Most empires eventually turn into dust…but a Snoop Dogg video director turned feature director and a top Versace illustrator turned "World of Warcraft" Illustrator are hoping to build an empire of comics toys and more with their new book "Dust".
Premiering this summer from 12 Guage Comics at Image, "Dust" is the saga of a world where WWII took a decidedly different turn, thanks to some extraterrestrial influence. "'Dust' is a world as we know it with a sci-fi twist," explained the book's writer Christopher Wingfield, who goes by the name "mink." "It is what we like to call 'twistery.' We take great contemporary WWII stories and twist them 180 degrees with a sci-fi edge to make new stories that have a very familiar feel to them with a fresh spin.
"The story of 'Dust' takes place in alternate 1930-1950 WWII universe," mink said. "In 'Dust,' the world as we know it is divided into three regions: The Allies (North and South America, Western Europe, Australia), the Axis (Eastern Europe and parts of Asia) and the Sino-Soviet (Russia, China, the Middle East and Africa).
"The Axis was mining for minerals in the Arctic Circle in the 1930s and they came across an alien spacecraft. They took the spacecraft back to Europe and mastered the technology," mink continued. "When D-Day arrived and the Allies were going to make their stand, the Axis used the alien technology – walking machines, jet planes, night vision – to stop the Allies, creating a stalemate. That's where our current story picks up. In the story, after D-Day Allies and the Sino-Soviets are three generations in technology behind the Axis, so it's a race to the finish to see who will win the war.
"The first book will introduce Koshka, a female special forces operative from the Sino-Soviet union. She battles the evil forces of the Axis and when things get too rough, she's rescued by the Allies of Ranger Team #2led by Joe with his trusty sawed-off bazooka and his motley crew."
mink is a new face to comics, but he's spent years directing music videos for such rap and hip-hop artists as Snoop Dogg, Master P and Slum Village, along with alternative groups such as Veruca Salt, Face 2 Face, Dead Poetic and Sheryl Crow. In 2005 he directed the feature film "Into the Sun" with Steven Seagal in the streets of Tokyo, and is working on the upcoming "Mortal Kombat: Devastation," co-written by Drew McWeeny of Ain't It Cool News and developing a high-concept horror project with "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Blood on the Tracks" and "Bite Club" writer David Tischman.
A longtime comics fan, mink became involved in the project through its creator, Paolo Parente, a designer for Rackham Miniatures. "Paolo Parente is an Italian graphic artist who was trained in the world of fashion," mink said. "He was Versace's lead illustrator for years before he turned his eye towards graphic novels and collectable toy design. Beautiful women and extreme detail are the highlights of his work, and you see it in every page he does."
mink was approached about working with Parente on "Dust" through his agent at ICM, and was instantly taken with Parente's concept, which had already been developed as a line of toys and models. "When I met Paolo, he was quite a bit down the road with the project already," mink said. "In Japan, he is revered as a model maker. He came up with the toys, and it became necessary to have a storyline to push the toys down the road so they weren't just a series of toys. I was fascinated by the collection of materials he'd put together and the similarities of the things we liked. I kind of tried to bring my own take to the story, and he really liked my ideas, sort of Transformers meets a WWII movie."
The concept evolved through Mink and Parente's mutual love of WWII. "The genesis of the project is Paolo Parente's love of war gaming, collectible toys and illustration," mink explained. "When I met Paolo a few years ago he & his toy partner William Yau/Cathay Plastic had founded Fust Ltd. to manufacture great WWII sci-fi collectables. Paulo, being an illustrator by trade for Dark Horse, Magic the Gathering, World of Warcraft and many others had a basic story concept going. We clicked when we first talked and I told him of my love for classic '60s and '70s WWII movies – 'The Dirty Dozen,' 'A Bridge Too Far,' 'Where Eagles Dare,' 'Guns of Navarone' and 'The Longest Day.' So I went away for a few weeks and came back with a pitch to Paolo and William, and we have all been thick as thieves ever since."
Though his career directing feature films is rolling, mink is just as enthusiastic about breaking into the comics industry, which he calls 'a phenomenal experience.' "I've always been a fan, and I love the medium," mink said. "I started off in the business as a writer, before I got behind the camera. The artistic movement over the last ten plus years of comics is refreshing to me. People like Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, Frank Miller and David Lloyd are just a few of the creators who have changed my life as well as shaping the business and setting the bar for what creators must strive for today."
Though readers will have to wait until summer to see the full series, models, figures and a 56-page comic sourcebook are already available at the official "Dust" site, www.dustgame.com. There are also plans for a full war modeling game in the tradition of "Risk" to premiere this summer at San Diego Comic-Con.
mink has high hopes for "Dust" and his next comics project, his creator-owned graphic novel "Shinjuku" with legendary Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano to be published by Dark Horse Comics. He's aware of how lucky and unusual it has been for him to work with this caliber of artists on his first comic works. "I take a huge amount of pride in my stories. I try to push them to be worthy of people I am working with and that they will inspire the project to reach the highest places," mink said. "It is just like getting the right Director of Photography or an Oscar-winning actor for a feature film. I will always push to be with the best of the best in every area I work. Right now I'm just smiling to myself, because Paolo, Amano, 12 Gauge, Image and Dark Horse are the best of the best.
"It is a phenomenal experience writing these books, and I look forward to writing many more books in the years to come. I hope the public enjoys." You can reach mink for questions or comments at www.myspace.com/moviemink.