Copper Age is a dark gothic comic brought to you by Tom Brown and Brynneth Colvin. Its palette is dark and sumptuous, and its style, while taking on influences from animé and manga, truly feels unique. Each page has an amazing amount of detail on it, and often times I have found that, going back over the comic, I saw little nuances that I hadn’t caught on my first read through. It is definitely a comic you will want to spend your time on and not rush through.
The darker mood will be more up the alley of fans of Poe than my last few Webcomic Wednesdays have been, but I don’t think that you necessarily have to be a fan of gothic literature to appreciate what Brown and Colvin have done here. Personally, I can’t wait for more! Tom was gracious enough to take time out of his no doubt busy schedule to talk to me about Copper Age, how it was created, and where it is going. Not everything worth reading out there is done in ice cream colors and rainbows or a gag a day strip. Sometimes the best stuff is of the deeper dark variety, and this online graphic novel is worth checking out.
Kelly Melcher: Copper Age is a collaborative webcomic. Who is who, and who does what?
Tom Brown: Copper Age is really, at this point, a name for the work that Brynneth Colvin and I do collectively (a bit like CLAMP). For the most part, she does the words and I do the art. We bounce ideas back and forth though. The whole process is as collaborative as possible.
KM: I’ve read quite a few webcomics now, but your style is very different. How would you describe it, and who or what are your artistic influences?
TB: I’m much more interested in how others would describe the art, since I’ve got very little objectivity. My handle on Twitter is gothicmangaka which nails down two of my largest influences: gothic fiction and illustration (old-school gothic that is — Poe, etc.) and animé/manga style. Stylistically, I’ve sort of wandered off on my own I think, to a large degree. I’ve been influenced by illustrators like Burne-Jones, Barry Windsor Smith, Edward Gorey, Hiroaki Samura, and a number of artists that I currently follow on deviantART.
KM: What comes first, writing or the art?
TB: Normally, the writing does, but occasionally it’s the other way around. (Example being the “Blind Fisherman” story. I did the pages first and Bryn found the text story from there.) It get more complex though, too. Bryn will include random details from the art and make them tie in later on or become part of the mythos of the story.
KM: What are the challenges and benefits to collaborating on a webcomic, versus working on a webcomic solo?
TB: The only challenge I’ve experienced so far is the geographical distance (which is something we’re working on now). Creatively and in terms of morale, I much prefer collaboration.
KM: Where did the idea for Copper Age come from, and how has it changed over time?
TB: Copper Age was originally a concept I had for a non-profit endeavor combining sequential art/stories and music. (The flaw in the plan turned out to be that there is very little profit to be found in publishing in general… or comics in particular. Oops!) Now, as I mentioned, it’s the name for Brynneth and myself working collectively on comics, illustrated fiction, and other projects we are currently scheming.
KM: What is the future for Copper Age?
TB: Ongoing. The Hopeless story continues and is sending out tentacles in interesting directions. We’re moving into Children’s and YA fiction as well (new projects in the works). We’ll be on iPhone/iTunes eventually, and print is definitely a goal. Bryn has written a collection of stories set in Hopeless which takes place before the events in the webcomic. It’s called New England Gothic. The cover can be seen here. We’ll be keeping people up to date on that and other things in the blog.
KM: At Fandomania, we like to ask: What are you a fan of?
TB: Ironically, making comics leaves me very little time to actually read other comics. In general, I’m a fan of anything by Miyazaki or Mignola. I love Serenity Rose, The Sandman series, The first Matrix movie, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse has a collection of webcomics called Dark Horse Presents which is consistently brilliant). I love a lot of the new indie work that is coming from ASP (I highly recommend The God Machine and Awakening for a start). If I start listing authors, I’ll never hit the send button.
I would like to thank Tom Brown on behalf of myself and my associates at Fandomania for taking the time to chat with me about Copper Age and I hope you will all go and check it out!