As regular CBR readers know, Dark Horse Presents, the anthology that brought us the first appearances of Frank Miller's Sin City and other indie comics mainstays is back as a free online comic at MySpace.com. Myspace Dark Horse Presents features new stories from the likes of Joss Whedon and Steve Niles, but it's also a proving ground for new creators like Katie Cook and Brodie Brookie. Cook, an artist by trade, was approached by Dark Horse to produce an original comic for the company's new online anthology, and it was an offer the artist couldn't refuse. CBR News sat down with Cook and Brookie to get the skinny on Tricks of the Trade.
One day, out of the blue, I got an e-mail from [Dark Horse editor] Scott Allie saying that he'd bumped into my MySpace page and wanted to know if I was interested in drawing a comic, Katie Cook told CBR News. Cook had met the editor several years prior at a portfolio review at Wizard World Chicago. I guess my name kind of stuck in his head. You know, Katie Cook, it rolls off the tongue. Commit it to memory, people!
Tricks of the Trade is based on a one-sentence pitch with which Cook had sold Dark Horse: A story about an old time magician who murders his assistants. From Katie's premise, my first thoughts were that I wanted some actual magic passing as stage magic and that I wanted some kind of twist ending, Brookie said. Hopefully people are a little creeped out by the results. Brookie said his intent was to capture the feel of old horror comics or an episode of The Twilight Zone.
Tricks of the Trade begins with a young runaway named Bella being accosted by a thug. Bella is rescued by the timely intervention of a magician named Scorzero, who takes the street urchin under his wing and trains her as his assistant. Scorzero seems willing to share all his secrets with her, Brookie said. Unfortunately, he keeps a couple of secrets to himself.
It was Cook's original intention to write her own story, but ultimately she ceded the writing duties to Brodie Brookie, a childhood friend of her husband. I had a lot of ideas, only a few of which involved kittens and cupcakes, Cook explained. I had a general idea for a story that I knew Brodie would be able to knock out of the park. We've done a few projects together and we're always really happy with the results of his writing
and my art.
The pair's earlier collaborations include Entwined, a conjoined-twin story which can be viewed on Cook's website and an archived weekly comic on Brookie's website called The Monsters Republic of Monstairia.
Cook has been a comics fan for as long as she could read. New Comic Day was spent begging my parents for more money for my pull list, Cook said. I've also wanted to draw comics and cartoons forever. I used to fill notebooks with crude stories and comics that, at one time, I thought were pretty great. I have some of these that date back to when I was in the fifth grade!
Aside from Tricks of the Trade, Cook's other artistic endeavors of late have been licensed trading card art for the likes of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, DC Comics and Heroes, Indiana Jones and a card set she wasn't able to talk about yet. I'm hoping that all that work will lead to more comic work as I learn, grow and get better as an artist, said Cook, whose style lends itself particularly well to all-ages comics. Which I love, because I think it's very challenging to create a story and art that appeals to every age bracket. Though I will say, as much as I like drawing fun/cute things, I'd love to draw something with superheroes or a butt-kicking lead female character like Buffy or Wonder Woman.
Brodie Brookie's affinity for comics dates back to his formative years in the '70s and '80s. When I was a kid, they still had the old metal spinning rack in every drugstore and I would talk my parents into letting me bring home an issue every time we went into one, said Brookie, who now has his sights set on becoming a full-time comics writer. I love the collaborative aspect of working on comics, so I imagine they'll always be one of the things I want to write.
Cook and Brookie have a number of projects in the pipeline that are looking for homes. One would be a monthly or book-length reworking of 'Monstaria,' Brookie said. Another is 'Kid Ka-Pow and Me' which is the story of an elementary school-aged boy who moves to a new school and the only kid who wants to befriend him is this strange kid who fancies himself a superhero. He doesn't have any powers or special skills, everyone knows his 'secret' identity. All he's really got is a costume and too much enthusiasm.
Tricks of the Trade can be read right now for free in the new issue of MySpace Dark Horse Presents.
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