|"Black Coat: '...or give me death'" #1|
It's being billed as the "Summer of Sequels" at the box office, with almost all the major studios banking on
the new adventures and continuing exploits of familiar and pre-established franchise characters like Shrek, Spider-Man and Captain Jack Sparrow to pack in the crowds at the local multiplex.
Meanwhile, at a comic store near you, Ben Lichius, Adam Cogan and Francesco Francavilla, the creators behind last year's surprisingly successful four-issue mini-series, " The Black Coat: A Call to Arms " from Ape Entertainment , have slightly more modest expectations in mind. Sure, the creative triumvirate would love for their modest, little creator-owned follow-up mini, "The Black Coat: …or give me death." to do "Spider-Man 3" type numbers when it hits stands later this month. Their domain being that of indie comics and not that of multi-million dollar summer blockbusters, Lichius, Cogan and Francavilla kept their ultimate goal on the new series a bit more humble. Simply, the team's aim was to tell a compelling, action-packed, pulp savvy story that would reward those loyal fans who followed the Black Coat's first adventure all the way through, while hopefully attracting a few new ones in the process.
|"Black Coat:'...or give me death'" #1, page 5|
"I was very pleased with the reactions we got from readers, retailers, and reviewers [on the first series]. We got and continue to get a ton of support from readers! They really make the books happen, so the fact that we are able to do another series kind of speaks for itself. Most of the people I have met that read the first series have already pre-ordered the second one, which is great."
|"Black Coat: '...or give me death'" #1, page 10|
As Lichius indicated, the events in "…or give me death" pick up immediately from where the final issue of "A Call to Arms" left off, which Black Coat fans will remember was a pretty major cliffhanger, and one that left the Coat in a rather precarious situation. The only significant change between the first series and its sequel is that this time out, Lichius, who co-plotted the Black Coat's initial adventure with the help of Cogan – who himself handled most of the actual scripting chores on "A Call to Arms" – will now be flying solo on writing duties.
|"Black Coat: '...or give me death'"#1 back cover|
Part of the appeal of the Black Coat is that the character is so clearly influenced by and pays tribute to other popular pulp, comic book and action movie heroes, yet at the same time Lichius and Co. have managed to infuse the character and the world he inhabits with original, intelligent and innovative concepts entirely their own through putting a unique spin on those familiar concepts, situations and archetypes.
|"Black Coat: '...or give me death'" #2|
However, Lichius also acknowledges that his artistic collaborator, Francesco Francavilla, comes from a different creative background than himself, and therefore tends to approach the characters and concepts of the Black Coat's world somewhat differently, which thus far has only served to make the book that much more unique. "Francesco comes from a background in European comics and has a serious love affair with classic horror movies (don't tell his wife!). He once did a Halloween thread on the [illustrator's forum] Drawing Board where he drew a different classic horror-inspired image every day of the month. It was stuff like Frankenstein, the Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, all those great old Universal movies, and every piece was just terrific. Then, at the end of the month, he revealed that each piece fit together to make one giant skull-faced collage. It was awesome! You see stuff like that and you have no doubt where his influences come from."
|"Black Coat: A Call to Arms" collection, on sale now|
"Francesco has been busy, busy, busy. Along with commissions and storyboards and stuff, he did an issue of 'Fear Agent' with Rick Remender late last year and he will actually have two minis on the shelf this spring. Along with 'Black Coat: …or give me death', he's also doing 'Left on Mission' from BOOM! Studios. He has another project with Rick planned for this summer as well, I believe. He never stops. You can see what else he's up to at www.francescofrancavilla.com. Meanwhile, I have been focused mainly on the Black Coat, so not much for me. My day job [as a video game designer] takes up most of my time, so free time is pretty hard to come by."
Although all the creators involved would love to see the Black Coat move from the ranks of a series of limited series to monthly ongoing status, they also at the same time understand the fickle nature of the comics marketplace, and have even come to somewhat relish the similarity that the mini-series format provides them to that of those old pulp serials that the Black Coat is the descendant of. "Sure, I'd love to see 'The Black Coat' become an ongoing series, but for now I'm happy to see it in its current form," Lichius said. "I like the mini format. If this one does well, we have one more mini planned. After that, I have an assortment of ideas that I would like to see happen but only time will tell. We're telling the story of the start of a war. Once the war starts, there's no end of great stuff that we can do with the character!"
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