This wasn’t what I expected when I looked this guys up on twitter. I was expecting some kind of ninja comic, or maybe even some kind of fetish comic. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled into something epic like Genesis Chapter XVI: Virtue Chronicles Part One. It threw me off, but it made me turn the page.
I was a little saddened that I didn’t see ninjas, or robots or anything that resembles a hot girl, but once the name is ignored, you discover that Genesis first issue is solid and creates an intriguing world all too famiilar. The very abbreviated version of the plot is that James wakes up in an abandoned school, wondering how he got there. He journeys outside and discovers that the world as he knows it has ended. It sounds like standard post apocalyptic stuff, but the real creativity is how the story is constructed. For instance, there are no frames in the story whatsoever (outside the first couple of pages anyways). There is a map of the new world right at the beginning as well. Beyond that there is a nice change of styles from the first two pages to the story itself. The main art feels grungy, dirty and fits the desolate feel of the new world Stealth creates.
The back matter is interesting too. It’s written by some guy named The PR guy and it itself is an engaging essay. All in all, Genesis feels less like a comic and more of a rock band kind of feel. with the talents involved jamming out an album inside of an issue. The styles clash, mesh and create something worth reading. I highly recommend it.
I contacted the crew on Twitter and managed to convince the entire creative team to do an interview, keeping up with the jam session style that these four individuals create for themselves. I”m glad I did. All four of them are bright, charming and passionate individuals. Even their names feel like classic rock or metal. I introduce to the world Alan Steath, Dhalia, J and the Pr Guy. They are the School of Bitches.
Joshua Pantalleresco: Introduce yourselves and what you contribute to the comic
Alan Stealth: Well I am the resident artist, creator, and lead on the project. I contribute pretty much my entire life to the comic. Like a sacrificial lamb… who is also somehow actually in charge.
David Dhalia: They call me Dhalia. But that’s not my real name. I can never quite describe my part in all of this, but I’m often credited as a Letterer/Writer.
AS: Even though you haven’t wrote anything.
DD: Nothing that’s been released…. *trails off*
Judas: They call me Judas. My contribution is small, yet effective.
PRGUY: I’m actually the only person here with a real job. I work in Public Relations, and handle their public relations. Although I would just like to state for the record, I am not necessarily responsible for all the of the relations with the public these guys participate in.
PRGUY: I feel like I’m in court. This will probably be used in court.
JP: I never judge on the first interview. Second one, maybe. Why the name School of B*tches?
J: *Looks to left, at Stealth*
AS: I guess I should answer this one. The name is taken from a comic strip that I started to draw back in 1998. I was still at school at the time. This comic is no longer public domain, but the events that take place in that comic are continually referenced throughout the story of Genesis, and almost all of the main characters resurface, albeit older now. School Of B*tches now primarily refers to the collective responsible for the storytelling, as opposed to the title of the comic itself. Essentially School Of B*tches “publish” the works, and Genesis and the Chapter are the title. The idea in keeping the name, is the essence of the original comic remains, I’ve just got a bit older and smarter.
PRGUY: Well apparently not as you still have b*tch in the title. Which makes it a hard sell for kids and er, ‘bitches’.
AS: That’s not true.
PRGUY: It sounds derogative. Hell, it is derogative. It’s a stupid name… its misleading, as it is offensive.
PRGUY: As you can probably tell, I had nothing to do with the name. I thought it was some niche porn website. I think iGenesis would actually sell better… or if it had zombies in it that might help…. or I don’t know some actual ‘b*tches’.
DD: I still think we should go with the name ‘Giant Fighting Zombie Robots’.
PRGUY: I like this guys idea. Let’s change the name.
AS: We’re NOT changing the name.
JP: huh. Like the giant fighting zombie robots name. (PRGUY) considering what you said in there, I gotta wonder about your porn choices.
PRGUY: I’m pure class. In fact, even my porn has more class than any of these guys.
AS: … that’s probably true.
JP: How does your creative process work?
J: *Looks to left, at Stealth*
AS: *Looks to Judas* Judas apparently has no creative process. His creative process is ‘chipping in’.
