A few weeks ago, I got the privileged of reading and reviewing the first two volumes of Gestalt Comics’ Changing Ways. The books, written and artfully illustrated by Justin Randall were visceral, raw, emotional and had me absolutely glued to the page from the moment I opened the cover of Book 1, to the time I read the last line of Book 2. Even after reading, I wanted to know more: more about the characters, the world, more about everything that is Changing Ways.
So with that in mind, I took my questions straight to the man himself. Justin was gracious enough to have a brief chat with me, and I tried to make the most of it, and cover as many important topics as I could. In our chat we talked about the future of the books, his inspirations and even the potential TV series. Check out the interview below, and I hope you find it as insightful as I did.
1. Firstly I want to say that the two volumes of Changing Ways had me absolutely glued to the page. What inspired the story?
Moths flying around a lightbulb is where it all began. Creatures repetitively banging their head against a bright light is how I think many people live. Working in jobs they don’t like to buy crap they don’t need reminds me of the moth. There’s also a Carlos Castaneda reference concerning moths carrying knowledge which always made me think the moth should have known better.
2. You previously worked on a few of the Silent Hill books, as well as 30 Days of Night: Eben & Stella. Did working on those popular horror books help with the design or story for Changing Ways?
Not really, no. It did help me tighten my art style immensely but it didn’t have any impact on the Changing Ways story or Design. I paused production on Changing Ways prior to my work on 30 Days of Night. The biggest impact was deciding to redo 20 pages of Changing Ways art because my technique had developed considerably after working with IDW.
3. The tone and pacing of book 2 felt vastly different from the first. Was this a conscious decision, or just a side-effect of how the story came together?
The pacing and concepts are very much inspired by film. The pacing for book 2 was influenced by a film call The Darkness (the one by James Balaguero, starring Anna Paquin) in which I was aiming for a slow paced start that would hopefully creep up on the reader. That movie had a deep affect on me and I desperately wanted to capture a similar sense of foreboding. Films like No Vacancy or The Texas Chainsaw massacre (1974 version) had a direct influence on the pacing and sense of dread in Changing Ways book 1.
4. Following on from that, the art style is quite different between the two, with lots of shadows and rain obscuring things in the first, while the second is a lot brighter and everything is out in the open. I interpreted this as signifying the change in the characters from being scared and unsure, to being fully aware and no longer running. Was this your intention, or am I looking too deep?
I wouldn’t say you were looking too deep (that’s impossible for Changing Ways) just in a different direction. The idea was to let the readers hide in the open from the rest of the world like our protagonists had to. From here I can litter the world with little hints for the reader as to what may be happening in cities and other populated communities (sneakily hiding visual hints for repeat readers is my favourite part of making comics). From here, I was hoping for some mild, reader anxiety before the climax of book 2 punches them in the throat.
5. The time jump of 10 years between books was unexpected for me as a reader. Will the later stories jump the same amount of time, or do you see Book 1 as more of a prologue to everything that is happening in the Changing Ways Universe?
Well you’re perhaps going be annoyed, confused or intrigued when I tell you that the story for book 3 occurs immediately after book 1 content and the book 4 story will begin where book 2 left off. I’m attempting to create an experience that you’ll remember as opposed to a regurgitated Hollywood formula with safety nets. I’m also mixing genres so expect to see some sci-fi events mixed with the psychedelic (and a generous lathering of horror).
6. Changing Ways seems far from over, and I’m sure everyone wants to know; when will we be seeing volume 3?
Early 2014 after which I will continue to write the series but with a new interior artist.
7. Fans of yours, or people who had seen the ABC documentary “Comic Book Heroes,” will know that Changing Ways has been in talks to be adapted to a TV-series. Has there been any developments on that front that you are able to share with us?
Nothing much new to share although if it makes the screen, expect to see an even earlier introduction to the Changing Ways universe, starting in Miami Florida with the Black Dawn Motorcycle gang.
8. You teach at Curtin University in WA. Is Changing Ways on the compulsory reading list for your class?
Hehe, no, it probably has too much swearing in it, but we do stock it at our bookshop.
I would like to thank Justin Randall for the opportunity. We certainly learned enough to tease us with the future of Changing Ways, both in print and possibly on-screen. You can grab Changing Ways Book 1 and Book 2 from the Gestalt Comics online store, and remember that Book 3 will be launching early 2014. So, as always, for all the Changing Ways news as it becomes available, stay tuned to Capsule Computers.