I thought I would share with you all a little tease of things to come with our good friend, Colonel Randall Weird. I’ve recruited a truly amazing creative team to tackle the next story of our favorite “Para-Zone” explorer.
Below is commentary from both Tate Brombal (writer) and Ray Fawkes (artist).
When Jeff asked me to come onboard another Black Hammer story, I obviously jumped at the opportunity. BARBALIEN: RED PLANET launched a year ago this month, and I truly owe so much to that book and to this world. It was my big debut in comics, and I had the time of my life exploring Barbalien’s early days in Spiral City with the inimitable Gabriel Walta. However! It also left me itching to get my hands on the rest of Jeff and Dean’s iconic characters. I remember trying to squeeze a Golden Gail scene into Barbalien but then axing it because it served no purpose beyond fulfilling my own selfish desire to write her! The Black Hammer sandbox is just way too fun with so much potential, so re-entering this world and getting to play with a few more toys is incredible. The fact that it’s alongside the brilliant Ray Fawkes is the icing on the cake — as I’ve been a fan of Ray’s comics for years. And to pull back the curtain a little bit, it was actually Ray’s early concept sketches of the good Colonel that fully inspired the story we’ll be telling…
After Jeff recruited us, Ray immediately set to work on painting some stunning character sketches. He said he was simply getting his handle of Weird, but you guys have seen these early portraits already...and they are so much more than that! They really struck a chord with me. There was something so whimsical and imaginative about them that brought me back to my favourite storybooks as a kid. Suddenly, I wanted to tell an entirely different story than the one we had originally set out to tell.
The story that you will find has grown into something much larger and more exciting than I had first imagined. We’ll be experimenting a bit with format and structure, in ways that are only possible outside of traditional publishing. There may be more than a few surprising guests across this comic’s telling… And that’s exactly what makes comics creation all the more fun for me — experimenting, riffing, and pushing boundaries alongside super talented friends!
My main goal in writing this story — even more so than with BARBALIEN — was to have it truly feel like a lost Black Hammer comic. It’s a love letter to what Jeff and Dean accomplished in their early issues when this world first took its earliest breaths. I wanted it to fit squarely within Black Hammer canon, answering lingering questions while also finding ways to ask entirely new ones. And I couldn’t believe how easy it came to me. This was the fastest script I’ve ever produced, as dialogue and set pieces poured out of me just waiting to be written, and I was merely its conduit. I’m having so much fun, and Ray’s pages are looking glorious.
By the way, here’s a fun fact for you: We can’t even reveal the full title of this comic because it contains very exciting (and very revealing) plot elements. I think that’s what makes this entire venture on Substack the most invigorating. There are no press releases, no preview pages… Just us delivering you an all-new Black Hammer story that will take you in some very surprising directions.
Beyond all that, I’m afraid I can’t reveal anything else for now because it could just ruin it all with spoilers, but I hope you’re ready for a very fun, very weird time.
— Tate, November 2021, Montreal
As Tate said, we cannot really reveal the title of the next Colonel Weird story BUT exclusive for our friends on The Farm below are two pages by Ray from the upcoming series.
This is one of those projects. The ones where you get to bring absolutely everything to the table, and it’s nothing but creative bliss. I got to see it grow from the start, when Jeff had an idea for a fun little Black Hammer story to post to his Substack, and as we noodled with it and I did some sketches, Tate came onboard and it grew into something much bigger and greater.
Of course I’m thankful for that - because I love the Black Hammer universe quite unabashedly. I’ve thrown in on it more than once - illustrating bits and pieces here and there, and co-writing BLACK HAMMER ’45 with Jeff. And here we’re really going to the limit - I have a chance to explore Colonel Weird and company in many styles, with unlimited creative potential. I’m just a few pages into it as of this writing- you can see a couple of samples here (sans dialog to avoid spoilers), and believe me when I say they’re just the tip of the iceberg, visually speaking.
I don’t want to give anything away about the story, but I can tell you what excites me about this project artistically : we’ll be going to the bounds of the good Colonel’s universe and beyond. We’ll see the farm, the cabin of horrors, the para-zone… and then we’re going somewhere really wild, somewhere. I’m excited as hell for you all to see it!
- Ray, November 2021, Toronto
Ray was really kind enough to share the above sketches Tate talked about in his commentary and there is no fitting way to end this post than sharing those concept sketches. Hope you enjoyed and prepare to get weird!
actually just fine art, cant wait!
I'm curious if you and Ray Fawkes will return to the Black Hammer Squadron at some point. There was a pointed remarked from Madame Dragonfly in "Horrors to Come" that there's a connection between the Squadron and the superheroes that carry the hammer, and I've been wondering about that ever since. (Plus I can't help but wonder about the Black Hammer before Joe Weber.)