AS: We spend a lot of time bouncing ideas off each other. (DD) and I spend time discussing everything from layout to story…
DD: (AS) and I work very closely on almost all aspects of the School of Bitches, from story writing, storyboarding, research, social networking and completing final edits of the publications themselves. It usually begins with the inhalation of various permanent marker fumes before quickly transcending into a scene reminiscent of the film ‘Trainspotting’, but when we arise on the other side, the project has developed slightly further than it had before. I like to think of it as a spiritual process sponsored by ‘Sharpie’.
AS: None of anything but the first and maybe some of the last sentence is true… the bit about somehow the project has moved further…
AS: …but… meetings lots of meetings. Judas has an almost third person perspective on the project in comparison to (DD), which really is useful, a fresh pair of eyes when your eyes have bled and fell out… can really help maintain some… aspect… of quality control.
AS: For this Chapter it’s different. Chapter XVI had essentially already been completely written and storyboarded, but still a lot of discussion took place on style, or which way to take it… but as we move forward Chapters are being entirely written by other people and eventually other artists will contribute too. The idea is to switch up the style every Chapter, perhaps revisiting or refining certain styles later on. This concept leaves it open for other artists to contribute and explore styles that accentuate the work or story, without ever compromising the continuity.
AS: But story is gone over with a fine tooth comb. We have meticulously mapped out the story to take place in real places, actual locations to the street names, all drawn from life. Events that take place from bombs to targets are worked out down to the f*cking wind patterns on the day they drop. So much of Genesis is sublminal, it won’t be truly apparent for many years but when things start to come to light, people will look back and go “fuck..they planned this from the beginning”…
DD: …then the world will look up and shout “save us”. And I’ll whisper no…
PRGUY: I know that’s from ‘Watchmen’. And that is entirely their fault…
JP: Tell me how you guys came together to produce Genesis Chapter XVI?
AS: Well I’ve been working on the Genesis project for approximately 10 years on and off, in various forms. As I said Chapter XVI was already under way, before anyone else had really come onboard. That’s not to say there hasn’t been significant changes to style and development of Chapter XVI since (DD & J) got involved.
DD: I was living in Malta when I joined School of Bitches in mid 2012. I was sitting naked upon my house roof in the blistering Mediterranean heat at 2 in the morning when I came up with a (yet unreleased) chapter plot for (AS). (Chapter 14: Things To Do In Gloucester When You’re Dead) He liked it and I continued to influence a wider range of the projects development. Since I was already a friend, I moved to Cardiff to become… ‘Sergeant in Arms’ of School of Bitches.
DD: Its ‘self described’ you *expletive deleted*… Anyway, I now share a house with (AS) and we worked to bring the story of Genesis to the public in late 2012 before releasing further issues throughout the year …
AS: …And Judas helped.
J: (AS) offered me the chance to write a story for a future chapter, (Chapter: Requiem For A Submarine) and after getting some insight into what he and (DD), had planned, I had to be a part of it.
AS: Judas is being coy, he’s like that. He massively influenced the style of Chapter XVI, or more accurately, the presentation of the style. The comic adopted it’s militant obsession with no frames shortly after Judas’s interference.
PRGUY: And I thought you were the one who actually liked comics… why..what’s up with that? … if you leave now you can probably still salvage a reputable career in another industry.
PRGUY: I was a rap*st in a former life… that’s my only conclusion to how I might have ended up here.
JP: What are your favorite parts of the story so far?
PRGUY: It’s so hard to pick a favorite part…
AS: well..so far….? It’s just difficult because I know what’s coming, but I’d say the introduction of 2Police in the latest Issue has definitely been my favorite “part” so far. Not only were they immense fun to draw, and characterize but they’ve really set the tone for what’s to come…
J: I like the bit with trees.
DD: I really like the lettering, I think that the dialogue in itself is a true piece of art, the pictures aren’t as impressive as the letters…
AS: Like one person has ever commented on the lettering…without being prompted…
This for now is part one. Part two I talk a little bit more about their process, and I’ll review issue two, available now as a pdf. Their website is http://www.schoolofbitches.co.uk and their twitter handles are @alanstealth, @realdhalia, @judaspower @hashtagtheprguy and @schoolofbitches. I encourage you to check them out.
Next week is part two. In the meantime, if you would be so kind, check out my book The Watcher at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/385912. I hope you check it out. I want to thank the school for their time. More next week.