For some, “The Gravedigger’s Union” might be familiar if you picked up Wes Craig’s “Blackhand Comics” from 2014. It was a short story about a union of gravediggers who maintained a cemetery during the day and saved the world from horrible monsters at night. This year, Wes – who you also may know as the artist on “Deadly Class” – announced the story would be fleshed out further in a new limited series from Image Comics with fellow creator Toby Cypress and Niko Guardia.
The new series will continue to follow the adventures of the gravediggers as they try to stop the coming apocalypse and fight off steroid zombies, monster gods, swamp vampires, ghost storms, and space monkeys. To learn more about this amazing concept and series we were able to talk to Wes about the upcoming release of “The Gravediggers Union.” Wes discusses delving back into writing, building out the world of the gravediggers, and influences for the series. Be sure to check out our interview with Wes below and make sure to check out the first issue of “The Gravediggers Union” in stores this November 1st.
Do you think it is fair to others that you two have teamed up together on a book? How did this come about?
Wes Craig: Haha. It’s pretty exciting that’s all I can say. Toby’s one of my favorite artists and Niko Guardia on colors, Jared Fletcher on lettering and design. It’s a beautiful comic. I mean, horrific, but beautiful.
If anyone needs more than Wes Craig and Toby Cypress as a reason to buy “The Gravediggers Union” what can you tell us about the series?
WC: It’s a supernatural horror story that’s kind of like a modern, darker Ghostbusters. Lots of H.P. Lovecraft influence. It’s about this brotherhood, the Gravediggers, who bury the dead by day, and make sure they stay buried at night. In other words chopping off zombie’s heads, staking vampires, etc. That’s how it starts off, but the paranormal world is going berserk, so the Gravediggers try and get to the bottom of what’s causing it. It’s all tied to an apocalyptic cult and the estranged daughter of our hero Cole.
On an emotional level, for me, it ties in to my fears over the environmental crisis we’re dealing with. But funneled through a horror story where we through every bonkers idea we have out there, everything we’ve got.
And yes really, if you need any better reason to buy it than one of the wildest artists in comics interpreting my wildest ideas, I don’t know what to tell you, seek help.
What is it like working as a creative team on this book as two talented creators both with experience doing your own solo projects?
WC: We have a real respect for each other’s work, we trust each other to preform our tasks without trying to control the process too much.
Both of you in my mind are two creators who really use the page space in unique ways. “Blackhand Comics” and “The White Suits” stand out in really effective ways to layout pages in comics. How do you merge those unique sensibilities into one comics?
WC: I think we have different styles but that’s one thing were we really do a similar thing in our art. We’re trying to bring a unique, design feel to comics. I try not to get too controlling with that stuff in the script because I know what he’ll give me back is something unique and in his own voice. That’s something Rick Remender does for me on “Deadly Class” that I really appreciate, so I’m trying to give Toby the same space to play around.
‘Gravediggers Union’ was so much fun in “Blackhand Comics.” Was a bigger story something you always had in mind for this premise? How deep have you got into building out this world for the series? What does Toby bring to this series?
WC: Yeah I think so, that’s why it reads a bit like a pitch. I knew there was more there when I drew it as a short story a few years back. Over time this new story we’re doing now in the series grew and grew. I wanted to put every horror idea I had, and all my fear and anxiety into this comedic-horror. That’s what a lot of the uglier side of the world looks like to me right now, comedic, farcical horror, so I thought that would be a perfect way to approach the story.Continued below
With this idea there seems like a lot of fun that could be had in this world. Are you guys looking at anything in particular for reference or influence on the story, tone and look of the series?
WC: I think me, Toby, Niko and Jared are all pulling from the same sources more or less. Lots of pulp (especially H.P. Lovecraft’s stuff like I mentioned), and EC Comics and The Twilight Zone are always big influences for me.
The solicitation teases a lot of amazing sounding creatures (space monkeys!). What can readers expect from this series in terms of creatures and villains?
WC: We have an apocalyptic cult called the Black Temple who control a horde of zombies, vampires, and Junk-Golems, Ghost Storms which are clusters of ghosts that form together and can destroy whole cities, rain-forest vampires, steroid-zombies, Wiccan financial advisors, dark monster gods, bird-headed angel-aliens…and yes, Space-Monkeys.
You both are working on other titles. Toby just launched “Retcon” and you continue a steady pace with “Deadly Class.” What is your goal for the series and managing the workload with titles?
WC: It’s a limited series, and all the scripts are mostly written, so it allows me to not screw up my schedule drawing “Deadly Class” too much. And as far as I understand, Toby started “Retcon” a while back so I think we’re both managing our schedule’s pretty well. We like to stay busy…
Is this a series or creative process between you guys that is allowing you to experiment more in your styles, both writing and art?
WC: For me I try and just make the best story I can, I think you have to be at a certain level of understanding your craft before you can experiment. I feel like I’m there with my artwork, but I’m still learning on the writing side in terms of structure. Where I do experiment is early on in the idea stage where I come up with as much crazy shit as I can, and then I sweat the details for a year or so trying to form it into something engaging to read.
What do you hope readers take away from “The Gravediggers Union?”
WC: I hope they have fun, I hope they get scared, I hope they think about being a bit kinder to nature maybe. That goes for me too though. We all have a long way to go. In the world of the Gravediggers it’s Ghost-storms, in the real world it’s hurricanes. But mother nature its definitely trying to tell us something and I’m pretty sure that something is “Stop fucking with me.”