The clone of a Jewish carpenter must forge his own destiny or the last pockets of humanity will be overrun by hordes of bloodthirsty undead. This is the premise behind the Image Comics one-shot “Loaded Bible 2: The Blood of Christ.” Created by writer Tim Seeley and artists Mike Norton and Mark Englert, the book returns readers to a post-apocalyptic world where a battle-savvy Jesus Christ is mankind’s last hope against marauding vampires. CBR News spoke about the book with writer Tim Seeley last September, and now we’re pleased to talk to artist Mike Norton about bringing the project to life.
Norton would like to be able to tell a big, flashy and funny story of how he landed the “Loaded Bible 2” assignment, but he can’t. “Well, to be honest–I was pretty much asked to step in and fill in,” Norton told CBR News. “Tim was brainstorming to find somebody to take over and I was sitting there. Not really glamorous, I know, but sometimes that’s how these things happen.”
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Norton’s friendship with Seeley was one of the big things that drew him to “Loaded Bible 2.” “We’re good friends and I’ve had a lot of fun on other stuff we’ve worked on together in the past,” Norton said. “We did a story for ‘G.I. Joe Frontline’ back in the day, and that was extremely fun. Tim’s talked about [‘Loaded Bible’] pretty much for as long as I’ve known him and it’s been really exciting to see him refine it into its current state. I think it’s a really great science fiction epic the way he has it planned out.
“I saw a movie when I read this script,” Norton continued. “I wanted to bring that to life. There were pretty vivid scenes described and I felt it was most important to deliver the most solid storytelling I could to get those scenes across. There are moments of shock and despair in this chapter that I hope I was able to convey with at least a little bit of emotion.”
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Conveying the humorous, action packed and emotion filled moments of “Loaded Bible 2” wasn’t really work for Norton, because it involved collaborating with his friend Seeley. “Tim and I have known each other for a while,” Norton stated. “We like pretty much the same things artistically and story-wise. He’s an incredibly creative guy. I’m always amazed at his ability to just come up with new ideas on demand. It never seems hard for him. Working with people like that is almost too easy.”
Not everything about “Loaded Bible 2” was easy for Norton. Two of the most challenging things about the project were the pressures of living up to the book as it stood before he got involved, as well as the deadline. “I came on board pretty late in the game and tried to make up the difference,” Norton explained. “I think I was able to still come up with a pretty good end result, though.”
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Those who enjoyed Nate Bellegarde’s work on the first “Loaded Bible” shouldn’t have any problems with the artistic style Norton employed in the sequel. “Since I’m asked to fill-in a lot, I tend to tailor my work to not be too jarring from the artist that came before me,” Norton said. “I approached ‘Loaded Bible 2’ the same way, but since it was a different sort of project for me, I’ve used it as an opportunity to experiment a little. I tried to be much looser and more expressive than usual with my rendering while trying to maintain a solid storytelling base. Working with Mark Englert really did afford me the chance to play around a little. He really is bringing a lot to the inks. He understands that my pencils in this project are really just a ‘base’ for him to go crazy if he wants. It’s truly a collaborative effort.”
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For Norton it was important that his and Englert’s collaborative effort accurately convey the unique tone of “Loaded Bible.” “For me, the book skates that fine line between serious action/sci-fi and satire,” Norton said. “The situations are so outlandish that a more cartoony style for me works. I think that also makes some of the horror in the book even scarier, because you’re lulled into a false sense of security with a more cartoony style. You’re not expecting a sudden decapitation or two.”
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Drawing a book like “Loaded Bible 2: The Blood of Christ,” with its unique blend of satire, action and horror, has proved to be a load of fun for Norton. “I’m drawing something that I don’t usually get the chance to do very often,” Norton confessed. “I mean, come on–Jesus fighting vampires!? There’s stuff in this book that I know I’d never get to draw if it wasn’t a Tim Seeley story. I remember hearing about the idea of the book years ago and thinking it was going to be something it wasn’t. I read the original story and was surprised to see that it wasn’t just a goofy satire but a really good sci-fi adventure story. I love the subject matter of ‘Loaded Bible’ and I’m excited to be involved.”
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