Samurai Slasher - Kickstarter Preview
By Jon Evans
Samurai Slasher is a comic anthology based on a fake 80’s slasher film. Written and created by Mike Garley (Dead Roots, Eponymous, The Kill Screen) it also features the talents of Andy W. Clift, Gavin Mitchell, Kristina Gee, Wynn Rider, Nathan Ashworth, Mike Stock and Jon Scrivens. Mike is already a successful Kickstarter, having used the same process with Dead Roots, so is a veteran of the crowd-funded comic genre.
The Kick Starter has been going since Friday 13th (brave folks!) and only runs for 13 days. It features a bunch of cool rewards such as an original soundtrack (composed by Ian Alex-Mac), an 80s styled movie poster (illustrated by Michael Lee-Graham), hand-painted samurai dioramas (sculptured and hand painted by Jason Bakutis of microfear.com), as well as an opportunity to star in the comic itself.
Mike describes his comic: "The Samurai Slasher is a fun and loving look at the slasher genre, which follows the eponymous katana wielding menace, as he slashes his way through feudal Japan, a lakeside retreat, and a gallery exhibition, before finally being confronted by the army."
I’ve had a chance to read a preview of the anthology, which shows off the different styles the artists have used to tell the Samurai slasher story, and these variants are pleasingly different, and a great showcase of the respective artist’s skills. At this stage, work is still being done on the comic, so it isn’t fully complete, but it is interesting to see how the story and background of the Samurai slasher is developing. The first story, based around the lakeside retreat and a group of frat boys and their squeezes going for a spring break, is printed on vintage comic stock and recalls the pop-art style so favoured by Lichtenstein, but with elements of Scooby-Doo humour. The violence on show is a stark contrast to the light-hearted approach of the story telling and makes for an uneasy, but satisfying pairing. It’s a unique look by Andy W. Clift, but works well with the subject matter.
The second narrative is an origins story, but framed within another unusual context. Told as a flashback to feudal Japan, you discover how the Samurai Slasher came to be, his motivations and his raison d’être. The artwork is more contemporary; Gavin Mitchell's hues placing an emphasise on the reds and blacks favoured in Japanese culture. The telling of the story has its own twist, but also leaves the reader wondering more about the backstory and life of the Samurai Slasher.
The third story follows on from the Lakeside retreat, and deals with the aftermath of the violence therein. It places the slasher in a further unfamiliar environment, but one with brooding tension and you know, having read the previous stories, things will eventually go awry. The art by Kristina Gee has a more Manga feel to it, with more stylised renderings of the characters, and some interesting POV angles.
The final story, which has the greatest departure from the norm in terms of comic art style, places the Slasher face to face with the military. The art is almost impressionistic, and may be an acquired taste for some readers, but the humour is heart-warming, despite the subject matter, and the narrative makes the reader wonder how potent the Slasher must be to be in such a situation.
With the Kickstarter also comes an official soundtrack. This complements the theme of the main protagonist and his reputation as a character of an 80’s slasher film. I’ve listened to a few tracks and they made me smile. Written with 80’s films in mind, they have an authentic sound to them, filled with synth, basal tones and quick beats in the 80’s style. Two tracks, 'Deimos' and 'Titania' remind me of tracks by Perturbator and Scattle of Hotline Miami soundtrack fame. Plenty of drama and tension with a retro feel to them. The other, 'Galatea', has similar imposing menace, but with definite influences by DJ Shadow, showing off a more epic, orchestral theme. It’s great to have a soundtrack to your comic, to listen to as you read, and the minimum pledge on the Kickstarter includes the soundtrack, which, if the other tracks are as good, is worth it just for the music. The kickstarter finishes on the 26th, so do take a look if you’re interested and support Mike and his team.