TOMORROW, which in this timeless digital world accounts to 28/05/19, at 15:00 GMT the Funk Soul Samurai kickstarter will go live around the world. This campaign is not just to put to print the new issue of Funk Soul Samurai, but also to get a shiny new special edition put together that features parts 1 and 2 in a perfect bound A4 book. So let me tell you a little bit about why I think it’d be great for you to contribute some money to the project, and what it means to me.
Funk Soul Samurai 1 came out a few years back. I was putting it together at the same time as 50Signal 2, as an exercise in getting some stuff out of my system. 50Signal allows for some great stuff, but its character is basically a slovenly potato being, they don’t do much physically beyond walk around and fly a space ship. But part of me constantly wants to do the book where everyone does back flips, gets into wicked mad sword fights and stuff explodes. Funk Soul Samurai was born from my want to create something where exactly that happens. Nothing really explodes in issue 1 so I have made up for it in the second story.
The main character, the titular Samurai, is heavily based on the design ideals of Jet Set Radio Future, a game I played on the Xbox was a youngster that featured amazingly designed characters skating about future Tokyo resisting tyrannical police rule. I drew the character for the first time whilst very drunk watching Glastonbury on TV. I can’t find the drawing as its been lost to the annals of time, but I remember drawing this hoodie wearing guy with a huge nose (not unlike the space-guy from 50Signal’s) poking over the top of this stripy scarf, equipped with a sword and a wallet chain hanging loft his belt. It’s not a great drawing, but the idea of sealing down the pizazz and kinetic energy of Jet Set Radio into a comic book would be beautiful. When I needed something to doodle to keep my head from melting, I turned to a revamped version of this character and put him out there fighting mutants.
The title Funk Soul Samurai is a butchering of the song title Sweet Soul Brother from Jet Set Radio’s Soundtrack.
I made the comic up as I went along, and just worked out what should happen next on a moment by moment basis. I didn’t know there’d be a giant squid monster in it until the moment I needed it to turn up. I approach every page with an idea of my end goal, but how I get to that I formulate on the fly. It’s an antidote to the heavily scripted stuff I do elsewhere. Funk Soul Samurai’s new edition is no different. I wanted to respond to the criticism that FSS1 lacked plot, as its effectively one long fight sequence, by having FSS2 have more of a drive. A reason why the violence is taking place. So I knew exactly what should happen in FSS2 but I left it open to how its going to happen. Moments of inspiration just came to me as I went through, ideas pieced together over time rather than in the writing process, so I can do something like last minute decide to add a GIANT MISFIRING LASER into the mix and just draw it happening.
I am hesitant to call the latest issue Funk Soul Samurai 2 because its not really a sequel. I mean it is, because the prize milkshake from issue 1 turns up in issue 2, but if you’ve not read the original, you will still have everything you need to enjoy the new one. It’s just a simple tale of a Samurai with a skateboard freeing a town from the grip of a totalitarian military force.
With giant robots.
And a Giant Laser.
And a Fist fight in a jazz bar.
And a nuclear Air Strike.
And a Chainsaw fight.
I wanted to up the ante on this and really deliver an action spectacular. For the Kickstarter I made up names for the issues rather than number them, so issue 1 is FUNK SOUL SAMURAI: RAMPAGE OF THE UNCHAINED APPETITE, and issue 2 is FUNK SOUL SAMURAI: EMERGENCE OF THE CONTINUING PUNCH or something to that effect. I think that is right. If it isn’t Bash is going to slap me about. EMERGENCE OF THE CONTINUING PUNCH is a wild ride, and features art I am really proud of, and nunchaku.
Partial inspiration there from Ninja Gaiden, and also Brandon Graham’s King City.
For me, Funk Soul Samurai is a celebration of all the stuff I enjoy about animated violence and Saturday Morning cartoons. Things like SWAT CATS that I loved as a kid, but also things like (believe it or not) Blade of the Immortals. I described it to someone as John Wick if it was a Dreamcast game, because to me that’s what it is, and the fact that people dig this strangely drawn, rough and ready bout of self expression is endlessly encouraging to me. It’s a hard sell to tell a weird story in a weird way, and people backing are taking a risk on me to deliver something mental.
Someone once told me that in my comics work I want to be both in front of and behind the waterfall, and if I try that I’ll just stay under it getting crushed; as in I want to both be a Grant Morrison style thought provoking philosophy wizard, and also a cartoonish nut bag, and trying to be both things will lead to my destruction. To that I say:
Diogenes once said “there is only a fingers difference between a wiseman and a fool”
So, the kickstarter will carry some prints from great artists whom we will reveal in time. There will be commissions from myself, and stickers. But to me the big draw in the comic itself, which will be either a 32 page A5 booklet, or a 52 page A4 special edition. The Special edition is my hot tip for you. It allows the artwork to be show at a larger size which gives it room to be absorbed, but also, has a special cover yet to be revealed.
At the end of the day this project rests on your pledge, and without it it doesn’t exist. Simple as that, if we don’t hit the goal this never happens. So please, I beseech you, pledge something, anything to this labour of love. Let me show you what I can do, and for your money you’ll get a cool thing and I’ll get to make more of this crazy stuff. The more we get in our first few hours, the more attention we will get, and the more people will see the project, and hopefully it will snowball into something huge and amazing, and have stretch goals and stuff.
If I get enough money I’ll try and make it a hardback book.