excites me most about these projects, is that they will all be linked, they will all be canon, they will all exist in this Cape Fear Universe.

That sounds awesome, I look forward to it!  One last question: if you were going to give the Cape Fear treatment to a mainstream superhero, who would it be and what would you do?

I’m a massive fan of DC, so I’d love to get my hands on any of their characters.  I would love to do books that showcase each of their powers.  If I had to pick one, I would cheat and say Amazo, so I wouldn’t have to choose.  It would be great to do a comic showing Superman’s powers, I’d pack it with Clark Kent styled x-ray specs that would highlight secrets and plot points of the story hidden in the pages; a comic shaped like Flash’s costume that would fold down to the size of a postage stamp and would fit in the Flash ring; then maybe a Green Lantern ring that had augmented reality built into it so that when you held your smartphone over it, it would project a comic page forged from the Green Lantern light itself telling the history of Oa.  That’s just a few ideas.  If I ever got to work at DC then that would be the dream, there would be not stopping me.  I think I might see if I can get a collection of signatures going soon [laughs]

I’d definitely sign that!  Thank you for your time!

Thanks very much, you had some cracking questions there!


You can check out Cape Fear Comics here.  And by “can” I mean “better”.

Laura Maier
Laura Maier
At the time of character creation, Laura Maier made the mistake of putting all her points in charm. While this was probably an unwise decision, it's served her well so far. Her power animal is the platypus.

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