Every Friday, Stately Beat Mansion invites round a comic creator or two for a cup of tea, complementary Kit Kat, and a chat about their work in The Phoenix. The Phoenix is a UK series which features a range of the best all-ages comics available, from all kinds of wonderful creators – all compiled into a single issue each week! The Phoenix have very kindly commissioned a whizzy spaceship just for this feature, which sails across to The Mansion every week with a new creator onboard.
This week sees Rob Deas cruise on over to tell us about Troy Trailblazer, a series appearing in today’s newest issue. If you want to find out more, then try an issue of The Phoenix for yourself!
Steve: Who is Troy Trailblazer?
Rob: Troy Trailblazer is an intergalactic archaeologist and all round action hero. Think a young Indiana Jones in space and you’re half way there. Joining him on his adventures are his trusty sidekicks Barrus, a super tough, blue fuzzball and Blip, a highly practical maintenance and evaluation droid.
Most stories centre on the search for a particular treasure such as the Starfire Sword (Phoenix issues 27 – 32) The Creation Stone (Phoenix Issues 42 – 51) or The Flute of the Desert Kings (Issues 58 – 59). Our heroes usually get sidetracked by some dastardly villain and end up in whole load of trouble before prevailing in the end.
Steve: What’s your favourite thing about this week’s story?
Rob: Well it’s the start of a brand new series, Troy Trailblazer: And the Princess of Paragon, and it’s a little different from my earlier tales in that it doesn’t centre on the search for treasure. It’s exciting to be breaking away from my trusted formula.
This time Troy is roped in to helping a beautiful alien princess escape a fearsome pack of Bounty Hunters, a task which leads him to the hostile bounty hunter planet of Barabous. I’m really pleased with the villains in this story; they’re a real nasty bunch and make my previous bad guys look pretty harmless by comparison.
I’m also trying lots of new things visually this time around, taking my art back to basics with zero photo textures, fewer 3D models and hardly any digital effects, all stuff I used to use a lot of. I’m still working completely digitally but I think the pages have a rawness and an energy about them that was perhaps missing in my earlier adventures. It’s really exciting to be experimenting with new techniques.
Steve: What inspired the character?
Rob: Troy is all about channelling my inner 9 year old and thinking back to what I used to love back in the day.
I grew up in the 80′s so a lot of my inspiration comes from classic Saturday morning cartoons such as He-Man, Thundercats, Ulysses 31, Transformers, Mask, Action Force etc. I used to love the whole action figure/cartoon crossover thing and even now I tend to think very commercially. When designing characters I usually ask myself “Would this guy / gal make a cool action figure?” If the answer is ‘no’ it’s back to the drawing board.
There’s nothing pretentious about the way I create my stories, it’s all about fun characters, thrills, spills and ultimate bang for your buck action!
Steve: Where else can people find your work? What else do you have coming up in the future?
Rob: I used to be better known for my work on classic literary adaptations such as Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth and Pride & Prejudice for SelfMadeHero. Both very different from my work on Troy, especially Pride and Prejudice which called for a much softer line and a more delicate approach, a challenge I really relished.
I also do a lot of work for Medikidz, a publisher specialising in medical comic books that help explain illnesses to children in an accessible way, using a team of young superheroes that travel inside the human body. I’ve worked on 4 full-length titles for them over the last 3 years and helped to redesign their core characters.
To find out more about my other work head on over to my website: www.rdcomics.co.uk.
As for the rest of 2013, I’m supposed to be starting a new Medikidz book in August, providing character designs and development for a TV project, and hopefully starting another Troy adventure later in the year – so plenty in the pipeline!
Thanks so much to Rob for his time! Troy Trailblazer will be appearing this week in The Phoenix #73. You can also find a behind-the-scenes look at his work on the series over here. And thanks to Liz Payton, who fueled up the spaceship!