Warning: if you feel that comic books are only the purview of superheroes and other flights of fancy, than reading on will uncover worlds of insane possibilities, for the number of potential stories that can be told using this medium is as limitless as the imagination itself. There are many talented writers and artists who continue to push the boundaries of what can be told, and one of those storytellers is Boston native Clayton McCormack. Having already created exciting and macabre stories set in the underbellies of urban landscapes with tales involving demons, killers, and magic, this independent comic book artist has something new in mind. He wants to unleash powerful Norse gods onto the already horrific landscape of World War One, for a story that will be unlike anything readers have ever seen before.
Yet, for the past 5 years, he has done told stories, often unsettling stories, unlike anything that’s ever seen before, stories in which is able to trace their inspiration. In a series published by Waxwork Comics called Poser, on which McCormack collaborated with writer Matt Miner, the two storytellers drew inspiration from slasher pictures, particularly the Italian slasher films from the 1970’s, to create a story set in the California underground punk rock scene where an urban legend called the “poser” starts a killing spree at the various gigs.
“I’ve been drawing all my life,” says McCormack, but recalls that his career has gotten a boost in the last few years after writing and drawing a webcomic called Dead Meat in 2015. Sometime after, he earned an apprenticeship with DC artist Sean Murphy, and he has since been able to move away from webcomics, and work with talented writers to create some truly inspired stories for independent comic book publishers. For 2016’s Redline (published by ONI Press), McCormack worked with writer Neal Holman to create what he calls a “military-noir story” that has CSI agent investigated a terrorist bombing on a Martian colony. For IDW, there was Night Moves, wherein Clay and writers VJ and Justin Boyd in what McCormack describes as a “supernatural-noir” story set in the underbelly of Las Vegas, where a cop and criminal must work together to stop demons from taking over the city.
These stories are dark, gloriously grotesque, and supercharged with macabre inspiration, yet alas, McCormack has no plans of stopping there. On August 5th, he is launching a Kickstarter campaign for a series that he has conceived himself, Bloody Hel. “Five Mystically powered Vikings have been imprisoned for 1,000 years, but they are unleashed when their prison was destroyed by an artillery shell during World War One. “It’s basically like, if an Iron Maiden album came to life and ate apocalypse now.”
Here at Comicbooked, we want to support the talent and showcase the possibilities of what can be done with the comic book medium, and it’s storytellers like McCormack that are forging ahead into unchecked, dangerous, and exciting waters, and Bloody Hel (Hel, referring to the Viking goddess whose dominion is the underworld of banished souls) promises to be among the most interesting such projects on tap, as it will tackle themes of the hopelessness of following orders in times of war, and the futility of war itself, the perpetual dread that ensues.
Unafraid to plunge into the dreary depths of the more unsettling aspects of human nature, creative people like McCormack are able to tell bold stories that you won’t find in any other medium, using a drafting table and a supply of pencils, paper, ink, and an unhinged predilection for intricate and often gruesome detail.